Everyone’s always asking about our Seminole/Stiles LLC construction partnership. Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc. got into the construction business and approached Stiles to enter a joint venture (JV) to enhance our profile and further diversify our economic base. This JV allowed us to create an original portfolio – a collection of our best and most recent work that highlights our experience. It’s a visual archive of accomplishments that demonstrates our ability and potential as a construction firm. By successfully completing jobs on the reservations we show our capacity to generate lucrative work off the reservation.
So far we have completed the Seminole Classic renovation and are in the process of completing several major reservation projects including the Brighton Public Safety Building, the new Hollywood Recreation Center and the Fort Pierce Hope Community Center. All are scheduled for December 2014 completion. We also are developing townhouses for Brighton and Hollywood that should be completed after the New Year. Seminole/Stiles is also currently working on the Gunther VW dealership in Coconut Creek. This JV has been in place for three years and in that time frame we have built up an impressive portfolio. No dream or vision happens overnight.
It’s been a lengthy process but we believed in this JV and the hard work is starting to pay off. Though it’s been frustrating at times, we never wavered in our vision and kept pushing forward. The results speak volumes. Though this enterprise is under the Board’s umbrella, it’s an enterprise that will benefit the Council by allowing us to complete Tribal building projects in a more efficient and timely manner. Think about how many Tribal projects you’ve heard about, then a groundbreaking happens, then suddenly someone says, “Oh, we need to change the design,” then the project is sent back to the architect, which adds another three months. The project has to go back through all the in-house processes. That’s another six months. At that point, what was once a high priority for one administration is dropped by the next administration. All that time and money invested is wasted.
Now we are able to take advantage of all the services this JV has to offer, all housed in one place, architects and any construction service. This allows us to start building faster and saves the Tribe time and money by economizing the true cost of the project. Before, we’d allocate $50 million for a construction project when we went through our budget planning. At the end of the year, we would end up spending only $5 million. Why? We wasted a lot of time and energy going through the in-house process before this JV came along. Now that the JV is in operation, look at all the many projects that are off the ground and scheduled for completion more quickly than in the past. These projects are necessary to serve our Tribal communities. Look at how fast the Brighton Public Safety complex is going up. We had originally announced that completion would be in December, but we are a month ahead of schedule. And being ahead of schedule means we will save money.
This is just the beginning. In a perfect world, you and I would see everything happen overnight just by snapping our fingers. That is not how the world works. We’ve had to be patient and remain committed to our vision and committed to the whole process. I’m excited that things are falling into place. The next step was to establish Seminole, Inc. as the top minority construction partner. Again, we get there by establishing a successful portfolio. When people ask, “What have you built,” we open our portfolio and show them the impressive projects we’ve created.
We often hear concern about growth of the Construction Department and why the focus remains on construction projects on the reservations. The reason is very basic. We are using the on-reservation projects as our resume for jobs that will be bid for off the reservation. Like any other applicant in the world of employment, the strength of our resume allows us more opportunities.
Again, when people ask, “What have you built,” we will open up the portfolio and show them the impressive projects we have been involved with.
Tony Sanchez Jr. is President of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, Inc.