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Diversity by design REDCOM, the longtime leader in car dealership construction, finds its ability to pivot to other markets keeps it growing

Greg Redington, president of REDCOM Design & Construction.-(PHOTOS BY AARON HOUSTON)

Greg Redington, the president and second-generation owner of REDCOM Design & Construction, looks back in amazement at how the company got its first big break back in 1982.

His father, Jim Redington, ran one of a number of construction companies battling to get the contract to do work for a car dealership owned by Jerry Lustig.

The elder Redington — in either a stroke of luck or a bout of frustration — eventually won the job with a brilliant ploy.

“In 1975, (my father) was going back and forth with other competitors with this young Jerry Lustig,” Greg Redington said. “Finally, my father said, ‘That’s it, I’m not losing this deal over pennies.’

“He walked in with a whole proposal and the final cost was blank. My father said to them, ‘I’m not going to lose this for $5,000 or $10,000. You fill in how much you want to pay me and let’s shake hands.’”

The move has been paying off ever since.

The firm not only got the bid for Lustig’s Autosport Honda in Bridgewater — the first project the firm managed — it created a pipeline for business it still uses today.

“Jerry Lusting basically said, ‘You did great by me once, I’m in the process of buying the Seaboard Tractor building in Bridgewater on Route 22. I want you to renovate it into a Honda store,” Redington said.

The work the firm did with Lustig enabled it to land other top dealers, including Ray Catena and Brad Benson. REDCOM has gone on to be involved in everything from Porsche renovations — one of Catena’s projects — to Honda and Acura dealers. In total, it has landed 135 dealership jobs.

But that’s just the start of what REDCOM is all about.

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When Redington joined his father at the firm in 1992, he found a business that was primarily focused in construction.

Redington wanted to diversify the company. And not just in construction, but in design, too.

The pieces quickly fell into place.

“I had a minor in architectural engineering,” he said. “I married a woman (Michele Modestino) who was a great designer.”

She also happened to have her own company, Modestino and Associates, which merged with REDCO in 2000.

“And one of my first hires,” Redington said, “was (Roberto Martinez), an architect from Colombia, who was an excellent designer with an amazing freehand sketching ability.”

Martinez, now the vice president of architecture, also started in 2000.

The additions of Modestino and Martinez gave the company an ability to diversify. It just needed the work. And with perseverance and patience, the work came.

“We knocked on doors and we sent letters; we were persistent and tenacious,” Redington said. “At the end of the day, people hired us.”

In 2010, the now completely diversified company got a new name, REDCOM, adding the “M” for Modestino.

The firm had no idea how much its diversification would mean.

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Almost all design firms suffered during the economic downturn.

REDCOM, however, may have suffered more for one simple reason: It was so attached to the car industry.

“Everyone talks about the housing crisis but, actually, the loans that fell apart first were the car loans,” Redington said. “A person would rather not pay for their car as opposed to not pay for their house.

“So, the car industry just totally crashed in 2005, and was really dead for four years, until about 2009.”

Redington managed to stay afloat during these years through the company’s diversified market focus. For instance, the firm worked at developing its education and industrial portfolio.

“Where our car clients really blossomed was after that downturn at about 2009 to 2010 and onward,” Redington said.

And when the automotive industry started to flourish again, REDCOM was perfectly positioned. Having had a hand in both construction and architecture meant that the firm could take on many projects.

“The factories were really pressuring their franchisees to improve their facilities,” Redington said. “Not just improve, but new looks, new images and they were requesting to be larger and move out to new locations on the highway.”

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REDCOM’s diversification has included entering the hospitality, commercial and industrial markets, as well.

“We have taken what was first a construction firm with a secondary focus in engineering and architecture, and flipped that on its head and created a design organization first, that is secondarily supported by construction,” Redington said.

It also has diversified its operations.

Since 2010, Redington’s firm has been able to open two new offices, in New York City and Long Island, in addition to more than quadrupling its staffing.

The moves allow the firm to go after many deals in many areas.

No matter where it is, one thing remains constant: The firm no longer has to offer to work for free.

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Mario Marroquin

Mario Marroquin covers real estate. A native of El Salvador, Mario is bilingual in English and Spanish. He graduated from Penn State University and worked in Pennsylvania before moving to New Jersey. His email is