Ridgemont Commercial Construction

Ridgemont picRidgemont’s reputation for customer satisfaction and relationship building led it to a major milestone. 
By Jim Harris

For Ridgemont Commercial Construction, building strong ties with subcontractors, clients and staff members is just as important as successfully completing its projects. “There are a lot of general contractors out there that are good at their jobs and can build buildings,” says Jason Lillard, president of the Irving, Texas-based company. “We believe we are only as good as our subcontractors and spend a lot of time nurturing our relationships with them, because without those, we can’t be as effective as we need to be. 

“We are also committed to providing 100 percent customer satisfaction,” he adds. “Our brand promise is complete client confidence.”

The company serves customers throughout Texas and Oklahoma in five main market segments ­– retail, healthcare, senior living, automotive and office/industrial. “Our diversity is a big part of the success we’ve had in the past 10 years,” Lillard says. “When one market is down, others are up; we don’t place all our eggs in one basket, which also keeps our employees happy, because they’re not just doing the same kinds of buildings over and over again.”

Ridgemont is equally comfortable with projects large or small. “We have the ability to go out and bid smaller projects, and are also successful at larger projects,” Vice President of Operations Paul Camp says. “We combine the agility of a smaller company with the financial strength of a larger organization.” ridgemont box

Roughly 80 percent of the company’s total business is with existing customers. Repeat retail clients include Sprouts Farmers Market, Whole Foods, LA Fitness, Gold’s Gym, Brookshire’s Grocery Store, Kroger and developer Cencor Weitzman. Other repeat clients include Granite Properties, First Choice Emergency Rooms, Texas Health Resources, Jackson Shaw and Crow Holdings. “We work with many of the same people time and time again, and we feel that’s one of the keys to our success,” CEO Bob O’Brien says. “We develop trust and build relationships with clients and subcontractors.”

From the Beginning
Ridgemont works closely with its clients and subcontractors from the very beginning of each of its projects. The company’s preconstruction services include conceptual budgeting, initial project scope assessment, budget monitoring, building information modeling, value-engineering, sustainable design studies, bid package assembly, subcontractor qualification and risk assessment.

“Our preconstruction services provide a comprehensive and informed plan that will eliminate surprises and save time and money. During this critical decision-making stage, the proper balance between quality, cost and function is established and maintained,” the company says. “Knowing this, Ridgemont works diligently to contribute our knowledge of construction processes, current costs and value-based solutions that enhance the design process.”

The company offers a “fully open book” approach to estimating. “Our goal is to reveal each available approach and all current cost information to our clients so that they can make timely and informed decisions,” it adds. “We vet every scope item and collaborate with trade experts, going above and beyond the industry standard to provide cost savings and quality control from the very start.”

Once a project gets underway, Ridgemont ensures it runs smoothly by providing a number of project management and field operations services. These include evaluating schedules, budgets and constructability; coordinating construction documents; customizing and implementing project procedures; monitoring and maintaining costs; assisting with permitting and approvals; procuring materials and services; project close-out and warranty management. 

Ridgemont plans and executes its projects with quality in mind. The company and its subcontractors follow a quality assurance checklist to ensure quality, and emphasize the need for exemplary workmanship during daily meetings. “Quality projects are critical to our success and begin with a thorough understanding of the client's objectives, plans and specifications,” the company adds. “Our project management and field personnel are dedicated to ensuring that we have constructed and performed in accordance with our clients’ goals.” 

The company believes in giving staff members the tools they need to best complete their jobs. These include web portals that enhance communication between the company and its subcontractors, as well as paperless communication tools such as tablets.

“We’re focused on being on the cutting-edge of technology that is available to construction companies,” Lillard says. “The industry tends to be very old-school and archaic when it comes to technology, but we’ve invested in technology that helps our employees be more efficient and concise.”

Recent Projects
Several ongoing and recent projects demonstrate Ridgemont’s diverse skills. The company from 2013 to2015 transformed four former warehouses on the former Federal Depot grounds in Fort Worth, Texas, into the 570,000-square-foot, $85 million Bob Bolen Public Safety complex, a state-of-the-art facility that offers emergency vehicle, police and fire training programs.

The first construction phase involved demolishing two surplus warehouses on the west end of the site to make way for an emergency vehicle operator course and fire training village. Dilapidated buildings on the property’s east side were restored and retrofitted to house classrooms as well as training facilities including mock villages, K-9 training areas and an indoor firing range making this facility the premier police and fire training center in the United States, Ridgemont says.

Salvageable materials recovered during the demolition and renovation phases were either recycled or sold, with proceeds reinvested in the project. Structural wooden beams recovered from all four of the original buildings were used as architectural features in a new administration building on site, and existing railroad tracks were left in place to mark the site’s history, the company adds.

