Give a brief history of your company's beginnings: your partners, your business goals and company mission.
B&I was founded in 1960 by Gordon Harbuck. Gordon was a plumber and pipe fitter who learned his trade while serving in the United States Navy. He grew the company to more than 100 employees/$10M in annuals sales and in 1986 formed the Employee Stock Ownership Plan which currently owns 100% of B&I Contractors stock. In 1995, Gary Griffin became President of B&I growing the annual revenues to more than $160M in 2021.
B&I embraces our Employee Ownership Model, which has allowed us to build an experienced and capable Management Team. This Team has guided the company through tremendous growth and the ESOP Trust is currently valued at more than $60M. We have invested heavily in people, training, technology and facilities in order to keep our company ahead of the curve in the fast-changing Commercial/Institutional Construction Industry. Equipped with state-of-the-art fabrication facilities and technology, B&I delivers the best quality and value to our customers which include hospitals, schools, government buildings, museums and manufacturing facilities. Despite the many changes in our industry, B&I is focused on the core mission to provide a great workplace experience for our Employee Owners while building lasting customer relationships with contractors and building owners throughout the state of Florida.
List three projects that you think exemplify your best work. Explain your reasoning for each project. One project needs to have been completed (or will be) within the year. *
- Sarasota Memorial Hospital – Venice Campus – Venice, FL (Completed late 2021/early 2022) 700k lbs of duct, prefabricated rail road duct system, 100s of Multi-Trade Racks
- Miami Convention Center – Covid Field Hospital – Miami, FL (Completed 2020) 30k+lbs of duct fabricated in a couple days and installed in less than a week. The Miami Beach Convention Center Hospital Conversion project comprised of a $22.5 million Alternate Care Site (ACS) to initially support 450 patients and included fifty negative pressure isolation rooms dedicated for acute COVID-19 cases. B & I Contractors was responsible for the HVAC scope of this extraordinary project that was completed in merely 14 days.
- Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Vertical Expansion – Hollywood, FL (2022 Received Final Inspections just a couple weeks ago.) There were 300K pounds of duct on the project. This intricate vertical expansion took place while maintaining full use of the existing patient tower below. Close coordination was critical to maintain operation of existing isolation rooms served by existing roof fans, which were strategically transferred to new fans on the vertical expansion roof.
In the last year, what would you say has been your company’s main challenge? Why? How have you taken steps to overcome that challenge? *
- The past year has been dominated by two primary challenges. The first is a familiar one, finding and developing enough skilled workers to meet the growing demands of a booming commercial/institutional construction industry. We invest heavily in training, recruiting and employee benefits in order to overcome this challenge. We are very proud to have earned Great Place To Work Certification in 2022 which shows our commitment to our people. The second challenge is somewhat new, supply chain disruptions which have been exacerbated by high inflation. We are diligent and creative in finding ways to meet our customers needs when supply chain disruptions threaten to put project completion at risk. We are very proud of the many innovative solutions we have found to work around this challenge and deliver projects on time despite these disruptions. Our highly skilled prefabrication team is a key component of our ability to mitigate the effects of supply chain delays by being capable of delivering a timely quality product. In addition, we have been able to leverage long-time trust relationships with our vendors and suppliers to minimize delays.
- In the last five years, what types of purchases – in the form of new sheet metal fabrication equipment, software, other productivity tools – have you purchased and used? How have those purchases improved your company’s productivity? *
- In 2020 we installed a 6 station Iowa Precision Coil Line with an in-line plasma cutting station. It produces 16ga black iron as well as 18ga stainless steel. This was a game changer for our shop.
- Trimble X7 Scanner – incredible time saver for remodel projects – specifically remodel mechanical rooms with AHU change outs. No more field order hot cut sheets. Everything is built ahead of time, staged on carts with wheels and ready to go.
- Evolve MEP software for duct numbering, spooling, hangers, wall openings
- Autodesk Assemble – allows us to labor track all of our projects digitally in 3D. This occurs weekly so we can track linear foot per man hour production by project
- We have budgeted for and will be installing a 20’ fiber laser.
