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  1. Building Community

    February 18, 2014 by Jeff Forrest

    Building communities is something we do everyday, however it’s our service, volunteering, and support of non-profit organizations of which we are most proud. At the end of January, WPC was able to support a local grassroots organization, which helps families with the unforeseen costs of cancer treatments, in a very unique way. WPC resident blogger and President, Jeff Forrest, passes the writing baton this month to employee and son, Jeffrey, as he tells a story of fighting cancer through a deck of cards.

    Welcome to my inaugural WPC blog. This should be easy to write since I’ll be talking about the same thing my old personal blog was about, poker. One of the best things about working here is the easy accessibility to working with different charities. In the past 6 months, I’ve helped build towers out of cans for Canstruction, began renovations on the new school for the Conductive Education Center of Orlando, and now played in a charity poker tournament for the Cancerbank. All have been great experiences in their own way.

    The Cancerbank charity poker tournament, held on Friday January 31st, was exciting because I could use skills I’d molded over the years for two families in need. I was actually able to play with one of the fathers we were helping in the event. He lost quickly but told us all about his young daughter with leukemia and thanked all of us individually for coming out and supporting him when he was in need. It gave me a little extra incentive to focus and play the best I knew I could.

    We started with 7,500 chips and within an hour I had almost 40,000, most of which was from a nice elderly woman sitting next to me. She didn’t mind so much when I told her who I was and the company I was representing. How, when asked to sponsor an ex-professional in a charity event, my coworkers pitched in a combined $360. That whatever was unused was still being donated, and whatever was won would be donated back to the charity. It gave me a great deal of pride to be there on behalf of WPC, and to know that it’s likely we wouldn’t have pitched in as much if I hadn’t played. Unfortunately, after another hour and a few bad runs of the cards, I was heading home early.

    In the end, the Cancerbank raised over $8,000 that night and 100% of that money will directly benefit the two families battling cancer. Nearly 100 poker players from the area came out to compete and support a great cause to help others in our community. I look forward to more of these events and will continue to look for opportunities in the near future provided by WPC.


  2. Forty and Counting

    December 9, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    In January 2014, WPC will be celebrating its 40th year in business. It is a little hard to believe, but what an amazing ride it has been! From our humble beginnings as a small framing and remodeling company so many years ago to becoming one of the nation’s most prominent general contractors, we have enjoyed success that many only experience in their dreams.

    Although our reach spans from one side of the country to the other (and many stops in between), we’ve maintained that small company feel and continue to provide the quality and dedication that has earned us our reputation. We’ve earned countless awards and recognized by many organizations for our outstanding workmanship and, equally as important, for what we’ve given back to our community. We gauge our company’s success on many factors, though one of the most important metrics is the tenure of our employees. Approximately 25% of our staff have a tenure of more than 15 years. These dedicated team members (and many others) worked through the very good times and some extremely difficult times, yet remained committed to the company. They exemplify WPC’s culture and are a significant part of its history.

    Reminiscing and feeling nostalgic over the telling history of WPC, however, will not ensue our future sustainability. Staying ahead of the competition requires more than just a great story. It necessitates constant and never-ending improvement. It beseeches a relentless pursuit of excellence and execution of the processes and procedures that have been and will be developed throughout the company. It requires tenured staff and current leaders to cultivate the youth of WPC and guide them along a path of successful growth so that they, too, can be on this list. The momentum of WPC allows no room for complacency and the route to our success involves little relaxation. All of our clients have put their trust in us and need our full attention; taking a break is not an option.

    However, many of you know that I like to celebrate and the company’s 40th year will give us many opportunities to do just that. Though we will remain focused and steadfast to our goals, 40 years is a milestone that entails a party or two. We hope you will celebrate with us – cheers!


  3. The Season of Giving

    November 12, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    We are already in the second week of November and Thanksgiving is fast approaching. You may have heard me say before that this is one of my favorite holidays; there is nothing better than turkey sandwiches and pumpkin pie for days on end.

    This season is less about food, however, and more about gratitude and the WPC family certainly has much to be thankful for this year. In addition to the improved economic conditions that have increased our workload, we are thankful for our many clients who continue to put their trust in WPC and select us to be a part of their construction teams. We are grateful for the hard work of our subcontractors and vendors across Florida and the rest of the country, as well as their participation in our many philanthropic endeavors that allow us to give back to our community.

