Lydig Construction Inc. CEO Larry Swartz says he thinks the number that most effectively speaks to why the company is so successful is reflected in the average tenure of its more than 150 employees in three different cities.
“Ten years,” Swartz says. “We work hard to try to make that happen. Turnover is not enjoyable.”
Founded and incorporated in 1956, Spokane Valley-based Lydig Construction has grown from a four-person startup to a multimillion-dollar construction services provider with more than 150 full-time employees located here and in Kennewick and Bellevue.
Of those, 90 employees are here at the company’s headquarters at 11001 E. Montgomery Drive. Lydig occupies 25,000 square feet of space there, including 15,000 square feet of office space and a 10,000-square-foot warehouse on a 5-acre parcel.
Employees here have access to a full workout gym, recreation room, two kitchens, and a multimedia conference room.
Office space also includes an educational conference room and computer lab for what the company calls Lydig University, which was created to encourage professional growth and develop leaders through education and training.
Lydig’s average annual volume of work has been $275 million the last few years, with projects primarily concentrated in the Pacific Northwest. The company is projecting $300 million worth of work for 2017, Swartz says.
“We have completed projects throughout the country, but most recently completing projects in Alaska, Arizona, and California,” he says of the company’s projects outside of the Pacific Northwest.
Lydig Construction has administered and built projects ranging from medical, retail, education, detention, government, office, hospitality, industrial and distribution facilities to smaller historic renovations, tenant improvements, and capital improvements, he says.
In 2011, Lydig landed a $90 million contract for a jail-expansion project in Southern California that nearly tripled the inmate capacity of the facility.
It finished work on the Adelanto Detention Center expansion project in 2013. Lydig was one of a half-dozen general contractors that submitted bids for the project, and its bid came in $24 million below the San Bernardino County engineer’s estimate of $115 million.
Also, Lydig, in partnership with Hunt Construction Group, of Phoenix, built the $190 million Coyote Ridge Correction Center expansion in Connell, Wash., which opened in 2008, adding 1,782-medium-security beds and 600 minimum-security beds in 23 buildings with a total of 520,000 square feet of floor space.
The company currently is in the process of completing a $29 million renovation of Troy Hall, a century-old building on the Washington State University campus, in Pullman. The project is expected to be finished by the middle of 2017, Swartz says.
Lydig also currently is working on a $25 million project in Long Beach, Calif., that involves raising the legs of 1,500-ton container cranes so they can load taller cargo ships. Work on that project started six months ago, and it’s about a year away from being finished, Swartz says.
The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s busiest seaports and a leading gateway for trade between the U.S. and Asian nations. Each year, the port handles nearly 7 million containers and manages 2,000 vessels. It’s the second busiest port in the U.S. and the 21st busiest globally.
Lydig has a specific department of a half-dozen employees for what it calls engineered construction solutions, which focuses entirely on heavy lift, marine construction, and equipment rehabilitation projects. Lydig also employs five employees dedicated exclusively to tech support service for its customers, Swartz says.
Swartz, a 37-year employee at Lydig, says the construction industry today vaguely resembles the one he entered in 1979.
“Construction is an increasingly complicated and complex process,” Swartz says. “Airflow, temperature, lighting, the quality of the building envelope … the exterior skins, has gotten a lot better. We’ve driven a lot of technology into what we do now.”
Like any successful company, Swartz says, the key to Lydig’s success is the value employees place on customer service.
Lydig says the company relies heavily on subcontractors and supplier businesses for large portions of its projects. About 75 percent to 85 percent of the company’s projects are subcontracted, Swartz says.
“The customer is really everything,” Swartz says. “We like to farm, not hunt. It’s important to nurture and cultivate the relationships we’ve established through the years.
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