Rochon Corp.

RochonRochon has applied its cost-saving methods to a variety of projects in Minnesota.

By Chris Kelsch

Rochon Corp. has completed a variety of projects in the Minnesota area, including shopping centers, schools and office buildings. Nick Reynolds, vice president and one of four owners of Rochon, sees that diversity as a key to the company’s growth since it was founded in 1985. “We are a diverse company with different market niches,” Reynolds says. “We are pretty adaptable when markets change.”

One of the core strengths of Rochon is its ability to help clients design a project to a specific budget. “We really work alongside clients as a team member,” Reynolds explains. “We try and help them realize what they can design to a specific budget.”Rochon info box

Rochon uses design/build methods when completing projects, which offers several advantages to clients. The first is that it presents a single point of reference for all construction, design, build, quality and scheduling issues. With this approach, the architect and contractor coordinate as a team while the owner can focus on the project’s scope and general decision-making.

Additionally, the design/build method allows the contractor to establish a guaranteed cost early on in the design phase, which allows the owner to make changes, request additional value-engineering or add scope to a project before the design is complete. “This is where a lot of our clients are finding value,” Reynolds says. “They realize they can hire us for the right project but also use us as a partner to keep it under budget.”

Additionally, the design/build method can save time because the design and construction work can easily overlap, allowing for fast-track construction. This not only shortens timeframes but reduces costs as well.

Pre-Construction Services

Rochon can also save its clients money through its pre-construction services. That includes scheduling, as Rochon will identify materials that have longer lead-times and track them aggressively for delivery. Rochon’s detailed schedules also accommodate the client’s other vendors such as providers of security systems or furniture. Cost-control is also managed with thorough reviews of change-order work, and Rochon updates the project’s budget at weekly meetings.

Expanded Client Base

Rochon has seen its client list and the variety of projects it has completed grow as it continues to streamline its building processes. “We have definitely found niches in the retail market,” Reynolds says. “There has also been a lot of growth in renovating charter schools as well.” Such projects have included a 35,000-square-foot addition to the Cologne Academy in Cologne, Minn., which included classrooms, a competition gym and a performance stage.

Other educational projects have included New Millennium Academy, a new 82,000-square-foot charter school in Brooklyn Center, Minn. This project included the construction of a three-story classroom wing as well as a gym and grand commons area.

Within the multifamily arena, Rochon has been particularly active in senior housing construction. The company completed Vermillion River Crossing in 2012, a three-story wood-framed senior apartment building with 66 units and underground parking in Farmington, Minn. Rochon also installed site utilities.

Reynolds says one of the keys to Rochon’s success has been its ability to foster repeat business. Because it is able to do such a variety of projects and keep within budget, many municipalities choose to work with it on multiple projects.

“When people decide they want to work with us, it isn’t just one person,” Reynolds explains. “It’s everyone at the company that is involved in a project, from ownership down to project managers and support staff.”

Another advantage for Rochon is the strong internal culture of its 38 employees. “We have a tight-knit company and plenty of growth opportunities for employees,” Reynolds states. “We have very little turnover. A lot of our employees have been here 20 or 30 years with no plans of leaving.”

Reynolds says employees are given the freedom to map their careers. “We give our employees a lot of freedom, but also a lot of responsibility,” Reynolds explains. “They are able to take their positions and grow, and make what they want with their careers.”

Rochon’s culture also includes a commitment to community service. In May, half the company was planning to volunteer at an event for Second Harvest Heartland, a group working to eradicate hunger in the Midwest. A majority of the company’s employees were also cleaning up highway shoulders for adopt-a-highway, a Minnesota Department of Transportation initiative to keep roadsides clean.

Not only is Rochon committed to its employees and community, but to its subcontractors as well. “Our projects do vary from different sizes,” Reynolds explains. “But it’s very rare that we use a new subcontractor. We tend to use the same groups of subcontractors for schools, and another group for retail projects, and another group for multifamily projects.”

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