Often times, we are asked “What’s your why?!” Why do you do what you do? What motivates you to get out of bed each morning? What is your calling?

Our Senior Superintendent, Mr. Ruza’s calling was always construction. His dad was a builder, so he got into construction at just 10 years old. This instilled Mr. Ruza’s unparalleled work ethic at a very young age. Growing up, he traded in his summers and weekends at the shore to help out his Dad on the jobsite.

He joined the Local 845 Carpenter’s Union to complete his apprenticeship, and he also attended college for two years to study Architectural Engineering. Mr. Ruza worked as a Carpenter until he left for the Marines to serve in Vietnam. After serving his four years, he soon started working again, and he has been doing it ever since. If you ask Mr. Ruza about his career he’ll give you this simple – yet definite – answer: “It’s in my blood. That’s all I really know how to do.”

Something else you should know about Mr. Ruza? He just might be the definition of grit. He loves a challenge, stating that he’ll “never turn down a challenge when it comes to work.” With a smile, he concludes: “The harder it is, the better I like it.”

 

Another aspect of his calling just may be his commitment to safety. It’s no secret that safety is a huge component of construction day in and day out, but Mr. Ruza goes the extra mile, embodying the D&B way of safety being our standard. In 2013, he worked for a General Contractor that was working for a University in Philadelphia. They had just finished constructing a restaurant that was supposed to open at 5:00, but next thing they knew something broke and they were trying to fix it. There was a hole in the wall that was not properly covered. Mr. Ruza walked across it, fell, and shattered about three inches above his ankle. He spent about 30 days in the hospital and 18 months learning how to walk again. “I always took safety seriously, but after that I really got into it. I’ve been doing it since 2013 as a Health and Safety Officer for different companies. That’s why I’m here as a Senior Superintendent for D&B. My job is to enforce OSHA regulations and safety,” he explains.

As an active member of D&B’s Safety Committee, Mr. Ruza has an OSHA manual on the desk in his job trailer. Here, it does anything but sit and collect dust. He is actively reading it from cover to cover to stay up to date with any changes, and he isn’t afraid to pull someone off his jobsite if they are violating any safety regulations. “I liked working with my hands. Now I’m getting well-seasoned, so now I use my brain and my knowledge. I try to teach anyone that wants to be taught,” he says.

 

For Mr. Ruza it’s all about work and one other important thing – family. After his accident on the jobsite in 2013 he wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to work again. While that in itself was difficult for him, the hardest part of that time in his life was not being able to do things with his two young children.

Today all of his children are grown. His son just bought a house to fix up and rent out, so he’s been going over to help him with that. Otherwise, he lives a simple life. “I leave my job site. I go home, eat, and watch TV. I go to bed early because I get up early. That’s about it. I don’t really take vacations or anything. It’s all about work,” he explains. Mr. Ruza takes so much pride in his work that he has even spent Holiday weekends giving his family a tour of his jobsite. That’s passion for the job.    

 

Mr. Ruza enjoyed spending part of his Easter Sunday giving his kids a tour of the progress taking place at the mixed-use building he is currently overseeing construction of in Kennett Square, PA. That's passion for the job. That's a love for what you do. That's the D&B way. That’s the D&B difference. PS: Dad's a good boss — All PPE was required on the job site, even on a day off from construction because #safetyisourstandard.

 

Labor shortages is a hot topic right now. In the construction industry alone, there are approximately 400,000 job openings. Currently, 67% of construction companies are experiencing skilled labor shortages across the globe. Couple this with an increase in material cost (we’re talking nearly quadruple the cost of plywood wholesale prices from $400 to $1500 per thousand square feet that we saw during the first year of COVID-19) and you have a minor reason to panic.

According to our Chief Operating Officer, Brennan Reichenbach, the cost of construction has doubled – and in some cases nearly tripled – in the last approximate five years alone. The substantially cheaper costs of a fit out vs. ground up construction are all the more reason for a developer to consider adaptive reuse projects over new construction – especially in the current climate.

 

 

As the icing on the cake, mix these two factors together with the dwindling amount of available development space in metropolitan areas, the current housing market and the nation’s housing shortage, and you get the perfect recipe for a high demand in multi-family housing. Despite all of the stressors currently weighing on the millions of people who touch the construction industry in some capacity, when looking at the current climate through the eyes of a developer, it may just be the perfect cocktail for opportunity. Read on to find out how:

 

The Housing Inventory Issue Coupled with Available Development Space:

 

Inventory of houses is an issue across the nation right now. It’s no secret that the prices of reselling a home is at an all-time high, and that is due in part to the fact that new construction is expensive thanks to all the hurdles that need to be jumped in order to reach the finish line of complete construction. A rather stubborn supply chain has been no help in driving down the cost of housing either.

