Joe James, senior executive vice president and chief operating officer for community bank EVB in Tappahannock, is working with Graybeale Construction Inc. on renovations of the bank’s branch in Heathsville.
He finds the company easy to work with.
“They are flexible and accommodating,” he said. “They are very committed to quality and very focused on good project-management techniques.”
Based on the bank’s recommendation, Hanover County-based Graybeale will sometimes use local qualified subcontractors.
“We are a community bank, and that makes a difference,” James said. “We are focused on investing back in the areas we operate.”
Owner Ryan Bradley started the commercial general contracting and construction management company in 1999 with a partner who subsequently left the company in 2001. Bradley now has three minority partners: Jim Durbin Sr., Kathy Graham and Kyle Bradley.
Bradley worked for Henrico County-based general contractor KBS before opening the company.
“I started at KBS digging ditches and sweeping floors, eventually working my way into the estimating department, assisting the chief estimator,” he said. “I had the opportunity in 1999 to build two buildings and shortly thereafter a third, and Graybeale was started.”
Graybeale had a pipeline of work for the first couple of years.
“That helped us get started,” Bradley said.
When work became stagnant, Bradley bid on and won a project for BB&T Bank in Petersburg.
“For the next seven years, they were our biggest client,” Bradley said. “They paved the way for more banking opportunities.”
During those seven years, the banking industry accounted for about 50 percent of the Graybeale’s business. Other banking customers include Union Bank, EVB, First Capital Bank and SunTrust.
The remaining 50 percent of its business includes the construction of medical offices, retail, automobile dealerships, light industrial, office buildings, convenience stores, churches and carwashes.
“I think you have to have a variety of experience and abilities to be able to survive,” Bradley said of the company’s diversity.
Most of the company’s clients are within a 60-mile radius of Richmond.
“We have traveled a little further for a few of our clients,” Bradley said.
In 2008, when the economy hit a downfall, the company’s work for banks sharply declined.
“It still hasn’t returned even close to the level we had,” Bradley said, noting that in 2014, banking accounted for only 11 percent of the company’s projects.
In the past few years, the company has seen a large increase in medical projects. It is also seeing increases in light industrial, retail and automobile projects.
Graybeale recently secured its first historical restoration project, the Powers-Taylor building in downtown Richmond. Restoration is in progress.
“It was built during the 1880s, and it has bars in the window that were made by Tredegar Iron Works,” Bradley said. “It has a lot of character.”
Some of the company’s larger clients include convenience stores Wawa and Sheetz.
“The convenience-store industry has been good to us,” Bradley said.
Dennis Bruce, construction project manager for Wawa in Wawa, Pa., has worked with Graybeale on three projects in metro Richmond in the last three years.
“They are completely professional,” he said of the company. “Ryan understands the customer’s needs. He’s very hands-on. He takes responsibility for everything.”
Bruce keeps hiring the company because of its customer service.
“It’s outstanding,” he said. “Ryan’s team has many years of experience. They know who to contact and when to contact them to get the job done.”
Last year the company’s revenue rose 8 percent compared with 2013. This year’s market is very competitive, Bradley said.
“It’s an owner’s market,” he said.
Cathy Brown, administrator for Midlothian-based Midlothian Family Practice, has worked with the company on two of the medical practice’s four locations.
“When we started the process to build a new building in Powhatan, we put it out to bid. Everybody immediately felt good about Graybeale,” she said. “They did exactly what they said they were going to do. The time frame was met, and the budget was met.”
Brown could always get in touch with Bradley and his team.
“I have called them after hours, in the middle of the night and on the weekend. They are very responsive,” she said.