Quality in Consistency

Friedrich Watkins Company (FWC), is not your average construction company; from some of the world’s most famous Florida-based theme parks, to major restaurants and multi-million dollar hotel chains, FWC combines expertise with experience to tackle some of the country’s most demanding projects.
Founded more than 17 years ago, FWC started as a small two-man project with one big vision. It was a less than glamorous beginning; FWC’s first contract was actually for the construction of a fence around a dumpster. At the time the business was so small, the earnings from the project went toward startup insurance costs. Needless to say, a little grunt work and a lot of commitment certainly paid off.

According to Jeff Friedrich, one of the company’s original founders, the small projects didn’t last long, and FWC found itself highly profitable and growing exponentially in a matter of months.

Despite a humble start, FWC went on to gain some of the country’s biggest construction contracts across the hospitality, retail and theme park sectors, among others. Today, FWC is an established leader in the Floridian construction industry, with a highly esteemed clientele to match.

Building Relationships
Over the past 17 years, FWC has cultivated long-term client relationships with some of the world’s most famous brands. Several major Floridian theme parks and hotels, 4 Rivers Restaurants, Orlando Harley-Davidson, and Burton Snowboards are just some of the names in FWC’s portfolio, and the list is growing.

Jeff Friedrich sees lasting relationships as not only an essential component of FWC’s success, but also as a crucial part of management. In the past 17 years FWC has managed over 500 major projects, with the assistance of a wide network of quality subcontractors and suppliers. Throughout the construction industry, the management of subcontractors and other professional relationships remains a challenge, but FWC alleviates these complications through constant, organized management of its projects. Mr. Friedrich explains that, “We minimize surprises by constantly monitoring the progress of each project and remaining in constant contact with our clients and subcontractors.”

By far, FWC’s biggest strength is its experiential, in-depth knowledge of the sector. Whether it is hospitality, retail, food service or theme park construction, FWC takes on projects which are time-sensitive and labor-intensive with confidence.

Quality in Consistency
The most recent international economic downturn heavily impacted the North American construction industry, but FWC’s track record of success in Central Florida enabled the company to prosper despite its seemingly treacherous positioning in a changing sector.

Many might wonder how a conventional construction firm was able to grow so quickly and remain profitable throughout the recession. According to Mr. Friedrich, the secret to success is consistency, because ultimately, consistency and quality are one and the same. “We work really hard to protect the owners’ wants and desires and needs; our goal is always to do such a good job that they don’t want another contractor to do their work,” he says.

To FWC, consistency is the secret weapon and the driver of success; it is what keeps FWC at the front of the pack and keeps major clients coming back for more. “We want to be consistently looking out for the owner’s needs – that is by far the most important thing – but we are also consistently working on making sure that subcontractors and employees are delivering the best quality of work possible,” says Mr. Friedrich.

FWC’s specialized skill set, which caters to large-scale construction, has cemented the company’s position in the local industry. It is this reputation and reliability which have enabled FWC to weather the economic storm.

Value Engineering
The team’s methodical approach to project management continues to make it a top choice for multi-faceted, large-scale projects. Indeed, the company’s role in construction management begins long before work boots hit the site. FWC is extremely skilled in “value engineering,” or developing plans and strategies which ensure projects’ viability prior to construction.

“We try to have a high level of service; these days budgetary concerns are always high on everyone’s list, so we work with our clients to come up with ideas for how they can build things differently and save some money,” Mr. Friedrich shares. Pre-construction budgeting and planning is a key step of the project management process that many companies are beginning to explore, a skill which can only be learned through years of practice, a skill FWC has been perfecting since its inception.

Working closely with clients, architects, and subcontractors allows FWC to tailor designs which fit the client’s specifications, but which also include a high level of economic consideration from start to finish. The pre-construction phases are essential components of FWC’s approach to design and implementation, impacting the overall economic viability of its work. An in-depth knowledge of not only construction, but materials management is a fundamental component of a comprehensive development of such plans. Mr. Friedrich explains that, “We are good at helping the owner to sort out the things that are really a good bang for their buck, and also at deciphering which things they might be spending money on that the customers don’t notice, or that really don’t improve the ambiance or guest experience.”

This commitment to efficient, quality design follows through from the earliest phases to up to a year after completion. FWC’s participative method is the company’s cornerstone of difference, in terms of service offerings and in terms of results.

On Time, All the Time
FWC has a proven track record of quality construction, which is consistently delivered on time. The guarantee of timeliness is a promise which anyone in the construction industry understands is no easy feat.

In fact, the company is extremely skilled at building to strict deadlines, knowledge which comes as a result of its work on major theme parks and hotels in Florida. Major tourism operations cannot afford to work with businesses which cannot work fast, and this is where FWC’s strength really shows.

Theme parks and hotels must work within stringent deadlines since such firms rely on providing services which are extremely time-sensitive. The hospitality industry spends millions of dollars on advertising, putting forth attractions or accommodations which are set to open on specific dates, and therefore cannot risk the possibility of working with construction companies which cannot deliver on time. Such projects can be challenging, and as a result FWC has learned the importance of not only commitment, but flexibility. “You have to do what it takes and roll with the changes because in the theme park industry, there are always changes as the project develops – but the end date never changes.”

One example of the type of challenging, large-scale projects FWC manages is the team’s current hotel refurbishment work for a major theme park in the area. The project consists of nearly 2000 hotel rooms, all of which FWC is in charge of developing. FWC takes on a building a week, of nearly 70 rooms, while staff work around the clock, seven days a week to ensure the buildings are completed quickly, as to not delay their use. FWC guts the rooms all the way down to bare concrete, completely rebuilding each in about 16 days. “We take down a building a week and we turn over a building a week.”

With three building renovations going at any given time and 300 workers on site on any given day, sound management is crucial to the completion of quality construction. As Mr. Friedrich says, “It is important to be organized and have a handle on how to schedule your project. In addition, it is essential to have a good set of subcontractors that will back you up and keep the project running smoothly and on time.”

Giving clients a fast, turnkey solution to large-scale refurbishment separates FWC from its competitors, winning the firm major contracts with some of the biggest companies in the world.

Looking Toward the Future
Jeff Friedrich explains that at times the work can be difficult; with night work, and operating facilities around the clock, the company has certainly worked hard for its success. Still, he counts himself, and the company, as lucky to have such a long list of reputable and dependable clients.

The Friedrich Watkins Company will continue to provide highly specialized and consistent construction services to some of Florida’s most influential firms. In the past few years the sector has taken notice, awarding FWC numerous industry awards and a vast portfolio of prestigious contracts. Remaining at the forefront of construction and the project management sector requires constant effort and reassessment, a challenge Mr. Friedrich says the company meets with enthusiasm.

FWC will endeavor to continue to expand and provide clients
with top of the line services while also evolving with a changing industry. The future of the Friedrich Watkins Company is built on a foundation of quality and consistency, an ideal which the company believes will be furthered by the incoming new generation of FWC innovators.

April 20, 2021, 10:16 PM EDT