After nearly 25 years, Q.B. Construction has gained a strong reputation in Puerto Rico as a contractor that keeps control over the quality of a project, President and partner Paul Lavergne says. He adds that the company has a loyal base of repeat clients that includes the Puerto Rico Port Authority.
“We’ve probably done five projects [for them] in our lifetime,” Lavergne says. “We create ever lasting relationships with the customers here.”
Based in Santurce, Puerto Rico, Q.B. Construction specializes in general contracting and construction management for a broad base of clients, Lavergne says. His father, Luis Lavergne, founded the company with partner Francisco Bechara in 1987.
Previously, the two earned extensive experience in the construction industry.
“My father worked for a construction company here in Puerto Rico for 25 years,” the younger Lavergne says.
Bechara worked as a small contractor and developer for many years. After the two decided to join forces, Q.B. Construction grew quickly, Paul Lavergne says, noting that his father decided to offer construction management services, which many did not provide in Puerto Rico.
At the time, there was a growing need for owners, particularly government clients, to have an expert that managed the construction and oversaw its interests.
Ultimately, Lavergne purchased the company in 2003 with Bechara’s son, Vice President and partner Frankie Bechara.
“We [build] anything that goes up,” Bechara boasts, noting that the company’s recent projects have included pier work at San Juan Bay and a 280,000-square-foot terminal at San Juan Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport.
Lavergne joined Q.B. Construction in 1991 and says he still enjoys the business. “It’s very exciting to see something from somebody’s dream and have it turn into a reality,” he says.
“I grew up as a kid seeing these big things being developed,” he recalls, noting that it gave him a lot of excitement. “I didn’t hesitate when I went to engineering school. It brings me a lot of joy.”
Along with its focus on quality, Lavergne says the company has stayed strong by focusing on the type of people it hires. “The quality of our employees is just excellent,” he says. “We hire, maintain and train a group of people [like no] other. [We hire people with] leadership and teamwork; people who are not afraid to take risks and think on their own while at the same time engaging with others; people who are open-minded to continue learning.”
Among them is Executive Project Manger Carlos Archilla, who recently was promoted to his current role. “He’s been with the company for 15 years,” Lavergne says. “He’s now become our right-hand man. He oversees many of the projects that we’re building.”
Lavergne also has praise for CEMEX Puerto Rico, which has provided concrete for many of the company’s field projects. “They’ve always complied to their requirements and [done] a good job,” he says, noting that the firm also has given awards to Q.B. Construction.
For instance, at a ceremony in Mexico in 2007, CEMEX recognized Q.B. Construction for its work on the Pier Three project for Royal Caribbean. “We were selected as the best infrastructure project,” Lavergne says, noting that CEMEX also recognized the company for its longevity in the industry.
Like its counterparts in the United States, Q.B. Construction has been affected by the economic downturn, Lavergne says. For instance, the company is seeing a decrease in the desire for housing projects.
In the coming months, most of the company’s projects will be in the institutional sector, including schools and jails. “I think we can do whatever the market is [demanding] as far as the work is concerned,” he says. “We have the [ability] to survive in this down market.
“Hopefully, it ends within the next year or so. We’ve been successful with the last two,” he adds.
“We can adapt to anything that comes out, and I think we’re in a position that we can, hopefully in a year or so.”