SRQ Magazine | BRANDSTORY: Firmo Construction September 2020

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FIRMO CONSTRUCTION CONTINUES TO BREAK GROUND DURING A GROUNDBREAKING EPOCH This local design-build firm and commercial contractor has been spearheading profound projects in underutilized areas of Sarasota County since 2003. With 16 years of growth under their construction belt, little did Firmo Construction know a global pandemic would make their 17th year the most challenging, yet rewarding, one to date. At a time when so many smaller businesses around the country found themselves closing up shop, a few essential markets continued to maintain their equilibrium, and Firmo remained readily available to offer its steadfast services to those in need through these challenging times. As the penetrable effects of Covid-19 loomed in closer to the area, the team of industry leaders behind Firmo reacted quickly and swiftly to continue their operations for current clients as well as prospective ones. The company continued to operate as an ‘essential business’ throughout the months of lockdown—pivoting from their downtown Sarasota office space to working entirely remote, facilitating all meetings and project tours virtually, streamlining communications, implementing more regular updates with partners and clients, and enforcing thorough safety measures on all job sites as recommended by the CDC and OSHA. However long the Coronavirus pandemic sticks around, the Firmo team doesn’t plan to lose any momentum—having their sights set on many more endeavors in optimizing the future development and revitalization of our region. “Firmo has always been trying to innovate our industry, stay ahead of the curve and the demand,” says Maegan Ochoa, Director of Design. “We’re not the typical GC and because that’s who we are to the core, the challenges we’re all facing in order to continue working safely with our clients were a collaborative and almost seamless process for us to figure out as we adapted. We believe these are some of the reasons we’ve been able to still experience growth and success this year.” Above (Left to right) Maegan Ochoa, Stefan Baron, Heather Gilpatric, Jeff Bryde, Andor Keresztes, Andrew Wilson and Eric Collin.

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A D A P TAT I O N , I N N O VAT I O N + G R O W T H A look at what Firmo’s been quietly up to this past year, and what project plans lie ahead.“There’s a lot of things moving in our market locally and changing within the industry,” says Eric Collin, President and CEO of Firmo. “From working remotely to the adaptation of office space and social distancing on construction sites—we’re here to get through all that, and still expecting to see an increase in projects this year.” The Firmo team maintains long, established relationships with key partners in Sarasota—often selected to build out multiple locations for each company as they expand or move. Through strong, established partnerships in the community, their work spans about 600,000 square feet of commercial work in our region to date. Implementing new technology, optimized approaches, and innovative solutions as a result of an uncertain environment, Firmo Construction has partnered with each business and catered to unique needs such as contactless devices, minimal doors for entry, and upgrading HVAC systems to promote cleaner air circulation. The team knows these office builds are vital to our community, not only in helping our local businesses improve and upgrade their spaces, but also to create a safer, health-conscious experience for customers when they come back to visit in person. Their work has also taken them beyond Sarasota to places like Fort Myers, Tarpon Springs, and Sun City, where more businesses are seeing the value in having Firmo Construction as the commercial builder that brings their business space to life.

Loftus Law Firm Remodel In Progress

REVITALIZING THE COMMUNITY’S WORKSPACES Many local businesses have discovered the silver lining among the uncertainty and turbulence since the outbreak of pandemic, recognizing this time as a unique opportunity to reflect, renovate, and revamp their workspaces for their employees and customers. When the time comes to bring people back, through whatever our new normal may be, these companies want to be ready to welcome them safely and have reached out to the Firmo team about their new spaces. Capitalizing on Firmo’s expertise in office remodels, tenant build outs, and workspace revitalizations, the Firmo team now has multiple office projects in progress during this time, implementing innovative techniques and new technologies to accommodate whatever that new normal might become. One of the spaces is an office renovation for a local attorney office right on Ringling Blvd downtown. With a quick, six week turn around and working alongside Fleischman Garcia architects, the office will be modernized and open with suites, conference rooms, and break areas for the team. Finally, Firmo is welcoming new tenants within its own building on N Orange Avenue and 2nd Street, upgrading and revitalizing each workspace with updated finishes and new layouts, with Weichert Realty already prepared to make one its own. Through Firmo’s strategic partnerships and longstanding project success, this is the second or third time many of these companies have decided to work with Firmo as they’ve moved locations or opened satellite offices. Trust in their ability to deliver a new workspace that is not only functional but also safe, healthy, and prepared to withstand whatever the future may hold is invaluable to these local businesses and their well-being in our community.

