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Piedmont Concrete Contractors is Laying Central Virginia’s Foundation

Piedmont Concrete Contractors

Pioneering. Honorable. Professional.

These core values are the driving force behind Piedmont Concrete Contractor­s (PCC), a Charlottesville, Virginia-based boutique construction firm that specializes in slabs, cast-in-place concrete, and foundational work. Arlene Lee, CEO and Principal, has lived these core values every day since she joined PCC eight years ago.

“Oftentimes, ‘honorable’ and ‘professional’ stand on their own, but pioneering is a big piece of our journey and part of our growth,” she says.

According to Arlene, pioneering comes in many forms, whether it’s adopting new technologies or simply being a woman in construction — an industry where only 1% of CEOs are women. As the head of a certified woman-owned business enterprise, she recognizes her role in a traditionally male-dominated industry. Part of that is supporting other women as they progress through their journey.

Arlene Lee, CEO and Principal

“Women that are in fields where they are a massive minority bring a different passion because they know it’s the harder choice.” PCC prides itself on including women at every level in the organization, from leadership in the field and office and project management.

“It’s a really exciting time to be in this industry and to be a woman. The opportunities are boundless.”

Building Up Central Virginia

PCC has built projects in a variety of markets, including industrial, commercial, and healthcare with contracts ranging from $50,000 to $20 million. The firm’s bread and butter, however, is higher education work with clients like the University of Virginia (UVA), Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and Liberty University, to name a few.

Operating as a branch of Lee Construction Group, an organization with an 85-year history in central Virginia’s construction landscape, PCC has been an independent subsidiary since 1997. Arlene oversees another division, Piedmont Plaster and Drywall (PPD), in collaboration with President Chris Shifflett, a 30-year veteran of Lee Construction Group. The plaster and drywall side of the business is how the firm was introduced to Barton Malow.

The enduring relationship with Barton Malow, dating back to 2007, began with the John Paul Jones Arena project. PPD was contracted to do framing, drywall, doors, toilet partitions, and more. Fast forward to the current day, and you’ll find that PCC is breaking down the barriers on the concrete side to continue growing the partnership. Work is currently being carried out on UVA’s football operations building and a student housing project.

“We lean toward those projects that require a high level of attention, from preconstruction, planning, and the follow-up with the construction team throughout the progress of the job. We’re involved from the top to the bottom in every project,” Chris explains. ”I’m routinely out on jobs, meeting with the project team when issues arise and things need to be addressed. We have participation at all levels.”

This partnership has successfully navigated complex, fast-paced, and challenging projects, which fosters reliability and trust. “Because we’re a smaller team, Barton Malow has that personal relationship with us. You know who’s going to be on your project and you know we’re going to get it done,” Arlene explains. “That’s been a big part of the reliability that we bring.”

Another area PCC lives out its core values is through its safety program, which is built on a foundation of communication, collaboration, and training. Through its “Safety for Life” approach, PCC empowers its team members to do the safe thing each time and every time.

“We’re going to do the right thing, even if it’s the hard thing,” Arlene explains. “We’re going to look out for our people and look out for each other. We’re all in this together.”

The Associated Building Contractors of Virginia has recognized PCC in its BEST (Building Excellence in Safety, Health, and Training) Program for its safety initiatives. This commitment to safety defines how PCC operates with its team, clients, trade partners, and the community it serves.

A Better Tomorrow

One of the firm’s short-term goals — making today better than yesterday and tomorrow better than today — also aligns with a long-term goal: utilizing technology to its fullest. PCC’s adoption of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and virtual reality reflects the firm’s pioneering spirit and readiness to advance the industry.

“It’s interesting because construction is not an industry that changes very fast. There’s a technology revolution happening now and it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Arlene explains. “It’s not always the high-tech things that are the biggest pieces of pioneering. It’s learning how to do something in a totally new way, looking at it from a totally different angle.”

Forged in Leadership

PCC’s success isn’t just measured in projects completed; it’s also about the people behind the scenes. Part of Arlene’s strategy is to create a supportive environment for every team member, from leaders to apprentices.

“Leadership happens at all levels,” Arlene says while emphasizing the leadership training opportunities that team members are encouraged to participate in. The firm also offers a paid apprenticeship program that allows incoming students to work, study, and earn a living. By the time the four-year program ends, students graduate with skills in the fields of concrete, finish carpentry, plaster and drywall, and metal framing.

Arlene’s tactics for growth are clearly working. Over the last eight years, the firm has tripled in size and employs around 100 team members. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Associated General Contractors of Virginia – an impressive contribution to Lee Construction Group’s long-running history with the association. It has had more chairs on the AGC board than any other company in Virginia, with Arlene being the eighth from the firm to hold the seat and the first woman. The firm’s success keeps Arlene humble.

“We’re just so grateful to be part of building places where people’s lives happen and to be part of the community story.”

Piedmont Concrete Contractors’ future is bright as it continues to “lay the literal foundation” for many projects across central Virginia, embodying its core values and commitment to excellence.