Accelerated Construction Services celebrates remarkable success…and those who make it possible
To be bold is to be daring. Those with an intrepid spirit often challenge the status quo to achieve their goals, and demonstrate remarkable tenacity under pressure. Such is the case with Michael Allen, the determined and highly motivated leader of Accelerated Construction Services (ACS), a general contracting and construction management firm based in Morgantown, West Virginia. Experienced in building and renovating commercial properties nationwide, Allen boldly formed ACS at a time when construction markets were struggling to rebound from the Great Recession.
“I founded ACS by myself in 2010, starting out in a simple one-room office,” Allen says. “I saw a definite need for a commercial general contractor in this region that emphasized quality first and foremost. I also wanted to provide construction at a fair cost and build projects faster than the competition.”
To fulfill these objectives, he began assembling a team of like-minded individuals who shared his passion for construction. “My belief has always been that if you can find the people with the same pride and passion as you, anything can be accomplished,” Allen says.
According to staff members, Allen is the type of self-motivated individual who seeks to take something and make it better. “He’s very active in the day-to-day operations and does job site walkthroughs every week,” says Senior Project Manager Charles Wamsley. “Our staff respects him because he’s hands-on and wants to be included in decision-making processes—to provide support with every aspect of what we do.”
Building Better, Faster
The company has grown tremendously under Allen’s active leadership. Today, ACS operates out of a multibuilding complex and employs a staff of around 100. Boasting over $200 million in contracts since its inception, the company’s motto of “Building Better, Faster” drives these seasoned industry experts to complete projects quickly and efficiently.
“This philosophy is the foundation of our company. Better entails a strong focus on quality. We build structures to last and we do not cut corners,” Allen emphasizes. “I strongly believe in offering a superior product at a reasonable price.”
He adds, “We demand strict adherence to cost outlines and deadlines, working hand in hand with our trusted project partners to pass on the savings of both time and money to our clients.”
Teaming up with The Blue Book Network has enabled ACS to connect with even more high-quality subcontractors and suppliers as well as architects and developers.
“We’ve been with The Blue Book for about two years, and it’s been an investment with overwhelming value,” Allen says, noting that The Blue Book Network provides invaluable networking opportunities. “We’re seeking to build the business by finding the right partners to meet clients’ unique needs. These close working relationships enable us to deliver projects more quickly and at a higher quality,” he adds.
An Impressive Project Portfolio
One key differentiator for ACS is its high level of repeat business—a strong indicator that a contractor is valued and trusted. The company’s extensive work portfolio is brimming with clients that have utilized ACS time and again.
“The amount of repeat business has surprised even the most optimistic among us. A majority of our customers actually come to us wanting to negotiate projects without a bid process,” Allen says. “This not only expedites the project, but also shows the amount of trust we’ve cultivated with clients.”
ACS works in a diverse array of markets, including retail, hospitality, commercial office, industrial, medical, warehouse, automotive dealership, restaurant, education and multifamily/residential. The firm caters to clients in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, New York and throughout the mid-Atlantic and Appalachian regions. In addition to its headquarters location of Morgantown, the bulk of projects are performed in Washington, Pennsylvania, and in the West Virginia cities of Bridgeport and Fairmont.
One of the company’s longest-standing clients is Biafora Holding, LLC, a real estate development firm owned by brothers Rick and David Biafora. Allen’s connection to the Biaforas was established years ago while he worked as a superintendent for another general contractor in Morgantown.
“In all the time I’ve known Michael, he has always impressed me with his drive to deliver exceptional projects,” shares David Biafora. “Not only is he an expert in his field, he is attuned to his clients’ needs. When you partner with ACS, you know you will be a top priority, from project start to close-out.”
Currently, ACS is working with the Biaforas to redevelop Fairmont’s existing Middletown Mall into what will be renamed as Middletown Commons. The indoor shopping mall—the oldest in West Virginia—originally opened in 1971 and was once a staple of the community. However, its occupancy rate began to decline steadily in the 2000s. When the previous owner went bankrupt, the Biaforas purchased the stagnated property with plans to revitalize it. The $45 million, 540,000-square-foot renovation has been underway since January, and will contain spaces for restaurants, retail outlets and professional offices as well as recreational, entertainment and special event areas. ACS has built three of its largest projects for Mon Health Medical Center, which is currently ranked as the third-best regional hospital in West Virginia according to U.S. News & World Report. The most recently constructed facility is the Mon Health Medical Park on Maple Avenue in Morgantown. This $38 million expansion adds 135,000 square feet of medical office space to the existing hospital campus—including three standalone buildings housing physician offices and much-needed ancillary medical service centers.
