Construction projects are popping up throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley. From projects under development in the Greater Reading area to the revitalization of downtown Allentown, construction companies are competing for bids – which signals an improving economy and growing business.
Here to answer this week's "Behind the List" questions is John Smith, vice president of Forino Co. LP in Sinking Spring.
Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Forino Co. LP been operating in the Greater Lehigh Valley and what are its primary services?
John Smith: The Forino Co. LP has performed subcontracting services in the Lehigh Valley over the past two years.
Our firm has been engaged from other general contractors for our engineering, survey, construction inspection services and concrete placement (i.e. sidewalks, curb and Americans with Disabilities Act ramps). Additional in-house services include project management, excavation, paving and finish carpentry.
Our firm specializes in planning, development and construction of residential and commercial real estate … [in] 39 years within the real estate industry, selling in excess of 6,700 homes, building over 85 communities, annually performing greater than $15 million of commercial and industrial work and amassing over $1 billion in total firm revenue.
LVB: With the economy rebounding, is Forino starting to take on more construction projects going into 2014?
Smith: The 2014 calendar year already has a heavy workload with a project backlog through 2017. Forino has been extremely fortunate to have cultivated and retained long-term client relationships that have provided our firm with opportunities for repeat work. These same relationships have provided multiple referrals, which have produced not only larger projects but have allowed Forino to broaden our footprint and expand our ever-growing client list.
LVB: What have been some of the greatest opportunities and hardships Forino has encountered throughout its years in business?
Smith: The opportunities that we have had and continue to have are abundant. We pride ourselves on doing the right thing by our clients, which has always lent itself for repeat or referral work.
The single greatest hardship that the Forino Co. LP has experienced, without a doubt, was the financial crisis we all experienced in 2007-2008. We have all been enduring and persevering for the last seven years since the collapse; however, those two years were difficult.
Thankfully, we believe the majority of that hardship is subsiding as we are seeing lower unemployment and experiencing a greater propensity for financial institutional lending, which lends itself well to companies having confidence in proceeding with capital improvement projects.
LVB: Since the Greater Lehigh Valley has more than its share of general contractors and construction managers, what strategies does Forino implement to stand out among its competition?
Smith: Our firm's greatest strength lies in our ability to take full responsibility of a project from conception through final construction. Our team of professionals provides our clients with unparalleled transparency and clarity while ensuring project milestones are being adhered to and the financial obligations of the project are met within budget.
We take great pride in the success of our clients and have [an] ever-growing list of owners, asset managers, financial institutions and municipal officials that would speak highly to the professionalism, timelessness and efficiency that our firm would bring to a project.
LVB: How does Forino directly stimulate the local economy of the Greater Lehigh Valley?
Smith: We live locally, work locally, buy locally and employ locally.
LVB: What does the future look like for Forino on a local level?
Smith: We feel the future is bright. Internally, our assembled teams of craftsman and industry professionals are the lifeblood of the firm. They are committed to our culture as well as the accomplishments of our clients, which are imperative to our overall success and growth.
Externally, we have seen an increase in RFPs (requests for proposals) across all business units within the firm, which tells me that there is pent-up demand.
Then, within the Lehigh Valley, the recent CRIZ [City Revitalization and Improvement Zone] designation [for Bethlehem] is a tremendous financial boon for the region and small business in regards to economic development.
Compiled by christopher holland