Lessons Learned from Decades of Commercial Construction Experience in Nashville

J.E. Crain & Son General Contractors sign

The Nashville skyline has changed dramatically in recent years as the city has grown both commercially and residentially. When Crain Construction began as a family-owned business back in 1933, the main city post office (now home to The Frist Center) was just being completed on Broadway. Nearly 90 years later, our team at Crain Construction is honored to have played a role in helping build Nashville from the ground up, and we’re proud of our legacy in the city.

Over the years, we’ve learned some valuable lessons when it comes to navigating the unique complexities of our city and managing a commercial construction project in Nashville.  As our city continues to grow, we believe it’s more important than ever to approach projects in a way that echoes the values of the developer and the larger Nashville community. Nashvillians are known for being hospitable, courteous, and caring. While the city has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, the values that our friendly, people-oriented city holds are still important to consider. 


5 Lessons Learned from Decades of Commercial Construction Experience in Nashville

As we approach our ninth decade in Nashville, here are a few important lessons we’ve learned to maximize the success of any project:  

1. Relationships Matter 

Nashville has often been described as a “big city with a small town vibe.” That’s because relationships matter to people that live here. At Crain, we’ve seen how our people-first approach makes a tremendous difference in the overall success of a project. We believe that relationships make a difference from the top-down (from the primary decision-maker to the lowest person on the org. chart) and side-to-side (including all the key stakeholders in a project.) 

Prioritizing relationships makes a difference in the culture we’ve created at Crain — from our employee tenure rate to the relationships we’ve developed with subcontractors. It also makes a difference for our clients. Our relationship with city officials is often a key component for pulling the proper permits and navigating construction challenges across the city. We believe that putting people first is one of the primary reasons that 85% of our projects are with repeat customers. 

2. Navigating New Growth Requires Creativity, Communication, and Collaboration

Nashville’s new construction growth has also created new challenges for our city. Whether we’re navigating tight job sites or finding ways to overcome rising construction costs, we’ve experienced power in working together to solve complex problems. We believe in collaborating with every part of our team throughout the entirety of a project.

As our CEO Michael Rankin explained, “My favorite projects don’t stem from the most beautiful builds. My favorite projects are the ones where you’ve faced challenges and people came together to overcome them. And in the end, you wind up forging these relationships that will last forever.” 

3. The Best Construction Projects Consider the Long-Term Impact 

With rapid growth comes the temptation to only think about short-term revenue potential and quick timelines. This can cause owners and developers to make decisions they might regret a few years down the road. 

At Crain, we’ve seen how thinking long-term can help us identify value-added options that set our clients up for greater success down the road. Making sure we’re helping our clients think long-term throughout the entire construction process is key to saving time, energy, and money down the road.

4. Giving Back is One of the Best Ways to Build a Legacy 

Nashville has always been a city known for providing a helping hand to people in need. Giving back was a lesson instilled very early as a company. Today, it has become a part of our culture and is a yearlong commitment for our team. 

Over the years, we have developed an ongoing commitment to giving back to numerous organizations that support our neighbors in Middle Tennessee. The time, energy, and resources our team gives back to Nashville continues to amaze us every year. 

5. You Never Regret Doing the Right Thing

Honesty and integrity are two things that matter most in the commercial construction industry. “Doing the right thing” is a value we have instilled across our company. It makes a difference for our employees and our clients. At Crain, we work alongside our clients to make difficult decisions. That’s not always the case with other construction companies. 

As Crain VP of Operations Mike Gribble puts it, “The number one thing we try to do at Crain is just doing the right thing. It isn’t always the easiest thing to do, but it sure makes it easier to go to sleep at night, look people in the eye, and continue to work with them.” 


Let Crain Help You Build a Legacy in Nashville 

As a family-owned business, we recognize the importance of legacy. We want our work to help create a legacy that our team and clients can be proud to stand beside for generations.  We’ve been honored to work on award-winning projects and unique urban structures that have forever changed the landscape of our area. But more than that, we’re proud of the way we’ve done it. 

If you’re interested in learning more about our approach or how we can help with your next project, we’d love to talk.

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