Building Value By Association

Art Rectenwald is president of Rectenwald Bros. Construction, Inc., Pittsburgh, and a board member of the Retail Contractors Association, art@rectenwald.com .

When the Retail Contractors Association (RCA) was formed some 17 years ago, it was with the idea that contractors-and those in retail, specifically - would benefit both from the relationship-building activities and the networking functions that a professional association of peers could offer, and also from a unified commitment to following standards of professional conduct. Chain Store Agesenior editor Katherine Field talked with Art Rectenwald, president of Rectenwald Bros. Construction, Inc., and a member of the RCA board of directors since 2004, about the RCA and about the unique challenges presented by retail construction.

Chain Store Age:Why is it advantageous for a retail chain to hire a contractor who is a member of the Retail Contractors Association (RCA)?

Art Rectenwald: When a retailer considers hiring an RCA contractor, the retailer can be assured that the contractor has passed a rigorous approval process by the RCA board of directors, a process that has been honed over the RCA’s 17-year existence.

CSA:What does the approval process consist of?

Rectenwald: The RCA confirms that the contractor has successfully performed in the retail industry for a minimum of five years and that the contractor has provided five credible and confirmed recommendations from retailers and architects. In addition, the retailer can be assured that the RCA contractor is registered and licensed in every state in which they work, and that the contractor is financially stable, as confirmed by review of AIA qualification statements and proof of the contractor’s ability to provide performance and payment bonds from a carrier with a rating of A or better.

But, the board doesn’t stop there. All RCA contractors must re-qualify every year; in this process, the board re-verifies licensing, registration, bonding requirements and AIA qualification statement review.

Retailers are encouraged to utilize the search engine on the RCA Web site that can quickly sort which contractors are licensed and registered in each state.

CSA:What is it about retail construction that requires a certain level of expertise?

Rectenwald: Retail construction has unique challenges that experienced RCA contractors are accustomed to handling. Retail construction involves complex interactions with many parties, including landlords, building officials, architects, engineers and the retailer’s construction, design and operations personnel.

The general contractor is often the hub of these many interactions and processes, which in retail come fast and furious; experienced RCA contractors are well-equipped, and regularly handle these issues successfully.

RCA contractors understand the retailer’s challenges when embarking on prototype projects and large scale rollouts, and the specific design, scheduling and budgeting issues that go with them.

CSA:We all talk about the burgeoning green movement. How have the RCA and its members been affected by it?

Rectenwald: The green movement is certainly on the move. Many of our contractors have been involved in LEED- certified projects, and the list is growing. I believe this issue will increase in importance as more and more retailers choose to build green. This is a perfect example of the type of industry issue that the RCA will take head on and “LEED” the way.

CSA:What is the advantage to a contractor to join RCA?

Rectenwald: The RCA is an invaluable source for networking and education. RCA has many active programs available to its members including:

Acomprehensive safety program that covers all federal requirements. This is provided at no charge;

Aquality-assurance program that facilitates customer feedback and fosters improved performance and communication;

Project management and superintendent training courses specifically designed for retail construction; and

The RCA communicates current industry issues as well as RCA activities through monthly e-bulletins, quarterly newsletters, annual meetings and its Web site—allowing the membership to stay on top of what matters in retail construction.

For more information on the Retail Contractors Association, visit www. retailcontractors.org.