2009-12-11 / Business

Rick Cohn of Cohn Construction Services

Star Profile
By John Temple Ligon temple@thecolumbiastar.com

Rick Cohn Rick Cohn Upstairs inside the former Hinson’s Feed & Seed building, where Shearing’s more recently sold rugs on the ground floor, is the headquarters of Cohn Construction Services. The Lady Street building sits next door to City Art and faces west to the back of Blue Marlin’s banquet facility.

Cohn Construction Services managed the renovation of its own building and helped restaurateur Bill Dukes with his banquet rooms next to Blue Marlin. To visit Cohn’s headquarters is to see the quality of the firm’s work besides the firm’s founder and managing member Rick Cohn.

Rick Cohn was born in West Palm Beach, Fla., where he was a varsity linebacker and place kicker on his Forest Hill High School team. He was good enough to accept a football scholarship from Florida State, but he tore up his knee before he finished his final high school season.

Based on his academic standing, Cohn was recruited by Spartanburg’s Wofford College, where he enrolled with the intention of majoring in political science. For walk–around money while in college, Cohn managed Wofford’s intramural program.

Upon graduation from Wofford, Cohn entered the construction business in West Palm Beach under Henry Bogatin at Castle Builders. With Bogatin, Cohn learned all about prefabricated metal buildings, particularly the Inland Ryerson brand. The first construction project he managed, 6,000 square feet for a sail maker, still has the original tenant. The materials and techniques he learned then are still with Cohn, only now he deals with the American Buildings brand.

In less than a year with Bogatin, Cohn came to Columbia, where Inland already had a presence.

In 1974 Cohn married. He has two children. Son Harris works with Cohn, and Harris has a 17– month–old son, Trip. Cohn’s daughter Britton is in Japan teaching English.

Cohn is engaged to Debbie Bogatin, who runs Columbia’s Unlimited Marketing Solutions.

For exercise, Cohn is committed to his treadmill. He does enjoy golf, but he gets the most fun out of sailing. He and his Wofford buddy Stewart Mungo go down to Hilton Head together to sail Mungo’s boat.

For his intellect, Cohn collects art by a Frenchman, Pierre Marie Brisson, who shows in Franklin Bowles galleries in New York City and San Francisco, Cohn’s favorite city. Cohn is photographed here in front of his latest Brisson.

In 1992, Cohn began again in construction with his own firm, Cohn Construction Services, which was directed at commercial general contracting. In the past few years the firm has taken on more medical work, and Cohn would be happy “doing more medical buildings than anyone.”

The detail and the quality ordinarily required for medical buildings make for a high standard that carries over into industrial and other commercial work. Cohn feels comfortable with the continuing quality. To see Cohn’s medical and dental buildings and his full project portfolio, go to www.cohnconstruction.com.

Two firms in the building business Cohn admires and would like to follow are the Rendino Companies in Florida and the Mungo Co. in greater Columbia. Besides design/build, Rendino does more development, which is where Cohn sees himself. Cohn admires the Mungo operation more for its separation: Stewart oversees development, and Steve runs the construction, but the two don’t get in each other’s way.

In late 2009, costs are down and interest money is cheap. Albeit a recession, it can be a good time to be in the building business.

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