Making its Mark on the Austin Landscape

Sabre Commercial

Austin, Texas-based Sabre Commercial is an award-winning commercial construction firm that has reimagined what is possible in the markets it serves by developing a unique culture and approach to construction, where building relationships is an integral part of building exceptional and dynamic spaces.
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The result of this approach is satisfied clients, empowered employees and a wealth of subcontractors and vendors who understand what it takes to perform work that consistently checks all the boxes in terms of quality, safety and service. Across the entirety of the organization, there is a deep commitment to the specific requirements of each project.

Sabre Commercial undertakes projects in the healthcare, higher education, commercial interiors for Class A office spaces, and ground up construction sectors, and the aesthetic and function of these projects are second to none. As the company notes, “It takes a different perspective and skill set to build an operating room than it does to build a corporate office,” and Sabre Commercial has that diverse expertise in house to ensure that the right people with the right skill sets are taking charge of a project. The company couples this expertise with the culture to get the job done.

Sabre Commercial was founded in 2008, in what seems like the worst possible time to enter the market. The recession was underway and market circumstances were less than ideal, but as others closed shop, founders John Cyrier, Matt Lutz and Todd Reimers took a risk and set out to make their mark. If Sabre Commercial was going to not only survive, but thrive, it would require a different approach to building; the company founders knew this to be true and were sure to entrench it in the company culture.

“The culture is important in attracting and hiring quality talent but also overflows and crosses over to our interactions with our clients, our subcontractors and our vendors who desire to get the work done, get it done on time and actually enjoy what they are doing,” explained Chief Business Development Officer (CBDO) Todd Reimers of that infectious spirit that separates Sabre Commercial from the competition.

He noted, “During that time, we took care of our subcontractor. We treated them fairly. We paid them. We formed relationships with them in a difficult time and nowadays, we have a wealth of qualified subcontractors who like working for us given the opportunity. It’s based on those relationships that we bring a good base of subcontractors to compete on behalf of owners for their project.”

With a team of nearly sixty people, Sabre Commercial is the perfect size to get any job done: it’s small enough to provide the attention to detail its clients need and want on their projects, but big enough to lead any project with a strong pool of qualified vendors and subcontractors to choose from. For the company, “People partner with Sabre not just because we do the best work, but because we work with the best people.”

In addition to its Austin headquarters, Sabre Commercial enjoys the benefits of having a satellite office in San Marcos. This footprint enables it to leverage talent and resources and undertake projects as far north as Killeen and as far south as San Antonio, as well as the New Braunfels area.

Reflecting on the company’s success, Reimers acknowledged that it’s the company culture and the relationships it has built that have allowed it to achieve what it has, and because of that, over eighty percent of its work is from repeat clients. They can trust that Sabre Commercial will perform.

Be it general contracting, pre-construction, construction manager at risk, or design-build services, Reimers explained that being able to deliver, “comes down to taking care of our people, our clients, our partners, whether they be vendors or subcontractors or the other myriad of consultants that we work with. We have to do the right thing and in turn, I think that pays dividends.”

Indeed, Sabre Commercial is regarded for not only the buildings it has designed and built, but also the relationships that serve as the foundation of these structures. As one company slogan states, “Before we build anything, we build relationships.”

Every project is designed and built through thoughtful and visionary intent. Buildings are not simply structures, they are functional spaces that change the landscape of a community and serve as the backdrop for life’s moments to take place. Through these projects, Sabre Commercial is making its mark on the Austin market.

For evidence of this, one must look no further than the St. Vincent project in Austin. The Lake|Flato-designed project entailed renovating the 5,000 square foot building that previously housed the St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Shop for more than two decades, in addition to constructing a three-story commercial/retail building adjacent to the thrift store on the lot.

“It’s a beautiful building,” Reimers explained of the project. “It’s unique in the sense that it’s not slab on grade and steel, it’s a structural concrete building and it’s well-designed and definitely makes a statement on South Congress.”

South Congress Avenue is an area that is seeing a lot of new development. It is home to retail which draws a great deal of pedestrian traffic, from both tourists and locals alike. This posed a significant challenge for the project. As Reimers noted, “Constructing a brand-new three-story building on a postage-stamp sized lot in a very high-traffic area presents a lot of unique challenges as far as getting materials to the site, being able to work safely.” He also highlighted the challenges associated with legacy infrastructure for utilities in the city’s core.

Another major challenge was the timing of the build. Austin plays host to the South By Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festival each year and though it is wildly popular, it taxes a lot of the city’s resources when it comes to inspectors and fire marshals. There is also a moratorium on shipping and receiving deliveries during that time to promote safety.

“We were pushing up against the beginning of the South By Southwest Festival with the completion of the St. Vincent building and thankfully due to a lot of hard work by our team on the ground, we were able to get that building a temporary certificate of occupancy prior to the festival, which meant that that two retail tenants of that building could open up to a lot of retail traffic,” Reimers explained.

Of course, quality, timeline and budget are important to consider on every project, but for Sabre Commercial, safety is foremost. That is why the company is a two-time winner of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of America National Safety Excellence Award, which Reimers joked, “Doesn’t happen by accident (no pun intended).”

Sabre Commercial has also received several awards from the Austin chapter of the AGC. Most recently, it was the winner of three Outstanding Construction Awards:
• Its work for Vida Capital + Ovation Partners received AGC Austin’s Interior Finish Out Award for projects valued between $500,000 and $2 million
• The renovation of the fifth and sixth floors at the University of Texas at Austin School of Architecture won the Education Award for projects up to $10 million in value
• The Power Home Remodeling Group was awarded the Industrial/Warehouse Project Award for projects up to $5 million

The company has also been named one of the best places to work in the city by the Austin Business Journal and the Austin American-Statesman, recognized for its culture, its performance and the many projects it has successfully completed. It has also been regarded as one of the fastest growing companies in Austin.

For Reimers and the rest of the leadership team, it’s wonderful to have come so far over the past eleven years, and there remains a strong desire to see Sabre Commercial continue to be successful for years to come. Sabre Commercial has secured a strong foundation upon which to build this legacy.

“Our goal has been to create an evergreen company that’s here a long time after we’re gone, something that our kids’ kids’ kids will be able to see and know that they’re still working in the community,” said Reimers. “I’d like to multiply that by ten. I’d like to know that we’ll celebrate 100 someday.” So stay tuned – Sabre Commercial still has a lot of building to do, both relationships and projects alike.

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 22, 2019, 1:12 PM EST