    Our most recent event was Canstruction Orlando, a design-build competition using canned and packaged foods as the materials for building theme-based structures. At the end of the competition, all of the food is donated to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida. Our design was the recreation of the Give Kids the World Village logo, a 70-acre non-profit fantasy resort in the Orlando area that provides weeklong cost-free vacations to children and their families suffering from life-threatening illness. Our design supported this year’s theme of Orlando Can Be Magical. It was so well received from our subcontractors and vendors that through our joint efforts we donated 2,500 canned and packaged foods, as well as donated $2,000 to Give Kids the World Village. We are pretty excited to have been able to support 2 non-profit organizations through one event. (We also took 2nd place for Structural Ingenuity and earned the Daily City’s Biggest Heart Award).

    WPC will continue to give back to our community throughout the holiday season and the rest of the year. We are blessed to be able to make an impact in lives of those in need and I am proud of those WPC staffers that volunteer their time towards these causes.

    On a personal note, I just completed my first half marathon at the Santa Barbara International Veterans Marathon in California. It was a very cool accomplishment and one I hope to repeat many times in the future. This marathon falls on the weekend before Veterans Day and celebrates the many veterans around the world who have served our country. WPC is proud to support our veterans in many ways, including our involvement of the Home at Last program providing mortgage-free homes for wounded veterans and their families.

    One last thing to be thankful for: running that kind of elevated mileage increases my need for carbs, so I think I’ll celebrate (guiltlessly) with an extra spoonful of whipped cream on my second piece of pumpkin pie.

    Happy Thanksgiving.



  4. Stress Less

    October 4, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    We’re in the home stretch of 2013 with only one quarter left in the year. I’ve just returned from the NMHC Student Housing Conference in New Orleans and had a chance to catch up with some of our existing clients, as well as meet a few new ones. The outlook on the market remains optimistic which bodes well for WPC in the coming years. We’re also excited about the multifamily market as we continue to capture new projects in the urban infill, podium, wrap and garden style sectors. As the market improves, so is the stress of managing the labor, schedule and cost escalation issues that come with everyone being busier. Projecting project costs has become increasingly challenging and imposes stress on developers, subcontractors and our staff as they manage the muddy waters of pre-construction and budgeting. It’s this kind of stress that our clients rely on us to deal with given our proven experience and solid relationships.

    Speaking of stress: in September’s blog I reported that my son, Jeffrey, decided to dive head first into a new career in construction at WPC. He took a few minutes to write a newsletter article about how he faced stress in his former career as a poker player and what it means to him now. Here is that article:

    Stress by Jeffrey Forrest

    As many of you know, I was a professional poker player for the last 5 years. I would spend 8 to 12 hours a day, 7 days a week playing a strategic game of chance. For a long time, I was able to sustain myself and remain independent with poker as my career. I entered tournaments all around the country thanks to sponsorship from other players and experienced a great deal of success.

    However, all the success came to a halt in early 2011. On a day poker players know as Black Friday, the government shut down the three major internet poker casinos, freezing 100’s of millions in poker player funds and effectively ending my poker career (although I wouldn’t accept it at the time). What made poker fun and profitable for me was being able to play comfortably on the couch at home and control the environment around me, allowing me to focus completely on the game. I was forced at this time to transition into a traveling player, paying for gas, flights, hotel rooms, food and other random expenses to compete at casinos around Florida and different parts of the country.

    This is when I was truly introduced to stress. Stress is a part of the game of poker, no matter how good you are it’s a mentally taxing game. For the first few years, playing almost completely online, I was able to handle all of my professional levels of stress. If I won or lost for days, weeks or months, I didn’t feel I was affected too much in my personal life. But once I turned into a strictly live casino gambler, my life became an emotional roller coaster. The new expenses and constant travel on top of the games existing stress plus a need to make a living was not a winning combination. My days as a winning professional poker player were over.

    The only way to escape the stress was to move on to something new. When I was given the opportunity to come and work for WPC, I knew it would be a positive change for me. So far it’s been exactly what I needed, I still feel professional stress but it has more of a positive energy. It’s exciting to learn how to do my new job, to do it quickly and well, on top of proving that I’ll be an asset over the long run.

