Building on Experience and Expertise
JWC Commercial goes the extra mile for clients
Here is a contractor that has built its reputation as one that builds great buildings.
JWC Commercial serves its many clients as a managing general contractor, which subcontracts to other companies for specific skills needed on construction assignments. The Fresno, California, company performs site development work, as well as constructing most types of major commercial buildings. Retail and office buildings are its primary focus, although the company has recently branched out into school construction, according to the firm’s Founder and President/CEO Steve Wood.
Steve created JWC Commercial in 2016, although he has been in the construction industry for more than 30 years.
“I bring a good deal of experience to the jobs at hand,” Steve says. “I take pride in helping problem-solve for customers.”
For example, one day Steve’s civil engineering contact at The Home Depot called because he was wrestling with a drainage issue on the parking lot JWC Commercial was reconstructing. The initial drain, built on top of a former dump, had sunk and its water flow had reversed. The Home Depot engineer was concerned about how to get the runoff water to drain properly without having to completely overhaul the drainage system.
“This parking lot project was particularly challenging. After I studied the situation, my suggestion was to install a new drain above the old one. And I recommended adjusting the grading so that the drain performed properly without our having to do more comprehensive drain repair,” says Steve. “The client jokingly said that I ‘should have been an engineer.’ That problem-solving session helped cement our working relationship.”
Steve notes that he still receives calls from this engineer, even when JWC Commercial is not involved in The Home Depot’s projects, because he values Steve’s construction knowledge and problem-solving skills.
“This is the kind of relationship I like to form with clients,” Steve adds. “Ideally, we strive for long-term clients. We try to do the right things for them so they’ll use us over and over again.”
Developers and retailers are ideal clients for JWC Commercial. Steve knows these companies prefer a contractor who can handle their projects efficiently, stay on budget and meet their opening dates.
“They like to hand off a job to a contractor like us so they don’t have to worry every day if the work is being handled correctly,” he says. “When issues arise, and they always do, we come to the client with options. The clients can trust us to be their eyes and ears on their jobs.”
Problem-solving pays dividends
Over the years, JWC Commercial has performed work for such well-known brands as Rite Aid, Jack in the Box, Starbucks, Club Pilates and Jamba.
Like many a general contractor, the team at JWC Commercial knows that challenges are a given in construction. Sometimes they are known upfront but often they crop up while projects are underway. Meeting and overcoming these obstacles are reasons why JWC Commercial employees find some of these jobs particularly satisfying.
Rebuilding a Jack in the Box restaurant in Rohnert Park, California, was an assignment for JWC Commercial in which multiple issues cropped up as the work was underway. Originally built in 1973, the building no longer met city codes required for electricity and sewer lines.
“Among other problems, we discovered the sewer lines had collapsed so we had to replace and reroute most of them,” Steve says.
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic complicated the company’s work on tenant improvements required for a Crocs store located in Great Mall in Milpitas, California. The project was scheduled to begin in mid-2020 but was delayed because JWC Commercial could not obtain necessary city construction permits. This was because the permit office was closed for many months. Later, when work was complete, inspections were challenging to schedule because the city’s health department was short-staffed due to illnesses. But, finally, JWC employees were satisfied with their work once the sales floor had been remodeled and the Crocs store was outfitted with a new facade and signage.
JWC Commercial also performed negotiated contract work on multiple projects for Costco Wholesale over the last four years. The construction projects involved two parking lot expansions, a tire center rebuild and the remodel of an optical center. Some jobs lasted just a few weeks and others up to several months depending on their complexity. One thing the jobs all had in common, however, was tight scheduling, which Steve’s team addressed by planning extensively and maintaining open channels of communication.
Communication is vital in any construction project, according to Steve, especially when pricing for material remains high and there are long lead times for specific products. To address the need for enhanced communications, JWC Commercial is making good use of online tools to help manage workflow.
“Cloud computing has revolutionized our industry. Our superintendents and project managers can be in various cities in California and yet be able to jump into a virtual video/voice conferencing Teams meeting where files can be shared to help sort out specific problems,” he explains. “Just a few days ago one of our superintendents, Rachael Navarro, was on a site where a water line—not shown on the plans—had been struck by one of the subcontractors and needed to be rerouted. We were able to quickly get the architect, superintendent and project manager on a Teams meeting. And we got all the partners to review pictures and plan documents and come up with a plan of action to resolve the issue quickly so work could proceed.”
“When issues arise, and they always do, we come to the client with options. The clients can trust us to be their eyes and ears on their jobs.” Steve Wood, Founder and President/CEO, JWC Commercial
Collaborating in partnership with clients
Steve says it’s especially important to perform a customer’s work in the most cost-effective manner. “We don’t ding our clients for every cost that may come along on a project. If a work order changes and some supply prices increase a little, we think it’s often more important to absorb some of these expenses. That approach can mean a lot to clients,” he says. “However, we do our best to discover any potential problems and solve them before they can become a cost impact for the client.
“Our goal isn’t to try to make as much money as we can on a job. There’s an old saying that you can shear a sheep many times but only slaughter it once,” he says. “Setting fair pricing and taking really good care of clients pay off. Soon they realize you’re loyal, and they begin to treat you more as a partner.
“When I formed JWC Commercial, I wanted it to be the type of company that I would want to work for,” he says. “We’re collaborators, and we strive to ensure we get input from everyone involved on a job so that we can arrive at informed and cost-effective solutions. This results in better projects, and the approach means everything to us—the true North Star that guides us.”
Tapping into internal expertise
Steve says JWC Commercial employees enjoy working in an environment where they can grow professionally and hone their skills. When hiring, Steve looks for self-motivated people. And if they wish, each worker has the flexibility to work remotely instead of coming into the office when he or she needs to perform administrative activities.
“I try to get buy-in from our folks by seeking their opinions on challenges the company faces. Their views are always welcome by me,” he says. “We try to keep our work environment friendly and fair-minded. There is a lot of stress in this industry, so we don’t want to place additional burdens on our workers.”
Lunching with subcontractors
About once a year, JWC Commercial invites its subcontractors—plus subcontractors it would like to work with—to an informal lunch. The company also asks architects and engineers it partners with to join the gathering. Steve and his staff mingle with the workers and try to get to know them.
Steve credits Ron Thomas of The Blue Book Building & Construction Network®’, who serves as JWC Commercial’s representative, for his assistance in organizing these subcontractor networking events.
Steve reports that the company revenue has increased about 40% from 2019 to 2021, and he anticipates growing revenue by about 25% in 2022. JWC Commercial aims to be one of the “go-to” commercial contractors for developers and retailers in California’s Sacramento and Central Valley regions. To maintain this momentum, he markets to former clients, architects and other personal contacts developed throughout his career, and he makes good use of The Blue Book Building & Construction Network to keep abreast of new construction opportunities.
Outside of its construction work, JWC Commercial donates to Susan G. Komen Northern & Central California in support of some of the organization’s special fundraising events.
“My mother is a breast cancer survivor. Women’s health is incredibly important, and we applaud the group’s efforts to provide mammograms for low-income women,” he says.
The company also contributes to Bethany Christian Services, which supports vulnerable children and families in the U.S. and globally through foster care and family preservation, refugee services and adoption.
“We support this worthy organization because we believe the world is better off when children have the opportunity to be adopted and loved in a supportive family environment,” Steve says. “And without their services, many children in our community might not otherwise be able to experience a good home life.”