Restoring Hope and Reviving Communities
G. Fisher Construction Company — improving in-tenant developments for six decades
With a tenure that extends back to Michigan’s Housing and Urban Development (HUD) days of the 1970s, third-generation, family-owned G. Fisher Construction Company (G. Fisher Construction) has thrived in a low-income residential market for 60 years. That’s six decades of restoring in-tenant developments and beautifying communities from the inside out, along with forming relationships with owners and subcontractors, and nurturing the talent of enthusiastic and experienced staff. And, since 2004, they have secured financing for low-income apartments, condos and senior living facilities in Michigan, Tennessee, Virginia and Oklahoma. This track record represents well over $200 million in bonded work. The avenues of funding available to in-tenant developers include HUD, Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), to name a few—and G. Fisher Construction has experience complying with them all.
Experienced Staff Provide New Outlooks
While renovating occupied residential units in federally funded multifamily buildings isn’t even on the radar of some construction companies, the team at G. Fisher Construction understands the lengthy low-income tax credit process (an average of 1.5 years) and embraces projects that ultimately put employees in residence with tenants. Renovating a unit that may not have been updated for 30 years can have a significant impact on that tenant’s outlook. That’s why the leadership at G. Fisher Construction have made in-tenant development their specialty, growing and training employees who are exceptionally skilled and have developed superior customer service skills.
“We have to be careful and cognizant of the person who lives there and understand that that’s their home,” says Jim Antos, project manager for G. Fisher Construction. Jim has nearly 36 years of experience in construction and has completed multimillion-dollar MSHDA and HUD projects and numerous multifamily housing renovations. “We move their contents and then move them back,” he says. “A project could be an apartment unit with 100 apartments in it.”
“Most contractors make people move out for a specific amount of time,” says John Gelle, chief estimator for the firm. John is also a veteran in the industry and has successfully estimated and managed projects ranging from $100,000 to $48 million. “We have the tenants remain in their apartments.”
John takes a moment to explain the process: “We have each tenant empty out their kitchen cabinets and take out their belongings. On Monday morning, we rip out the kitchen back to the drywall and put in new counter tops, a new kitchen sink, faucet and garbage disposal. By the end of the day, we’ll have put the kitchen back together and are ready to move on to the next room. On Tuesday, we’ll move to another room of the house and tackle that room. On, Wednesday we’ll repaint the unit. On Thursday, we’ll redo the floors, moving the furniture from side to side. And by Friday, we’ll install new light fixtures and door hardware.”
So, by the end of the week, the tenant didn’t have to go through the hassle or expense of moving out, packing and unpacking, or facing the uncertainty of a new location. G. Fisher Construction’s talented team of estimators, project managers, field superintendents, carpenters, laborers, drywallers, accounting and office staff, understand that restoring multifamily public and private affordable housing can have a significant effect on the perspective of the family unit as well as the surrounding community.
John remembers one project in particular that stands out for him. In Detroit, there was an apartment building with a bad reputation in the community: “The whole district had 700 police calls in a year, and that apartment had half of them,” John says. “We remodeled the apartments, and the management company straightened things up, and now those apartments, the River Crest Apartments, are seen as a little jewel on Jefferson Avenue.”
Giving Back and Staying Put
“We create jobs,” says Glen Fisher, President of G. Fisher Construction Company, in a prospectus letter from 2017. That means if there’s more work than the team has the capacity for, the company submits an Equal Employment Opportunity plan with their proposal for funding so they can potentially hire from the local community, usually from the apartment complex that is being renovated. And some of those employees stay on with G. Fisher Construction. Some are still with the company 20 years later. That is significant and speaks to the heart and intention of this company: to do exceptional work; to hire and cultivate local talent; and to provide real value for people, families and communities.
“There’s very low turnover,” Jim says, of G. Fisher Construction’s employees. The most tenured, Superintendent Bill Kupfer and Director of Estimating John Freund, have worked for the company since 1978.
In addition to hiring locally, and putting roofs over people’s heads, the G. Fisher Construction team contributes to many local charities. They are also very much a family. Many employees go on camping trips together, go scuba diving in the Caribbean, attend their kids’ graduation parties and enjoy boating events. The benefits of being on the G. Fisher Construction team extend beyond the hours in the workday.
A New Venture
Of course, it’s not all remodeling and refurbishing older apartment buildings. G. Fisher Construction also tackles new projects. The most recent and expansive is a low-income apartment complex built from the ground up in Ecorse, Michigan, a $30 million project that the team has been focused on for the past year.
There’s also a great deal of talent at G. Fisher Construction. The team is varied and multifaceted, and has portfolios that include large medical office spaces, assisted-living work, high-end custom homes and restaurants, pharmaceutical labs and movie theaters. No doubt, the employees at G. Fisher Construction have depth, experience and vast expertise. But what they do best is what they do each day: restore hope and revive communities.