In Phase 2 of the CityScape project in downtown Phoenix, Suntec worked on a high-rise that features the Hotel Palomar Phoenix by Kimpton. The boutique hotel opened last summer but was a project that will be long remembered, according to Barnier and Wright.
"It was an intense schedule, and they came back to us for three different stages of it. Built in the bottom of the market, it is now the centerpiece of downtown," Barnier says.
The hallmark of every good business—and a necessity for a construction outfit that has been operating in the same area for more than 28 years—is satisfying customers so that they remain clients when the next job comes along.
"There is no substitute for having repeat clients," Wright says.
The company's success in retaining clients is due to the value of the people that perform the jobs, from the owners to the tradespeople still in training, according to Wright.
"The underlying seed to the whole thing is the culture of people," Wright says. Building better buildings and having better people—that culture has fostered a huge amount of growth."
Old Issues, New Solutions
Contrary to some industry reports that there is a shortage of construction workers in the market, Barnier says that while the new people they are adding to the payroll these days may not have as much experience in the trade, they are better able to handle the technical aspects of the job.
"It blows my mind to think of the great talent level out there," he adds. "They may not be totally skilled, but there is a talent level that has huge potential walking in the door, and we are amazed. As much as people complain that there are no people out there, we wonder, 'What are they looking at?'"
Suntec has an in-house training program for all employees along with a state of Arizona-accredited carpenter and cement mason apprentice program. Suntec also requires all employees to complete 30 hours of OSHA training within the first six months of their employment since statistics show safety issues are much more prevalent among inexperienced tradespeople. Barnier says requiring such a substantial level of safety training to incoming workers has had a direct and powerful impact on the company's current experience modification ratio of 0.58, which indicates that the firm's safety performance is better than the industry average.
"A large percentage of accidents come from when someone is new to the job," Barnier says. "Everybody has to reach OSHA 30 by the time they are here six months. There is an expense, but it pays dividends. It gives people the tools they need to be safe."
The company has also implemented a system by which all Suntec employees on jobsites have their names on their helmets in order to make connections easier. And in the pursuit of an incident-free jobsite, everyone who is new to a Suntec job—which in some cases means workers who have not yet completed their OSHA 30 training—wears a uniquely colored hard hat. Wright says knowing who is more likely to get injured helps the experienced tradespeople watch over them, and that their approach contributes greatly to cutting down on safety risks and accidents.
"It allows us to have guys in spots that are appropriate to their skills and experience," Wright says.
While the company takes all of the steps necessary to succeed as a business, Wright says it is important never to forget the big picture.