Legacy Construction’s owners take team approach to running their construction firm
Bill Cummings and Jamie Reedy were both athletes in college, as well as coaches of high school sports. They use that competitive experience when running their firm, Fresno, California-based Legacy Construction (Legacy).
Legacy is a rapidly expanding design-build firm that does ground-up construction, mainly for medical office properties and quick-service restaurants, as well as other projects.
Founded in 2007, Legacy is now a licensed contractor in 15 states, and Bill, a Partner of the firm with Jamie, says they will be in 20 by the end of the year. Legacy did 80 different jobs on properties in 2020 and hopes to double that this year. Five years ago, the company had seven employees, and now it employs over 50. Other than California’s Central Valley, much of the work the company undertakes is in Southern California and Texas.
Health Care Focus
One of the main sources of Legacy’s business is developing health care facilities. Specifically, the company specializes in medical Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC).
“The need for health care with a population that grows never wanes,” Jamie says. “We always need hospitals and outpatient surgery centers and specialized practices.”
What makes Legacy different from other firms, he says, is that it works on so many of these projects that its leadership team is able to put itself in the mindset of being in the clients’ shoes.
Bill adds: “We got into medical because it was recession-proof.”
He says that the Affordable Care Act increased the ability for Legacy to do business because more people had health insurance and were able to get health care. And Bill also says that Legacy’s main client, United Health Centers of the San Joaquin Valley, for which the company has done about 65 projects, is making a big difference in the times of COVID-19. They were doing between 500 and 1,000 vaccines daily back in March.
“In the Central Valley there is so much opportunity,” Bill says. “There are so many projects that are needed around here, and if you have the resources to keep up with the market, it’s an endless supply of work and revenues. We’ve created a platform of health care specialization that doesn’t exist in other places in the Valley.”
As of February, Realtor.com said that housing prices in the Valley were up 11.7 percent year over year, along with an increased population. That equates to a rise in health care facility rooftops going up.
Other than the health care facilities, Legacy takes on quick-service restaurant projects. Among its clients are franchisors and owners of establishments like Starbucks, Taco Bell and Carl’s Jr., as well as local restaurant chains.
Bill says that since the company started in 2007, during the Great Recession, he and Jamie looked for projects, such as quick-service restaurants, that were still in demand while other commercial real estate sectors were feeling pain. And that focus paid off.
“We were slammed, and I got a great chance to meet a lot of different people,” he says, explaining that when they were lean and mean, other real estate firms were downsizing. “It was a great crash course into entering the industry.”
Legacy also does build-to-suit projects for several big-box retailers around the country.
The Tech Aspect
Technology is an important part of how Legacy does business, according to the firm’s partners.
The company uses plenty of tools in the tech arena. It has a customized Salesforce CRM (customer relationship management) platform that is Legacy’s development-management software to manage projects from the initial concept through the permitting process.
“We believe in using technology to improve efficiencies,” Bill says. “Technology is the single-greatest asset, other than people, that we have that allows us to do more by ourselves.”
Programs the company uses for remote work and connecting in different parts of the country include those from Bluebeam to handle project data, iSqFt to bid on projects and StreetSmart, which provides mobile working solutions.
That allows Bill and Jamie to work in different parts of the country. Though Legacy is based in Fresno, Jamie is in Nashville, Tennessee, which helps the firm expand in other states because he is available in different markets around the country and not just California.
“We have the technological capabilities to interact and do business,” Jamie says.
And that helps other aspects of how they handle their team on a remote basis.
“I wholeheartedly believe that we need technology to improve the tasks that have been done forever,” Bill says. “I understand that there is a traditional way of doing business, and there are reasons for that, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make things better.”
Bill and Jamie both played college sports. Bill was a soccer player at Virginia Tech, while Jamie played basketball at Vanderbilt University. They both coached high school sports while in college.
The two met when Jamie was visiting a high school friend at Virginia Tech from Nashville who was Bill’s roommate. It led to a connection that has lasted to make Legacy a reality.
Meanwhile, Bill moved to Fresno to work for his family business after graduating, working on multifamily development and remodels of those assets. During the recession, Bill realized that he wanted to start his own business, and Jamie was brought on, due to his knowledge of economics, his major at Vanderbilt.
Bill works more in sales and business development, so the two started a strong fundamental managerial bond. Jamie moved to Fresno for a year, and they came up with a business plan that has worked out.
“I knew real estate investment was something that interested me, and I loved the idea of taking a raw piece of land and seeing a project from conception through reality,” Jamie says.
The Coaching Philosophy
Sports have a lot to do with how Bill and Jamie run the business, since both were involved in competitive sports in their younger years.
“Both of us have a competitive mentality, and I like to think of myself as a coach who takes the people on the team and provides them with the best platform to be successful,” Bill says. ”A lot of the time, I have to bite my tongue and keep my opinion to myself about a lot of things to give people the opportunity to show me what they can do.”
Jamie has the same philosophy: “You really have to command the respect and command the team. When you’re a coach, it’s clear that you’re at the top of the pyramid. At the end of the day, you have to develop your team into a group of leaders and managers. You try to empower people to think the same way.”
They empower their employees by giving them the leeway to make mistakes and then correct them with the proper training.
The two also promote racial equity in their hiring practices.
Bill has a vested interest in this, as his wife, Leslie Abasta-Cummings, who is the CEO of Livingston Community Health, struggled with racial and gender bias throughout her career and had to fight her way up the ladder the hard way to achieve success.
“My wife is the toughest person I have ever met,” Bill says.
Bill and Jamie want their employees to get contractor and real estate licenses, as well as achieve various certifications to better their careers, and they give them time and resources to help workers achieve those goals.
Despite their different roles at the company, the partners have found a symbiotic coaching relationship that makes Legacy keep growing.
“It’s a yin-and-yang relationship,” Jamie says of how they operate. He is on the finance side and Bill doing the sales operations. ”We are ultimately committed to keeping us together and driving each other.”
They also have some fun. Legacy employees often go on social outings, such as visits to axe-throwing facilities, and they have a company newsletter that features their workers’ personal achievements.
“It’s part of the foundation for a good company,” Bill explains. “When you have good people and a good culture, you have a company that people want to work with.”