Design and Build Done Right in South Carolina

Berenyi
Written by Pauline Müller

After thirty years in the design-build industry, Berenyi Inc. recently welcomed a fresh leadership team in new owners Razvan Cojocaru and Jordan Behringer.

Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Berenyi gives new meaning to doing construction right. Jordan Behringer describes the company as a true design-build firm, meaning that it can take on any industrial or commercial construction project from concept to completion with its own team of in-house architects, engineers, and construction personnel, rather than having to team up with third-party designers or contractors.

To achieve excellence in all its projects, the company is well-staffed with a team of experts, charged with delivering successfully within budget and on time. Across engineers and architects, construction managers and other site professionals, Berenyi has the skills base for the most ambitious projects.

The company is quintessentially relationship-driven, and its many longstanding clients and long-serving staff stand testimony to this. “One of the main pillars of our mission is gratitude. When you look at relationships on a project, the outcome of gratitude is about more than just a completed project. It’s what makes folks come back for more,” says Amy T. Moore, the firm’s Director of Strategic Development and Communications.

Berenyi is a company where people feel heard, a company where the old-fashioned habit of acknowledgment survives. If you introduce or refer a potential client, you can expect a sincere note of thanks from management. “We genuinely care for the welfare of our clients. We look at it as a partnership. Everyone on our team cares about clients and not necessarily our bottom line,” says Behringer.

Cojocaru agrees. “We pride ourselves on being good listeners. We take our time to truly understand the client’s needs, and then we translate and implement them into the design and construction,” he says. “The result is that the team treats communication like the fine art it is—and the results are more than worth the effort.”

Berenyi is also about seamlessness—and it shows. As one would expect from an industry leader in the twenty-first century, the company’s approach to relationships may be based on old-fashioned good manners and evergreen sincerity, but technology forms the backbone of its sophisticated communication network. That includes keeping customers posted on project progress with regular digital updates.

Part of Berenyi’s comprehensive technology suite is an advanced drone technology that provides full survey scanning and images as well as updates of job sites. Virtual reality headsets let clients walk through their buildings virtually, and a full-time, in-house digital marketing manager handles all aspects of each platform, orchestrating the entire client experience for optimum user comfort.

“This streamlines the process. Everyone is working from the same page. Our company is truly unique in the industry thanks to our communication process. It makes for a tighter, more buttoned-up solution,” says Moore.

Having all its professionals under one roof means that team members get to know one another well and are just a door or two away if any challenges or questions arise. That is a tremendous plus when it comes to speed and efficiency on all its projects.

As Moore points out, this open-door culture creates a strong sense of empathy amongst colleagues that supports problem-solving when challenges arise. To its leadership’s knowledge, there is no other firm in the region that offers such a well-rounded, easily accessible working process.

The company’s culture of military precision comes as no surprise when one discovers that its founder, Tony Berenyi, came from an army background.

A civil engineering graduate from The Citadel and a Master’s graduate from MIT School of Engineering in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Tony Berenyi was a commanding officer in Operation Desert Storm during the Persian Gulf War in the early 90s. A telling part of this time in the company’s history is that every client put on hold during Berenyi’s time in military service returned as soon as he came back from Iraq.

Around 2008, at which time the firm only provided architecture and engineering services, Tony Berenyi and his leadership team made the strategic decision to include construction and general contract services in its client offerings. With a well-established reputation for architectural and engineering excellence, he found that many clients came forward requesting construction services as well. It was the critical key to taking projects from concept to completion, seamlessly.

And so, Berenyi, Inc., as we know it today, came into existence. Today, this trailblazing culture of innovation persists through finding solutions and implementing improved systems. “Our future is also about asking ourselves how to bring more to the table. How can we serve our clients better and in new ways by leveraging technology? We always embrace new ideas,” Behringer says.

Its commitment to continuous improvement allows Berenyi to get into some truly fantastic and exciting projects. You have only to examine one of the company’s current new jobs; this large, next-generation facility—for which the company was appointed as lead architect, structural engineer, and construction manager—boasts an entirely automated clean room packaging space. Entirely customized, this 9,000 square-foot project is also the first of its kind for Berenyi’s client here in North America.

The team recently also completed a 15-million-dollar expansion project for its longstanding client, Symrise, a global manufacturer specializing in food and perfume additives with operations in Goose Creek, South Carolina. The multifaceted project required Berenyi’s engineering and general contracting expertise. Part of the project included a design of a 180-foot tall structural steel tower to support specialty equipment.

Then there is the Hydra ISO yard. This 260,000-square-foot facility in Berkeley County, South Carolina, opened in June 2022 and comprises a brand new 550-foot utility pipe rack complete with two overhead bridges, wash and maintenance racks with custom fall-protection systems, office space, locker rooms, and more. This full-service International Organization for Standardization (ISO) container depot focuses on the bulk liquid transportation industry, offering storage, cleaning, and maintenance for more than 1,000 containers alongside future container repairs, testing, and streaming services.

During COVID-19, Berenyi continued its work and continued to deliver to the standards that its clients have come to value unchanged. “The key to our success was to offer flexibility to our employees in terms of working from home or taking time off as they dealt with illness, childcare, or caring for family members. At the same time, we put in the protocols to ensure we had redundancy in all aspects of our business and operations, in order to be able to continue operating at the high level our clients expect even when not at full strength personnel wise,” says Cojocaru.

He highlights that, at Berenyi, work is not only about construction but also about improving its community. For instance, the two new owners place a marked focus on education as well as giving support to teachers and administrators. It is not rare to see Berenyi team members pitching in and lending a hand at local schools.

Working lean and smart is part of this powerful team’s ethos, reducing waste across all its disciplines and reusing where and when possible. It implements green building practices as a matter of course. That includes energy-efficient fixtures, solar panels, greywater plumbing systems, and the like.

“What I am most proud of in our team is that everybody has bought into and understands what we do and how we do it. That means everybody wears multiple hats. No one is afraid to do what it takes to get the job done,” says Behringer. He believes it is generosity of spirit and strong goal orientation that give the company its secret superpowers of nimble speed, flexibility, and high standards.

To this end, a dedicated in-house program works to ensure that high standards are upheld throughout the organization, both at job sites and office. As part of this initiative, Berenyi created handbooks, training manuals, and other materials that all serve as guides to set the tone for a unified approach to its service delivery model.

Berenyi’s leadership makes no secret of its gratitude to the company’s founder for establishing a solid foundation of excellence for them to build on.

This culture of excellence has won Berenyi a well-deserved and healthy collection of awards over the years. Most recently, it had the honor of ranking at the top of SC Biz News’ list of South Carolina’s best general contractors. It is also a company where women make their mark, as is evident in the award given to its Director of Strategic Impact, Kathy Lewis, as one of the Top 50 Women Leaders of South Carolina in 2022 by the national news organization Women We Admire.

Against the backdrop of the tremendous industrial growth South Carolina has seen in the last twenty years, it is clear that when Tony Berenyi’s company hit the market, it was at the perfect point.

With a solid and growing local presence, the company also works further afield, completing umpteen projects across the country. As technological and industry innovation gathers momentum, Moore sees the company—and ultimately, its customers—continuing to benefit from new and improved systems and tools. In her own words, the commitment and forward thinking of the new generation is a promising and exciting aspect of the future.

Behringer sees the regional construction industry growing in terms of increasing numbers of production facilities appearing everywhere. And, as Cojocaru notes, the evolution of technology will also lead to construction evolving. He lists electric vehicle manufacture as but one example. But while sustainable growth is at the top of the company’s priorities list, maintaining quality is the bedrock of progress for this admirable team of industry leaders.

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