Alan Shintani Inc.
Building on experience
Business View Magazine interviews representatives of Alan Shintani Inc. for our focus on Best Practices in the Construction Industry in Hawaii
In 1979, husband and wife Alan and Jennifer Shintani started a small business called Home Projects Construction, initially focusing on residential repairs and remodeling as the main business. In the early years of business, the customer base was built mainly through referrals from satisfied clients. Soon, however, the business had grown with the demand for more projects, hence the company needed to expand its work force to manage this demand from a rapidly growing number of referred customers.
In 1984, Home Projects Construction’s business expanded and evolved to form present-day Alan Shintani, Inc., which has become a highly recognized and respected member of Hawaii’s construction industry. Offering a wide range of services, Alan Shintani, Inc. services a diverse pool of clientele and takes pride in providing comprehensive experience and expertise.
Company founder Alan Shintani shares the details: “Our head office is on the island of Oahu and we have about 85 employees, with 35 in the office and the rest are in the field. That number fluctuates with the work load, if we need additional workers we bring in them in from our local union halls. Basically, we’re a general contractor and we do a vast array of projects. We’re not specializing in any one thing.”
The firm’s areas of business include, but are not limited to, civil work, new residential construction, residential remodeling, commercial renovations or new structures, institutional/public works projects, marine/pier construction, and special projects such as historical building restoration, communication towers, high security facilities, and much more. With their in-depth experience and top-quality in-house capabilities as well as equally competent subcontractors and design-build team, Alan Shintani, Inc. is the solution to just about any construction project.
The Shintani, Inc. crew use a variety of technical devices and platforms to facilitate efficiency, accuracy, and time/cost savings. According to Alan Shintani, “Every few years, there is new technology we have to buy just to keep up. With all the programs that are required, we constantly have to update the computers or get new equipment. A lot of our requirements are customer-driven, particularly with our customer the federal government, we’re required to follow and keep up with the same software for purchasing.”
Some of the examples include: a comprehensive estimating program integrating pre-determined costs that can be adjusted easily, analyze subcontract bids, create multiple optional pricing/cost breakdowns, and others. Also, sophisticated and versatile software that can expedite and promote the accuracy of work, especially on larger, complex jobs. These include Primavera P6 for scheduling, On-Screen takeoff (OST) for quantity take-off/estimating, and Sage Timberline/Timberscan for cost management and accounting.
The company’s relationships with key subcontractors and suppliers are very critical and important, and often have a direct impact on the outcome of successful project completion. This is especially true during the current situation of material shortage, price escalation, and transportation/handling problems. Alan Shintani Inc. has enjoyed good business relationships for many years with a number of subcontractors and suppliers who are very responsible and fair in pricing and workmanship. As such, the company is considered a priority and/or preferred customer to them.
Robert de los Reyes, company Vice President reports on housing projects they are undertaking. He notes, “We currently have an affordable housing project at the Big Island at Waikoloa. This is about a $30m project and part of it is a building with 112-units of affordable rentals for the workforce. We also have a project at the Federal Building where we’re constructing 18 townhome-style units. That project is about 50 percent complete. We’re facing a lot of the same challenges as other contractors with rising prices. We need to hold our numbers, as well as looking for other suppliers, so we can manage the lead times and equipment. Part of it is COVID-related, and some is just unforeseen circumstances, such as last year’s winter storm in Texas, that affected the supply of wood products and other materials.”
The company’s biggest challenge has always been with the labor force; being able to get qualified construction laborers and carpenters and masons – those are the basic skilled trades that they regularly employ. “Getting good qualified employees, including project managers and safety personnel is a constant challenge,” says Shintani. “We end up having to train from within and promote from within and that’s what we’re focusing on now, rather than pulling someone in from outside.”
Upholding their core philosophy and commitment to provide quality services and product for each and every client, Alan Shintani Inc. strives to offer a unique combination of highly-respected construction services and hands-on professionalism. One of the major foundations for these services is their experienced and dedicated staff, a group of administrative and operational team players who are committed to the company’s goals and commitment. According to Shintani, “To continue with this commitment, we implement the necessary training, supervision, and resources to all our staff members, and have feedback and interactions with them for growth and improvements. We started small, but as we’ve grown, our company still maintains the “family” environment just as it was founded, where we have an “open door” policy and encourage friendship and comraderies.”
A majority of the company’s contracts are with the federal government/DOD, in which a lot of the work is obtained through qualifications (experience & past performance) and pricing. For other commercial/private sector work, the following are the main sources of marketing: company website, membership to local construction councils such as the GCA and BIA, advertising in construction magazines, referrals and testimonials from architects, engineering firms, partners, and past clients.
From the leadership’s point of view, the big picture of the future looks positive and healthy for the construction industry in general in the state of Hawaii. Though there are many challenges to overcome, particularly with the impacts of the pandemic, rise in costs/inflation in doing business, possible recession, global tension, etc., they believe that the opportunities will continue to be present, particularly in the federal/DOD sector.
In the next five years, they will strive to grow annual revenue by three to five percent each year; continue to train, develop, and promote their staff for career advancement; continue to pursue work opportunities in all sectors; diversify and explore possible new business opportunities such as real estate acquisition/development, work in neighbor islands, etc. They will also be partnering with upcoming small, disadvantaged companies for mentoring and finding set-aside procurement opportunities, and expanding their existing networking with potential clients, partners, subcontractors, designers, and others in the industry.
Shintani adds, “We’re going to continue our focus on the DOD contracts, as well as the state and private development in housing. With the shortage of affordable housing, it’s a real issue so we’re going to pursue those types of projects. We also have special commercial private projects that we do, such as historic house renovations – a lot of them are on the military bases. The HUD company in Texas on the mainland gives us many different opportunities. We’ve done a lot of work for them in the past 15 years, and we want to continue to keep that good relationship with them. We may also look more actively into land acquisition and development of properties, both commercial and possibly residential – whether it’s renovating or building from the ground up.”
Wherever the next few years take them, the Alan Shintani Inc. ownership team is dedicated and excited to grow the company through the new era of construction in Hawaii.
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AT A GLANCE
Alan Shintani Inc.
What: A leading, full-service General Contractor in the construction industry
Where: Waipahu, Hawaii