Rodda Construction Tackles Challenging Jobs in Polk County
Rodda Construction is building on its past, maintaining what it does well to ensure projects are completed honestly and ethically, on time and on budget.
That’s why it should be no surprise that one of the biggest happenings in 2023 is a return to normalcy.
“Things have stabilized from the industry perspective. It’s not like things aren’t still a little out of the normal after COVID and supply chain issues. Select things are still a little difficult to come by. But in general, things have stabilized.”Jason Rodda, President
John Rodda founded the company in 1989; when he died in 2018, his son, Jason, and brother Jodie took over leadership of it. Rodda Construction offers everything from preconstruction planning and construction management to design/build and general contracting.
The Lakeland-based company has added a few key workers in the office and in the field in the last year, Jason Rodda said. With 40 to 45 full-time employees, depending on the jobs they have at any given time, the company operates well.
“We were able to add a couple great new key staff members,” he said. “We’ve always been selective in looking to expand our staff, and whenever the right people come along, we bring them onboard, train them the right way, and make them part of our company culture and family.”
Projects in the Works
Rodda Construction continues to be busy and has several major projects in the works, including renovations and additions to existing facilities. Each project can be challenging for its own reasons, Rodda said.
“If we’re doing a project on a greenfield site – going to an empty field, knocking stuff down, we have full control and access of the entire piece of property, so it’s generally easier,” Rodda said.
“But when we’re doing additions at schools, churches or other facilities like the buildout of the sixth floor of a big building downtown, we’re trying to work and do heavy construction while the other five floors are occupied and there are professionals in those spaces. We do a lot of work on nights and weekends, and we have to keep it clean and work with building management.”
Those type jobs ebb and flow, he said. “Sometimes we have no projects like that. Right now, we have three or four projects like that. We have a lot of experience doing it, but there’s always a lot to be careful about and to be safe with.”
Two of those projects are:
- The Depot 303, a new food hall concept in Mulberry. Rodda, the main contractor, teamed with Straughn Trout Architects for the design/build part of the project, something it does a few times a year. “It’s neat to be a little more involved in the design process than we are sometimes.”
The design part has been completed, and construction should start soon. Excitement over the project is clear: Mulberry’s social media post announcing it had hundreds of likes within 24 hours.
“It’s neat to see all the people – west central Polk County, south Lakeland and even Bartow – excited about the concept coming to Mulberry. They are confident it will be a destination to bring people to downtown for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Downtown Mulberry hasn’t been thought about for food or entertainment, but along with the Gem Theater, which we did a few years ago, there is a synergy. People are in the mindset that they can go there instead of driving up South Florida Avenue. There’s a shift – people see it as a destination.”
- The Polk Museum of Art at Florida Southern College
Rodda said the project, which he called “very exciting,” is moving toward the structural elements. “It will be coming out of the ground over the next couple of months.”
Like others, it has its challenges – and then some, Rodda said. “Building a major addition to an occupied public facility that’s still open to the public poses a lot of challenges. We are working closely with the FSC and staff at the museum to make sure all the things we’re doing are safe and planned out to ensure the safety of the public and also the art. We have to ensure we’re not causing the power to go out or the AC to go down that could affect the artwork. It’s a unique element to have sensitive things inside of the building you are working on, and they have remained operational throughout – and will continue to do so. There’s a lot of planning and thought on how to stage things, where to put temporary barricades and walls,” and more.
As Rodda prepares for 2024, the company’s goals remain the same as always, he said: “To continue to always do as great of a job we can do for every owner, whether the smallest or biggest job; to give them all our full attention; and to do all of it as ethically and truthfully as we can.”
That includes two big jobs they are planning – the South Lakeland YMCA expansion and phase 2 of the Winter Haven Chain of Lakes Park.
- At the park, the company will be “knocking down the old stadium and old fields and building four artificial turf collegiate baseball fields. It’s very challenging but right in our wheelhouse. The challenges include doing the work in a very public, widely used facility.”
- At the YMCA of West Central Florida, members will continue to use the facility while Rodda works. The goal: “Getting construction done as quickly as we can without endangering anybody or interfering with whatever they have going on.”