In the late 1990s, when Andy Stultz was in a leadership program for engineers at GE, he was part of many meetings called the “voice of the customer.”
The idea was to block out internal agendas and squabbles to ensure the company keenly paid attention to the end-user and client. Stultz, now in commercial construction on the Gulf Coast, aims to bring that approach to his latest venture: Atlas Construction, a Sarasota-based firm he founded earlier this year.
A member of the Sarasota County Planning Commission and a founding member and past president of the Enterprise Charlotte Foundation, Stultz was an executive with Sarasota-based Halfacre Construction for nearly a decade. He planned to go out on his own for several years, he says, but the recession delayed that effort. “I think it's an opportune time to do this,” “Stultz tells Coffee Talk. “There's a lot of work out there.”
Stultz targets commercial work in Charlotte, Manatee and Sarasota counties, anything from office rehabs to multifamily projects. He doesn't plan to get into single-family houses or condos, although in Ohio, after he worked for GE, he ran a business that bought, rehabbed and sold homes.
Stultz says his approach, like he learned at GE, will be to spend time with clients before a land purchase or building acquisition, to get a full sense of the goals. “Construction isn't a commodity,” he says. “It's like a doctor a lawyer or an accountant. You get what you pay for.”
Stultz, who lives in Venice, was appointed to the planning commission in May. Current work he's going after with Atlas includes a multifamily project in Charlotte County, a Venice office building and a project in Bradenton up to 10,000 square feet.
In addition to opportunities like those, with the rebound in construction, Stultz is likely to face another facet of the market: Competition. He says that's OK. “I don't need to do $100 million a year,” Stultz says. “I don't need to compete with the Gilbanes and the Willis Smiths of the world.”