08 November 2022

Building a National Presence by Traveling Where Clients Need It

Many general contractors start out in a single location with ambitions of establishing a national presence. Firms that achieve this usually choose the area they want to expand to and open a regional office. They then spend years building their reputation until they have established a name for themselves in various locations.

But Clune has flipped the script. By allowing our strong track record of client satisfaction to bring nationwide business to us, Clune is able to send employees across the country to show the difference it can make to a project’s success.

Based out of Chicago, Clune has local offices in Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. However, our reach has expanded into 40+ states. In most instances, our clients have specifically tapped us to manage these projects. Clune will also bid on buildouts where there is no regional office and will send employees on the road to work with subcontractors to bring projects to life. Through this process, we have organically created a broad nationwide presence.

“From an owner’s point of view, bringing in Clune makes a lot of sense,” Managing Director Joe Van Oosbree said. “We’ve already worked with these people in our home market, we know their pain points and we know their communication style. They bring us into these new markets because they know we have a proven track record of success.”

Before bidding on a project in a new market, Clune’s team reaches out to key local subcontractors. We also send leadership out to their offices to explain who we are and what the goal is. After meeting, Clune will make the determination to as whether the subcontractor is a good fit.

“We do this upfront work so that when the project comes out to bid, they at least have some sort of connection with us and we’re not just an anonymous company from Chicago coming in to try and do a project,” Van Oosbree said. “We find the key people that will make each job successful. Whether they have a previous relationship to a particular owner, or the right experience level to take the project on, we make them a part of our team.”

Being an out-of-town contractor with a strong subcontractor community has played a role in Clune expanding the way it has. We have a reputation for treating trade partners fairly, which goes a long way toward landing projects across the country.

As for the employees who travel to these projects, Clune recognizes that being away from home for six to 12 months at a time can take its toll, Van Oosbree said. This is why he makes sure that each project and its required travel matches the employee’s specific career goals. He works with them to minimize disruption to their lives.

“We don’t tell employees that we have this specific job for them to work on, or we don’t have a job for them at all,” he said. “We’re not forcing them to go out of town. Clune doesn’t hire for projects, we hire for careers.”

Van Oosbree said that often, working on the right out-of-town project can be just what an employee needs to catapult them into the next chapter of their career. Being away from a regional office and the distractions and complacency it brings allows employees to be truly ingrained in a project and become a natural leader.

“You’ll have an owner and every time they walk on the site, they’re seeing this person and they realize they’re a go-to person,” he said. “They start asking them questions and that person not only gains confidence, they gain a level of trust with the owner. This elevates them to that next level.”

Sean Nolan, a Clune project manager specializing in data center construction, said he enjoys the encouragement and opportunity to see new cities. He also appreciates that he has the freedom to stay where he wants.

“We still have the feel of a small company, even though we have done over $1B in work,” Nolan said. “It’s all open communication throughout the company. That creates a culture of strong communication with our clients and subcontractors in every city we travel to.”

He added that without a doubt, he believes Clune’s travel policies are among the best in the industry.

Patrick Mason, a superintendent for Clune, said that he had become accustomed to how things are done in Chicago. When he started to travel and work with new trade partners, he learned how things can be done differently. This gives him an opportunity to grow and embrace new challenges.

“I’ve had to adapt and overcome while working on those projects,” Mason said. “Those experiences translate to more new projects. Clients feel comfortable knowing that I have more than one method of doing things, and I understand multiple different paths and techniques. It allows me to be flexible.”

Mason also states that Clune’s clients can see the difference in the quality and expertise of the company’s work. This quality and expertise has been demonstrated nation-wide now, not just where regional offices are located. That’s why clients continue to bring Clune on the road.

“Bringing consistency to a client, bringing that strong level of excellence and always meeting their expectations – that provides them with unparalleled peace of mind,” Van Oosbree said. “No matter where a project is located, clients know what they can expect from us.”

Learn more about Clune’s National Presence here.

Written in collaboration with Julia Troy, Bisnow

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