Nearly 40 years have passed since Dick Saunders started his own company to provide himself with a retirement fund and a “little bit of ownership.”
He got more than he bargained for. Saunders Construction now has more than 350 people in skilled field positions, and it consistently has ranked among the top contractors in the Rocky Mountain region.
The firm also has been named Mountain States Construction’s 2010 Colorado Contractor of the Year.
“Most satisfying to me is that throughout our history, the company has had a great reputation and accolades,” says Saunders, who turns 70 in August and still shows up at the office. “Hardly a day goes by where I don’t get a compliment on a great job or team players, and that brings more satisfaction to me than anything else.”
John Beeble, company president and CEO, adds: “We define our success through the eyes of our customers. Projects take on a life of their own, based on what needs to happen for this to be successful for our customer. We run after that very hard. What people say about us when we’re done is everything.”
“Something else that’s evolved is that, instead of focusing on our building – anyone can do that – what we try to be about is the experience. Competency doesn’t make us different,” Beeble says.
From its headquarters in Centennial, Colo., Saunders Construction has earned a reputation for much more than competency. It has amassed an award-winning, wide-ranging portfolio covering office, retail, recreation, arts and entertainment, health care, technology and hospitality sectors.
The company’s list of landmark projects includes the Arvada Center for the Performing Arts, Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, Broomfield Event Center, CU Center for Community and the University of Denver College of Law.
Strategic partnerships with “best-in-class” construction companies in other major markets have allowed Saunders to extend its reach geographically.
Though the firm enjoys long-term relationships with high-profile clients—including HealthONE, Kaiser Permanente, Gates Corp., Whole Food Market Inc., Target Corp., Samsonite Corp., ProLogis and AT&T—it appreciates and nurtures all client relationships.
“We look for people that understand relationships,” Beeble says. “We can teach people how to build buildings, but you can’t teach them how to be relational.”
Shawn Whinnen, vice president of operations, agrees that commitment to all clients, regardless of size, is important. “I think we’re stereotyped as a large contractor only interested in doing large projects,” Whinnen says. “We do many, many small projects, anything and everything, and they’re extremely important to us.”