CDI Contractors LLC

When a job requires a fast-track schedule, it always helps if there is familiarity between the owner and the contractor. Fortunately, this was the case for the Little Rock, Ark.-based CDI Contractors LLC, which has worked with MG Herring Group for several years before signing on to build The Village at Fairview retail lifestyle center. “We have a good working relationship with the owner as far as trust and looking out for their best interest,” Senior Project Manager Tommy Weed says.

“Both the owner and ourselves have the kind of relationship, which allows our team to move quicker and fast-track a lot better.”

The Village at Fairview is a 200-acre mixed-use development in Fairview, Texas, which is a town of about 8,000 people in central Texas. The project will feature a 1-million-square-foot retail component anchored by Dillard’s, Macy’s, JCPenney, The Container Store and Barnes & Noble. The retail element will also include a 38,000-square-foot Gold Class Cinema and 500,000 square feet of specialty shops and restaurants. CDI Contractors broke ground in fall 2007, and the center is scheduled for completion in February 2010 in time for its grand opening in March. The $58 million retail project was a negotiated bid between CDI and MG Herring Group. 

Although CDI Contractors boasts more than 20 years of general contracting experience, Weed admits the combination of a fast-track schedule and working during a recession tested the company’s flexibility. Because the owner needs to hold on to every potential tenant who shows interest in the development, CDI Contractors fielded change-orders faster than Weed can remember. “Retail is very challenging because it is such a tough market right now,” Weed says. “Owners have to adapt to the needs and requirements of tenants more now than they had to before. 

“This causes us to make modifications on the fly that maybe 10 years ago didn’t have to be done to accommodate the ultimate user of the facility – the tenant,” Weed adds. “These retail developments have always been oriented to accommodate the needs of the tenants, but more so today because the market is so tight.”

Because of these market conditions, it also changes how contractors schedule deliveries of certain aspects of construction. For instance, the distribution of utility lines inside of the buildings and corridor locations used to be two elements of the schedule that were delivered earliest. Today, however, nothing can be established that soon.

“You don’t have your lease lines and tenant demising lines established as early as you used to,” Weed says. “We have to be a lot more flexible on corridor locations because they may have to move to accommodate the tenants, which affects the flexibility required toward the end of a project in order to accommodate the end-user.”

Fast-Track Challenges

Because of the fast-track nature of the schedule, CDI Contractors has had to work off of partial drawings that were released in pieces. Weed says only a few buildings, foundation plans and steel requirements were available when it came time to break ground. 

“Early coordination was one of the biggest challenges,” Weed says. “The first buildings started as the other buildings were being designed, so this required phased project coordination due to all of the various scopes of work. There were a lot of meetings and a lot of coordination of the drawings trying to make sure everything worked.”

23 Years and Counting

William E. Clark founded CDI Contractors LLC in 1987 in Little Rock, Ark., with a commitment to provide clients with the highest-quality construction and preconstruction services available anywhere, the company says. “For two decades, CDI has been crafting superior relationships and instilling confidence in its clients by providing something exceedingly simple yet extraordinarily complex – results,” the company adds. “CDI has found that a team approach to construction management promotes efficiency and value for our clients through meaningful communication.  A good reputation can only be earned through time, hard work and the consistent execution of a precise vision.” 

CDI says its safety and substance abuse programs provide a safe working environment for its construction workers, as well as reduce its construction costs through lower worker compensation rates. 

“CDI Management is firmly committed in its endeavor to providing a safe and healthy workplace and expects the full cooperation of all personnel in meeting this goal,” the company adds. 

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