Granger Construction Company Inc.

GrangerGranger Construction Company Inc. serves commercial customers with integrity and a commitment to the highest quality.

By Chris Petersen

Les Granger grew up on a farm and went into the construction business right out of high school, so he knew a little something about hard work. That’s why, after rising up through the ranks of a large general contractor and becoming president, Granger says he grew tired of being focused on the bureaucratic side of the business. After years of dealing strictly with spreadsheets and sales projections, Granger says he wanted to get back to doing what attracted him to the construction business in the first place. “What it boiled down to was this: I had a passion for building buildings,” he says.

That passion inspired Granger and his wife Nancy to form Granger Construction Company Inc., in East Syracuse, N.Y. Since 1992, the company has been focused on providing a variety of construction services to commercial clients in and around greater New York State, the Mid-Atlantic region and even much of the entire East Coast.  Vice President of Business Development Don Kowell says Granger Construction now focuses primarily on New York, Pennsylvania and areas within a six-hour radius of Syracuse. Currently, Granger is building for clients in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland. Although the majority of the company’s portfolio consists of retail projects, hotels and movie theaters, Kowell says it’s not unusual for Granger Construction to take on projects such as student housing, healthcare facilities, commercial office buildings, credit unions, grocery stores and interior build-outs. “Like a lot of companies our size, we have a diverse portfolio of projects in our history of building,” he says.Granger info box

Granger Construction has become successful by building good relationships with its customers and subcontractors. Because of that, they have a strong base of repeat customers that continue to contact Granger for their construction needs. They have built for a number of regional developers, national retailers and franchise operators. For example, Granger has built several Microtel Hotels under the Wyndham brand for hotel operators. They are also building their third project with Dave & Buster's. By continuing to focus on doing right by its customers and staying true to its word, Granger Construction expects to continue holding onto its strong position in the marketplace.

Built on Integrity

Competition in and around the regions Granger serves is strong, and it expects to bid against as many as five other contractors for every project it pursues. With so much competition out there, Kowell says, it can be easy for a customer to think in terms of the bottom line. “Too often it all becomes about how cheap it is to do a project,” he says. “That’s not always the best end result for the client.”

Granger, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Even though cost can be a powerful motivator for customers, Granger remains competitive in the bid market and yet offers clients something more valuable in the long run. The company’s foundational principles of integrity, quality people and client service add up to Granger Construction’s ability to deliver high-quality projects at the right price. “We’re in the business of meeting expectations,” Granger says, adding that in an industry that’s often defined by adversarial relationships, Granger Construction goes out of its way to be a team player with owners and design professionals alike. “If we all share the same goals the results are better for everyone involved,” Granger says.

“Building relationships is essential to our business success,” Granger adds. “It’s not possible to build those relationships without a strong sense of integrity. That’s one of the things this company was founded on.”

Granger says the company also benefits from having a strong core of construction professionals in the company who bring a diverse collection of skills and experience to the table. This expertise of its people means Granger Construction is rarely faced with a construction situation it can’t handle. “We are a sleeping giant when it comes to capabilities. Meeting deadlines, solving constructability issues, managing logistics and budgets are just some of the challenges inherent in the construction world. We seem to shine best when under pressure,” Kowell says. In addition, Granger employs a full time safety office to be sure all jobsites provide a safe working environment for all.

Although Granger Construction is dedicated to turning over every project knowing that it has done the job right, the company’s service after the completion is another key differentiator. “It’s easy to build a building and say thank you and then walk away, but if a customer calls up after a year or two and says there’s a problem, we’ll do what we can for them,” Kowell says. “That is client service.”

Best and Brightest

Given the importance of high-quality craftsmanship and strong relationships for Granger Construction, Granger says the shrinking number of qualified tradespeople is one of the company’s biggest challenges today. “There doesn’t appear to be many young people migrating into the trades, so the world is depending on technology taking over for the lack of qualified craftsmen, which isn’t going to happen,” Granger says.

No matter how sophisticated technology used by construction professionals becomes, Granger says there will never be a substitute for skilled and qualified tradespeople when it comes to successfully translating customers’ wishes into a finished project. “I still believe there’s an art to construction,” he says.

“We’re kind of like the conductors of the symphony, and we have to pick the right musicians for the performance,” Kowell adds. “Because we carefully schedule our projects, manage safety, quality and communications, we attract good subcontractors to work with us and provide the resources to deliver the best results.”

Despite any challenges the company faces, Granger says the future for the company looks promising. He says the company has been motivated to be more diversified in the markets it focuses on. But even though the company’s capabilities are diverse, it doesn’t want to dominate any one market or sector. Granger says the company doesn’t want to be the biggest company in the marketplace, just the best in what it does. 

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