Rodgers Builders Melds Traditional Values, Innovation
By most outward appearances, much has changed for Rodgers Builders since its chairman, B.D. Rodgers, first founded the company in 1963. Now with more than 350 associates across three offices, and a diverse project portfolio, the Charlotte, N.C.-based firm's growth has mirrored its hometown's emergence as one of the Southeast's leading economic hubs.
Looking deeper, though, it is apparent that Rodgers has deviated little from its origin as a conservative company, with leaders who emphasize an old-fashioned personal approach. At the same time, the company does not hesitate to embrace new ideas and technology.
These company values have helped Rodgers thrive in good times and hold steady through the recent market downturn and subsequent unsteady recovery.
"We used to congratulate ourselves on how good we were," says Pat Rodgers, president and CEO since 1988 and B.D.'s wife since 1991. "[But] when the downturn happened, we agreed that we were about to find out how good we really are."
So far, it appears that Rodgers has fared well on this recent test. In 2012, the contractor reported $387.4 million in revenue on this year's Southeast Top Contractors ranking. That reflects an increase of nearly 24% compared with the previous year, enough to move up five positions from last year's ranking to No. 11 on the current list. That was the highest percentage revenue gain for any of the top 15 firms in this year's list.
Health care projects—including three greenfield jobs—provided nearly half of that activity. The work helped boost 2012 health care revenue to nearly $172.7 million, or about 50% higher than the prior year, for a fifth-place finish in the category. Here again, Rodgers' growth outpaced its health care competitors.
Bond issues helped drive educational facilities work in North Carolina. Rodgers benefited by landing a $120-million, 199,000-sq-ft new-construction and renovation project for the Talley Student Center at N.C. State University. The company is also working with Barton Malow Co. and R.J. Leeper Construction to build the new BB&T Ballpark in Charlotte.
Rodgers has also continued to win contracts for office building construction. One job is Duke Endowment's $4.1-million Charlotte headquarters.
While Rodgers' statistics may make it a financial success, clients—many of which are repeat clients—say there is more to the contractor than just a good balance sheet.
Judy Rose, the athletic director for the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, says the industry maxim of "on budget and on time" delivery applies to Rodgers. She credits the firm's flexibility in helping fast-track a 15,300-seat stadium in preparation for the school's inaugural football season this fall.
Pamela Davies, president of Queens University of Charlotte—where Rodgers is completing the school's Levine Center for Wellness and Recreation—agrees that Rodgers is a standout. "We know we can trust them to look out for our best interests and stretch our dollars wisely," she says.
"We've always been pleased with their professionalism and attention to detail," she adds.
Rodgers has also taken an aggressive approach to embracing such emerging technologies as building information modeling. Bob Glusenkamp, the firm's executive vice president, says that in addition to the builder's core eight-person BIM team, the company gives BIM training to many new hires.