For a business born and bred in the suburbs, the decision by Core Resources Inc., a commercial construction and development company, to pack up and move to Over-the-Rhine just over a year ago was initially something of a shock.
“We got some pushback, particularly from some of our older employees. We knew it wasn’t without some risk,” says Paul Kitzmiller, CEO. He and his brother, Dave, chief operating officer and head of financial operations, started 24 years ago in Norwood before moving to Anderson.
In March 2013, Core moved into the second and third floors of the Color Building, 1404 Vine St., a space once used by Cincinnati heavyweight Ezzard Charles to train. Kaze, the Japanese pub and sushi bar, occupies the first floor.
Core was general contractor for the building’s restoration for owner Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. The move reflects Core’s transition from being primarily a suburban industrial and office developer into being heavily involved in a number of high profile urban projects for 3CDC and others. It has developed all of 4 Entertainment Group’s upscale bars and done work for Jeff Ruby as well as the Boca Restaurant Group. It was also the builder’s representative for 3CDC’s Washington Park reconstruction and Towne Properties’ U Square in Clifton.
Paul Kitzmiller talked about the company’s growth and the move to OTR with Cincy Magazine.
What’s driving the company’s growth?
Our revenues have doubled each of the last three years. Employment, which was 48 at the end of 2013, is expected to increase to 70 over the next year. A lot of it is due to our relationship with Family Dollar, the North Carolina-based neighborhood discounter. We developed 12 new stores for them last year, and are slated to deliver 55 new stores in eight states this year.
How do you differentiate yourself in the market?
Our value add is coming in on the front end of a project and really viewing it as an owner would. We’re the quarterback driving efficiency and driving out costs.
When the industry slowed down after 2007, our employment shrank to 9 people. But we thought our value proposition was still marketable and began pursuing other opportunities like 3CDC. I’ve pursed Family Dollar for 10 years. Finally in late 2011, they were ready. Our business is difficult because the gestation of a relationship and projects takes a long time. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
How has the OTR move worked out?
It has been better than I could have imagined. We feel like a part of the city. My brother and I are Anderson boys. We grew up there, went to high school there and built our business there, but the more we looked at our involvement in the urban core the more it seemed to make sense. We were just finishing up the work on the Color Building for 3CDC and we went from being general contractor to tenant. We saw the transformation going on in Over-the-Rhine and we were comfortable with it.
Do you see more commercial offices moving to OTR?
There’s a high level of interest in OTR. The issue is the lack of available office space. These older buildings are smaller and can’t accommodate larger users. With our growth, we’ve had to expand into our employee kitchen and lounge on the third floor mezzanine. We’re OK for now, but we’re looking at our options in OTR.