R.D. Olson Construction Makes Moves on the Top 400 Contractors List
Irvine, CA – Thanks to our associate’s continued dedication to excellence, we once again were able to make 2018 ENR (Engineering News-Record) Top 400 Contractors List. This award is a great measure of the success R.D. Olson has seen in the last few years and exemplifies the organization’s continuous pursuit of top notch service and quality projects in the hospitality, restaurant, multi-family, retail and entertainment sectors. We charted at #325 up from last year’s #338 position and we know 2019 holds bigger and better things. You can view the complete list of contractors here.
Inside Irvine’s First Full Service Hotel in a Decade
THE NEW $120 MILLION IRVINE SPECTRUM MARRIOTT IS THE FIRST FULL-SERVICE HOTEL TO HIT THE MARKET IN A DECADE, AND DEVELOPER R.D. OLSON SAYS THAT IT FILLS A BIG HOLE IN THE MARKET.
The first full-service hotel in more than a decade has opened in Irvine. R.D. Olson Construction has completed construction of the Irvine Spectrum Marriott, a $120 million 15-story full-service hotel. The project fills a void for high-end product in the market, which is popular for leisure and business travelers. It will specifically target millennial travelers with a host of amenities and food and beverage options.
“Our vision was really to create a hotel that fit in with Irvine Ranch. There is a rich history of Irvine Ranch, which has gone from ranches and farms to universities,” Bob Olson, president of R.D. Olson Development, tells GlobeSt.com. “It has been a great evolution. Our vision was to create a hotel that is reflective of where we are. To be able to reflect that history through the artwork and the design was a lot of fun.”
The absence of full-service hotel development in Irvine says more about economic prosperity than demand, according to Olson. Select-service is more cost effective to build, and as a result, more of that hotel product type has come to market. “To be honest, investors prefer select-service hotels. I though the full-service piece was missing in the market,” explains Olson. “There was not a full service hotel to the extent that it created an opportunity for us. It was really a big hole in the donut, and we stepped up and filled it. We met what the market wanted, and that can be hard to determine. We found that a lot of travelers in this market were not staying in the area because there wasn’t high enough lodging, and that was especially true for business customers.”
The developer felt the demand justified the project. Since, the market has seen healthy growth, especially in the office sector, inflating the need for full-service hotel. “We pulled the trigger on this project three years ago, and at the time, the economy was healthy, but growing at a sluggish pace,” says Olson. “There wasn’t the confidence then that you see today in the hotel market, but we felt confident in the Irvine Spectrum market. We thought that long-term, it was a great place to do business, and today, it really is becoming the business center of Orange County. I think that this will emerge as one of the leading business centers in Southern California.”
While there were some pessimists about the project, Olson says that the positive traction has already proven the success of the hotel. “Our customers love the hotel. Guests are going to run into both locals and travelers on the rooftop bar,” he says. There is a great pulling together and a sense of place.”
The developer plans to hold the property for the long term.
Building Relationships and Communities
By focusing on forming strong relationships with clients, developers and the communities in which it works, R.D. Olson Construction has achieved success in more ways than one.
With a range of new efforts in the affordable housing space, the firm seeks to make an impact for limited-income residents while cultivating a close-knit company culture.
According to President Bill Wilhelm, the success of R.D. Olson is due largely to its commitment to these relationships.
“We are after growth, but we’re after growth in relationships and partnerships with our existing company base and our new future customer base,” Wilhelm says. “We are not out chasing a number. We know that our financial growth will [increase] with our success with partners and customers.”
Wilhelm has been part of the R.D. Olson team since 1994. Over the years, he has witnessed the company move from a somewhat small general contractor to one of the industry leaders in ground-up and renovation construction.
R.D. Olson focuses on serving the needs of its existing customer base above all else. Returning business makes up about two-thirds of its current portfolio, and Wilhelm hopes that this figure will continue to grow in the coming years.
“Part of our short- and long-term goal is to increase the repeat business,” Wilhelm says. “About 70 percent of our volume is repeat business, and that tells you what kind of company we have. It’s one that truly is focused on quality over quantity. When you have that kind of approach, success is always right in front of you.”
R.D. Olson has participated in the development of projects ranging from restaurants to hotels. More recently, it has branched out into affordable housing. One of its recent efforts, the Village at Calabasas, added 180 units of housing to a community in southern California. The property was completed in 2016.
Fullerton Family Housing in Orange County is now under construction and, upon its completion in spring of 2018, will offer 55 units of affordable housing. The site itself is compact, requiring some creativity to make the most of the development.
“It’s almost like putting a property on a postage stamp,” Wilhelm says. “We are maxing out this site with open space, including decks, walkways and things of that nature.”
Despite the limited space for construction, development at Fullerton Family Housing is taking place with careful attention to architecture and aesthetics.
“The rooms are very spacious,” Wilhelm says. “Sometimes, you get the wrong impression when you hear the words ‘affordable housing.’ These are nice units. They’re spacious, and the finishes are definitely above the standard in the industry. It’s just a great property.”
R.D. Olson has a time-lapse construction camera accessible through its website, allowing members of the public to see progress in real time.
“Our customer base loves it, our people love it and even our community loves that they can watch their community grow,” Wilhelm says. “We get a lot of feedback about how powerful that webcam is on our job sites.”
As for the community in Fullerton, Wilhelm says that the reception of the new development has been overwhelmingly positive. R.D. Olson’s focus on building relationships within the community has led to a strong reputation for the firm.
“From what I can see, I think that the community has welcomed it with open arms,” Wilhelm says. “[Opposition] is just a part of revitalization, but the city has worked with the design team very closely on the aesthetics of the building and the general appearance so that it will blend in well with the city of Fullerton.”
R.D. Olson’s commitment to delivering exceptional products remains at the forefront of this new affordable housing development.
“If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right,” Wilhelm says. “Let’s beautify it and let’s make it feel like it is a true part of our community.”
Investing in people
Achieving success over the course of nearly four decades has required a level of commitment to clients and employees alike. In the coming years, Wilhelm says R.D. Olson will continue to invest in its employees, giving them opportunities to take on leadership roles within the company.
“We are looking at our next generation of leaders,” Wilhelm says. “The last few years, we have been continuing to build within the ranks. We know sustainability is not just about having backlog, but also having tenured employees.”
Having an engaged workforce gives R.D. Olson an edge over its competitors and demonstrates its commitment to people.
“I can walk into a presentation and talk about our people and the length of time and experience they have, and typically that gives me a little bit of an advantage over a competitor that I might be up against in this industry,” Wilhelm says. “Our people are the greatest assets that our company has.”