Pioneering 21st Century Construction

Therrien Waddell
Written by Grace McDermott

Therrien Waddell is an innovative commercial construction management services company that proves there is no replacement for experiential knowledge. The leading provider of construction management services to Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, Maryland, Therrien Waddell is a case study in top quality construction and professional expertise.
Planning and attention to detail are simple concepts with major implications. When it comes to developing advanced or complex projects, firms are increasingly seeking out construction management services to control cost and increase efficiency. The demand for construction management is on the rise, but Therrien Waddell has been a pioneer in the sector for years. As the construction industry continues to strive toward more efficient and sustainable practices, Therrien Waddell’s most recent successes prove that a comprehensive approach to general contracting may just be the answer for which we’ve all been searching.

Therrien Waddell, named for the owners Jerry Therrien and Donnie Waddell, was started in 1987. The senior management had extensive professional backgrounds in the local construction and real estate industries and realised a gap in the market. The company was formed, setting out to improve construction service offerings in the local area. A passion for building and a commitment to innovative development led the business to a quick expansion.

Gaithersburg, Maryland-based Therrien Waddell grew organically, providing attention to detail that was unparalleled. Today, Therrien Waddell is the leading at-risk construction manager in the region.

With the construction management-at-risk approach, the property developer or owner, rather than accepting bids for the project, chooses a contractor based that contractor’s reputation and previous experience. Since subcontractors with unique specialties assume a vital role during construction, this allows for expert knowledge from the very beginning of the design.

Serving not only the state of Maryland, but also Virginia and the Washington Metropolitan area, the contractor’s recent work on several of the most complex projects in the region has gained widespread industry attention. Daniel Coffey, vice president of Therrien Waddell, explains, “The clients are coming to us for the performance, meeting deadlines and keeping on budget.”

Facing the reality of the global economic downturn, many general contractors downsized, avoiding the financial pressures that come with stimulating growth. Therrien Waddell faced the economic crisis head on, viewing the downturn as an opportunity to expand and diversify. Coffey says that, “When the market went down and everyone hunkered down, we reached out. By extending into the community and diversifying, we have grown through the downturn.”

As the economy has begun to bounce back, the fruits of this decision are clearer than ever and Therrien Waddell has emerged as not only a leader, but a distinguished innovator among both general and at-risk contractors.

The complexities of any construction project far surpass the organization of manual labor and materials. Increasingly, construction projects from every corner of the industry are seeking out general contractors with advanced and technical construction management skills.

With over three decades in the general contracting and at-risk contracting industries, Therrien Waddell’s clients benefit from the firm’s longstanding relationships with some of the country’s top engineers, specialists and subcontractors. Says Coffey, “It’s really about the customer service that is offered. It’s important to have someone watching out for [client’s] interest on a project, walking them through the processes. We build that success early on and maintain that.”

Therrien Waddell’s services transcend the offerings of most run-of-the-mill general contractors. The benefit of working with an experienced construction management firm arises in the efficiency of a build as well as the quality of the result.

Coffey explains that Therrien Waddell’s successes are the outcome of a company-wide commitment to the critical stages of construction development that happen not only during a build, but also before and after.

Pre-emptive strategy and planning are areas for which Therrien Waddell is renowned. Any construction professional will tell you, conceptual estimating and budget development are essential. In larger projects this pre-emptive planning is often distorted, rarely delivering on its promises in terms of time and budget. This issue, which plagues the construction sector, is driven by contractors’ inability to see the future or account for the shortcomings that arise in the later construction phases.

Therrien Waddell has faced this traditional dilemma head on, tackling the issues of planning pre-emptively to ensure that such plans come to fruition. “Early involvement with the budgeting and the scheduling helps clients make decisions, so when they get to the final place, the final place is consistent with the budget,” says Coffey.

When it comes to complex project planning, Therrien Waddell takes no chances, working diligently to articulate the reality of budgetary constraints with the help of value engineering analysis and technologically advanced modeling. This approach has created unparalleled results that continue to push the firm to the forefront of complex builds. “In seven years, we have never missed a schedule and never missed a budget, and that keeps clients coming back,” Coffey explains.