    I my overall point is that we can’t always tell how our mental state is and specifically how we are reacting to stress until we look back on it afterwards. I’m lucky to have learned a lot of lifelong lessons from my time as a poker player, but none more importantly then how I will let stress affect me on a daily basis. You may want to take some time and look up a Ted Talks video by Kelly McGonigal about how to recognize stress and make it your friend.

    That kid is pretty damn smart and a decent writer…must be in the genes.

    As we approach the end of the year, I’m sure the stress of the world won’t change much. From the political tensions both nationally and across the globe, to work challenges or personal battles, hopefully you’ll diffuse your stress in a positive way and avoid the pitfalls of letting it affect your health and success.

    On a final note, October is my birthday month. I suppose it is safer to say that 2013 has been my birthday year. I turn 50 on the 25th and have enjoyed 43 birthday parties so far (7 more to go) celebrating all over the world…literally. From Los Angeles to Las Vegas, Chicago to New York, London to Belgium, I’ve experienced some amazing times with outstanding friends and family. There are a few parties left before the big Five-O and I’m sure they will be just as much fun. I am forever grateful to all those who have celebrated with me or sent your good wishes. Since I’m¬ halfway through with this life, I better figure out what I’m going to do for a living for the next 50 years. This construction thing is a young man’s game and we have some strong young leaders who will do an amazing job with our company in the years ahead. I’m sure my son will enjoy understanding what that means as he enjoys the next 50 years of his life.


  5. I Remember That

    September 5, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    I’ve always been a “look forward” kind of person – looking ahead to what needs to be accomplished, rather than what has already been done. By not living in the past, I don’t worry about what I may have missed. Time moves so fast that if I spend too much of it in regret, I’d neglect what is right in front of me. I’m a “today’s-a-new-day” guy, so let’s get to work creating memories we’ll forget. I suppose that last statement doesn’t make much sense, but it sure does seem that I’ve forgotten more than I’ve remembered.

    Why do I say all this? I’m turning 50 years old next month and it’s causing me to stop, turn around, and look back. It seems like just yesterday I was 15 – still in high school and working weekends and during the summer as a laborer, then eventually a carpenter. In those days, my career at this company was just getting started. Little did I know, 35 years later I’d be leading (along with some great partners) one of the largest and most prominent general contractors in Florida, and working for a fantastic group of clients building some “memorable” projects.

    As I get ready to celebrate half a century of living, WPC is getting ready to celebrate a milestone, as well. In January of 2014, our company celebrates 40 years of business. In this instance, my memory serves me well and I reflect upon how we’ve affected the landscape of our hometown, many areas of Florida, the Southeast and other parts of the country. There are too many projects to list here, but as we go through old photos in preparation of the festivities that will last all year long, I’ll be sure to share our projects, as well as the people who’ve worked and shaped this company into who we are today. It will indeed be a fun stroll down memory lane.

    On a forward thinking note, I’m very proud to announce that another generation of Forrest’s has joined (or should I say rejoined) the WPC team. My son, having taken a 7-year hiatus from the construction industry to attend college and play professional poker, has recently retired from one form of gambling in order to “enjoy” another. Winning the WPT World Championship highlighted his career as a professional card player and I know his memories of those days will not fade anytime soon. Although faced with the challenge of being the boss’s son will not be easy, I know that his skills at the poker table will come in very handy as he maneuvers the waters of our very challenging business.

    It’s time for me to take my Ginkgo Biloba and catch up on some Luminosity exercises. Check out our web page for the latest project news and stay tuned for another 40 years of great memories.


  6. Customer Service and Beyond

    July 31, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    WPC recently received a letter from the supervisor of The Villages Public Library at Belvedere. For those of you who may not know, WPC is building our fourth project for Sonata Healthcare in The Villages – the third Serenades by Sonata. This letter was very complimentary and recognizes one of WPC’s superintendents for delivering exceptional service and commendable character.

    The superintendent for this project is fairly new to WPC, but he exemplifies one of our most important attributes – providing outstanding customer service. What we do every single day, big or small, makes an impression on someone. How we answer the phone, interact with clients, vendors, consultants, fellow employees and, in this case, an adjacent property owner reflects how our company is viewed. Giving a little extra is how we standout from our competitors. It distinguishes us, makes us unique, is a catalyst in choosing WPC for future projects and is a WPC requirement of employment.

