Galaxy Builders is dedicated to quality and service.
By Janice Hoppe-Spiers, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
Galaxy Builders has remained one of Texas’ leading general contracting firms over the past 27 years because of its dedication to customer service that keeps clients coming back time and again. “We recognize construction is a service-based industry,” President Neilesh Verma says. “We always keep the client and subcontractor relationship as our first priority and we are always working internally towards making ourselves better each day.”
Verma’s father, Arun Verma, founded the San Antonio-based company in 1991 to focus on his passion for building. Arun Verma spent the previous 15 years serving as president of construction for Embrey Partners, a leading multifamily developer in the city, until the savings and loan crisis hit and his role was about to change.
“New construction was stalled and they wanted my dad to transition into property management during the slow period; however, he simply loved to build,” Neilesh Verma says. “He decided to amicably part ways and start his own company in 1991, but he had to start from scratch despite his prior experience as sureties and banks were looking solely at him.”
Galaxy Builders began with $100,000 of bonding capacity and has grown its capacity today in excess of $200 million. The company’s primary market is multifamily throughout the state of Texas, delivering award-winning, turnkey projects from luxury to affordable housing, including active independent senior living communities.
The company is currently overseeing 12 projects ranging in size from $10 million to $35 million and has built more than 30,000 multifamily units ranging from a variety of finish levels.
“We act as a conduit between the developer and subcontractors, and manage the process from starting dirtwork to turning over units for leasing,” Verma explains. “Galaxy Builders take on the responsibility of making sure the projects get built in budget and on time.”
Galaxy Builders’ operations consist of a pre-construction team and six project management teams with each overseeing two projects at a time. The company’s capacity ranges from 10 to 15 projects at any given time and maintains a ratio of two projects to one project management team.
“Each contract is bound by a guaranteed maximum price,” Verma says. “Those in the field are focusing on maintaining the schedule and those in the operations are focusing on the budget.”
Galaxy Builders’ mission is “to deliver unmatched service to its communities by building thriving places to live and work.” “Our relationships are why people keep coming back to us,” Verma says. “They have a comfort level in knowing the integrity that we have and that we are going to deliver for the client.”
To ensure it is more proactive in decision-making, serving its clients to the best of its ability and communicating effectively, Galaxy Builders hired an outside consulting firm to implement a customized leadership development program. The 12-month program is focusing on improving employees’ soft skills.
“We all have unique natural skills and we are working hard not only on people development, but also on creating the best fit teams based on each individual’s leadership style,” Verma adds.
Galaxy Builders was named San Antonio Express-News’ Top Work Places for the past two years and Verma says it’s important for him to maintain a family culture. “Despite how much we are growing and the amount of work we have, we always want to keep a work/life balance here,” he adds. “We set quarterly goals now and the reward is family time.”
The company met its first-quarter 2018 goals and was rewarded with paid time off the Friday before Memorial Day. “This is in addition to the base package of benefits,” Verma notes. “If we all come together and work hard to try to achieve these different goals, the whole company should benefit. We looked at what we could give, such as bonuses, but at the end of the day, money is taken and it either gets saved or spent and is quickly forgotten. You will never forget that moment you were able to spend time with your family or plan a trip because you earned the time to do so.”
Galaxy Builders considers itself a small, tight-knit community of professionals that collaborates amongst its peers both personally and professionally.
“Each opportunity uplifts moral around the organizational walls and keeps employees looking forward to the next big event,” Verma says. “Moreover, in its care for its people, Galaxy instituted a health and wellness plan in order to promote each of the following dimensions of healthy living: physical, emotional and intellectual wellness, social, environmental, multicultural and occupational.”
Galaxy Builders also focuses on developing solid relationships with its subcontractors. The company hosts an annual subcontractor appreciation day in October where it invites as many subs as possible to its home office.
“We initiate the appreciation with our core subcontractors to get a sense of the market and provide feedback on how Galaxy is performing versus its competition, and it’s a very candid conversation,” Verma says. “When we first started this, our subs came in and told us this is what the competition was doing and this is what Galaxy is or is not doing and we took their comments to heart. Recently, one specific subcontractor recognized us last year as their top contractor of choice because we took their feedback and put things into motion with faster payment terms and trying to integrate technology into our workflow, for example.”
Galaxy Builders recently invested in Procore Construction Project Management Software so project plans and documents are stored in the cloud and can be accessed in real-time by the owner, contractor and subcontractor. “They see the changes we are making and know that we are making an effort,” Verma says. “Following the meeting, we all come together in our backyard for a barbecue mixer and it’s a good way to network and further our relationships.”
The company also hosts an annual trip – one for male and one for female employees, which also includes key clients, subcontractors and partners – to develop stronger bonds. “That happens from Thursday through Saturday so they don’t miss too much family time, but it gives them a chance to go offline and get to know each other better,” Verma explains. “If they develop deeper bonds, they are more apt to work with each other during tough times.
“We started this annual trip 15 year ago and it’s something everyone looks forward to,” he continues. “The trips include fishing, golfing and shopping adventures. Last year, the men’s trip was held in San Diego and the women’s trip was in New Orleans. This year, the men’s trip is set for Denver and the women are headed to Las Vegas.”
Galaxy Builders says maintaining communication with its subcontractors is key as they are busier today than ever before. “We need them to commit when working for us that we are a priority to them,” Verma says. “It’s a daily effort of being on the phones, talking to subs and making sure from a time perspective that they will be on site when we need them.”
Although the company has a core group of subcontractors, Galaxy Builders says it is also careful not to give all its work to the same contractors.
“We keep the integrity of fair competition because we recognize if we give all the work to the same subcontractor, the implications for one’s failure can carry over into multiple projects,” Verma explains. “We try to be very careful and selective in this process.”
