Category: Commercial Construction

How to Protect Construction Sites during Hurricane Season

How to Protect Construction Sites during Hurricane Season

By Chris Tilton, co-founder, Dewitt Tilton Group

Hurricane Irma is probably a memory to most, but hurricane season lasts until November 30, and for builders, the weather plays a major role in any construction plan.

If you have not already done so, now is the time to put a hurricane safety plan into place for any construction site. Having a clear strategy ready to go reduces the risk of unnecessary damage, helps prevent injuries on the site and gives you peace of mind.

Let’s start with the basics.

A hurricane watch is issued when a storm is expected to arrive within 48 hours, and a warning is issued when tropical storm conditions are within 36 hours. When a hurricane watch is announced, it’s time to put your plan in place and prepare the construction site.

Steps for Creating a Contingency Plan
The first step is to create a checklist for areas and equipment in need of protection. This list will most likely include tools, heavy equipment, generators, fuel tanks, portable toilets and other materials that cannot be moved to an inside location. Be sure each item on the check list is assigned to a specific member of the team and take time to review the checklist prior to any potential threats.

Your contingency plan should also include a communications piece. In addition to notifying your on-site team, subcontractors should be notified that the site is halting all work until further notice.

Planning for large amounts of water is key to any plan. Heavy rains and flooding are leading causes of damage to construction sites. It is imperative that any construction site is equipped with permanent and temporary drainage systems to maintain the structural stability of the area.

If there are vehicles on the site, they should be moved to higher ground and away from structures that could be damaged. Plus, consider filling the tanks on these vehicles prior to any hurricane or storm.

One of the last but most crucial steps is to turn off access points for all utilities. Now is also the time to remove any project documents from the construction trailer and secure them to an offsite location. As you leave the site, snap a few photos on your phone for future reference. These may come in handy if any items are missing or damaged after the fact.

After Effects
Any good contingency plan will include necessary steps for clean-up and getting back in business after a hurricane. Once you return to the site, assess and document any damage, giving special attention to downed power lines, unstable structures or wet electrical panels. Items to have on hand include cleaning supplies and fuel for vehicles. Finally contact the appropriate utilities and contact your insurance carrier for any assessment needs.

It’s important that all construction companies have a written hurricane preparation plan. Ideally, the plan will be detailed with specific assignments and action deadlines. And during hurricane season, be sure to monitor the weather on a regular basis.

This type of preparation does require added cost, effort and time but can be extremely valuable in the long run and may be your best investment. If construction managers follow these outlined steps and provide clear communication, any site will be up and running considerably quicker and suffer much less loss.

Chis Tilton of the Dewitt Tilton Group

Chris Tilton, co-founder, Dewitt Tilton Group

Chris Tilton is the co-founder of the Dewitt Tilton Group, a Savannah area commercial construction company. For more information or to contact Tilton, call 912.777.3404 or email

Southern Motors Acura Hosts Grand Opening for New Dealership on Chatham Parkway

Southern Motors Acura Hosts Grand Opening for New Dealership on Chatham Parkway
Public Invited to Join the Celebration Through Car Giveaway

(SAVANNAH, GA) Southern Motors Acura invites the public to join them at the grand opening of their new dealership at 102 Park of Commerce Dr. on Chatham Parkway on Saturday, Nov. 18, from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

As part of the celebration, one visitor will go home with a free two-year lease on a new Southern Motors Acura ILX.

The new outlet, with a 32,000-square-foot showroom, will offer new and used car sales and customer service while Southern Motors’ current location, which has been on Broughton Street for 88 years, will continue to provide service for downtown customers.

“We are thrilled with this expansive new building and footprint, which will allow us to grow and support our community,” said Ross Kaminsky, Southern Motors co-owner general manager. “And our customers can expect the same great service they are used to from one of the oldest family run dealerships in the area.”

The new showroom was designed by Lynch Associate Architects; JTVS Builders served as the general contractor.

Founded in 1929 by Julius Kaminsky, Southern Motors is a third-generation family owned and operated business.

The Kaminsky family believes in their city and feels it is important to show support through numerous charities and investments.

