by Dan Rafter
Bloomington, Minnesota’s Doran Construction earned a big honor earlier this year when the Minnesota Construction Association named the company as its General Contractor of the Year for 2015.
This isn’t surprising: Since 2010, Doran has built more than 20 multi-family and mixed-use projects, including the recently completed Latitude 45, a 13-story, 319-unit Class-A market-rate apartment project. Doran completed this 409,000-square-foot project, developed by Alatus and located on Washington Avenue South in downtown Minneapolis, under budget and ahead of schedule.
Midwest Real Estate News recently spoke with Kelly Doran, founder and owner of Doran Companies; Scott Casanova, senior vice president of construction; and Calvin Hayes, project manager, about Doran’s success and what it takes to be named General Contractor of the Year.
Midwest Real Estate News: You just received a big honor from the Minnesota Construction Association. What steps has Doran Companies taken to be eligible for such an award?
Kelly Doran: We try to take a collaborative approach to the construction process with every project we take on. We are also real estate developers, so we have an appreciation and understanding of what the owner and developer on a project are looking for. We emphasize to our team that we have to represent the best interests of the owners when we are working on a project. At the same time, we focus on working closely with our various subcontractors to make the project a successful one for everybody. It takes a real collaborative approach to do that. We emphasize that. Hopefully, it is paying dividends.
Scott Casanova: We approach every job as a team project. It can’t just be the contractor, the owner or the designers making all the decisions.
We have to work together to keep each other accountable. We make sure that everything that is supposed to be happening at a given time is actually happening. We approach our projects as if we are the owner’s representative at times. We want to make sure, for instance, that the architects are getting their work done on time so that we can keep everything going according to schedule on the job site. In the end, we want everyone to be appreciative that we got the job done on time.
MREN: Is this collaborative approach paying off for your company?
Calvin Hayes: Doran is successful when our subcontractors are successful and when our owners are successful. That’s the approach that we take. As long as
we can collaborate with the entire team and make that entire team successful, we think that is what makes Doran successful.
Doran: We are known for wanting our subcontractors to be successful. We want them to be successful and to do well on a job. That is important for us. When we bring a subcontractor into the job, we want to be certain that the job is ready for them, that the subcontractors can do what they are supposed to do, that they can complete the task at hand.
MREN: There is plenty of construction experience among the leadership team at Doran Companies. How important is that to being successful in this industry?
Casanova: We do have that experience. Kelly has a background as a developer and in running a construction company, so that helps. What makes us special, though, is that we are not just a top-down company. We are an entrepreneur-based company. We talk about issues, and we accept ideas from everyone. That, I think, plays a big part in the company’s success.
Hayes: There is a real depth to the experience with this company. We have people here who have worked in all facets of the construction industry. They know how to handle every situation that might come up.
Doran: We are a younger construction company relative to the other construction companies out there. The people we surround ourselves with all came to us from different companies. So I consider this an all-star team. Thanks to the talents of our people, we have been very successful. We have very high expectations for the people who are involved in this organization. We really try hard to give them the authority, responsibility and tools to be successful in what they are doing. In one old fart’s opinion, that creates a positive atmosphere that has led to our success.
MREN: You’ve taken on plenty of challenging construction jobs throughout the Minneapolis area.
Doran: We’ve done tough jobs. We’ve worked in tight locations and with significant site constraints. Logistics is important. The materials have to be there on time. We have become very good at doing the most difficult types of jobs.
Casanova: Right now we are working on the renovation of the Depot Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel. That project has included the demolition of a water park. The project also includes adding a floor to the top of the hotel. With the idea of adding a floor to the top of the building, we made the owner’s dreams come true. We added that story to the hotel while it was being occupied. It is on schedule for delivery later this summer.
MREN: How busy has Doran Companies become?
Doran: During the last five years, we have completed more than half-a-billion-dollars of revenue. That equates to more than 5 million square feet of construction. And that is just in multifamily. We have almost 1,500 multifamily units in development or in the planning stages in the Twin Cities. Today, we have a total staff of about 120 people. When we first opened the doors for Doran Companies, we had 12 employees. The service that we provide has been so important to this growth. There are always surprises that come up in building and developing projects. We focus on the proper way to deal with them.