Batson-Cook Construction: Building Partnerships First
Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
From its humble beginnings in the early 20th century in West Point, Ga., Batson-Cook Construction has always operated on the philosophy of building relationships with clients and partnerships with its owners, architects and subcontractors on every building project.
Scott Thompson, an Atlanta-based vice president of business development at Batson-Cook, is tasked with developing commercial construction for the company. “We try to do what is right for the customer and we honor what we say we’re going to do,” said Thompson. “It’s that integrity that has kept us in business as long as we have been and has given us all of the opportunities we’ve had, and quite honestly, not much has changed.”
Holding fast to the values of integrity and relationship building has endured over the lifetime of the company and has created an unshakable culture of excellence. This is most evident in the work the company has done, the multiplicity and magnitude of the projects, and the longstanding relationships that have endured for years, decades, and, in some cases, from one generation of client to the next.
Batson-Cook, who has offices in Atlanta and West Point, Ga., as well as Jacksonville and Tampa, Fla., has evolved into one of the go-to companies for major construction projects in the Southeastern United States. “We’re really not a flashy general contractor,” said Thompson. “We’ve earned a lot of our business by word-of-mouth.” Thompson related a story that illustrates the way much of Batson-Cook’s business comes to it. “We got a call the other day from a developer out in Texas that is watching the construction of our SkyHouse apartment tower project in Dallas, and he said, ‘Y’all were pouring concrete when no other general contractor was. That’s the kind of speed and efficiency we’re looking for.’ That type of word-of-mouth has earned a lot of business for us.”
In a world that grows more sophisticated and competitive with every tick of the clock, strategic business development plays an increasingly important role in Batson-Cook’s growth. “About two years ago, we took a hard look at how we do business development,” said Thompson. “What do we need to do to be market experts in every market we want to be in?” That seminal question needed to be answered. By “markets,” the company means “vertical markets”; that is, a particular industry or division of the overall economy. The company’s primary markets are health care, commercial construction, multi-family, hospitality, high-rise office buildings, and manufacturing. The company’s “horizontal” or geographic marketplace is focused on the Southeastern United States.
Randy Hall, president and CEO at Batson-Cook, has been with the company for the past 17 years in various management and leadership positions. In January 2012, Hall was named president of the company and was appointed CEO in January 2013. In a recent interview in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, Hall was asked about the volume of business Batson-Cook his shouldering these days. “We expect to do somewhere in the neighborhood of $500 million this year,” said Hall. “This year we’ll be back to the numbers we were at in 2008 when the economy started going bad.” Hall said he sees this as a sign the economy is on the upswing.
Health care is a major market for Batson-Cook and a significant source of the firm’s revenue. For the past couple of years, the company has had one or more projects going with every major health care system in Atlanta, almost simultaneously. There are several projects for Emory, as well as a new project for Wellstar, and several ongoing projects at Northside. Batson-Cook will build the new Northside replacement hospital in Cherokee County. Construction on the approximately $150 million project is expected to begin sometime this summer. Batson-Cook built the Cancer Treatment Centers of America hospital in Newnan, Ga. Now, the company is working on a $40 million expansion of the original facility.
While the company is committed to its specific areas of expertise, it has by no means exhausted all of them. There are still many areas of commercial construction proficiency held within the company and it is always developing new ones. “A couple of years ago, we deployed our plan to focus on specific vertical markets but we always leave ourselves open to be looking into the future. In our annual business plans we always include what we call an ‘emerging market,’ said Thompson. “Whatever that emerging market is, it will have time and due diligence devoted to it to better understand it and how it may fit in the grander scheme of the company.”
Whether it comes by word-of-mouth or by expert business development efforts, every contract is seen by Batson-Cook as more than just a job, it’s a partnership. “We truly try to partner with our customers,” said Thompson. “When I first came here, it was drilled into me that we are building customers for life.” That coveted ‘customer-for-life’ relationship Thompson speaks of only begins with securing the contract. “It’s not all business development,” Thompson conceded. “Business development takes you to a point and then operations takes over. Our operations folks are very customer oriented.”
Company contact information:
Mr. Scott Thompson, Vice President
300 Galleria Parkway, Suite 1600
Atlanta, Ga. 30339
p.770.995.1951 • f.770.956.1322