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Morgan Stanley among financial firms fueling record year for Origin Construction

The influx of financial firms to South Florida is filling Covid-related office vacancies and creating plenty of work for local general contractors like Origin Construction.

The Miami-based firm, which focuses the majority of its work on interior office buildouts, is on track for a record year for revenue, co-founder and partner AJ Mueller said. It has booked over $160 million in contracts covering 1.4 million square feet year-to-date. After adding 13 employees this year, it has a workforce of 65.

Its biggest job was preparing 111,000 square feet in downtown Miami's Southeast Financial Center, the largest office building in South Florida, for a new Morgan Stanley office, which Origin Construction recently completed. The financial giant (NYSE: MS) relocated and expanded its Miami operations there from 200 S. Biscayne.

“They have very stringent systems and protocols,” Mueller said of New York-based Morgan Stanley. “It is one of the largest project teams we have worked with for an interior office building.”

Miami, Miami Beach, Wynwood, Coconut Grove and downtown West Palm Beach are the most popular locations for these financial firms, he said. That’s one of the reasons more office projects are being proposed in those areas.

“We get a call about a new name coming to town almost weekly,” Mueller said. “Some are small hedge funds but they are large in capital. We are seeing them open small family offices.”

Unlike banks and law firms that tend to invest in making their lobbies and client areas fancy, these money management firms spend on more luxurious spaces for the back of the office, Mueller said. Many of them also invest heavily in technology for the office.

“There is a continued wave coming through and no sign of it lightening up in the near future,” Mueller said.

It's not just finance companies contributing to Origin Construction's record year. The company is also building out Miami offices for Spotify in Wynwood, Subway in Blue Lagoon, Tradestation in Plantation, Boyne Capital in Coconut Grove, and Porsche at Southeast Financial Center.

The annual Best Places to Work honorees comprise South Florida’s leading employers who’ve set a high bar for employee engagement. With benefits including employer-paid health coverage, contributions to 401(k) plans, on-site gyms and other premium perks now considered standard, employers always seem to find new ways to elevate their offerings.

Honorees and the winner in this category employ between 10 and 49 workers.

Then Covid-19 arrived. The challenge became how to remotely connect teams, train newcomers and keep culture in place. With no more in-person events, they’ve pivoted to Zoom check-ins and happy hours, playful competitions and a continual flow of communications.

Realizing engagement starts at the top, the stories shared in the Best Places to Work profiles reveal C-suite executives have become more involved than ever. As they knew before the pandemic, culture and engagement flow throughout the organization. But they must be embraced by leadership.

As companies navigate this new normal, one reality will not change: being an employer people want to work for is a continuous process. The engagement, culture and teams created yesterday will help companies flourish in this new reality.

The 2021 Best Places to Work honorees were celebrated at a drive-in event at Signature Grand in Davie. The event’s corporate sponsor was Quantum Workplace, with associate sponsor Corporate Benefit Partners.

No. 5 Origin Construction

If executives with Origin Construction were to build a company from the ground up, they’d include certain key components. A friendly work environment with performance recognition and positive reinforcement would be a must. They’d offer paid time off; yearly bonuses; company happy hours, events and trips; flexible scheduling; and technology throughout a workplace that’s steered by leaders who care about their employees.

CEO John Wood and COO AJ Mueller have just such a company. Among the features they built in prior to the pandemic are Friday lunches, company socials such as picnics and happy hours, and a fully equipped lounge area at the office that together help build the company culture.

“This is something we hope to resume in person soon,” they say.

The Miami-based contracting and construction management firm offers a savings incentive match plan, bonuses, employee referral program, life insurance, in-house professional development and paid time off.

This culture fosters individual development and career growth at all levels. Employees are encouraged to join industry organizations, participate in seminars and trainings, and get involved in the community to support causes that they care about.

“Each team member plays an integral role in our company, and knowing our employees are content and proud of the work they do has a direct impact on our business and long-term success,” they say.

Origin Media Contact Information:

Aaron Gordon: / 305.962.3292

Victoria Cela: / 786.514.9250