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Stevens Leinweber Construction Inc

Stevens Leinweber Construction Inc: Carving out their marketshare

Written by Kevin Doyle

Co-founder and partner Mark Leinweber says adherence to a simple credo - "There are no shortcuts to success" - is the primary reason for the steady growth and success of Phoenix-based Stevens Leinwebe
Stevens Leinweber Construction Inc: Carving out their marketshare
Co-founder and partner Mark Leinweber says adherence to a simple credo - "There are no shortcuts to success" - is the primary reason for the steady growth and success of Phoenix-based Stevens Leinweber Construction Inc through its 28 years. "We're built on honesty, integrity and hard work. We treat people the right way. Treat clients right and they come back. Treat employees right and they stay," says Leinweber, who holds a degree in Construction Engineering from Arizona State University.
Leinweber and partner Mike Stevens founded Stevens Leinweber Construction during the recession of the early 1980s. Despite some similarities, Leinweber says the current recession is a different beast altogether, far more widespread and indiscriminate than three decades ago.
"Phoenix has always been a boom-bust economy, but this time is more broad-based, more national and international than regional. It's not just construction or real estate;
everyone is being impacted and I really have no idea how long it will go on. People have their opinions but I don't think anyone really knows," says Leinweber.
Stable operations
Stevens Leinweber manages to weather the storms of economic instability by running a trim operation, low on overhead and non-essentials. Avoiding the need to expand and contract as the economy demands, their office is a model of efficiency, while maintaining a very family-like environment.
When hiring, the company seeks self-starters. "It's pretty much done word of mouth and through our knowledge of people in the business. We demand accountability but we do not micro-manage. We give people the responsibility and the authority to make their own decisions. For the most part, project managers make their own calls in the field," Leinweber explains.
Stevens Leinweber offers a generous profit-sharing plan and its employees receive bonuses as warranted. The hands-off management approach has proven effective - the average tenure for Superintendents is 10 years and one has been with the company for more than 25.
The company performs exclusively in the commercial sector and 98 percent of that work involves office tenant improvement. "We have done some apartment buildings, a wastewater plant and some shopping centers. However, we've found tenant improvement to be our niche. We're good at it and we're going to stick with it," Leinweber says.
SLC bids out its work to a stable of approximately 250 subcontractors who have proven themselves by consistently delivering quality at competitive prices. "We have developed a lot
of very long, very solid relationships over the years. It's all about trust. They know what we expect and we know what they deliver," Leinweber says. "We put the right subs in the right jobs and it benefits both of us."
Stevens-Leinweber decided early on to focus on tenant improvement construction, and the results have been steady and sustainable, Leinweber says "Leases are always expiring, so people have to re-lease, renew or remodel. So, we're probably a little more insulated and somewhat less affected by current economic woes as others."
"We're a tenant improvement company. It's definitely a niche. We started that way and found it to be a great way to go. There has been nothing that's super significant - it has been slow, methodical, day-to-day growth. You just wake up and see where you are every day," Leinweber says.
Leinweber says the company has never had the luxury of a large backlog of jobs but the ever-expanding Greater Phoenix metropolitan area always seems to need refurbished office space. Key clients include many of the area's largest law firms along with financial institutions such as Northern Trust Bank. On average, SLC works on approximately 200 jobs per year, though Leinweber notes business was off by approximately 20 percent in 2008.
Leinweber and Stevens both remain involved in estimation and project management. "It keeps us actively engaged on a day-to-day basis. It keeps us current and close to the business," Leinweber explains.

Technology, etc.
"I'd have to say that, over the past 25 years, technology has improved productivity dramatically, especially in the office," Leinweber says. "It has been an amazing thing to watch."
Project managers and superintendents are equipped with laptops and cell phones in the field. "Everyone stays plugged in and connected. The immediate availability of information is significant in the scheduling and costing of any job," he says
The company strives to be a good neighbor as well, annually donating a portion of
its earnings to local chapters of non-profit
organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation and TeachForAmerica.
"We are very community-oriented and
owe it to Phoenix to help better the community. We're committed to being involved,"
Leinweber says.
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