Robertson Construction, started in a basement, turns 25

HEATH – Since its beginnings in Christian Robertson’s basement 25 years ago, Robertson Construction has thrived by making adjustments in response to an endless series of market, workforce and industry changes .

The Heath Company adapts its workforce daily based on weather conditions and its slate of projects, primarily in central Ohio, as diverse as the Licking County Courthouse, Newark Arcade, The Works SciDome, Granville Inn , numerous fire stations and dozens of school buildings. . The current labor shortage has made the task even more difficult.

“We can’t just snap our fingers and tap into a labor pool,” Robertson said. “So we have to try to undertake work that we can effectively manage with staff. As one project starts to drop, another project comes along.

“We’re still actively trying to hire people, but we’re not hiring for a project. In my world, it never went well. We hire for the long term, and then we just try to find work that keeps people busy. »

Robertson has adapted to the coronavirus pandemic to keep workers safe, but is still receiving a paycheck. The company has 181 employees, 36 of whom have been with the company for more than 10 years.

A Robertson Construction crew works on a speculative building on James Parkway in Heath on the campus of the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center.  Robertson Construction recently celebrated 25 years in business.

“We’ve handled COVID really well, I think.” Robertson said. the governor at the time and the CDC and local health authorities.

“We had to get really creative to keep these projects running as best we could while keeping people as safe as possible. I am proud of our leadership team’s efforts to guide COVID policies. I very much appreciate all of our associates who took things seriously and worked as safely as possible. »

Robertson also adjusts each year to market conditions such as the current challenges of a supply shortage and inflation, and 2007-09 was the Great Recession.

“In some ways, supply chain disruptions are affecting us more (than COVID) because we don’t have the ability to accurately complete work or schedule work due to disruption in deliveries,” he said. said Robertson. “We will just try to become as efficient as possible.”

And now the company must adjust to the presence of Intel Corporation’s computer chip development, which could indirectly provide Robertson with additional business, but could also make it difficult to hire workers.

A Robertson Construction crew works on a speculative building on James Parkway in Heath on the campus of the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center.  Robertson Construction recently celebrated 25 years in business.

“We got involved in some of the first things that need to happen for this development,” Robertson said. “We have not been hired by Intel. Much of this work will be done by world-class companies that have done this type of work. We are going to be involved in support-type work.

“Like everyone else, we try to find qualified craftsmen, and it’s a real challenge. This will just be another localized challenge.

Robertson thanks his management team and employees for helping to make the company one of the largest construction services companies in Central Ohio.

“We’re bigger than people think,” Robertson said. “We have always maintained a workplace with a family atmosphere.”

Dan Stevens, vice president of the estimating department, has been with Robertson since its inception 25 years ago. He said the group that launched the company initially felt confident.

“We had worked together at another company for three or four years, so we had a good feeling about each other and what we could do,” Stevens said. “Did I think at that time that we would have that many employees and $160 million in revenue a year, probably not.

“We are very aggressive. We know the market. We’ve been doing this for a long time. We have good people who work hard and that makes the difference.

Ron Sexton, the company’s industrial foreman of 22 years, said the company’s success had come as no surprise to him.

A Robertson Construction crew works on a speculative building on James Parkway in Heath on the campus of the Central Ohio Aerospace and Technology Center.  Robertson Construction recently celebrated 25 years in business.

“I could tell a week after I arrived at Robertson, I remember coming home and saying to my wife, I think this business is going to be great.” Sexton said. “I was looking for something long term and the vibe I got was this is going to be long term work. One of the main reasons is Christian’s passion. He has immense passion for his work.”

Steve Sabo, the company’s chief superintendent for 25 years, said the management team already had connections in the community through their work at another company. So it was a new business, but it wasn’t starting from scratch.

The credit for success in the industry goes to the person at the top of the company

“I would say leadership on how businesses are run (is the difference),” Sabo said. “Christian is involved in almost every job we do and always checks in with the owner to make sure we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.

Jeremy Johnson, the company’s executive vice president for 18 years, and Ben Posey, senior project manager at Robertson for 22 years, said the allure of the construction industry is in the variety of jobs.

Johnson began studying electrical engineering as a student at Ohio State, but the lure of all construction projects on main campus changed his mind.

“I just fell in love with the building, watching it go up,” Johnson said. “It’s a very exciting and dynamic industry. It never gets boring. There are so many opportunities and so many varieties of things you can do in the construction industry.

Posey said: “I’ve always been drawn to construction. I kinda like the freedom to learn. There are so many facets of construction that you can specialize in. All you really need to have, it’s the desire. You can start anywhere and do anything.” You really can. Your success is really yours to try and control and that’s fine.”

The company has had so many projects in its quarter-century of business that it’s hard to pick a favorite, but Robertson said the renovations at Wilson Middle School and Newark High School are particularly memorable, as well as construction in downtown Newark.

The Company’s downtown projects include Licking County Courthouse, Newark Arcade, Newark Fire Station, Newark Police Station, Canal Market District, Parking Lot, Works Scidome , The Works streetscape, Park National Bank’s Alford Building and Park National Bank’s Third North Tower.

“We’ve really put our mark on downtown Newark and that will continue with the Arcade project,” Robertson said. “We’re really solidifying ourselves in downtown revitalization.”

Robertson Construction has participated in projects in 90 projects in 39 Ohio school districts, approximately 16 fire stations.

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Twitter: @kmallett1958

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