At the foot of a construction site, Dirk Griffin, Chief Executive Officer of Pinner Construction, is shaking hands with a front-line employee in muddied boots and a yellow hard hat. Most onlookers would assume this was a special occasion, perhaps a ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Why else would a CEO greet a company’s front-line staff?
But there are no cameras, media, or onlookers, just Griffin’s staff and a handful of subcontractors. At Pinner Construction, handshakes and conversations with top executives on the worksite is a business practice that has spanned eighteen US presidents and two industrial revolutions. It is celebrating its one-hundredth anniversary, an incredible feat in an industry where countless new companies are built and demolished almost as fast as the buildings.
“Over the last century, we have delivered hundreds of successful projects that have made an incredible impact on Southern California,” says Justin Davis, President of Business Development at Pinner Construction.
The general contractor serves a multitude of clients in Southern California using best value, design-build, design-bid-build, and construction management delivery methods.
“If you’re driving through Southern California, you’re bound to pass by several Pinner Construction legacy and active projects.” Pinner Construction’s projects are dotted throughout Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties as well as Central California and San Diego.
Pinner has received numerous accolades, including a building of the year award from the U.S. Green Building Council, for its work on the Los Angeles Harbor College’s Science Complex. This $45 million design-build facility also achieved a LEED platinum rating and was showered with nine additional awards for its zero net energy design and other remarkable features.
Just this past month, Pinner Construction was thrilled to win homebuilding tradeshow PCBC’s Gold Nugget award of merit for the best educational project, for its work on the Monroe High School Industrial Arts Complex. This state-of-the-art facility comes equipped with a complete robotics laboratory, woodshop, and media center, making it a forward-thinking and inspiring addition to the Monroe High School campus.
“These milestones would not have been possible without our Pinner Construction employees, who have guaranteed the success of the company through hard work and dedication,” says Davis.
Pinner Construction provides employees with a competitive benefits package, including full family coverage for medical, dental, and vision services, as well as life insurance and long-term disability benefits. It also matches employee contributions to their retirement plans and offers reimbursements for advancements in education.
Education has been a vital contributor to Pinner Construction’s success, helping good workers to become great ones and great ones to become leaders. This is why Chief Executive Officer Dirk Griffin and President of Operations Steve Burdo frequently visit the jobsites and engage with their valued employees. “We understand and appreciate all of the hard work of our employees and we hope to continue our engagement with them on-site, providing the support they need to achieve success for our clients,” says Burdo.
Operations Management, in turn, value the importance of tracking and sharing the positive performance attributes of their employees from project to project. “It is important to us that no employee has to start from scratch when starting a new job,” says Burdo. “The history of their achievements is maintained with us and is an important component to what allows our employees to successfully move forward within the company.”
At Pinner Construction, it is different. Positive past performance is important and appreciated. Particular areas of interest or special skill sets are harnessed and promoted, both in the workplace and on social media. Pinner Construction’s social media pages highlight these employees in pictures and compliment teams for jobs well done.
“We have been extremely grateful for the individual growth of each employee that has allowed us to grow to the size we are today,” Davis explains. “We have grown our ranks by more than twenty percent in the last two years and look forward to expanding well after our hundredth year.”
“We are very proud to see our employees grow vertically within our organization. We have had several key employees join our firm right out of college as well as first period apprentices who are now leading our firm as Executives, Senior Pre-construction Managers, and Project Managers,” Davis continues.
Pinner Construction’s growth over the past two years has been made possible due to departmental collaboration and autonomy. “There is a tremendous amount of collaboration between departments,” says Davis. “A lot of work is procured through the best value process, and that allows our pre-construction and operations teams to partner with one another through the competitions. That relationship continues throughout the award process and, most importantly, the construction phase.” The best value system examines aspects such as proficiency or quality rather than just price.
The trend in best value has also resulted in growing relationships with clients “The biggest change we have seen in the industry are the procurement models our clients use. Years ago, it was always design-bid-build and the lowest price got the job,” Davis says. “That philosophy has really changed on the owner’s side to best value, which is great because we’re a relationship-based firm, and best value aligns well with our corporate philosophies of quality and pre-planning,” he says.
“Our approach is focused on collaboration,” explains Davis. “When we start a new relationship, we want it to grow into multiple future projects.” One such relationship is with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), an affiliation which has produced dozens of projects over the past few decades.
One of Pinner Construction’s ongoing projects with the LAUSD is the James A. Foshay Learning Center. The Learning Center will serve almost two thousand elementary and secondary students and is set to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2019.
“This $46 million project includes a new sixty-thousand-square-foot science classroom building, a new ten-thousand-square-foot music building, playfields, hard courts, parking lots, and utility infrastructure,” says Davis. A phasing plan was crafted and implemented by Pinner Construction and LAUSD to ensure the safety and security of all the students during construction.
Ongoing relationships, like the one with LAUSD, allow Pinner Construction to understand a client’s specific needs and work within their constraints. “We get to know and understand the requirements of a client’s expectations of safety, phasing, and logistics,” says Davis.
“As we gain that client-specific knowledge, we’re able to apply those in future projects.” These efficiencies can turn into cost-savings for clients, something Pinner is always working hard to find.
Not only does the company’s century of experience allow it to utilize a vast timeline of learned experiences to assist the client, but so do the experiences of its employees. “At Pinner Construction, our project teams are comprised of past K-12 facilities directors, former healthcare industry leaders, highly credentialed safety professionals, licensed architects and inspectors,” says Davis. “This shared network of experience is invaluable to us as a company and allows us to serve the client from multiple perspectives.”
Pinner Construction recently completed the Inglewood Senior Center, which was a major success for both the City of Inglewood and Pinner Construction. This ambitious $24 million project faced escalating costs at the start. After conducting preliminary assessments, Pinner Construction had concluded that the project would come in over budget.
The city’s budget was tight, but the company was able to deal with it well. “We were able to meet with the city and come up with a multiphase build for the construction which insulated them from material escalation impacts for all of the phases of the project.”
The first phase was the construction of multi-level underground parking. Pinner Construction purchased the rebar in bulk during this phase in order to cut costs for the client. Not only was money saved, but the project also earned a design excellence award and award of distinction during the 2018 Design-Build Institute of America awards.
As a general contractor, construction manager and design-builder, Pinner Construction’s relationships with subcontractors are essential. “We look for teams that value transparency and collaboration,” explains Davis. “They must share the same goal of completing the project efficiently and effectively.” To ensure this, Pinner Construction maintains a prequalification process with subcontractors to guarantee that its philosophies align and that working together on a particular project will prove successful for both parties.
Using a collective approach to business, both inside and outside of the company, Pinner Construction has successfully adapted to technological, design, and industry trends that have arisen over the past century. “We are proud to have persevered together as one thriving community through all of the ebbs and flows of this business while continuing to meet the needs of our employees and partners,” says Davis.
Celebrating one hundred years is not only about looking to the past but about walking into the future. “We anticipate the markets that Pinner Construction specializes in to continue to grow for years to come,” says Griffin. “We feel our firm is well-positioned to serve the needs of our clients, construct well-built and quality facilities the community can rely upon, and provide an excellent opportunity for our employees to advance in their careers,” he says.
“This legacy is something of which we are very proud, and we are excited to venture forward into the next one hundred years and beyond.”