Choate Construction Company August 09 www. bus- ex. com 107 Builtto Diversity, esprit de corps and disciplined, aggressive bidding are the keys to success for Choate Construction, Millard Choate tells Ruari McCallion " I grew up in the industry. I worked through college in Nashville, Tennessee, and then worked in construction in Kentucky," he says. " After 11 years managing another firm, I set up on my own in 1989. We now have five offices in the Southeast and around 450 employees." Headquartered in Atlanta, Choate has been involved with a number of high- profile projects in quite a variety of industries. It was selected for construction work at zMax Drag Strip at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. The track's most prominent feature is a five- story, 34,000- square- foot scoring tower building, which houses luxury suites, press boxes, grandstands and spectators' amenity facilities. Also in the auto sports area, Choate built the Windshear Inc. wind tunnel at Concord. It has a rolling road, can create winds of up to 180 miles per hour, and is used for testing NASCAR stock cars and for other forms of auto racing. It's the first of its kind in North America and only the third in the world. Choate has also built facilities for Hendrick Motorsports, Penske, Roush and, in fact, most NASCAR teams. Today's auto racing facilities are a long way from the old- time " grease monkey" image; they operate at levels approaching cleanroom standards. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Choate is involved in the mixed- use Metropolitan at Midtown survive W hen times get tough, some companies- especially in the construction business- will bid just about any number, even if it means losing money, in a desperate attempt to keep revenues coming in. That is not Choate Construction's way. " We have a strong discipline on bidding," says Millard Choate, the company's founder and CEO. " We have said for years that some of our best projects are ones we didn't get. There is nothing an experienced contractor can do if a less experienced competitor makes mistakes on bidding for a job and is awarded it. We don't try to compete with people who will make mistakes- we have to discipline ourselves." The company has plenty of experience on which to base its strategy: it was founded by Millard Choate in his basement, after he had been in the construction business for decades.