To the Top
Pinnacle Commercial Development Inc. keeps reaching new heights
What do you do when you think you’ve got a better way to run a business? You prove it.
That’s what Michael “Mike” Kogan and Dennis Rome decided to do when they left their previous employer and started Pinnacle Commercial Development Inc. (Pinnacle) in 2008.
“Mike and I were working for another company running operations,” says Dennis, Vice President and principal at Pinnacle. “We thought we could improve the processes, do things a little differently and improve profitability. The ownership didn’t feel the same way—they wanted to stay the same. So we left, started Pinnacle and started running things the way we thought they should be done.”
Based in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, Pinnacle has found ample opportunity in its home state and in the nearby metropolis of New York City.
“Our first contract was in self-storage, renovating restrooms for Storage Post,” Dennis says. “From there, it led to interior renovation to retail, then to interior fit-outs. We did one interior fit-out for a JOANN Fabric and Craft Store. They loved what we did and kept coming back to us. We did 35 JOANN stores in a single year. Part of our success is we don’t want to just do one-offs. We want to learn the client’s brand, to know why they do things and how. We know what they expect and know what they want.”
Success hasn’t been in short supply for Pinnacle, according to Erik Johnson, Vice President of Sales and Marketing.
“I was first hired in 2010, as the ninth employee,” Erik says. “At that time, Pinnacle was 2 years old and doing about $10 million per year. Last year we did $75 million and we’re projecting $150 million next year. In our early days we were mostly hospitality and retail. Now self-storage is a huge division. We’re building a million square feet of it at any given time. There was a point last year when we were building 20 percent of the 3.2 million square feet of self-storage going up in New York City. We just turned over a 175,000-square-foot self-storage facility in Queens.”
The company’s growth has been so explosive that Pinnacle was ranked seventh on the 2017 NJBIZ Fast 50, for the 50 fastest-growing companies in New Jersey.
“Appearing on that list was a great accomplishment for us,” Erik says. “As a newcomer to this illustrious list, we were thrilled not just to be on it, but to break into the top 10.”
A Total-Team, Personalized Approach
When Michael and Dennis started Pinnacle, they had a vision for how they wanted to do business and the culture they wanted to instill in their organization. They put a priority on relationships, both with customers and Pinnacle’s workforce.
“Our philosophy is to operate like a large construction manager, but keep things simple like a mom and pop,” Dennis says. “Mike and I are still hands-on. We visit jobsites, do quality control, work with estimators and try to keep that personal feel with everything we do. Our clients know the ownership of Pinnacle is on-site, making sure the job is done the way they want it done, bringing things to the next level for them.”
He continues, “In our offices, we have different departments, but we avoid a department mentality. We’ll bring all our project managers in for a meeting to look at ways to solve a problem on one job. It creates a team atmosphere, without competition between departments. We’re all here for the same goal.”
Forging relationships has led to an impressive list of repeat clients for Pinnacle, including AutoZone, LA Fitness, Mavis Discount Tire, NTB (National Tire & Battery) auto service centers, Aldi, Save-A-Lot food stores and multiple self-storage developers. Pinnacle has retail clients ranging from big-box stores to small mall locations along with clients in the hospitality, health care and distribution industries. These ongoing relationships are key to Pinnacle’s success—97 percent of its business is through repeat clients.
“It all comes down to partnerships,” Erik says. “We try to build a relationship beyond the job site. We do that by being a good partner. We’re happy with making a little money over a long haul if it means an ongoing relationship with a client. Nurturing these relationships is the best way of maintaining a regular project pipeline.”
“A lot of people forget that this is a service business,” Erik continues. “We try to build relationships that last. My clients can call me for anything. This is a seven-day-a-week job. Construction and development is a difficult and demanding business. We realize that and do whatever we have to [in order] to meet clients’ budgets, exceed expectations and deliver a project that makes them want to come back. We want them to know they can count on us.”
In the last few months, Pinnacle’s projects have included six AutoZone stores, several Aldi stores, two NTB stores, multiple self-storage facilities in New York, six self-storage facilities in Florida, a Floor & Decor store in Massachusetts and a Best Buy store in Ohio.
The Easy Button
“We have 20 to 30 major projects going at any given time,” Erik says. “Sometimes more than that. We handle multisite development and can have 20 or more smaller projects going at once in addition to all our other projects. Usually, we start out in a localized area, show clients what we can do, then they take us across the country. Once you prove to the client you can do the work, you become the ‘easy button.’ They want to take you everywhere. We’ve done stuff in Maine, Vermont, Illinois, Florida, Texas and many other states. If you can develop and build in New York and New Jersey, you can do it anywhere.”
Dennis is proud of many things about Pinnacle—of the success, the reputation the company enjoys and its involvement in the local community. Pinnacle has a strong social responsibility program and is heavily involved in Lunch Break, a community help center providing food, clothing, life skills assistance and other resources in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Pinnacle employees also hold a drive about once per quarter for a variety of causes: supplies for local schools, Thanksgiving turkeys, winter coats, Easter food baskets and more.
Mike, Pinnacle’s President, is also a founding member of the Joe Namath Foundation, which funds children’s charities through special events held throughout the year.
“I’m proud of all we’ve done,” Dennis says. “That we’ve grown, that we have a great reputation. I see the pride and abilities of our team to take on any challenge and put the effort into it. At the end of the day, we’re proud of our employees, and know that they’re proud of where they work. When you see your employees happy to come to work and proud of the work they’ve done, that’s a great thing.”