Berks County has been a Seller’s Market since September of 2021, with homes in the county selling for 10.3% more than they would have a year ago. The number of homes for sale in Berks County this year is the highest it has been in the last 15 years. For comparison, in May of this year there were 759 homes on the market throughout the county compared to just 530 the month before. This is an increase of 43.2%.

Gallup’s annual Economy and Personal Finance Poll, conducted in April and published in early May, revealed that 69% of respondents believed it is a bad time to buy a house. This is the first time that a majority of Americans have felt this way in the poll’s 44-year history. The factors likely contributing to this majority statement include rising interest rates and the inability for new housing construction to have a significant impact on the demand for housing.

A recent interview on Keller Williams Realtor Brad Weisman’s podcast Real Estate and You featured Kevin Timochenko, Founder and Owner of Metropolitan Companies, who handles development, building, and management. D&B is currently building a number of multi-family apartments (like The Reserve at Iroquois) for the company, who is also scheduled to build between 200 and 300 single-family homes from Pittsburgh to Delaware within the next year.

Timochenko discusses how developing in Berks County is a different story than the other areas his company typically deals with. Although land is available, it is harder for developers such as Kevin Timochenko to make money on this investment since land and improvement costs are so high in this area, thus making it difficult to build. The amount of preserved land in the area also can complicate things – especially when land is being preserved in the middle of commercial corridors that would better serve the community if developed. To add insult to injury, Berks County is one of the most preserved counties throughout the state of Pennsylvania with over 75,000 acres of preserved farmland.

If you trade the farmland of more rural areas for the concrete of larger cities, you’ll still find the same overarching issue of a lack of available square footage for new development – just in a different setting.

 

So How Do All These Negatives Make A Positive?

The solution may just be repurposing the commercial square footage already available. Currently, society as a whole is seeing more and more real estate developers buying office buildings so they can convert them to residential use. A recent high-profile example was announced in Washington D.C. with plans to convert two older office buildings – Universal North and Universal South – near DuPont Circle on Connecticut Avenue. The buildings, which total 700,000+ square feet, marks Philadelphia-based real estate firm, Post Brothers, debut into the metro Washington D.C. area.

The firm may be onto something, as they found success in redeveloping a former warehouse in Northern Philadelphia into The Poplar, which includes 285 apartments and high-end amenities including a world-class fitness sanctuary rooftop dog parks, and three infinity-edge saltwater pools.

Time will tell how this transition fares, but it looks like many metropolitan areas throughout the country – with our nation’s capital as the main experiment – will be serving as case studies for converting former commercial space into residential housing or even mixed-use development. In an article in the Washingtonian, Senior Editor Marisa M. Kashino was told by John Falcicchio, Washington D.C.’s Deputy Mayor for Planning and Development, that adaptive reuse is needed to “save downtown.” In the metro D.C. area alone, approximately 325,000 units need to be added before the end of the decade in order to keep up with the demand. Many have their eyes on the recently estimated 157.9 million square feet of rentable office space in the D.C. area as a potential solution for this issue.

 

The Push for Office-to-Residential Conversions

Many other metropolitan areas aside from Washington D.C. are seeing a strong push for adaptive reuse projects focused on converting office space to residential multi-family living – so much so that legislators are even passing laws to assist with this trend. The latest budget for California included a call to action to spend $400 million “as an incentive to developers to convert commercial and office buildings into affordable housing in the budget years 2022-23 and 2023-24.” In early June New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a bill that made it easier to convert underused hotels into permanent housing. Just last week, city officials in Chicago announced that they would provide tens of millions of dollars to developers willing to convert aging office towers into residential buildings.

New York City’s push for such conversions is also apparent with the $1.5 billion transformation of the former home of Irving Trust Bank at One Wall Street in lower Manhattan, marking itself as the largest office-to-residential conversion in the city’s history. Take a detour west to Salt Lake City, and you’ll find Houston-based developer Hines, an international real estate firm, acquired a 24-story office building – South Temple Tower – which they plan to convert into a 255-unit luxury apartment complex starting in early 2023. Similar projects are also in the works in major cities such as Atlanta and Dallas.

 

A Look At The Local Forecast

Given the strong trend of these conversions in larger cities, it is inevitably just a matter of time before we see this start to take hold in more sub-suburban areas.

