Navigating the Current E-Commerce Industrial Boom
Aurora Contractors, Inc.
The current property acquisition and development marketplace is moving at a record pace, especially as it relates to e-commerce driven developments. Specific to the New York Metropolitan area, developers are aggressively scanning the marketplace for last-mile potential properties, where accurate and precise feasibility studies and thorough estimation of project costs are critical.
Defining these parameters prior to the completion of initial due diligence stages and the eventual property procurement provides the developer with the information necessary to make a knowledgeable decision. This is why it is critical for a developer to consult with a market-leading construction management firm who has in-depth experience with understanding these scenarios, and who has expert conceptual estimating capabilities as it relates to these types of developments.
Michael Adler, the Director of Business Development at Aurora Contractors, Inc., notes that time is typically the enemy of developers who are looking for property that meets the logistical needs for an e-commerce / industrial / distribution operation. This is especially difficult in a teeming business space like New York City. Developers need accurate and precise feasibility studies and a thorough estimation of project costs as well as construction capabilities, which is where Aurora fits into the process.
Aurora impresses on clients the time-saving and budgetary importance of pre-construction services and has become the market leader for industrial facilities in the New York area within the last ten years. Aurora has also become known for its expertise in multi-level distribution facilities, which dates back over a decade to the firm’s IKEA waterfront project in Red Hook, Brooklyn, one of the first multi-level distribution facilities in the New York metropolitan area. It was built not knowing how big the market would be for this type of facility, and Aurora Contactors were one of the pioneers for this approach.
One of its greatest points as a business within the New York City development market is in creating ‘last mile’ logistics hubs, and these have been made more important lately because of the current boom with e-commerce. Adler adds that the goal of these developments is to drive logistics costs down, and one way to do that is by creating more distribution hubs close to a parcel’s ultimate destination. With most of the quality land within the New York marketplace already developed, a need for creativity and conceptual expertise has arisen, which has become one of the company’s calling cards. Aurora offers in-depth experience in these types of challenging developments, allowing the company to provide site-specific cost impact assessments that take into account civil, foundation, utility, and logistic implications.
Aurora Contractors’ Director of Operations, Jonathan McGowan, says that Aurora’s focus on its customers starts with pre-design planning. The company anticipates and understands what a client’s needs are and then assists in identifying the parameters around a given project. This allows the team to address the project costs while producing a product of better quality and aesthetic. McGowan says that Aurora “excels in starting early, looking at what to do to plan things out, and carrying it through to the completion of the project. Aurora is constantly improving to provide a better product for its clients.”
One of Aurora’s clients is SunCap Property Group. SunCap’s President, Brian Hirsch, comments on Aurora’s efficacy: “Aurora has been a huge part of our success in the New York area, helping us deliver many difficult, build-to-suit projects for our Fortune 500 distribution clients. Aurora goes beyond budget, schedule, and quality. They have become an integral part of our project team, helping us solve complex deal issues in challenging environments. We have great trust in them and respect for their contributions.”
Aurora has built over 850,000 square feet of industrial space for SunCap over the last five years, all performed as design/build projects. Teaming up with strong design firms such as BLD Architecture, Langan Engineering, and Emtec for these specific projects, Aurora was able to navigate through difficult schedules and aspects of each project with grace, due to the benefits associated with design/build work, and the dependability of these firms.
Adler additionally explains that with the design/build project model, ownership has a single point of contact that reduces both management time for the developer as well as overall project time. Some of Aurora’s clients, such as those who operate out-of-state, typically enjoy this model, as it allows them more time to focus on other opportunities, rather than having to continually travel to the site for updates on design, expediting, or general construction. The design/build model also identifies a single entity responsible for a project and can be attractive to a developer for this reason. It additionally allows Aurora more autonomy as the construction manager, expedites information flow through team members, and helps to guide the entire team through the many phases of a project.
Aurora also stands out for its pre-construction services, which Director of Estimating John Groh says are growing increasingly popular, especially as they relate to industrial facilities. Traditionally, the industry is geared toward an owner putting forth a project to be bid on by multiple contractors and then awarding the project, with owners learning about cost exposure in the final moments, as opposed to being aware of it throughout the design process.
Aurora can be brought on very early in the design phase, often when just an interest in the property is shown, or when a potential layout is conceived. From there, a design team is introduced, and real-time feedback is provided on design costs, materials, systems, and building components. A client can then decide on which building components to include, which helps create a project budget that works for the owner’s pro forma, rather than potentially wasting months designing a project that is not cost-effective.
Aurora enjoys working with its clients throughout the design, from conceptual estimating, to construction document issuance, as this process typically identifies the project’s exposure early on, versus ownership being potentially surprised later on with higher budgets and costs which can sometimes threaten the success of a project. “Having a trusted construction management firm on board during schematic design helps owners guide the design to a desired budget and schedule, minimizing the time for bidding, permitting, value engineering, or redesign,” Adler notes.
The company’s acclaim throughout the past several years is not merely through word-of-mouth from its satisfied clientele, but as Adler affirms, Aurora has recently seen impressive accolades from its industry as well. In recent years, it has garnered the Queens Chamber of Commerce commercial “Project Of The Year” award for 2018 with its work on the multi-level Fed-Ex ground distribution facility in Maspeth, New York. Engineering News-Record (ENR) also rated the company’s Toll Drive residence and dining hall project in Stony Brook University the “Best Project of 2017” and president Anthony Vero was also given a ‘40 Under 40’ award from the Long Island Business News for 2019.
Over the last few years, Aurora has continued to grow, but Adler says that the company’s goal has always prioritized a consistent approach over growth. He explains that the company “wants to grow in a manner where we can service our clients with the proper know-how, tact, and touch,” without growing larger than is necessary. The company wants consistent growth year-over-year instead of tremendous strides and jumps, as it is important that clients can depend on the same level of satisfaction throughout any period of the company’s life span.