Kaufman Lynn Construction
At its core, Kaufman Lynn Construction is all heart. “It’s all about how we commit to clients, fall in love with our projects and how we treat our associates,” President Mike Kaufman says. “There is a real compassionate, human side to us in an industry that can be very cold and hard. That makes a difference.”
The Boca Raton, Fla.-based company is celebrating a quarter-century of organic growth that has positioned it as one of the top-10 largest general contractors in south Florida. Kaufman Lynn Construction is a full-service commercial construction company that provides a range of services, including pre-construction estimating, value engineering, at-risk construction management, design/build, program management and general contracting. The company also has experience with sustainable construction practices and green building.
“If nothing else, celebrating 26 years this January shows you we are resilient,” Kaufman says. “Construction is a business filled with optimists that work in a very dynamic and sometimes brutal industry. It can be a very, very unforgiving business. Construction, the way we describe it, is playing for keeps. We hire for keeps, bid for keeps and service our clients for keeps.”
As the company’s founder and owner, Kaufman believes Kaufman Lynn Construction is different from its competitors because he stays very engaged. In south Florida, he says there are only three or four locally owned construction management companies and the balance are nationally or globally owned companies. “We live here, we work here and play here, so our approach sets us apart,” Kaufman says. “We have a more heartfelt commitment to our clients.”
Kaufman Lynn Construction’s business model was built on diversity. Its projects span various markets, including education, healthcare, municipal, multi-family housing, retail, automotive, public safety, recreation and faith-based nonprofits.
“There are times when in that effort to stay diverse in multiple sectors you lose out on opportunities, but from a long-term perspective it leads to sustainability,” Kaufman explains. “You can outlast the fads, booms and busts of the markets if you are spread out.”
The company follows trends in the economy and construction industry to forecast and predict which market sector will see an increase in demand. For example, Kaufman notes that multi-family housing is a hot sector right now, but prior to it was education, retail and at one time self-storage construction.
“Multifamily residential construction is by far the hottest sector throughout the country, but most specifically in South Florida and we made that bet four years ago,” he notes.
The trend in higher education is public/private partnerships (P3) and Kaufman Lynn Construction is a founding member of the Florida Council for Public Private Partnerships. The company says many higher education projects will be developed by a P3.
“It’s an interesting market because it’s out of the comfort wheelhouse for many contractors,” Kaufman explains. “It takes an enormous effort, energy and resources to bring the project to fruition. It’s not for the faint of heart, but they can be rewarding.”
Kaufman Lynn Construction became part of a P3 in August 2013 with Broward College, Florida International University and Municipal Acquisitions, a direct investor in real property occupied by entities that serve the public, to construct the Miramar West Center. “The project [was] the first to be approved following the July 2013 effective date of the Florida Public Private Partnership statute,” the company says.
Broward College President J. David Armstrong said in a press release at the time that the new complex, designed by Perkins & Will, is an example of beauty and progress. “Broward College has seen consistent growth in the Miramar area, and this new innovative and mixed-use facility will address the need to provide affordable and advanced training to the community that we serve,” he says. “We are excited to partner with Florida International University and look forward to working to offer quality education and workforce training to help students succeed.”
In the four-story complex, Broward College occupies the first two floors and Florida International University occupies the remaining top two. The 90,000 square feet of space is filled with administrative offices, student classrooms, lab spaces, meeting spaces, student commons and a foodservice venue.
Broward College’s offerings at the Miramar West Center will focus on business, supply chain management and global trade and logistics. A number of credit-for-prior-learning options will also be available. Florida International University’s offerings will include liberal arts, business and construction management for undergraduates and business, engineering, education and public administration for graduate programs.
The $23 million complex sits on 20 acres of land that included about 9 acres of buildable, non-wetland conservation easement area. The Southwest Center shell was built using tilt-up construction with pre-stressed concrete joint and beams and cast-in-place concrete slabs.
During construction, Kaufman Lynn Construction used a number of jobsite management tools such as a virtual subcontractor plan room. “In effect, it takes a lot of what previously done manually on paper and puts it digitally into the Cloud and provides our subcontractors with the ability to have real-time updates to plans in the field,” Kaufman explains. “When an answer comes in from designers, we can input that into the digital plan and everyone is on the same page as updates come in. That’s a big deal on a complex job with time constraints.”
Construction on the Broward College Southwest Center was completed in July 2014, two months ahead of schedule.
The major challenge facing the entire construction industry today is the shortage of qualified labor at all levels. Because of this, Kaufman Lynn Construction’s primary strategy over the past two years has been associate engagement.
“To be successful in this business, you have to have all different talents if you want to differentiate yourself,” Kaufman says. “There is a war for talent right now and we want to win that war through engagement.”
One of the ways Kaufman Lynn Construction is engaged with its associates is by developing career paths with them and monitoring their progress to achieve those goals. This requires the company to provide ongoing training, succession planning and be transparent on the growth of the company and opportunities that exist.
“There is nothing better for engagement than seeing a peer moving up in the organization and knowing that the next person could be you,” Kaufman says.
The Kaufman Lynn University was developed to provide ongoing training to the company’s associates. Training and programs are available to everyone in the company – not just its senior associates or managers. “We are providing training and offering them opportunities to learn things they wouldn’t normally get exposed to and that’s a big part of our future,” Kaufman says.
Moving forward, Kaufman Lynn Construction plans to continue focusing on associate engagement while working to be one of the top contractors in the state. “In 2015, we will produce $250 million worth of construction, be one of the top contractors in the state and our goal is to sustain that,” Kaufman says.