Patrick Zerbe, Commercial Real Estate Agent for NAI Keystone, has been watching this trend start to take hold since the pandemic. “The pandemic fast-tracked transitions in different trends. The largest transition we are seeing in the commercial real estate world are businesses providing remote and hybrid work. With less people in the office, companies and organizations have determined to decrease their footprint, which in contrast has given an influx of vacant office space. We have primarily seen this in larger cities, but this trend is slowly making its way to subsidiary markets,” he explains.

Recent data from Co-Star, a global leader in commercial real estate intel, provides a good example of what Patrick discusses. Reading, PA has a 6.3% vacancy rate for the nearly 13.5 million square feet of office space available in the city. In comparison, of the 323 million square feet of office space in Philadelphia, 10.3% (or 33 million square feet) is currently vacant. This is an increase from the historical average of 9.5%.

Office rents in the Reading Market were rising at a 1.6% annual rate during the fourth quarter of 2022, and have posted an average annual gain of 1.6% over the past three years. While 260,000 SF has delivered over the past three years (a cumulative inventory expansion of 1.9%), nothing is currently underway. Vacancies in the metro were a bit above the 10-year average as of Q4 of 2022, but were essentially flat over the past four quarters. (Source: Co-Star)
Heading into late 2022, Philadelphia's office market is hitting an inflection point. As the pandemic subsides, tenants are once again making long-term leasing decisions in larger numbers. Since the late last year, total leasing has been averaging about 2.3 million SF quarterly, more than double the lows hit during the first few quarters of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the total amount of space listed as available for lease across the market appears to have peaked around 46.5 million SF, a level it has been holding near over the past 12 months. (Source: Co-Star)

“A lot of companies no longer want to worry about sharing common space, and more people want direct access and direct walk-in space to their offices. A multi-story office building in the center of a city hosts a lot of common areas,” he reflects.

As a commercial real-estate agent, Patrick sees many redevelopment opportunities in the multi-family market. “With the prices of land and material, building anything ground-up is incredibly expensive right now. Any chance a developer may have to look at a re-development project to substitute some of these costs is a winning combination,” he states.

Aside from the obvious solution of breathing new life into corporate complexes as an adaptive reuse project, Patrick predicts that large retail centers and institutions such as old schools may be a great opportunity for development into multi-family housing to aid the housing crisis.

Let us know what areas you think would serve as the perfect adaptive reuse project for multi-family living in the comments below!

World Architecture Day was established by the International Union of Architects (UIA). Architecture is something we consume every day, as it creates the physical environment we live in. It impacts our society and makes up the culture of every community across the globe.

Meet some of the Architectural firms that we are fortunate to regularly partner with here at D&B Construction: 

 

About Meister-Cox Architects:

Meister-Cox Architects provides exceptional customer service. Clients are provided with all services expected from a large firm with the close client contact of a small firm. They like to help with the difficult projects and will take on the projects that other firms may not.

How has Meister-Cox Architects grown and evolved since being founded in 1974?

The firm was founded by Bill Meister, one Architect, one Drafter, and a Secretary who worked on small commercial projects, elderly housing and multi-family projects. They have steadily grown over the years, with four architects, one designer, and an office operations manager as of 2022. Hospitality projects, industrial projects, and larger commercial projects have enhanced their portfolio. Since 2019, the firm has gone back to their roots by adding several multi-family housing projects to their experience. Their client base is built largely through repeat business, and most of their work is received through referrals.

What type of projects does Meister-Cox tend to specialize in?

Multi-Family Housing, Hospitality, Industrial / Commercial, Places of Worship, Township Buildings, and Daycares.

On average, the firm completes this many projects in a year:

79

Out of all the projects Meister-Cox has completed together as a firm, they are collectively most proud of the following:

They are most proud of their partnership on the design of Dekalb Pike and Virginia Drive. These projects were a natural extension of their hospitality and multi-family experience and have allowed them to expand their portfolio in new and exciting directions. Through these projects they were able to express a contemporary architectural vernacular style and have challenged their team to create affordable, beautiful communities in which to live. Meister-Cox is thankful to be part of the team that will bring them to fruition, and they look forward to many more years of a successful partnership with D&B Construction.

Some other projects Meister-Cox is teaming up with D&B on include active construction on Wyomissing Square and multi-family projects currently in pre-construction, such as Milford Ponds and The Lofts at Fort Washington. Lastly, it’s always worth mentioning this awesome office and showroom they completed for Kountry Kraft Custom Cabinetry.

About Olsen Design Group Architects:

Olsen Design Group Architects is a firm of qualified and experienced professionals who are committed to excellence and who understand the importance of each individual client.  Their office location allows them to comfortably serve the geographical area of southeastern Pennsylvania and the northeastern United States.  It also gives them the ability to be available for an impromptu meeting or site visit to resolve a situation as quickly as possible in order to best serve their clients. Quality and thoughtful aesthetics, attention to detail, and “service after the sale” are what they stand by.

