South Carolina-based construction firm Robbins Construction Group began its official operations just two years ago, in January 2019. Having spent the prior decade working in the construction industry before striking out on his own, President and Chief Executive Officer Derek Robbins is now finally able to live a dream in the industry that made him and is riding a wave of momentum from these first two years of operation.
As a result of assembling a team of like-minded individuals at every level, the company has exceeded its own expectations while doing much the same for its clients. To date, the firm has contributed ten million square feet of construction across its project portfolio.
Derek Robbins sports an extensive background in the field of design-build construction. In this type of process, architecture, engineering, and contracting come together under one contract, and this is a cornerstone of the company’s approach to both construction and client-contractor relationships.
Robbins says that the company looks at all its projects not just from the contractor’s point of view but from the viewpoint of future expansion and growth on all parts. The question that propels Robbins and his team forward on any job is: ‘How do we set up projects for both today, and growth down the road?’
The company frequently assesses its construction materials and will offer suggestions for changing those materials when needed, especially with price increases occurring across the market for the majority of 2021. A primary goal is always to help the customer find a better economic advantage in a project, an approach that benefits Robbins Construction in turn.
“We consider ourselves partners on any project [along] with the architect and ownership,” Robbins continues. “It’s not a three-legged stool… We will be a good partner and team member and help all parties figure out the best solution for a project.”
Robbins Construction always researches to find to add value to projects and reduce costs for its clients. Every move is done within a customer’s margin with every step taken to find the best price for them, a philosophy that applies to any size or type of client.
The firm does have experience in dealing with larger businesses in its short life but, whether a thousand-square-foot upfit project with a large distribution facility or a one-million-square-foot building, the company will provide the same oversight, management, and communication that it would anywhere else.
Robbins extols the efforts of his team which includes his son, Thomas, the team’s business development manager. According to Derek, Thomas spends his time finding establishing new relationships with developers and is often the first line of communication to new customers. “We wouldn’t have the opportunity to propose a lot of these projects without his efforts,” Robbins proudly affirms, nor without the input of each member of the Robbins Construction team.
Although a young company in construction, Robbins has not failed to make an impression on its clients and the industry at large. Clients frequently want Robbins Construction to return to work on other projects in industries from retail to automotive, industrial, manufacturing, medical, or education. Being favored by its clients is considered by the company to be a significant milestone. Derek Robbins feels that the quality of clients the company has and many repeat customers, speaks a great deal toward the firm being not just a one-and-done solutions provider, a role which he has always sought to overshoot.
In more physical developments of company growth, it was recently able to construct its first industrial flex warehouse, a nearly 50,000-square-foot shell building, for a developer from the Northeast. In this ongoing project, Robbins is currently upfitting three tenant spaces for the customer as of print time.
Even in a state of global and industry-wide upheaval, Robbins Construction kept moving ahead safely and securely. Since Construction in Focus first featured the company in 2020, COVID-19 safety procedures have continued at varying intensities throughout North American businesses and operations. As far as Robbins is concerned, protocols and procedures within the company will remain unchanged since it still reported outbreaks internally in mid-2021. Work-from-home measures were taken by employees who reported symptoms of coronavirus either within their families or themselves, and quarantine measures had to be taken from time to time as well on job sites where subcontractors tested positive for COVID. Thankfully, all known cases resulted in recovery.
Robbins admits that it is challenging to get projects completed while overcoming these outbreaks, but such is the way of doing business in the current climate. In addition to these ongoing issues, the entire industry is facing supply chain problems with construction materials being difficult to obtain due to both scarcity and price. This, in turn, makes the company’s work in procuring materials and securing price protection more difficult.
Despite these varied challenges, Robbins sees the construction market as standing quite strong, particularly in the Southeast, including the Carolinas, as many developers are showing activity and building projects in that region. Robbins notes that morale in the company is strong, especially resulting from the new additions of a project manager and senior construction manager, and it will endeavor to bring on additional workforce additions including project managers and superintendents into 2022.
Robbins was also recently notified that it had been voted number one commercial contractor in the Charleston, South Carolina area for the second year in a row by Charleston newspaper The Post and Courier.
The company is on track for further significant growth over the next year and more, with Robbins predicting that it will soon outgrow its current office space, necessitating a need for a new office altogether. Robbins also predicts more work to become available to the business within the next one-to-three-year span, which would open the possibility of adding a satellite office in another area, potentially upstate South Carolina or into North Carolina.
“I’d love to establish a second office,” Robbins notes. Listening to Derek Robbins speak on the continued advances of his firm is to know the anticipation he and his team feel as the company grows in size, technology, and in wisdom. The future is very exciting indeed for the business and time will tell if its commitment to customer savings and satisfaction will hold true through ongoing industry challenges. If the past near-three years are any indication, there will be much to keep appraised of from Robbins Construction in the years to come.