By Brian Sherman
Chad Frampton grew up in the construction industry, working during his high school and college days for the company established by his father. His firsthand experience in concrete, site work, and steel erection provided the foundation for his career at the top of Frampton Construction, which builds mostly in the Southeastern United States but also ventures to other parts of the country to handle the needs of its clients.
“We’ll follow our clients anywhere, to Arizona or Oklahoma if we have to,” said the 32-year-old president and chief executive officer, pointing out that his company concentrates on long-term relationships rather than trying to bring in as much business as possible. “We don’t want to be revenue-focused. We’re focused on repeat business.”
Frampton’s list of recent jobs is proof that the company has been true to its philosophy that bigger isn’t necessarily better and that clients are more important than jobs. For instance, in the past few years, Frampton has built three related assisted living facilities: The Blake at Carnes Crossroads in Summerville, The Blake at Edgewater in Indian Land, and The Blake at Woodcreek Farms in Columbia.
“My main role is in work acquisition and client relationships,” said Frampton, who graduated from Newberry College in 2007 with a degree in business management. “I enjoy working on projects, from conception to delivering a set of keys. Then what’s really great is when they call us a couple of months later and want us to do another job.”
Other recent Frampton projects have included a two-story medical office building for The Elms in North Charleston; renovating a 10,000-square-foot, two-story office space that once housed a health care facility for JEAR Logistics in Mount Pleasant; and constructing a new building for Steinberg Law Firm in Summerville. The company recently ventured into the re-use side of the business, converting an old K-Mart into a T-Mobile call center.
Frampton, who joined the company’s management team in 2009 and became president and CEO a year later, said the foundation of the business’ success is strong because of a three-pronged philosophy: hire the best people possible, develop and use the best processes and procedures, and chase clients rather than projects, hence building lasting relationships.
The company, which now has offices in Ladson and Charlotte, N.C., started as Limehouse and Frampton in 1977. Sixteen years later, Charles T. Frampton founded Frampton & Associates, which became Frampton Construction in 2015 and currently has 41 employees.
Satisfied customers certainly are one measure of success, but, according to Chad Frampton, there are other ways to determine if a company is doing things correctly – for example, the way the employees feel about the business and about one another.
“We’re proud of our team members,” Frampton said. “They are good friends. They want to be together after work. That says something.
“Our people and our culture set us apart,” he added. “We’re always challenging each other to be better. Our culture is a huge part of our success.”
Frampton’s wife, Michaele, also plays a key role in the company’s success, running the accounting department. He said their 2-year-old daughter, Mary Katherine, hasn’t decided yet whether there will be a third-generation Frampton in the business, but he added that “I wouldn’t rule it out.”
Frampton said the building industry has changed since he was working for his father’s company as a high school and college student, mainly because of advancements in technology.
“The old days of paper and pencil are gone. Now there’s iPads and things like that, and a lot of people in the industry are embracing the technology,” he said.
He added, however, that his biggest concern about the building business is that many people in his age group are opting for management jobs rather than learning about the construction business through firsthand experience – or they are simply choosing to work in other industries.
“As a kid, I would see a lot of people in their mid-30s and 40s in construction,” he said. “The recession in 2007 and 2008 put a damper on young people getting into construction. We focus on recruiting subs and younger people to the building industry.”
According to its president and CEO, Frampton Construction’s future is bright.
“We're going to continue to focus on the right projects, continue to build the company, focus on our core values, and do the little things to help recruit the best people,” he said. “Growth can be detrimental because you can get too big and lose the culture of the company. You can lose the pulse of what’s going on.”