- Our shops pounds per hour and field’s feet per hour rates have increased over the years.
What changes have you noticed about the HVAC industry in the last five years?
It is becoming more and more like an assembly line. The best general contractors and sub contractors understand this process and apply the same lean principles used in Toyota and Ford assembly lines. These principles apply to the jobsite and fab shops. Also, the digitization of the construction industry is propelling the prefabrication and modularization. With less available labor, each shop's ability to prefab with high success is an essential requirement for moving forward in the current commercial marketplace.
Have you completed any integrated project delivery jobs? Tell us about the experience
Jackson Memorial Hospital – Rehabilitation Tower. The whole experience was eye opening. All stakeholders are involved from early concept up to and all the way through the construction process. Everyone checks their ego’s at the door. In this type of the setting the openness around discussing design changes helps to save money for the owner as well as adding increased quality by receiving input from the trades actually building the project. Quickly identifying constraints, openly and honestly addressing them, really smoothed out the construction process for everyone.
How has the prefabrication process influenced your shop's ability to complete work on time and on schedule?
Our ability to complete work offsite is really what has given us this ability to go through the explosive growth we’ve had over the last 5yrs. We flew multiple 50’ sheet metal risers last week and dropped them in with a tower crane, that reduced the amount of workers needed on site and allowed to offset that work into our fabrication shop. We completed hundreds of Multi-Trade Racks for our SMH Venice Hospital project, allowing us to remove labor for the typical time sequential schedule and complete it offset ahead of schedule. That being said, the little things have also helped us immensely. We stopped sending out loose duct end caps years ago. Our guys haven’t had to hunt down a missing end cap all over the jobsite in a long time. While this is hard to quantify, it’s a difference you can see and feel. By using a more efficient approach we are able to make better use of our time and ability with prefabrication.
In what ways is your company involved in its surrounding community?
As B&I supports many worthy causes and non-profit organizations, we seek out our employees to connect and engage by participating and volunteering in health, education and community focused events such as STEM@Work, United Way, Habitat for Humanity, Heart Walk, and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. B&I sponsors fundraising events and donates supplies to nearly every School District we serve. B&I also supports local Universities and Colleges with Athletic Department sponsorships as well as scholarships for students. In 2022, we established an Endowed and Yearly Scholarship with Eckerd College as partners of their initiative to support students of diversity. We also support the Health Care Foundations of almost every hospital we serve as well as hold a yearly "Toy Drive" for children who are hospitalized during the holidays. B&I is actively responds to shortages in local blood supply by hosting regular blood drives at our office locations. This effort has helped save hundreds of lives. B&I has been recognized as Business Partner of the Year by Goodwill and The Education Foundation for Lee County Public Schools.
In the last year, how many apprentices have worked at your company? Do you have an active relationship with the local trade schools?
Over the past 12 months, over 100 Apprentices have worked for B&I throughout all three of our regions––Southwest, Southeast, and West Central Florida. We have active relationships with trade schools and apprenticeship academies in all three of our operating regions. In the Southeast Region, we have a relationship with the ABC East Coast Academy. In our Southwest Region, we have relationships with Tricounty Apprentice Academy (TCAA), Fort Myers Technical College as well as a couple of high schools with trade training programs. In our West Central Region, we have relationships with ABC Gulf Coast Academy as well as the RACCA HVAC Academy.
Anything else we should know about your company?
B&I has been able to cultivate a strong customer base guided by our belief in relationships, not jobs. By nurturing long-term relationships and combining our strengths, knowledge, and experience, we offer value that helps our customers’ businesses succeed. We also recognize that our employee-owners are our greatest asset. Providing training and a career path to reach personal and professional goals is key in our objective to bring all our employees to their full potential. At B&I we dedicate our practices to our core values: Quality, Integrity, Teamwork and Safety and take pride in supporting the communities we serve.