How to Win Work With ARCO, with Jake Stefan
ARCO Design/Build is a nationally recognized design/build general contractor with offices in Atlanta, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Houston, Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore and 21 satellite branches. They have experts in all areas of the design and construction industry, but their brand-defining focus is industrial development. Under the leadership of their president, Jake Stefan, ARCO continues to uphold a standard of excellence as a “customer service company that just happens to do construction along the way.” It takes a strong AEC marketing strategy to get your foot in the door.
It takes a significant amount of time to build a positive reputation, and in Stefan’s 20 years with ARCO, they have maintained consistent brand identity and core values. A fundamental principle at ARCO is to treat people fairly and do the right thing. Seems obvious but, a lot of people tend to separate the way they do business from the way they would like to be treated as a person. Since ARCO works on a national scale, a lot of their work is subcontracted out, and relationships carry a lot of weight. They are selling logistics services, but at the end of the day, ARCO is in the people business, and strong partnerships are integral to their success.
Another one of ARCO’s core values is to understand their clients’ businesses in depth so they can solve their problems. Stefan explains it’s what makes ARCO different from any of the other general contractor out there. Objectively, anyone could go out and find contractors to complete a series of tasks, but that whole process is transactional and void of thought. ARCO is dedicated to making their clients’ businesses better by actively identifying problems, process improvements, and solutions tailored to each clients’ unique business goals.
Jake Stefan is very clear about his intent to uphold ARCO’s core values in the market, but he has the same standards and expectations internally as well. When Stefan looks for new AEC partners, their ability to mesh with ARCO’s values is a deciding factor in whether or not the firm will move forward. Anyone who makes the shortlist will already exhibit those values, so it is important to convey your firm’s ability to collaborate under unique circumstances, especially in design. It is critical that your AEC marketing reflects that.
ARCO’s partners in design, subcontracting, and engineering are brought on at a later stage because the initial pricing and design is done in-house. By the time the selection process finishes, ARCO has won the project, established the footprint of the design, and given the third party teams specific guidelines to work within. Design firms often feel pressure when delivering pre-determined expectations since they do not have the same type of relationship with the client. However, the upside of designers entering as consultants is it can increase design efficiency and provide a fresh set of eyes. Stefan wants solutions-oriented partners who are going to push them to be better because all of the project requirements change as ARCO moves to different parts of the country. You need to show him that with your AEC marketing strategy If your firm can bring ideas to the table that will make the project more valuable or cost-effective, Stefan is interested in having those conversations.
If you are interested in winning work with ARCO, you should start by reaching out to one of their twenty-eight offices throughout the country. Procurement varies slightly, but the core values and business practices of all the branches are generally the same. When it comes to civil engineers, ARCO prefers to work locally or regionally. For architectural and structural, they also source locally, but the fee structure is much different than it is for a plan and spec project where you’re working with an owner.
Stefan and his team are up for having a very open and honest conversation about what it takes to partner with them. If you are interested in hearing more insights straight from the owner’s mouth, listen to our podcast episode, How to Win Work with ARCO, with Jake Stefan.