At a Glance
North Myrtle Beach, SC
Small to medium commercial construction
J.O. Baldwin III used to get a kick out of it each time his grandfather joked that he would have to take over the family business, Baldwin Construction Company, just so the firm wouldn’t have to order new stationary. As it turned out, though, the young Baldwin came through, and he began working construction at just 13 years old. After graduating high school he joined the family business in an official capacity, eventually becoming the third-generation owner and operator. Baldwin Construction now works on a wide array of projects, from churches and restaurants to hotels and condos, but in the past five years it has strengthened its ties to the community by volunteering its services free of charge.
In September of 2011, the United Way of Horry County gave Baldwin “an extra special note of thanks” at its 12th Annual Day of Caring, which is the largest one-day volunteer effort for the organization. Baldwin was praised for his generosity and compassion after having donated his time and resources to a complete remodel of the facilities owned by Churches Helping People, an alliance of churches that provide shelter to the needy.
Baldwin Construction Company also recently built a new facility for Helping Hands, a charity in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and completed restorations for both a Girls and Boys Home for mentally ill adults and an abused children’s home, among others. When factoring in materials and labor, some of these projects would have cost as much as $600,000 to complete, and while major corporations often perform volunteer work in exchange for the publicity, you will find no mention of Baldwin Construction Company’s charity work on the company website.
“It’s not about that; it’s not about the publicity,” Baldwin says. “The United Way gives back to so many people, and they have to rely on the kindness of strangers in the form of donations and volunteers. So for me, the question isn’t ‘Why do we volunteer our services?’ but ‘How could we not?’”
Baldwin also is quick to note that the process is a joint effort. “We talk to our subcontractors, and we talk to everyone we buy materials from,” he says. “We ask them to volunteer whatever they can, and everyone gives it their all.”
Baldwin likes to joke that the only difference between pro bono work and the projects his company completes in the restaurant, tourism, and condo markets is that some of it pays and some of it doesn’t. And an important way in which they’re similar is that in both types of projects, special cases require experts. When renovating the home for mentally ill adults in Conway, South Carolina, for example, Baldwin and his team had to be mindful of those with physical handicaps. The project required subcontractors familiar with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to ensure that ramps were properly put in place, doors were the appropriate width, and cabinets were the proper height.
Baldwin says he’s a big believer in people getting back what they put out into the world, and if his pro bono work is any indication of what he’s got coming, chances are he and the family business are going to be just fine. “In the next five years we’re just focusing on survival,” he says. “Many may not know that we can help from the get-go by establishing budgets [and] doing preliminary design work, zoning, and land acquisition. We understand the importance of minimizing surprises, especially in this economy. Things are slowly starting to turn around, and all I can ask is that we’re here for another 70 years.” ABQ