WELBRO Building Corp.

No matter the state of the economy, solid relationships are what make or break a contractor. When the number of available jobs shrinks, a previous history could be the difference between surviving a recession and watching the industry from the outside looking in. WELBRO Building Corp. has built its reputation on these relationships since its founding in 1979. The company has grown into one of the largest privately held general contractors in central Florida. 

“What helps separate us is our culture of absolute honesty and integrity,” says Ken Wuenschell, senior vice president of preconstruction. “You establish these networks of contacts when you do a good job, and it extends further than you would ever think.”

WELBRO has professional staff of more than 100, but what further separates them is their ability to self-perform concrete, masonry and carpentry work with a cadre of craftsmen that varies in numbers based on the work load. 

WELBRO Building Corp. specializes in hotel/hospitality and education projects.

The educational focus group constructs K-12 and higher educational facilities and residence halls. In 1998, the company opened an office in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to expand its capabilities in this state. 

The WELBRO Management Inc. division’s services include programming, developing, managing and implementing facility programs as either an owner’s representative or construction manager. 

Although its revenues have decreased as a result of a shrinking marketplace, Wuenschell says the company is doing well while staying true to its corporate culture. 

“Our values guide us regardless of the marketplace conditions, especially during slow times,” Wuenschell says.

WELBRO currently is in the final phases of a project that came directly from a referral from a satisfied client. The company is serving as construction manager for the renovation of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. WELBRO is overseeing the $110 million project in a joint venture with local general contractor DonahueFavret. 

Still Recovering

The 1,200-key, 27-floor hotel was severely damaged in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina, and the project struggled to obtain financing once the economy crashed in late 2008. The scope required gutting the entire interior of the structure. The exterior skin of the building was replaced immediately after the storm, which preserved the interior building environment.

Although the financing delay was an unwelcome stumbling block, it gave DonahueFavret and WELBRO more time to properly plan for this massive undertaking. Wuenschell says the extra time to plan proved beneficial for the construction team because it had worked out many of the coordination and constructibility challenges beforehand. 

“What made the project unique was all of the 27-story, 1,200-room property was ready to go all at once, with no ramp-up time,” Wuenschell says. “The project team used the delayed start time to their advantage, and everything was laced together, and the project was magnificent.”

Area Partners of New York City is a major investor in this renovation project. Wuenschell says WELBRO delivered two previous projects for Area Partners in Orlando – the 1,400-room Hilton at the Orange County Convention Center and the 730-room Omni Orlando Resort at ChampionsGate. 

“Planning was the key to the work, and DonahueFavret did an exemplary job of getting the subcontractors involved with the plan,” Wuenschell says. “I can’t express how wonderful it was to have a local partner with the reputation of DonahueFavret. 

“And this shows how important relationships are in this business and every business.”

Wuenschell says contractors’ futures will depend on relationships as competition continues to increase. 

With this in mind, WELBRO is dedicated to maintaining a quality reputation in every market it penetrates.

Additional Division

Through WELBRO Management, WELBRO handles all aspects of development for the real estate and hospitality industries. These services include programming, analysis of branding options, consultant procurement and management, budgeting, document quality control and contractor selection. 

“The cross-section of traditional building and construction management operations of a vertically integrated company affords WELBRO Management Inc. the ability to bring to the table the resources to completely develop the Project Program Book,” the company says. “This book contains data gathered from work sessions with the owner, design consultants and potential operators, and is critical to the successful development of the project.” 

According to WELBRO, the typical program book contains a design concept statement, an area program, a budget summary, budget detail, a responsibility differentiation matrix and a schedule. WELBRO Management also provides property acquisition and repositioning analyses, due diligence management, project management and construction management experience. 

These services, the company says, are provided on a fee basis, and WELBRO Management Inc. also participates in select joint-venture development opportunities. 

Employees Matter

Along with building solid structures, WELBRO Building Corp. has built a solid business, as well. In 2010, the company was named a finalist for the “Best Places to Work” in Central Florida by the Orlando Business Journal. 

It was the company’s sixth consecutive nomination, it says. 

According to WELBRO Building Corp., companies were evaluated by the surveys that were submitted electronically and anonymously. Also, the results were scored by assigning points to each question, and weighing them according to emphasis on creativity, flexibility and collegiality. Common themes among the finalists include work-life balance; respect and caring for employees; recognition of accomplishments; feeling empowered; good teamwork and team spirit; and commitment to community spirit. 

Awards Abound

WELBRO racks up the hardware for its construction work, as well. The company has earned numerous awards over the years, including: 

  • 2011 Horizons Award for UCF Recreation and Wellness Center Expansion;
  • 2011 Horizons Award for Maitland Middle and Dommerich Elementary Schools;
  • 2010 Associated General Contractors Horizons Award for Lake Eva Park;
  • 2010 Associated General Contractors Horizons Award for the Hilton Orlando Hotel & Convention Center;
  • 2009 ABC Excellence in Construction Eagle Award for the Harriett Coleman Center of Performing Arts at Lake Highland Preparatory Academy;
  • 2009 Associated General Contractors Horizons Award for Valencia Community College Allied Health and Sciences Building;
  • 2009 South Central Construction "Best of" Award for the MeadowView Marriott Hotel; and
  • 2009 South Central Construction "Award of Excellence" for the Wilderness at the Smokies.

“Since our beginning in 1979, WELBRO has developed a sense of partnership with our clients,” WELBRO says. “[We are] builders of lasting relationships through trust.”

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