One of Richmond’s fastest-growing local construction firms is heading to one of the city’s fastest-growing neighborhoods to set up shop.
Fortitude Commercial Contracting is preparing to move its headquarters to 3203 Lanvale Ave., which it bought last month for $1 million.
Fortitude has enjoyed an average annual growth rate of 387 percent since its founding in 2019, a rate high enough to land it near the top of BizSense’s RVA25 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the region.
Behind Fortitude is married couple Christian and Jessica Reinke, who’ve been running the company out of a rented warehouse near Staples Mill and East Parham roads in Henrico. With the pending move to Lanvale Avenue, the firm is headed just a few blocks from the forthcoming Diamond District redevelopment.
The Reinkes bought the 7,000-square-foot building from local HVAC company Woodfin, which had scooped it up last year in a $7 million deal that included another 3.5 acres nearby. The building was most recently assessed at $708,000.
Christian had worked in general contracting for over a decade prior to starting Fortitude three years ago, with stints at local players like Dominion Construction Partners and Emerald Construction before moving over to JLL where he managed construction projects for property owners.
He said once he was on the owners’ side of the industry, he got the idea that there was room in the market for a general contractor that offers help beyond just building out a space.
“There’s a lot more to a project than just the hard-cost construction. You have to figure out how much space you need, do design development and schematic drawings,” Reinke said. “There’s a whole list for a project that I’d never been exposed to.”
He reached out to a few firms, asking if they’d be interested in expanding their business model to include consulting on things like electrical work, furniture selection, cabling and audio-video components — all the other bits and pieces that go into a build.
“Everybody I spoke with said, ‘Eh, we’re not really interested, I don’t think that would work,’” Reinke said. “And I told them, ‘Well, I think it will.’”
He got his general contractor license and launched Fortitude with the idea of offering a more holistic approach to construction.
“Instead of having six or seven people involved, (clients) have one point of contact. It’s proven very effective,” Reinke said. “I’m not saying we do design services per se, but we can put them into contact with architects who do. We’re simply offering a solution to a tenant who has no idea where to go or what to do next.”
Fortitude’s work includes an office renovation for tobacco firm Swedish Match in the James Center downtown and the ongoing Ironwood Automotive relocation on North Hamilton Street.
“We do a lot of tenant upfits. It’s sort of our sweet spot and I love that kind of stuff,” Reinke said. “But we’re trying to get into the out-of-the-ground (construction) market.”
Fortitude’s new home on Lanvale Avenue may help with that. In addition to office space, it also has some warehousing space for signs and other extra materials.
Reinke said he and his staff of 10 hope to be moved in during the first quarter of 2023.