R. L. Baxter Building Corp.
R. L. Baxter Building Corp. is celebrating 30 years of residential and commercial building success in Dutchess County, N.Y., but the family’s mark on the area goes back even further. “Most of our projects are in the community we live in,” co-owner Amanda Baxter says. “It’s nice to see projects and communities that my great-grandfather, grandfather and father have built. We stay local in an effort to give back to the community we live in.”
Amanda Baxter and her brother, Eric Baxter, have taken over the Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based construction company their father, Robert Baxter, started in 1985. They are the fourth generation to be involved in the construction industry and last year received The Next Generation award from the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce. “It’s pretty cool how the three of us have different interests and skill sets that we have incorporated into our unique strengths,” Eric Baxter explains. “Amanda heads the in-house design team, I focus on the financial and business aspect and dad does everything.”
Even before he started his own company, the construction industry has been a part of Robert Baxter’s life. While teaching industrial arts in 1973, he performed renovations and built additions as side jobs until R. L. Baxter Building was born a little more than a decade later. “The best milestone is that I have the successes of my children to take over the business,” he notes. “They started helping out when they were in high school and came in seven years ago as full-time employees. They have taken the business from where I started off to another level and have created a more diverse company than we had in our first 20 years.”
Today, R. L. Baxter Building is a general contracting company specializing in design/build and remodeling for the residential and commercial market. Commercial work includes new building construction, interior finishing, office remodeling and exterior work. “I really think it’s not just the quality we bring to our client projects, but the unique talents of our employees takes our projects to a higher standard for the client,” Eric Baxter says. “We develop good relationships and go the extra mile. It’s not about dollars and cents, but doing the next five jobs for our customers.”
The company has a vested interest in the city where it lives, Amanda Baxter says, which is why R. L. Baxter Building prides itself on building a good reputation while improving the area with new projects. “We have been fortunate that even through the slow times we stayed extremely busy, because of our reputation and the quality of our work,” Robert Baxter notes.
Adapting to Change
R. L. Baxter Building brings years of experience in residential and commercial building, which has helped the firm adapt to changes in the market. The company’s residential division oversees the construction of custom, multimillion-dollar homes and interior design, as well as the construction and management of apartment complexes.
In addition to managing its own properties, R. L. Baxter Building expanded its property management division to include third-party properties. “We morphed to the needs of the economy and to where it was likely to go,” Eric Baxter says. “There are certain needs in the community and for our customers. We can fulfill those.”
The larger R. L. Baxter Building grows the more subcontractors it has to work with. The company is a favorite among local subcontractors, Eric Baxter says, because it treats them fairly, pays on time and works with them to create a successful project. “You are only as strong as your weakest link,” Robert Baxter explains. “Every sub that we have goes in there and makes money on the job, and is a strong asset on the job.”
Because of its ability to adapt to market changes, R. L. Baxter Building has seen tremendous growth over the past couple of years. “We have gone from $5 million to $12 million over the course of one year,” Eric Baxter says. “I don’t see that stopping anytime soon. We went from 20 employees to about 45 and it’s an exciting time with a lot more jobs available. As we complete one job, two more jobs pop up.”
R. L. Baxter Building attributes its success in part to the staff it has been able to assemble. “Without them I don’t know where we would be,” he adds. “They have been more than instrumental in getting us to where we are today. We have some of the best people around.”
R. L. Baxter Building completed a $2.5 million brewery in six months. A brick building built in 1831 and owned by the Baxter family, was chosen as the setting for The Mill House Brewery because of its warm, historic and visual charm. Its aesthetic appeal coupled with its creative cuisine and unique brews has made it one of the premier dining locations in the Hudson Valley.
Mill House Brewing Co. opened in fall 2013 after R. L. Baxter Building performed renovations, demolition, high-end millwork, site work, concrete, masonry, steel, carpentry, thermal barriers, and exterior and interior finishes. “We kept a lot of the historical character of the building,” Eric Baxter says. “It was a really cool restoration project. We finished pretty quick for how much work was involved.”
Inside the brewery, R. L. Baxter Building went for industrial and rustic themes with exposed brick and beams, Amanda Baxter explains. “We created a comfortable atmosphere with fabrics, textured leather and marble tabletops,” she adds. “It’s a three-story building. The bar is on the bottom floor and each floor has a unique design that creates a natural flow throughout the restaurant.”
“The atmosphere is dramatic and it highlights our design capabilities,” Eric Baxter adds. “The color, textures and fabric were all done in-house. Mill House is a great brewing and culinary team. It’s highly successful because of the product.”
The healthcare industry has been another major expansion market for the company. R. L. Baxter Building recently completed $3 million worth of renovations to a local hospital, including renovating the entire emergency room. It also built a new $4 million orthopedic facility from the ground up and completed the interior fit-out work. “Some jobs you need more support than others like some of the medical jobs,” Robert Baxter says. “You have to pay more attention to detail, but what we have learned is that every job has to be studied carefully and managed with the right personnel.”
“I think you learn something through every project, whether it’s larger or small,” Eric Baxter adds. “We continue learning the ins and outs of the business because it’s constantly changing.”