Considering working as a subcontractor for STO Building Group? This guide is the perfect place to begin your research. Although working with a reputable GC like STO often presents opportunities for financial and professional growth, you still need to make sure it’s the right opportunity for you. This subcontractor guide to STO Building Group can help you make an informed decision before taking on a project.
Continue reading for an introduction to STO Building Group, including the company’s brief history, payment history, subcontractor reviews, prequalification process, payment process, and more.
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About STO Building Group (formerly Structure Tone)
STO Building Group was founded in 1971 by Patrick J. Donaghy and Lewis R. Marino in New York City. Since then, STO Building Group has seen a meteoric rise to become one of the largest and most successful general contractors in the world.
Before 2019, the STO Building Group was known as the Structure Tone Organization. The company rebranded to their current name with the intention to “more formally recognize the family of companies’ combined and individual strengths.”
All in all, the STO Building Group family of companies includes:
- Ajax Building Corporation
- BCCI Construction Company
- Govan Brown
- Layton Construction
- LF Driscoll and LF Driscoll Healthcare
- Pavarini Construction Co. Northeast
- Pavarini McGovern
- Structure Tone
- Structure Tone Southwest
- Structure Tone International
With a revenue of $8.4 billion in 2019, STO Building Group currently sits at 7th place on ENR’s Top 400 Contractors list for 2020.
According to Bob Mullen, the CEO of STO Building Group, this achievement exemplifies why the company moved to rebrand as a collection of companies rather than a single entity:
“Through this platform, we can offer our services and expertise to clients across an even broader spectrum of sectors and geographies, while allowing our companies to maintain their individual reputation and heritage,” Mullen said.
STO first ranked on the ENR Top 400 list in 2019, taking 14th place.
As stated by CEO Bob Mullen, STO operates in a very wide variety of sectors. They include:
- Public safety
- Life sciences
- Tech offices
It should come as no surprise that STO has worked on some high-profile projects over the years. Here are a few you may have heard of:
- The Equity Office Properties, Boston, MA
- 1 Fen Court, London, UK
- The Texas Biomedical Research Institute, San Antonio, TX
- Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA
- The Yahoo Data Center, Upstate NY
STO Building Group provides services for all stages of a construction project, including building/site evaluation, preconstruction, virtual design/construction, construction management, commissioning, building repositioning, technology and innovation, global, and sustainability/wellness services.
Along with a varied and diverse list of industries, projects, and services, STO Building Group also operates in a wide number of places.
STO is headquartered in the US, but they have operations in Canada, Ireland, and the UK.
Before working with STO Building Group
Before pursuing a contract with STO Building Group, it’s a good idea to prequalify them first. Prequalifying a general contractor involves taking a look at the company in order to determine whether or not they’re a good fit for your company.
The basic prequalification process can be completed in five steps:
- Review the general contractor’s recent payment history
- Review the general contractor’s credit history
- Read reviews from subcontractors who have worked with the GC in the past
- Look into the general contractor’s payment process
- Find a copy of a sample subcontract to look over
Completing these five steps will help you hit the ground running when it’s time to bid on a project or begin work on a project. That’s because learning as much as you can about a GC before you work with them allows you to follow their processes more closely, decreasing the chances for miscommunication and payment disputes.
Review STO payment ratings & reviews
If you’re unsure where to start the prequalification process, you can start with STO Building Group’s payment profile.
STO Building Group has a pay score of 44/100, leaving them with an overall payment grade of “D.” General contractors are graded on an A through F scale by comparing their recent payment track record with thousands of other GCs across the country. The resulting pay score provides insight as to how quickly the GC pays its subcontractors.
Along with a pay score, general contractors on the payment profiles platform also have subcontractor reviews for STO Building Group. The contractor currently has a rating of 2.5/5 stars, with five subcontractor reviews.
STO’s most recent positive review leaves gives them a five-star rating and states:
“Never had a problem. Send your documents on time and you’ll be ok. They have a lot of rules which can be messy, but we’ve worked with them several times and have the hang of it. It could be a better process.”
On the other end of the spectrum, their most recent negative review gives one star, stating:
“Project managers are extremely uncommunicative and do not approve change orders for months after the work is done, if at all, which holds up payment and billing.”
To dive a little deeper into STO’s payment habits, you can refer to their pay history. There, you can find all the reports of slow payment and mechanics lien filings we have in our database.
Recent payment disputes
Since October of last year, the STO Building Group has seen 49 mechanics lien filings on projects they participated in, seven of which have been canceled.
42 of those 49 claims of lien were filed by subcontractors or suppliers that were directly hired by STO.
For a little more context, construction disputes can be caused by an extremely wide set of circumstances, and the general contractor is not always to blame if there’s an instance of slow payment. In fact, there are several factors that contribute to cash flow issues and payment disputes within the construction industry, many of which can be quite difficult to avoid.
