Imagine building a $40 million basketball arena, a major construction project with its fenced-off hard hat area and 388 giant pilings for the foundation and all the steel and concrete comprising that project – all on the edge of America’s oldest municipal college campus, with 10,000 students coming and going around it. Imagine running 80-foot construction trucks through the tangled traffic of historic downtown Charleston without disturbing surrounding businesses, the tourist trade or the adjacent College of Charleston.
Imagine the planning and execution to deliver that project on time and on budget.
“We surgically inserted that building onto a postage stamp,” says Hal Turner, vice president of Thompson Turner Construction, the general contractor for TD Arena. “It was like assembling a ship in a bottle.”
Yet, when ESPN arrived to broadcast the inaugural Charleston Classic college basketball tournament at the arena in November 2008, less than a year after construction began, it was ready as promised, on budget and without much pain to the citizens of Charleston.
That wasn’t an accident; it was the result of a contractor that had the expertise of dozens of public sector building projects and a reputation built on dependability, integrity and quality. It required a builder that understands the complexities of public sector projects and is committed to performance-driven practices.
Thompson Turner Construction, with offices in Sumter, Charleston, Columbia and Greenville, is the vertical building arm of Thompson Construction Group, Inc., a $400 million construction and industrial cleaning company based in Sumter, South Carolina. It specializes in construction projects with municipalities and educational institutions. Among its many projects, the company built Sullivan’s Island Elementary School, working through two summer seasons on the oceanfront build without dramatically upsetting the island scene.
Thompson Turner’s experience in education construction means it brings expertise in working with the state Office of School Facilities and Office of State Engineer. The special permits required to build schools are old hat for Thompson Turner; indeed, the company’s program manager sits on the OSF Board of Directors.
Employing the “construction manager at-risk” (generally known as CM At-risk) project delivery system, Thompson Turner collaborates at the outset of a project with the client and the designer to address construction and cost issues before they arise. Hal Turner says many projects succeed or fail at that stage. “We listen and try to understand what the client is trying to accomplish,” he said.
“Our real contribution to the process is to sit with the client and help put together a reasonable budget and timeline.” – Hal Turner
Another arm of the company, Thompson Construction Group, builds for industrial clients like Nucor Steel, Caterpillar, Boeing and GE. The breadth of services it provides helps clients save money.
Greg Thompson, president of Thompson Construction Group, says his company’s success is measured by the high ratio of projects delivered on time and within budget, and by how it helps clients succeed. “We know that if we take care of our clients, they will take care of us. That has always been our core philosophy and the way we operate all of our companies,” he said.