Childers Construction Co. – Florida State University Stadium Expansion

Childers ConstructionChilders Construction aims to finish work at FSU’s stadium before the first home game this fall.

By Alan Dorich

Not many construction firms can say they have a major institution like Florida State University (FSU) as their largest client, but Childers Construction Co. can. “We’ve been working at FSU for 20 years,” Project Manager Jason Gassett declares.

“We take care of them,” he continues, noting the company has completed many projects for FSU’s athletics department, including the indoor practice facility, which was completed in just eight months.Childers Construction info box

Childers Construction’s ability to complete the facility in that tight time frame helped it win its latest project: the expansion of FSU’s football stadium, which was overdue for some changes. “There hasn’t been a substantial construction project there in 10 years,” Gassett says.

The stadium’s most recent projects, he notes, included the addition of three buildings in the early 1990s and a fourth on its north end in 2004. This new project, Gassett says, includes new windows for the stadium’s skyboxes and structural repair work to the existing bowl.

“It’s all steel work construction,” he says, noting that Childers Construction also is building elevator and stair towers that will serve the fourth and sixth floors. While the sixth floor will feature open terraces with canopies, the fourth will feature the Champions Club.

Spanning 40,000 square feet, the club will feature two levels of stadium seating. Previously, “The whole stadium was all bleachers before, but now we’ve got an area where there will be folding chairs with backs,” he says.

The club will serve spectators through its large indoor bar and concession areas, Gassett says. “It also will have new bathroom facilities and all new audio/visual amenities, including a bunch of TVs,” he adds.

Cool Under Pressure

Childers Construction, which is serving as the construction manager, started work on the stadium in April 2015. “We have to be done by the first home football game, which is on Sept. 10,” Gassett says.

The company is again coping with a tight time frame, as well as a site with tight constraints. “We’re having to pick everything up over the stadium with cranes,” he describes, noting that the cranes are being used for the steel portion of the project.

“It’s not like going and constructing a building in the middle of a field somewhere,” he says, adding that this portion of the project has been a learning experience for the company. “It’s hard to say whether or not we would do this differently on another project.”

Childers Construction also has kept people safe on campus as they commute around the stadium, Gassett says. “We’ve got four full-time people [at the] gates that help construction traffic in and out of the site and make sure pedestrians are where they’re supposed to be,” he explains.

The company has kept safe inside the stadium, too, as it has worked. “We haven’t had any injuries,” he reports. “We also employ a safety consultant that comes by every week and does an inspection.”

Keeping Busy

Based in Tallahassee, Fla., Childers Construction has provided construction services for more than half-a-century. Founder William E. Childers started the company in 1964 as a sole proprietorship.

He later incorporated the company in 1980 and retired in 1994. Today, Childers’ son, Vice President Sam Childers, and President Van Champion own Childers Construction, which serves clients in north and central Florida and south Georgia.

Gassett joined the company 13 years ago and credits its success to its staff. “We have good superintendents and good project managers to get projects done that others may not be able to do,” he says.

Although some firms suffered during the recession, “We were in pretty good shape,” he recalls, explaining that Childers Construction’s focus on public work kept it busy. “We do a lot of work for the state of Florida, school boards and hospitals.”

The company hopes to continue working at FSU. “The long-term plan for this stadium is to tear down the east and west sidelines,” he says, noting that the college plans to start that project in 5 to 10 years. “We’re hoping to be involved in that.”

For now, Childers Construction is keeping busy with other projects, including a $20 million park renovation at the Florida State Capitol building. “We’ve also got a $175 million wing expansion we’re going to do with Brasfield & Gorrie at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital,” he adds.

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