Construction is a complicated process. When clients work with Fort Myers–based GCM Contracting Solutions, though, that process becomes a little bit easier.
The full-service design-build construction company can work with clients from concept to completion, which provides an array of benefits along the way. “It helps our clients have one source for the efficient execution of their projects from concept to completion,” says Robert Brown, founder and CEO of GCM Contracting Solutions.
According to the Design-Build Institute of America, design-build projects have faster construction times and lower unit costs than other methods of project construction. GCM Contracting Solutions uses years of historical data and intimate knowledge of the construction industry to set budgets and timelines. And when every step of the process is handled by an in-house team, wait times for needed components are reduced.
“An owner doesn’t have to wait for a set of drawings to be completed to know and understand what the cost of the project is going to be,” says Brown. “We can hand them a full turnkey price and solution without them having to try and piece it together. They’re not trying to manage a civil engineer, an architect and a contractor. So they can start their project with a high degree of expectation that the costs are going to come in where we tell them they are, and that allows them to start their leasing efforts a lot sooner as well.”
GCM Contracting Solutions was founded in 1988 and originally focused on concrete masonry work. The company then migrated into tilt-wall construction, a process where concrete panels are cast horizontally and then tilted into place vertically on site. The company’s expertise in this method has led to one of its specialties – marine dry-stack storage construction.
Its first project in that realm was Hamilton Harbor in South Naples. “Collier Enterprises tapped us for that project because of our expertise in tilt wall,” says Brown. “It was the first tilt-wall dry storage marina in the world. They didn’t want the aesthetics of a metal building. That project turned out very successful, and it’s a real crown jewel even to this day.”
GCM’s work on Gulf Star Marina near Fort Myers Beach led to the firm’s relationship with an Austrian company that provides a high-capacity, automated machinery system for boat delivery and retrieval. “It’s something that makes the developer a considerable amount more money in a high-value real estate area,” says Brown.
GCM is currently in the design phase for a marina project for Isles of Capri, which is scheduled to start in the second quarter of 2024. The company now has even more data to add to the process after seeing how Gulf Star Marina fared during Hurricane Ian.
“It was hit dead center with a hurricane,” says Brown. “It flooded, but the building had minimal damage. And even though the machinery was flooded, it was the first marina back up and running.” GCM completed a total rehab of the machinery to ensure there weren’t any hidden problems after the storm.
The company’s expertise spreads far beyond just marina projects. It also has amassed an extensive portfolio of warehouse, office and aviation projects, as well as specialty projects that have taken advantage of its concrete know-how.
In downtown Naples, GCM Contracting Solutions expects to complete construction on The Mark in the first quarter of 2024. The 24-unit, high-end condo development sits two blocks off 5th Avenue South and has an elevated courtyard pool area. Floor plans range from 1,500sf to 3,400sf, and additional amenities include a spa and sauna room, fitness center, and outdoor grill and fire pit.
It’s also working on a 65,000sf manufacturing facility for Solid Surface Tops of Southwest Florida in Punta Gorda. GCM Contracting Solutions is leading the project in partnership with owners Jack and Glenda Balentine, Southview Studios and Select Structural. “That’s one of our design-build projects, and we’ve worked with the owners hand-in-hand from the start,” says Brown.
The five-acre site will include a more than 50,000sf main building with 11,250sf of showroom and office space and 40,000sf for advanced manufacturing operations. A second 15,000sf structure will offer warehousing and distribution space, and both buildings will be constructed using GCM Contracting Solutions’ signature tilt-wall techniques.
Not far from that, GCM has broken ground on another project for Zahra LLC, a 116,340sf warehouse and 22,748sf of office space for the King of Vape company. Expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2024, the facility will allow the company to bring more than 100 jobs to Punta Gorda.
Clients such as these enjoy how GCM Contracting Solutions helps guide projects along smoothly. “I would want [potential clients] to know how easy of a process we make it for them,” says Brown. “And we’re very transparent with the whole process. They get to help create the concept, see the pricing, approve the products and everything. We like to give them a comfort level that they’re getting the right product for the right price. And with us handling the design portion of it, there’s just no surprises. We make it an easy process for an owner.”
That’s not to say there are never any challenges, though. Like everyone in the construction industry over the last several years, GCM Contracting Solutions has faced rising prices and supply chain issues.
“I’d be lying if I told you that wasn’t a challenge,” says Brown. “It’s been a severe challenge. We’d been in an overheated market for several years before the hurricane hit. The supply chains and labor markets were already under stress before the hurricane hit.”
That hot market had also impacted the permitting process. After Hurricane Ian caused more than an estimated $112 billion in damage, according to the National Hurricane Center, the challenges have only increased.
“It just puts pressure on prices and puts pressure on schedules,” says Brown. “So it’s been a challenging time for contractors and owners and developers to overcome those issues. But we all have to work together playing the hand we’re dealt…And [the local building departments] have really pulled off a lot, given the resources they had. So hats off and kudos to them for the challenges they’ve had and the hand they’ve been dealt.”
Despite all of that, Brown feels optimistic about 2024. “I still see a pretty good pipeline of projects,” he says. “So I think the market has adjusted to some of the new realities of national and international material and labor supply challenges.”
But he’s not sure how far construction and land prices can continue to rise. “At some point, the numbers stop working,” he says. “You’ll see a few more projects get put on hold, not just because of construction costs and land costs, but now that’s been exacerbated with the interest rates. I don’t think it can help but slow down a little bit. But I think a little bit of a slowdown would be healthy.”
He also expects Southwest Florida to continue appealing to both new residents and business owners. “We really have a lot to offer here,” he says. “It’s a great community; it’s a great place to live. And it appears to me that the rest of the world seems to have heard about it by now. All indications are that there are several good years ahead of us.”