Building a Legacy
November 17, 2015 – Construction Today
In its 36th year of providing excellence in general contracting and construction management, R.D. Olson Construction has a well-established reputation in the industry and is now focused on building its legacy for the future. “What have we focused on in the last couple of years?” President Bill Wilhelm asks. “Not letting our prior 35 years of success get in the way of the future and focusing on what kind of change we have to make to adapt to the change in the industry.”
Founded by Robert Olson in 1979, the Irvine, Calif.-based company established itself as a nationwide general contracting and construction management firm recognized for reliability and customer loyalty. The company is known for its hospitality construction expertise, as well as its growing presence in healthcare and multi-unit projects.
Sixty percent of R.D. Olson Construction’s work focuses on the hospitality sector, including new development, renovation and repositioning, spas, country clubs and restaurants. About 30 percent of its work includes multi-unit projects that include timeshares, assisted living, student housing, and for-rent and sale properties. The balance of its work includes private education, healthcare and entertainment facilities.
“we are focused on increasing our revenue stream in areas outside of hospitality, though that is our bread and butter,” Wilhelm explains. “We have an impressive reputation for being a hospitality builder, but we are a company that is focused on the future, our legacy and sustainability. You have to look outside the environment you have played in for some time and work on segmentation rebalancing.”
Multigenerational Workforce The entrepreneurial spirit of the company translates into making a difference in the client’s experience, enhancing relationships with subcontractors and the design team in an effort to “hit the grand slam” for a project’s success, Wilhelm explains. “We are very impressed and proud of our people,” he adds. “They have come forward with accepting the necessary change, as we focus on the future.”
Finding associates is one of the biggest challenges facing the company – and the industry as a whole – because of the decline in younger generations entering the construction industry. “It’s an industry that has been depleted; the construction industry was hit pretty hard (during the recession),” Wilhelm notes.
However R.D. Olson is beginning to see a new injection of individuals into the industry and prides itself on the multigenerational workforce it has created. “How do you bring different generation together to feed off what each other has to offer?” Wilhelm asks. “The seasoned associates may not be as tech savvy, but the younger generations, that’s what they do – they live and die by technology. The younger associates are teaching the seasoned associates how to capitalize on technology that’s available and the seasoned individuals are opening the door and educating the younger generations on what being a builder is all about.”
Developing a multigenerational culture is part of what sets R.D. Olson apart from the competition and is its greater goal of building a legacy for the future. Although implementing state-of-the-art technology and new systems regularly attracts the younger generations to R.D. Olson, it has also become an industry standard. So to go above and beyond that, the company is focusing on building a strong community connection that younger generations crave. “We create a lot of opportunities for our associates to do things together within and outside the company to create experiences for individuals to be part of something bigger,” he explains.
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