Building Outside of the Box
Eclipse Building Corp
Eclipse Building Corp thinks outside of the box. The general contracting and construction management firm specializes in eccentric projects throughout the United States. “Our clients have a special edge to their brand, their business, their construction,” Managing Director Shrief Mandour explains. “It’s not just vanilla shell, white walls, and ceiling tiles.”
The team relies on a personalized, specially tailored approach to successfully deliver each of these out-of-the-box projects. While the majority of the company’s work is in the commercial, retail, restaurant, and hospitality sectors, every job is unique, making this individualized approach imperative. “No one project is the same,” says President Todd Whalen. “They all have [different] elements to them that create a very specific vibe.”
The Florida-based business has completed a wide range of unique, leading edge projects. Sometimes this means working with unusual materials, like the earthy, rusted panels that a trendy Miami Beach restaurant required. Or, it can mean accommodating one-of-a-kind design requirements. For instance, Eclipse recently finished a job for J. McLaughlin, a clothier that creates a unique interior and ambiance in each of its 100+ stores in order to reflect the local character and architecture. Furthermore, the owner is an avid antique collector, and oversized, eclectic pieces are often incorporated into the store’s design. “I would say that 99 percent of his construction is built around hand selected antiques from his personal collection,” Mr. Mandour shares. Revamping the building’s layout to fit a “beautiful 18th century mahogany hutch” into the women’s department can be complicated, but last minute changes like that are all in a day’s work for the team.
Overcoming challenges is the norm, rather than the exception, when it comes to Eclipse’s projects. Building Miami’s sleek and trendy Soho Bay restaurant is a prime example. Both the owners and the designer are Brazilian, which created quite a communication barrier for Eclipse. “In Brazil they use the metric system, so when we would get drawings and specifications from their designer they would all be in metric and written in Portuguese,” Mr. Whalen recalls. Converting from metric and translating a foreign language was only the beginning. “The procedures and the way that they build in Brazil is completely different from what we do here in the United States,” Mr. Mandour points out. “So most of the challenges occurred when we would take a concept or a drawing that came from Brazil and figure out in-house, amongst ourselves, how to take that concept and apply the codes and the regulations that we have in the United States – and [still] preserve the intended concept from the designers.”
These complications did not slow down the team, however. “Maintaining the integrity of the interior designer’s intent while still meeting regulations here in the U.S. did pose a little bit of a challenge – but one that we met head on and happily overcame to turn out a remarkable project.”
The team’s experience helps them overcome challenges successfully. Each member of senior management has logged between 1½ and 2½ decades in the industry. That adds up to “years and years, thousands of projects, millions of square feet of construction,” Mr. Whalen points out. “When you spend so many years in the industry building so many different types of projects, you get an understanding and a feel for construction that goes well beyond most.”
A positive company culture also helps Eclipse succeed. “When we started Eclipse Building we consistently asked ourselves, what can we do differently than all the other GCs?” Mr. Whalen remembers. “What can we do differently and what can we do better? That is the culture of the entire company. Do it differently but do it better.”
The company culture has a strong focus teamwork and communication. “A good example for that is that no employee of the company gets their own office,” says Mr. Whalen. “All of our project managers are in what we call a war room, with all their work up on the board. This allows us to collaborate as a team… We are a family; we are a team. We collaborate and we communicate very openly which allows the ideas to grow and really prosper.”
Even senior management shares their office space with others. “We constantly communicate,” says Vice President Andrew Stellino. “We constantly bounce ideas back and forth with the team.” Mr. Mandour adds, “We will text each other at midnight and bounce ideas off each other to get to where we need to get. Whether it is during the day or night, we are constantly communicating. That synergy that we have is why we will reach [our] goals.” This emphasis on collaboration and communication extends to clients as well. “We like to build relationships, not just projects,” Mr. Stellino remarks. As a result, a significant amount of Eclipse’s work comes from repeat clients and referrals.
The company’s focus on teamwork creates a strong sense of loyalty in employees. “We empower our employees with an ownership interest that drives them to excel far better than they would in any other company,” Mr. Whalen explains. Mr. Mandour agrees. “We don’t treat them as employees, we treat them as owners. We try to instill an entrepreneurial, ownership interest in every employee, from field staff all the way up.” In return, the company benefits from the collaboration of these dedicated employees. “Their opinions, their thoughts always help us to move the company to a better plateau and differentiate ourselves from everybody else,” Mr. Stellino states.
Finding skilled talent is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today, but Eclipse is still discerning when it comes to choosing staff. “Applying the right talent and having the right personnel is very important to us,” Mr. Mandour says. When considering a new employee, management looks for “a sense of ownership” and “entrepreneurial spirit,” as well as how well the new hire will get along with the rest of the team. “It is very hard nowadays to find good talent that has all those qualities, but we have been fortunate enough to surround ourselves with the right team.”
Perhaps most importantly, Eclipse sets itself apart by offering an unprecedented, two-year warranty on every project. The company’s coverage lasts twice as long as the industry standard. “We double the industry standard warranty to two years and we back that warranty with a fully customized service and maintenance program,” Mr. Whalen explains. “After we complete the job we continually go back [to the jobsite], doing various aspects of service and maintenance to make sure that that project is at its optimum and it stays as flawless as when we turned it over [to] a client. That is what separates us from any other general contractor in the entire country.”
Mr. Whalen believes that the company’s unique warranty program – combined with high quality work – is the secret to Eclipse’s recent growth. “The aspect that is really going to catapult us [forward] is our service and maintenance warranty program. No other GC provides a two-year warranty with a fully developed service and maintenance program as part of your base contact.”
As the company’s growth continues, the team plans to maintain their focus on long-term client relationships to ensure future business. “We are looking to bring aboard clients that we are going to do 10 to 20 projects a year with, not just the one project,” Mr. Whalen explains. “Our growth will come from closing clients, not closing projects.”