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Built Different

Written by Sally Ibarra Barceló
Photography by Dan Austin

NuJak Companies is leading the way in the construction industry through its people-first culture in business and beyond.

Founded in Lakeland by Frank Kendrick in 1992, NuJak Companies is one of the leading full-service construction companies in the state of Florida. Today, NuJak Companies is led and operated by father and son duo Frank and Brandon Kendrick. 

Celebrating 30 years in business, the Kendrick’s entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for building community continues to be the driving force behind NuJak. 

NuJak’s team members have 100 years of combined experience in the field delivering projects on time, on budget, and of the highest quality.

As a full-service, minority-certified (MBE) construction company, NuJak specializes in providing pre-construction, construction management, design-build, and general contracting services. Headquartered in Lakeland, NuJak has offices in Central Florida, Tampa, South Florida, and North Florida.  

“I grew up in a construction industry household; my father was a contractor. In some ways, I was raised on a construction site, around industry conversations with decisions being made regarding construction topics quite often,” tells Frank. 

In his younger years, Frank never thought he’d be a contractor or pursue a career in construction, but the idea of building something from the ground up always piqued his interest. “Watching that process was always somewhat interesting to me. Whether it was a renovation or a different kind of project, I would always enjoy watching where [my father] began through the final stage and completion of any project.” 

Frank Kendrick
Founder & CEO
NuJak Companies

Frank and his dad talked about this “game plan” to start a company together in West Palm Beach, where Frank grew up, instead life led him to Lakeland. In 1989, Frank became the first in his family to graduate college with a Bachelor’s degree in Building Construction from the University of Florida, where he met his wife. Frank’s wife and her family were from Lakeland, so when his in-laws had a family accident that burned down their home, Frank and his wife moved to Lakeland to build them a new home. What was supposed to be a temporary relocation became NuJak’s first project. Since then, NuJak has grown to one of the largest minority-owned construction firms in Central Florida.

Brandon Kendrick’s role as President/Chief Financial Officer for NuJak Companies wasn’t an obvious career path for him, regardless of the family business. “I was always a numbers guy, and I didn’t necessarily share the same passion for the construction industry,” says Brandon. After high school, Brandon continued his education and received his master’s degree in Accounting from Liberty University, a Bachelor of Science in Economics from Florida Atlantic University, and eventually a certificate in construction management from Florida Atlantic University. He is also certified with Ameritrade Investment Certificate Program. Although Brandon’s passion was in the sports industry, a series of life experiences led him back to NuJak Companies. “I love sports so much that it was such a tough decision. I prayed about [the opportunity] at NuJak, and there were just different things that happened; I honestly felt like everything was divine. I felt led by God that this was what I was supposed to do,” tells Brandon. 

Brandon’s role at NuJak has been pivotal to using the most modern technology and processes to drive efficiency and continuing to reinforce the company values and family legacy within the company and beyond. “One of my favorite reminders from Frank is “Without vision, people perish,” says Brandon.

These values have carried the company through since its inception. One of NuJak’s most significant projects early on was a remodeling project for “The Lakeland Civic Center,” also known as the RP Funding Center. The Assistant City Manager at the time invited Frank to be a part of the ad hoc committee to make sure that minorities were involved with the construction of the community and the project was inclusive in its nature. Then, their next significant project was a lead from a community leader, Mr. Don Williams. Williams connected Frank to the CEO of MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, which led him to a bid opportunity for the construction of a new MIDFLORIDA branch. Frank closed on the project and offered excellent client experience and services, setting the foundation for a twenty-seven-year business relationship with MIDFLORIDA.

NuJak’s client services are cutting-edge compared to industry standards. NuJak implements a human-centered design approach across its team and offers clients the best experience possible. NuJak prides itself in its reputation by ensuring they keep all lines of communication open with clients and makes them collaborators throughout the project’s process. “Not surprisingly, our commitment to excellence has resulted in over 90% of our clients choosing us for their next project and referral leads,” says Frank. 

The operable roof on the IST building consists of a series of hydraulically activated brise-soleil. The louvers are individually controlled and programmed to follow the course of the sun throughout the day.

For the past five years, NuJak has partnered with Southeastern University, the fastest-growing private Christian university in the country, on a $40M+ capital expansion program. NuJak has built a new 3,500 seat Football Stadium amongst six other buildings at Southeastern. 

In 2011, NuJak was awarded their largest project when they became one of the two construction firms in Florida chosen to build the iconic 162,000 square foot Innovation, Science, and Technology (IST) building for Florida Polytechnic University. The building was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Completed in September 2014, with an overall budget of $107 million, Florida’s 12th and the newest public university is focused on STEM technologies. To date, the IST building has earned more than 20 architectural and engineering awards since its completion and has been featured in numerous publications.

The “New Jack” essence is a person who looks for opportunities, sees the opportunities in front of them, innovates, and is a leader. “Back in my day, they called our generation the “New Jack” generation. It means being a trail trailblazer and a pioneer,” explains Frank. It was after a conversation between Frank and a close friend where Frank mentioned his idea to start a construction company and his friend said to him, “Oh man, you’re going to be the New Jack of Lakeland,”  so then that was the name Frank thought of when another person asked for the name of his new company.

Today, the Kendrick’s have made it their personal and professional mission to honor their namesake and “blaze trails” beyond the company’s business ventures. They are passionate about making the path more accessible for those that follow, especially minorities. 

NuJak has had the opportunity to open many doors in areas that weren’t always accessible to minorities and create opportunities for themselves and other minorities in the construction industry. They have been certified by the National Minority Supplier Development Council since 2001 and by the Office of Supplier Diversity since 2007.

 

NuJak believes in being a good corporate citizen by staying involved in the community giving to causes of education and empowerment. By 2007, NuJak began offering scholarships to minority students in Polk County who had aspirations in construction. Frank Kendrick is known for his creativity, innovation, and standard of excellence. He is also a motivational speaker on financial stewardship, vision, and servant leadership. 

“At NuJak, we want to give back and help youth imagine a future different from the one they’re coming home to every day,” says Frank.”

For Frank, success is embodied through accomplishing goals in front of him which can be interchangeable, “But one thing that never changes is my desire to please God. Mark 8:36 says, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” I am convinced that the core focus of Heaven is people. If I’m going to be successful in the grand scheme of life, it’s only when I’m an extension of God’s arm doing work for His people. The highest honor is to one day hear God say, “Well done.” 

“…Success [is] about being who God created me to be and setting the world on fire through generosity. It’s about making a difference in the lives of others” 

Brandon adds, “I feel successful when I achieve goals and can provide for my family, but success means so much more than that. It’s about being who God created me to be and setting the world on fire through generosity. It’s about making a difference in the lives of others…I’ve always been a passionate giver. Personally, this is when I feel the most successful”. 

For NuJak, success is about maintaining the happiness and satisfaction of their clients as they continue to build and serve their relationships. “Having the ability to create opportunities, provide jobs for the community, and give back in meaningful ways is a success. Recruiting impactfully, fostering, valuing, and rewarding teamwork while remaining intentional about building culture helps our company achieve sustainable success as a team. We realize that some people may never visit a church, so it is our desire that God will reconcile people to Himself through us,” says Frank.

 

NuJak Companies
717 N Kentucky Ave
Lakeland, FL 33801
863.686.1565
nujak.com

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