Central Florida’s Full-Service Construction Solution
Located in Lakeland, Nujak Companies is one of Central Florida’s leading full-service construction and commercial real estate companies. Founded in 1992, the company boasts nearly a quarter century of experience across four primary disciplines: construction, real estate brokerage, property management and real estate development.
Each division operates with a high degree of autonomy, complementing each other to create a unified, fully diversified organization that is capable of providing a complete range of services to a variety of clients.
Nujak has successfully evolved with the market, always staying one step ahead. “Our main bread and butter has changed over the years with demographics and industry demands,” says CEO Frank Kendrick. The company got its start specializing in delivering a complete solution to the religious sector. “We have worked with hundreds of churches over the years, bringing a one stop shop process to church construction. We bring the design, architect, engineers, interior designers, furnishings, and equipment consultant. The owner comes to us; they don’t have to go out and shop for all these various components for their project. We handle all of those in house with our extended partners.”
Church projects have traditionally made up between 40 and 60 percent of NuJak’s revenues, but the company has been ramping up its involvement in the educational sector. “Over the last ten years, work with schools and universities has grown dramatically,” says Mr. Kendrick. “We brought the same one stop shop collaborative approach to our k-12 and university work and our clients have really appreciated that approach.”
Healthcare is another target sector that NuJak has successfully broken into. “Within the last four years we’ve moved into healthcare. Obviously, with the Affordable Care Act and the various changes and demands that have taken place, there are facility needs, infrastructure needs that are coming along with those [changes]. We have hired the right staff with the right expertise with infectious control and healthcare construction and we are constantly seeking additional education to really meet the demands of that market.”
Some of NuJak’s most significant projects have been for Southeastern University, one of the fastest growing private universities in the United States. “They needed a company and a design team that were as agile as they need to be in meeting the demands of their rapid growth,” Mr. Kendrick explains. “So we have partnered with a local architectural firm in meeting the demands of the university, whether it is the construction of a new football stadium or the construction of a new health sciences building or the construction of a new 130,000 square foot, five story mixed-use facility.”
This mixed-use facility has been specially designed to house a unique assortment of university needs. “It is actually one of the first of its kind in the country. We have combined residential housing for students with academic space, administrative offices for faculty, food service, an auditorium, arts and media, a museum – all of those have been combined into one space.” NuJak is also building a new gymnasium to accommodate an expanding wrestling program, a new soccer field to meet the needs of an growing soccer program, and new athletic facilities with locker rooms and weight rooms to accommodate the additional 400 student athletes who are planning to attend Southeastern University.
NuJak has received official recognition for its successful approach. Both Inc. Magazine and the Tampa Bay Business Journal have recognized the company’s rapid growth, while Black Enterprise Magazine named NuJak the 2010 Black Enterprise Small Business of the Year. “Black Enterprise Magazine recognized our company as being on the cutting edge of technology in construction,” Mr. Kendrick says. “I am a techie and have been a techie for a long time; that is part of the DNA of our company.” The team utilizes technology to deliver accurate documentation and real time information on every job. “We are very proud of the fact that if a change is made in the field – whether it is a daily report, an incident in the project, an unforeseen condition, a communication made in a meeting, or a telephone call – all of that information is shared collaboratively with our entire team. Whether it is a contract administrator, a project manager, the superintendent, or even the architect, everybody gets the information in real time as it occurs.”
This focus on collaboration is a key feature of the company. “Typically you see an adversarial relationship between the architect, engineer, and contractor. That is the traditional form of contracting. But we treat the architects and engineers that we work with as owners. We strive to make sure that we maintain relationships 360 degrees.” Clear communication is critical to this effort. “Part of it is understanding what each person’s expectations are and we do that upfront. Generally we will outline what the expectations of each of our owners are for us and then we will communicate our expectations to the owner. We do the same with our design team and our employees, and then we manage those expectations. Our goal is to exceed those expectations on each level.”
Communication begins at the outset of each project with a risk management meeting. “The first thing we do is sit at a round table with all the stakeholders involved in the project and we ask, ‘what is the worst thing that can happen with this project?’ and we write those things down. Some projects bring a certain uniqueness to them, particularly when you are working with schools, occupied facilities, or banks with sensitive information. Each one brings its own list of risks and we talk about those and then we [determine] what can we do to mitigate these risks to make sure the worst case never happens, that Murphy’s law never comes into play here. And then, as we move through construction, all we are doing is monitoring our risk, keeping track of our risk, and inevitably the majority of the risk is eliminated as we go beyond those various thresholds where it is no longer a risk.”
The team maintains a close relationship with clients throughout the project – and beyond. “Relationships matter to us,” says Mr. Kendrick. “We are very proud that in a 23 year history, our client list is our reference list. We have over a 97 percent customer approval rating. Every project has its share of issues, but we step in and resolve them and we maintain the relationships with our clients. And that is one of the promises that I make to our clients: we are going to start being friends and we are going to end being friends.”
Employees also enjoy a healthy relationship with NuJak’s management team. “We are very proud of the fact that we have extended that commitment to our employees.” In fact, a significant number of employees who have left the company in search of greener pastures found their way back to NuJack within a few years. “Many of our employees have returned and it is [because of] the relationships that we have. We bring them on board with great relationships and even when they leave, they leave with good relationships.”
The team is eager to deliver their one stop solution to even more clients. “We have a concept called NuJak Next Gen. We are working with our next genners in growing our various geographic locations across the state and even outside of the state into the southeastern portion of our country. We are very proud of that initiative and we are expecting very rapid growth over the next five years.”
The company is already well on its way, expanding rapidly over the past four years. “We have probably experienced quadruple growth,” Mr. Kendrick estimates. With a solid plan in place, the team is ready to keep up its remarkable pace – and deliver a full suite of services throughout the southeast.