No Project too Large or too Small

Burdg, Dunham & Associates
Written by Jen Hocken

Missouri-based Burdg, Dunham & Associates is a general contracting company that is committed to completing projects on time and within budget. It is licensed to work in all fifty states, Puerto Rico and some provinces in Canada. It uses a team-based approach to construction and problem-solving. The versatile, in-house workforce at Burdg, Dunham & Associates allows it to maintain better control of projects than other construction companies that rely solely on subcontracted work.
Jim Dunham and Harry Burdg created Burdg, Dunham & Associates in 1981. Although it initially started as a framing and drywall contractor, the range of work has since expanded into many different forms of construction. Today, the company is a tenant-based national retail contractor and has also performed high-end residential and ground-up work. The company accepts projects of all sizes.

When the company was first started, it worked out of a rented space in the small town of Hamilton, Missouri, a city with a population of only fifteen hundred people. As it grew, it was able to purchase some land and has been operating from the current location for about twenty years.

All twenty employees who work in the office are locals who have grown up in the area. This includes the project managers, the accounting staff and the contact managers who work with the company to solicit bids for projects. There are also approximately twenty to twenty-five superintendents travelling around the country, putting the projects into action. Sometimes they work with carpenters employed by Burdg, Dunham & Associates and sometimes the work is subcontracted, but there is always a superintendent from the company supervising the work.

In the retail construction industry, construction companies solicit bids from subcontractors all over the country. The construction company receives a set of plans from a client looking to be provided with pricing options. For the company to receive bids, it goes back into its computer database that it has developed over thirty years and finds all of the applicable skilled tradesmen in that particular city or area that it has contacted or worked with in the past. Once a skilled worker is found who is interested in providing a price for that part of the project, Burdg, Dunham & Associates gives them information on how to access the plans for the project to have the information to put a proper bid together.

The company has constructed many large, popular retail buildings that are recognized for their interesting and modern style. It has done a lot of work with Urban Outfitters and its related brands, and it has also constructed retail spaces for The Gap, Banana Republic, Kiehl’s, Bakers Footwear Group, Clarks, Jamba Juice, OshKosh B’Gosh, Radio Shack, Regis, Ritz, Yankee Candle Co. and many more.

It has had a thirty-year relationship with Maurice’s, which is now part of the Ascena Retail Group. For the last ten to twelve years, it has also completed many projects for Supercuts haircutting salon, and it is now working on many projects for NYX Cosmetics. It has done large, twenty to thirty thousand square foot projects in the middle of New York City and three-week remodels in the middle of Kansas. It is capable of building a full range of projects in any size and prides itself on its ability to do such.

Burdg, Dunham & Associates Construction has completed projects in many sectors including retail construction of malls, strip centers, family life centers and standalone projects. The company works efficiently in all environments and climates. Its skilled workers put all of their effort into the job whether the project is located in the heat of Puerto Rico, in the freezing Alaskan air or in places like Hawaii, where the temperature is always around eighty-five degrees.

The challenges that the construction company faces are mostly due to the workforce. The education system today is more geared toward college education, and the skilled labor pool is often forgotten. Skilled labor is an important aspect of the country’s workforce; carpenters, plumbers, electricians, HVAC technicians and many other skilled labor workers are critical for society to function.

People can make a good living in the trades, but Howard Weldon, the director of internal operations at Burdg, Dunham & Associates, thinks that skilled labor is not regarded as highly as it should be in the education system. “I just kind of get the feeling that our education system is overlooking those types of needs and trying to fast-track everybody toward college degrees.”

Howard does not underestimate the importance of college degrees and other professions; he is just concerned about having a well-rounded and diverse workforce and wants to make sure that skilled labor work is a respected field. It seems to be an aging workforce, and construction companies are consistently looking for new blood.

The construction company hires subcontractors for many of its projects and has a large database of approximately forty thousand contractors that it has worked with over the years. So these subcontractors will keep coming back, the company has to ensure that they are treated well, that they get paid on time and that they are taken care of properly while working for Burdg, Dunham & Associates.

The communication with these employees during the project must be open and honest, which works both ways so that the needs of both parties are satisfied. Being a part of the construction business for thirty years and working with the same subcontractors multiple times has shown the company how to treat a subcontractor like an equal and get the same treatment in return.

Many construction companies are made up of only construction managers, meaning that they will send a supervisor to the job, but they will always subcontract the rest of the work on the project. One thing that is unique about Burdg, Dunham & Associates is that it has a base of carpenters and other skilled tradesmen with a range of skills and specialties.

Howard Weldon explained that the benefits of a skilled, in-house workforce extend beyond budgetary control and pride in a job well done. “We believe that being able to provide our own people gives us some flexibility to help ensure that the project is completed on time, even if we have to work overtime to meet the scheduled deadline. We can have our people do that without having to consider other workloads that a sub might have.”



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