With a 20-year track record of success, FARROW COMMERCIAL CONSTRUCTION is a leading general construction corporation specializing in the hospitality and timeshare industries. The company’s clients are located throughout North America and Mexico. Many of them have been with FARROW for more than 15 years, from original resort construction through refurbishments. Even during the Great Recession and accompanying construction downturn, FARROW continued to show impressive year-over-year gains. Today, with construction back and an ever- increasing senior management team, FARROW is ideally positioned for continued growth.
President and CEO John Farrow founded the company on the guiding principle that getting a great price doesn’t mean clients have to settle for less. Perspective recently spoke with him about the FARROW trifecta – delivering exceptional service, exceptional quality and exceptional pricing.
To what do you attribute FARROW COMMERCIAL’S success?
Clients choose FARROW and stay with us because of the great value we add to a project. At the end of the day, it’s all about putting heads back in beds as quickly as possible and putting much needed rooms back into inventory.
We partner with our clients to deliver high ownership satisfaction. FARROW helps revitalize older resorts and create a renewed feeling of excitement. We know what owners and guests want and what keeps them coming back to buy additional weeks at a refurbished resort, while enjoying a refreshed product with exciting, updated amenities.
Who are your clients?
We work with large and small resorts and developers on projects throughout North America and Mexico. One of our core competencies is helping smaller resorts and developers – that’s our bread and butter. Our clients are the Expedia shoppers of the construction industry, always looking for the best price. Their owners and guests want it all: the ultimate vacation at the best price. They understand that getting a great price doesn’t mean you have to settle for less. FARROW understands this too. We deliver it all – uncompromising quality, owner satisfaction, and exceptional pricing.
How does FARROW deliver on its promise to provide the best possible price while still affording high quality?
We work hand-in-hand with resort owners and developers at the inception of a project to value engineer and ensure its success. Our full-service, turnkey approach revolves around four areas – preconstruction services, value engineering, production-based construction and lasting quality after completion – to deliver the best finished product at the best possible price.
Preconstruction Services – One key way to economize and bring value to a project occurs during the preconstruction phase, when we clearly identify the job’s scope, guidelines and budgetary requirements. Additionally, FARROW is available to help source architects, designers, engineers and outside vendors necessary to complete the project on time and on budget. To avoid potentially costly delays, we also work through design and purchasing elements to assure products and materials are not out of production or on back order. The goal is to ensure everything runs smoothly, from pre-construction through construction to final inspection and long after the work has been completed.
Value Engineering – Next, we value engineer the project to meet budget requirements. Our team looks carefully at the products that the architects and designers have specified. Then we offer alternatives of like kind to substitute and incorporate into the overall design theme without sacrificing quality, style or finish while still affording a better price. Throughout the project, we look for smart ways to reduce costs. Resorts and developers can put these substantial savings into upgraded amenities to provide the enhanced experiences their guests demand.
Product-Based Construction – Additionally, product-based construction shortens the project timeline for even more savings. Thanks to careful preconstruction planning and state-ofthe- art construction techniques, FARROW helps the resorts increase revenue by completing construction quickly and returning owners and guests to their units.
Lasting Quality After Completion – Finally, FARROW works diligently to ensure that only quality products and materials are incorporated into construction, even those materials that are used during the rough stages of construction and will never be seen. Our motto is, “Cheap is never inexpensive,” and using higher quality materials guarantees longer life spans and better results long after the job is done. FARROW believes that once the job is completed, there is still work to be done. To make sure that the finished product and equipment installed operate properly, FARROW backs up each project with an extended warranty.
Sounds like a highly efficient process. Is it standard in hospitality construction?
No, FARROW does things differently. Traditionally in our industry, developers get three to five competitive bids. Like consumers on Expedia, developers are shopping for the deal. They want a Five Star experience with all the bells and whistles but at a better price. And frankly, who doesn’t want that?
The problem comes in when a developer automatically chooses the lowest bid (which unfortunately is commonplace these days). When you have multiple construction bidders, a low price often means the contractor has not done his homework and has left something out of his bid or is initially trying to cut corners with the intent to come back later with multiple expensive change orders necessary to complete the project. Worse yet, an unqualified contractor may come in low to win the bid, only to end up lacking the skills and experience needed to get the job done, leaving the resort or developer holding the bag with an unfinished project and an absent contractor.
You get what you pay for. When you sacrifice quality to save money at the start of a project, it ultimately trickles down to owners and guests, who become dissatisfied when the quality of the finished product is less than it should be. Or, the product has a shorter shelf life due to wear and tear. You don’t save money in the long run if you end up having to replace things sooner. Quite simply, it’s never a good idea to let low price determine the sale at the sacrifice of service and quality. Unfortunately, most clients learn this lesson the hard way, after the fact.
What recommendations do you have for developers who insist on shopping around before hiring a contractor?
When getting competitive bids, developers should make sure they are making apples-to-apples comparisons. Bidders should price the same scope of work, quality of materials and construction schedule. We recommend that the client provide a “standard bid sheet” for all contractors to complete. This bid sheet helps clarify the scope of work, while at the same time qualifying the bidders. Clients can also save money in the long run by working with a hospitality-specific general contractor, who understands all the nuances and critical details of this arena to assure the successful completion of a project.
What is FARROW’S alternative to the bidding process?
Historically, competitive bidding puts client and contractor in an adversarial relationship at the inception of the project that often carries forward to the end. This is never in the interest of any project.
By contrast, FARROW takes the stress out of the bidding process and turns it into an easier, more positive experience. We prefer to collaborate with our clients, agreeing on fees up front and adhering to those fees throughout the project. Working through budget issues in advance means we are better able to utilize economies of scale and stick to construction timetables, so the resort can forward-plan and get rooms reallocated quickly back into the inventory. The goal is to make everything safe, efficient and turnkey.
John Farrow (ARP, RRP)
John Farrow is a longtime leader in the timeshare and construction industries. He has served in many key positions, including chair of the Construction and Design Committee, American Resort Development Association (ARDA). Among his many honors, Farrow is a recipient of the 2014 Perspective Magazine Award for Best Service Supplier. Additionally, he is a regular speaker at ARDA and the GNEX Timeshare Leaders conferences. He also is called upon regularly as an expert on ADA compliance issues.
In addition to ARDA, John is affiliated with many hospitality-related organizations, including American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS), Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Senior Living.
When choosing a contractor, he highly recommends working with someone who truly gets our industry and all its subtleties.