2009 Business Excellence Awards

Business Administration

Project management tool streamlines data flow

Groninger Custom Homes
Winter Park, Fla.

After years of supervising projects themselves, the team at Groninger hired its first rookie superintendent and soon realized that changes would be necessary. Even though the firm was organized, it was discovered that information was being kept in nine different places.

“We tried a few different standardized construction management systems, but never found one with all the answers,” says Keith Groninger, AIA. “Hence, our own system has evolved into four components: a cost accounting system; the construction schedule; a hierarchy of files and templates; and a document we call JobNotes.”

Cost accounting and construction scheduling software systems aren’t revolutionary. Several good options are available, but Groninger felt the key to success is dependent on how the information those programs generate is organized and distributed. “Likewise, we think our use of JobNotes is innovative,” he confesses.

Unique to Groninger’s system is the personal website created for each new project. Each site provides an access point for clients and associates to find project information, either from within the Groninger office or online. All related documents are stored on our office server and uploaded to the website. Daily, weekly and monthly procedures ensure all information in the JobNotes system is current. Once a project’s initial setup is complete, no special skills are required to store and update project files.

“We use this as a marketing tool and we demonstrate the features to our potential customers. It also allows us to add functions that become available for our customers as their homes progress. Finally, the system allows us to apply ideas we learn from every project and use them to improve the process for the next one,” Groninger explains.

Business Administration

Full-service design/build and a 95% close rate

Jauregui Architecture
Interiors Construction
Austin, Texas

As a full-service design/build company with offices in Austin and Houston, Jauregui Architecture Interiors Construction provides single-source design and construction for high-end homes, as it has for more than 25 years.
Led by award-winning architect Luis Jauregui, AIA, the company brings together the expertise of architects, interior designers, builders, managers, estimating and sales/marketing professionals as a single entity. Its solid foundation derives from a strong sense of integrity and professionalism combined with a focus on exceptional client service.

Design creativity, team management, uncompromising execution and attention to detail are reflected in each of the company’s unique design/build advantages. These include:

Exceptional drawings. “We consider drawings and specifications to be our contractual agreement with the client and tradesmen. Every dimension, cabinet detail and tile layout is reflected. Construction flows smoothly and the client is happy,” says Luis Jauregui, AIA.

Cost during design. Periodic cost updates are provided during the design phase so clients can make informed decisions and sticker shock is eliminated. Construction start is immediate and 95 percent of projects convert to construction. The relaxed client is informed early about budget.

Selections during design. “Our designers lead the client in preselection of all finishes, which we cost and incorporate in highly detailed specifications. This eliminates change orders and unwelcomed cost overruns. The client has fun instead of stressing out during construction,” Jauregui says.

Furnishings, too. Jauregui’s designers propose a furnishings plan during design and work with the client to select and acquire furniture, window treatments and accessories. The team then installs furnishings and transitions from construction site to sophisticated interiors, and the client is overwhelmed with joy.

Exceptional execution. “We bring all of the expertise, combined with multiple layers of well-honed management, so the client doesn’t have to worry about anything,” he says. “The client receives lots of TLC as we continually push ourselves toward greater levels of excellence in every area of the company."

Community Involvement

Conservationists and builders can get along

Charles Ross Homes
Williamsburg, Va.

The mild climate, cultural and recreational opportunities in Williamsburg, Va., make it a popular retirement destination. Most newcomers choose to make their home in one of the area’s master-planned communities. Unfortunately for developers and home builders, the majority of newcomers prefer to “shut the door behind them” to preserve the character of the area. Ironically, new development projects are opposed by area newcomers.

As both a conservationist and managing director of a residential design/build company, Timothy Cleary, president, Charles Ross Homes in Williamsburg, Va., believes a reasonable middle ground could be achieved between the no-growth position advocated by conservationists and minimally restricted growth supported by the development community.

Cleary was already active in the local home builders association when he joined the Williamsburg Land Conservancy (williamsburglandconservancy.org), a land trust working to protect and preserve scenic, historic and agricultural lands in Virginia’s Historic Triangle. He was elected to the conservancy’s board of directors in 2003, and in November 2008 was elected chairman of the board, he says.

“Throughout my tenure, I’ve worked both to alter the conservation community’s perception of developers and to ensure the conservancy is a rational and respected voice for conservation,” he says. “My efforts to bring the two groups together have produced benefits for each. The Williamsburg Land Conservancy now holds permanent conservation easements on more than 3,000 acres, and the development community can now point to a number of projects which demonstrate that progress and preservation are not mutually exclusive.”

River’s Bend at Uncle’s Neck (riversbendva.com) is a 350-acre community that includes more than 200 acres of open space protected by conservation easement. Immediately after the raw land was purchased in 2006, Cleary approached the developer and pitched the idea of preserving a large portion of the property and making the preservation a marketable point of difference for the community.

“By working with the Williamsburg Land Conservancy and agreeing to integrate open space in the design, the developer was able to gain widespread citizen support for the proposed development, and even a few concessions from local government during the approval process,” he says. “We’ve shown that with thoughtful design, quality development can occur while preserving the important character of the area, and we have a model process for future developments to follow.”