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Plaza Construction:

Future Shines Bright for Innovative Plaza Construction Growth continues for Plaza Construction, Southeast Florida’s premier construction management and general contracting firm Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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lready well established as Southeast Florida’s premier construction management and general contracting firm, the Plaza Construction management team decided a bit of self-reflection would be beneficial. “We took a little pause and went on retreat with some of our senior leaders and spent some time thinking about “Who are we?” and “Who do we want to be?” It was a self-introspective exploration as a company,” says company President Brad Meltzer. Two primary initiatives emerged from those meetings – the elevation of Human Resources to a more primary role within the company’s structure and the decision to involve more employees at all levels to provide input that would help guide the company’s future. “Our HR people went from being an internal group managing 401K and benefits within the organization to becoming the heart pumping blood through the organization. We spent a lot of time allowing people within the company to join different committees and teams to truly shape the future of the company,” Meltzer explains. “We have let our people know that they actually have an opportunity to change the [company’s] trajectory, enabled by executives who take action and allow them to do it. This initiative is

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paying dividends with great results; it’s really made an impact on the company. And, by the way, that’s people at all levels, all tiers of the company,” stresses Meltzer, an advocate of an open door management style who adds, “There’s not a lock on my door and my office is made entirely of glass.” Meltzer joined Plaza as a summer intern in 1989 and then permanently upon graduation from Tulane University School of Architecture Masters program in 1990. Today Plaza Construction Southeast employs roughly 200 people and has $1 billion in projects under construction, most of them in Miami-Dade County,


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with Tampa/Orlando growing as well. Globally the company employs roughly 700 people and is headquartered in New York City with regional offices in Jersey City, NJ, Washington, DC, Orlando, Tampa, Los Angeles and San Jose producing annual revenue in excess of $1bn. What separates the company from a

bevy of high-profile competitors in the region? “It comes back to respect. You want to earn the respect of your clients, work transparently and have a common goal that puts the project first. Our clients know that we are innovative and working on their behalf,� Meltzer says.

You want to earn the respect of your clients, work transparently and have a common goal that puts the project first. Our clients know that we are innovative and that we are working on their behalf. - President Brad Meltzer www.plazaconstruction.com


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Swap out the word “company” for the word “yourself” from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and you have essentially what could be the company’s operational mantra: “If you know your company and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

Premier Projects KNEE 1000 Museum Tower: The 706foot tall skyscraper in downtown Miami designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid took four years from concept to completion and opened in July. It features a stunning exoskeletal façade

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and includes 84 residential units. “It is one of the 14 most anticipated buildings of 2019 in the world,” according to Architectural Digest. Royal Caribbean Project: Plaza was awarded a contract to provide a new 10-story, 380,000 square-foot office building and a 1,500-space parking garage at the southwest corner of Dodge Island. Skyrise Miami: Upon completion, the 1000-foot tall entertainment and observation tower on Biscayne Bay will be tallest structure in the state. The Berkowitz Development Group is the


Plaza Construction | 7 Mall expansion; and was one of three firms on the short list of companies being considered for a Public-Private Partnership venture with SACYR of Spain for the new Miami-Dade County courthouse.

On The Job Adherence to the company’s business principles and expected behavior, detailed in a notebook given to every company employee, are the primary drivers behind Plaza’s success.

primary developer. “It’s one of a kind, a modern day Eiffel Tower,” says Meltzer. Resorts World Casino: Plaza is the construction manager for the Phase 1 expansion of the casino located at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Expansion will include a 10-story, 400room hotel as well as the addition of new restaurants, a conference center and meeting rooms, fitness center, and the addition of 800 electronic video games. Plaza was also involved in providing one million square feet of parking and retail space for the Aventura

“At the core of all of that is transparency. For so long the construction industry had skepticism from outsiders. We have always been transparent and when people see how we operate it breaks down barriers and creates teams. People can talk all they want about innovation and technology, but making the industry better comes down to your company’s culture,” he stresses. The company most often works with a dedicated core network of subcontractors developed through the years but occasionally takes on a new vendor. All undergo a rigorous vetting process. “We have a prequalifying process and conduct a financial review of their operations to make sure they can handle the job. We also have a subcontractor appreciation night, with a barbecue at a local restaurant,

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Plaza Construction | 8 because we want them to know we appreciate them. Our people are our most important asset and we need to help them grow and create a culture emphasizing that we are a team,” says Meltzer. “I am a big believer in the principles inherent in team sports. We need to make sure all the links of the chain are strong.”

or money, they feel like we are one of them and that we have a certain sensitivity to the design and that we are not looking to simply cut scope out of the design. As a group, we are looking for ways to save money but not change the aesthetic, or change the longevity and long-term maintenance of the project,” he says.

Meltzer followed his father into the field of Architecture, earning a Masters Degree in Architecture. He says the company’s appreciation of and sensitivity to quality design is a cornerstone of its relationship with clients.

Plaza is respected throughout the industry for the wealth of knowledge possessed by its employees and its dedication to provide every client with a unique solution for their project.

“When the design professionals ask us to strategically find ways to save time

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“When you’re sitting at a table with people and they feel you’re one of them, there is a comfort level that is created amongst all stakeholders in


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the project. Much of our staff was educated as architects and engineers, including some who worked in the professional sector previously. The people at Plaza are thinkers and builders at the same time. People want to be respected and mutual respect is created when we share a common goal,” says Meltzer. Since an overworked staff doesn’t necessarily produce the best results, Meltzer values down time for every employee. “I try to find time for my three boys with two in college and a 12-year-old. I try not to miss his games and my wife and I spend time bouncing around

between sports events. It’s a great sense of family and a great sense of pride. Sometimes I get to play a round of golf – that’s four hours of free time for me, which is important. At Plaza, we really believe people should take their vacations. We believe when you take your vacation you are better to yourself, your family and your coworkers. You need to take break and have your batteries re-charged,” he says. The company belongs to multiple industry associations, among them the Construction Association of South Florida (CASF), the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Associated General Contractors of

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Plaza Construction |10 America (AGC), the Construction Employers Association (CEA) and the Latin Builders Association.

