As Multifamily Renovations Went Wild In 2020, One Contractor Saw Its Future
In early 2020, J.R. Reed, vice president of construction for JBG Smith, contacted Johnny Moseley with a problem.
JBG Smith had recently completed construction on a new hotel and apartment building at the former site of the Atlantic Plumbing Co. in Washington, D.C., but the walls’ soundproofing capabilities weren’t passing muster and didn’t meet JBG Smith’s high standards.
Reed couldn't begin leasing units until this problem was fixed, so he needed a team that could get it done in six weeks in the middle of a pandemic.
Even with the extremely tight turnaround time, Moseley, the founder of D.C.-based Moseley Multi-Family, accepted the job. He was confident he could meet the deadline because while other construction firms had been shrinking their operations in response to the coronavirus pandemic, Moseley had expanded his company by shifting away from new construction to focus entirely on renovations.
Before the pandemic, multifamily construction in the U.S. was booming. In 2019, multifamily saw a new cycle high of 403,000 starts, and contractors were eager to step in and meet the growing demand for units.
When the pandemic hit, construction shutdowns stalled groundbreakings on new developments and forced multifamily developers to make a difficult choice: wait out the pandemic, or find creative ways to pivot their business model.
All those pivots meant renovations. That’s where Moseley saw an opportunity.
“We decided early on at the beginning of COVID that we were going to emerge from the pandemic stronger than we went in, and that while everyone else was contracting, we were going to expand,” Moseley said. ”So we were focused on expanding while everyone else contracted.”
He knew that although new developments might be stalled indefinitely due to the constraints of the pandemic, renovations would still continue, and when things opened back up, there would be pent-up demand. He also knew that while many of the largest multifamily contractors take on some renovation projects, they usually keep their main focus on new development.
By choosing to take time during the pandemic to shift all of the company’s energy and resources to renovations, Moseley would be able to set his firm apart from other companies and not just survive these difficult times, but thrive. Once the decision was made, Moseley went to work changing the company’s software solutions to fit the renovations-only model and hiring top talent who specialize in renovation work. Then, the firm just needed to find the right job to test out its new focus. The call from Reed proved to be the perfect fit.
Moseley had six weeks to remove all existing trim and devices from the party walls, install drywall, extend electrical wiring, fire alarm devices and sprinkler heads, install wood base, finish drywall, and paint and modify the blinds in 256 separate units. The firm completed the scope of the work in just nine days.
“We were able to complete that job so quickly because of our laser focus on multifamily renovations, having our own workforce and not having to depend upon outside subcontractors,” Moseley said.
He added that the only subcontractor the firm reached out to during that time was the window shades vendor, which ended up being unable to meet the company’s tight timeline. In response, the Moseley team set up a mobile shop and modified the roller shades on-site themselves.
“At one point we had all 150 of Moseley’s team members on that project, including the accounting department,” Moseley said. “One team united in one goal: over-deliver and provide a remarkable customer experience.”
Now, the company is on track to have its best year in business and will be expanding to four new locations in Q2 2021 including Indiana, Pittsburgh, Virginia Beach and New Jersey. After that, it has set its sights on Texas, Boston and Florida.
Moseley said the firm’s new focus is to be the most dominant multifamily renovation contractor on the planet.
“We will accomplish this goal by transforming and modernizing multifamily living while delivering a remarkable customer experience,” Moseley said. “Starting now, every decision we make is about bringing us close to that target.”
This article was produced in collaboration between Studio B and Moseley Multi-Family. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.
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