A Growing Kentucky Firm Builds on Its Success

Anderson & Rodgers Construction
Written by Nate Hendley

Anderson & Rodgers Construction, a fast-growing, award-winning design-build firm based in Lexington, Kentucky, has a wide range of residential and commercial clients. Its team performs custom design, new home additions, commercial and residential construction, remodeling, and renovation services.

While the company has worked on medical clinics, student housing, and both modern and historic homes, it also specializes in equine-related projects. This makes good business sense, as horse culture is huge in Kentucky, reports President, Chief Executive Officer, and Owner Teddy Rodgers.

The state, of course, hosts the world-famous Kentucky Derby and abounds with thoroughbred farms and horse barns. Anderson & Rodgers has constructed equine facilities on farms and rural properties and is currently building an addition to a surgical center for horses in Simpsonville, Kentucky. The addition needs to be elevated roughly seven feet to match the height of the existing facility, a challenge the company is meeting by importing vast amounts of soil.

“Setting up the building pad is quite the process. Every bit [of soil] has to be imported, then compacted, and then compact-tested with geo-tech equipment,” explains Rodgers.

The company is also working on a beef plant in Carlisle, Kentucky, an assignment for which it was brought on board quite rapidly. “We met [the client] on a Thursday and he contracted us the following Monday to be his [general contractor] on the project. We officially broke ground probably March or April of last year,” Rodgers states.

Outside of the commercial realm, projects for residential customers typically begin with a sales call and a conversation. The company gleans details about the proposed project from the client and determines if any design work has already been done. If everyone is amenable to moving forward, one of two things happen: “Either we immediately enter into a design contract agreement where we start to design the project for the client and we proceed from there, or we work through a budget process and then we enter into a design process,” he explains.

Part of the budget process involves aligning client expectations with their proposed budget, while design work involves the use of cutting-edge design software to create three-dimensional digital models that give a comprehensive visual impression of the completed project. “We have the ability to put it on screen so that customers can see it and ‘walk’ through it. It really does bring to life the vision that we’re helping them create,” says Rodgers.

Once budget and design are taken care of, the company enters the pricing stage, which entails a detailed analysis of approximate labor and material costs. At this point, clients sometimes ask for a value engineering review—a process in which elements of the project are scrutinized again with a view to reducing costs. After the financial details and design plans are settled, “We execute the contract and start the project.”

Following completion, company staff members perform a quality walkthrough to ensure all is well. “We try to be the most picky person in the room,” says Rodgers. “If we can do that, it’s really easy to live up to anybody else’s standards. We have really high expectations for finished quality, and we pay a premium for that kind of work. We hold [contractors] to the highest standards.”

From its base in central Kentucky, the company routinely branches across state lines. After building a women’s clothing store in Lexington, for example, the impressed client asked Anderson & Rodgers to build a second store in Cincinnati, Ohio. The company has also taken on office and residential projects in Cincinnati.

Following a hurricane, a Kentucky client hired the firm to perform some condominium rebuilding work in Florida. Roughly half a dozen of the client’s neighbors ended up hiring the company for the same purpose.

The business was founded in 2006 by Rodgers and current Chief Financial Officer and Owner Brent Anderson, whose last names form the company moniker. Anderson is currently CFO and an owner, while Vice President Bruce McGaughey is a minority owner. At first, “we thought we would build new construction, we would buy and flip houses, and we would do renovations,” Rodgers recalls.

The economic recession of 2008 to 2009 forced the company to pivot and explore other opportunities. By 2010 to 2011, its focus had shifted to custom homes, light commercial work, and residential remodeling. Within a few years, commercial construction began picking up steam, and the company landed a lucrative contract building walk-in medical clinics for markets “that had a decent population but didn’t necessarily have a good medical presence—no large hospital. We were building 10-room walk-in clinics,” Rodgers explains. The first clinics were built in Kentucky, followed by four or five additional clinics in southern Indiana.

Revenue was on the rise, but progress was challenged again in March 2020 by the COVID pandemic. Most of Anderson & Rodgers’ building sites were in rural or isolated locales, where “it was easy to continue to work and to effect separation” between laborers. COVID still had a devastating impact on the company’s contractors who were exposed to the virus from other sources. “We had an electrical contractor who had 10 people all go out at one time. Everything kind of got put on pause because sequence is very important in construction,” says Rodgers.

The pandemic also helped to fuel inflation, leading to big price hikes. When it struck, Anderson & Rodgers was working on a project with a $70,000 budget for materials and labor; virus-related inflation caused an “almost $20,000 increase” in certain costs. The company found itself trying to cope with soaring prices and anxious customers at the same time. Things have since straightened out, and company prospects look excellent.

Until a few years ago, much of the firm’s work was self-performed, but as time progressed and the pool of available skilled laborers diminished, this approach became less cost-effective. As Anderson & Rodgers scaled up, it began increasingly contracting work out. Today, most construction tasks are handled by contractors, and “our firm is more management-based,” Rodgers says.

The company has roughly 17 employees and aims to hire self-driven people who do not require constant supervision. A strong work ethic is also expected. Construction on the beef plant, for example, involved concrete pours at three in the morning, a major time commitment for both contractors and supervisors. It’s an approach that goes both ways; the company is flexible with its staff and has no problem if someone needs to take a day off to care for a sick child, for example.

Employees should also be prepared to tackle a broad array of assignments, some of which can involve tricky challenges. The company “has done some really cool projects over the years for so many different kinds of people,” Rodgers notes.

One particularly noteworthy assignment involved a 177-unit student housing remodel. The remodeling aspect was not that extensive, but the work “was probably one of the most difficult logistical jobs because we had to move the students out and have them back in a short period.” The students were moved, the work was done, and “the pure logistical challenge of it was great.”

He also speaks fondly of a remodeling job on a house dating back to the Revolutionary War. The home had beams of varying sizes and old-fashioned square-head nails embedded in the wood. Work crews discovered that the home had likely been remodeled before, perhaps in the late 19th century, due to the presence of machined beams in some parts of the structure. The company worked hard and selected appropriate materials to maintain the historic nature of the space.

Company promotion is done online, in person, and through other means. Projects are professionally photographed, and the images are used for promotional campaigns and the company website. However, much business comes the firm’s way due to its reputation.

“I’ve always been a boots-on-the-ground person,” says Rodgers. “We create relationships with architects; we create relationships within the community. We get a lot of opportunities through word-of-mouth. I had a $2 million project where they called us because they saw our yard sign on another project.”

Clearly, the company is doing something right, as Anderson & Rodgers has earned a breadth of industry awards. These include top rankings in the Best of Lexington, Kentucky awards bestowed by the Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper and a series of Building Industry Association (BIA) of Central Kentucky honors for bathroom remodeling, home additions, and whole house renovations.

Going into the future, Rodgers aims to maintain the company’s upward trajectory. Over the next five years, he would like to have “another period of growth like we’ve been experiencing in the last 15 years. When COVID hit, we felt that things kind of got derailed a little bit, but in 2023, we had a massive boost. Heading into 2024, we’ve got a real mentality of continued growth.”

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