As markets become more demanding, bespoke services are evolving into specialized niche offerings that often didn’t exist a decade ago. Take what could easily be thought of as boutique construction, for instance. MRG Construction Management, Inc. is a general contractor and construction manager that prides itself on delivering a niche contracting service that is so owner-focused that one cannot help but refer to it as just that.
Ironically enough, the company has built all 15 of the premier British brand FatFace’s U.S. stores and remains the clothing retailer’s sole construction provider. With big names like Bed Bath & Beyond, Kate Spade, Tony & Guy, Blue River Diamonds and many more in its portfolio, MRG Construction Management serves a diverse array of clients throughout the greater New England region. Its passion is in going the extra mile and this is most evident in its high volume of repeat customers.
Indeed, the MRG team takes great pleasure in caring for its customers on a level that few others do – all because this Fortune 500 company is built on professional expertise, integrity and a great love for people.
The company’s commitment to helping its clients succeed is such that its main market consists of comparatively smaller projects for office spaces, retail outlets, and restaurants that range from literally 0 to half a million dollars in scope. These are typically jobs that would be too small for larger contractors to take seriously but yet too large for smaller contractors to conclude in a sufficiently sophisticated manner, and this niche is where MRG shines.
Based in Peabody, Massachusetts, the company mainly serves the New England states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and its own, Massachusetts. The nature of the company’s specialty is such that it has evolved into somewhat of a service contractor as well. “We include service contracting because we believe in great customer service,” says Matt Genzale, Owner and CEO. “It adds a more personal touch to smaller projects which the owners wouldn’t necessarily get elsewhere in the industry.”
That’s why MRG is the general contractor of choice for international players like Starbucks who may have a massive global presence, but whose store projects are comparatively smaller than building condominiums, for instance. “Companies like that need us, even at their large corporate level, to accomplish these smaller sized projects for them. It’s great that even as big as they are they still need a company that is as small as we are,” shares Genzale.
As he reminds us, it is all too easy to overlook small businesses, despite the significant economic contribution they make. The team is especially generous in its pre-construction services, going above and beyond to ensure that each client has a respected and trustworthy architect to handle drawings, that the planning and budgeting phases go smoothly, and so forth. “Our clients really get a lot more out of us than any general contractor would normally provide them with. We really support them from the very beginning to the opening of their doors,” says Genzale.
The business started out in 2011 and grew to seeing $16,000,000 in annual revenue in only seven years. It was born not out of necessity but rather from the will to do good and to give customers the care that the construction industry was lacking. From the beginning, Genzale had confidence in his ability to manage construction projects successfully and it was exactly this knowledge that spurred him to turn MRG Construction Management, Inc. into a business of renown.
While it takes a certain measure of bravery to set out in any new business, Genzale insists that in the seven and a half years the business has been in operation it has never felt like a brave or a big thing to do – despite the great leap of faith it took to get it started. “It’s been a pretty cool ride,” he says. “When my wife, Courtney, was seven months pregnant with our first child, the two of us decided that I would start this business. Since then, I have had the great fortune to hire and work with a bunch of really cool people who are all succeeding as a result of what we started here.”
He also explains that all the company’s growth and development has happened organically. With Courtney as the accounts controller, the couple and their team have created what appears to be a young legacy company.
Moreover, MRG is not only in the business of erecting beautiful buildings; instead, this company focuses on the value it adds to people’s lives – and that includes everyone it comes in contact with through the construction process. Rather than only chasing the bottom line, this team is all about making sure that its own people also know that they matter. “I care deeply about these people and their individual successes in life,” says Genzale. “Everyone is human here, every client, every employee. We enjoy contributing to everyone’s success – from the smallest new business to the biggest corporation. It’s a pretty cool feeling to help people’s dreams come true.”
The team includes 19 permanent staff members, of whom at least one is always present as the construction manager on every site. Around 95 percent of its work is subcontracted and for this reason, its managers all hold Unrestricted Construction Supervisors Licenses and are fully up to date with all safety standards. They’ve also completed the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s OSHA 10 and OSHA 30 hour safety certifications.
While MRG’s retail and restaurant markets are growing, the company has also seen a sharp increase in the construction of aesthetics venues for clients like Massage Envy, dental practices, and nail salons. In the owner’s own words, it takes some clients a little longer than others to realize the level of care everyone here puts into their work, but they all get there in the end. “We really care that your project is getting done in accordance with the plans and specifications, that it happens on schedule and on the budget we agreed upon. These all shine through in what we do and keep our customers coming back,” says Genzale.
To keep up with this high bar it has set for itself, MRG takes continuous learning very seriously and offers employees a range of courses in safety standards, license training, and more. Most of the company’s training happens on the job, as every day brings new challenges to overcome and the opportunity to learn. Management also supports employees in seeking out industry-related courses that will help them grow professionally.
For the MRG team, each project has a special aspect about it that goes beyond simply the appearance. The company’s Starbucks stores are always a favorite of Genzale’s, who is continually impressed at the speed at which they go up and the always-satisfying results. Speaking of style, the FatFace stores make for great photo opportunities due to their avant grade appeal, something Genzale really enjoys. The company is also proud of the city of Peabody’s Black Box Theatre, which welcomed its first audiences in the summer of 2018. This was another successful non-profit initiative that is not only drawing locals into the downtown area but is also drawing the local community closer in a space where they can freely express their collective and individual artistic drive. Genzale was part of the theatre’s planning process and also helped fundraise to help make it all a reality.
At present, Genzale is excited about a new client from Copenhagen in the Netherlands. Called Flying Tiger Brewery, the MRG Construction Management team has built all four of the brewery’s stores in New England – all of which are stunning and engaging spaces. “We’ve had a lot of great moments seeing all these finished spaces,” he says.
To be sure, community forms a big part of the company’s culture and it is proud to have been chosen as the Corporate Partner of the Year for the renovations done for one of its favorite organizations, Citizens Inn, a group that takes care of the hungry and homeless in the area. The organization merged with another food pantry in the region, Haven from Hunger, in July 2017. This award meant a great deal to the MRG Construction Management team for whom being able to contribute to their community is one of the greatest honors possible. Stephanie Blomberg, the company’s Sales, Marketing and Business Development specialist is on the organization’s board of directors and is also a campaign committee member, and now, the company is lending a hand in raising the funds needed to build another, much larger commercial kitchen on the second floor of the existing premises, with an eye on commencing construction in 2020.
Women are also well represented in the company. Stephanie has worked in construction for two years now and has some sound advice for women who are considering joining the industry. “Many women are intimidated by the stereotype of construction, but I feel very respected as a woman working in the industry,” she shares. She encourages women who are dreaming of careers in the field to learn to get to know people in the industry and to go all out to achieve their dreams. She is joined by two other ladies in the company, Lauren Chase, the Project Management Administrator, who has been with the company since 2015 and, of course, Courtney Genzale, who worked as an international accountant and assistant controller before joining the company full time.
Moving forward, MRG Construction Management sees cost control becoming an increasingly large factor in construction as wages and material costs will not likely be coming down for the foreseeable future. This is set to lead to the need for adding more value for the customer through services and increased productivity. “We all need to look at how our companies can get our projects done quicker as a means of helping our customers control costs,” says Genzale.
Achieving this will no doubt take a great share of innovative thinking, something this team is well accustomed to as it continues looking at fresh ways of bringing in new clientele as well as retaining existing clientele through its commitment to continued improvement. There is much to be said for the integrity of a company that cares about people as much as this one does.