G.W. Mitchell & Sons Inc.

G.W. Mitchell & Sons Inc. stands tall despite increased outside competition. Much like the plot of an old Western, the San Antonio construction market recently has seen a lot of outsiders move into town with the intention of running roughshod over the locals. However, G.W. Mitchell Construction is one local that’s not running from the fight. Vice President Lane Mitchell says the long-time family company has the know-how and the skills to fend off the out-of-towners and to continue its long history of quality construction well after competitors have moved on to another town.

George W. Mitchell, a World War I veteran and member of the Texas A&M class of 1915 founded the company in 1921. He started by building modest single-family homes on the south side of San Antonio, but in time the company began building larger custom homes and commercial projects. The company’s projects at the time included its first school building in Floresville, Texas, and a large private residence that today is the McNay Art Museum.

After the Great Depression and World War II, the company began building mostly commercial projects, and George Mitchell’s three sons joined the firm, which then became known as G.W. Mitchell & Sons.

Over the years, G.W. Mitchell has constructed numerous landmarks to San Antonio, including the Villita Assembly Building and the South Texas Medical School. Today, Lane, Bill and Andy Mitchell, grandchildren of George Mitchell, represent the third generation of family leadership for the company. Many of the firm’s employees have been with it for decades and some are third-generation G.W. Mitchell employees, as well.

Significant Advantages

Lane Mitchell says the continuity provided by the company’s consistent family ownership makes G.W. Mitchell Construc­tion stand out. The company’s name recognition and long-standing relationships with the construction community go a long way. “We know the suppliers and the contractors, that just makes things go more smoothly,” Mitchell says.

Longevity by itself isn’t enough, however, and the company boasts a meticulous approach to its work that ensures quality construction and high customer satisfaction. “We take care of our customers,” Mitchell says. “We do our best job to make sure everything’s right during construction, and if it isn’t we go back and fix it.”

The formula for ensuring a quality project is no more complex than making sure the right superintendents are in charge of the job and seeing to it that project managers keep an eye on them, Mitchell says. He says project managers walk job sites almost daily, and that at least once a month the company double-checks its schedules. “We just keep an eye on things,” he says.

That scheduling prowess has come in handy on projects like El Dorado Elementary School for the Northeast School District. Mitchell says the 38,000-square-foot addition includes a gymnasium and new classrooms for the school. Thanks to the company’s ability to schedule the project well in advance, work is six months ahead of schedule. “It’s been a well-run job,” Mitchell says.

A past project that shows off the company’s skill was the Clear Channel Worldwide headquarters in San Antonio. Mitchell says the project involved a lot of unusual architectural details that made it challenging but rewarding, including exterior steel shade structures with automotive finishes that line up with the masonry joints on the outside of the building. “It was fun to work on,” Mitchell says. “It’s fun to work on those types of projects that don’t come about every day.”

Head Above Water

The recession has made construction more competitive all over the country and San Antonio has seen a lot of competition move into the area because of the work that is available. “San Antonio has a pretty hot construction market right now,” he says. “San Antonio had some big government projects that were already on the books and underway before the economy turned south, and that’s where a lot of the construction dollars have come from.”

Although private owners have had trouble securing financing for their projects, the number of school and government projects has remained relatively healthy. Mitchell says G.W. Mitchell Construction’s reputation in the marketplace and relationships with local customers give it an edge over the contractors who have moved in from out of the area.

For the immediate future, Mitchell says the company has enough of a backlog to remain busy for the first half of the year, but is looking forward to an economic recovery to boost activity in the second half. “As of right now, we’re really looking to private owners to put together enough work to stay in the black for the year,” he says.

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