    Amidst being busy with the daily grind, WPC team members remain focused on going “above and beyond” the regular routine. We consider all of our site staff conscientious construction neighbors whether or not they receive a letter from someone they have impacted. It is nice to be recognized, however, especially in a time where people put pen to paper more often to complain than to give praise.

    We are proud of our onsite project staff, as well as the whole team of Serenades by Sonata at the Villages for delivering on the reputation of WPC. We stand confident knowing that we deliver this level of customer service to all of our clients and this type of respect is a permanent pillar of our culture.


  7. President’s Log: Stardate 07-13

    July 12, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    June 27th – 8:02PM
    I am on board a 5-hour flight to Vegas for my monthly visit to our projects in the western part of the country. The team has been working hard on our Desert Club Resort renovation for Holiday Inn Club Vacations. The latest work should wrap up by mid-August and the Orlando based staff can come home for a much-earned rest in their own beds. Tower 5 at The Grandview at Las Vegas is now complete and our construction partner, Penta Building Group, did another fantastic job.

    June 29th – 10:00PM

    I’m at Tao Restaurant in Las Vegas. My son, who is a professional poker player, is playing in the World Series of Poker events for the 5th consecutive year. Although his 25th birthday is on July 1st, we decided to celebrate a couple days early with a few of our very close West Coast friends.

    June 30th – 5:38AM

    I’m eating breakfast with my son who decided we needed to see the sun come up before we went to sleep. Good thing he only turns 25 once.

    July 1st – 11:00AM
    I’m in a meeting on an exciting new project and will discuss that more in an upcoming blog.

    July 1st – 2:20PM
    I decided to drive to San Diego in lieu of flying. That won’t happen again. I’m meeting with a client based in San Diego who has some new and renovation projects in Florida and Nevada.

    July 4th – 11:40AM
    I’m in flight to Chicago and I notice a Marine in full dress. I figured it was appropriate attire for Independence Day. As it turns out, he is escorting a fallen Marine back home to his final resting place. It is a sad but honorable duty and one that all of us on board did not take for granted. We showed our respect as he exited the plane and it reminded all of us of the price of our freedom. Watch the movie Taking Chance if you want to learn more about the soldiers who volunteer to be escorts.

    July 8th – 8:32AM

    I’m back at my desk in Orlando finding it hard to believe that half the year is gone. Although the economy appears to be improving, we remain cautious and conservative. Our memories of the past 4 (challenging) years are still fresh and though we are busy, we are not busy enough and future work remains high on the priority list.

    Every month we build ourselves out of a job. The WPC team is challenged by the difficulties of a busy labor force, yet faces those challenges with the determination necessary to maintain our reputation. We have some exciting new projects on the horizon – with new clients that have yet to experience the WPC Way and with existing clients whose expectations are high, just as they should be.

    I could not be more proud of how hard everyone is working. The younger generation of assistant project managers and project managers like Curtis Husselman and Kevin Ivey, whose fathers worked for WPC, as well as newly appointed project manager, Ben Abernethy, are stepping up. John Russo and Sarah Makie of our pre-construction and estimating department are also rising stars. They have shown they deserve their titles and responsibilities. We’ve hired some great new talent both in the office and the field that will have opportunities to grow and learn, and our hope is this next generation of leaders will one day be running this company. The seasoned staffers are also working harder than ever and showing the newbies the ropes and helping them mesh with our culture.

    Watching my son turn 25, seeing the next generation mature, and realizing that time waits for no one can be a sobering experience. It certainly helps when you know the people around you are dedicated to providing an experience that is unique in our industry, as well as having fun along the way.


  8. It’s Good To Be Small-scaled

    June 6, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    The title of this blog certainly doesn’t apply to my height. At 6′-2,” I’m not exactly the shortest guy in the room. Unless I’m standing next to my brother or my son, who are both 2″ taller than I. The title actually refers to the style of our company – the small-scale approach in how we do our business and treat our people and clients. There’s something about the service and attitude you receive from a small business that elevates their level of appreciation, wouldn’t you agree?

