May 24, 2021

Small Business Spotlight: J. Roberts

Small businesses are critical to our industry and in the delivery of our projects nationwide. In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Clark is spotlighting one of our project partners who, through their work and leadership, is helping shape the built landscape and the success of our industry.

Established in 1997, J. Roberts has proved itself to be one of the Mid-Atlantic Region's premier rough carpentry subcontractors. The Washington, DC-area contractor, a certified small disadvantaged business, boasts a portfolio that includes some of the region’s most high-profile and complex projects including the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) and the New Campus East at Fort Belvoir. And at its helm is Eric Sohn, the company’s owner, founder, and president. 

Drawn to the dynamic and constantly evolving nature of construction, Eric joined the industry after graduating from Virginia Tech with his civil engineering degree. “I’ve always been interested in the built environment, be it a school, bridge, office building, or museum,” he said. “Every project is unique, and every project has its specific demands,” he said. “In this field, there’s always a new, different job to look forward to.”

J. Roberts and Clark’s long-standing relationship formally began 15 years ago when Eric enrolled in Clark’s Strategic Partnership Program (SPP). SPP is a months-long MBA-style development program designed to help local small business enterprises grow their capacity and contribute to large-scale construction projects. Through SPP, Clark was able to help Eric enhance his construction management and general business skills by providing training in project management, project budgeting, estimating, project control, project purchasing, and risk management. 

“Our company learned to manage projects more efficiently, from record-keeping to estimating to scheduling,” said Eric Sohn. “Through SPP, we were able to win more work, generate more profit, and take less risk because we understand the jobs and industry better.”

In 2010, Clark selected J. Roberts as its protégé company as part of the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Mentor-Protégé Program. Over the course of three years, Clark provided specialized guidance to J. Roberts to help them grow their capacity and contribute to large-scale construction projects. 

“Both the Strategic Partnership Program and the Mentor-Protégé Program helped us tremendously,” said Eric Sohn. “I’m grateful to the Clark team for their guidance.”

Clark Vice President Wesley Stith (left), and J. Roberts President Eric Sohn (center right) with GSA representatives.

Through the company’s hard work and dedication, J. Roberts has bid and won over 150 self-perform contracts with Clark. As of 2021, J. Roberts is currently partnered with Clark on numerous projects in the region including P-114 Medical Center Addition and Alteration, Armature Works, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital Medical/Surgical Pavilion, the New Chancery for the Australian Embassy, and the National Air & Space Museum Revitalization.

Eric is committed to the long-term success of his company and his team of nearly 40 employees. “From the beginning, I’ve constantly been looking ahead, 5, 10, 20 years down the road,” Eric Sohn stated. “I want my company and my employees to do the best possible job and to take responsibility for their work - everything else will follow.”

Eric believes success comes from ensuring clients are satisfied. “Do not ask for what you want,” Eric said. “Ask what you can do for your clients, and then do the best you can with your ability.”