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A Simple Equation

Excellence, accountability, integrity and innovation keep this Florida design-builder in the sun

Houchin Aug18 3
The Houchin Construction management team from left to right: Tommy Houchin, president and owner, Kiryn Sanchez, office manager, and Josh Valle, RA, project manager.

Since 1962, Naples, Fla.-based Houchin Construction Inc., a fourth-generation design-build contractor, has met the objective summarized in its mission statement of, “To be our clients’ single-source building solution.”

Current Houchin Construction president, owner and certified general contractor Tommy Houchin’s great grandfather Harold Houchin started the company in Naples by fabricating and erecting metal buildings.

“At that time, he would build the frames and then outsource the purlins, girts and wall sheets, so we have a long history with pre-engineered steel and we still do, even though we’re more diverse,” Houchin says. “We rehab a lot of existing buildings and navigate the stringent building requirements as best we can, not only on the state side, but also the local land development code side.

“These projects require working within the architectural design guidelines while providing the aesthetics clients’ desire within the effectiveness of pre-engineered construction. These guidelines require façades to contain large percentages of glass, minimal percentages of exposed metal and a series of embellishments. To meet these requirements we work closely with the metal building, glass and cladding suppliers, manufacturers and installers to adapt these projects into something more.”

Calling it “adaptive reuse to an existing metal building,” Houchin has converted a 30-year-old pre-engineered building warehouse into an interior designer’s showroom and storage facility, and even transformed an old lumberyard into an automotive repair facility. “We can repurpose existing 30- to 40-year-old steel buildings or design new when the project allows,” he adds. “The repurpose/rehabilitation side has been really successful for us as industrial property is difficult to acquire in our area. With steel we can provide our clients the clear floor space and taller heights at a lesser construction cost and faster erection time.”

For almost all of its projects, Houchin utilizes metal’s advantages to optimize projects while still meeting complex codes. He sees metal’s ability to form clear spans and its cost efficiency as just two of its many attributes. Houchin specifically cites metal’s usefulness for constructing simple buildings with rectangle shapes. “The land development code requires four-sided parapet roofs, so it gets tricky,” he explains. “However, with our vast experience in pre-engineered steel, we can bring those structures back into the conversation where others cannot. Design regulation guidelines provide the groundwork for our creativity and innovation.”

Sustained Sunshine State Success

Houchin Construction’s 50-plus years of success is no accident; it’s captured a lot of market area throughout the years. Houchin says this is because of his company’s diversity and its desire to provide an exceptional project no matter the scope.

“We have a lot of tools in our toolbox,” he says. “We run off of a core set of values where excellence, accountability, integrity and innovation are very important for us. Knowing the rules and regulations of Collier County has helped us grow the company and keep our clients happy. We provide the highest level of service and a quality project. This level of care drives client satisfaction, maintains our reputation and solidifies our repeat/referral client base. Most of our clients are repeat clients: about 80 percent of our volume. We approach every project the same regardless of contractual relationship (delivery method), project type or scale. This is accomplished by delivering exceptional service and industry experience to the overall project team.”

While Collier County and Southwest Florida are rapidly growing, Naples started out as a small town, and word of mouth has positively contributed to Houchin Construction’s success. The company has sustained a good community reputation throughout its previous three generations. “We have a lot of deep-rooted relationships here―a lot of established clients, as well as generational families who had worked with my grandfather, and now their children or grandchildren are clients.”

In-house Architect

One corporate move that has greatly contributed to the company’s success was bringing architectural services in house with a registered architect in 2016. Because of this, the company can truly be called a design-build contractor. “This allows us early project involvement and puts our clients’ end goals under a single source,” Houchin says. Before this, Houchin Construction had still traditionally been a design-build contractor. “We would hire architects and various design professionals to work with our clients, giving us the experience of working with several disciplines and an understanding of their processes,” Houchin says.

Josh Valle is the new Florida Registered Architect (RA)/project manager at Houchin Construction. In 2015, he graduated with a degree in architecture from the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., interned at architectural firms, and was motivated to draw, build and understand the entire building process from design to completion. “ Josh has helped us tremendously in every aspect of the business,” Houchin explains. “It’s a uniform feeling that our clients get when they sit down with Josh and me. We can sketch things out with a full in-depth knowledge of rules and regulations of the architectural requirements to work on. It takes a lot of knowledge to know what you can do with these buildings and one advantage Josh has given us is the familiarity of the metal product and its limitations.”

A Future in Florida

Looking to the future, Houchin is gearing his company to get better before bigger. He is steering it to be on the forefront of innovative technologies and ideas, which is an additional reason for incorporating a lot of steel into his structures. “You have to know how to work with metal, you have thermal expansion, you have moving parts and pieces, so we look to adapt all of that and come up with a simple solution,” he says.

Valle says an opportunity he witnesses is energy conservation requirements and all that goes with them. The Florida Building Code has introduced these and he predicts these requirements could really put a damper on conventional construction. However, “With metal, we have the opportunity in a standard metal building to put R-30 insulation throughout the building,” he says. “You don’t have that opportunity as easily with conventional construction because you have thermal bridging, wall thickness and other issues. Innovation is pushing the envelope to bring more pre-engineered metal buildings to the market in all project types.” It’s this innovation and expertise that could sustain Houchin Construction for the next four generations.