When the nonprofit HomeSafe recently celebrated its new facility, Verdex Construction — the general contractor overseeing the Sylvester Family West Campus — did more than just show up to cut the ribbon and make sure the lights worked. The company presented a check for more than $125,000 back to the local charity.
Now in its seventh year of business, Verdex Construction considers the role it plays in supporting the community one of its core values.
“I’ve been involved in HomeSafe a long time, so everybody in the company knows I’m pretty passionate about the organization and what they do,” explained Wellington resident Rex Kirby Jr., founder and president of Verdex. “I insisted that it be a competitive bid. It wasn’t about making a profit for us, so we discussed ways we could cut costs from the beginning.”
HomeSafe protects the community’s most vulnerable residents — victims of child abuse and domestic violence. The new campus, located on Lyons Road just east of Wellington, was dedicated at a ceremony on April 6 and provides a safe home for 12 children.
“This donation from Verdex will help fund significant upgrades that we have planned for our Lake Worth and Boca Raton campuses,” HomeSafe CEO Matt Ladika said. “Our goal is for each client to have their own room, so major renovations will be made to the layout and square footage of our existing group homes. This next year and a half will truly be a transformative time for the agency.”
Kirby and Verdex employed a number of methods to save money on the Lyons Road project, which led to the large donation to HomeSafe.
One such method for saving money after the project began was as simple as painting the fence. They worked with painters to donate the equipment, and Verdex purchased the paint.
“It saved thousands of dollars. Staff volunteered their time to do it on the weekend. We made it a fun event and bought shirts that said, ‘Volunteers for HomeSafe.’ We had a huge turnout; probably 30 of us out there painting and helping,” Kirby recalled. “We wanted to make sure that HomeSafe was aware that we really weren’t interested in this being a profiteering job, so we decided to donate the profits.”
Verdex also applied savings from subcontractors and vendors, like MR Drywall Services, to the cost savings throughout the building process without cutting back on the quality of work. All the small decisions and man hours put into finding these savings added up to more than just a check to refill HomeSafe’s coffers. Giving back is more than just part of the company culture.
“We are definitely involved in other things in the community. We’ve had a group that gave their time to Habitat for Humanity. We have given time and money to the Education Foundation of Palm Beach County. We try to give back to the communities we work in,” Kirby said.
He put together a list of core values before launching the company. One of those pillars is, “We value our communities.”
A Florida native, Kirby is very proud of the growth and quality of the people and projects that Verdex Construction is involved with. Kirby has worked in the industry for 40 years and brought more than just experience to his new company.
“Honestly, after working and growing other companies, being able to start my own company makes me proud. When I started Verdex, it was more than a tagline of ‘Building Something Better.’ I wanted to build a better company throughout,” Kirby explained. “We’ll grow again this year. It is consistent growth because we don’t just grab bodies to fill a slot. We are very particular about the people we bring on board and build the company around people who fit that culture.”
Taking care to adapt intelligently during a pandemic has also been an important part of Verdex’s success.
“We were incredibly fortunate that construction was deemed an essential business, and we incorporated a lot of different practices to make sure we didn’t take it for granted,” Kirby said.
From temperature checks and mandatory face masks to increased wash stations and distancing as feasible, Verdex continued to operate as safely as possible.
“We quit having packed meetings and became very good at Zoom,” he said. “We spent money on enhanced video equipment and project management software, and we accommodated those who wanted or needed to work from home.”
Keeping a solid reputation with both clients and subcontractors is pivotal to Kirby’s success.
“We have a group of subcontractors and design professionals working with us, and we approach it as at the end of the day, it’s our job to make sure everybody is successful,” Kirby said. “We are not successful at someone else’s expense, and we approach the business that way. Some simple principles we put in place since the beginning — like we pay our subcontractors promptly and treat them with respect — then you get a good following and the better pricing because they know you are going to do business the right way.”
Verdex Construction works on a variety of projects, including multi-family housing and hotels to government buildings. Some recent projects include the Town Southern luxury apartments in Royal Palm Beach and the Canopy Hotel in West Palm Beach.
“We won our first Palm Beach County school; a remodel/update for Banyan Creek Elementary,” Kirby said. “And we won a Palm Beach County project for the mosquito control compound. We have a lot of projects from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, up to this area, and over to Tampa as well.”
Despite finding success, new challenges remain.
“Right now, the market is booming, but it is one of those plus-minus things. Material costs are also soaring,” Kirby said. “We have an incredible amount of opportunity on our plate, but we are spending a lot of time navigating through the material increases and working with our clients to keep these projects within a budget they can afford.”
To learn more about Verdex Construction, visit www.verdex.com or call (561) 440-1600. For more information about HomeSafe, visit www.helphomesafe.org.