Celebrating Nearly 90 Years of Client-Driven Success

Barr & Barr
Written by Jessica Ferlaino

For nearly ninety years, Barr & Barr has established itself as a reputable construction management firm. The premier construction manager offers its clients unsurpassed expertise and highest standard of quality and service. Many of the company’s clients are long-standing customers; old or new, all of its clients are highly valued and well-respected.
Barr & Barr was established in 1927 by Joseph R. Barr with the goal to ‘treat every client like a true partner and every project as if it were your own.’ In 1932, a landmark moment in the firm’s long and rich history occurred when it attracted the attention of Nelson Rockefeller Sr.

The company was enlisted to work on the Rockefeller’s Promenade, British Empire Building and La Maison Francaise that would form part of Rockefeller Center. It was only five years into its existence, and Barr & Barr was taking part in important projects while developing high-profile industry relationships.

With the proven ability to meet even the highest expectations, Barr & Barr has remained an industry leader ever since. “Our past success continues to play a vital role in our success today, as well as our personal commitment to our clients,” said CEO and President Keith Stanisce.

“We pride ourselves on being ‘client-driven,’ not ‘volume-driven.’ We are very focused, targeted on the project and the clients that we pursue, as well as the long-time relationships,” he said. “We pursue work because we feel we’re best suited for that type of project and client.”

Many of Barr & Barr’s clients are longstanding and well-respected institutions. The company has been doing projects for Princeton University for over thirty years and MIT for more than twenty years. Most impressive of all is the firm’s long-standing relationships with New England Medical Center, which has been a client for almost half a century.

Over eighty-five percent of its clients are repeat clients as a direct result of its ability to deliver successful projects. Barr & Barr boasts a ninety-five percent cost estimating accuracy and is one hundred percent committed to client satisfaction.

Barr & Barr provides this service from five regional offices, from New England, to the Mid-Atlantic and the South East. As part of its controlled growth, the company recently opened its South East regional office and is experiencing great success. Barr & Barr’s reputation for results precedes the firm wherever it may go. “Our best marketer is our reputation.”

It offers construction management services from pre-construction and construction to project commissioning. Barr & Barr professionals are with the company’s clients every step of the way. Officers play an active role in every project to which they are assigned, and senior leadership is present on each project, every step of the way.

Barr & Barr has project experience in the commercial, cultural and historical, healthcare, education, life sciences and research and parking structure markets. It has completed projects from the straightforward to the complex.

The company is very proud of its diverse portfolio of exceptional past projects. “We have worked with some of today’s iconic architects and leading institutions within our market sectors. This is also true of the leading institutions in the education, healthcare and even commercial markets, with clients such as Bayer Pharmaceuticals, Met Life, Princeton University, and MIT.

One example of a notable project by the firm is the four-story, 250,000-square-foot, five-wing science center at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts. Barr & Barr is the construction manager-at-risk on this $185 million project, working with architect Payette. The project is scheduled for 41 months, and completion is anticipated for 2018.

It was also the construction manager-at-risk on the Princeton University Office of Design and Construction, Petersman-Scully Hall and Neuroscience Institute in New Jersey. The 249,000-square-foot, Rafael Moneo-designed $199.5 million project took 40 months and was completed in 2014. This state-of-the-art facility utilized building information modeling (BIM) technology, sustainable practice, and a custom exterior cast glass rain screen system.

The Bloomberg Center at Cornell University is a highly anticipated project and the work of Morphosis Architects. The $130 million, four-storey, 150,000-square-foot, LEED Platinum facility will be the first of many buildings of the technology campus for research and education. The project is slated for 28 months with expected completion in 2017.

The steel and concrete construction of the façade will include metal panels, windows and curtainwall. The building will boast net zero energy usage as it will draw on a closed-loop geothermal system for heating and cooling. As well, the roof construction will include 40,000 square feet of photovoltaic panels.

