About 10% to 20% of Projects Unlimited’s work consists of commercial jobs, but president Rob Hurdle is networking with commercial realtors to increase market share. Much of his current work involves updating small offices and interior spaces for building tenants, as well as building some new structures. “We are a design/build firm, so we build what we design and take the headache out of the mix,” Hurdle says. “They do not have to go to three or four different people. We can help construction manage it.”
Though the commercial market is currently soft in Warrenton, Va., where the company works, and commercial realtors are wary of exclusive partnerships, Hurdle says that if you do a good job for one realtor, word of mouth in the community is strong and the realtor will recommend you to other commercial realtors.
The realtor might have Hurdle work with the owner of the building or with the tenant leasing the space, but Hurdle prefers to bid directly to the owner. In some cases, he works with both the owner and the tenant, as the contract might require the owner to put money into the build-out. “What the realtors need varies,” Hurdle says. “It can be something as simples as a diagram, or lunch with the client to get them into that space.”
The commercial market requires a different mindset, Hurdle points out, and an understanding of commercial permits and county rules. Almost all commercial projects require bonding, and most are billed lump sum with a guaranteed maximum or time and materials. Commercial clients understand markup and profit, and though they will negotiate, they are willing to pay a fair price and, due to the formal process, payments are more reliable than with residential clients.
Hurdle started off by cold-calling commercial realtors, and those relationships have been very successful. He continues to call new realtors and to take them to lunch to introduce them to his company’s work.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.