For Neilesh Verma, multiple awards and recognitions from long-term and new customers alike are signs that Galaxy Builders, Ltd. is on the right track. Galaxy Builders has been acknowledged as one of the top workplaces by the San Antonio Express-News for an impressive four years in a row and appears on the San Antonio Business Journal’s list of the top fifty privately-owned companies in San Antonio, Texas, among its many acknowledgements. The company’s award-winning projects extend from the Texas Panhandle to the Rio Grande Valley, giving rise to its slogan ‘We Have Texas Covered.’
And Galaxy continues building on its reputation as one of the state’s leading general contractors almost thirty years after it was founded by Neilesh’s father, Arun Verma.
Arun worked as President of Construction for leading multifamily developer Embrey Partners in San Antonio from the late seventies through 1991. Despite leaving the company, Arun and Walter Embrey remained good friends until Arun sadly passed on December 7, 2015.
“My dad always had a passion to build and with the slowdown of the savings and loan crisis in 1991, he felt this was the right opportunity to start his own business, and that’s how Galaxy was born,” says Neilesh, who joined the company in 2005 and became President in August 2012. His background in economics and business with a focus on leadership development made him the ideal candidate to take on the company reins.
Although the company started with just two or three staff members, the business has now grown to employ approximately seventy people, the majority of whom have extensive backgrounds in construction. The company has experienced hurdles, particularly during the worldwide economic downturn from 2007 to 2011, when revenues and active projects under construction began to decline. While this presented challenges, it resulted in making Galaxy even stronger than before.
“That was a difficult time for us, and frankly – being in the position I’m in now – I’m glad I went through it,” says Neilesh Verma. “It taught me, in terms of life lessons, how to navigate the business in tough economic conditions.”
Galaxy Builders creates a work-life balance as an integral part of its culture for all employees. After bringing the right people on board, the company creates strong relationships from within, where everyone works toward a shared goal to serve clients the best way possible.
Neilesh believes that family ownership also fosters stability, which he credits to his late father. “I certainly owe a debt of gratitude to my dad for the way he led and built this great company,” he states. “It has resulted in a team of incredible people that would not be affiliated with us if it were not for him. We know he is still watching and cheering us on as we continue to walk in his footsteps.”
Galaxy Builders serves as a middleman between developers and subcontractors, subcontracting almost all work. The company enters projects early in the design phase, working with architects and assisting them with budgeting, vital to understanding overall costs.
It applies decades of combined experience and successful past jobs to working hand-in-hand with design teams, overseeing construction and maintaining costs. By working with third-party architects, civil engineers, structural engineers, and others in collaboration from the beginning, potential conflicts and issues are mitigated, ensuring a smooth process from project design to handover. The company negotiates directly with owners, which results in a better product and work completed on time and within budget.
Galaxy Builders performs a broad range of construction projects, including luxury, affordable, active senior and adaptive reuse. The company has helped build over twenty thousand multifamily units. It takes on projects that are typically in the $10 to $40 million range, depending on size, the number of units, acreage, and complexity. No matter the project type, Galaxy is committed to customer service from start to finish.
The company’s recent projects include Tuscany Heights (now called “Edge and Stone”) and Medio Springs Ranch Apartments.
Located in the Northside of San Antonio’s suburb, Stone Oak, Tuscany Heights is a luxury project comprising 335 units and several garden-style buildings, including one large structure that covers twenty-five percent of the property. The units are striking, both inside and out, and boast top-of-the-line finishes, from granite countertops to high-quality flooring, paint, mini-blinds, stainless steel appliances, keyless entry locks, and more. The clubhouse has large storefront-style windows overlooking the pool area, with a retaining wall that has an integrated television screen, so tenants in the pool amenity area can watch television or movies, or play games.
“It’s a transformative development that will stand the test of time,” says Neilesh Verma proudly. “You have views that will stretch as far north as the Texas Hill Country to as far south as downtown, and most importantly, a place where the residents will be proud to call home.” The project is on schedule to be finished near the end of this year.
The Medio Springs Ranch Apartments was completed in July 2019 on Marbach Oaks Road on the far west side of San Antonio. This much-needed affordable housing project was built using federal tax credits, and government subsidies help pay the rent for those who qualify financially. It is the largest affordable housing project ever financed with federal tax credits in the state of Texas. Despite over 60 days of rain during the early phase of construction, the project finished on time per its original contract. The project fully leased up within five months after completion of the project, which is unprecedented.
“It provides housing for the less fortunate, which is a great mission to be a part of,” says Verma. “It is refreshing to see the gratitude of the residents who can have a place to come home to, having their own set of keys, and being able to provide for their family.”
From the outside, Medio Springs Ranch Apartments has all the features of a high-quality traditional garden-style project with one hundred percent masonry exterior, metal roofs on each building, large community pool, clubhouse, and other amenities. About sixteen buildings with approximately 348 units seamlessly integrate into the community on two sides of a major street.
The company is working on several projects, including a Podium in Austin, which recently broke ground, and it is seeing more innovative uses of land to create density, including parking garages and tuck unders.
“That’s a little bit unique to what we have built previously, but we recognize and embrace the need for alternative design methods to house more units on smaller site conditions,” states Verma.
Galaxy Builders has generously donated to charities over the years and is pleased to host the annual Arun Verma Memorial Golf Tournament in honor of the company’s founder, who fought heart disease his entire life. “The tournament has taken on a life of its own over the last few years and we are grateful for all of our partners that continue to support us and help us spread awareness for living a healthier lifestyle,” says Verma of the event.
The tournament, held every March, has raised a total close to $250,000 and fittingly benefits the American Heart Association. The competition is an indicator of the company’s culture and represents just how close people are at Galaxy Builders, which treats staff like family, hosting picnics, outdoor adventures, fishing events, and more.
Galaxy’s mission of delivering the best service, every time, means it continues to build long-standing relationships with clients, subcontractors, lenders, architects, vendors, and others. “We truly want to get to know them as a person,” says Verma. “It is important to us to build a connection and work collectively as a team. That’s what we stand by.”