Since 1927, Barr & Barr has dedicated the necessary resources to support the company’s growth and success. One way in which Barr & Barr has adapted is in the adoption and integration of BIM technology and sustainable building practices. Barr & Barr is a member of the Green Building Council and has LEED certified professionals.

“BIM has become an integral part of our industry,” said Executive Vice President and Director of Operations for Mid-Atlantic Tom LePage. “The construction industry has been, in the past, very slow to change, very slow to implement new technology. BIM has created cost effective procedures that have resulted in savings for the owners. We saw this coming over ten years ago, and we made the commitment. Our BIM director and supportive staff are committed to training and educating workers and subcontractors, enabling our projects to remain ahead of the industry curve with the current up to date technologies.”

“The great benefit is not just what you do on the construction side or the coordination side, but what you can do today with the site logistics and safety,” LePage described. “It’s been probably one of the greatest tools to implement and translates information and communication to people about what you are doing on a job logistically.”

BIM allows for shorter production schedules and safer work sites as a result of improved communication and access to information. BIM maximizes efficiency and site logistics, reducing waste, identifying challenges before they arise and mitigating risk.

Barr & Barr makes safety the number one priority of its people on work sites by ensuring that a site-specific health and safety plan is adopted and reinforced. Safety training is provided by the company’s safety director, a former OSHA inspector who is well versed in the industry’s safety and compliance standards.

Employees are the driving force behind the company’s reputation and the delivery of projects of the highest quality, and these knowledgeable professionals with deep-rooted industry expertise are also key to the company’s future. “We’re very rich in our personnel,” said Stanisce. “That’s our most valuable resource within this company and really what separates us from a lot of our competition. It’s our staff. It’s this level of experience we bring to all our projects.”

The sentiment was reiterated by LePage. “We don’t have a lot of turnover,” LePage explained. “They bring a lot of experience. We have teams that have been working together probably ten to fifteen years, maybe longer. In fact, the Princeton team has been working together for close to twenty to thirty years plus.”

Indeed, construction employment in 2016 is projected to approach 130,000 workers and may reach 132,000 by 2017 – the highest total since 1995. With this comes the challenge of a dearth of qualified labor, however, and this challenge is industry-wide. Working to address this, Barr & Barr has a mentoring program in which long-time employees train the company’s young professionals to give them a better opportunity to grow and advance in the firm. Stanisce believes this contributes to the highly motivated nature of both senior and junior staff members at Barr & Barr.

Stanisce and LePage have been with the company for 33 years and 28 years respectively, and they believe that it is embarking on an exciting era of growth, especially given the strength of the rebounding construction market across the United States.

“In New York City we are in a very improving economy. The New York construction market is probably just about fully rebounded from the recession,” LePage noted, acknowledging that this is the largest boom since 2007-2008. “We haven’t seen the final numbers, but I believe that, in 2015, there was almost $39 billion worth of construction in New York City, up ten percent from 2014.”

And the market is set to improve further over the next couple of years with Barr & Barr poised to take advantage of this market strength. “By maintaining, and not jumping at everything and through some really strategic guidance, we stayed within our sector. We kind of rode out the bad times, and now we are seeing the benefit of the good times coming back,” LePage said.

As a member of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of New York State, Barr & Barr maintains a strong focus on quality, safety, and accountability, while at the same time receiving support for its BIM and green building initiatives. With such a strong presence, the company can be selective with the project it undertakes, as it looks to maintain both its market share and its consistent growth. “We look to maintain our market share,” Stanisce explained. “You always want to be able to manage what you have and manage it well. Like we said, that’s the key to our success, is the repetitive client. If you can’t service them you are going to lose that client.”

With nearly ninety years behind it, Barr & Barr has a lot to look forward to in what promises to be a very bright and successful future. Regardless of project size and scope, Barr & Barr completes every job with the utmost commitment to the firm’s core values of integrity, accountability, honesty and passion.

“We’re a landmark when it comes to construction management firms,” Stanisce concluded. “It’s a company that is infused with energy and highly motivated and experienced personnel. It’s an exciting and very gratifying place to work.”



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