As part of that effort, a percentage of every car sold at Southern Motors benefits Hospice Savannah’s Camp Aloha. Weekend Camp Aloha is for children ages 6-17 who have experienced the death of a loved one within the previous 24 months. The annual camp provides structured activities and plays to help the children realize they are not alone in their grief.

To enter the contest for a new Acura, submit a photo of your current ride to by Monday, Nov. 13, at 11:59 p.m.
Finalists will be personally invited to attend the grand opening.

For more information on the grand opening celebration, visit

Southern Motors Automotive Group was created in 1929 by Julius Kaminsky and is still thriving more than 88 years later. Their franchises now include Honda, Acura, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram. Southern Motors Acura is a premier retailer of new and used Acura vehicles. The dealership’s original location was 402 E. Broughton St. in Savannah, Ga., but has recently moved to a brand new dealership at 102 Park of Commerce Dr. Savannah, GA 31405. Southern Motors Acura has a strong and committed sales staff with many years of experience in satisfying customers’ needs. Their mission is to provide the highest quality sales and service, the most competitive price and a total “family” experience with the goal of earning customers for life. The business has won numerous awards, including being voted Best of Savannah for five consecutive years. For more information, call (912) 232-3333 or visit

Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade PR
Cecilia Russo Marketing

Commercial Construction: Workload Rising, Workforce Declining. Inspiring Young Americans to Choose a Career in Commercial Construction

Commercial Construction: Workload Rising, Workforce Declining. Inspiring Young Americans to Choose a Career in Commercial Construction
By Chris Tilton

Chris Tilton

Chris Tilton, Dewitt Tilton Group, a Commercial Construction Company

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how automation may soon replace people in the workforce in areas from transportation to financial sectors and others. Some academic counselors are even advising students not to pursue certain fields of study once thought to be sure bets for good future employment because a job may not be waiting for them when they get out of school.

One exception is the commercial construction industry.

Although it has benefited from many advancements in robotics, the commercial construction industry still needs skilled tradespeople to fill positions now and into the future. They include, among others, carpenters and concrete mixers, crew leaders and office managers with an immediate and ongoing need for qualified workers from entry level to management.

But the industry workforce is not growing as it should, so its leaders must do a better job of inspiring young people to seek careers in commercial construction.

Since the end of the 2008 recession, the workload has been steadily rising, but the workforce has failed to keep pace with qualified applicants needed for mid-level management positions and skilled labor jobs.

A recent study by the Associated General Contractors of America found that 73 percent of construction firms in the U.S. plan to expand their payrolls this year to meet project demands, but those surveyed also expressed concerns about the availability of qualified workers to fill those positions.

Europe is experiencing similar issues. According to a recent report in the United Kingdom’s Daily Telegraph, the construction industry will create nearly 200,000 new jobs over the next five years as demand for new homes fuels a boom in the sector.

So why is there such a large gap in the construction workforce? There are a number of reasons. Those who are in the profession are getting older and many mid-level professionals left during the recession to pursue other careers. Our industry must do more to retain the workers we have and lure back those who left, such as offering incentives like project completion bonuses.

But the big problem is that too few young people are pursuing construction jobs out of high school or college. That’s partly because the construction sector has an image problem and millennials tend to view the industry as old fashioned and not very dynamic. They also want security and variety in their careers and want to be challenged and valued.

So the construction industry has work to do to convince millennials of the value of working in construction. In reality, it has something for virtually everyone, from project management to 3D design and modeling, historic preservation, masonry, carpentry and more.

If we want to attract graduate-level talent from our colleges and universities, we need to change perceptions of our industry. As an example, a study by the National Association of Home Builders found that only three percent of young adults were interested in construction trades, citing the physical demands of difficult work as deterrents.

They also generally underestimated the financial benefits of a career in the construction trades. While it’s only one piece of the total employment package, competitive compensation is important. Normally, base salary is determined by the scope of the employee’s responsibilities, qualifications and years of experience. Construction workers earn an average salary of $31,910 per year. The average salary for a construction manager is $73,087 per year. Most companies offer a variety of programs that expand upon your benefits and compensation package too, and this information needs to be shared with our young workforce.