    I suppose by most standards, a company that captures $100 million per year in revenue would not be considered small. Maybe that’s medium-sized, but let’s not get caught up in the numbers. This discussion is based around our management style, how we solve problems, and our ability to change and improve more fluidly than the big boys, ultimately increasing our ability in building long-term relationships.

    One of the things I like most about smaller companies is the management accessibility. The owners, leaders, and other decision makers are available and present. In many cases, you’re dealing with the founder or partner when conducting business with a small firm.

    As President and Managing Member of WPC, I’m typically the one who introduces the company and tells our story to potential clients and customers. Having been here for 35 years, I have a varied perspective of our capabilities I am able to communicate more genuinely about who we are and what we do.

    With our robustly staffed competitors, the initial introduction to their company usually comes from someone hired to make their pitch; they have little “real” exposure to the true culture of the company and may have minimal industry experience. And, sadly, you will rarely see that person again – if ever. You may never meet the actual owner or partners of the company, who may live in another state or in some cases, another country.

    On the contrary, all of the WPC partners work inside the walls of our Maitland office, and within just a few short steps of each other. We participate daily to ensure our clients are satisfied with our product and service. That small company management style is what makes us different and better, regardless of the size of our projects.

    WPC Partner, and Vice President of Estimating, Chuck Reynolds, is in charge of pricing our projects. He is committed to making sure that our prices include everything that is needed to build our projects and not just what is needed to get the contract. His 19-year tenure, as well as his ownership, adds to his commitment to our clients, giving them a familiar face that they know and trust.

    Kevin Corrado, WPC’s Chief Operating Officer and partner, is responsible for running the overall operations and making sure the WPC team provides an outstanding experience and lives up to our reputation. Having also been here for 19 years, Kevin knows how each person in our team ticks and what it takes to be successful. His ownership means he will be able to make decisions without having to go through the layers of bureaucracy that typically exist in conglomerate companies.

    Finally and certainly not least, WPC’s founder and CEO, Tracy Forrest, provides the wisdom and leadership that has put WPC on the map for almost 4 decades. His presence is felt throughout the company and he reminds us regularly what it was like to struggle as an even smaller company and lives by the creed that the customer is always right.

    As for the problem solving of a small-scale business, it’s all hands on deck. Regardless of the position at WPC, if an issue needs attention, everyone jumps in to help reach a solution, quickly and efficiently. If a client wants any of WPC’s owners to be a part of that solution, we are able to step up and meet that need. Some of the larger general contractors most likely would have to fly someone in from their corporate office. That person probably knows little about the project and has had little to do with the client relationship.

    Being able to change and be fluid in difficult economic times is also an advantage in a small company mentality. As our client’s needs change, our ability to change with them is seamless. Without multiple departments and divisions spread over multiple states, we’re not limited to building projects of a certain size or product type. If a developer who has blessed us with a $10 million dollar project asks us to do a $100,000 project, we’re happy to oblige. Our experience is not based on what another satellite company has done in other part of the country. We learn quickly from our success, as well as our mistakes, and communicate that knowledge efficiently.

    This doesn’t mean we won’t travel. Quite the opposite, currently there are WPC team members in many different states. We are on these projects because our clients enjoy the experience they have received from WPC in a local arena and want that capability elsewhere.

    Most importantly are the relationships that we build with our clients. WPC’s leadership, including the partners, directors and senior managers play an intimate part in every project we complete. Our clients know they can reach out to us at anytime and will have contact with someone who cares about their interests and will do whatever it takes to exceed their expectations. We’re not perfect; no company is. Our goal, however, is to earn the next project. We feel that by treating every client with a little something extra is what makes us different and will help us reach that goal.

    By following this approach, we’ve been able to keep our small–scale feel, while being one of Central Florida’s biggest contractors. We are proving that little things have big impact.


  9. Blogging from the Beach

    April 11, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    I suppose the title of this month’s blog might conjure up images of me sitting on the sand with my computer, drinking Mai Tai’s. Although that would be fun, I’m actually sitting in the lobby of the Westin Diplomat Hotel in a suit taking a break from attending ARDA World 2013 in Miami Beach, FL. Technically, I’m in Hollywood, FL, but it sounds so much more chic to say Miami Beach. This is the American Resort and Development Association’s (ARDA) annual conference and one I truly enjoy. It gives me an opportunity to see old friends and clients, and meet new ones. If the activity in the main lobby area is any indication of how the timeshare industry is doing, then I’m very optimistic.