Safety Initiatives Plaza has maintained an enviable Experience Modification rate (EMR) through the years. The number used by insurance companies gauges the past cost of injuries and the future chances of risk. “We believe it is differentiator with our clients, who want to have their contractors perform work safely. We think it sends an incredibly powerful message to our staff and ultimately to the sub-contractors, who have the right to go home to their family safely

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each and every day,” Meltzer notes. The company rewards employees for their performance when they surpass a set number of hours of having worked safely on a job site. “We recognize and reward workers who have moved the needle on a jobsite or who did something above and beyond that was exceptional. We do it in front of the entire work force, so these workers have a moment to shine. We’re recognizing them not just for their work but for their safe work,” Meltzer says. He tells the story of a young electrician who arrived at a company top-out barbecue hopeful of winning a gift card or a new power tool in the raffle.


Plaza Construction | 11 “Instead he walked away with the keys to a new pickup truck,” Meltzer says. “We had another worker win a truck who began to cry and told me he took the bus to work two hours in each direction every day to get to work. It’s become part of our culture and when you see the impact it makes it is worth all the hard work.”

The company has awarded trucks to multiple winners and has convinced its clients to partner in the initiative.

Staff Training The company’s Plaza Futures program under the direction of Human Resources Director Maria

“We recognize and reward workers who have moved the needle on a jobsite or who did something above and beyond that was exceptional. We do it in front of the entire work force so these workers have a moment in the sun. We’re recognizing them not just for their work but for their safe work.” - President Brad Meltzer

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Molina in South Florida is designed to introduce individuals who have been in construction for two years or less to the scope of opportunities available within the industry. “It is something I’m really proud of because we are following through on an initiative, we thought was important for the future of young people in our industry,” Meltzer says. “It is for those who have been in the industry for two years or less, whether they joined us from a college program or from another company. We believe, they need to understand all facets of our business, especially before they make career choices.”

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Participants are provided mentors and work for six months as a Superintendent, six months as an Estimator, six months as a Project Manager and six months in other facets of the business. Upon completion of the program, they meet with their mentor to map out their career trajectory. “We have seen folks think they want to be a project manager but because they spent six months as a Superintendent realize, “Wow, maybe that’s what I want to do,” says Meltzer. The inaugural class in South Florida is scheduled to complete its training the


Plaza Construction | 13 first quarter of 2020 and the program will be offered in the New York and D.C. offices for the first time this fall.

with mentors and provide them with guidance to spread their wings into the real world,” Meltzer says.

Committed Community Partner

Plaza built the Fisher Houses, which have provided nearly 400,000 veteran’s families, since 1990, with free high quality housing accommodations across the country, while veterans are treated at military facilities.

The company is well known for its charitable initiatives, both nationally and in Florida. The American Corporate Partners (ACP) year-long mentorship for military veterans and their spouses features mentors from Fortune 500 companies and has earned a 98 percent approval rating from participants. “So you’re someone who worked in the military for 30 years and your time is coming up to move into the private sector. It can be very difficult for veterans to transition, so we buddy up with them and provide them

“Some of the treatments can take five, six or seven months if not longer for brain trauma, serious burns, and significant arm or limb damage. The Fisher family donates a significant amount of their cost and time and Plaza has tried to do the time on the construction side of those facilities,” Meltzer explains. Finally, the company’s Florida office has sponsored a golf tournament for the past several years, raising money

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for Voices for Children that according to the organization’s web site “ensures that every abused, abandoned and neglected child in Miami-Dade County has a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and that financial assistance and other resources are available for their health, educational, and social needs.” “We’ve been able to raise a significant

amount of money with that event and we decided to give that money to Voices for Children for kids in the foster care system to provide them with mentorship, guidance and support. To have an impact on young people’s lives, I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful day on the golf course with our industry partners to raise money for such deserving children,” Meltzer says.

“The collaboration of many people coming together to build something and being able to build a project and then walk friends and family through and show them and then have dinner there or spend a night there is a special experience.” - President Brad Meltzer www.plazaconstruction.com


Plaza Construction | 15 three decades ago. “The collaboration of so many people coming together to build something special and then to walk friends and family through and show it to them and then maybe have dinner there or spend a night there is a special experience. I was recently at a black-tie event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and spoke about standing “here” in my first Florida project, with special memories of those who made it a reality… together here in Miami 19 years ago. It was a great project then and it’s still a great project” he concludes. Many more seem certain to come.

Looking Forward While there are signs of a possible recession in a year or two, Plaza Construction is well positioned to weather that storm given the vast scope of work both in South Florida and nationally. “I think that along with the maturity and growth of South Florida our portfolio diversifies, matures and grows along with the community and the marketplace,” Meltzer says. “We had one billion dollars all finishing in the same six-month period in 2018. It’s a challenge we are constantly managing while preparing for the next wave of work.” Two things keep Meltzer coming back every day with the same vigor he had

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Plaza Construction Southeast Country: U.S. Industry: Construction Est: 1986 Premier Services: General Contracting, Construction Management President: Brad Meltzer Website: www.plazaconstruction.com

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120 NE 27th St. #600 Miami, FL 33137 P: 786.693.8700 E: bmeltzer@plazaconstruction.com

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