Founder John D. Jacksons and his son Cory own and manage a chain of 230+ Jacksons Food Stores throughout the West, so they clearly believes in convenience. The Idaho family cares enough about being efficient to own and operate a wholesale distributor of groceries and a wholesale transportation firm that delivers fuel to their Chevron, Shell, and Texaco branded convenience stores in six western states.
The focus on efficiency at Jacksons trickles all the way down to designers and leaders overseeing facilities and capital improvement. They seek reliable, predictable solutions. “The team at Frank Lepori Construction focuses on efficient strategies, because the leaders at Jacksons expect us to build in a way that meshes with their business model,” says Frank Lepori, a Nevada-based general contractor since 1985. “In many ways, striving to serve Jacksons over the last 16 years has made us a better general contractor.” Frank shares five key strategies:
1. In-house design.
Having in-house designers in northern Nevada who collaborate with the Jacksons design and facilities people in Idaho saves them time and travel costs. “They look to our team to manage the details of getting plans through permitting and getting construction documents tightened up for local bidding efforts,” explains Frank. “We are their design boots on the ground, so their designers can focus on design strategies that strengthen their national brand. Jacksons has cutting edge design, so we focus on following their design with the right construction details.”
The Lepori team also provides phasing plans during design, which are critical to building improvements while having the minimum impact on business as usual. “The team at Jacksons does a great job of collaborating with our team during design. We work closely together to make sure construction rolls our smoothly.”
2. In-house cabinet manufacturing.
Detailers and craftsmen in the Lepori shop know precisely how to build the cabinets that stand up to the heavy use they get in a Jacksons store. “Cabinets are a really big thing to us,” says Steve Bennett, the construction manager overseeing construction and maintenance in four western states, working with dozens of general contractors and vendors. “There are a lot of ways to build cabinets, so we need to stick with cabinet makers we can trust.”
3. Size doesn’t matter.
“The contract for repainting the exterior at Jacksons’ North McCarran Boulevard location is just as important as the $1,877,000 addition and remodel underway on 5th Street in Carson City,” says Frank. “The Lepori team has to be flexible enough to respond to everything from small emergencies to total store replacements, which is why we’ve worked on most of Jacksons’ 17 stores in northern Nevada.”
4. Knowing what is expected.
Assigning leaders who know the Jacksons way is a critical strategy for the Lepori team. “I have leaders and crafts people who are fluent in the Jacksons approach. They know the protocols for keeping stores operational while we do our work,” explains Frank. “It’s not always easy to assign them to every Jacksons’ project, but we make it a priority, so the work will go smoothly.”
5. Depth of Craftsmanship.
As a self-perform general contractor, Frank Lepori Construction hires operators, carpenters, cabinet makers, laborers, and painters. FLC also has a loyal base of local subcontractors, who understand the constraints of making improvements while not impacting business at Jacksons. “To excel at customer service, the team has to be flexible,” explains Frank. “There are times when we have to reshuffle resources to respond to challenges that come up so we don’t lose time on a schedule.”
Reshuffling resources took on a new meaning with veteran Lepori Superintendent Dale Hodes. In 2009, when the majority of construction workers were being laid off in Nevada. Jacksons hired Dale to handle store maintenance in the region, thanks to his excellent knowledge of Jacksons’ facility requirements. Because Dale’s first love is building things, he returned to FLC in 2013 when new construction demand was picking up. He remains a go-to for Jacksons projects.
“We really appreciate the chance to work collaboratively with a quality national firm,” Frank concludes. “Jacksons keeps us busy doing the kind of work we really enjoy.” In good and bad times, on small and large projects, the goal remains finding the most efficient, reliable way to get the work done, because convenience clearly matters.