As the second generation of Reddicks to run Con Tech Building Systems, Inc. in Gouverneur, New York, brothers Tim Reddick, Project Manager, and Nick Reddick, Vice President of Project Management, are grateful and proud to have the opportunity to build on their father’s legacy.
After 35 years in the industry, this general contractor is going from strength to strength, with its success riding on the back of its reputation for quality construction, trusting its people and treating them well (more on that later), and a vision for the future that keeps the company in step with the latest market demands.
Growing the business by strategically expanding its footprint is driving a new era for this team of respected industry experts. So, not surprisingly, the company is in no rush to hand in its small-business family values and vigorous development. Instead, it’s adapting its capabilities to service an ever-growing range of projects while keeping its high level of service safely intact by employing more quality people.
It’s an attitude that comes naturally to the Reddick brothers. For them, one of the mainstays of life is establishing genuine relationships with people—be that with family, friends, staff, or clients. And so that is what they cultivate with every customer who knocks on their door.
“We are a small business and we have a small team. But we represent services that you can get with bigger contractors without the headache associated with that,” says Tim. “We offer all the benefits of big contractors without the negatives.”
The result of this approach is that the team’s doors are always open. Without top-heavy corporate hierarchies to navigate, getting in touch with the right people at the right time is as simple as reaching out to them.
Although Con Tech continues to perform contracting services for the U.S. Government on projects for schools, the Department of Transportation (DOT), correctional services, and more, the company has seen a distinct move toward light industrial construction and construction management along with cost-plus services for private clientele, including retail owners, car dealerships, a local hospital network, and others.
“We have historically [provided contractor services]. But more often than not, we have been involved in some aspects of self-performed work,” Tim says. And, as a provider of site-related services as well, the company ensures that its range of up-to-date heavy equipment is always ready for service. Con Tech recently invested in seven new pieces of heavy equipment, bringing it up to speed with growing opportunities.
The trust factor
For the Reddick brothers, trust underlies both their and their father’s approach to construction. Tim notes that his father believed that trusting his staff rather than micro-managing them would give the business the wings it needed to fly—and it did. Today, the brothers run their teams with the same healthy dollop of trust.
The business began with Rob Reddick performing renovations out of the back of a van. That evolved into building a few homes, followed by making the acquaintance of a trusting insurance broker who made it possible for him to register a bond. That, in turn, allowed him to start bidding on civil projects, which gave the company the leverage to set down roots and establish itself in the region.
“My father built us a fantastic foundation. My brother and I were born into a very fortunate situation where we were formally educated in construction and have now returned with the skills and knowledge to build the company and run it for the foreseeable future,” Tim says.
Today, incremental growth remains a priority. Keeping a steadying hold on the company’s expansion, the brothers intend to chalk up at least another 30 years in its service. While the pandemic did take its toll on the company, the team helped it pull through in good shape—a good thing as this is a rural area not known for much industrial activity beyond construction.
“We’ve been very fortunate in finding loyal employees,” says Nick. “We have a lot of long-term employees, several who have been with us for over 30 years and about a dozen with over 15 years,” says Nick.
The company takes its relationship with its teams very seriously, ensuring that its people are well cared for. This culture has brought the people who work there closer together, with staff rallying around their own in times of personal challenge or distress.
Leading the way in fostering and sharing trust, the company has started hosting an annual seminar for all team members with guest expert speakers to discuss the latest construction trends, including safety, gear, OSHA regulations, and other current topics. This initiative is still rare in most comparable companies. To their surprise, the Reddicks discovered recently that Con Tech was one of only four firms of its kind to offer staff this level of safety instruction out of around 125 attendees at a recent industry gathering. Con Tech also hosts many team safety events throughout the year.
A draw for the next generation
The company is also proud to offer its people better deals in exchange for their time, labor, and loyalty. That includes better remuneration, benefits, safety practices, and respect for people’s private time, home life, and families. This approach means Con Tech retains its staff well and has good people to support its expansion.
Another positive aspect of the strong retention of staff is the retention of knowledge and skills as the older generation passes the torch to the younger, for whom this is often their first job after completing their studies. Con Tech is adamantly a forward-thinking firm and as such, is eager to share the good news of what awaits future job seekers in construction.
“I think a lot of it boils down to the fact that students in grade school are corralled into university or college with the anticipation that that is going to offer a better career,” says Nick. “I think that schools could do a better job of creating better incentives and guiding young, smart, talented, driven individuals, male or female, into the construction field,” he continues, pointing out that there seems to be a stigma attached to working in the trades.
His message for youngsters deciding what to do with their lives is that construction offers well-paying, secure job opportunities for the future. “It is hard work. But it’s very rewarding when you get on a construction site and start with a blank slate and you see a new building at the end of that project,” he says, mentioning how many useful and transferable skills people can acquire when working in construction.
He’s not all talk, either; to help drive change, Nick is affiliated with a local university where he convinced the Dean of Sciences to host a meeting with contractors and engineers from varying disciplines to develop a practical plan to address current labor challenges. For instance, possible outcomes include expedited trade courses that teach both hard and soft skills, equipping new arrivals with sufficient knowledge and hands-on experience and allowing them to be safely introduced to field work.
In this pioneering effort, the region stands to gain much in terms of both new disposable income and investment. “I think change is good,” says Nick. “I think there are a lot of positive impacts when you change to adopt new ways.”
Supporting charities like the American Heart Foundation and the Red Cross, Con Tech also participates in Secret Santa, donating as many as 100 anonymous gifts annually to aid economically distressed families who may otherwise be excluded from the Christmas festivities. Adopt A Highway® and Sponsor A Highway® Programs have also seen the company invest their time in keeping the two miles of highway that run past its facility free of litter. In addition, Tim Reddick serves as President of the local Chamber of Commerce. He notes how important reciprocating is when the local community has been so generous toward the family and the company.
Managing the future
While the company has positioned itself well to mitigate the impacts of COVID, post-pandemic challenges to logistics are yet to be fully worked out of the system. And so the team continues in its mission to serve customers well and without delay through accurate planning and sound investments. Con Tech also continues to acquire key technology to enhance its services and capabilities. This includes software that links all on-site operations with its office and management teams for operational excellence.
Beyond growing its revenue toward $40 million, progress may soon also mean expanding its facilities and perhaps even establishing another base. And, following the region’s improving economic health closely, Con Tech Building Systems is planning to achieve even further success by diversifying its people’s skills and expanding its construction management services.
“For our success to continue, we need to honor the company culture and tenure, driving home why people want to work for Con Tech,” Nick says of the second family that is the Con Tech team.