Always Over-Delivering

Frampton Construction

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Many construction companies follow the same approach: build, collect the money, and proceed to the next project. Frampton Construction is different. The company focuses on the complete construction experience and over-delivers at each stage of the project.
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Frampton Construction is a regional full-service construction company with two locations in the Carolinas. Established in 1977, it has 40 years of industry knowledge and expertise and has become one of the Carolina’s most trusted and well-respected construction companies. Frampton Construction offers planning and design support, preconstruction, construction, and sustainability services. It specializes in commercial construction and emphasizes client satisfaction, the overall experience, and project quality.

When asked about what a typical project entails, Derek Robbins, the Director of Frampton Construction, said, “Our clients will come to us when they want to build a building. We will find a site or they may have a couple of sites already. We do a cost analysis and a feasibility study to see which of these sites is best.”

Derek and his team analyze factors such as location, price, and proximity to other businesses. They take a long-term approach; they overachieve at every stage of the project to make sure it’s marketable in the future.

“What we talk about is overachieving on everything we do,” says Derek. “Whether it’s a formal document, email, or a poster in our site trailer, we want it to be better than the last document, email, or poster. We continuously raise our standards to be better than we were yesterday. That drives us to not do what we’ve always done. It’s a gradual improvement process.”

This gradual improvement process is part of the family-oriented company culture. “Our guys are able to question or challenge the methods and policy procedures to make it better. This is how we’ve always done it. It’s more of a family atmosphere than the big corporations where you’re often a number and more expendable. We care about each other.”

This company culture of gradual improvement applies to the entire project process to achieve customer satisfaction. “We will hold the owner’s hand through the whole process; we give them so much information; we call it an open book. We email them a weekly report with the week’s construction status, completed activities, pictures, and descriptions, so that person can forward the information to their superiors.” It is a process that keeps everyone in the loop and makes sure that clients aren’t involved in the day-to-day activities, but have peace of mind knowing the work is getting done.

Frampton also has strict quality control procedures as it moves through the project process to ensure the work gets done correctly. “We have a third party consultant to review drawings, details, and to conduct pre-construction meetings. The consultant reviews the work when it starts and progresses, and does another inspection when it’s finished.” Checks include, among other things, correct window installation and ensuring there are no water leaks.

By following the gradual improvement process and strict quality control measures, the company produces projects of the highest standard. As a result, the firm generates a lot of repeat business. Just recently, Frampton completed multiple projects for the Southeastern Freight Lines. “They have terminals throughout the United States,” remarks Derek. “We built relationships with them, and they have learned to trust us with their construction needs. They have standard details that we carry from project to project – details that are not incorporated into the drawings, but we know they want. And so we carry those forward and deliver on that.”

Design-build techniques are also crucial for Frampton’s success. Design-build is a process whereby one company completes both the design and construction. “We sit with the client and help them figure out what they want,” says Derek. “We run the design ourselves, have third party consultants, a design team member, and sub-contractors. They draw the designs against a strict budget.”

The team recently delivered a project to a client two and a half months ahead of schedule and under budget using this method. “We actually gave some money back to the owner,” says Derek. In an industry that’s notoriously tough, this is a major achievement.

Another notable project includes work on a manufacturing facility for a large automotive client that makes drive shafts for Volvo, Daimler, and BMW. “This will be their U.S. headquarters, which will handle growth. We’ve been working on this project for three years, helping them with the building, size, shape, and future expansion plans.”

Frampton’s subcontractors are crucial to its ability to deliver these projects on time and on schedule. “Our subcontractors are our partners,” says Derek. “We want to treat them the way we want to be treated, and that’s with respect. We’re not going to use a subcontractor and discard them; we will help them become better. We will help them make more money.” Derek continues, explaining how the team works with contractors to deliver the highest quality projects. “We’re not cost-driven to incentivize our people to cut corners and save a dollar here and there. We would rather spend money to make that building the best it can be.”

While the company has achieved much success, it has faced the challenge of finding the best talent to support its philosophy of achieving the highest quality. “We don’t want to hire [just] any project manager or superintendent,” says Derek. “We’re looking for people that what to be a part of the process and grow with the company.”

The company finds the majority of talent through fact finding, recruiters, and industry connections. “We had an instance where I dealt with a subcontractor and felt he would be a good addition to the general contracting side,” remarks Derek. Frampton also attends University career fairs to speak to graduating seniors and rising juniors and to encourage internships. The internships help Derek and the team learn about the interns, explain expectations, and teach the firm’s unique construction model.

Hiring the best talent is pivotal for success, and this is why Frampton has growth models for employee promotion. These models are important because they make employees feel appreciated. It’s an approach that stands the firm in good stead for sustained growth as it becomes more selective in the projects it undertakes. “We will turn down work to prevent hiring a PM just to fill a spot to keep the monster fed. We would rather select specific projects and execute them with the right talent.”

Frampton Construction is well set for continued success. The company takes a different approach from other construction companies. The team focuses on the complete construction experience, builds relationships with employees, subcontractors, and clients, hires only the best talent, and emphasizes project quality. These factors help Frampton Construction over-deliver, something that is set to continue well into the future.

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 18, 2019, 9:35 PM EST

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