Beginning with the End in Mind
The statement that probably carries the most resonance when it comes to strategic planning is to “begin with the end in mind.” And when the end game for a design/build firm is not just to complete the job on or ahead of schedule and within budget, but to create the kind of experience where you’re the company of choice for the next project that client is planning, it is an approach that shapes the firm’s attitude and culture in a unique way.
Senior Vice President/Project Executive Brett Atkinson said, “Bob Moss would always tell our clients at the start, ‘Our goal is to be better friends at the end of the job than at the beginning.’”
It is a philosophy Moss honed over 40 years in the construction industry, including his time as the president and CEO of Centex Corporation’s Florida operations. When he started Moss & Associates a little over 10 years ago, that was the type of company he had in mind. It may also explain their meteoric success, growing to more than 300 employees in offices throughout the southeast, with an impressive portfolio of projects. These include the Miami Marlins’ major league ballpark, featuring a three-panel operable roof system weighing approximately 7,500 tons, to the new four-story office building at 800 North Orange Avenue in downtown Orlando’s new urban district, the North Quarter, for Ustler Development Inc.
Culture of Empowerment
One dimension of that culture, which both Moss and his two sons, company President Scott Moss and Senior Vice President/Project Executive Chad Moss, all possess, is their entrepreneurial leadership style. According to Atkinson, this viewpoint “limits corporate bureaucracy and empowers the team to make decisions about the projects they lead. Bob believes in people, which is the real difference between one company and another; it is the people.
“Moss’ strategy not only solidifies the relationship of our onsite personnel with the client, it galvanizes their sense of empowerment and liberates them as an individual player in a much larger game.” It also has given Moss the opportunity to diversify into different markets, when creative ideas and out of the box thinking is welcome.
“I think culture is everything in our industry,” continued Atkinson. “Many of the executives that had worked with Bob either as clients or in the companies he led wanted to work with him when he started his own company. Initially, he began as a sort of boutique builder that focused on the clients that he enjoyed working with and that enjoyed working with him. The year 2004 was almost a perfect storm, as the market really heated up in South Florida and all over the state. A lot of clients looked at Bob as an alternative to other large corporate builders in the region.”
Spreading Their Wings
Since opening a regional office in Orlando just two years ago, Moss & Associates’ work can be seen throughout Central Florida. Along the I-4 Corridor, Moss has become the construction management firm of choice for several projects, including construction planning for the Daytona Beach Convention Hotel & Condominiums and the new corporate headquarters for Owens Realty. In addition, Moss is part of the construction team for Orlando-based Wyndham Vacation Ownership and its new Margaritaville Vacation Club® timeshare property in St. Thomas.
“And there’s more to come,” said Rob Baker, vice president of Moss’ Central Florida Division and a 33-year construction industry veteran. Baker has worked on major community projects that include The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, University of Central Florida’s College of Medicine in Lake Nona, Orlando International Airport Landside Terminal Expansion, Hyatt Hotel and Conference Center and the Seminole State College Partnership Center. “We’re going to grow here, and literally help build the future of Central Florida.”
Sherry Werner, a senior project manager who has been with Moss longer than anyone at the Orlando office, said, “When people are passionate about opportunities or things they want to do, the leadership at Moss is very receptive about allowing them to explore those interests – to present a plan and then work that plan. For instance, we now have a visual design department, because one of the guys presented that plan to Scott and the executive team and he said, ‘Let’s move forward with it.’ In the same way, we have a green team, which focuses on energy efficiency and LEED certified buildings, because it was a passion with some of the younger people in the company.”
During the recession, when commercial construction was slowing to a seeming standstill, “many companies went into a shutdown mode and others like Moss said, ‘We have to reinvent ourselves,’” Atkinson explained. “We moved into the Solar Field market and started resolving clients’ problems with Chinese drywall. Both were opportunistic, but not in our wheelhouse. As a result, we became a leader in both these fields. We were able to provide our construction management expertise to clients like FPL (and seven other states and foreign countries), since most of the companies installing the solar panels were panel manufacturers, not companies with a large project management background.
“We weren’t solar manufacturers, what we did was look at where these types of projects had potential and went after them. We looked at how they were being constructed and how we could do it better. It wasn’t our forte, but we saw ways to innovate and create efficiencies and now we are a market leader,” added Justin Sligh, Orlando’s marketing manager.