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Ledcor San Diego's blend of local expertise, national clout yield recipe for success

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While its parent company -- the Ledcor Group of Companies -- is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia, Andy Feth, branch manager of Ledcor San Diego Construction Group, takes pride in his division's strong local roots.

Andy Feth, branch manager of Ledcor San Diego Construction Group.

"I've been in construction for the last 21 years, all of them in San Diego," explained Feth, a San Diego native who left his hometown long enough to earn a civil engineering degree at Brown University, then immediately returned after graduating in 1985 to begin his career here. "All of us in the San Diego office have grown up here and spent the majority of our careers here."

Founded in 1947, the Ledcor Group of Companies is one of North America's leading privately-held and employee-owned construction companies. Ledcor San Diego Construction Group consists of three legal entities: Ledcor Builders Inc., Ledcor Petty Construction LP, and Ledcor Construction Inc. Ledcor San Diego has 55 employees and is the Ledcor Group of Companies' head U.S. office. The company has nine additional offices throughout the United States.

Before assuming his current role at Ledcor San Diego Construction, Feth spent six years with San Diego-based R.G. Petty Construction and was serving as vice president of operations when the company merged with Ledcor in 2003.

Feth is responsible for running the San Diego Ledcor branch, which includes building and coordinating his San Diego team; overseeing new projects; and executing projects that are under way. It's a job he enjoys for the variety it offers from day to day, and the satisfaction that comes from seeing the tangible results of his team's efforts.

"I like knowing that at the end of the day you have something you can see, feel and touch that will be around for a long time," he said.

Customer satisfaction and cultivating long-term client relationships have always been the key principles of Ledcor's business philosophy, and Feth is committed to practicing them in the company's San Diego office.

"We're very customer- and relationship-driven and strive to deliver any of the construction needs our clients may have," Feth said. "With our repeat clients, there's a pretty big swing in the size of the projects we do. They can range from $1 million to $30 (million) or $40 million. Whether an existing client needs our help on a smaller or bigger project, we certainly want to continue to service them."

Ledcor's San Diego branch handles a variety of commercial construction projects -- such as light industrial, office and retail buildings -- as well as multi-family residential projects. According to Feth, for the last couple of years, the company's goal has been to balance its portfolio with an even mix of residential and commercial projects. Currently, there's a slightly greater emphasis on residential work due to its involvement in some large projects in that area.

"We're trying to stay diversified in different sectors of the market," Feth said. "We do pretty much everything except single-family homes."

His team's portfolio of local projects includes the Spectrum Technology Campus for defense contracting giant Northrop Grumman. Featuring a high-tech design and look, the five-building, 225,000-square-foot project had an accelerated schedule and was completed on time and within budget. Ledcor has since been hired by Northrop Grumman to make additional tenant improvements to the facility.

Other ongoing and completed projects include Icon, a 327-unit, four-building residential and retail development near Petco Park; Ocean View Terraces, a $22.5 million mixed-use project in Oceanside; and Ocean Ridge, a $7.6 million, 75,000 square-foot Class A office building in Carlsbad. In addition to its local work, the San Diego Ledcor team also does projects in other areas, such as West Ocean Towers, a $91 million project in Long Beach, Calif.

Like others in California's construction industry, Ledcor is feeling the effects of the skyrocketing costs of materials. While the rising prices haven't caused a slowdown in Ledcor San Diego Construction's project pipeline, Feth said they make it difficult to create accurate budgets for projects that are often negotiated a year before they break ground.

"It's a big area of concern for budgeting because of the long lead time for projects," he explained. "It's sort of like looking into a crystal ball and trying to figure out where materials prices will really be by the time a project actually breaks ground."

Feth cited finding and retaining talented and reliable people as another challenge the local construction industry must contend with.

"The market here is still pretty active, so there's a lot of competition for a limited number of good, qualified people," he said.

According to Feth, Ledcor San Diego Construction's strong national relationships with companies such as Costco and Intrawest provide it with a competitive edge. In the case of Costco, for example, Feth said Ledcor acts as a national account representative that can service the mega-retailer's stores across the country, whether they want to add a gas station or remodel a bakery. This strength is complemented by Ledcor San Diego Construction's extensive knowledge of the local market and established relationships with area subcontractors that enable it to provide competitive pricing to clients in the area.

"Our vision across the country is to rate as the best company to work with by our customers, our employees and our construction partners," Feth said. "This allows us to serve the needs of both existing customers and new customers, and provide added value to their businesses."

O'Donnell is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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