Gabe Godwin of CSI Construction discusses the company’s working relationships, its latest ventures in Colorado Springs, and entering its 45th year in business
We currently have eight large multi-family (apartment buildings) projects for multiple clients in Colorado Springs. There are a couple of local developers reinventing downtown, and it’s very exciting to be part of that,” begins Gabe Godwin, President of CSI Construction since 2013. “Colorado Springs was a hidden gem,’” Gabe continues. “The multifamily sector has been fairly dormant until five to seven years ago, but the market has recently blown up! Colorado Springs is a beautiful city and an hour away from Denver, so it’s finally getting known and people are moving in.” With Colorado Springs now often ranked as one of the best places to live in the US, it is not surprising that multi-family projects are in high demand. Gabe explains “One of our largest projects is an eight-story apartment building and parking structure in downtown Colorado Springs. It’s 408 units, 721,536 square feet, and located right next to the new Weidner Field Soccer Stadium.
Colorado Structures Inc (CSI Construction) was founded in 1978 and is currently licensed in 19 western states. Current Owner, Tim Phelan, has owned the Company since 1986. Gabe started with the company in its Portland office in 1994, eventually running the office for 13 years before becoming President in 2013 and moving to its headquarters in Colorado Springs. Its revenue has grown year-on-year, with a turnover of $430 million making 2022 its biggest success to date. Gabe states that “we had to reinvent ourselves with the downfall in the market in 2008 to 2009. One of our big goals was to diversify into one third multifamily and senior living, one third retail and commercial, and the final third as other – whether that’s site development, medical, or hospitality. However, the big picture right now means multifamily occupies most of our time and accounts for approximately half our total revenue.”
Despite these obvious successes, CSI Construction did not escape the difficulties of the Covid-19 pandemic. “A lot of things changed overnight so it was a big challenge for us, especially having four offices in multiple states,” Gabe reflects. “We were working in San Francisco and the rules were a lot different than they were in say, Colorado Springs, where our head office is located. That was the biggest challenge – keeping up with the different rules and regulations for every state, county, and city, and making sure we stayed within the correct guidelines. We were considered an essential business for most of our projects so for the most part we kept working through Covid. We did have some projects shut down but we tried not to lay anyone off and did the best we could to accommodate the issues that everyone was dealing with.”
Since we last spoke to CSI Construction in 2018, it has expanded to a fifth office in Arizona. “I would say opening the Arizona office last year is the biggest change and addition we have had, and it’s still happening right now. Todd Asburry, who has been with the company for 20 years, has moved from our Portland office to run the new one in Arizona,” Gabe tells us. “Although we have worked in Arizona for a number of years on mostly small commercial projects for repeat clients, we haven’t had an office presence there. As such, we plan to grow our local reputation and we have just commenced our first large project there.”
Despite its tremendous growth over the last decade, CSI Construction has maintained the familial company atmosphere and culture that it always embraced. “Our employees are what makes our company. We have a lot of company and team functions that bring everyone together. Our culture is to work smart and productive, and at the same time, we want employees to have a great work-life balance, to be able to get away from work and enjoy downtime at home with family or friends,” Gabe adds. “I feel that keeps everyone in a good place mentally and helps them enjoy work, which in turn increases our productivity.” This is evident in the high personnel retention within the company. Gabe continues: “We preach teamwork and strive for family culture. Our employees are very loyal and employee retention has always been a huge deal for us. I know that we wouldn’t be as successful as we are without that loyalty.”
This culture extends to its client base and valued trade relationships. “Similar to our clients, around 90 percent of our work is repeat business. We have relationships with our trade partners in each of the regions we work that go back 30-plus years. It can be very difficult for them at the moment with supply chain issues, so we work together to understand what is going to be the next delay or the next issue on their job,” Gabe explains. “We try to create a team atmosphere with our clients and our subcontractors. That includes open communication in order to find solutions to potential issues, and we do a really great job at mitigating those issues and pleasing our owners and clients on completion.”
As it enters its 45th year of business, Gabe reflects on the achievements, goals, and future of CSI Construction. “Three years ago, our goal was to be around $500 million in five years. We’re currently at $430 million, so we should hit this target in the next two years. We are positioned to be a half-a-billion dollar company, but it is another step up if we want to become a billion-dollar company. Such expansion incurs growing pains and heightened risk, so we will factor this into our discussions surrounding where we want to be by our 50th birthday. The executive committee will discuss all options over the next couple of years, as it’s all of us, not just me, that make that decision.”