McRight-Smith Construction

McRight Smith picMcRight-Smith Construction builds a variety of commercial projects with an emphasis on automotive and aviation structures.

By Russ Gager

McRight-Smith Construction offers design/build, construction management and general contracting services for commercial projects. “We get involved at the level the customer needs us.,” CEO Andrew Smith says. “We can take a project from an idea, through design, engineering and construction all the way to the finished product. We are committed to excellence in results coupled with competitive and consistent pricing.”

The past few years, have seen McRight-Smith Construction intensely focused on automotive dealerships, early childhood education facilities and aviation infrastructure projects. “Auto dealerships are one area of tremendous expertise for our company,” Smith says. “While we have multiple specialties, in the past three or four years, the majority of our work has been in retail automotive dealership facilities. There has been an industry-wide push for dealership renovation, expansion and new franchises that has kept us pretty busy.”

Auto manufacturers such as GM and Ford provide incentives for their dealers to upgrade their facilities. “We became involved in those projects, and after a few very successful projects, through word of mouth in the dealer network, we began getting calls from throughout the region.” President Richard French says. “When serving as a design/builder, we engage with the customer as early as assisting in site selection, through design and engineering all the way to the final finishes. We also work for several large auto groups, where our involvement is as the construction manager/general contractor. Those type of projects are almost always won through a competitive bid process.” McRight Smith

Among recent construction projects for automotive retailers is a total renovation of Foss Motors Co., a Ford dealership in Liberal, Kan. “We gutted the whole thing and rebuilt it from scratch with an entirely new façade while expanding multiple portions of the dealership to include the showroom and service center,” Smith says. “The folks at Ford Motors tell us that our company has renovated, or newly built, more Ford dealerships that anyone else in our area over the last three years.

An example of new dealership construction is Star Dodge in Big Spring, Texas. “We worked with the owners to design it and took it from site selection and environmental impact, all the way through to the final product,” Smith says. “We’re very proud of it.”

McRight-Smith Construction began work on Star Dodge’s third location when the dealership was deciding between two different sites. “We identified the pros and cons of each site with an eye on how they would impact final construction pricing and marketing,” Smith says.

For example, one location was on a busy highway with high visibility with open land between hotels and restaurants. Another site would have required substantially increased preparation work that would have driven up the total cost of the project. “Having our analysis allowed our customer to make a highly informed, reasoned decision of the best possible site, at the best possible price,” Smith insists.

Quick Construction

Once the open site for Star Dodge was chosen, construction of the 26,000-square-foot dealership proceeded quickly, starting on June 1, 2015. “Seven months to the day from when we broke ground, they were moved in and operating,” Smith relates. “We worked a deal with the city to get their service center operating with a temporary certificate of occupancy. They were selling cars within four months. They were happy they got started faster than they thought they would.” Approximately 25 subcontractors worked on the project.

Because of branding, auto dealerships are taking on more standardized appearances. “Most of the brands are driving toward a unified look, and that’s because of their more centralized marketing and branding campaigns,” French says.

That unified look results in the employment of large architectural firms by the auto companies to design their dealerships. “There are pretty tight standards for design,” Smith emphasizes. “We work with very large, often highly specialized architectural groups that manage the design.

“When we lead the design effort, working directly with the owners, we have the experience and expertise to make certain we get the company’s design requirements right the first time,” Smith stresses. “In some aspects, it’s made it easier under stringent guidelines. Understanding the requirements allowed us to very accurately price the entire project during the design phase.”

That uniformity and the sheer number of dealerships McRight-Smith Construction has built gives the company an advantage over other contractors. “We’re very competitive and very consistent in pricing,” Smith declares. “We can look at a project and tell you what it will cost and come in within a reasonable percentage of that every time.”

Remodeling Dealerships

French stresses that many auto dealerships are unique in their operations. “We’ve dealt with so many dealerships that having that experience allows us to get through it a lot quicker, especially when you’re doing a remodel,” French adds. “The dealerships have to remain in operation, so we’ve got to be able to work with them in phases to where they can keep service and sales open while we’re in the process of redoing their store.”

The recent remodeling of a Ford dealership in Abilene, Texas, that was originally a military aircraft hangar required some creative design. The dealership had been renovated several times already, and Ford required a large silver tower in the front of the dealership that carried the company’s brands. Sometimes in retrofits, the exact design a brand requires will not fit the building, so a new way to design the front wall was invented for the Abilene dealership.

“You have to find an alternate way to do it,” Smith explains. “We ripped the front off the building.” The wall was made a free-standing structure, which had the added benefit of offering much greater structural support in the ground and the ability to withstand the high wind loads in the region. “We have additional material we put on the actual façade of the building, so from a distance it looks like it’s connected,” French adds.

Aviation Hangars

McRight-Smith Construction has a long history as a premier construction manager for aircraft hangars built primarily at reliever airports. In fact, McRight-Smith has built more aircraft hangars in Texas than any other construction company in the industry. McRight-Smith’s focus on highly customized executive hangars for individuals and companies is another of the company’s specialties.

“Most executive hangars have one- or two-story offices,” French says. “Some have full kitchens, and some have rest rooms and showers. Some of the hangars are quite extensive with their office build-out – one of them put in a floor of Astro turf, full masonry and a faux fireplace – they can’t have a real one.”

McRight-Smith Construction was founded in 1984 under the name IAM Construction. McRight-Smith Holdings acquired the assets of IAM Construction eight years ago. In 2015, the name was changed to McRight-Smith Construction to avoid confusion and bring the company’s name in line with other McRight-Smith companies.

“We are a family company, and our employees are just that – our family,” Smith stresses. “We enjoy working together, and our spouses and children know one another – it’s a really, really good group of people.”

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