Building the Community
Located in Austell, Georgia, Swofford Construction is synonymous with quality, safety, on time delivery and integrity. President E. Kenneth Swofford founded the company in 1978 based on his extensive experience in the industry as a carpenter, assistant field superintendent and project manager.
The hands-on approach to construction projects taken by Swofford Construction has served as the foundation for its success as one of Georgia’s leading commercial contracting firms.
Swofford Construction is a true partner in the construction of educational, institutional, industrial, retail, restaurant and religious buildings. “We focus on markets where we can be successful,” explained Executive Vice President Joe Tuggle. “The harder and more complex the renovation, the more successful we are.”
Tuggle said that the reason for the company’s success is simple. “You say what you are going to do, and you do what you say. You treat owners, design professionals, subcontractors and employees the way that you’d like to be treated.”
“We create quality products, safely and on time. We do our best to be as honest, ethical, upfront and fair with everybody and hopefully that sets us apart.” This is especially true for the religious projects Swofford Construction undertakes.
“That’s a different market with regards to your customer. Your customer is unique in the fact that your construction services are being paid by donations from churchgoers,” Tuggle explained. The company feels that this heightens the level of accountability required.
Swofford Construction’s work for religious organizations often results in repeat customers. Camp Glisson is a United Methodist Camp in Dahlonega, Georgia for which Swofford has completed multiple projects, and this has become a highly-valued relationship.
Many notable clients rely on Swofford Construction to deliver results that are reflective of their values, and the company has an outstanding ability to complete even the most challenging and complex projects. Lockheed Martin Aeronautics is a repeat industrial client of Swofford Construction. Having clients of this caliber speaks volumes of its project capabilities, particularly with regard to its quality and safety standards.
“One of our most repeat customers is Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, and their internal safety policies are more stringent than others, so by being successful in working in their environment, that has allowed us to filter out those standards to other projects away from Lockheed so we can ensure that everybody on our job sites go home safe every day,” Tuggle said.
“As far as quality is concerned, we strive and we stress with our project managers, superintendents, field staff and subcontractors that there is nothing that substitutes for doing it right the first time, striving for the success of having a project completed with zero items on the punch list.”
Clients, when a project is turned over, can identify any issues that need to be rectified before a project is considered complete. A zero-item punch list indicates that everything is satisfactory, and Swofford Construction has instituted a company-wide goal of achieving this. There have been many instances where no issues were found.
“The one thing that I’m proud to say, I’m confident that everybody that’s with us currently buys into that every day. They understand what is important with regards to our success working with repeat customers, and that means we’re only as good as the last project we do,” Tuggle said.
Swofford Construction is deeply committed to safety and quality on all its projects through accident prevention, training and education and the development of a culture of safety, which extends to workers on the site and visitors alike. Camp Glisson is a great example of a project on which the safety of visitors was just as important as for the workers.
“We built their new dining hall which would seat 450 kids at once, and that building was built right in the heart of the camp during camp season with those 450-plus campers in and around our job site, constantly, seven days a week, and we didn’t have the first problem,” recalled Tuggle. “We started the project stressing the importance of behaving and working safety and letting the campers be campers.”
The company’s work culture revolves around the common belief of: “We’re all in this together.” That is certainly demonstrated through its charitable initiatives and community outreach. Swofford Construction supports many community initiatives such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Toys for Tots and has even done charitable in-kind work at the Equestrian Center for the Calvin Center.
Tuggle described the installation of the Swofford Landing and Fishing Pier at the Lake Hale Amphitheater Camp Glisson, a Methodist retreat. “We went on Saturdays for a couple of months and built a landing at their amphitheater. They didn’t have one and were doing presentations on the shore of a pond. We built the landing, and that allows them to put on productions on a wood structure. We had suppliers that donated material, and our employees went on a volunteer basis.”
This commitment to the community comes from the very top. President Swofford has been selected to serve in a variety of positions with entities such as the Boys and Girls Club, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Camp Glisson and the Georgia Branch of Associated General Contractors.
Tuggle also serves the community in several ways. He is an active leader with the Peachtree City United Methodist Church, past-president of Starr’s Mill High School Touchdown Club and many others. In fact, Tuggle and a group from the Peachtree City Methodist Church dedicated three weeks to help construct a playground in Liberia, Africa at the Bishop Judith Craig Children’s Village.
“For us here at Swofford, if it’s not full circle, then it’s a waste of time,” asserted Tuggle. The company’s work, both in terms of its completed projects and community outreach initiatives, has been recognized by a multitude of awards and industry honors. Build Georgia has repeatedly acknowledged the work of Swofford Construction. The dining hall at Camp Glisson, the fifty-four-acre multipurpose athletic facility at Lanier High School, and even the Lockheed Martin B-84 soil remediation project have received Build Georgia awards.
Swofford Construction’s commitment to safety has also been noted. It has received the Georgia Department of Labor’s Award of Excellence for Exceptional Workplace Safety; the Associated General Contractors’ (AGC) Certificate of Commendation for Safety Excellence – No Lost Time Accidents; as well as the AGC Building Division’s Certificate of Commendation for Safety Excellence – Zero Incident Rate in 10,000 to 50,000 work hours.
Tuggle currently sits on the board of the AGC and has taken an active role in its workforce development initiatives. He said that the construction industry has challenges related to skilled labor, and Swofford Construction is doing its part to build relationships with schools and educators to encourage students to undertake lucrative and vital careers in construction that will sustain the industry in the future.
More than just a construction company, Swofford Construction is a leader in the industry and the community. Integrity is more than just a word; it is a promise that is demonstrated in every project Swofford Construction undertakes.