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Slater Builders Looks For New Ways to Help Clients

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Slater’s work ranges from large ground-up projects to small tenant improvements in multiple markets.

When Slater Builders Inc. (SBI) takes on a project, it focuses on the client’s needs from the very beginning. This begins in the preconstruction stage when the company assesses opportunities to improve quality and reduce costs, Project Manager Kim Harvey says.

For example, on its recent project for BlackStar Industrial Properties, the company helped the owner evaluate options for paving their site. The original design called for typical asphalt concrete paving.  SBI was able to obtain very competitive pricing to use portland cement concrete (pcc) paving for all drive aisles and parking areas. 

The cost to upgrade to pcc paving was minimal, and the owner will receive significant long-term benefits. With the extreme heat in the desert during the summer, this reduces the heat island effect. The client will save significant money when evaluating maintenance costs. “We were able to give them options with very competitive pricing,” Harvey recalls.  

SBI’s recently completed project for BlackStar consisted of a two-building campus located in Desert Hot Springs, Calif. One building, which covers 60,000 square feet, is used for cannabis manufacturing, extraction and distribution.

The other covers 140,000 square feet and is used for cannabis cultivations. “Both are pre-engineered metal buildings,” Harvey says. “We did all of the site development work as well as full turnkey [work] on all of the construction-related items.”

Up to the Challenges

The new campus is SBI’s first project for BlackStar, but the builder carries extensive experience in cannabis and other market sectors. “SBI has been in business over 26 years in various markets. We have been working on other projects in the cannabis sector for over three years,” Harvey recalls.

The contractor built the campus over a 12-month schedule and experienced a few challenges, including conditions provided by Mother Nature. “The locations where these buildings were built have some extremely high winds,” she recalls. “Our crew successfully adapted to the winds and handled them.”

The size of the design/build project also required SBI to extensively coordinate work with utilities and public agencies. “That was the most challenging part,” she admits, adding that the pre-engineered metal building designer was a separate entity from the project architect and engineers.

“Overseeing the coordination between those two design groups was a big lesson for us,” Harvey continues. “We were able to learn and gain valuable information out of that process.”

SBI utilized state-of-the-art technology on the BlackStar project. Drones helped document its progress, and other devices were used to monitor the harsh winds remotely.

This allowed SBI to enhance its safety. “When we were not on site, [we could see] what the conditions were like out in the field,” she recalls. 

A Skilled Team

Based in Costa Mesa, Calif., SBI started operations in 1993 and today is a woman-owned business that serves all of Orange County and Los Angeles County, Calif., as well as beyond. “We do all types of work from large ground-up projects to small tenant improvements in multiple markets,” Harvey states.

SBI’s specialties include pre-development, preconstruction, design assist and design-build services. Not only does SBI place a strong emphasis on the pre-construction stage of a project, but on the rest of the schedule as well.

For example, “[We have] very experienced personnel providing daily supervision out in the field as construction continues,” Harvey describes. “We implement commissioning services at the end of projects to ensure everything is installed and functioning properly.”

SBI also values its employees and focuses on enhancing their skills. Today, “We do lunch and learns at our office on a regular basis; we also send people out for classes,” she describes. “There’s always ongoing training for staff.”

The company also makes sure that all employees on-site know the details of their jobs. For example, “Everyone gets involved in estimating the project,” Harvey says. “That’s not something that every construction company does.”

Harvey praises SBI’s subcontractor base, which on the BlackStar project largely consisted of companies it had used before. “The mechanical, electrical and plumbing trades were repeat subs,” she says. “We have a really good base.”

She sees a strong future for SBI and its diversified project portfolio. “[We’re] in a lot of market sectors,” she says, noting that the company has completed work on education, medical and senior living facilities.

This has given the company experience in many different aspects. “Keeping [SBI] diversified helps them maintain a healthy backlog through all the different market fluctuations,” Harvey adds.

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