Ward Davis Builders Receives Small Business Award
Thursday, March 18, 2021
After Ward graduated with a degree in construction management from Kansas State University, he worked six years as an estimator and project manager for the highway division of a Wichita company. When he and his wife Erica decided to start their family, they moved to Hutchinson, and he began Ward Davis Builders. He started with single-person projects and focused mostly on residential construction and remodeling work. After about five or six years, Ward began adding commercial projects and then moved into the industrial sector. Most of their work is done on a site, so their expansion has been in the scope of the projects they take on and the way they have grown their crew. They opened an office space on Plum Street after about five years in business, and in January of 2020, they moved into their current space on Main, which gave them more room to better serve their clients and to better suit their business needs.
While quality of the product is important, the ability to get the customers what they want within their budget is key. They have the knowledge and the capability to start a project based on a customer’s desires and guide them through the concept, budget, and design process all the way to the finished project. They work hard to tailor each project to what the customer needs and desires. Trying to reconcile a budget and plan to what can actually be built and turning that into a realistic, producible project is what sets them apart from many builders.
Being in business 20 years, the cyclical nature of the construction industry is the biggest challenge they face, as the industry follows the economy. It takes patience, planning, and significant attention to cash flow to be able to survive the slower cycles and position themselves to expand and be ready to take on the larger projects when there is an upturn in the economy. It is often about having projects conceptualized and budgeted and ready to go when that upturn begins. COVID presented its own challenges, as it was much tougher to keep staff safe and distanced from each other and from customers. Outdoor projects were easier to manage and keep moving forward when the weather was good, but indoor projects were much more challenging. Having different staff out under different quarantine periods wreaked havoc on scheduling, but it came down to good communication with customers and accepting that efficiency would be lower to maintain safer practices.
Over the last decade, the construction industry has become more transient, and more contractors are traveling. Because most of their projects are completed in Reno and the surrounding counties, his employees can sleep in their own beds at night and have minimal travel, which is very appealing to his employees. Keeping their projects confined to a smaller, specific geographical area has also helped them diversify. Many contractors do one type of work and travel all over to complete those types of projects, whereas Ward’s team can handle many types of projects and are able to stay busy locally, which leads to employees being able to have more time available for their families—something they appreciate. Ward’s ability to be flexible in scheduling is also helpful. It can be a constant struggle to have employees not take advantage of that flexibility, but he has a good crew, and that seems to work well for them. He feels it starts with the hiring process and making sure you get the people who will appreciate being supported by the company and will in turn support the company with long-term employment. Ward has not laid off employees in ten years, giving his employees peace mind not having to worry about the possibility of losing their job.
Ward has been in AMBUCS for 19 years and is Past President. He is also a former treasurer of Reins of Hope, an organization they have supported for six years. They have also worked with Interfaith Housing on several projects over the years and enjoy working on the civil and park projects, including the Orchard Park expansion, 43rd and Old K-61 trails, and several projects in Carey Park. They love working on projects that people in the community can enjoy. Currently they are working on Bricktown Park, formerly known as Ashmede Park.
Throughout the years Ward has built a reputation on being a long-time, local contractor with a vested interest in this community and contributing to projects that improve the quality of life for Hutchinson and Reno County residents.
Thank you Ward for all you do for our community.