Richlen Construction

With more than 75 percent of its business coming from repeat clients, Richlen Construction knows how to complete a successful project and keep its customers happy. The San Francisco-based company says its precon­st­ruction services and ability to pro­vide services above and beyond the traditional contractor sets it apart. “Our business is customer service-driven,” Project Executive Rob Melinauskas says. “We understand what our clients need and tend to do more than simply look over plans and build the project. We perform conceptual estimating and preconstruction services that go beyond the work an average contractor performs.”

Founded more than 30 years ago, Richlen specializes in tenant improvement and renovation projects. Clients working with Richlen can expect to see a savings of anywhere from 2 to 5 percent of the construction cost without compromising aesthetic or functional aspects of the project itself, according to the company. “We can save clients cost percentages like this because of our long-term relationships with some of the Bay Area’s best subcontractors in their respective fields,” the company explains. “Through many different challenges faced and met together, we have gained mutual trust and respect from them.”

Seeing Green

One of Richlen’s biggest areas of focus today is green building, and more than 50 percent of the firm’s employees are LEED-accredited professionals. Although not all projects require LEED certification, the company strives to complete each project with a focus on sustainability. “We let our clients pick their shade of green, and sometimes we’ll actually employ LEED-required components on projects without going through the full certification process,” Melinauskas says. 

In the past year, Richlen has completed at least 10 LEED-certified projects, creating buildings that increase productivity while reducing operational costs for its clients. “The process of designing and building green is fundamentally different from conventional approaches,” the company says. “Its integrated, holistic nature requires early and ongoing involvement by all parties to collaborate, agree on design and avoid potential obstacles.”

Richlen’s LEED-accredited professionals employ customized green building tools for clients looking to focus on sustainability. “Selecting Richlen as general contractor provides clients with industry-leading efforts toward recycling, material reuse and indoor air quality,” the company states. “For firms who want to be environmentally conscious, but not officially LEED-certified, we can assist on a project basis or collaborate in developing building strategies that will roll out into all future construction projects.”

On a Mission

Richlen recently completed the 123 Mis­sion Street lobby renovation project, and took an unusual approach to obtaining its LEED Gold rating. The project required the renovation of a public lobby, which does not qualify for LEED core and shell or existing building requirements. “This project was not new construction, but it wasn’t a traditional corporate interiors job, either,” Melinauskas says. “We had to perform a unique analysis to make the project align with corporate interiors.”

After completing a 19-page analysis, the company was able to pur­sue LEED certification. However, the challenges did not stop there, as the project’s phasing needed to be scheduled with the tenants in mind. “We had to create access to allow tenants access to the building at all times,” he says. “It was a matter of coordinating and building an attractive temporary partition and barricades for the project, which was definitely a challenge in a project of this size.”

The client’s original goal for the lobby renovation was to attract a new client base to replace the number of tenants that were moving out of the building due to expired leases. “They wanted to create a new identity for the building they already have,” Melinauskas explains. “We’ve already heard feedback that the renovation has helped their leasing quite a bit.” 

The Richlen Culture

Richlen’s long-term employees are dedicated to exceeding clients’ expectations. “The value we bring to the customer is definitely to deliver the project with their vision in mind,” Melinauskas says. “We’re always think­ing about how they plan to use their space and what process they want to use. We approach each project as a unique opportunity and work to employ the best systems and management methods for each project based on customer requirements.”

The firm’s culture encourages employees to engage in the decision-making process, and as a result, Richlen employs a number of veteran employees. “What keeps our turnover rate low is that we have a definite corporate culture that encourages innovation and strategic thinking, as opposed to being regulated and micromanaged,” Melinauskas says. “We definitely allow our people to be creative and use good judgment in everything they do.”

In addition, Richlen promotes an entrepreneurial spirit in its employees, encouraging workers to create strategic relationships and provide clients with value in each project. “Richlen is a firm where staff can leverage great benefits for others and have fun doing so,” the company states. “Over the years, several new San Francisco-area contractors have been formed by employees who developed their skills and knowledge of construction at Richlen.”

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