YORK – Spain Commercial, a general contractor that handles commercial construction and renovations in York County, has been in operation for more than 30 years. Founder and president Steve Spain is just as enthusiastic about it today as he was when he started the business out of his home.
His business, which is well-known on the Peninsula and throughout Hampton Roads and Central Virginia, continues to grow. The company recently acquired the old Coca-Cola distribution center on Seaford Road and is renovating it. Eventually, it will house the company’s cabinet division, flooring division, and feature a new showroom.
In a recent interview with Peninsula Chronicle, Spain discussed the growth of his business from humble beginnings, where it’s headed, his proudest moments, and what it’s like working with family members.
Peninsula Chronicle: How did you get into the construction business?
Steve Spain: I initially got into construction because I worked with my brother one weekend hanging drywall and made more money that one weekend than I did working 80 hours at the coal facility I was working at. A light bulb went off that I could make more money for my family and provide a better life for them in construction. I worked under another contractor for several years before I started my own business. I started my business out of the back of my small home in Hampton with just me and an old 1972 Ford pickup truck. What started off as a way to make more money for my family turned into my passion and my purpose.
PC: Do you have a favorite type of project to tackle?
SS: I love health-care projects. Health-care technology is always evolving, and I love a challenge. I think that’s why I tend to gravitate toward healthcare projects. (Biplane, MRI, CT buildouts).
PC: What has been a favorite project that you’ve completed?
SS: I really love working on community projects that I know after we build them, it’s going to have a positive impact. We just completed a space for United Way in Yorktown, and we are currently working on an expansion project for the Boys & Girls Club in Hampton. I know these projects will have a significant impact on the lives of so many children and families long after we leave.
PC: What is your proudest professional moment?
SS: I am more proud of my people. We went through covid with no layoffs, and it was our biggest year ever. I give thanks to God and to a dedicated team. I wouldn’t have been able to do that without such a loyal and dedicated crew. Seeing my vision come to life and grow over these years has been incredible. Seeing my dreams come true, but also seeing the dreams of my team members’ dreams come true, that’s very important to me.
PC: Is there one project you’d like to do over because it didn’t turn out the way you liked?
SS: The first Spain office building I did from the ground up. Obviously, your taste and design aesthetics change over time. The current office building is one that I am really proud of.
PC: Do you remember your first project?
SS: My first project was hanging drywall in residential homes. My first serious health-care project was a corridor renovation at Riverside.
PC: Where do you (individually and collectively as a business) hope to be in 10 years?
SS: I am continually looking to grow personally and in my business. These last 30 years, I’ve grown slow and steady trying to remain focused on hiring quality people who do quality work and fit with our company culture. Quality, honesty, and integrity are very important to me in my business. Our tag line is “Our People Make the Difference” for a reason. I believe this method has been an integral part of our success. We are heavily involved in government health care and that is something our company wants to continually be involved in even more in the next decade.
PC: What are the current challenges your business faces?
SS: Material costs are a big issue right now, as I know it is for everyone. Also, because we are very picky on how we hire and we have a lot of work, manpower can be an issue.
PC: I know your two daughters work for you. Was that always the plan or did it just turn out that way?
SS: That was never the plan. I wanted it to be their choice and I let them figure it out.
PC: Are there any other family members working with you or for you?
SS: My son-in-law, Justin, does an amazing job as operations management and chaplain. He started off working in the field and has just moved into this position over the last year and is doing incredible.
PC: What are the challenges and rewards of it being a family affair?
SS: I am not a micromanager with any of my employees and that includes my daughters. They know what they need to do, and they do it exceptionally well.
My oldest daughter, Ashley, handles my property management, proposals, client relations. My youngest daughter, Kayleigh, handles all my marketing, PR, social media, website development. I think the key that makes the dynamic work is that we are not in each other’s way. We have the same vision for Spain Commercial Inc. We meet to go over what needs to be done and I trust that they will handle it. We are very blessed to have a very self-motivated team that knows what they need to do, and they do it well.
PC: I understand you have plans to celebrate your 30th year in business (which occurred at the end of last year). Can you reveal the specifics of any events?
SS: We are throwing a big get-together at our latest building (the former Coke plant). We usually do two parties a year (summer and Christmas) to honor our employees. We get it catered, give out bonuses, and play games. This one will be special because my daughters are planning a throwback party honoring 30 years in business and really celebrating our crew for a successful year already. The party will have old pictures, old memorabilia when we first started. Four of my crew members have been here with me from almost the beginning (26 plus years).
PC: If you weren’t in construction, what would you be doing?
SS: I would be in real estate development. I love finding properties, seeing the need in certain areas, and developing accordingly. I love designing buildings and revitalizing older buildings as well.