Business Monday

Need a new commercial building? How about a dome to ward off cyberattacks?

Does your company want to build or renovate a retail site, an office building or a network of bank branches?

Does it need help recovering from a hurricane or flood? Someone who can rebuild your facility, clean up the area and provide a mobile command center, food and water?

How about a high-tech concrete dome to protect your company’s computers and essential equipment against natural disasters and cyberattacks?

Miami-based Golden Sands General Contractors does all that.

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Michael Kolbert, left, who is CFO, and John Fedele, CEO, of Golden Sands General Contractors in Miami. Roberto Koltun

“We’ve evolved from a mom-and-pop company in South Florida to a contractor working with Fortune 500 companies in [27 states and the District of Columbia] and providing a range of services,” said John Fedele, the CEO of Golden Sands and son of its co-founder, Peter Fedele.

Founded in 1988, the company began by doing construction and renovation work for banks in Miami, then expanded to big players like Bank of America (it now builds and renovates part of the bank’s retail network across the country). It also expanded to other sectors like healthcare, government agencies and energy, CEO Fedele said. Design, construction, renovation and tenant improvements account for most of the company’s business.

After Hurricane Andrew devastated Miami in 1992, Golden Sands set up a disaster recovery team for its own business. It became clear that other companies needed the same services, so Golden Sands offered them in Florida and other states through a subsidiary called the American Business Continuity Group.

A Golden Sands’ disaster recovery unit can be deployed to help a client’s business survive after a hurricane, severe flooding or other natural disaster by proving a mobile command/communications center and crews that can help rebuild a facility, clean up offices and grounds and provide food and water to employees. Golden Sands General Contractors

The company built its first concrete dome in Lakeland in 2005 to protect its essential equipment from hurricanes and flooding. This was the start of another business which erected domes for other companies and recently evolved to include high-tech construction that protects customers not only from natural disasters, but also from cyberattacks due to man-made electromagnetic impulses (EMs), which can damage electronic equipment. A unit called Omni-Threat Structures now designs and builds structures made from a special type of EM-shielding concrete.

“The threat of cyberattacks opened up a new opportunity for us,” said Fedele, who “grew up in the company, swinging a hammer and pushing a broom” and later received a bachelor’s degree in international business from Florida State University. Golden Sands is currently working on a EM shielding project for the U.S. Navy’s Patuxent River air station in Maryland.

A contractor that has done thousands of projects, including many LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) structures, Golden Sands plans to add new jobs to its staff of 180.

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A steel-reinforced concrete dome, designed to protect disaster-recovery equipment, at Dominion Generation’s North Anna Power station in Virginia. It’s 120 feet in diameter and 38 feet tall. ABC Domes, a subsidiary of Golden Sands, built it in compliance with regulations created after the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan. Tom Stiles For Golden Sands General Contractors

“We see annual growth of about 20 percent in the coming years and we’re very bullish on South Florida,” the CEO said. “We can scale our work to our clients’ needs, we have a highly experienced professional staff and we can move on a dime.”

Company name: Golden Sands General Contractors.

Founded: 1988 in Miami by Peter Fedele and Mary Maguire.

Headquarters: 2500 NW 39th St., Miami. Nine offices (including the Miami headquarters and an operations center in Lakeland) in six other states and projects in 27 states and Washington, D.C.

Ownership: Privately owned by Peter Fedele, his two sons, John and Ken, and Mary Maguire.

Leadership: Mary Maguire, chair of the board; John Fedele, CEO; Peter Fedele, president; Ken Fedele, COO and Michael Kolbert, CFO.

Employees: 180, including 57 in Miami, 38 in Lakeland and the remainder at other offices and job sites.

Financials: Revenues were $65 million in 2015 and $71 million in 2016, the company said. Its current projection for 2017 is more than $100 million.

The difference: Decades of experience in commercial design and construction, plus expertise in providing clients with disaster recovery and protection against natural disasters and manmade EM attacks to ensure business continuity. Moreover, with staff and projects in 27 states and the District of Columbia, the company has knowledge of local and regional needs and licensing requirements.

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This is a shot of Golden Sands General Contractors working on the base for the air chiller, part of the air-conditioning system at Miami Children’s Museum. Golden Sands General Contractors

Clients: Banks (Bank of America, Wells Fargo); commercial enterprises (CB Richard Ellis, T-Mobile, American Airlines Arena, Bacardi, Dominion Power); security firms (GardaWorld); government agencies (Miami International Airport, the U.S. Navy); healthcare (Cedars Medical Center, Kendall Regional Medical Center), and others.

Competitors: nationwide, Balfour Beatty and Hitt Contracting; in Florida, Southeast General Construction in Delray Beach, plus others.

Client view: Golden Sands has been doing projects for the last few years at the Miami Children’s Museum. “As a not-for-profit 501-c3, Miami Children’s Museum prides itself on our three-bid policy to ensure that we are prudent in our financial decisions,” said the museum’s CEO, Deborah Spiegelman. “Golden Sands was hands-on from the very start of our process and that was something we were looking for,” Spiegelman said.

Golden Sands stood out from other construction companies because of their people, she said. “We had an opportunity to work directly with the COO, Ken Fedele, and his team. They understood the objectives and priorities of our projects and they have demonstrated their commitment to the museum’s mission. We would absolutely recommend them as the quality of their work is high and their work ethic is undeniable. Needless, to say, we consider Golden Sands one of our valued partners.”

Dome complex in Lakeland that was built by Golden Sands’ unit, ABC Domes. Golden Sands General Contractors

Business lesson: As the company grew, the owners realized they needed to communicate better with employees on changes in management, policies and rules. The company began asking for employee feedback and implemented a new internal communications program. The CEO visits every office and provides a “State of the Union” on the firm.

Best decisions: “Building the best team available and expanding our national footprint to create more opportunities for our company and our employees,” Fedele said.

Strategy and outlook: The firm continues to expand in other states, but is refocusing attention on the new opportunities in South Florida. As a company that stresses performance, trust, quality and sustainability, “I want our company to be the one that sets the standard for the industry,” Fedele said.

Challenge: To meet deadlines on many of its projects, the company needs to work nights and weekends when their commercial clients are closed. “These schedules are very demanding and we need to strike a work-life balance for our employees,” the CEO said.


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