KD Construction of Florida Inc.
KD Construction makes sure it meets clients’ expectations.
By Alan Dorich, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
For 32 years, owner Karl Davis has led KD Construction of Florida Inc. with the philosophy of doing what is best for the customer, even if it comes at a cost to the company. “Karl is more about making sure that they’re happy and they got the type of structure they wanted,” Vice President of Construction Operations Greg Raley says.
Based in Pompano Beach, Fla., the full-service shell contractor offers services that include cast-in-place concrete, masonry structures, and complete framing and drywall packages. Davis started the company in 1986, after being a partner in Davis Brothers, which he operated with his siblings.
Davis had innovative ideas and wanted to explore new platforms, including the use of the tunnel-form system. “There came a moment where Karl wanted to go out on his own and left his brothers,” Raley says. “The rest is history.”
Today, KD Construction employs a staff of more than 310 and follows Davis’ philosophy of helping clients safely achieve their goals, while on budget and on schedule. “He just really works his tail off with making sure the clients’ needs are met,” Raley says.
KD Construction is a leader in the shell contracting industry in the state of Florida, Raley says. “We’re doing work from Tampa all the way to the Florida Keys,” he states, noting that the company has completed work out of state as well.
During the Great Recession, the contractor found the South Florida market to be too slow. “That was the time period where relationships were formed with different areas and different people from around the country,” he recalls.
For example, the company completed work for Langston Construction in Houston, Texas as well as military housing projects at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina with Haskell Construction. Today, while KD Construction does not always seek to go out of state, Davis’ relationships draw clients to the company and it will go wherever to help them meet their needs. “They want Karl,” Raley says.
A Big Deal
KD Construction was once considered a newcomer in the high-rise market, but its scale of projects has ramped up over the years. Raley notes that its portfolio includes the Tribute Element Hotel in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., a 24-story, cast-in-place concrete building structure with an integral cast-in-place parking structure.
He also highlights Renaissance at Dadeland in Miami, which features 12- and nine-story apartment buildings, as well as an integral cast-in-place garage. When KD Construction completed the project in 2015, “That showed we can do that type of building, when some people only considered us a tunnel form company,” he says.
Its current work, he notes, includes the 20-story tower University Bridge project in Miami, with Coastal Construction, as well as Metropica Tower One, a 29-story, cast-in-place, post-tensioned concrete building in Sunrise, Fla., for Tutor Perini Corp. “We’ve proven that we can play with the big boys,” Raley says.
Raley joined KD Construction in 1996. “I had an opportunity to come to KD Construction and started at the bottom,” he recalls, noting that he was exposed to every aspect of the company before joining its management team five years ago following 11 years as a general superintendent for KD.
Upon making the transition from the field to the office, KD Construction made a commitment to revamp its project management and safety philosophies, which included changing the responsibilities of its superintendents in an effort to take a little off of their plate so that they could concentrate on quality, safety and production. “The superintendent needs to watch the work and pay attention to what the guys are doing rather than being in a meeting to coordinate the next step,” Raley says. “We had to get them some help.”
Additionally, “We put project managers on every project with engineers beneath them to coordinate drawings, schedules and material orders to make sure it works like a Swiss watch,” he says. KD Construction also formed a safety division staffed by skilled associates who report directly to Raley, Davis and President Oliver Von Troll.
This has helped to work towards the goal of zero harm on projects. “[Our] safety foremen make sure that the employees are properly trained, aware of potential hazards and able to perform the work in a safe, productive manner,” he says.
A Healthy Workplace
Raley is proud of the work environment at KD Construction that he, Davis and Von Troll have nurtured. “I’ve always felt you can get more out of people when they enjoy coming to work every day,” Raley says. “Oliver plays a huge role in that along with having a tremendous group of talented employees.”
“What I like to hear is them coming in on Monday morning and talking about what they did together over the weekend,” he says. “That’s when you know you’ve got a healthy environment in the office – when everyone gets along and wants to spend time together outside of the workplace.”
He also praises Davis’ management. “Karl is probably the fairest person I’ve ever met in my life,” Raley says. “I wouldn’t stay with a company if I didn’t believe in the leadership.”
Raley sees a strong future for KD Construction. “We want to continue to grow, but we don’t want to grow where we’re sacrificing the service we’re able to provide the client,” he says. “My philosophy is I’d rather do fewer jobs and do them really well, than take on more and more work to where we’re not able to give that personal service that we pride ourselves on.”