Construction Firm Directs Its Focus
March 5, 2013 - The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Vinings construction executive Randall Redding doesn't build single-family homes, so his company has weathered the recession better than most.
And the 58-year-old owner of R.K. Redding Construction thinks many of his friends in the industry who've suffered may have reason to smile again soon. Housing prices are rising, homes are selling and real estate agents are starting to hammer more "for sale" signs into front yards.
He sees residential activity as a key economic indicator for his $50 million Bremen-based company, which builds churches, schools, factories, health care structures and government facilities, among other things.
Redding, who started out busing dishes in his family's restaurant, has learned to read the tea leaves that are important for his company. Churches, for example, launch building projects in downturns because the pews fill up with jittery people, so they need more space, he said.
Q: How have you done in this economy?
A: Our revenues have fluctuated between $40 million and $80 million during the past five years. We are tracking to improve from $50 million last year, which is good.
We haven't had to let people go. When the economy goes down, you have to make a decision whether or not you invest in your people. Do you want to lay off good people or batten down the hatches and still have them when times get better? We have decided to hang on to our people. If you start laying people off, you are a different company when it's (the recession) is over.
Q: How many people do you have?
A: About 65, but we hire a lot of subcontractors.
Q: Do you think the recession is really over?
A: The first sign of recovery is taking hold. Since interest rates are at historical lows, people are going to take advantage of long-term low rates. I think the banks want to loosen up on credit. They made it hard to get a loan and now I think things are going back in the other direction.
Q: What has been your biggest business challenge over the past few years?
A: The smaller pool of work. There is less project opportunity out there and more competition. You just have to do a better job negotiating the projects. We have not been in the position of having to depend on borrowing money to make it through the recession.
Q: How have you survived the tough times?
A: Thankfully, we do a lot of public sector work: hospitals, medical, churches, and we also do construction management.
Q: What's that?
A: If a client calls and says, "we want you to manage a project, a church or in industry," whoever it might be, we help. We work with the owner and design a project, put the project out for competitive bids to subcontractors. We are more involved in putting nuts and bolts together, rather than just building it. We help people through the whole scary process.
Q: Tell me more about this part of the business.
A: A lot of times we will get hired by the owner to look at the site to see if we could identify any potential problems that might exist. There could be a wetlands issue. Water is more expensive to deal with than rock. We look at environmental effects on lakes, streams. Sometimes there are gravesites you have to deal with. Unsuitable soil is another issue.
Q: What have been some of your projects?
A: We were hired by the Paulding County school system to be construction manager and we finished a bond referendum 32 percent under budget. They were able to build 300,000 square feet of additional new buildings with the savings. We build churches, such as First Baptist in Douglasville, an addition to Midway Presbyterian in Powder Springs. We've done projects for WellStar in Marietta, Harbin Clinic in Cedartown, Tanner Family Health Center in Tallapoosa, and the $17 million Trinka Davis Veterans Village in Carrollton.
Q: Do you build factories?
A: We've done work for Southwire, Honda, Yamaha, Fitel/Lucent Technologies, DieTech Engineering and others.
Current projects include renovation of an elementary school in Fairmount, one in Hiram, a high school in Stockbridge and a health care building in Newnan.
Q: You do work all over the state, it seems, but aren't you headquartered in Bremen?
A: Yes. I commute from Vinings about four times a week. We are licensed in Georgia and five other states, and a lot of our work is in West Georgia.
Q: You have deep roots in West Georgia, don't you?
A: My mom worked in the mills until our family bought a local restaurant. The industrial leaders would eat there and I got to know them. I was the first in my family to decide to attend college, but I had trouble getting accepted. One of the industrial leaders made a phone call on my behalf to Auburn, because he saw what a hard worker I was. Busing tables and serving customers changed my life.
Q: What else are you involved in?
A: We built the Mill Town Music Hall in Bremen and it has been successful. We get people from Atlanta, Alabama, all over. People have found us. It's really exciting, two minutes off I-20. A good friend of mine is a record executive in Nashville and he helped us bring in some big names such as Toby Keith, the Oak Ridge Boys and Amy Grant.
Q: Who owns it?
A: My wife and I own it. It opened earlier this year. We built it to be home to quality entertainment, hosting contemporary Christian music, country and bluegrass concerts. The facility can seat 1,000 people. It is a part of the effort to revitalize our community.
Meet Randall Redding
Job: Founder, president and CEO of R.K. Redding Construction
Family: Married with two children and four grandchildren
Education: Auburn University, B.S. building construction
Hobby: Music, singing in church choir
Philosophy: Do the very best you can with the job you are given