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TAKING ACTION Through adaptation, optimization and expansion, Firmo continues to find new innovative ways to collaborate and succeed. “As Firmo grew last year, we decided to get together and firm up who we are, what our values are and what we were going to move forward and focus on,” says Heather Gilpatric, Business Development Manager. “Then all of this happened, so it was a really huge team effort and great timing to bring it all together. I think that really helped us prepare and get to where we are today. That cohesiveness just blended into the way that Firmo was moving while keeping our values at the forefront.” One of these values is the health and safety of everyone working alongside Firmo is the first priority, pandemic or no pandemic. “Eric and the team really rose up to the occasion, managing to keep staff and subcontractors up-to-date on health and safety policies on construction sites, and continually keeping an open line of communication with vendors, partners and clients on the business fulfillment process,” shares Stefan Baron, Vice President of Operations. “It’s made us a stronger team even though we’re all working remotely and separately. We’ve not only been able to maintain customer service to our clients, but we’ve elevated our skills throughout this adaptation to a new normal.” Busier than ever, and tackling multiple projects at a time, the team behind Firmo have found themselves in the exciting upward motion—requiring additional help to handle their daily operations and inquiries. Firmo has not only been able to provide job security and responsive resources for its existing members, but new employment opportunities for three individuals to join their growing team. In June, they filled positions by hiring a Superintendent, Construction Estimator, Assistant Project Manager and a Director of Marketing & Communications. “As our team grows through all this and adds more people, we’ve found the perfect combination that has encouraged us to operate and communicate in new, better ways,”

Office Remodels In Progress

says Ochoa. “And with a team member now solely focused on invigorating our communications, we’re able to create more accessible and engaging correspondence as we shift to a more digital focus that aligns with our growth.” In addition to external newsletters to clients, third party contacts and contractors, Firmo now sends out internal newsletters to keep everyone in the company connected. Firmo also recently integrated virtual walkthroughs on job sites so clients can see the progress of what’s happening even if they’re on another coast. “They don’t have to get on the plane or take a crazy four-hour road trip just to see what’s going on now. We want to work smart, use the tools that we have and make everything more efficient.” In addition, the team has been working the last year on integrating a breakthrough virtual reality program to create building designs from scratch to finish. “It now identifies construction mistakes before they happen, minimizes construction delays, designs more efficiently and allows us to guarantee a set price without any change orders,” says Baron. In the business development aspect, Firmo has managed to virtually reach and establish relationships with people they hadn’t been able to before and start projects together, without even meeting face to face. “As the world has been putting up barriers, we feel we’ve been able to break down barriers—not only within the company to communicate with each other, but with current clients and potential clients that maybe we wouldn’t have been able to meet in person before all this,” says Ochoa. And while reaching out and finding new clients is different now, there is a lot more sharing of information that wasn’t there before. “Everyone’s a little more softer, a little more understanding. They want to brainstorm and put in an effort to make a conversation happen. At the end of the day, we want to keep business going, keep projects going, and get the economy moving.”

Tru Hotel | In Progress

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Below: Virtual reality technology transforms the design-build experience.

OPTIMIZATION & COST SAVINGS THROUGH VR TECHNOLOGY Earlier this year, Firmo was hired to construct the first Tru by Hilton in the region. Located in Bradenton, the newest Hilton model is a ground-up build that will feature 80+ rooms. The build is an infill lot development, an approach that aims to maximize ecological benefits and reduce development pressure on surrounding areas, and is also involving Virtual Reality (VR) technology to ensure accuracy, troubleshoot potential construction issues, and reduce the overall cost of construction. “Construction in the field is a constant evolution. There’s no longer time or the need to fix issues the old way, which was taking a tape measure and spending days on site documenting discrepancies and fixing them,” explains Collin. “With this VR approach, not only does it take into account the variations in construction plans from architect to engineer to construction, it also avoids crazy situations and most importantly, saves cost for the owner.” Currently more than halfway complete, the VR capabilities for this project utilizes Lidar scanning to provide a 3-D scan and the ability to virtually walk through the entire space before the walls are covered, including framing, pipes, and electrical wiring. This technology is also everlasting in its benefits as future maintenance or remodel issues when the hotel starts aging can be assessed, analyzed, or diagnosed through the headset before any walls are opened up. Firmo’s technology, though still in its infancy, is a game changer for an industry with countless moving parts, close to no margin of error, and walls that hide the important parts.


CERTIFICATIONS AND AFFILIATIONS • Class A Certified General Contractor • NASCLA Certified Commercial Building Contractor • Member of the US Green Building Council • Member of the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange • Member of the AIA • LEED AP Staff Members • EPA Energy Star Partner + Indoor Air Plus Partner • Insurance & Bonding: Roe Insurance

Find out how Firmo Construction can assist with your upcoming project.







205 N. ORANGE AVENUE SUITE #301 SARASOTA, FL 34236 (941) 917-0494 @firmo_construction











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