The Collage Companies has been building in Central Florida for nearly four decades. Their mission is “to build projects that strengthen the foundation and fabric of our community” and, since its founding in 1982, the company has accomplished this mission by diligently serving owners and carrying out its corporate promise to become an integral part or partner of the client’s building process.
Collage is made up of a seasoned team of construction professionals who are recognized leaders in a variety of project delivery methods, including general contracting, construction management and design-build. In each approach, they keep the owner’s needs and project goals as the driving force to achieve success.
The Collage Companies has successfully completed projects for a myriad of corporations such as Universal Studios, Darden Restaurants, Amtrak, and Delta Airlines, as well as multiple government and municipal agencies such as the Florida Department of Transportation, Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, Lynx and others. It has built a solid reputation in several sectors of the construction industry with a particular focus on and success in the hospitality sector. The company has successfully completed hotel projects for the five major hotel flags – Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Wyndham. Collage brings many years of experience and very specific marketplace knowledge and remains a leader in “turn-key” design-build projects.
While its past is impressive, with more than fifteen percent growth every year since 2016, Florida-based Collage’s future looks equally as bright. Concentrated growth for the next five years and a focus on new trends within the hospitality industry are priorities.
“I think many organizations have seen growth over the last few years due to a robust economy and the continued trend of migration to Sun Belt states which has led to rapid growth in Florida,” says President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Walsh. “The annual growth of The Collage Companies over the last few years has been due to our goal of becoming experts in the sectors in which we work, in order to provide excellent service to our clients.”
That service is reflected in competitive pricing and aggressive scheduling that meets the needs of their business performance models, he says. The hospitality and tourism sectors, in general, have seen tremendous growth, aligning with increased travel to Florida. In the transportation sector, Collage has contracts within the aviation, rail, and ground transportation industries as Florida continues to grow as a hub for international distribution.
Every company, even successful ones, faces obstacles, and Walsh says growth in the building industry requires a combination of talent and financial resources. Currently, the nation is suffering from a talent gap in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries, particularly within construction.
“It has been documented repeatedly, over the last several years, that other industries such as technology services or home-based businesses are more attractive by the millennial and Gen Z generations,” he says. “The recession, several years back, drove workers out of construction, and they haven’t returned at the same rate as the growth in construction.”
The company, like most in this sector, needs work to find talented professionals to join the team. Collage also understands that with all the competition in the marketplace, it must share the vision and mission of the company, so employees know their work is making a difference in the world.
“A career is no longer just about a paycheck and a chance to climb a corporate ladder: it’s about a purpose greater than yourself.”
Although Collage has a lot to celebrate with its continued growth and numerous accomplishments, Walsh is not one to gloat. Instead, he tends to focus on how the accomplishments and milestones affect the community and its residents.
“We have never been very big on talking about breaking annual revenue numbers or evaluating our success on how many projects or how much square footage we have built each year,” he says. “I think we try to balance success with significance, and significance is not measured by being the biggest or best.”
For instance, Collage recently helped Shepherd’s Hope build its first building after twenty years of providing free medical help to those in the community who do not have insurance. “They are not only impacting lives; they are literally saving lives. Partnering with them to open their new headquarters was a significant achievement.”
A successful business can be measured in a variety of ways. Walsh looks at success as being meaningful and long-lasting. “I think the simplest way to measure success in the building business is to look at two things: people and places,” he says. “Have we been able to provide an environment that our people, our Collage team, have been able to learn and grow in their profession? Have we been able to provide for them holistically? That means, financially, professionally, and emotionally. If we have done that, then we have been successful.”
He counts the places the company has built as another measure of success. Collage’s mission for the last thirty-seven years has been ‘To build projects that strengthen the foundation and fabric of our community,’ and this has allowed Collage to build “some amazing projects for some amazing clients that are doing amazing things,” he says. This includes Harbor House, a home for domestic violence victims; Teen Challenge, a residential program for people dealing with substance abuse recovery; plus free medical clinics, homeless shelters, and countless more projects making the community and the world a better place.
“I think that is a measure of success, and we are grateful to have been a part of it.” Walsh says passion, persistence and commitment are key components of a business forming, growing, and maintaining its success, no matter what enterprise is undertaken.
“Besides the fact that you may actually benefit from being a little bit naïve or blind to the facts of all that it takes to start a business – because if you knew, you may not do it! – it takes passion performance and persistence. You need to have a passion for what your calling or vision or business plan is, or you shouldn’t start a business at all. It needs to be something that you can’t live without, and you will regret it if you don’t do.”
He also stresses the need to perform in a way that is purposeful and practical, while also meeting a need or providing a service that will be better than anyone else. He says if you are not committed to that, then you won’t be successful.
“In most cases, businesses are not overnight successes. Sometimes it may seem that way in today’s fast-paced world and the reduced time from concept to the market of certain products. But businesses, especially service businesses, take time to mature to become efficient and excellent, and if you don’t have persistence to make it through the tough times such as the great recession, you may not succeed.”
Of course, environmental issues and concerns continue to be at the forefront for many businesses, and Collage takes the issue very seriously.
“I don’t think you can be involved in the design or construction industry in 2019 without have an awareness of and a concern for the environment,” he says. Several members of the team are LEED-accredited professionals, and many clients require projects to be LEED-certified.
Collage recently completed the construction of a LEED Gold, net-zero building for First Green Bank, as well as several other LEED and sustainable projects. Collage also operates with a focus on the environment in its approach to design and construction, meaning it is dedicated to bringing LEED-certified facilities to communities across the nation, with a drive to structure business to benefit the greatest number of people possible.
And finally, giving back to the community is also a monumental part of Collage’s beliefs and purpose. It donates time and resources both on a corporate level and individually to projects and organizations affecting the community in a positive way.
“Quite simply, we give back because we have been given much,” says Walsh. “It’s who we are as a company, and I think being involved with and giving to our community is part of the DNA of The Collage Companies. We build projects that make a difference, and we support projects that make a difference.”
Collage is not just building buildings; it is carrying out a promise to its community, and the company aims to continue to build on its already solid reputation of strong work ethics, ensuring client satisfaction, and providing employees a place to learn and grow.
“Collage is more than just a construction company, and we offer more than just a job,” says Walsh. “We are a career working within a family to learn, grow, and succeed together.”