Construction Q&A with Matt West of West Construction Company
As part of our ongoing newsletter series, today we are talking with Matt West of West Construction Company, which is based in Savannah, Georgia. Matt was born and raised in Moultrie, Georgia. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama and Leadership Georgia. He is also active in the Savannah community, supporting local charities such as Union Mission, the YMCA, and is a member of Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. He also serves on the State of Georgia Board of Directors for the Associated General Contractors.
Smitty: Matt, thanks for talking with us today. Tell us how you got started in the construction business.
Matt: I grew up on our family farm in Moultrie and have always enjoyed the gratification that comes with a day’s work. The construction business is very similar. Each day, you can see the tangible results of your labor and working to improve your community. Shortly after college, I spent a few years working with a real estate developer in Birmingham, AL and was immediately bitten by the construction bug after spending some time out on some of our project sites.
Smitty: How did WCC get started?
Matt: After 7 great years working at a local Savannah-based construction company, I decided to leave. I started West Construction Company shortly after, in 2013, at the advice of several local business leaders.
Smitty: What type of projects does WCC focus on?
Matt:We mainly build commercial, institutional, medical, and industrial buildings. For example, office buildings, schools, medical offices, churches, manufacturing, and warehousing facilities. We try to keep a diverse mix of project types and Savannah’s economy helps that diversity.
Smitty: What are some of your favorite WCC projects?
Matt: They’re all different and have unique challenges. It seems like the more difficult they are, the more you enjoy them. We are awfully proud of Ghost Coast Distillery. It is the largest distillery in the State of Georgia and was the first (legal) distillery in Savannah since prohibition. We had a crash-course in distillation during the project. The Tybee Island Marine Science Center was another unique project, and it’s incredibly rewarding knowing how much it will help educate the children of Coastal Georgia about the environmental stewardship of our coast. The Marine Science Center will open this Fall, and we know it will be a big hit.
Smitty: When the inevitable dispute arises, do you prefer arbitration or litigation?
Matt: First, we try to avoid disputes all together by maintaining a strong relationship with our clients and architects. If there is an issue, we’ll discuss it with the project team, and come to a resolution. But, if we cannot resolve the issue for whatever reason, I prefer arbitration. With the technical construction issues that form the foundation of most any construction disputes, it is easier to explain those issues to an experienced arbitrator, rather than a jury who likely knows nothing about construction. Our industry is a little unique in that regard. There is such a steep learning curve in the construction business, and it doesn’t seem practical to me to have to first educate the people who will then render a verdict in a dispute that they might not understand. I try to put an arbitration clause in all our contracts.
Smitty: Matt, thanks for your time. One last important question. Who is your favorite college football team?
Matt: I’m behind enemy lines here in Savannah….Alabama.
ABOUT CHRISTOPHER “SMITTY” SMITH