Above and Beyond

May 1, 2013

Construction Today - March/April 2013

Many contractors will make promises and not live up to them, but such practices are not acceptable at J&S Construction Company Inc. “Our clients deserve to have somebody handling their business who ... is willing to accept the responsibilities that are given to them,” CEO John D. Stites II says.

Based in Cookeville, Tenn., J&S Construction’s range of services includes construction management, architectural and engineering design, site evaluation and equipment relocation. Stites’ father, John Stites (Sr.), founded the company in 1957 after working at his own father’s construction firm.

Today, J&S employs a staff of 120 and generated sales of $35 million in 2012. According to the company, it has completed more than 5,000 projects since its start. Additionally, “Over 75.6 percent of [those jobs] are with repeat customers,” the company says.

John Stites II (Johnny) says that the firm stays successful by exceeding its customers’ expectations, which it manages by focusing on safety, pleasing its clients and delivering projects on time.

“We want to make sure they don’t have any misadventures on our project,” Stites says. “[To ensure] no bad experiences, you have to have processes in place. We can’t just be sincere and hope that’s enough.”

According to the company, it employs some “of the finest craftsmen and trade professionals in the construction industry, including a number of nationally recognized and award-winning architects and engineers,”  it says. “We are the only contractor in the state of Tennessee to be awarded the Achievement
Award from The Tennessee Center for Performance Excellence twice,” it says.

The firm also has achieved several firsts in LEED certification, including the first for an independent care facility in Tennessee.

HITTING HOME RUNS

J&S employees are incentivized to give them stakes in the company’s success. If a customer specifically says it was delighted with the company’s work, for example, “Everyone on that job gets a bonus,” Stites says.
Additionally, if the project team finishes the job ahead of schedule, J&S will share its bonus with its staff. This emphasizes the importance of being organized and proactive, Stites says.

“It is not [due to] luck that you finish on time,” he says. “You finish on time because you plan to or you don’t finish on time because you didn’t plan to. Occasionally, you get lucky, but that is not what the owner is paying us for.”

J&S also gives its employees a bonus if a client sends in a letter of recommendation. These incentives, Stites says, get its workers to behave like owners. “If you can get everybody in your company to start thinking and act like an owner, you’ve hit a home run,” Stites says.

FOR THE CORPS

J&S is at work on several projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). These include two at Fort Campbell, Ky. One is an $8.4 million Sustainment Brigade Complex Administration Facility, a two-story, 30,000-square-foot building.

The facility is set for LEED Silver Certification with features such as pervious pavement, rainwater harvesting and reuse systems, and a low-flow water system. J&S Project Manager and LEED AP Brad Leimer says it will be one of Fort Campbell’s most energy-efficient projects. “By pursuing LEED certification, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is demonstrating the importance placed on sustainable design and highly efficient, environmentally friendly operations,” he says.

This building also serves as Fort Campbell’s Pilot Project for Sustainable Design and also will contain the base’s first geothermal heat pump system as well as the base’s first photovoltaic solar system.

The company also is building a $12.2 million, 35,290-square-foot vehicle maintenance facility at the base. It, too, will achieve LEED Silver Certification with its transpired solar wall panel system, daylighting tubes and occupancy sensors.

J&S Construction’s third project for the USACE is the $3.4 million Logistics Readiness Squadron facility at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. The 8,725-square-foot facility will prepare military personnel for deployments overseas and redeployments to the United States.

Also targeting LEED Silver Certification, the project required extensive contract negotiations with the Corps, says Jack Stites, the president of J&S and brother of Johnny. “The Corps expressed great satisfaction with J&S Construction’s ability to meet its budget requirements and the way in which we approached the process,” he says.

ABOVE EXPECTATIONS

J&S Construction’s extensive experience with LEED projects has earned the company repeat business, John Stites says. It recently finished building an assisted living facility in Murfreesboro, Tenn., for Stones River Manor Independent Living Facility. Before it was finished, its clients “asked us if it was possible we could get them a LEED Silver rating,” he recalls.

Instead, J&S Construction earned LEED Gold Certification for the exact same price. “They’re just tickled to death and already talking about us doing additional work for them,” Stites says.

Stites predicts that J&S Construction’s future work will consist of more government projects. “Until we get new banking rules and regulations in Washington, we’re going to be doing a lot more government work,” he predicts, citing 2010’s Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection act as the main reason for the demise of the private construction projects.

“[The act] has been the worst single thing I’ve seen in 42 years to hurt the public and all those that are trying to build something that would stimulate the economy,” he declares, noting that the bill has blocked the majority of private financing from banks.

“There are just so many hoops to jump through to get private projects financed,” he continues. “I see us doing a lot of government work at least in the next four years.”

To view digital version, please click here.  

< Back to News