Triangle Construction featured in Upstate Business Journal
Triangle was recently featured as the cover story in the Upstate Business Journal, with an article detailing our history and how we have sustained as a company for over seven decades in Greenville. You can read the article below:
Ingenuity. Hard work. Dedication. Those words are the guiding principles that have kept Greenville’s Triangle Construction thriving for the past 70 years, according to board chairman Tracy Pellett.
Pellett’s father, John Pellett Jr., started the company in 1947 alongside his college friends Heyward Morgan and Nelson Tracy. After opening a small office in downtown Greenville, the trio secured their first contract and built a 50,000-square-foot warehouse for Poe Hardware and Supply along Perry Avenue.
“They really struggled to complete some of their first projects, because there was a shortage of construction materials after World War II,” Tracy Pellett said. “Luckily, they were able to make do with what they could find at the time.”
Despite some early successes, Morgan and Tracy left Triangle after a few years to pursue other interests. Pellett then moved the company to a single-story building off Laurens Road, which was then unpaved and surrounded by farms. “I don’t think there was a single car dealership around us back then,” Pellett said.
The company has since grown from a small local business into a thriving regional practice known for constructing some of the most popular spaces in Greenville, along with high-profile projects in Georgia, North Carolina, Alabama, and Tennessee.
Pellett said Triangle’s portfolio is filled with complex and schedule-driven projects that span various sectors, including industrial plants, higher education facilities, religious facilities, offices, hospitals, restaurants, apartment buildings, and shopping centers.
Locally, the company is known for building the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville County Courthouse, and S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.
Other projects include the construction of Falls Park in 2005 and the $22 million expansion of the Peace Center in 2013. The company also recently built a 9.8-acre campus along West Washington Street that houses Greenville Water operations, a parking garage, office space, and a 1-acre park with an amphitheater and water features.
Over the years, Triangle’s projects have garnered local and national acclaim.
In June, for instance, the company was named the winner of the 2017 S.C. Historic Preservation Award for transforming the Palmetto Compress, a former cotton warehouse in downtown Columbia, into an apartment complex and shopping center.
“I think our biggest advantage is our dedication and reliability as a builder,” Pellett said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an apartment complex or school; we’re able to do things right the first time around because our people have years of experience under their belt.”
In fact, most of the company’s 60 employees have more than 25 years of experience in the industry, according to Pellett. That includes Triangle’s senior project managers and engineers, whose years with Triangle span at least six decades.
President Tom Baer, for instance, started working for Triangle nearly 32 years ago as a field engineer and gradually rose in the company’s leadership.
While he has to oversee more paperwork in his current position, Baer remains one of the company’s leading project managers. For instance, he has overseen construction of the Cascades at Verdae, S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities, and more.
“Most of our managers can run projects,” Baer said. “It’s our way of cutting through the red tape of large contractors and providing clients a single point of contact capable of ensuring cost-effective construction.”
Baer said the company’s streamlined approach is one of the primary reasons for its large amount of repeat business from major customers, including Furman University and Greenville Health System. It has also built more than 70 schools in Greenville, Anderson, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg counties. Triangle most recently finished constructing a $7.5 million building for Greer Middle Charter High School.
However, Baer and Pellett maintain that the company has survived because of its decentralized organization. In 1988, John Pellett Jr. and other board members voted to allow Triangle’s employees to buy stock in the company.
Today, roughly half of the company’s employees are shareholders, including every job superintendent out in the field, according to Baer. “It was a brilliant idea, because it’s encouraged employees to save money on projects and stick around,” he said. “We actually have a few employees who have been around for more than 40 years.”
Simpsonville resident Jimmy Skelton, for instance, joined the company in 1977 and has since become the superintendent overseeing the renovation of Apalache Mill, a former textile mill in Greer that produced cotton until 2007. And Greenville’s Dot McConnell has worked for Triangle as an administrative assistant since 1961, maintaining the daily payroll and helping company executives.
But the job hasn’t come without challenges, according to Baer.
When the recession hit in 2007, Triangle stopped offering masonry, concrete, and various other in-house services. That decision eventually forced the company to downsize and lay off nearly 90 employees. “It sounds like a negative thing,” Baer said. “But we really had to conform to the way the industry was changing.”
“Specialty contractors were offering the same services at cheaper prices, because they weren’t paying people hospitalization. But we were pricing our in-house capabilities out of the market,” he added. “We honestly couldn’t look developers in the eye and tell them we were offering them the best value for their dollars.”
As for the future, Triangle is focusing on numerous high-profile projects, including the S.C. Children’s Theatre. The $12 million campus is expected to be complete in 2019 near the Greenville Drive stadium. It will feature a 300-seat theater and separate second stage space, with classrooms, offices, and event space available to rent.
Baer and Pellett are also thinking about a succession plan for the company as they near retirement. Luckily, the duo has stocked Triangle’s management team with a crop of young professionals that are ready to make their mark.
“Our future looks bright,” Baer said. “We’ve put some younger guys in leadership roles, and they’re already looking to make money, so I can’t wait to see what they do with this company when the time comes.”
For more information, visit triangleconstruction.com.