Wednesday, August 17, 2022

V&H did the Queensbury Hotel expansion: Project built on long-term ties

By Mark Frost, Chronicle Editor

The Queensbury Hotel expansion project was built of long-term relationships, as embodied by V&H Construction, the project’s general contractor.

“Thirty-eight years ago, when I was working for [Jim] Weller, I was the project manager” for the Queensbury Hotel’s indoor swimming pool, noted V&H President Rob Holbrook. He remarks that the hotel’s general manager “Leo Turley was afraid he was going to get fired over it.

V&H Construction’s principals — President Rob Holbrook and Vice-President Don Valentine. Chronicle photo/Mark Frost

“He was under a lot of pressure from the ownership, and the fact that I was a 29-year-old project manager made him a little nervous. But it came through well. And he was so grateful, he gave everybody who had worked on it a case of Heineken. It was a good experience for me.”

Mr. Holbrook says, “When Weller closed, I did some construction management work for Phil Morse in the NAMIC building in the Glens Falls Industrial Park. I was hiring out for construction subcontractors and I hired and worked with Don Valentine on that project. And he and I got along great. One thing led to another. He was doing the firehouse in Fort Edward. He and I decided to start” V&H Construction in 1995.

Mr. Valentine is the firm’s vice-president. The firm is based on the Fort Edward Road in the Town of Moreau.

In the past 10 years, V&H developed a close relationship with Michael Phinney, the Lake George and RPI grad whose busy architectural design firm has done the Queensbury Hotel’s work since Ed Moore bought it in 2016.

V&H’s link with Phinney goes back even further. “We’ve worked with them since we did the firehouse in Lake George back around 2012,” Mr. Holbrook said.

“And we had the opportunity two years ago to do the Common Roots project in South Glens Falls and we had a good relationship, good working relationship with them on that job.”

Mr. Holbrook notes that there’s a personal connection, too, with Queensbury Hotel general manager Tyler Herrick.

“His wife [Sarah] is the daughter of Dr. [Robert] O’Connor, the veterinarian [at Glens Falls Animal Hospital]. We’ve done all Dr. O’Connor’s work over the years, so we had good references, I guess I can say.”

Mr. Holbrook said, “Your prior connections and relationships with people certainly makes it all much, much easier.”

The hotel expansion project went smoothly, he said. “Ed Moore’s a real positive guy. He’s looking for the solutions,”

Mr. Holbrook said. “If something comes up, he’s not trying to blame anybody. He’s just trying to solve the problem…

“I’m impressed with his enthusiasm for life, because he’s got close to 10 years on me. And any chance he gets he’s out on the site, checking things out.

“We had a need for a backhoe there, and he went and got his own — was there in about a half an hour.”

The Chronicle remarked that it took Mr. Moore back to his roots, operating an excavation business on Staten Island prior to locating to northern New York.

“Yes, he had a chance to participate with his equipment,” Mr. Holbrook said. “And he was so nice — very, very involved owner, very enthusiastic person about whatever he’s doing. He’s a great guy to work with.”

During the ribbon-cutting Mr. Moore noted that despite raging inflation and ongoing supply chain issues, V&H brought the hotel project in on time and on budget. How was that possible?

“It’s a lot of hard work. And a lot of planning,” Mr. Holbrook said, plus Mr. Moore’s willingness to commit money early. “We pre-ordered some of the materials at the time that the job was quoted.

“The customer purchased, for example, the steel deck on the building. At the steel mill, it comes off as a coil of steel and it’s run through a forming machine that forms it into the metal deck. Working with our steel supplier or fabricator, we were able to find the coil of steel and commit to that so that it was available” when the hotel project needed it.

“There’s still some things that we’re waiting on,” Mr. Holbrook noted. “The doors going into the ballroom are temporary, because the aluminum doors [delivery] got pushed back until the end of August…Those are just residential temporary doors for now.”

Meanwhile, the hotel has another project. “We’re going to be starting to do the front entrance going into the pool,” Mr. Holbrook said. “That needs to be updated so we’re just in the process right now. They’ve done some design drawings.”

How’s business for V&H overall?

“It’s good. It’s kind of changing,” Mr. Holbrook said. “I can’t quite put my finger on why, but it seems to be more consistent in this area. There just seems to be more business around.”

V&H and the architect Mr. Phinney are also joining forces again at the craft brewery in South Glens Falls.

“We’re currently working on Phase Two for Common Roots, we will be breaking ground in late September,” Mr. Holbrook said. “The building is ordered. And we expect it to arrive in late October. It’s going to be a similar design, steel with a wood frame pavilion in the front.”

And what about the hotel’s longed-for rooftop bar? “Well, we haven’t been asked to do a proposal for it,” Mr. Holbrook said, “but if Ed sees a way to make it work, he probably will.”

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