Leaving a Lasting Impression

Watkins Landmark Construction
Written by Ryan Cartner

Watkins Landmark Construction is a general contractor operating in California that specializes in building landmark projects. “We pride ourselves on the quality of service we bring to difficult projects that require a higher level of expertise,” says Dean Schumacher, Vice President of Business Development. “We don’t shy away from a challenge.”
The company was established in 2004 by founder Jody James Watkins in San Diego, California. In the employ of another company, Watkins had acquired a great deal of industry experience working on a number of major projects in the area including Petco Park, Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and the Pacific Athletic Club. He decided that he would apply that experience to opening his own contracting business, and in the fall of 2004 he formed Watkins Landmark.

The company started small, doing primarily site-development work, but within a few years it was working on much larger ground-up projects that were more challenging in nature and more impactful to their surrounding communities. Watkins’ vision was to focus on landmark projects that would leave a lasting impression, and throughout the course of the company’s existence it has delivered consistently on that promise.

In 2005, Watkins hired Dean Schumacher as the company’s first employee, and since that time the business has grown consistently. Today, Watkins Landmark Construction has roughly 70 employees operating out of three offices in Carlsbad, Indian Wells, and Anaheim and has delivered on a large number of very challenging, prominent landmark projects throughout Southern California.

“The best terminology for this type of work is projects with hair on them,” says Schumacher. “These are the difficult projects that Watkins Landmark embraces; these projects challenge us to do more and think outside the box.”

One noteworthy example that helped the company build its reputation for quality work on difficult projects brought Jody James Watkins back to his roots. In 1998, when he first came to California, he was involved in the construction of the 16,000 seat Stadium One for the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens. In 2009, he returned with his new company to work on a number of renovations and updates, and eventually was hired in a design-build and general contractor capacity for Stadium Two. The project was a major undertaking that challenged the company in every possible way, but with ambition, perseverance, and hard work, Watkins Landmark delivered an exceptional landmark project and secured a working relationship that will continue long into the future.

“We take pride in the projects we’re involved in,” says Schumacher. “Ultimately, the result of the project is our reputation and our name is on the line so we want something we can stand behind – something we’re proud of that will be a landmark in the community.”

Watkins has done exceptional work on many major projects throughout Southern California. The company’s corporate headquarters is located in Carlsbad and serves all of San Diego County. A second office, located in Indian Wells, serves the Coachella Valley, and a third in Anaheim serves Orange, Los Angeles, and Riverside Counties. Between these three offices, Watkins is ideally situated to provide its services to customers throughout Southern California and has built a stunning portfolio of landmarks in that region. These include hotels and resorts for the hospitality industry, stadiums and indoor sports facilities, a wide range of faith-based projects including churches and schools, and much more. Faith-based projects are an important component to the company’s portfolio because, while it has worked on many projects that are massive in scale, its true goal is to focus on projects that will be recognized as important pillars in the community.

There is a high level of complexity built into many of projects that Watkins Landmark takes on. In order to manage these effectively, the company has consistently invested in leading edge management technology solutions. From the preconstruction phase, throughout the project, and into closeout, the company implements state-of-the-art software to improve efficiency and productivity at every step.

Procore is the world’s leading construction management platform, and its implementation has helped Watkins Landmark to become a highly efficient operation. It provides a wide range of features that help to improve operating procedures at every level of a project. It gives owners, clients, architects, and Watkins project managers deep insight into a project so that they can all share direct access to documents, pictures, plans, and more.

Using Building Information Modeling (BIM) software, the project can be prepared in precise detail long before the construction phase of a project begins. Watkins and the customer can collaborate closely on every aspect of the design in order to get it right first, and work directly from the models afterwards to minimize the likelihood of any mistakes being made. After the preconstruction phase, software helps the company keep track of workflow and log every step. “It goes all the way from preconstruction through to closeout,” explains Schumacher. “It lets us turn over a very complete and organized package as opposed to an archaic system of paper and red ink.”

As the industry and its relevant technologies advance, the company has consistently adapted to the ever-evolving needs of customers in the construction marketplace. The leadership has been consistently reactive to these changes, but the company’s vision and its values have stayed mostly the same throughout. Watkins takes great pride in the quality of its workforce because it recognizes that every worker is a representative of the company as a whole. It empowers its project managers and superintendents by giving them a great deal of leverage, but also by giving them a great deal of responsibility. From its inception, Watkins’ vision has been to build landmark projects, and the company’s culture has grown around that vision. The leadership has high expectations of its people because it aims to build landmarks that the entire company can be proud of.

It’s this commitment to its workforce and to the quality of their work that has enabled Watkins Landmark to thrive in such a competitive marketplace. During the economic downturn of 2008 the company faced significant challenges in being able to find and pursue the kinds of projects that were suited to its vision. Through great perseverance the company was able to overcome economic challenges that many competing companies could not.

Indeed, persistence and pride are the qualities that have allowed Watkins Landmark to maintain this course. As the economy recovers, labor shortages have become the new central challenge industry-wide, but the company continues on. “Pride and Persistence is what differentiates us,” says Schumacher. “We’re persistent from the start with pursuing the work, with winning the work, getting in front of the client to make sure we’re selected, and then we’re persistent throughout the work until completion. And we take pride in what we do. If you’re not proud of what you’re doing then you’re not putting your blood, sweat, and tears into it. Pride and persistence is what separates us from the competition.”

Going forward, the company is determined to grow in a manageable way. Having developed over fourteen years an expertise that suits a particular kind of product, the company plans to continue seeking work that is suited to its specialty. The goal is to be the best that it can be, rather than the biggest. Watkins Landmark’s motto has always been “Build To Serve,” and it truly considers itself a service company. When asked about what has led to the company’s success, Schumacher says, “There’s no secret to it. We put it out there for everybody to see. We build to serve, and if we’re doing that then we’re going to be successful.”

Since its founding, Watkins Landmark Construction has aimed to be more than a construction company. Through a powerful commitment to service and quality, it has aimed to build not only landmark projects, but long-lasting partnerships with its many customers. Trust, Integrity, Quality, Safety, Respect, Persistence, and Teamwork are cited on the company’s website as the principles it holds to, and these are reflected by the many client testimonials listed alongside them. A principled and dedicated approach has led to satisfied clients and landmark buildings for this successful company.



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