 

How has Olsen Design Group Architects grown and evolved since being founded in 1993?

As they approach their 29th year as a firm, they have lived through 2.5 recessions, the pandemic and a reorganization. They have ‘fine-tuned’ their project methodology to be client-involved from day one. Today they have five full time team members and three “on call” team members as needed.

 

What type of projects does Olsen Design Group tend to specialize in?

Healthcare (hospital based, clinical based, behavioral health and addiction treatment / rehab specialization), Multi-family residential housing, Commercial / Retail and private homes.

The exterior and interior of the DoubleTree Hotel in Reading, PA
GoggleWorks Apartments in Reading, PA
The exterior and interior of the Neag Medical Center in Wernersville, PA at the Caron Foundation

On average, the firm completes this many projects in a year:

20-25

 

Out of all the projects Olsen Design Group has completed together as a firm, they are collectively most proud of the following:

Healthcare. Regardless of the size or the complexity of their healthcare projects, it is most rewarding to assist our clients in planning / designing and building facilities to care for people of all ethnic origins, stations in life, and of all ages to help them live quality lives and improve their conditions.

One such noteworthy healthcare project that Olsen Design Group worked with D&B on was the Penn State Health – St. Joseph renovation in Muhlenberg Township. Here’s a view of the exterior and interior of the building:

 

A medical office fit out for Quest Diagnostics is another healthcare project currently under construction with this architect firm. We’re also huge fans of this well decorated medical office fit out that Team D&B worked with Olsen Design Group for Molly Hottenstein Orthodontics

 

An array of multi-family residential complexes in multiple locations throughout southeastern Pennsylvania also complete Olsen’s portfolio with D&B, including projects locally that are currently under active construction – such as The Reserve at Iroquois, and The Reserve at River’s Edge in Enola, Pennsylvania.

 

About RHJ Associates, P.C.

RHJ Associates, P.C. is a full-service architecture, planning, and design firm with offices in Philadelphia, King of Prussia, and Wilmington, D.E. Established in 1977, they provide comprehensive design services in the commercial, institutional, and private markets. Their continued success correlates directly to the pride they take in their emphasis on communicating, learning, and implementing best practices. This is reflected in the fact that over 95% of their work is from repeat and referral business.

 

What type of projects does RHJ Associates, P.C. tend to specialize in?

RHJ maintains a diverse portfolio of projects including: medical offices, corporate interiors, senior and assisted living facilities, educational facilities, automotive dealerships, car wash facilities, retail and shopping centers, restaurants, fire houses, fitness centers, and private residences.

D&B Construction has had the pleasure of working with RHJ on many projects near and dear to our heart, from the large adaptive reuse project taking place in Wyomissing, PA to make way for Stratix Systems’ future headquarters and our own new headquarters, which was completed in February of 2022.

About Meyer Design Inc.:

Meyer Design Inc. was founded by George Wilson within Meyer Design, Meyer Architects is a Certified Minority Business Enterprise and an award-winning architecture firm that has been recognized across the country for innovative design and contemporary solutions. In 1987 Meyer Architects was launched with a promise to design places of enduring value – 35 years later our passionate architects continue that tradition. We are industry leaders in developing innovative, technology-based solutions that solve complex construction problems and push the boundaries of architecture and design.

What type of projects does Meyer tend to specialize in?

Commercial Architecture, Workplace, Senior Living, Active Adult and Multi-family, Life Science, and Healthcare.

D&B Construction has had the pleasure of working with RHJ on a variety of healthcare projects for well-known clients like Tower Health’s new outpatient office in Womelsdorf, PA and CHOP’s ambulatory medical office in Souderton, PA. We’ve also enjoyed working with Meyer on workplace projects like an 11,200 SF medical office for Griswold Home Care.

About Architectural Concepts, P.C.:

Architectural Concepts, P.C.’s ability to maintain a balance among artistic, technical, and business disciplines embodies their holistic approach to architecture and interior design.  Architectural Concepts is result-oriented with a strong proficiency in creative innovation and technical execution, allowing flexibility in accommodating the needs of their clients.

Their philosophy of client involvement and personalized service is why Architectural Concepts has grown continually since its founding in 1976. Their approach is to form a partnership with their client.  A significant amount of their work is a result of long-term relationships and referrals.  This team approach ensures that the client has an essential, meaningful impact on the design process from concept to completion.

