40 Years of Building Success

Erland Construction
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

Erland Construction, with offices in Massachusetts and Connecticut, is the region’s leading open shop construction manager and general contractor. The Company offers the expertise and sophisticated project controls of a large company along with the personalized client service of a smaller firm. Established in 1977, Erland Construction will be celebrating its fortieth anniversary this coming year.
Erland was established as the open shop arm of a major union construction firm to serve the needs of its suburban clients in a more cost effective manner. Their reputation and relationships with a wide spectrum of qualified subcontractors guarantees that when they buy out work packages, their clients receive the most competitive pricing that can be offered.

Over the course of its forty year history, Erland has completed well over seven hundred projects in a variety of market sectors. The Company’s performance has resulted in an enviable list of long-term repeat clients who make up the majority of Erland’s annual business, something in which they take great pride.

“Our volume has grown steadily,” explained Steve McDonald, the president of Erland Construction. “It’s been controlled. We’re not looking to be the biggest firm. We value the reputation that we’ve earned, and work hard to consistently deliver the best value to our clients. Some of the same clients we were working for forty years ago, we’re still working for today.” By choosing to grow strategically, this results-driven builder maintains a consistent workload and holds on to the industry’s best talent.

One of the many areas in which Erland Construction’s reputation has been firmly established is the private K-12 academic market, a source of much of its repeat work. Academic clients appreciate Erland’s quality, safety and commitment to meeting absolute deadlines. We have a thorough understanding of the sensitive issues involved with bringing a diverse population of construction workers to campus and have the controls in place to help ensure the safety of the entire school community. The Company began working with educational institutions in the early 1990s and has since completed over 50 projects on eighteen private school campuses.

“The private school market is great because people have their day jobs. If you can develop a sense of trust and they know that the building will be delivered on time and on budget, they are going to want you on their next project,” explained McDonald. “Delivering on your promises in an exceptional manner is what has really led to all the repeat and referred work.”

Over the past two decades, the Company has experienced waves of demand for several types of academic projects including: athletic facilities, arts centers, libraries, residence halls, STEM facilities, field houses and, most recently, wellness centers.

“We’re looking forward to our fifth project at Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts. We built the Gelb Science Center, a couple of dormitory renovations and most recently completed the historic renovation of the Andover Inn. Now Phillips is coming out with a new 100,000-square-foot athletic and wellness center that we’re in pre-construction for. They’re a great client,” McDonald said.

The Company is built upon strong work ethic and a client-driven corporate philosophy, dedicated to completing projects to the highest standards of quality and efficiency. Erland Construction is fair, ethical and respectful of its clients’ needs, as well as the needs of its employees and subcontractors. This approach to business fosters strong relationships based on satisfied clients.

“We started with a captive client, so the focus didn’t have to be survival. We didn’t ask, ‘How are we going to make a profit to be around for the next job?’ The focus was squarely on customer service. We were also able to target clients that were repeat in nature.”

“We’re not known as a company that will give you the lowest price, but one that is competitive and will ultimately deliver the best value. Also important to employees is Erland’s steady growth and market diversification, which helps to offset downturns in the economy and provide steady employment for our people,” explained McDonald.

At the heart of quality at Erland Construction are the expertise and skill level of its 110 employees and the strength of the sub-contractor pool from which it can draw. This is a Company with which the industry’s best subcontractors want to work.

“In the current market subcontractors can be selective in who they choose to work for, which really puts us in a good position,” stated McDonald. “We have a strong following of quality subcontractors that help us to get the best value for the owner, but also get the manpower and the staffing that is required to deliver a project in a timely manner.”

“Employees are everything,” noted McDonald. “Without a talented, trained workforce, you can’t possibly do the types of projects that we perform. The average employee at Erland has been with us for twelve years, which is pretty unusual in the construction business, and what’s impressive about that is, we’ve grown pretty significantly over the last few years which has brought that number down from what it was.”

Erland ensures that its employees have opportunities to advance within the Company and promotes from within whenever possible. It also offers the training and the resources necessary to empower and develop individuals to recognize their full potential.

The Company boasts the resources to complete projects ranging from $100,000 to upwards of $90 million. Erland also works in residential, corporate/commercial and mixed-use structures with a special projects group for any and all unique construction and renovation challenges.

It has built offices, schools, healthcare facilities, multifamily dwellings and life sciences buildings. Within these areas, Erland has done everything from new construction and design/build to adaptive reuse, renovations, historic renovations, additions and tenant fit-ups.

“All of our work is negotiated, and it’s got to be the right client that’s looking for the strength and the services that we provide,” stated McDonald. “We would not be a good choice on regular, run of the mill box-buildings. But if it’s a complex project, that demands high quality or is logistically challenging or fast-track in nature, those are the kinds of projects where we excel.”

“For years, we have provided exceptional pre-construction services,” described McDonald. “Back in the seventies, we started in the office market where developers required early pricing, often on very limited information so that they could make decisions on whether or not to pursue a deal. So they had to have numbers that were accurate.”

Since the Company is committed to the highest standard of quality and aesthetics, it also has a coordination department that reviews drawings before construction even begins. By delving into the details of the project before breaking ground, often using building information modeling, Erland Construction mitigates potential problems or prevents issues from arising at all.

“A big part of it is really just the attitude of the people. It’s a can-do attitude. We look to identify issues and solve problems. We’re not hired to point fingers. We look to resolve problems and work as a team, where the ultimate goal is for the job to be successful for all stakeholders,” explained McDonald.

Each project at Erland begins with a risk analysis to identify any potential problems and determine solutions. On-site mockups are required and Erland will also bring in third-party experts to review documents and provide testing. Early identification can make all the difference. “The outside consultants really bring an expertise to the project that I think everyone welcomes,” described McDonald of third-party experts. “It is short dollars that are spent, and the payback is huge.”

Safety plays a large role in the company’s success. Erland Construction has both a formal quality program and a meticulous safety program. The company has a dedicated safety committee, a director of safety and has adopted extensive training programs.

“We want to control our growth,” McDonald said. “I know it’s tempting for most people to take advantage of opportunities, especially after coming out of a downturn, but we are able to take a long-term view on things, and we have really protected our reputation. We want to be selective in the clients and the markets that we pursue.”



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