Miles ahead: Contractor moves along at TRIC
Miles Construction has built its business by developing relationships with the deal brokers in the construction industry.
The Carson City-based general contractor, which started in 1986, has found those relationships beneficial in landing several large-scale projects in northern Nevada and some surrounding areas.
Cary Richardson, vice president of business operations for Miles, said the company also has been meticulous in developing detailed construction costs for projects. That has proved helpful for developers who are always cost-conscious.
“One of the things people are always looking at is building costs, say a 200,000-square foot building,” Richardson said. “‘What is that range in Nevada, because I’m used to building in Ohio?’, so people will come to us and ask ‘can you help us out?’ and that gets your name in front of that company.”
When the development of Tahoe-Reno Industrial Center started taking shape, Miles used those contacts to be at the forefront at the massive business park in Storey County.
Miles is developing or just completing facilities for companies such as AZZ Galvanizing, Aqua Metals and Folcrum Sierra Biofuels, LLC (part of the latter’s facilities are outside of TRIC).
The construction company already completed projects for other TRIC tenants such as Dynamic Isolation Systems (DIS), Schluter and Saginaw Control & Engineering.
Some of the projects, Richardson noted, have been unique and fun, albeit sometimes challenging.
Aqua Metals, for example, is a battery recycling facility using innovative and environmentally friendly procedures. Richardson said some of the processes used at the facility were new prototypes, which created huge challenges.
Richardson said when questions do arise developing a project, Miles won’t hesitate to seek out experts in a particular field to consult how to develop a project.
At TRIC, Storey County officials have streamlined the permitting process, something that has sped up the process for Miles to complete a project. That’s important because, at TRIC, companies are eager to get operations up and running as quickly as possible.
Richardson said a typical 100,000-square-foot facility can take around six months to build.
“The key with TRIC is how quickly can you start,” Richardson said. “The fast track that is available in Storey County is really unprecedented. If the phone rings today (for a project in TRIC) I could get started by the end of the month.”
Miles has been lauded by companies and county officials for its ability to quickly get facilities up and running.
“These buildings go up really quickly when Miles is involved,” said Pat Whitten, Storey County Manager.
The company mostly focuses on small- to medium-size projects, ones that involve no more than 20 to 50 acres in size or facilities that range somewhere around 100,000 to 250,000 square feet. Richardson said those are more plentiful.
“The people in position to construct and own their own building can be a relatively small percentage,” he said.
One thing Miles learned is to be upfront and make sure a project’s financess are in place. Through the hard times of the recession, Richardson said contractors found out the hard way that the money for a project wasn’t always secured.
“The lesson we learned form the recession is to make sure the money is there,” Richardson said. “There’s mechanical liens where people are not getting paid. And for a small company, something like that can take you out, so you have to be very cautious.”
If it turns out there is a problem with a projects funds, Richardson said the company will try to find a way to assist the company or investor before ever passing on a deal. They will look at local banks or the United State Development Authority or find another investor to help jumpstart the project.
“First we want to understand your problem and see if its something they can work with,” Richardson said. “If there’s a problem with their financing we’ll look at someone locally or the USDA which guaranteed loans for Aqua Metals and also on Folcrum, Once the USDA guarantees a loan, banks will usually line up, because it removes their risk.”
Miles subcontracts all of its site work, although Richardson mentioned its sometimes difficult to find subcontractors for a job, with the labor pool having been drained from the recession. The recent uptick in building activity also has stretched the construction workforce sometimes beyond its capabilities.
One area is often difficult to find skilled labor is concrete contractors.
But again, Miles uses its contacts to find subcontractors in other states or in Las Vegas, where the building activity has cooled and workforce is available.
Richardson feels Miles is poised to keep busy with projects at TRIC and other areas of the regions.
Using subcontractors for all its jobs allows the company to manage multiple projects at once, besides those going on in TRIC. Richardson said its imperative construction companies, have multiple and diverse projects going at the same time. That way if, for instance, an activity at TRIC has slowed, it has other avenues of revenue.
“Ideally we want to have multiple jobs all at once. Since we subcontract all of our work. It provides us with a way to manage and grow multiple projects,” Richardson said. “There are going to be times when things are slow. You really need to spread yourself out in the region to even that out.”
Besides its TRIC projects, Richardson said the company is handling the remodel of The Siena Hotel in Reno along with other jobs in areas such as Douglas County or Dayton. Miles can handles a variety projects such as retail, industrial and hospitality sectors.
Heather Ashbridge, who started with Nevada State Development Corporation in 2008, previously served in several roles with the organization, including assistant vice president and loan officer. She is based in NSDC’s Reno office.