Doing More with Less
SR Construction was founded in 1991 by owner Scott Loughridge. Located in Las Vegas, Nevada, this is a full-service, design/build company that strives for achieving quality, meeting schedules and delivering value to its clients. Its licensing capacity includes eleven states throughout the Southwest in which this general contractor serves the healthcare, hospitality and commercial markets, among others.
SR Construction first got its start with small projects such as offices, churches, parks, shopping centers and strip malls, before getting into the healthcare market in 1993. Like so many other businesses, the recession that hit Las Vegas caused SR Construction to cut back, but since 2013, this company has been on a path of re-growth.
This year, SR Construction is celebrating a milestone in its twenty-fifth anniversary. It remains a small family-owned firm and is very proud of all it has accomplished. “We made it through the recession, and we’ve continued growth,” says Bret Loughridge, vice president of operations and son of company founder Scott Loughridge. “We hit $75 million last year. And this year, we are projected to hit $80 million in revenue for the first time.”
In honor of its silver anniversary, SR Construction showed its appreciation by throwing a party. “We invited subcontractors, clients, employees – everyone who has been on the journey with us, who helped us get to where we are today,” adds Loughridge.
The company embarked on its lean construction journey back in 2009. “We have been learning and improving that portion of what we do ever since,” says Loughridge. “It’s, in essence, a method to constantly improve and try to provide value through the elimination of waste. There are many different forms of waste, but that’s the goal of lean construction.”
The company’s involvement with lean construction and the efficiencies that come with the knowledge and application of lean thinking certainly gives it a competitive edge. SR Construction’s efforts at lean construction are via the use of tools such as the Last Planner® system and pull planning, as well as collaboration and a team environment. Pull planning is a collaborative approach to scheduling between the last planners (the people actually performing the work).
“Our team is made up of the entire construction project team including architects, engineers, trade partners, and sub-contractors. We also bring the tradesmen and tradeswomen into the project a lot sooner to pick their ideas and get them involved upfront,” explains Loughridge. “Instead of the adversarial role found in the ‘us versus them’ approach, we use a more collaborative team approach, where all of us are working together for the end goal,” he says.
“We do this by bringing the trade partners and subcontractors on board sooner, rather than later,” he continues. “All of us work together to figure out how to either expedite what we’re doing or provide clarity on what’s happening, and then we provide the information to either side – whether it’s something the architect or engineer needs from us or vice versa. By getting what’s needed to the people when they need it and at the opportune moment, all subsequent activities can fall in line.”
According to Loughridge, a lot of credit for SR Construction’s success can be attributed to its employees. “They make us who we are,” he says. “Our employees’ professionalism, capabilities, willingness to work hard and ability to understand the vision that SR Construction has to provide quality and value to our clients, gives our company a substantial advantage.”
Like so many others in the industry, one challenge it finds itself dealing with is that there are fewer and fewer people entering the trades and the construction workforce. “I don’t think the construction industry has it all figured out yet, and neither do I,” says Loughridge. “But it’s a problem that everyone in the industry has to deal with.”
SR Construction, however, is meeting the challenge of a diminishing skilled workforce head-on. What can be automated? What can we do more of, with less? Are there different ways? These are all examples of questions that Loughridge says must be asked when working around the issue.
Since the firm has successfully worked through the recession, it has actually witnessed some positive change. “We have gotten a lot more efficient at what we do,” states Loughridge. “We’re able to do a lot more with less. It’s not just working longer or more hours; it’s being more efficient and understanding that there was a time when a lot of waste and inefficiencies happened because the attitude was: hurry up and get it done.”
Today, there’s more attention paid to what’s happening, and there is less money spent for the sole purpose of getting the job done quickly. “They (owners) are more cognizant,” says Loughridge. “They’re more wanting of defined items. And for us, it’s not just about working Saturdays and Sundays; it’s about asking ourselves: How can we plan this better? How can we be more efficient?” he explains.
“We continue to have people that are highly qualified and capable of doing a lot, but we’ve streamlined processes to cut down on the waste and learn what we were doing wrong so that we can improve and do better,” explains Loughridge. “And the biggest improvement we have seen is in our scheduling predictability.”
SR Construction was always very successful at getting projects completed on time as per clients’ request, but maybe not in the most efficient manner because there always seemed to be a race at the end. “With the implementation of pull planning on all of our projects, we have really seen an increase in our predictability and efficiency,” says Loughridge. “That tool (pull planning) has helped bring together the parts and pieces that make up the project in a more efficient manner which drives consistency and predictability.
“Now, we’re much more reliable with the [subcontractor’s] commitment,” continues Loughridge. “When things are getting done like this, we can be more predictable with the stakeholders in telling them when we’re going to be done.”
SR Construction incorporates pull planning, communication and accountability into the process of identifying constraints. But it also recognizes the importance of sometimes releasing those constraints to get things done when necessary. Loughridge goes on to say that when the customer needs something, it gets done. “And the customer in that frame of light can be whoever needs something. So, everybody is a customer of everybody else at some point; it’s not just the owner/client.”
The firm is incredibly proud of its long-standing reputation with both owners and clients. “They know what we’re capable of,” says Loughridge. “Most of our marketing is done with past projects. So, our work is our greatest marketing tool. We don’t spend a whole lot of money on marketing; we don’t have a big marketing department. A lot of it is spread word of mouth, through referrals from past clients.”
As the state of the industry continues to change, it demands flexibility and SR Construction is ready and willing to adapt and change, while making sure to continue providing constant value to its clients and potential clients. It is also continuously coming up with new, better ways to provide even more value in faster and/or less expensive projects. By doing things this way, it always aims to offer the highest level of quality and service on every project.
The company sees much potential for growth and is excited at the prospect, with visions of expanding to more of the southwest than just southern Nevada. “We plan to increase our diversity in projects to include more healthcare with additional healthcare providers as well as commercial, hospitality and industrial expansion in those markets,” says Loughridge.
SR Construction is a firm that has the capability to take on a range of projects. “We’re a multi-faceted company,” states Loughridge. “And we’re capable of doing projects in many different markets, sectors and geographical locations.”
SR Construction is proud of its capabilities to complete highly complicated projects, whether these are from the ground-up or renovations in which it has to keep things functioning, open and running twenty-four hours a day without issues. “We can build the complicated stuff,” says Loughridge. “We can build just about anything with the right people.”
With its passion for the design/build process and dedication to helping its clients fulfill their visions of the perfect project, there’s no telling what amazing opportunities the future holds for this company, but one thing is certain, SR Construction is ready to take it on.