We should work closely with academic and technical colleges, as well as high schools, to provide information about the benefits of a career in commercial construction and its promising future. We should also offer more internships and apprenticeships that encourage young people to try construction and gain work experience while they learn a skill. By working with educators, we can help them define and streamline their programs to better focus on developing skill sets that are critically needed in the commercial construction industry.

Chris Tilton is the co-founder of the Dewitt Tilton Group, a Savannah area commercial construction company. For more information or to contact Tilton, call 912.777.3404 or email

Third Generation General Contracting Firm, The Strong Group, Expands Business by Partnering with Alair Homes in Savannah, Ga

Third Generation General Contracting Firm, The Strong Group, Expands Business by Partnering with Alair Homes in Savannah, Ga

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Strong Group, a general contracting residential construction firm based in Savannah, has announced a new partnership with Alair Homes, North America’s largest construction management contractor.

The partnership will give The Strong Group access to a consolidated back-office management system and a communications platform that gives homeowners access to real-time information on the progress being made on their projects. That allows The Strong Group to ensure homeowners are being updated on key factors such as cost and budget at every step of the process.

“I decided to partner with Alair to create a scalable business model that allows me more time to work on growing and improving my business,” said Walter Strong III, who owns The Strong Group. “Our trademarked pre-construction client control process gives clients certainty and transparency over their project. The traditional custom construction business model was broken. Clients were asked to buy a product before they know what the final cost was, and the contractors were asked to sell something before they knew the final cost. Our innovative and transparent process solves these issues for both parties.”

According to AVID Ratings, the average percentage of customer satisfaction for Alair clients was over 21 points higher than the industry average for residential construction. In 2017, two Alair Homes contractors took home AVID Awards, which are granted to North American home builders whose purchasers rated them the highest for customer experience and dedication. “That’s what I call fixing a broken model,” said Strong.

The Strong Group is a third-generation commercial general contracting firm founded in 1952 by Walter Strong, Sr. as the Walter H. Strong Co. Over the generations, the company’s services have expanded to include construction management and award-winning residential construction.

The Strong Group’s most notable construction projects include the original eight-building campus at Armstrong State University that was completed in 1962 and the Armstrong Fine Arts building that was finished in 1973. The firm also served as construction managers for the renovation of the former Chatham County Courthouse on Bull Street that was completed in 1991 and as construction administrators for the recently completed $70 million dollar expansion of the Chatham County Detention Center. They have also completed an estimated 70 custom residential construction projects since 2004.

Since its founding in 2007, Alair has been helping home builders, renovators and remodelers expand their reach as entrepreneurs. Alair’s system is designed to easily track projects and reports so contractors can be in the field and be interacting with their clients to ensure operations are running smoothly.

“Savannah and the surrounding region is a special and unique market and we are very proud to have Walter as our partner to help deliver the Alair difference to homeowners and other contractors alike,” said Rob Cecil, Alair’s chief development officer. “With nearly 90 offices open and many more offices slated to open in the summer and fall, we’re looking forward to bringing even more passionate contractors into our system as we expand into new markets.”

Through partnering with Alair, The Strong Group is projected to grow significantly. Currently, The Strong Group operates primarily within the greater Savannah, Ga., and Bluffton/Hilton Head Island, S.C., areas with a few projects as far away as Macon, Ga., and Columbia, S.C. In their new expansion phase, the company will extend its efforts throughout southeast Georgia.

By working closely with Alair, Strong said, he expects to add project managers who share his drive to push their limits.

“When you can offer applicants Alair’s proven and simple system, signing on top-tier project managers is a no brainer,” said Strong. “Alair isn’t changing my business; it’s adding a layer of strength to the foundation we already had.”

For more information, call 912.233.7690 or visit

The Strong Group in Savannah, Ga., is a third-generation commercial general contracting firm founded in 1952 as the Walter H. Strong Co. Services include construction management and award-winning residential construction. The Strong Group’s foundation was built on its commercial construction history. The Strong Group started to develop a reputation for residential Construction in 2004 when Walter Strong III began to build high-end homes around Savannah. Along with new construction, The Strong Group has earned a reputation as one of the area’s premier renovation contractors. They have received two historic preservation awards. For more information, call 912.233.7690 or visit

Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade Public Relations®
Cecilia Russo Marketing