Ridgemont Commercial Construction

Ridgemont pic copyRidgemont Commercial Construction holds architects, subcontractors, clients and itself to high standards.

By Tim O’Connor

The moment Ridgemont Commercial Construction sets foot on the project site it takes control of the entire process. The company collaborates with the architect and owner to design the building and develop the construction plan, but once the actual work begins  Ridgemont’s takes the lead. It’s how Ridgemont ensures that decisions are made quickly and project issues are taken care of immediately so that the entire process runs smoothly.

“Our brand promise for Ridgemont is complete client confidence,” Vice President Joey Johnson says. “In order to provide that, we need an appropriate level of interaction with the client and the design consultants. What we want at the end of every job is to feel like we’re their in-house contractor.”

At the start of each project, Ridgemont holds a meeting focused on accountability: how the team will approach the job and how it will get through issues as they arise. Everyone on the project team is then held to that standard. “Every decision has a timeline that needs to be met in order to keep the potential cost and/or delay impact to the very minimum,” Johnson says. “It is our job to inform the client of these details in order to give them the best possible outcome.

“How we do business [sets us apart],” Johnson continues. “That goes from the top down all the way throughout company. It’s really a higher level of accountability, not just for ourselves but the entire project team.”

Delivering Transparency

Ridgemont construction has been a major player in the Texas construction market since its founding in 1976. The company primarily works in north Texas, Austin, San Antonio, Houston and Oklahoma, but, at the request of repeat clients, it has also completed projects in several other states. Projects fall into six main market segments: automotive dealerships/service centers, retail, healthcare, senior living, industrial and office. Recent projects include the six-story Class A office building for Granite Properties in Southlake, Texas; CityLine retail anchored by Whole Foods for Regency Centers in Richardson, Texas; Jim Snell Land Rover/Jaguar dealership in Dallas; and Frisco and Healthcare Associates four-story medical office building project with a sublevel garage in Las Colinas, Texas. Ridgemont Commercial box

The company offers construction management services. A small in-house crew can self-perform miscellaneous work on its projects, but it largely relies on subcontractors to complete the bulk of work on its projects.

Those subcontractors may not be Ridgemont’s own employees, but their work reflects on Ridgemont’s ability to manage projects – which is partially why the company prioritizes accountability. Holding individuals and subcontractors accountable requires a firm understanding of the work they’re completing. Ridgemont’s on-site superintendent’s already do a good job of reviewing processes and checking for quality, but the company is augmenting those efforts by using new technologies to keep all the stakeholders up to date.

At the end of each week, Ridgemont emails a presentation to all project stakeholders that provides a wide view of progress. The update includes 360-degree photos taken at the project that enable the client to virtually review the work that’s been completed, ensuring that the entire segment of the work has been completed correctly, not just the narrow section captured by traditional still photos.

Ridgemont began using 360-degree photos about a year-and-a-half ago and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. “The clients just have had rave reviews about it because they have never had access to a project like that before,” Johnson says. The company now has 20 4K-quality 360-degree cameras, enabling it to extensively document every jobsite. Photos are shared directly onto the project’s web based plan sheet, giving everyone involved access.

The 360-photos have a direct impact on work quality. Ridgemont’s superintendent’s review every part of the project, but they’re also on-site six days a week looking at the same things over and over. That repetition can make it easy to miss something. The virtual images provide another set of eyes that can identify if a detail is off.

To further enhance quality, Ridgemont employs a general superintendent and a vice president of field operations who is also a principal of the company.  They visit every project each week and conduct a checklist of all the work and site conditions. “That really helps with consistency on all of our projects because we have two highly competent leaders setting and ensuring Ridgemont’s expectations on each project,” Johnson says. The combination of 360-degree photos and general supervisors means that mistakes are caught and corrected quickly before they become costly rework.

Access to construction documents has improved as well. Ridgemont recently adopted PlanGrid, a construction document management system that allows for the easy sharing of construction documents such as blueprint updates, RFI’s and submittals  across the entire project team. The system ensures that every worker and craftsmen is using the correct plans and knows precisely what they should be working on.

Technologies such as 360-degree cameras and PlanGrid  help Ridgemont deliver on its promise of transparency. “It’s just been recently we’ve been able to find some user-friendly ways and something that doesn’t take an exorbitant amount of time to put together,” Johnson says.

The commitment to transparency has helped Ridgemont on recent projects such as the building of a new flagship Chase Bank in Plano, Texas. The design called for inch-and-a-half-thick glass tiles at the media wall floor area. These tiles are meant to be installed on walls not floors and, because they were translucent, the tiles could not be simply glued in place using standard methods. Ridgemont had to account for the unique material by using a non-acidic mastic for the setting bed to avoid etching the glass and cracking the tile. Further, the front elevation is Pilkington Glass that added a significant amount of weight to the structure, potentially creating some deflection in the steel beam structure.

To make the design work, Ridgemont, the design team and its subcontractors worked together to coordinate the attachment points and associated loads to account for deflections, then modified the steel members accordingly. “With thorough preplanning and teamwork we were able  to get through that entire project and open on time all while keeping the high level of quality that Ridgemont and our client demanded,” Johnson explains.

Market Experts

Employees respect Ridgemont’s approach to projects and have responded by voting it one of the Top 100 Places to Work in the region across all industries two years in a row, according to The Dallas Morning News . “I think that’s the most important thing to us,” Johnson says. “We are a service-based company. For us to have the best people and keep them happy and for them to reward us by putting us on that Top 100 list is extremely gratifying.”

That regional reputation demonstrates another of Ridgemont’s strengths. The company prides itself on having a strong understanding of the Texas market and the overall direction of the construction industry. The company participates in several industry organizations, such as TEXCO, The Associated General Contractors of Texas and the International Council of Shopping Centers. “It’s important for us as a company to understand where things are going in the market so we can stay ahead of the curve,” Johnson notes.

The company is wary of spreading that understanding thin by expanding to more geographic markets. Johnson says the Texas market is not fully saturated and there’s room for Ridgemont to offer new services. “We’re focused on growth within our existing markets and added services,” he adds.

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