Success Thirty Years in the Making

RESOLUTE Building

Based in Chapel Hill, RESOLUTE Building has been providing general contracting and construction management services throughout most of North Carolina for more than 30 years…
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RESOLUTE Building’s offerings include new construction, renovation, and fit-ups for a variety of sectors including multi-family and senior living, hospitality, K-12 schools and higher education, civic and cultural, and houses of worship. “Our projects range from a $500,000 up-fit to a $45 million multi-phase construction project. Our sweet spot is around a $10 million project,” says Tony Jordan, Vice President of Business Development. “We also like to do specialty projects to add a little fun to our work. Right now we’re doing a million-dollar car wash project in Chapel Hill, and we’re excited about it,” Jordan says. In addition to Chapel Hill, RESOLUTE serves communities throughout North Carolina including Raleigh and Durham, Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, New Bern and Wilmington.

RESOLUTE was launched in 1982 and incorporated in 1984. Under the leadership of Chairman David Anna, Director of Preconstruction Kim Vrana, Vice President David Lent-Bews, and Controller Giles Williams, RESOLUTE has grown into a medium-sized general contracting firm. “The company started with three guys taking on their own projects, and grew through relationships,” says Jordan. In 2014 Randall Grubb joined the company as Chief Executive Officer, contributing extensive expertise in construction, project management, and business leadership.

All of RESOLUTE’s original core team members are still actively involved in the company. “They’ve been involved for more than 30 years,” Jordan says. “That’s big for us; you don’t usually see companies with their original leaders still involved in the executive decisions.”

Indeed, the members of RESOLUTE’s executive team possess extensive experience in all aspects of construction and familiarity with the local construction market. “Since we do all of our estimating in house, it’s great that Kim Vrana and his team are so familiar with the local market. They’ve cultivated a good subcontractor base; our subcontractors are anxious to bid on jobs for us, and we know we can count on them, through the relationships that Kim and David have built over the years,” says Kathy Harding, Project Assistant and Marketing Coordinator.

With more than 30 years in the construction business, RESOLUTE has seen tremendous changes in the industry. The company has been quick to adopt new technology, making its work more efficient than ever. “We are now using Procore for all of our construction management in the field and in the office. We use Primavera P6 scheduling software, and it’s the state-of-the-art software for scheduling. The software also enables our subcontractors to view their subcontracts, get their plans, do their RFIs and get their submittals, and complete our safety inspections in the field,” says Harding.

Still, technology cannot outweigh the value of talented, experienced staff. “Kathy and one of our other employees, Bridgette Leftridge-Torian, Senior Project Assistant, have been with the company for nearly 20 years. They’ve been here since before we had laptop computers; they’ve learned the technology and trained our project managers and superintendents on how to engage with it. They’ve worked hard to get all of our systems in place, and they provide consistency. They have the experience and the expertise, and they make sure every project goes smoothly without any headaches for the owner,” says Jordan.

RESOLUTE’s success is built on its strong partnerships with subcontractors. “We have good relationships with so many local subcontractors. We know we can count on them, and they’re willing to work with us, especially when we’re working in value engineering roles with owners in negotiated projects. We don’t go out and look for the lowest costs; we work with subcontractors to get the best one for each job. Subcontractors work with us, and we work with the owners,” says Harding.

RESOLUTE recognizes the importance of investing in these subcontractor relationships. The company does this by hosting quarterly subcontractor appreciation and cultivation events. “We want to reconnect with our familiar subcontractors, and with other folks who we may have only worked with once or twice, in order to maintain and strengthen those relationships,” Harding says. The events include happy hours, golf events, and more, where subcontractors can enjoy themselves and visit with RESOLUTE’s estimators, project managers, and subcontractors.

“We have to do this because after the recession, a lot of the subcontractors in our market went out of business or went under new leadership, so it’s important for us to re-cultivate those relationships. In order to get the knowledge of our company out there so that subcontractors will bid your work, we have to be out in front of the subcontractor community,” Jordan says.

RESOLUTE Building puts safety first, setting a goal to ensure that each job is accident- and injury-free. “We’ve been working on refining our safety program over the years, and we’ve increased our overall awareness of safety, both for us and for the subcontractors that work for us,” says Harding.

In 2017, RESOLUTE was recognized under the North Carolina Department of Labor’s Carolina Star program for meeting the program’s stringent standards for safety. “That’s the highest standard of safety,” Harding says. RESOLUTE is one of only 20 companies in the state to receive Star certification, and is the smallest of all the certified companies. “Most of these companies are larger companies that have a whole safety department of five or six people, but we’re much smaller,” says Jordan. RESOLUTE’s safety program is driven by a safety committee composed of employees from all different functions. “We continue to be a safe company, and now we have the recognition of the Star program.”

Client retention is another integral part of the company’s growth strategy. “About 80 percent of our gross revenue comes from repeat clients. That’s good, and it’s important in order to be sustainable… Our repeat clients give us the bigger projects we work on,” says Jordan. “It’s important to protect our client base; it’s a hot market, and several other contractors have moved into this area to try and capture some of our clients’ projects.”

RESOLUTE’s revenue reached nearly $60 million in 2017, and the company hopes to top $75 million in 2018 and sustain that level of revenue through 2020. The company has set a target for five percent annual growth, and also strives to diversify its work. “We don’t want to have 75 percent of our work coming from one sector, so while we continue to do multi-family projects, we want to do more private work as well, including private schools, churches, and storage facilities,” Jordan says. RESOLUTE’s business development strategy focuses on partnerships with architects and engineers; Jordan notes that 80 to 90 percent of the company’s new business leads come through these partners.

RESOLUTE Building is proud to have two of its founding members’ children working for the company, who will eventually become the next generation of RESOLUTE’s leadership team. “Our hope is that they will bring in the next generation of our partners, because so many of the architects and owners that we have worked with over the years have done the same thing; the architect’s children may be taking over their business, and a lot of the owners have passed on their real estate and development businesses. This next generation of RESOLUTE will continue maintaining those relationships while also developing new ones,” Harding says.

Seeing Red

In 2018, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) released several of the worst examples of so-called “Red Tape” that businesses and developers need to complete before getting projects off the ground. The list reads almost as a cautionary tale for anyone hoping to get a development, whether a condominium or a warehouse, completed quickly and on time.

December 14, 2019, 11:27 AM EST