Their mission is to conduct the activities of the firm within the highest ethical standards of the profession; strive to develop a long-term association with their clients by respecting their needs and implementing effective solutions to strengthen this partnership; and contribute to the community to maintain an atmosphere that encourages learning, exploring, and the true enjoyment of architecture.

 

What type of projects does Architectural Concepts P.C. tend to specialize in?

Architectural design, interior design, space planning, furniture design and selection, artwork coordination, site analysis and design, structural engineering, and more for the Corporate, Education, Civic, Athletic / Sports, Hospitality, Multi-Family, Single Family, and Worship sectors.

D&B Construction is currently working with the firm on two multi-family projects, including Village Greens Apartments and Butler Square Apartments for our client, Berger Rental Communities, who we also completed Willowbrook Clubhouse for with this firm.

Alex is a Construction Manager with a 16-year record of success overseeing all phases of large multimillion-dollar construction projects. In addition to completing many multi-family communities for D&B Construction, this includes various other commercial projects, infrastructure, and upscale residential communities.

Backed by strong credentials and a proven history of high-quality project completions, Alex’s success exceling in his work of managing large multi-family construction projects was a result of his Grandpap pushing him to “go on to bigger and brighter things.” Alex’s experience in the industry started at the young age of six years old. His grandparents owned a construction company, and after school he would always want to be dropped off with his Grandpap on the job site. He loved the action of construction.

Alex and his Grandpap over the years
Alex working with his Great Uncle Stanley circa 1993
Alex always enjoyed building and renovating things from a young age
Alex built this bridge over the creek at just 7 years old
This home was build by Alex's Grandpap in Bedford, PA. Alex would often visit and spend time with his Pap while it was being constructed.

Alex continued gaining hands-on experience until he graduated from high school. It was then that his Grandpap encouraged him to go to college. Although Alex wanted to take over his construction company, his Grandpap envisioned the bigger and brighter plans that he is currently fulfilling at D&B.

Alex obtained his Construction Management degree from Penn College. After graduating, he worked for both Ryan Homes and NVHomes building single family and first-time home buyer houses. He was recognized with over 10 awards during his time at NVHomes, one of the top home builders in the nation. “Once I got to that stage it really kind of brought it full circle. I got to interact with so many different homebuyer people and meet them before we even broke ground. Throughout the process we developed a relationship with these guys, and it was so cool to take their dream and turn it into a reality,” explains a grateful Alex with a smile.

His passion for being part of the process of taking “ideas on a napkin” and making it come to life is evident in the smile that crosses his face when he describes why he does what he does for a living. Alex says there is no better feeling than watching this process take place and seeing an idea transition from engineering and architecture to buying ground and taking it vertical.

Alex continues to pass along the lessons and work ethic that Dave, his Grandpap, instilled in him from a young age through his own two sons – Cameron and Liam. They both had great time getting a tour of what a day at work is like for their dad – safely with their PPE and all!

Alex with his wife Michelle and sons Liam and Cameron

If you ask Alex’s wife, Michelle, she’ll tell you how much their sons love helping Alex out with projects around the house. “They always ask to help us, and if they’re not helping they are definitely watching and learning,” explains Michelle. “They’ve used their old gator to help take an old deck down, helped install floors, and they ‘renovated’ the club house attached to their swing set by adding a door, a table, and a pulley system to carry things up and down in a 5-gallon bucket with some help from Alex.”

Michelle could definitely see them following in Alex’s footsteps, just as he did his Grandfather. “Cameron is always building something with his magnet tiles, and Liam always pretend plays by setting up construction sites with his toy trucks and toy tools and acting as the Project Manager,” she says with a smile.

When asked if she thinks Alex still would have worked in the industry had his Grandpap not owned his own construction company, her initial response was no. However, she elaborated to explain that she thinks he still would have done something with his hands – be it a mechanic like his Dad or working in the family’s logging company. “I think he would still have that passion and dedication for great customer service in any career he chose,” she explains.

Alex is on time, if not early, with deadlines. He’s responsive and takes time to explain the building process. I have seen his passion and dedication to his customers continue over the years. We have met many people and made many new friends through his work. I think the fact that people who he’s worked with in the past still keep in touch with him speaks volumes about the passion and dedication Alex has. He just really cares about people and giving them a quality product,” she concludes.

This is why Alex is a great fit for the D&B culture. He has the “We Care” mentality that we call the D&B difference.

It’s no secret that demolition is a big part of the construction process, so we love when the opportunity arises for us to make good use of a property prior to demolition taking place. More often than not, this comes in the form of donating office supplies, such as filing cabinets, that we may find left behind when we get the keys to begin an office fit-out. Most recently, we were able to provide various hands-on training opportunities for Western Berks Fire Department.

