LAX Concessionaire Turns to Longtime Construction Partner to Help Make His Vision a Reality
After receiving a permit in late December 2021, Greg Plummer had just 90 days to turn around a concession space conversion at Los Angeles international airport (LAX) Terminal 1. The City of Los Angeles was preparing to host Super Bowl LVI and Plummer, CEO and managing partner at Concord Collective Partners, was anticipating a boost in foot traffic.
“We had an Asian restaurant concept that we were looking to convert to a more recognizable brand,” he said. “January and February are typically lower-traffic months for airport concessions in the lead-up to spring break, but between the Super Bowl and some other factors, we were looking to capitalize on an unseasonably busy February.”
Plummer turned to his longtime construction partner, PCL Construction, to take on the project as general contractor. “I’ve been working with PCL since 2013, and they consistently beat the development timeline. They have delivered 10-plus of my projects and have never been late.” Plummer was pleased with the results. “PCL delivered the new concept in 59 days, and in our business, those time savings translate directly to revenue.”
PCL Construction, a top-three general contractor in Los Angeles, is best known for its work delivering legacy projects such as Crypto.com Arena (formally Staples Center), the Banc of California Stadium and the LAX West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal. More recently, PCL has expanded their aviation portfolio in Los Angeles with the LAX Consolidated Rent-a-Car facility and the LAX Terminal 6 Renovation project with Alaska Airlines. It may come as a surprise that in addition to its base buildings business, PCL has a team specifically dedicated to special projects, which they define as projects under $20 million.
“When you work with PCL’s Special Projects Division, you are benefitting from the extensive subcontractor pool and a level of sophistication in processes and technology that you get from a general contractor with experience working on large projects,” said Michael Headrick, vice president and district manager of PCL Construction - California Buildings, overseeing the Los Angeles region.
“This flexibility in taking on a wide range of projects benefits our clients’ schedules and budgets. Some clients, like our higher education clients, contract our services for a variety of projects that range in size.” Plummer agrees that PCL’s capacity and speed to market is a critical value proposition. “In a previous role,
I was working with a smaller contractor. Although we were happy with their work, we found that they couldn’t scale their operations to meet our increasing demands. In addition to bringing economy of scale to our projects, PCL had an established presence at LAX which was important to us; working at LAX comes with its own unique challenges and requirements that PCL understands and navigates exceptionally well.”
Plummer founded Concord Collective in April 2021. A one-time concession manager at LAX, he was a consultant and JV partner at London-based SSP Group when he learned that SSP was shutting down its LAX operations in mid-2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Plummer recognized it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, ultimately partnering with other seasoned entrepreneurs to acquire the SSP Group’s portfolio of LAX eateries. It became one of the biggest-ever acquisitions by a minority-owned business of a large food concession at a major U.S. airport. Concord Collective became the first Airport Concessions Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) to become a prime operator.
Construction began in short order. “Traffic levels at LAX were still well below normal, so it made sense to make some strategic changes to our product mix before the market normalized,” said Plummer. Since then, Concord Collective has engaged PCL in six different current and future concession projects.
Jeyre Lewis, manager of special projects for PCL, notes that Plummer and PCL’s strong collaborative partnership allows the project team to remain nimble and flexible. “Success in construction oftentimes hinges on relationships, which take time to develop,” he explained. “At all phases of the project lifecycle, we know what to expect when we are working with Greg. We like working with him and want him to continue to be successful. He trusts us and that goes a long way when we encounter unexpected challenges. We are able to start strategizing solutions immediately.”
“There are a lot of reasons I keep calling PCL, but one of the most important reasons is the human element,” said Plummer. “Concord Collective is a people-driven business, one that I’d like to leverage to lift people up - much like the way I rose through the ranks. The PCL team understands that this isn’t just construction. It’s my dream and my vision, and they treat it accordingly.”
About the Author: Priscilla Chavez is manager of business development for PCL Construction Services - California Buildings in Los Angeles. In her previous role, Chavez was the architect for the region’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) strategy. Her leadership in the DEI space has contributed on the success of many: PCL’s California region and its clients, XBE certified firms, and the local workforce, which includes individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds. From her new vantage point of business development, Chavez is uniquely positioned to continue acting as an agent for change in diversity and inclusion by assisting and consulting with clients on how they can play in the space. She can simultaneously speak to how diversity and inclusion programs impact lives while connecting it to how it pertains to business success.