The Power of Big. The Values of Small.
Powerful motto defines the accomplishments of davisREED Construction Inc.
Long before a plethora of publications and professional seminars made “partnering” a buzzword in the building industry, davisREED Construction Inc. (davisREED) understood the importance of working closely with clients and every member of the project team—from pre-design through punch list.
“We have fostered working relationships amongst our owners, architects, engineers, construction managers, consultants and subcontractors to support our mutual goals,” says Lee Conant, Vice President of Strategic Resources. “The partnering philosophy at davisREED encourages candid communication and prompt resolution of issues. Partnering is the most successful way davisREED has found to unify a project, because the project’s success depends on the performance of each partner and requires the cooperation of everyone.”
Although davisREED, a San Diego-based construction firm with three other California locations, has always relied on a mixture of traditional bid awards and negotiated contracts since its beginning in 2002, Conant says “the best contractual relationship is one in which the contract is placed in a file the day it is executed, and seldom does anyone have to refer to the contract again.”
Each partner fulfills performance and payment obligations and in return receives the right to timely payment or delivery. Instead of resorting to legal solutions, the construction manager and other team members manage issues and changes on their projects. “A sound relationship is the anchor to the business venture where others might look to the contract as the anchor,” Conant says.
A Higher Level of Construction
“Specializing in luxury-type properties with high-end finishes means producing a higher level of construction for choosy clients who know what they want,” Conant says. Those parameters require very technical mechanical and electrical systems and polished finishes in areas such as guest rooms and public spaces in the different buildings. Building sustainably and having LEED-accredited professionals work on projects provides a source of pride for davisREED. For example, the Vista Dunes project in La Quinta, California, was the nation’s largest multifamily affordable housing community to receive LEED Platinum certification when it was first developed. Three sustainable projects targeting LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) ratings are currently underway—the Carté Hotel in downtown San Diego, the mixed-use building project at 19th and J streets in Sacramento, and the new Shashi Hotel in Mountain View.
The firm’s renovation of the Coral Casino Beach and Cabana Club in the Montecito neighborhood of Santa Barbara, required jacking up a landmark building, which was originally constructed in the 1930s, to construct a 3,000-square-foot basement—all while meeting historic preservation guidelines and maintaining the client’s business operations.
Currently, davisREED is working on two historic hotel projects, one of which entails the adaptive reuse of a 100-year-old YMCA structure.
The workforce at davisREED is diverse. Superintendents who have been in the industry for 40 years (and some swinging a hammer since they were 12) work alongside superintendents who have college degrees and have completed advanced curriculum in areas such as building information modeling (BIM).
The same goes for office employees. Fresh-out-of-college graduates, brimming with newly acquired education and skills, work side by side with veteran project managers who have incredible projects and successes under their belts.
“The trick is to work harmoniously, teaching and learning, speaking yet listening, mentoring and mirroring,” Conant says. “Our talented teams personify not only advanced systems, but these teams also thrive because of the dedication of the individuals who make up the team.”
The San Diego Business Journal has included davisREED on its fastest-growing companies list two years in a row. Last year, the firm ranked #8. Growing so quickly can have its challenges and growing pains, yet the leadership at davisREED is committed to finding out what makes the employees thrive.
This year, all employees took part in an anonymous survey so leaders could find out what they want and need—from changes in benefits and pay to feeling appreciated, challenged and valued.
“We will now spend the next year figuring out how to make some of these requests into realities and weave them into the day-to-day habits of davisREED life,” Conant says.
Supporting Charitable Causes
One of the ways davisREED supports its employees is by getting involved in the causes they as individuals fight for—whether that means writing a check or sending a team of helping hands.
In the past year, the corporation supported a superintendent who desired to coach both of his sons’ Little League teams while making a difference in the organization. Through his dedication and davisREED’s sponsorship and schedule flexibility, he could make that happen while creating priceless memories with his children.
Another employee has had countless interactions with childhood cancer in her family and now serves as a voice for that community. This past summer, davisREED gave her and nine other employees the chance to serve children battling cancer at the Seany Foundation’s Camp Reach for the Sky day camp.
As a company, davisREED also donates throughout the year to multiple organizations locally and nationally. “We believe in not only being an active part in the communities we serve, but also in positively changing those communities through action, financial contributions and bringing additional awareness to the causes,” Conant says. A few of the organizations include: YMCA, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Challenged Athletes Foundation and various universities.
“We feel connected to the communities in which we build and are honored to discover new ways to help, gain knowledge and ultimately give back to them in a positive way,” Conant continues.
A Small yet Mighty Family
Though it ranks among the fastest-growing companies in San Diego and is listed as one of the top general contractors along the West Coast, with 135 employees, davisREED is still considered a small enterprise. The president, Derek Davis, can greet everyone by name. An internal newsletter goes out twice a year updating the employees on successes and current building projects and announces the latest little ones to be born into the davisREED “family.”
“We are an award-winning, high-end builder serving clients of all shapes and sizes. We are casual on Fridays, eat snacks together in the kitchen and ask about what you are doing after work. We celebrate birthdays, highlight successes and share concern over a loss. We adjust schedules and bend policies to help see team members through personal tragedies and ailments,” Conant says.
From movie nights to occasional Bocce ball games to holiday parties and happy hours, employees are family. The management team of davisREED determinedly helps them not only achieve the elusive work-life balance, but also grow in their professional careers, increase their knowledge and skill sets and strive to become better human beings overall—while enjoying the career journey.
The company’s motto is more than just a catchy saying; it truly defines davisREED—The Power of Big. The Values of Small. “We have the experience, the financial resources, the project experience and the geographic reach to compete with the largest general contractors nationwide—The Power of Big. Yet we believe in partnerships, flexibility, adding value and hands-on senior leadership—The Values of Small,” Conant says. The firm is dedicated to its employees and partners and committed to delivering projects that amaze.