 

This was all possible thanks to the thoughtfulness of our Superintendent, Jason Holmgren, and the Vice President of our client, The Commonwealth Group, Don Robitzer. Jason, who has a relationship with the department’s Fire Commissioner, Jared Renshaw, is leading this project on-site day in and day out. It just so happened that Jared was involved in the planning process with the developer awhile back. Jared and Jason were able to connect at the start of the project and coordinated the opportunity for the department to conduct training at the buildings at the former Village Greens golf course in Sinking Spring.

“I was happy and fortunate to be able to bring my past relationship with Western Berks Regional Fire Department in on a D&B project,” explains our Superintendent, Jason. “The training went great! Commissioner Renshaw and his crew were fantastic! We are very lucky to have such a professional department serving the region.”

 

 

Western Berks Fire has answered over 550 calls so far this year, averaging 78 each month and over 1,000 in a year’s time, so this training was invaluable to the department. Both career and volunteer members of the department took advantage of the training opportunity, which took place on multiple occasions over the last few weeks. Those in attendance fine-tuned their skills in the following area: Ground/aerial ladder deployment and placement, deployment and advancement of the 400-foot hose line, cutting garage doors with saws for forcible entry when necessary, and vertical ventilation, which involves using saws to cut through the roof.

“We are always training on these basic, perishable skills, but it’s so much more beneficial to do it at acquired structures, as it makes it more realistic,” explains Commissioner Renshaw. “Hands-on training like this allows us to be able to hone the skills that we will use on fire and other emergency scenes.  We emphasize being proficient in the basics, as they are the building blocks to being great firefighters. The multiple trainings had a great turn out, with 24 people there one evening.

 

“We would like to thank the developer and also D&B Construction for working with us to facilitate this excellent training opportunity,” posted Western Berks Fire Department on their Facebook page.

Western Berks Fire Department was organized and placed in service in 2009. The department serves and protects over 18,000 residents and hundreds of businesses in over 32 square miles throughout Sinking Spring Borough, Wernersville Borough, South Heidelberg Township, and Lower Heidelberg Township. Learn more about their department here, and learn more about what is being constructed at the former Village Greens golf course here on our website.

 

D&B Construction’s partnership with Quality Buildings, a commercial framing contractor, began this year through their work on Kennett Pointe, a ground-up mixed-use property currently under construction in Kennett Square, PA.

Elmer Zook, Founder and President of Quality Buildings, has been part of the industry for 18 years now. “We like expanding our client base as well as building new relationships in the construction industry. D&B came on our radar a few years ago as a fast-growing player amongst other GC’s,” he reflects.

The fruition of Quality Buildings’ relationship with D&B began as a culmination of a handful of work connections, including having known our CEO, Dan Gring, through their involvement at Lancaster Berks Next Gen Construction Connect. At Kennett Pointe they supplied a complete furnish and installed a framing package that included manufacturing of pre-fabricating wall panels, floor and roof trusses and installation of the windows and doors.

“Quality Building produces quality work, and they are easy to communicate with. It is always a pleasure working with them, and I would work with them again in a heartbeat,” says John Ruza, Senior Superintendent overseeing the jobsite in Kennett Square.

About Quality Buildings:

This turnkey framing contractor was founded in 2008 as a home improvement contractor and Agricultural/Equestrian facilities design and build contractor. They’ve built many custom designed horse barns and riding arenas in NY, NJ, DE, MD, and VA.

Having experience in design and build as a contractor, coupled with a desire to work closer to home versus constant traveling, commercial framing seemed to fit well with their philosophy of working together as a team with other trades to deliver a well-planned project. In 2014, their sole focus became commercial framing for multi-family apartments, senior living and hotels. Completing between 12-15 projects annually, the company has an annual gross revenue of $20,000,000+ in the multi-family, senior living and hospitality sectors. Quality Buildings started pre-fabricating wall panels out of their own facility and continued to expand.

Today, Quality Buildings specializes in offsite pre-fabricated building components, as well as framing components, wall panels, floor trusses, roof trusses and all needed equipment and labor for a complete framing system. Offering VE options and full 3D modeling capabilities for clash detection, as well as BIM modeling with other trades, they are acknowledged as a leading innovator in wood framing. They also offer structural engineering and Mass Timber construction. Their commitment to provide customers with the finest craftmanship continues to be their anchor 14 years later. Quality Buildings has an employee count of 42, consisting of VDC designers, project managers, pre-fabricated wall panel manufacturing and field carpenters. They also have a steady base of subcontractors they know they can turn to for their larger projects.

