Sports Construction Group LLC

When you are playing for a World Series, as the New York Yankees did last season, the last thing your team wants to worry about is whether its field will hold up. That is where Sports Construction Group (SCG) comes in. Originally a heavy highway contractor, the company has transformed itself into a leading contractor in playing field construction, including work on the new Yankee Stadium, Chicago’s Soldier Field, Notre Dame stadium in South Bend, Ind., and a host of others across the country. 

Based in Brecksville, Ohio, 13 miles south of Cleveland, SCG started locally by performing some work for the Cleveland Browns. When construction on Jacobs Field began in 1993 – since renamed Progressive Field – SCG bid on the home of the Cleveland Indians. It was this job that brought SCG to the forefront of the sports field industry. 

According to President and CEO Paul Franks, SCG has become successful because it brings a construction mentality whereas the majority of the companies performing field construction have a landscaping background. “We have quite a bit of different equipment to use, and have a better ability to do the work and cut down the amount of time needed,” he explains.  “We bring our construction knowledge and attack the jobs pretty hard.”

Along with its can-do mentality, Franks credits SCG’s ability to foster good relationships for bringing the company success. He notes that the company has great relationships with construction firms such as Turner Construction and Hunt Sports Group, as well as with Major League Baseball and the National Football League. He says the company knows how to perform to the high standards that these organizations require. 

Project Responsibility

When SCG takes on a project, it takes on as much responsibility as it can, offering a single source for owners. “We do all the work,” Franks states. “Where most turf people sub out the site work and the drainage and all the construction work prior to the turf going down, we build. And if it’s not done right, it can look great for a couple years but everything begins to fail because the base is not put in correctly.

“Our own crews do all of the work, from start to finish,” Franks continues. “We offer a turnkey solution. We do our own schedule and are able to supply materials, and we make sure everything is there and we are able to work without delay. We are also able to provide a warranty on the base and the turf.”

SCG offers a warranty that is exclusive to the company. It is insured by a third party and covers both the base and turf for eight years. Most warranties only cover the base for a year and the turf for eight years, Franks notes, adding that poor bases are often the problems with fields. By insuring the warranty through a third party – Colony Insurance – Franks believes the project’s owner can have a sense of relief when it hires SCG. “There is a lot of fear in the industry because a few firms – large firms – went bankrupt,” he says. “The amount of turf companies that have turned over in the last two decades is unbelievable. It puts a lot of fear in the owner about whether if there is a problem with the product will they be protected. To prevent that through an insurance company is pretty big for them.”

SCG’s “eight by eight” insurance protects the owner in the event that SCG cannot perform the warranty work, and this includes the extreme case of the company filing for bankruptcy.

Communication Is Everything

With more than 50 years in the construction business coupled with more than 20 years building sports fields, experience plays a large role in SCG’s operations. The company has earned a reputation for providing trust, quality and on-time delivery on projects, Franks asserts. 

He says that experience is definitely a big point because it builds the confidence of owners, especially when an owner sees how engaged SCG is with its projects. “A lot of people hire subcontractors and manage from an office,” he says. “All of a sudden, the owner talks to the sub about the project and the sub doesn’t know what to say. If I were doing a project at my house or on our office, I would want someone there who is able to make decisions and answer questions when the owner has them. 

“Communication is by far the biggest part of our success,” he adds. “Communication is everything. We are not hiding things. If there is a problem on the job, we come right up front with it and talk about the problem. There are enough people to think through to a solution. We have an open-door policy for all business.”

And just like the championship teams that SCG builds for, the company is built to last. “We have a very good succession plan with quite a bit of young people here,” Franks says. “We are planning 10 years ahead constantly. Some partners already have grown kids working at SCG and others have very young children, so there could be several generations of owners to continue what we have started.” 

Established in the Industry 

Franks believes it is important for SCG to be a part of industry associations, which he says helps the company stay innovative and up-to-date on industry happenings. Among the associations SCG is a sponsor and/or a member of are Sports Turf Managers Association, Stadium Managers Association, Synthetic Turf Council and National Field Hockey Coaches Association. 

In addition, the company has earned a number of awards and in recognition of its growth and success. These include the Weatherhead 100 from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and the Council of Smaller Enterprises. The award recognizes the fastest growing companies in Northeast Ohio. 

The NEO Success Award was given to SCG in recognition of it being one of the top-performing companies of Northeast Ohio. The award is sponsored by Inside Business magazine and measures business success in sales, growth and profitability. The awards were established in 1995 and will recognize more than 90 business in 2010.

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