Another noteworthy client is Washington Investments, LLC, which has utilized ACS to develop retail and commercial structures in the Greater Pittsburgh region. The general contractor has also worked on several impressive higher education facilities, including for West Virginia University, which has a few upcoming projects that ACS intends to bid on.
Last year, ACS completed work on the 65,000-square-foot EQT REC Center in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. Built to be a focal point of the Greene County community, this recreational complex provides technologically advanced fitness amenities and wellness education programming and events. The recreation market is a new niche for ACS, and the team is hoping to build this market in the future.
No matter the client or project type, ACS strives to demonstrate industry leadership by keeping its promises and always doing the right thing. “Integrity is huge in this business, and I take it very seriously,” Allen affirms. “My name goes on every project, and I back those jobs 100% no matter the cost to myself or ACS.”
“We’ve been with The Blue Book for about two years, and it’s been an investment with overwhelming value. We’re seeking to build the business by finding the right partners to meet clients’ unique needs. These close working relationships enable us to deliver projects more quickly and at a higher quality.” Michael Allen, Owner and President, Accelerated Construction Services
A Proud, Dedicated Team
As the firm prepares to celebrate its 10-year anniversary next year, Allen reflects on how his dedicated team is hugely responsible for the company’s growth and success. “Our team bleeds our colors. They are proud of what we build on a daily basis—and they take pride in knowing they have helped shape ACS into what it is today,” Allen says. The staff ranges from highly motivated young workers in their 20s to seasoned experts in their 60s. Many of these valued employees have been with the company since close to its inception. “I value every team member and know each of their unique skillsets. Because of this, I believe in promoting from within whenever possible, which allows team members to excel professionally and flourish in their new positions,” Allen says.
When searching for outside talent, a prospective hire’s lack of experience does not necessarily bar entry into the company ranks. “In the field, our foremen and superintendents are the primary trainers for new or inexperienced workers, teaching critical skills and passing on knowledge of our company’s high expectations,” says Meredyth Russell-Wilson, the Accounting/Office Manager at ACS. “We ask our guys for recommendations of people they can trust, and we hire many employees through these referrals. This really helps us build a quality team.”
As a company leader, Allen’s goal is to maintain an atmosphere where staff feel comfortable sharing their ideas on how to make ACS even stronger. “We distribute biweekly questionnaires to all of our team members, to hear what we can do better as a company,” he says. “When your voice matters, and your ideas get implemented, it builds a spirit of unity that cannot be broken.”
Wamsley wholeheartedly agrees, characterizing ACS as a place where “everyone can openly share their opinions” to build a better company. In one example, he tells of employees desiring more overtime hours without having to work weekends. To meet this need, the leadership established 10-hour work shifts from Mondays through Thursdays, enabling staff members to reach their minimum 40 hours more quickly. Additional hours are made available on Fridays, which allows workers to rack up overtime without cutting into personal/family time on weekends.
Even in the winter when construction activities typically slow down, ACS “always has plenty of projects in the pipeline,” says Project Manager Drew Denham. “This gives our guys job security and confidence knowing they’ll be able to have steady work year-round. Employees are excited to work at ACS because of our reliable hours and competitive pay.”
In addition to meeting the needs of its team members, ACS is focused on bettering the lives of those in the community. “As a community-oriented business owner, I believe it is my company’s responsibility to support charitable and educational organizations where we live and work through funding, mentorship and sponsorships,” Allen says. “ACS has been a longtime backer of deserving organizations such as Make-A-Wish, the Old Joe Club nonprofit, the Bill Mazeroski Scholarship Foundation, the Mon Health Medical Center Foundation, several military veteran organizations, West Virginia University, and others.” Confident Leadership
As he looks to the future, Allen says he will continue to lead by example and be supportive of the loyal staff who bring the company’s projects to fruition. “In construction, every day is a challenge, and there are always obstacles to overcome…but that’s what makes me get up every day. I love what I do and the business I am in,” Allen says. “There is great pride in what we have accomplished at ACS in such a short time, and the future is looking even brighter.” For this audacious leader, he will continue to drive his team to build better and faster—and to capture the lion’s share of projects in the Morgantown community, where the majority of his staff works.
Allen says, “If I see a project going up and I’m not involved, I get mad and say, ‘I should be doing that building.’ My wife often jokingly tells me, ‘You can’t get every project,’ and my response is, ‘That doesn’t mean I won’t try my best to.’ I have plenty of perseverance—if I want a project, I go after it. My success rate in achieving my goals is very high.”