Small Team to $40 Million Dollar Company: How Rich and Gardner Did it

Since our founding in Syracuse, NY in 1988, Rich and Gardner has grown from a small but experienced team to an established and trusted full-service general contractor, construction management, and design-build company providing reliable, expert craftsmanship throughout the Northeast region.

How did we go from a brand-new company to successfully completing over 1,000 projects of all sizes and scopes in Central New York and beyond, with $40 million in annual revenue?

Co-founder and current Senior Adviser Dan Gardner recently reflected on our company’s history over the past three decades, what makes Rich and Gardner special, and his hopes for the future.

To discover the secret of Rich and Gardner’s success, the mindset that helped us develop and foster dedication, longevity, and high quality service for clients, and why working with Rich and Gardner ensures peace of mind during your next project, read on.

Building Rich and Gardner

“When we began the company, we had a depth of experience, but no reputation,” Dan Gardner recalled during a recent interview. “Charlie Rich and I had both come from a company with a big reputation, but once we started Rich and Gardner, we had to re-establish everything. Starting with less than ten people total on the team, one of the first things we had to build was our reputation… from the ground-up.”

From a young age, Gardner had viewed his father, who was a real estate broker, as an example of independence — the kind of independence that led Gardner to pursue becoming a business owner early in his own career.

“I wanted to be an architect originally,” he reminisced. “But eventually changed to Civil engineering and construction management as my major.”

Soon after, he met his mentors Bob Hazard and Charlie Rich. Both men had deep influences on Gardner as he gained expertise in the industry. 

“Working for Bob was a great experience,” said Gardner. “I learned a lot, but it was 100% work, all the time, with long hours and very rigid. 

Both Dan Gardner and Charlie Rich wanted a different kind of atmosphere when they started Rich and Gardner in 1988. Allowing for hard work but in a more relaxed environment.

 “When you’re not afraid to laugh with your co-workers, to walk into someone’s office and tell a story, and when you are able to make time for family, you’re also able to put more passion and dedication into your work,” Gardner explained. “We work hard at Rich and Gardner, but a good team goes beyond just hard work. We love what we do, but we also enjoy the process of doing it, and enjoy spending time with each other.”

This positive working environment was an important goal for both Rich and Gardner when they founded the company, and a critical part of how Gardner defines success to this day.

As Gardner says: “Having family, friends, and business associates around you that you support and who support you? That’s success. If you’re a good person, the business will follow.”

The results speak for themselves: Many other members of our team have been with Rich and Gardner for fifteen to twenty years or more, many of our clients go back to the birth of the company itself, and many of those clients are people we now consider to be friends. 

What’s Next?

Charlie Rich retired in 1998, which began the second generation for Rich and Gardner. Three senior team members, President Rob Swietoniowski, Executive Vice President Terry Summers, and Vice President Randy Brink, became shareholders. A few years later, they were joined by Joe Donegan and later Mike Gardner. Randy Brink retired at the end of 2021, the remainder of the shareholders, along with Jennifer Barnes continue to run the company.

 “Rich and Gardner is now in their third generation of shareholders,” Gardner continued. “As the next generation steps up, I want the company to become what they want it to be. As long as it’s a company that stays intact and provides exceptional service, I’m happy.”

These days, Dan Gardner still plays an active role in Rich and Gardner, making sure he’s accessible to provide support and help with anything the team needs. However, these days he’s also realizing another goal: passing the company on to the next generation. 

“I feel extraordinarily lucky,” he concluded after looking back over thirty years of personal and professional history with Rich and Gardner Construction Company. “From those early days in 1988, when Charlie and I took over a portfolio of projects from RB Hazard and decided to start our own company, all the way until today, I can’t help but take pride in all we’ve built: both literally, in the sense of our many successful projects, but also in the sense of the company we’ve built, too.”

Based on our team of dedicated professionals, applying our passion and expertise to provide peace of mind during every stage of our client’s projects, we believe Rich and Gardner’s continued success is proof that his advice is exactly right. 

If your business is considering renovating or building, contact us for more information on what we can do for you.