J&S Construction Builds Relationships Through Trust
J&S Construction® considers itself to be in the service business. Since its inception in 1957, the Cookeville, Tenn.-based company has maintained one clear objective: Building relationships by building trust. “Everything we do feeds into that,” Director of Business Development Ryan Williams says.
To avoid the finger-pointing that often comes in construction when multiple firms get involved, J&S began offering design/build services more than 40 years ago. Today, the design/build method is widely used in the industry, but one J&S set the bar for in Tennessee. “We are a one-stop shop for design and construction,” President Josh Stites says. “That’s one of the areas we specialize in and find it to be a critical part of our success. It’s the reason why each year out of every 10 jobs we complete, seven or eight are with a repeat client.”
Over the past 63 years, J&S has completed more than 5,000 unique projects for various clients. Because of its reputation in the Nashville area, J&S caught the attention of country singer Brad Paisley and his wife, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley.
The firm has completed a number of real estate and business projects for the Paisleys, including their latest venture “The Store,” a modern version of a food pantry that is set up like a free grocery store. “This is a grocery store with dignity for people who have fallen on hard times,” Brad Paisley said. “All of us are one unforeseen disaster away from rock bottom. It’s nice to think about a place where when that happens to someone, they can use it to get back on their feet.”
J&S got involved with The Store during the conception phase in fall 2018. After a collaborative process between the design team, the Paisleys and J&S, construction began in early 2019. David Minnigan, the project’s designer of record at Earl Swensson Associates (ESa), one of the largest architectural firms in Nashville, worked alongside J&S Construction.
Located at 2005 12th Avenue S. next to Belmont University’s Ministry Center, The Store is about a quarter-mile from downtown Nashville. “Because real estate is everything, The Store is in the heart of the city,” says Matt Davenport, project management director. “The site is very small and took a lot of special and specific coordinating from my team.”
The Store sits on a former parking lot off a five-lane highway, which equated to zero lay-down space or off-road parking. J&S was able to successfully coordinate deliveries in partnership with the city’s police force, as well as Belmont University’s security.
“Originally, everyone said there was no way we could build without having a lay down area,” Davenport remembers. “In fact, Belmont approached us to entertain the idea of a property a few blocks down the street, but it was a bad option for us. We were determined that we could successfully manage the project through strong coordination in the field and proper timing. That was crucial to our success.”
In addition to logistical challenges, the site was located next to Belmont University’s Ministry Center, which remained fully operational during construction. Safety was a priority for J&S on The Store project, as it is on every project the company oversees. “If we aren’t good at safety, we aren’t going to be here,” Davenport says. “We cherish our team and employees, so we want them to go home at the end of the day in the same condition they arrived.”
Halfway through the construction of The Store, J&S achieved 1 million man-hours worked without a lost-time accident. The company holds everyone on-site accountable for taking safety precautions.
Safety and performance play key roles in determining which subcontractors J&S will partner with on a job. On The Store, the company had worked with 90 percent of the subcontractors on previous projects. “We take a lot of pride in what we do and partner with companies that we trust,” Davenport notes. “We want to bring people on board that we trust, know will deliver and get the job done to our expectations.”
“We always strive to improve ourselves, and communication is one of the areas we are working on both internally and externally,” Davenport says. “The key to our success, and something we strive for every day, is that every client we work for can say they were delighted to work with us based on our service and performance.”
J&S partnered with a number of entities to complete The Store, including the Paisleys, Belmont University, ESa and subcontractors. “I think coordination with all these different groups was a big aspect of what we learned more about and got better at on this job,” Stites says. “That’s certainly something we will take with us to other jobs that have a number of constituency groups.”
Moving forward, J&S will continue to turn its clients’ visions into a reality within their budgets. “We have a lot of repeat clients because they know they can trust us to get them to the finish line,” Davenport says.
J&S successfully delivered The Store to the Paisleys earlier this year.