In 2017, Construction in Focus featured Buildings by Design (BBD) of Brush, Colorado with its full range of construction services, including pre-engineered metal building (PEMB) systems. Since then, the company’s commitment to going above and beyond for clients has worked wonders.
The 2017 article featured Travis Lefever, BBD Co-Partner who, in 2006, bought into the small company that his uncle, Pat Walter, had formed in 2004.
Five years later feels like a suitable time to catch up with today’s BBD, which appears to be growing by leaps and bounds as word spreads about the quality of its work. As before, its portfolio of services includes design, general contracting, construction, and project management in traditional building materials or PEMB.
It hardly needs to be said that relative newcomer to BBD, Brad Wolf, Director of Information Technology and Director of Construction Technology, is a man who has been wearing many hats since he joined the company in 2019, including, now, that of business development manager.
“This is a new position,” Wolf says, “as previously Travis had taken on some of this work, but the experience I brought to the company was unique, and as they were trying to expand growth, he asked me to step into this and expand business development. Travis, Pat, and I had been friends for a while, and it was important to me to help this company grow because there are no two better people I’d want to work for. They stand by their word, they’re honest and transparent, and they want what’s best for their employees and clients.”
When Wolf joined in 2019, 16 employees were working out of the Brush office, 90 miles from Denver. Three years later there is double that number, plus a separate metal buildings division located in Firestone, 30 miles from Denver. To head up that division, BBD brought in Randy Gates, who Wolf calls “the best guy in the PEMB industry,” and who serves as BBD’s vice-president.
BBD is authorized to supply and erect Chief Metal Buildings, a leading U.S. manufacturer of pre-engineered metal buildings, with facilities in Nebraska, Indiana, and South Carolina. Proud to be 100 percent American, Chief buys raw materials only from other U.S. manufacturers, never outsources work such as design or detail, and never offshores jobs.
Separating the two parts of BBD’s business, general contracting and PEMB, and giving both divisions dedicated space to grow, “has allowed us to better serve our clients in a manner where we can do the whole project ourselves, and cut out the middleman,” Wolf says.
By doing that, BBD can show clients realistic timelines, bring in the PEMB materials, and handle the construction work.
“We also do a lot of self-performing concrete work, and we have teams that can help us support our PEMB division. This means we can look at these projects as a whole because we can design and build them right, starting with the foundation. Then we can take it to the next step, and supply and erect the metal building. What we are offering our clients is a turnkey solution.”
Building of the year times two
For two years running, BBD has received the prestigious Building of the Year Award from Chief Metal Builders, receiving overwhelming support from peers, who voted over 75 percent in favor of BBD’s projects.
In 2020 BBD received the award for a building constructed for the Aurora, CO headquarters of ESPEC North America, a company that manufactures and sells environmental test chambers.
The following year, BBD received the same award for the Rock Creek Curling Club in Lafayette, Colorado’s largest curling facility, with 13,000 square feet of social and meeting space, and six sheets of ice.
Growth for BBD doesn’t only mean more employees, more space, and more awards. It’s about building strong relationships with suppliers, such as Chief; with architectural firms including D2C; with repeat clients such as the Colorado DOT; and it’s about building projects that matter.
It’s also about continuous improvement of customer service. By using technology software such as Building Information Modeling, (BIM) and PROCOR, a construction management platform, along with drones that can utilize iPads on the job site and create real-time data, BBD is combining innovation, efficiency, and transparency for the benefit of clients.
As Wolf says, “We want to be an open book with our subs and clients so that we are all on the same page as we work through the project.”
Bringing ideas to life
Another service BBD can offer clients through its partnership with D2C, the architecture firm, is quality customized solutions. “A customer may come to us with a vision in his head, but how is he going to bring that to reality?” Wolf asks. “That’s our role on the design-build side. We can partner with an architect who will listen to the client and design the building, and then we will review those plans for constructability, and put it all together,” he explains.
“Pat, Travis, and I are all interested in building projects that matter, that serve people in the places where we are working. For example, we believe the transportation facilities we’ve constructed for Colorado DOT do impact lives. Some people may not consider those facilities to be very important but having good roads to travel to work on makes a huge impact on people’s livelihoods. So, in our eyes, transportation facilities are something that matters.”
Wolf adds that BBD is now looking to get into the educational sector, as that also involves building projects that matter. “Buildings can impact the lives of students, the next generation of leaders, and we want to make an impact on that by creating facilities that meet their needs and help them to grow.”
Giving back to the communities where they live and work is important to the company. Walter, Lefever, and Wolf all lead by example, getting involved with various activities, including coaching high school football and wrestling teams, and offering students the opportunity to learn about construction through internships.
The next generation
While BBD has been successful in doubling the number of its employees, recruitment is not without its challenges. One issue the company is dealing with head-on is an education system that tends to place a high value on preparing students for university, but not encouraging interest in trades.
To improve that situation, BBD has hired a human-relations business partner who is actively presenting the idea that education can mean something other than a four-year degree, and that skilled trades and talented project management people can make a good living.
“So we’re working with high school guidance counselors, and Brush also has a high school construction science group that we’re working with,” Wolf says. “Some of them, juniors and seniors, are interning with us right now, and getting a real understanding and hands-on experience of various aspects of construction technology.”
But skills, as important as they are, are not the only area BBD looks to when hiring. “One of the things that are important to us, is will they be a good fit? Will they be an extension to our family? How do they match our values? Are they reputable? Stand behind their word? Represent the company well?” says Wolf.
“This is extremely important because we believe our word is gold and that is what we live by. We stand behind our word 100 percent and that is what we look for in our employees. So far, we have been fortunate enough to find it.”
Why should an organization contact BBD for its next project? “Because we will offer a personalized approach,” Wolf says. “We know the project matters to the client, and therefore it matters to us because we want to establish a long-term relationship. We want them to come back.”
As it turns out, most of BBD’s clients do come back for their next project.
Not only do they come back, but when national companies for whom BBD has done work in Colorado have work elsewhere in the country, as far east as Baltimore and Boston or as far west as Spokane, they invite BBD to work there too. And if that’s not proof enough of the value BBD brings to each project it completes, we don’t know what is.