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VOL. 118 | NO. 145 | Wednesday, August 11, 2004

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By Andy Meek

Memphis Builder Finds Success in Teamwork


The Daily News

For Chris Woods, owner of the Memphis construction company that bears his name, fostering teamwork has been the key to his companys success since its inception in 1975.

And it also helps that Woods, 55, enjoys every minute of the job he has been involved with since he was 19 years old.

Im probably crazy, but I enjoy every bit of this business, he said. I enjoy the thrill of getting the job and the thrill of building a job. Theres really a sense of accomplishment in this business that I dont think you can get in any other business.

Building relationships. He said his companys emphasis on teamwork has been the most important part of his work, adding that it has helped his employees build relationships among themselves, as well as with the owners and the architects on various projects. It also has helped the company develop projects that meet owners needs and work within their budgets, he said.

Thats been the biggest factor that I think has contributed to our growth that we care about pleasing our owners, Woods said.

Susan Payne, an assistant to Memphis developers David Goodwin Sr. and son David Goodwin Jr., said Woods started out selling real estate with David Goodwin Cos. about 40 years ago. The company is currently working on its first job with Chris Woods Construction, she said.

An active company. Since working with David Goodwin Cos., Woods has gone on to launch his own construction company, which is a licensed contractor in six states, and hes currently working on projects including his fourth store for Bumpus Harley-Davidson in Collierville and a YMCA and shopping center in Olive Branch, Miss. He said the company also is getting ready to start work on a 16,800-square-foot shopping center in Arlington.

The company, which has about 20 employees, focused on building houses when it started in 1975. By 1980, its focus had shifted to commercial construction. Woods estimated that 90 percent of the companys work is now commercial and about 10 percent is industrial.

I think we did about $17 million last year, Woods said. And in our business, you have to keep growing or youll wilt on the vine.

Woods, who enjoys staying busy, gets started early each day. A typical day for him begins between 7 a.m. and 7:30 a.m., and we hit it pretty hard all day long till about 6, five days a week, he said.

Thats not to say he doesnt enjoy time off, especially at his farm in Hardeman County. But he admittedly enjoys his work and said the construction business offers advantages no other industry does.

Of course, Ive been doing this since I was 19, and Im 55 now so if I didnt like it by now, Id be in trouble, he said.

Satisfied customers. Woods also works to ensure that his customers enjoy what he does. In letters to the company, officials from the Lamplighter School in Cordova and the Life Church at Schilling Farms in Collierville praised the companys work on various projects.

Jeff Weesner, president of Lamplighter School, wrote that he was impressed with the way Woods company handled a recent construction project at the school.

You did what you said you would do you gave us a building that we are proud to own and operate, he wrote.

And Dr. Scott Payne of Life Church at Schilling Farms wrote that he had difficulty finding the words to adequately express my appreciation for the way your company handled the construction of our new facilities.

Looking to the future. When it comes to the companys future, family is likely to have a big impact. Woods has two sons in the business his oldest son has been with him at the company for three years, and the youngest started last year.

Though working with family is somewhat of a challenge, he said, its not without its benefits.

Theres a different set of challenges in a family-owned business, he said. My older son, Ive gotten to where I rely on him for a lot more than just estimating hes helping me in running the company with the advice he gives me. My youngest son hasnt been involved long, but hes moving up the ladder.

In describing her earlier work with Woods, Payne said her mother, who also used to sell real estate with David Goodwin Cos., knew him well. Payne recently reminded her mother of him, mentioning that her company is currently working with Chris Woods Construction Co. on a project in Arlington.

She told me, Oh, I remember him, Payne recounted. Her mother referred to Woods as the boy genius, she added with a laugh.


Chris Woods Construction Co.

Owner: Chris Woods

Founded: 1975

Basics: The Memphis company focuses on commercial and industrial construction.


PROPERTY SALES 61 61 6,453
MORTGAGES 46 46 4,081
BUILDING PERMITS 113 113 15,474
BANKRUPTCIES 19 19 3,289