Subcontractors are not only stretched because of labor shortages, but also because of an increase in overall projects in the multifamily sector where Galaxy Builders performs 100 percent of its work. “We try to manage the expectation of the owner better because projects that we used to build in 12 months now take 15 or 16 months,” Verma notes. “It will take longer to build and we want to make sure they understand the new norm from the beginning to avoid setting unrealistic expectations.”
Masters of Multifamily
Galaxy Builders’ focus on accurate planning and bidding, superior technology and management skills, and proven cost controls combined with innovative processes, have earned the firm a reputation for excellence in the multifamily sector. In addition to conventional builds, the company has partnered with many customers whose sole mission it is to provide suitable living standards for seniors.
Galaxy Builders has also completed 55 HUD-financed projects in the state of Texas. “Our management team’s place an emphasis on documentation with HUD’s required processes that permit seamless, clear communication between HUD, our customers and Galaxy Builders,” Verma says. “Our extensive experience allows us to work closely with owners and architects during pre-construction in order to coordinate the requirements of the project, including schedules and budgets.”
Each year, Galaxy Builders remains actively involved in the affordable housing marketplace having completed several projects throughout Texas. The company also performs to the highest standard for municipal, city, county, state and federal projects. “Whether it’s training facilities or barracks at U.S. armed forces installations or family housing for an entire base, Galaxy Builders’ commitment and enthusiasm is the same,” Verma notes. “The company partners with government clients to engage cost controls that are second-to-none.”
Galaxy Builders is overseeing the construction of Dalian Monterrey Village Phase II on the far west side of San Antonio. At the time of starting construction, the 360-unit luxury apartment community is the largest project the company has ever built. Construction began in April 2017 and is nearing completion ahead of schedule.
Dalian Monterrey Village will offer one- two- and three-bedroom apartments with modern home features and resort-like amenities. Six-foot-tall windows in the units allow for ample sunshine and natural light to penetrate each bedroom.
The kitchens are furnished with stainless steel appliances, under mount single basin sink, designer lighting package and wall-to-wall plank flooring is featured in every unit.
In addition to the contemporary urban design, each unit has high-end finishes such as granite countertops and steel fixtures. Dalian Monterrey Village also features an infinity pool, poolside cabanas, a fitness space, a bark park with grooming station, an outdoor lounge that features a fireplace and televisions, as well as an e-lounge and coffee bar.
Recently, Galaxy Builders broke ground in January on Tuscany Heights, a 335-unit luxury apartment complex in San Antonio. “The site has about 100 feet of fall and the soil conditions are on solid rock,” Verma says. “The views that you are going to get from the north portion of the site will be unmatched. You will have views from the north side of San Antonio into downtown. Tuscany will expand across 13 buildings, providing residents with luxury amenities such as lavish pool and cabana, elegant architecture and design.”
In addition to the breathtaking views, Tuscany Heights will also feature smart housing technology, including keyless entry so residents can enter their units using their cell phones.
In December 2017, Galaxy Builders broke ground at Medio Springs Ranch, a $33 million premium workforce housing apartment community that offers residents of Bexar County in San Antonio a quality-built and affordable home. “It’s rent restricted based on income levels; however, you would never know it’s affordable housing if you were to visit the property,” Verma says.
Set on 16 acres in west San Antonio, the 348-unit multifamily community will offer one-, two- and three-bedroom apartment homes in 16 buildings. The building is construction with 100 percent masonry and a standing-seam metal roof.
“The metal roof was chosen by the developer, Mike Hogan, because of his personal desire for energy efficiency and emphasis on delivering a higher-quality project,” Verma says. “It’s different and a unique feature compared to most of our other apartments we build.”
On the first floor, 25 apartment homes will be fully adapted to accommodate persons with disabilities. Medio Springs Ranch will offer eight different floor plans and the apartments will range from 754 to 1,178 square feet.
Local development company Hogan/Home Springs Realty Partners have developed more than 3,000 affordable units in Bexar County and Texas with the completion of Medio Springs Ranch. “Medio Springs Ranch represents a milestone for our affordable housing division and is the largest all affordable new construction project ever done in Texas,” says President Mike Hogan. “We are proud that the Housing Authority of Bexar County agreed to be our partner and create a public/private venture to help our effort to expand the much needed affordable housing to the citizens of Bexar County.”
Moving forward, Galaxy Builders plans to continue to maintain a capacity of performing 10 to 15 projects at a time in Texas. The company’s vision statement is, “By 2020, Galaxy Builders will implement fully integrated consistent processes and tools to provide unmatched service; Build and strengthen a culture of loyalty and continue to grow.”
Galaxy Builders focuses mostly on multifamily construction, but the company will begin a commercial project this summer to diversify its portfolio.
Experience is essential and Galaxy Builders has deep, respected experience in construction, general contracting and preconstruction services. Galaxy commercial services division has been awarded several differentiating product types. The company will oversee the construction of a new corporate headquarters in San Antonio for one of its longtime clients, Prospera Housing Community Services.
As the division’s portfolio matures, these various product types will develop into niche products similar to its government and hospitality markets. The hospitality industry encompasses a well-connected network of professionals and Galaxy Builders’ intention is to meet the needs of the owners and architects in the industry by continuing to produce the highest-quality workmanship and deliver unmatched service.
“Construction is dynamic and each day brings on new challenges, but one constant is I plan to be here for a long time to lead the next generation of our business,” Verma says. “My goal is to continue to grow the company in a manner where it’s natural and organic. I want change to be seamless so people don’t recognize it’s happening while it’s happening. We are taking a methodical, step-by-step approach to everything.”