Sorensen Gross Construction Co. sees a very bright future, post-pandemic, for the construction and construction service industries, says company President and Chief Operating Officer Rabih Zahnan. Having forged a new partnership with a mega-contractor based in the Middle East, the company is well-positioned to capitalize on future projects.
And that means good news for Flint and Genesee County, Zahnan said in a recent interview with Inside Business.
Last month, Sorensen Gross announced a partnership with GET Engineering & Contracting, a Qatar-based project engineer and builder with more than 7,000 employees. GET’s chairman Christian Comair, who also owns The PIMA Group that includes 18 companies across Europe, North America and the Middle East, acquired a 50-percent interest in Sorensen Gross’ group of companies.
The two groups operate as equal partners in business. Ghassan Saab continues as Sorensen Gross’ chief executive officer, which he had held since 1972.
“What we’ve been able to do with this partnership is significantly recapitalize the company for growth, as well as bring on exceptional talent through our sister company,” said Zahnan. “We’re separate but working together.
“We see a lot of growth for the business, and we intend to double our revenue within the next four years. That means jobs in the area and in Michigan. As we grow, our staff will grow, and we’re looking to invest in our people.”
The company, which currently employs 65, expects to surpass 100 employees by next year.
The partnership also allows Sorensen Gross to expand its footprint internationally while putting “Flint’s name on the global map for construction,” he said. The company is working with GET Engineering on developing an uninhabited island in Greece into an art hotel. The stakeholders include DAR, one of the largest architectural firms in the world, and the Qatar Investment Authority.
“We’re talking about a project worth hundreds of millions of dollars that will be constructed by Sorensen Gross,” Zahnan said. “Those are the kinds of projects we’re going after internationally that all bring us back to Michigan. But even more important is our focus on projects domestically, both in Michigan and the Mid-Atlantic area. As we grow, we want to establish ourselves as the premier company for construction in Michigan.”
He added that Sorensen Gross “has always been, and always will be based in Flint, Michigan, even as we expand our operations.”
Closer to home, Sorensen Gross is building ELGA Credit Union’s new headquarters on Hill Road in Grand Blanc Township, and two hospitals for the Veterans Administration in Detroit and Saginaw. It also sees growth opportunities with its General Motors’ client, as the automaker transitions to the manufacturing of electric vehicles.
Zahnan said its strategy moving forward involves investing in people and technology.
“We’re looking to bring people up through an apprentice program for our field staff,” he said. “Invest in people to give them the opportunity to become superintendents and project managers. It also includes bringing talent to Michigan. We believe we offer amazing benefits, and we think Genesee County is an amazing place to live.”
Meanwhile, the company is incorporating more digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, 3-D imaging and “Connected Construction,” which enables all the stakeholders – the owner, the architect, the general contractor and the sub-contractors – to interact on one platform.
With Connected Construction, “we’re all able to communicate in real-time with all of our documentation, all of our plans, all of our notes and changes, under one platform,” he said. “It improves transparency and communications. You’re able to cut schedules and mistakes, which reduces costs for all the parties involved. This is an important part of the future for construction.”
But it all comes back to people, Zahnan said.
“We are very committed to ethical business practices and that’s something Mr. Saab has instilled in us since he took over the company,” he said. “His reputation in the local community is very well known.”
“What we do is not just about the bottom line, which is fundamental to our business, but about giving back to community. And doing projects as well as efforts that will always help the community that we’re in.”