“We pride ourselves for having more attention to detail and a higher level of service than our competition,” explains Elmer. “We are the experts in wood framing and strive to present ourselves as such. Every department within Quality Buildings has an in-depth knowledge of wood framing. Our designers are the linchpin of our projects being successful and have an extensive hands-on experience with building these projects in the field.”

 

                        

 

Q&A With Elmer Zook, Founder and President of Quality Buildings

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to others looking to get into the industry?

A: “Learn as much as you can about the trade you are a part of and about the trades around you that need your collaboration to do a good job and offer a stellar service.  Care about your craft and treat people with respect.”

 

Q: What do you love most about working in the industry and why?

A: “I love working in the industry and providing a service that goes above and beyond just showing up and swinging a hammer. I love that our team is intentional about getting into the nuts and bolts of a project and finding new and better ways to get the job done.”

 

Q: Anything else you’d like to add?

A: “We appreciate D&B entrusting QB with being your Framing partner on this project and look forward to many more in the future.”

Doylestown, PA – On Wednesday, June 8 Berger Rental Communities hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to commemorate construction of an additional 50 new residences at their Butler Square property, located at 409 E. Butler Avenue in Doylestown. The company took ownership of the property, which contains 97 units in the first building with commercial retail space below, in the summer of 2021.

 

Breaking ground from left to right: Matt Johnson, Director of Development; CEO Dan Berger; Wayne Everett Vice President of Acquisition & Asset Management; Brennan Reichenbach, Chief Operating Officer of D&B Construction; and Anne-Marie Niklaus, President of Berger Rental Communities

 

The 50 additional apartments being added to the property will feature new one- and two-bedroom layouts. A package room in the lobby brings added convenience to future residents, and charging stations for electric vehicles will be made available to all residents of Butler Square as the company continues to evolve its communities. Efficiency and modernization are also top of mind inside each apartment, where you will find smart home technology that includes locks and thermostats and designer inspired finishes.

 

 

In attendance for the ceremony were members of Berger’s team, current residences of the Butler Square property, the general contractor, D&B Construction, the project architect, Architectural Concepts, PC, Peaceable Street Capital, and members of the New Britain Borough, including Council Vice President Mr. John Wolff Jr. The company was also grateful to have their nonprofit and relief fund Hope & Door, whose mission is to help families in crisis avoid homelessness through rental assistance, in attendance. “Our goal here is not just to provide housing, but to accommodate residents through extreme flexibility, and provide the highest level of customer service,” said the company’s CEO, Dan Berger. The event concluded with a ground breaking to memorialize the day and delicious refreshments from two local food trucks – Local Harvest Pizza and Sweet Pea Ice Cream.

 

Matt Johnson, Director of Development for Berger Rental Communities, speaks during the ground-breaking ceremony

 

Matt Johnson, Director of Development at Berger, sent his appreciation to the New Britain Borough and D&B Construction during the ceremony, stating: “It truly has been a streamlined process thanks to New Britain Borough. Another great partnership we have is with D&B Construction. When we took ownership of Butler Square it was with the hopes that we could further expand the space and bring more residents to the community. With their help that vision is well on its way to becoming a reality.”

This project comes as the company celebrates their 50th anniversary and a year of a tremendous amount of growth, with 50 apartment communities currently under their belt. According to Wayne Everett, Vice President of Acquisitions and Asset Management at Berger Rental Communities, “Through our growth we have been able to combine the personal touch and the entrepreneurial spirit of a smaller company with the sophistication, expertise, and technology of a larger organization.”

Dan Gring, Chief Executive Officer of D&B Construction, commented on the fact that Berger Rental Communities embodies the same core values as the general contractor: “At D&B we make a conscious effort to partner with those who share our ‘we care’ mentality. This extends from everyone to our clients and employees, to our extended team of trade partners and suppliers. Our main core value is ‘People and relationships matter most.’ Upon meeting the Berger team, we instinctively knew they were an organization centered around people just as we are. Their customer-centric approach easily explains why they continue to rank amongst the top in the nation for customer service in multi-family, and D&B is thrilled to be their partner through this continued growth.”

 

D&B Construction Superintendent, Alex, working on the job site. You can see the existing Butler Square Apartments in the distance.

 

About Berger Rental Communities:

Founded in 1972, Berger Rental Communities has been a multi-family owner and operator for 50 years. At nearly 10,000 apartments, they are one of the top five largest management companies in the state of Pennsylvania, with a portfolio that extends into Maryland and Delaware. Berger is motivated by their philosophy that, “renting shouldn’t be hard®”. Their focus on service, innovation and culture has earned them the number one ranking in multi-family for customer service in the nation, and they are frequently rated amongst the top places to work in their industry. For more information on Berger Rental Communities visit rentberger.com.

