Learning to Fly
Holladay Construction Group, LLC sets a new bar nationwide
When Holladay Construction Group, LLC (HCG) won the contract as general contractor to build the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Indiana, the project posed challenges beyond anything the team had tackled before. But that’s not surprising—it was beyond what anyone had ever done before.
“It’s one of the largest indoor sports facilities in the world,” says Brian Egler, Central Region Vice President for HCG. “And the design called for the longest horizontal span of steel girders in the world. It wasn’t that we’d never done it before, but that type of construction had never been done before by anyone. We were treading entirely on new ground; however we collaborated with designers and key subcontractors to execute the plan for the project.”
Within 12 months of taking on the contract, what had never been done before was done. The Grand Park project was completed on schedule and within budget, a $26 million feather in the cap of HCG.
Leaving the Nest
Nationally known as HCG, Holladay Construction Group is a general contracting, construction management and design-build firm formed in 2007 as a subsidiary of Holladay Properties to build its new developments in-house and have more direct control over projects. This now includes a variety of work across multiple sectors with some of the top names in the country. Both companies are based in South Bend, Indiana, but do work from coast to coast.
“The construction side, what would become HCG, actually started in 2004,” Brian says. “But it didn’t become its own operating entity until 2007. We were born out of the Holladay Properties side of the business to assert in-house control over the construction phase of development.”
Over the last 12 years, HCG has grown dramatically. Originally intended as an in-house general contractor for Holladay Properties, now most of HCG’s work comes from work it deems as third-party projects, or independent work outside of the Holladay Properties umbrella. That work covers a wide range of industries; in the last few years, HCG has been involved with projects in the industrial, hospitality, sports venues, medical, office and retail sectors.
“We’re not exclusively Holladay Properties’ in-house general contractor,” says Phil D’Amico, director of business development at HCG. “We’re steadily growing as a third-party contractor. That third-party work is one of fastest growing sectors of our business and could be the biggest driver of growth going forward. Now about 60 percent of our volume comes from third-party work.”
That growth is coming faster and faster as the company’s reputation for quality work and its portfolio of projects completed on time and within budget both expand.
“When I first got here three years ago, we were doing under $30 million in gross revenue per year,” Brian says. “In 2018, that number was about $78 million, which was actually lower than anticipated because a few projects we expected didn’t start. This year, we’re projecting well over $100 million as a result of work pushed forward to 2019.”
HCG does roughly 15 to 20 projects per year, though it’s difficult to pin down an exact number, as most projects cover more than a single calendar year.
“Lots of projects carry over from year to year,” Phil says. “Additionally, when you are creative problem-solvers, you don’t just put something together overnight. We create value-driven personal relationships with our clients and invest significant time in exceeding their every expectation.”
The company bids on both small and large projects. “You’re going to get the same level of service no matter the size of your project,” Brian says. “We’re not just a GC; we’re your partner. We’re with you every step of the way. We educate the client on the process and help them understand what happens.”
Setting a Standard
Some of HCG’s current projects include The Promenade at Founders Square in Portage, Indiana, a 340,000-square-foot development incorporating mixed-use multifamily residential with ground-floor commercial, a $40 million scope assignment that began in April 2017 and will be completed this year; two WoodSpring Suites extended stay hotels, one in Illinois and another in Indiana, both 48,391-square-foot projects, each valued at $9.6 million and due for completion this year; and spec construction on a new warehouse and office building in Indianapolis. Designed to accommodate two tenants, the 246,426-square-foot, $9.3 million project has an estimated completion date of July 2019.
As impressive as these projects are, Brian and Phil both point to the Grand Park Events Center as a turning point for the company. At 370,000 square feet, the facility includes three full-sized professional turf fields, retail space, a spectator lounge, locker rooms, office and meeting spaces and multiuse space for trade shows, live entertainment and conventions. On top of all that, it’s now where the Indianapolis Colts train during summer. It has been a boon to the city of Westfield as well, where Holladay Construction has also built a newer Hampton by Hilton and is in the process of building a Grindstone Charley’s restaurant and steakhouse, which will open later in 2019. That growth has also been witnessed in the number of quality projects that have been completed in the South Bend and Portage, Indiana, markets as well as La Grange, Illinois.
On Time, On Budget
While the horizontal span of the steel girders in Grand Park was record-breaking, it’s by no means the only difficult problem HCG has had to tackle. Brian recalls a tenant improvement project located in a 670,000-square-foot industrial distribution warehouse built by HCG for a major client. In addition to electrical work and 6,000 square feet of office space, the plans called for a 40-foot-tall and 500-foot-long demising wall along with a 1,600-square-foot shipping and receiving office.
“They needed that project done in three months,” Brian says. “We had to jump straight into design, get the permitting done in just two weeks and get the trades out there working on it. We were doing design, putting the trades to work and applying for permits all at the same time to meet the three-month schedule. We made it,” he says. “We provide a different service than a lot of our competitors because we can do that. We have the experience. We have the talent to provide creative solutions to our clients to keep them on budget and on time.”
Think Like an Owner
This may seem like a lot of work for a company with only 45 employees, but to Brian and Phil, it’s a point of pride.
“We’re challenged on every project to think like an owner,” Phil says. “We are tested daily to put ourselves in the owner’s position and creatively solve issues they may be facing. We consistently get calls from individuals needing help. We specialize in taking over existing projects and bringing them on schedule. That’s a real strength of this team. We have a national client we now do work for, Graybar, that we initially got in with because we had solutions they needed. Now we do work for them all over the country.”
One of the strengths in HCG’s culture comes from an exceptional leadership team that includes President and CEO Tim Helton, Vice President of Operations Todd Monk, Vice President of Finance Shannon Hyduk, and North Region Vice President Scott Trueblood, along with Brian, Central Region Vice President.
They find strength in being a smaller company. “Here you feel like you are part of something special,” Brian says. “Everyone is engaged with the process and takes a hands-on approach. Our overall experience allows us to be cross-trained and multifunctional. We’re a small and tight-knit environment. We don’t believe in silos of knowledge or job descriptions. We believe in getting the job done and exceeding our client expectations.”