Corinthian Contractors Inc.

Corinthian works for the government because federal acquisition rules give contractors rights. In only 11 years since its founding, Corinthian Contractors Inc. is turning into a pillar of the construction industry in the Washington, D.C., area. “We had a run of about five years at Dulles Airport during their $4 billion capital campaign,” acknowledges Jamie Doll, president and co-owner. “We did about $35 million worth of work over five years for them.”

The latest project by Corinthian Contractors for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is the Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC) in Warrenton, Va. The ATCSCC regulates all aviation traffic in the United States and is moving from leased facilities in Herndon, Va., to the new facilities Corinthian is building.

The new 80,000-square-foot, $25 million building will be outfitted by the FAA with approximately $30 million of equipment. Doll estimates the final cost of the facility will be approximately $75 million, of which the building is only one-third.

With its concrete foundation and steel superstructure, the three-story building has brick, curtain wall and champagne gold metal panels on the exterior, along with two penthouse mechanical suites that make up the third story. The operations and administration sides of the building are joined by a common lobby.

“The amazing thing is the grounding grid that goes in the facility,” Doll marvels. “In the operations facility, there is a copper grid under the floor that ties into the extensive central grounding system. It’s triple-redundant. If you walked across the carpet, I don’t think you could get static electricity.

“They have utility power, a backup generator that would power the entire facility,” he says. “The batteries last for a week.”

High Security

With no basement, the electronic and electrical raceways under the floor are accessible by simply unlocking the lightweight concrete floor tiles above them with the authorized key and lifting them up by hand in 2-by-2-foot sections. At the same time, the tiles are rated highly for strength. “You can drive a forklift across them – they’re rated for 10,000 pounds,” Doll insists.

Started in January 2009, the building had its first milestone turnover in May 2010, and following that, the extensive installation of wiring, hardware and data relay systems began. Once those are completed, the new ATCSCC will “shadow” the existing one to ensure it is operating according to specifications before closing down the old facility.

Security at the construction site is tight. “Only FAA-badged individuals are allowed to go into the facility,” Doll declares. “We have a half-dozen guys FAA-badged.” Obtaining the badge can take up to six months. Armed guards are on site at all times and all vehicles entering have to be checked. The construction site and a current FAA facility are separated by barbed wire and a chain-link fence.

“It’s in a remote location, and it’s probably about every bit of 500 feet away from a main road,” Doll emphasizes. “It’s tucked back in an area that is very secure.”

Somewhat Subcontracted

The ATCSCC is Corinthian Contractors’ largest project to date, says William Teague, secretary/treasurer and co-owner. He says the project used 20 subcontractors, who did the electrical, mechanical, structural steel, masonry, curtain wall, dry wall, metal panels and terrazzo flooring.

“We self-performed about 40 percent of the work,” Teague reports. “We did all the earth-moving, demolition, site utility work, water, sewer and storm. We performed all the structural concrete, curb, gutter, paving and a pond, which manages the water runoff. We enlarged the current pond. It’s probably about a 4-acre pond.”

This percentage of self-performed work on a project is low for the company. “On some projects, we self-perform as much as 90 percent of the work,” Doll stresses. Having greater control over the site work was the basis on which Corinthian Contractors was established.

“I’ve been in the business for 30-plus years predominantly managing heavy highway projects, earthwork, utilities, structural concrete, paving and the like for local Washington contractors,” Teague relates. “That’s pretty much my background. Jamie came from a predominantly vertical or base-building background.”

They met on a job before deciding to start their own company together. “I was managing work for another company and Jamie came on to actually build a building as a subcontractor for me,” Teague remembers. “That is how we got to know each other. We began to talk about government and facilities work, and the mix of building and site, and about how if you could do both, it would give you an advantage over many general contractors, who predominantly subcontract their site work.

“Site work is the gateway to the building, and it’s not just doing the site work and then building the building – it’s an ongoing process,” Teague explains. “It’s Jamie being able to instantly attack problems and not have to ask someone who is under contract with a particular defined scope. We can stop on one level of work and attack a problem area.

“Reducing or eliminating the markup and applying that bit of markup to the whole is the easy answer,” Teague continues. “But the bigger, more important part is you control the site. When you subcontract it, there is fuel for gray areas between the contractors. We felt by getting together and putting the two together that we would be more competitive and efficient. That was our original vision, and it certainly came to be.”

“I don’t think we could have planned what has happened in the last two years, but timing in life is everything, and it certainly has kept us alive,” Teague testifies. “We’ve even been able to grow in this downturn. We’re real excited about the future and being able to market this thing and even grow it through these bad times.”

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