Member News: April 2023
Oak Contracting expands into general contracting
In an effort to meet varied client preferences and diversify company operations, Oak Contracting has created a General Contracting Division.
“We saw an opportunity,” said Jonathan Goetz, Director of Business Development and Senior Project Manager. “In any business today, if you get stagnant, you fall by the wayside. We want to be on the cusp of keeping up with the times and we are seeing delivery methods in commercial construction change.”
Although Oak is a construction management company specializing in school construction, company leadership concluded that standing up a general contracting division would enable them to both expand their school work and branch into other markets.
Public school systems, Goetz said, tend to award only one CM contract to a company at a time “because they want to spread the wealth. But, for example, if we have one CM project in Howard County and there are four others going on, our GC division could bid a package, like a general trades package, to another CM and we could physically perform the work. We are seeing opportunities to do more in the K-12 realm.”
Oak’s GC division, he added, has already won the general trades package on Anne Arundel’s new West County Elementary School and Baltimore County’s Landsdowne High School.
Meanwhile, “there are other avenues for our general contracting division to act as a springboard into other markets,” Goetz said. “It is tough as a CM to break into new markets because the first thing they request on your proposal is show us your like experience. If you don’t have like experience, they are not going to hire you.”
By landing work in higher education, healthcare, commercial or other markets, the GC division could help Oak acquire those like experiences and eventually also seek CM contracts in those fields, he said. The GC division has already landed contracts to complete work for Loyola University, Under Armor and other private clients.
Oak’s expansion has already delivered some business management lessons. Oak initially tried to branch into general contracting by spinning off a wholly owned subsidiary, Cromwell Contracting. The relationship between the two companies, however, confused some clients and Oak leadership decided they could foster better growth by keeping both CM and GC divisions in-house.
Bidding projects as a GC has given Oak new respect for hard bidding work and for the intensity of pulling together a GC bid package, Goetz said. At the same time, the process has enabled Oak to better understand how other CMs operate and sparked some ideas for how Oak can improve its CM practice.
“You never stop learning,” Goetz said. “I always try to adapt and take the good things from every situation to make Oak better as a whole.”
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