After more than 25 years in the building industry, Todd Harnetiaux took the bold step of launching his own company, Modern Construction & Consulting Services. Unfortunately, he chose to go solo four years ago—during the height of the recession.
“It was a heck of a time to start up a construction company,” Harnetiaux says. “But the relationships I had formed were the product of my work ethic, previous performance, and a reputation for providing quality services to my clients.” He immediately set about working these relationships to his advantage.
To customize each client’s experience, Harnetiaux split his company into three separate divisions: consultation, construction, and store set-up and rebranding—the latter tailored for work with retail chains. These specialized services, paired with the connections Harnetiaux had made over the years with large retail customers, helped give his Pacific Northwest-based construction company a strong start.
“Small companies that depend on the competitive-bid public works market [often] are unable to find enough work to cover their overhead expenses,” he says. “Companies like Walgreens and Discount Tire Company assisted me in setting a foundation for my company to grow from.”
Modern Construction’s projects have included general contracting for Discount Tire and individual store rollouts and pharmacy remodeling projects for Walgreens. As part of a $1.4 million rollout project spread across five states, the company even outfitted both new and preexisting Walgreens locations with a new décor package and layout improvements.
Harnetiaux has found that his previous experience working as a project manager on multimillion-dollar construction projects is a vital asset to his retail work. “When performing rollouts and small projects, I’m not only working with the construction department; I am also coordinating our scope with other corporate divisions associated with the project,” he says. “If I didn’t have large-project experience, it would be difficult to interact and meet the budgets of the construction division.”
And, completing smaller projects for Walgreens allowed Modern Construction to become a preferred retail contractor with the potential to take on larger projects in the future.
“Retail territory project managers are juggling a lot of projects,” Harnetiaux says. “Our goal, as a contractor, is to provide them with a comfort level based on trust and a history of meeting project budgets—and to also save them administration time so that they can work on other priorities.”
Harnetiaux has continued to grow Modern Construction by bidding on private and public works projects outside of the retail industry. As part of this push, the company’s construction division recently completed improvements to 2,500 square feet of office space for the Spokane Transit Authority.
Retail work will continue to be a big winner, though, and Harnetiaux credits his membership in the International Council of Shopping Centers and the Professional Retail Store Maintenance Association with helping him formulate a sound marketing program for the future.
“Only through marketing today will I get work in 2013 and 2014,” he says. “I can’t think about just today or the next three weeks; I have to think about the next 24–36 months.” ABQ