    WPC has been involved in the timeshare and resort industry since 1981, and I’ve been attending ARDA’s conferences since the early 90s If my memory serves me correctly, Tracy and I attended our first ARDA conference just a bit south of here at the Fontainebleau hotel. In the past 30+ years, WPC has constructed over 12,000 timeshare units equating to 624,000 vacation weeks. I think that makes us (unofficially, of course) the largest timeshare builder in the world. We are very fortunate to have worked for so many great clients, many of whom we are building projects for today. In addition, our renovations division has remodeled over 2,100 units. It’s no surprise that the hospitality market is one in which we stay well connected.

    In just a few short days I’ll be leaving Miami (I mean, Hollywood) and heading to Austin, TX – one of my favorite cities for food and music. There, I will be attending the Interface Student Housing Conference. WPC has made quite an impact on the student housing market over the past few years and currently have off-campus projects under construction near UCF, in Orlando, FL as well as near FSU, in Tallahassee, FL. It has been our privilege to work with these two new clients and look forward to being a part of their team for many years to come.

    As I head back into my next session here at ARDA, I realize how lucky I am to be able to travel the country telling the story of a truly solid construction company. I’m able to do that because of the many dedicated men and women that help keep our reputation strong and who work hard everyday to exceed our client’s expectations.

    The tide is coming in and my towel is getting wet, so I better dust the sand off my computer and put some lotion on this sunburn.


  10. Wine…A Learning State of Mind

    March 4, 2013 by Jeff Forrest

    A special thank you to last month’s ghostwriter, Bethany, who will remain anonymous. I truly appreciate her stepping in for me while I was exercising my brain during the month of February. At age 49, I can finally say I graduated from college…kind of.

    A few weeks back I completed a program called Owner/President Management, or OPM. This is an executive education course where I spend 3 weeks a year, for 3 years, in a dorm on-campus at Harvard Business School reading case studies, talking about successful (and not so successful) companies, and going to classes on leadership, control, finance, marketing, negotiation, strategy, entrepreneurship, sales/operations and wine. The wine education usually happened around 8 pm when I got together with my study group for a few hours, opened a bottle of wine and talked about the case studies, our lives and received amazing advice and feedback from truly smart people on how to make WPC better. The relationships I built with my 160 classmates were half the value of being there. They are all owners and/or presidents of their companies from all over the world including China, India, Brazil, Thailand, Australia, Jordan, Nigeria, the Philippines, Canada, Bulgaria, Egypt, and Denmark. I could go on and on. Our professors are some of the smartest and brightest people around and challenged us to participate in an environment that encouraged us to learn and think beyond our comfort zone. Regardless of the subject matter, I found value in the process, gained key insights into our company, and myself, and hopefully will translate that into a strategy to implement now that I am home. In short, I realized that life is a constant learning process and I gained the tools to raise my intelligence level a few notches. It is a life changing experience to say the least.

    If I were asked to say two things about what I learned while being at Harvard, it would be a self-awareness of both my strengths and, more importantly, my weaknesses. The second would be how proud I am of the culture that exists at WPC. During the many conversations, both in and out of the classroom, it became clear to me that WPC’s distinctive competitive advantage is it’s people and their passion for providing an experience that is unique to our industry. Doing the right thing, taking care of our customers and vendors, providing exceptional customer service, having fun (check out WPC’s Instagram account to see some of that @WPCCo) and protecting our reputation are a few of the cornerstones of that culture. By living up to these values, we live up to our motto of Building Beyond the BlueprintTM. Maintaining and improving this culture will always be a critical part of preserving our advantage.

    Although I graduated and was greeted by warmer weather when I came home, the learning process will never end and my hope is that it will translate into actions that will benefit all of us by improving our company and ensuring our sustainability. Tracy is an Harvard OPM graduate as well and we see everyday the threads he has sewn into the fabric of our company to get us where we are today.

    A special thank you to all of the WPC staff for letting me sneak away from work these past 3 years and accomplish a little something that will make my mom proud…kind of.