Excerpt from Total Food Service

Randy Shelly has worked at Shawmut Design and Construction for the past fourteen years and now serves as Vice President of Shawmut’s Hospitality Group. Randy and his team have spearheaded projects like renovations of Thomas Keller’s Per Se and Eric Ripert’s Le Bernardin in addition to working on new Shake Shack locations from Virginia all the way up to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. We spoke to Randy to get his thoughts on his career in construction, how Shawmut has evolved in his time there and the challenges of building and renovating restaurants.

How did you get into the construction business?

I’ve been in construction all my life, since I was sixteen years old. I went to college at Bowling Green State University in a construction management program. I’ve only had two jobs since I graduated from college, one for seventeen years and now I have been with Shawmut for fourteen years. Hopefully I’ll spend my whole career here.

Who are Shawmut’s target clients and how has the company expanded over the years?

We work nationwide with some of the larger chains like Del Frisco’s, Cheesecake Factory and Benihana. However in large part we do high-end restaurants in New York and Los Angeles. The hospitality business also includes hotels and sports venues.

The company has expanded geographically as we now have offices in Miami, Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Overall we have stayed true to our core business strategy which is to work in places where we can add value.

What are some of the unique challenges of building a restaurant space?

The mechanical infrastructure, things like grease exhaust, grease traps and natural gas capacity is the biggest thing. A lot of buildings don’t have these things, especially in New York City. If a space is not prepared for a restaurant it can be a great expense to outfit the space.

Additionally we have the challenge of working over finished retail space or finished office space. These are sensitive spaces so we have to be careful with what we are building to make sure nothing leaks into the space below.

What would you say is different about Shawmut’s approach to projects?

We are really trying to differentiate ourselves from competition through the experience we offer. We identify problems before they exist, take preventative measures and communicate with our clients so they know what is going on. For example we have our own waterproofing standards and other requirements that guarantee these spaces won’t have issues down the road. We look out for the client beyond the contractual scope of our job.

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