In addition to all the primary general contracting services, and the unique planning and budgeting services, Therrien Waddell also assists clients with contract document review and maintenance after project completion. If, for whatever reason, a client has a permit problem or other issue, “we are there to help them navigate through those hurdles, but we can identify those early because of our experience. So, we can help them navigate around those issues through early planning,” says Coffey.

Therrien Waddell’s construction management services encompass a range of expertise that enables the firm to create tailor-made strategies to meet the demands of each project. These skills have distinguished Therrien Waddell within industries that are both labor intensive and technically complex.

Interior builds are often the most multifaceted and intricate component of any construction project. In the technologically advancing world in which we live, the demand for advanced interior builds is on the rise. From biotech and medical to commercial structures, interior builds ultimately dictate the functionality of the world around us, and this is where Therrien Waddell’s specialty lies.

Often interior builds can be logistical nightmares, plagued by the complications of missed deadlines, or undercut by budgetary misspending at earlier phases of construction. Any company, but particularly firms that operate in sectors built on technology, cannot afford the shortcomings of disorganization as it would threaten the overall livelihood of the business.

“It’s so important in our business to plan it out early, starting out with a solid plan and then executing that plan over the course of the work. It keeps everything on track. When you don’t plan it early, things get off track.”

Cloud computing and data centers are a unique corner of the market, with very particular needs in terms of interior construction. Therrien Waddell is an emerging leader in the sector, carrying out numerous projects for some of the world’s biggest technology companies. These builds can be extremely risky and are mission-critical, as the structures contain very sophisticated mechanical and electrical systems that underpin the technology.

Therrien Waddell’s expertise lies in mitigating this risk. Firstly, the firm sets out to solve problems before they arise. With the aid of advanced technology and modeling, issues are alleviated before work boots hit the ground.

Once building begins, the company’s experienced team, dedicated solely to interior builds, monitors and manages every step of the process. “We manage this risk through very critical early planning and the use of very selective team members along the way. The same team goes from project to project; we don’t change up the subcontractors very often because we hold onto the people we can rely on to perform.”

Although these projects are extremely demanding, they are manageable with the right amount of planning and enthusiasm. Coffey points out that the “deadlines of these projects are intense, and the demands for all of the team members on the project are very high, but it’s a great piece of business.”

Therrien Waddell has worked on everything from cloud computing to shopping centers, but some of the organization’s most notable accomplishments are in sustainability.

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) is a widely recognized organization promotes an industry move toward sustainable construction. Therrien Waddell has been involved with sustainable developments since its beginning, working closely with local groups on regulatory issues in sustainability while also maintaining an active leadership role with the USGBC.

With several LEED certified and experienced professionals on staff, Therrien Waddell provides the ability to create efficient structures and gain accreditations. Coffey explains that sustainability is an area well suited to the company. “Making buildings higher performing and more sophisticated is something we are great at.”

One of the contractor’s most recent works, the Net-Zero Energy Residential Test Facility, was recognised by USGBC as a LEED platinum structure. The facility resembles a typical suburban single-family home but is designed to produce as much energy as it consumes within a year.

The 2,700-square-foot, two-story structure serves as a model to test new energy technologies on a practical home-scale level. The testing facility is the foundation for in-depth research into practical sustainability that has the potential to revolutionise the way we create and conserve energy in the future.

The revolutionary project has been a success, to say the least. Both on time and on budget, the Net-Zero House underwent its one-year evaluation this year and passed with flying colors. This project proves that with the right team and expertise, energy efficient design has long term benefits for years to come.

Therrien Waddell is pioneering twenty-first-century construction and receiving industry wide recognition for not only quality, but complexity and efficiency. Increasingly, the firm’s work can be seen in technologically advanced and high performing projects, an area in which the company will continue to advance.

Therrien Waddell’s strongest competitive edge and its biggest indicator of quality services lie in the fact that the firm’s growth has emerged from repeat business and word-of-mouth promotion.

The company has proved that good work sells itself. “We want an organization that is sustainable into the future. So, our main goal is to keep building a great team and a great organization, which continues to service its clients. That’s a business model that has always been successful, and in the end it pays off.”



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