It’s part of the Live Oak Contracting mission to work honestly in all aspects of our business. Our blog series, “Inside Live Oak,” gives you an insight into the Live Oak Team, their background, experience and more. This month, we sat down with Woody Garner, Senior Project Manager, to learn about his experience and point of view on the industry and culture at Live Oak.
Q. Woody, tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Dothan, Alabama and met my future wife in the nursery at Church – we were always good friends growing up through high school and college. We married while attending Auburn and started our family after working a few years. We’ve been blessed with three daughters who attended Auburn and now have three sons-in-law, 2 AU grads and 1 Dawg, but that’s okay. We have five grandchildren ranging from one to ten years old. Family is important to us and we enjoy traditional family get-togethers as much as possible. Our Faith is also important to us, regularly attending church services, singing in the choir and supporting the Church business by serving on committees. I enjoy sports year round, golf and the outdoors – especially our Lake House.
I graduated in Building Construction at Auburn University and went to work for Fluor Daniel out of Greenville, South Carolina where I had 15 year career. Then, moved to Jacksonville into their regional office and was a project manager until 1985 when I became regional manager. In 1988, Fluor Daniel reallocated resources to larger industrial projects and closed some regional offices and my wife and I decided to stay in Jacksonville. I then went to work for Dav-Lin Construction Company, and after a couple years became Co-Owner. We ran a successful business for over 25 years doing work all over Florida.
In 2010, we merged our company with developer, Steve Atkins, and were primarily focused on the Restoration of the Downtown Jacksonville Historic Barnett Trio properties. Conceptualization design programming and budgeting for these four(4) buildings as well as a new adjacent tower and parking garage were provided to enable the complex financial package to be marketed. The project made great progress, but had not finalized by the summer of 2015. That’s when I met with Paul Bertozzi to find a fit at Live Oak Contracting.
Q. How did you get your start in the industry?
I spent three years in college before realizing the curriculum I was pursuing didn’t suit me. A high school friend who was at Auburn told me Building Construction had a lot to offer. I transferred to Auburn and the new study direction fit my interests. I enjoyed the change and it put me in the right position at the right time. The General Contracting process and the people you meet and develop relationships with have kept my interests at a high level. This is an exciting industry and everyday is a new opportunity.
Q. What projects are you currently managing?
I’ve been here six weeks and have been engaged in the final negotiations and estimating at the Retreat at West Creek, a three(3) building multi-family project in Richmond, VA. That’ll be the first project as we continue to pursue other project opportunities as well.
Q. What’s your favorite part about your work? Least favorite?
The most intriguing part of the construction industry is that you can start something and see it from start to finish. You get to see a process that comes to life. It’s always enjoyable to create relationships at the beginning of the project and develop them over time. How you manage a project from start to finish will determine the success of the project, have a happy client and have the opportunity to have repeat projects with this client. This is vital to the success of Live Oak Contracting.
The most challenging part is that it’s a people business. We all make mistakes and must solve problems daily integrating the project team requirements from our Owners, Design Professionals, Subcontractors, and Material Suppliers to make things happen. Keeping this process as streamlined as possible is demanding, but also very rewarding when it all comes together.
Q. Do you have an all-time favorite project from your career? Or most rewarding?
When you’re a general contractor and you are a particular size and brand, you’re perceived in a certain way. If you have a client who has always done work with a larger branded company, it’s very fulfilling to go in, deliver a quality project for that client after he’s chosen you over the larger brand – that’s really rewarding. Everyone has to get a start somewhere.
Q. What piece of advice would you give to someone entering the industry?
The most important part about our business is being able to follow through on what we say we are going to do, unquestionable character and integrity. Our word is our bond and my name is on everything I touch. I know there are contracts and wording, but it all boils down to building relationships. As long as everyone feels respected in the process you build chemistry. It’s difficult to do it otherwise. I try to make sure the last taste in a client’s mouth or anyone I develop a relationship with, is a good one because word-of-mouth is very important.
Q. What sets Live Oak apart from the competition?
I think we have smart, aggressive ownership and leadership. The niche is multifamily and these guys know it backwards and forwards. There’s a lot of energy and a can-do attitude. There is a Value-Added approach to every project delivered and a great attention to the details. I’m excited to be here working for Paul Bertozzi and this seasoned team.
We’re excited to have Woody on the Live Oak Contracting team. To learn more about other members of our team, visit our About Us page or give us a call at (904) 497-1500.