Legacy Building Group

There is a perception that exists within various circles of the construction industry about minority-owned businesses. Many believe large, established contractors pursuing government contracts partner with minority business enterprises (MBE) on paper only to meet the criteria for minority participation on a given job.

That is not the case with Legacy Building Group (LBG), a commercial contractor based in St. Louis. According to Project Manager Bill Begis, LBG makes sure clients realize it is a solid choice not just among minority firms, but also within the entire construction market.

“We are a true minority sub that performs work that does not rely on our minority status to get work,” he says. “We have never needed to solicit work as a minority. We get work because we perform, and our projects get status as an MBE for hiring us.”

Founded in 2002, LBC is an MBE general contractor that has earned $80 million in revenues since it was established. The company specializes in the design/build delivery method and can self-perform a majority of the work on a given project through its two divisions: Mechanical Solutions Inc. and Legacy Interiors.

Mechanical Solutions is a mechanical contractor that performs work throughout St. Louis and the eastern Missouri region. The company specializes in HVAC and mechanical design/build commercial and industrial projects. Mechanical Solutions custom fabricates and installs HVAC ductwork and process piping, and its HVAC service department offers maintenance, repair, and retrofitting and replacement services.

Legacy Interiors performs carpentry work throughout eastern Missouri, including millwork, doors and finishes.

Although the two subsidiaries often perform work for LBG, they also seek out their own contracts. LBG also will hire outside firms if the pricing is better, according to Begis.

Learning Curve

One example of LBG’s active role in a joint partnership is the Missouri Baptist Medical Center project in Town and Country, Mo. Serving as a general contractor with Clayco Inc., this project calls for the addition of a 225,000-square-foot patient tower, a 160,000-square-foot garage and the Clinical Learning Institute.

LBG has partnered with Wies Drywall to handle drywall installation, and LBG is delivering all finish carpentry throughout the job on its own. The company is also learning on the job by taking advantage of Clayco’s use of Prolog and Primavera P6 scheduling software.

“Teaming up with Clayco has given us the opportunity to learn a new project on site,” Begis says.

Heating Things Up

Like many contractors, LBG has had to penetrate new markets as a result of commercial work drying up in the recession. In May 2009, the company joined a government program that weatherizes low-income homes throughout the St. Louis area. Funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Urban League Weatherization Program is designed to keep people in the area working while stimulating the local economy through the use of locally sourced materials.

Since LBG did not have a great deal of experience in the residential sector before earning this work, Begis says the company had to ramp up its operations to perform. This included hiring 10 new apprentices and sending four employees to the Building Performance Institute in Kansas City, Mo., for weatherization training. The company also purchased four new vehicles to keep up with the work.

Taking a Gamble

Although the company is now learning residential weatherization, one of its areas of expertise remains interior finishes. Through Legacy Interiors, LBG provided a complete millwork package for River City Casino in St. Louis. The company was brought on as a subcontractor, joining Paric Corp. and W.G. Yates & Sons Construction.

The $15 million package had Legacy Interiors on site from March 2009 to July 2010. This was by far the largest and most expensive contract in LBG’s history, according to Begis.

Along with millwork throughout the casino and adjacent restaurants, lobbies and banquet center, Legacy Interiors’ scope also included metal fabrication and installation.

The most challenging aspects of the project were the compressed schedule and the tight job site. However, those elements could not compare to making sure every owner’s representative for the numerous end-users of the facility were placated.

Maintaining Partnerships

Begis says LBG has strong relationships with subcontractors and general contractors alike.

“I think we have a good relationship with subcontractors as well as general contractors, since we self-perform work for other GCs, as well,” Begis says. LBG’s key partners include Wies Drywall.

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