Rethinking Tradition

Connor & Gaskins Unlimited

The world of general contracting covers a vast list of services, sometimes making it hard to find experts in specialist fields. However, for those looking for an unconventional set of turnkey services where thinking outside the box is the only standard rule, Connor & Gaskins Unlimited, LLC is the right partner for the job.
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The first thing that struck me during my conversation with Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer Craig Gaskins is the genuine sincerity that the company exudes. Together with their employees, Craig and fellow Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Barry Connor uphold an incredible culture of honesty, integrity, superb customer care, and excellence.

Connor & Gaskins is all about partnership. Whether that means taking a client’s project from a napkin sketch at lunch to a complete, fully fitted and decorated twenty-five-storey hotel or making sure that its subcontractors do the best work possible while giving the client the best deal, its strong relationships are part of what makes it unique. Caring about the greater good is an inherent part of this formidable company, and it leaves no stone unturned to ensure that every client becomes a repeat customer.

The company’s approach has allowed it to grow from three men to an industry stalwart with $85 million in revenue and the capability to deliver only the best to the top performers in the property market. “Having said that, we truly don’t want to grow too fast because that can lead to underperformance. Our growth has modeled our client needs, and we intend to keep growing with our clients,” says Craig.

From offices in Naples, Florida; Aspen Colorado; and San Francisco, California, its sixty-seven permanent employees work in sixteen states across the US, together with a host of carefully vetted subcontractors. The company goes to great lengths to choose the best subcontractors, and external professionals have to pass a lengthy research and investigation process.

“There’s a lot of criteria that our subs have to meet, but once we sign them up, they’re part of our team,” says Craig. “We continually assess their work, which helps them to succeed, operate optimally and to get their fair profit at the same time.”

Connor & Gaskins, Unlimited constructs custom homes, commercial buildings, hospitality establishments like restaurants, recreational facilities and resorts, assisted living facilities, medical and office buildings, as well as schools and education centers. Knowing that they are in good hands, its clients approach Connor & Gaskins for assistance with absolutely everything from conceptualizing to preliminary drawings and building three-dimensional models of buildings.

This all forms part of the company’s pre-construction services where project details are laid out, and unit count and proposed budgets are discussed. During this phase, the company also ensures that the project is feasible. Only once all these details are settled, one of its selected pool of independent, licensed architects is called in to make the final drawings for submission. This is not only an ingenious approach to easing the overall planning process but saves untold amounts of time, money and frustration.

Its services include site sourcing, selection, pre-planning, new builds, renovations, and improvements. In addition, it offers aerial photography and video, architectural design review, consulting, site selection, entitlements and, to top it all off, a great service warranty. For hospitality builds and hotels, it also offers furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FFE) for a full decorating and equipping service that includes selection, delivery, storage, installation, and asset management.

Its two founders and its management team are more than well-equipped for any task. The two partners started as stakeholders in a different, still existing, condominium contracting firm in Naples, Florida and established Connor & Gaskins Unlimited, LLC on 17 November 2010.

Barry Connor graduated from the Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering and obtained his Master of Architecture through the University of South Florida. While the company is not a design development firm, his behind-the-scenes sketches and three-dimensional cardboard mock-ups assist clients in visualizing the end product and iron out problems early in the design process. Barry is certified with both the National Council of Architecture Review Board (NCARB) and the American Institute of Architecture. He is also a certified general contractor in Florida and holds a building contractor certification in both Florida and Alabama.

Craig Gaskins holds a Bachelor of Science in Building Construction from the University of Florida and a Masters in Building Science from Auburn University, also in Florida. He is also a certified general contractor in Florida.

Its impressive list of capabilities and qualifications has led to customers ranging from homeowners in need of kitchen or bathroom remodeling to developers looking to erect sky-scraping hotels. The company refers to keeping its clients happy as creating “raving fans.”

“If a project is delivered under budget and on time, but we don’t have a raving fan in our client at the end of it, there is a problem. It is our objective to avoid this and do everything in our power to convert clients into fans,” says Craig.

Thanks to all its raving fans, Connor & Gaskins Unlimited, LLC has had many proud moments over the years, one of which is the complete renovation of the 266-suite Ritz Carlton in Sarasota, Florida which included a club lounge, ballrooms, and common areas. This was no mean feat, but it was returned to its former glory, and today, it is even more beautiful than before.

The company was also responsible for the construction of residential complex Artecity in South Beach, Florida. The beautiful project included building residential towers, villas, homes, and retail spaces. Connor & Gaskins also installed hardscape areas and water features. The north and south towers combined have around 113 units, while the areas known as Park Villas East and Park Villas West have eighteen townhomes. In addition, the Park Plaza Corner has shop spaces and ten junior suites.

Some of its current hottest projects are the Uptown Suites. These lovely establishments can be found Nashville, Tennessee; Charlotte, North Carolina; Miami, Florida and soon will be found across the United States. The apartment-style units offer fully-equipped kitchens, smart HDTV, and other comforts to make stays here as comfortable as possible.

Of course, when working across this broad spectrum of fields, correct certification is essential. Apart from holding all general contracting certifications in multiple states, the company is also a certified member of the Modular Home Builders Association and the Modular Building Institute.

With such huge responsibility on its shoulders, Connor & Gaskins Unlimited, LLC, takes care to hire only the best people in the industry and then keep them. “It is very important to us that our employees live a good home life. We make sure that they use all their vacation time, and we also try to provide a lot of opportunities to engage in activities outside of work. The lifestyle component is very important to us because a happy life beyond the office means happy employees who easily focus on day-to-day tasks,” says Craig.

Needless to say, its happy employees are very happy team players. And it is not only its own team and subcontractors with whom it proudly associates. The company is delighted to sponsor a number of schools and organizations including Young Life, Naples, Florida; The Optimist Soccer Club of Naples, Greater Naples Baseball, and Gulf Coast High School, among others.

“Part of our mission statement is that we place importance on a balanced lifestyle and work environment to maintain an elite and highly effective team because our people know that a shared vision leads to the successful outcomes of complex projects through healthy relationships,” says Craig.

Business is booming, and Connor & Gaskins Unlimited, LLC foresees a continued good run for at least the next two or three years. One thing is very certain: this is a company that is ready to earn clients’ trust through rock solid, visionary partnerships and superb work.

Building the Next Generation

As thousands of experienced workers retire across North America every day, it is small wonder many industries are concerned about the future. It has been a decade since the oldest members of the baby boom generation started leaving their jobs, removing from the workplace decades of experience and skills that are tough to replace. The situation is so dire that, when younger workers are not available or knowledgeable enough to take over, retired staffers are often called back to work on a part-time basis.

November 11, 2019, 9:55 PM EST