Commercial Space Solutions
Adkins Construction Company LLC delivers high-tech construction with honesty and flair
Morris H. Adkins Jr. doesn’t like surprises. As President of Adkins Construction Company LLC (Adkins) he goes to great lengths to learn the ins and outs of a project’s parameters before the subcontractors, tools and equipment arrive on a construction site.
Adkins practices transparency when setting timelines and cost estimates, respecting the fact that his North Florida commercial construction clients don’t like surprises either. This basic tenet of customer service is all reflected in his background, his 10-person team and his way of doing business.
In fact, this trait of transparency is why company Controller Nancy McCombes came with Adkins from another construction company when he formed his own firm in June 2017; and why she came with him to that company from another company before that.
With hundreds of millions of dollars in work managing construction of commercial, retail, educational and institutional structures, Adkins has overseen multimillion-dollar private-sector and government clients as well. “It’s his approach with customers,” McCombes says. “It’s genuine concern. He is very good at that.” Adkins sees being invited to collaborate with clients as a privilege—especially franchisees who are moving into their own spaces. He enjoys being part of that owner’s big milestone, whether they are in retail, restaurants or other industries.
“It’s not all about the money,” McCombes says. “It’s very important to him to help make their dreams come true, and he likes to take their stress away.”
Closer to Home
Adkins decided to leave the large, nationwide construction firm where he’d worked with McCombes to focus on North Florida and be a part of the community here, just like his clients are. He is also able to hire and build relationships with subcontractors who live in the vicinity.
In his former company, he was traveling all over the U.S. to job sites. Now, staying in one place, he is better equipped to give clients more personalized attention. At the same time the company treats clients like they’re family with detailed service, it uses the most up-to-date technological tools to stay streamlined, efficient and competitive.
Named one of the Top 25 General Contractors by Jacksonville Business Journal, it’s a win-win for all sides. Along with this transparency, detailed customer care and the latest software, Adkins brings creative problem-solving into his business practices with pride. In the industry for over 25 years, he has seen myriad job types and solved all manner of construction problems—yet he’s always up for new challenges.
Tough Projects Welcomed
Two projects that illustrate Adkins Construction’s willingness to succeed at highly complicated jobs are the company’s Retro Fitness facility remodel in Winter Garden and Jacksonville’s Insomnia Cookies building addition. In both cases, Adkins had happy clients.
At Retro Fitness, workout activities continued inside, even as construction got underway. The interior was 90% gutted.
“In 10 weeks, we renovated almost the entire building while they stayed in business,” says Adkins, a key point for owners who are looking to invest in improvements but keep revenue coming in. Adkins’ strategy involved using two superintendents on the job, working around the clock and renovating each portion of the building before moving in that area’s new fitness equipment.
But just having a plan in place for a commercial construction project isn’t enough. Skilled contractors know that they need to be flexible with logistics. “Nimble,” is how Adkins sums up his Retro Fitness project team. “We were changing our plans, sometimes two times a day, to keep up with work and meet clients’ needs.”
Another project—in the retail realm—called for Adkins’ communication, efficiencies and resourcefulness to get the job done on time and on budget.
Insomnia Cookies is a baked-goods delivery service that needed a building addition. But the construction was complicated because the existing building wasn’t exactly…well…finished.
“We had our own construction site inside a larger construction site,” is how Adkins describes it, sort of like the filling in a cookie. It meant being in constant communication with the general contractor and building owner to stay abreast of the larger project’s potential impact on the smaller one.
Additionally, budget issues with the Insomnia Cookies project delivered another challenge. It called for construction creativity to save on costs while still delivering a superior product in just seven weeks’ time. Collaborating with the architect, Adkins was part of the solution.
Modifications involved changing the building’s roofline, finding exterior feature options that were just as attractive but less expensive, and changing some structural systems so they didn’t encroach on other work. Adkins said the original plan involved removing an intricate walkway, for example; but with some foundation changes, walkway removal was avoided, simplifying logistics and saving money, too.
It’s what McCombes calls the front-end work—the preparation before a project—that truly sets up a quality construction job. She says that’s where Adkins Construction excels.
“We do complete pre-construction services with a site visit, assessment, conceptual schedule and detailed estimate to help clients plan,” she says.
Adkins views the work that’s done before actual construction as imperative. Specific tasks that emerge from the pre-construction phase fuel the clear communication that will be essential throughout the project.
Fast Track? No Problem
Adkins Construction also offers its clients cost-plus project services. The jobs make up about 25% of the company’s business and offer fast-track solutions to clients. The cost-plus projects consist of the firm being very involved in a project very early on—before plans are even drawn up. Then, when plans are ready, the project has no delays in getting underway.
An example of this kind of project involved a 15,000-square-foot shopping mall renovation. Seven retail businesses were going to be demolished to make way for a fitness club. About a month before any permits were granted or plans drawn, Adkins got to work setting a budget and schedules. He worked with the owner to ensure architectural plans were delivered on time, coordinated construction activities with mall management and arranged for permits.
“This is all before we’ve ever stepped foot on the project site,” Adkins said. “It’s so we can start with portions of the work before the owners have the drawings done—the demolition will be already decided, we will know where the utilities will be relocated and we will know the project conceptually.”
Adkins says that clients see the efficient execution of the cost-plus project services as a huge value. But whether a commercial renovation or a new build have a ramped-up timeline or not, Adkins says he makes sure that all clients get expert, efficient service with a beautiful result.
“Everybody has to understand the expectations,” Adkins says. “That’s kind of my job, to clarify to everyone on the team. I monitor that to be sure the expectations are clear…expectations of scheduling, of materials and subcontractors. The more transparent, honest and communicative I am about all of that, the clearer I can be that we’ll deliver the best product.”