With that in mind, the best practice when reviewing a general contractor’s recent payment history is to gather as much context about the disputes you’re looking into as possible. This will help you get an idea for how the GC handles hiccups on the job.
Getting prequalified to work with STO Building Group
If STO Building Group is a company you’d like to work with, the first thing you need to do is go through their prequalification process.
To get prequalified to work with STO, start with their Subcontractors Page. There, you can find an overview of what information you’ll need to provide in order to get prequalified as well as the Code of Conduct that all suppliers and subcontractors must adhere to when working with STO.
The base documents needed to prequalify with STO are:
- Your W-9
- Your company’s license numbers
- M/W/LBE information (if applicable)
- Your insurance certificate with applicable endorsements
- Independent verification letter supporting your EMR for the last three years
- OSHA 300 logs for the last three years
- Your safety program manual
- A current financial statement
- Relevant banking information
- Your Dun and Bradstreet information (DUNS Number)
- Any surety information (sunshine letter)
- Three references
- A list of your current projects
- A list of some recently completed projects
- Your current backlog
After you gather the above information, STO Building Group asks that you reach out to your local office to begin the prequalification process. Keep in mind, however, that you may need to provide additional information as specified by the procurement department of your local office.
STO Building Group’s payment process
After you go through the prequalification process with STO, it’s time to start thinking about the upcoming project. To set yourself up for success while working with STO, you should get familiar with their general payment process. This way, you can begin work confidently with a good handle on how payment will work and what kind of documentation you’ll need to provide.
Below, we’ll walk through that process in four steps: what you need to do before work begins, how you should apply for your first payment, how you should apply for progress payments, and how you should apply for final payments.
Before the project starts
Before work on the project begins, you will need to provide some additional information to the project manager. For big general contractors like STO Building Group, this usually includes:
- Your W-9
- Your insurance information
- A signed copy of the subcontract
- Any relevant bonding information
Applying for first payment
Subcontractors and suppliers working with STO Building Group will most likely be using the AIA billing forms, which include the G702 pay application and the G703 continuation sheet. Along with those documents, you should also include a detailed schedule of values.
Your STO project manager will advise you on when and where to submit your first pay app. Usually, the deadline for pay applications and invoices is the 20th of the month.
Take extra caution when filling these forms out — making a mistake when filling out a pay app could result in payment delays.
Applying for progress payments
Progress payments are an attractive option for both subcontractors and general contractors because they achieve two things: They help the GC keep track of the subcontractor’s work progress, and they help the subcontractor manage their cash flow when providing labor and materials for the project.
To apply for progress payments with STO Building Group, you will most likely need to give them a detailed pay application and a current schedule of values.
In some cases, you will be presented with a lien waiver. If you’re presented with a lien waiver at any point over the course of a project, you need to make sure you understand the terms before you sign it.
The best practice when handling lien waivers is to consult a construction attorney before you make any decisions.
Applying for final payment
When the end of the construction project is approaching, you need to prepare to apply for final payment.
Every general contractor has their own close-out process, and that process can vary from project to project. Generally, this process involves singing a series of close-out documents and providing the general contractor with your final pay app.
Your project manager will let you know what you need to do to complete STO’s close-out process.
3 tips to help you get paid with STO Building Group
Regardless of how positive or negative your experience with a particular general contractor has been, it’s always a good idea to make sure you do everything you can to maximize your chances of getting paid on time. Work these three tips into your payment process for each project you work on to do just that.
1. Send a preliminary notice on every project
We always recommend that subcontractors and suppliers send a preliminary notice even if they aren’t required to by law. That’s because preliminary notices increase transparency on the job site, which helps you get paid quicker. On top of that, preliminary notices have been known to improve working relationships because they serve to avoid disputes.
Sending preliminary notice is also a prerequisite to file a mechanics lien in most states, meaning you can’t file a lien claim without one.
2. Set a deadline to send a notice of intent to lien
Nobody wants a mechanics lien to be filed on a construction project. That’s one of the reasons why they’re such a good source of leverage when contractors go unpaid. For that reason, simply sending a notice of intent to file a mechanics lien will often be enough to motivate a prompt payment.
Sending a notice of intent to lien is also a less involved process than sending a mechanics lien, and it doesn’t legally bind anyone to anything. GCs appreciate measures like these because they leave room for the dispute to be resolved before a mechanics lien is necessary.
3. Do everything you need to protect your lien rights
If nothing else works, mechanics lien laws provide some of the strongest recovery tools a contractor can use. No matter what type of project you’re working on, it’s vital that you maintain your lien rights.
Depending on which state you work in, maintaining your lien rights could involve sending a preliminary notice, sending recurring monthly notices, meeting an assortment of required deadlines, and having a valid contractor’s license for the work you provided for the construction project.