Doing Good Things

Phoenix Contractors

Thirty-five years in a tough industry is an achievement deserving of congratulations. With a reputation for consistent and affordable quality, Phoenix Contractors, Inc. is proud to share its legacy of construction with the world.
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This is a company that prides itself on commitment and providing accurate information through clear communication. From its base in Ypsilanti near Ann Arbor in southeastern Michigan, its reach stretches across Wayne and Washtenaw Counties, in a hundred-mile radius that includes Saginaw, Lansing, Battle Creek, and the Detroit metropolitan area, where its signature quality construction is everywhere.

For design professionals looking to collaborate with a class-A construction contractor or those in search of a contractor to guide them through projects from the pre-design phase to completion, Phoenix Contractors, Inc. is a great fit. This dynamic and innovative firm is also favored for its full suite of construction management services that include all project accounting, supervision, and project management. It also offers pre-construction services like estimating, scheduling, Value Engineering, programming, and more.

Its competitive bidding strategies make the company particularly popular with schools, non-profits, municipalities, and universities. It has concluded hundreds of projects for the University of Michigan and has been on its preferred supplier list for over thirty-four consecutive years. Also, the company has completed work for Wayne State and Eastern Michigan Universities and has worked with TCF Bank, Fifth Third Bank, and scores of local government offices and more.

Phoenix Contractors, Inc.’s progressive management system means that dedicated project managers commit to individual projects, completing the process in collaboration with the project owner and all other parties involved.

“Our team of managers and superintendents have been employed with Phoenix Contractors for an average of twenty years and bring continuity of service and harmonic project delivery to every client,” says President Mark W. Hiser.

The system is finely tuned with four senior project management teams handling all projects. Every group consists of a coordinator/project engineer and site-specific project superintendents. “Each team is built around veteran employees and matched to the qualifications of each project. As in sports teams, we have a few young-bloods in our system helping, learning through education programs and hands-on experience in the office and the field,” Mark adds.

The company’s client profile is as diverse as its project portfolio. Its happy customers range from commercial, retail, and financial institutions to schools, churches, multi-family developments, and light industrial, light medical, and municipal construction. The company has also worked with several non-profit entities and animal care facilities.

It is passionate about restoration. Its latest project was recently completed at the University of Michigan and was the largest and logistically most complex to date. The William Clements Library houses a vast collection of historical archives, rare books, and manuscripts. This extremely sensitive renovation and addition project entailed lowering the existing basement by six feet and building an archive storage structure forty feet below grade with a new mechanical plant at the lowest level of the addition, plus a few further improvements. Below grade, atmospheric-controlled, historic archive storage was added.

Another landmark project was the renovation of Ann Arbor’s famous sandwich delicatessen, Zingermans. The deli stays open from 7 AM to 8 PM during the week and later on weekends. Disrupting people in getting their daily sandwich fix was not even a consideration. The deal was clear. There was to be no downtime. Together with the Zingerman owners and Quinn Evans Architects, Phoenix Contractors, Inc. planned the logistics with laser precision.

The Historical Commission, The City of Ann Arbor, and surrounding Fourth Ward community were all on board and work began. Over the next four years, all stakeholders met every Tuesday to fine-tune every last detail of the project as well as the logistics that would eventually see the project completed over nine phases without the loss of a single business day.

“The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold-certified project was woven in and around the existing historic buildings and completed as scheduled, on budget, with zero lost days thanks to the commitment of the individuals that continued to work together every day as a team from concept through final completion of the project,” says Mark.

Bringing large projects together takes great logistic skill, and Phoenix Contractors, Inc.’s pre-construction consulting is successful in providing within-budget delivery on even the most complex projects. Its astute estimating, scheduling and value enhancement takes this company’s services far beyond what standard contractors can offer, and the proof is in the results.

“Our harmonic team member approach allows each member of the team to maintain open communication and be fully prepared to make valuable and critical decisions throughout the project. This is our key element in the construction management delivery we offer,” says Mark.

Hiring frenzies are simply not part of the company repertoire. “We give our clients a great team of long-term, experienced employees. We do not just load a job up with young-bloods and new people. We keep our growth contained in order to offer quality service delivery on every job,” Mark tells us.

Here, every client matters because satisfied clients are the reason for its existence. Because of this, the company is focused on making certain that it has more than sufficient resources to deliver top-notch projects every time.

Mark ascribes the company’s success to its wonderful, loyal people, each with a responsibility to fulfill. “We run our company like game day at a football game. Each position has a job to perform. If each player is prepared and performs with integrity, the team will be successful. It will gain yardage and compete for the victory. People like working with our team, and we enjoy being a part of their success,” he says.

Safety is a huge part of the company’s culture, so its dedicated safety team and safety consultants ensure job site safety through audits and training. All employees are certified by Management and Unions Serving Together (MUST) as being drug-free and also hold thirty-hour training certifications from the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certification. This type of safety training is continued throughout the year, and people must requalify annually. Moreover, staff can also choose from a number of training seminars and construction education programs through the Washtenaw Contractors Association to increase their knowledge.

William Kinley founded the company in 1984, selling Phoenix Contractors to Mark W. Hiser in the fall of 2017 in a smooth transition in ownership. Mark had joined the company in 1996, and after eighteen years as vice president, was ready to take on the role of president. His great appreciation for technology was kindled during his days studying construction management at Eastern Michigan University, from which he graduated in 1986. His deep understanding of what technology can bring to the world of construction made him an early adopter of many technologies that have since become standard.

Mark is exceptionally proud of his workers. “Our employees are experienced professionals. They are loyal, and we all work very well together,” he says. They are particularly appreciated for taking care of clients, design professionals, and subcontractors.

For Mark, treating people with respect is just as important as being a good listener and processing information properly before making a judgment. “Know and respect history, learn and create, so you can do good things for future generations and be a part of their history. Do this and stay humble,” he says.

The company insists on making sure that its people have a good work-life balance and that employees and clients are matched according to their strengths and traits. Collaborating has been the vital to its long-term relationships and track record of achievements.

The company has been recognized with countless awards, including twenty-four nominations for the prestigious Washtenaw Contractors Association annual awards for the best project team, which it received eight times. The Huron Valley chapter of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) also recognized it for best interior design and as contractor of the year for the best animal clinic for its work on the Washtenaw Veterinary Hospital.

Being generous to its community is another important factor for Phoenix. Everyone from the Girls Scouts and Habitat for Humanity to many local non-profits like animal shelters, affordable housing, the crisis center, and the Salvation Army benefit from its support, as do a few local youth sports teams.

The company has survived all the country’s economic ups and downs over the past thirty-five years by maintaining good relationships and communication with all parties involved in a project. This includes banking, city officials, owners, architects, engineers, and subcontractors. Thanks to its experience and longevity, the company is well-versed in weathering storms and is respected and trusted throughout the industry.

This industry leader has its plan finely tuned for the next few years. It aims to maintain a moderate growth of around five to seven percent annually. Providing the best service possible and building new relationships are two strategies that are not about to change. For this company, good fortune comes from being reliable. It considers itself fortunate to have had ongoing good opportunities and have been able to do good things.

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 18, 2019, 7:51 AM EDT