Serving Southern California since 1945, Millie and Severson is a licensed General Contractor that is known for its multiple areas of expertise across a variety of sectors including Healthcare, Medical Office Buildings, Industrial, Institutional, Commercial Office Buildings and other niche markets. Millie and Severson’s construction services ensure the success of their clients’ visions and budget at every stage of their projects.
Nick Shaffer, Project Development Manager at Millie and Severson spoke to Business in Focus about the company’s history and projects, and how it has evolved to deal with the changes in the Southern California market.
“Our people are what make our company special,” Shaffer says. “A lot of our employees have been with the company for a long time, anywhere from ten to forty years. Due to that breadth of knowledge, a familiarity with different cities and municipalities and their requirements, we are able to blend highly technical work with quick, efficient work.”
Mille and Severson began as a partnership between two USC engineering graduates, Mr. Noble Millie and Mr. Charles Severson, in 1945. World War II had just ended, and the two had completed their wartime work building Liberty Ships in Los Angeles, explains the company’s website, mandsinc.com. Since incorporating in 1947, Millie and Severson has become a full service General Contractor with a rich portfolio of projects throughout Southern California as the population boomed throughout the region during the postwar period.
Headquartered in the suburb of Los Alamitos in Orange County, California, the company’s current Chairman is Severson’s son Jonathon, who joined the firm shortly after Noble Millie’s death in 1975. Three of the Severson grandchildren currently work for the company. After primarily working on projects in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, the company has recently expanded, opening offices in Ontario, Stevenson Ranch (in Santa Clarita, just North of Los Angeles), and Pleasanton in the Bay Area. Millie and Severson has an Employee Stock Ownership program, with approximately 97 percent owned by employees.
Millie and Severson adheres to a stringent set of core values that include integrity, collaboration, inquisitiveness, transparency, actively sharing and listening and exceeding the expectations of its clients.
“Whenever we acquire a new client… we collaborate with them as much as possible so that we realize their goals. This approach has led to high repeat business,” explains Shaffer. “We ask the important questions that will move us forward into more efficient realms. We are progressive as a company and want to develop strong relationships with clients and to be a partner for life with them.”
The company offers a number of services to fulfill the construction needs of its clients. With preconstruction services including budgeting, master scheduling, value engineering, constructability reviews, site logistics planning, procurement planning, and 3D building information modeling, Millie and Severson also offers design-assist services through its early systems modeling and subcontractor partnering programs. Additionally, Millie and Severson provides construction services as a licensed General Engineering and Building contractor engaged primarily in private construction projects in the state of California.
Millie and Severson also remains committed to green building and sustainability, and the company delivers solutions for green construction that provide value for its clients. Millie and Severson has made it a goal to be an industry leader in sustainable building practice. The company is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and has a number of LEED-Accredited Professionals on its staff. Additionally, Millie and Severson provides training and support for LEED Accreditation and Green Associate exams for its employees.
“We are constantly developing internal processes to understand how to execute LEED on specific projects,” Shaffer explains. “Right now, we’re developing an internal program on processes from beginning to end. The State of California is extremely progressive with Title 24 (energy efficiency standards in the state). We work a lot with local consulting groups on educating about Title 24 because the goal is for Zero Net Energy building by 2030 and what that means for clients, cost and schedule impacts. We want Millie and Severson to become a trusted advocate for building owners to meet green building codes, keeping price and schedule in mind. We are working with engineers, collaborating with them to get the best outcome on green building codes and have worked really hard internally to educate ourselves to continue to do that.”
Shaffer also discussed the common misconception about the costs associated with building green. “In California, it’s not because you have to,” he says. “Building according to Title 24 is a requirement in the state, so building green is not a premium cost because it’s already in the code. LEED does not necessarily cause an increase in cost of building; we’ve decided to internalize fees, to help manage processes and coordination in the life of project.”
Indeed, Millie and Severson’s extensive expertise in green buildings and LEED standards have enabled the company to embark on a number of projects throughout California in a variety of disciplines and fields. For example, the company has completed over 30 million square feet of industrial space throughout Southern California since 1980. One notable project was the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Moreno Valley. The 1,514,620 square foot facility included 50,000 square feet of tenant improvements and accommodates between 1,000 and 2,000 employees.
In the town of Indio, Millie and Severson constructed a 90,000 square foot County Law building – under budget and ahead of schedule. The facility is expected to obtain LEED Platinum status due largely to its energy savings.
Millie and Severson has also worked with some of Southern California’s most prestigious private institutional clients, including numerous high schools, colleges, and universities. One notable example is the construction of the 90,000 square foot Maimonides School in West Los Angeles. Due to its dense, urban location, the school, interestingly, has underground parking and a rooftop basketball court.
The team has also completed projects on nearly 50 hospital campuses in Southern California, including many state-of-the-art facilities. Recent experience in this field includes hospitals, medical centers, emergency rooms, and specialized medical facilities, including oncology centers, cancer treatment wards, dialysis centers, and other laboratories throughout the region.
In terms of its geographical reach, Millie and Severson continues to expand beyond the Southern California market. The opening of an office in the San Francisco Bay Area means that the company is planning to make inroads in that area in the near future. Short term plans include diversification and building additional projects in the medical and industrial sectors in particular.
“Growth is a challenge, so we’re focused on growing in a smart way,” shares Shaffer. “With our new offices, our leadership is smart in how we grow because the market is cyclical. The market goes up and down and we need to be ready for that, so we have prepared by offering a diversification of services in our core sectors. Right now the industrial market is growing, but also has the potential to slow down, so we will be ready for those market changes while maintaining our staff.”
Like many construction companies, Millie and Severson has dealt with ups and downs in the industry, but Shaffer is confident that the company will continue to thrive. “Currently, the state of the industry is good. The economy has picked up in Southern California and the state of the market has been good for us – we are the 7th-fastest growing company in Orange County. There has been a lot of capital for developers and a lot of money for projects that make sense; we’ve been able to ride that wave. Overall, the upswing in the economy has benefited our company.”
For the past 70 years, Millie and Severson has thrived by diversifying and evolving to serve the needs of the Southern California market. As the company expands, Shaffer feels that by adhering to its core values, the company will continue to succeed. “We pride ourselves on quality, communication, collaboration with clients and owners. We have a diversity of work from the industrial, healthcare, and institutional sectors… We are financially strong, and we are all about our team.”