by Molly Shaw & John Carioti
US Builders News

PCI has worked for some of the biggest names in the retail business, such as Whole Foods, Costco, Family Dollar, The Vitamin Shoppe, Food 4 Less, El Super, Rite Aid

When a new store is set to open, there’sa lot on the line if the opening date falls through. Located in Tustin, California, PacifiCore Construction Inc. (PCI) ensures its retail customers never miss an important opening date. PCI is a highly specialized general contractor, focusing on commercial retail construction, including ground-up, rollout programs, phased open-store remodels and tenant improvements.

Since forming in 2009, PCI has worked for some of the biggest names in the retail business, such as Whole Foods, Costco, Family Dollar, The Vitamin Shoppe, Food 4 Less, El Super, Rite Aid and now even major franchises including KFC, Chick-Fil-A and many more. “Our industry focus is what sets us apart,” says Jeff Austin, CEO of PCI. “We started out in residential contracting in 2009, when my son, Scott Austin founded the company. I joined him in 2012 as CEO and helped take the business from residential to commercial, which is where we’ve seen
amazing growth.”

Today, 90 percent of PCI’s market share is in commercial retail construction. “We started with supermarket build-outs and ground-ups and since then, we’ve expanded into the retail store model with customers such as Family Dollar and Dollar General,” says Austin. “Now we’re expanding rapidly into the restaurant sector.”

More market share in a down economy Realizing such growth after setting up shop just a year or so after the 2008 economic crash is quite a feat and Austin says it all comes down to one difference: cost structure. The company’s first round of grocery customers were a slew of Hispanic market grocers and PCI’s small size and cost structure allowed the company to capture more and more of this business.

“We were quickly able to compete in the growing Hispanic grocery business,” says Austin. “These are beautiful, exciting stores that meet regional needs. As names like Northgate Market, El Super and Superior Grocers grew, we grew with them — even in 2011 and 2012, which were some of the worst years for contractors ever.”

This same philosophy speaks to subcontractors, specialized in doing one trade and doing it well. “Once we built a solid base of subcontractors, they could tackle the job faster and do it at a reduced cost without compromising quality,” says Austin.

“We popped up as a new company with very little cost structure while 60 to 70 percent of our competitors were going out of business,” adds Austin. “With cheaper cost structure, we thrived because in this industry it all comes down to the lowest bid.”

Around the same time, PCI began to change its operating structure, reducing labor and becoming a true general contractor delivering project oversight and management. “We focus on supervision and project management,” says Austin. “We take the order, send out all of the contracts to the subcontractors and deliver oversight.” “We’ve done it all without ever missing an opening date,” Austin points out. “This is huge in this business. If a supermarket is set to open with fresh produce in stock and that doesn’t happen, they could lose millions.” Austin, whose background is in technology and enterprise software systems, stresses the importance of sharpening focus. “We didn’t go out and tackle a bunch of big buildings in different markets, we picked one niche and
focused on that,” he says.

This same philosophy speaks to subcontractors, specialized in doing one trade and doing it well. “Once we built a solid base of subcontractors, they could tackle the job faster and do it at a reduced cost without compromising quality,” says Austin.

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