One of Fairfield County’s most successful commercial real estate development companies had its origins on the other side of the world when Australian high school students Mitch Kidd and Scott Lumby did sporting combat in pursuit of rugby glory.
“We played rugby against each other in high school,” recalls Kidd, who would later get to know Lumby better in the less raucous, academic setting of Sydney’s New South Wales University.
There they had an academic and sports scholarship, shared the same courses and wound up working at the same company after graduation. In 2006, Kidd and Lumby received an opportunity to relocate to the U.S.
“We started out in a construction career out in Aspen, Colorado, where we were working for a luxury builder developer outfit doing…20,000- to 30,000-square-foot mountain homes,” Kidd says. “On the back of the financial crisis leading into 2009, I had an opportunity to come out to New York City to do some private projects for some clients.”
The Big Apple brought out the entrepreneur in the duo, who formed WellBuilt Co. And while starting a business during a recession might seem like a risky endeavor, Kidd and Lumby were able to get off on the right foot.
“It started off as a high-end renovation company in residential apartments in New York City, and then we branched out into commercial and retail projects,” Kidd adds, noting WellBuilt opened a Stamford office in 2013 and is now primarily focused on the state’s commercial real estate market.
Today, WellBuilt is one of the most prominent companies in its sector, with a client list that includes the major architectural firms and real estate brokerages in the region plus municipal governments. For Lumby, the company’s success is based on maintaining the highest possible quality control in all aspects of its work:
“We like to see ourselves as being very disciplined about how we evaluate opportunities. It is something that we’re very passionate about and we have a lot of fun doing it. We put a good team of people together that we hold to a very high standard. Our motto is ‘Do what you say you’re going to do and execute on that.’ And that goes for consultants to financing to subcontractors. It’s a pretty easy thing to do, but a lot of people don’t get it right.”
Among WellBuilt’s current projects is the completion of The Stillwater, one of the company’s first multifamily projects in Stamford.
“It was our own project — financed, built, developed and operated by ourselves as a sole operator,” Kidd says. “It’s a 45-unit, multifamily building just near the new Stamford Hospital.”
Down the road from The Stillwater is another project called The Lafayette Stamford, a 130-unit building that’s now in the process of gaining final zoning approvals with the city.
“We’re looking to commence that one Q1, start of Q2,” Kidd adds. “That is a mixed-use multifamily development in a nice side of Stamford.”
“Another site that we’re working on is a downtown city-owned parcel right next door to Curley’s Diner,” Lumby says. “We’re very excited to put that online, although it will most likely be in 2023. It was a long acquisition period to get that site under our control. It took us 18 months to go through all the different approvals along the way.”
Nationwide, the construction industry has been affected by supply-chain disruptions and labor shortages that resulted in increased project costs. For WellBuilt, Kidd and Lumby were fortunate to plan ahead to head off potential budget-busting in their work.
“We were fortunate with some of the price escalations,” Kidd notes. “You’ve heard that lumber and pipe and PVC pipe — and just a lot of miscellaneous items — had 30% and 40% increases. But we were able to mitigate that by locking in prices very early.
“We were able to build The Stillwater during the Covid period in 13 months, from excavation to completion. We did have to overcome a lot of lead-time issues, but I think that’s a testament to our hands-on approach where we’re very involved in the day-to-day operations.”
As for the near-future, WellBuilt is looking to grow its footprint outside of Connecticut.
“We’re always looking at different markets,” Lumby says. “I think, ultimately, we will be expanding into other Northeast-based markets.”
And with a potential expansion, the pair are eager to spread the WellBuilt game plan into other parts of the country and duplicate the success they’ve generated locally.
“The people that we associate and engage with to put these projects together have been great,” Lumby observes, adding that “it’s all part of the fun as we go through to put these different deals online.”
For more, visit wellbuiltco.com.