Work began December 2015 on Phase One of Granite Place at Southlake Town Square in Southlake, Texas. The project is one of several the company has worked on for developer Granite Properties, O’Brien says.

The development is a core and shell site development for a 165,000-square-foot Class A six-story office building. The building is expected to house between 15 to 20 tenants, with the average tenant occupying 9,000 square feet. The project will also include a five-level parking garage adjacent to the building. The project is projected for a December completion.

Work is anticipated to conclude in early 2017 on the 39-acre Parc GSW project, a two-building industrial development in Irving, Texas. The larger of the two buildings in the development is 450,800 square feet, and the second building is 232,500 square feet. Jackson Shaw and Clarion is the site’s owner and developer.

The Parc GSW buildings are constructed of site-cast steel-reinforced concrete tilt wall panels. The panels are supported by steel reinforced concrete piers with a steel reinforced concrete slab on grade. The buildings’ exteriors will include high-end lighting and custom stained concrete panels, the company says.

The Parc GSW project is one of several large industrial developments underway for Ridgemont. The company is working on two buildings at Wildlife Commerce Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, a 220-acre site that formerly was home to a drive-through safari and wildlife preserve.

Wildlife Building 4 is a 205,550-square-foot tilt wall industrial shell warehouse, and Building 5 is a 682,240-square-foot build-to-suit building for industrial distribution. Both buildings are anticipated for completion early next year.

Ridgemont’s work on both buildings closely follows its completion in 2015 of Wildlife Building 2, a 344,400-square-foot industrial shell warehouse; and Wildlife Building 3, a 233,740-square-foot, LEED-certified build-to-suit building for a tire distribution company.

Both buildings consist of tilt-wall panels with conventional steel joist roof structures, single-ply thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) membrane roofs, steel canopy and storefront entrances, overhead doors and personnel doors.

Ridgemont is demonstrating its expertise in retail and mixed-use projects with its work on the 186-acre CityLine Market project in Richardson, Texas. The project included the construction of seven retail buildings including a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods Market. Three of the buildings consist of tilt-wall construction, while the others are steel frame. Exterior finishes include a combination of brick, exterior insulation and finishing system (EIFS) and stucco veneer, which give the buildings a “modern and lively feel,” the company says.

The Whole Foods building features a unique design consisting of Lamboo, a wood rain screen material; as well as aluminum composite panels and aluminum tube screen that will serve as a covered patio for outdoor seating.

Health and Wellness First
All of Ridgemont’s projects are completed with high safety standards in mind. “We place individual health and well-being as our highest priority,” the company says. “It is our goal to completely eliminate work-related accidents and illnesses by the relentless enforcement of our safety program, making safety consciousness an instinct for everyone.”

Each project has a representative of the company’s management team in the field overseeing safety. On a corporate level, Ridgemont retains a safety consultant and a safety director that regularly host safety committee meetings. The company’s safety efforts have paid off: In 2015 it reported a low experience modifier rating of .72, Vice President of Field Operations Dennis Mason says.

Safety is one of the core items emphasized in Ridgemont’s training and development program for incoming and existing field and other employees. Training and development is one of the company’s biggest strengths. A seven-person committee is tasked with maintaining and growing its training program. “The technology of this business is changing so fast, this committee meets twice a month to review and revise our training and onboarding processes just to keep pace,” Camp says.

Training is one way the company demonstrates its dedication to its staff. “I think the most important thing we do around here is take good care of our people, which pays dividends, especially at times like now, when the labor market is extremely competitive and our staff is getting phone calls from our competitors,” O’Brien says, noting that people, integrity, improvement and ambition are Ridgemont’s core values.

Ridgemont also builds its internal culture by regularly offering teambuilding opportunities. These include weekly staff basketball games as well as group outings and special events. “One of the things we focus on is doing things outside of the office with our employees,” Lillard says. “We go above and beyond what other companies do when it comes to developing camaraderie, and that has really helped maintain our culture.”

The company also supports a number of charities and community organizations through monetary donations as well as volunteerism. “It is very important for us to commit our time and resources back to the community,” he adds. “We make a commitment to support a number of causes and groups each year‚ although we don’t expect anything back from that, it comes back two-fold in the end for us.”

Structured Growth
The company has nurtured relationships since 1976, when it was founded by Dave Teague and Raymond Ames as The Ridgemont Company. O’Brien and a partner purchased the company from the founders in 1998. Lillard and Vice President of Field Operations Dennis Mason joined the ownership team in 2006.

Recent years have seen the company add new markets to its portfolio. “We’ve had significant growth over the course of the past five years, and I think that’s attributable to the fact that we always work hard on being better today than we were yesterday,” O’Brien says.

Over the last five years, Ridgemont has worked with a strategic planning consultant, CKG Group, who has helped it plan for the next four years. “This has made us a better company and allowed us to grow in an organized, structured manner,” Lillard notes.

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