 

About D&B Construction:

Founded in 2010 by Dan Gring and Brennan Reichenbach, D&B Construction has grown into one of the region’s most trusted construction firms. Headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania the company is driven by a commitment to quality and transparency. They have grown from the two founding members to over 50 employees with an additional office outside of Philadelphia to conveniently serve the Delaware Valley region. Today they are a full-service construction management firm offering a variety of services to commercial clients in the healthcare, multi-family, professional office, retail / hospitality, institutional, and industrial sectors. Delivering an individualized, superior experience to all of our clients, D&B is a team of genuinely good people who love to build and work hard, with their success built upon long-standing relationships anchored in honesty, trust, and fairness. Leveraging vast design and build experience, D&B is the conduit for business owners, corporations, and developers looking to enhance the places in which they work, grow, and invest. Completing projects safely, within budget, and on time to minimize any disruption to business is always top priority. For more information, visit online at: dbconstructiongrp.com.

“Tenant fit out” is a common phrase you will hear used throughout the industry. It refers to the process of making an interior space ready for occupation. Usually, it is common practice in commercial construction to keep the interior space empty so occupants can create the look and feel of their business while determining the level of refurbishment they need. While an office renovation refers to the work needing done to improve an interior design (think aesthetic revamps such as purchasing new furniture or fresh paint), a fit out involves creating a usable area within an empty space.

The Different Types of Commercial Fit-Outs

A Category A fit out is the standard for what you will find in commercial space ready for renting, with utilities such as plumbing fixtures and electrical wiring already in place. Typically, features like electrical outlets, HVAC systems, fire protection systems, raised access floors and toilets would need to be installed yet.

On the other hand, a Category B fit out requires installing features that are lacking in a Category A. In sum, this fit out focuses on making the aesthetic design specific to the business. It typically involves installing lighting, flooring, painting, partitioning, window treatments, furniture, and branding to make the office yours.

 

 

A core and shell fit out refers to a space that already has the framework of the building in place and is ready to be custom fit to its specifications. These fit outs typically include the following tasks:

-Floor installation

-Partition walls

-Ceilings

-Power and Lighting

-Painting

-Furnishings and fixtures (such as casework and millwork)

-Changes or updates that may be needed for structural elements of the space, such as the placement of windows and doors

-Updates that may be needed to HVAC (such as extending into other spaces with ductwork and controls), Electric, Sprinkler systems, etc.

-Cabling and wiring for internet connectivity and communication arrangements (fire alarms and other protection systems)

 

What to Consider When Contemplating an Office Fit-Out for Your Business:

Fitting out an office space for your organization is a big undertaking that – when done correctly – can have a lasting impact for many years to come. It all starts in the pre-construction phase, where the proper planning and design of your space will ensure a smooth project throughout the duration of construction. Here are a few things to consider:

-An office fit out is an organization’s opportunity to take a blank canvas and make it their own. Consider how you can organize your space to increase workflow and enhance your staff’s performance. Do this by evaluating how the workspace will be used and all that needs to be in it for your team to efficiently complete their jobs.

-Plan for the future. If you ask yourself questions like “How will my business / industry grow and change over the next few years?” and “Will the proposed space be able to accommodate expansion in the future?” you can avoid needing to make renovations sooner than you’d like. As a result, your organization will save money by avoiding having to interrupt business to make changes to your office space.

-Make flexibility top of mind. Consider how technology advances and new trends may impact your office’s workflow. Does your space have the flexibility to adapt to such rapid change?

 

The Right General Contractor Makes all the Difference:

Most importantly, make sure the people you surround yourself with during this process are reliable, organized, and great communicators. A good General Contractor will help you navigate all of the points listed above.

D&B Construction Superintendent, Joseph, is no stranger to Tenant Improvements, regularly completing fit-outs for our clients like Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia. He shares some tips on what to look for in the right GC for the job:

-Your GC should provide a dedicated project team to oversee your fit out. In order to make sure the job runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible, your GC should lead the project team in meticulously going over your project’s logistics and specifications in pre-construction. This may include working with your property management team, building architects and engineers, and other tenants in your building.

-Look for a conscientious GC who is actively working out and updating schedule details to limit any type of disruption or inconvenience to your current operations. A constant open line of communication and attention to detail ensures your project is completed on time.

-Weekly client meetings organized by the contractor of your fit out are a good way to ensure you are always fully aware of your project’s progress. Regular touch bases also enable the team to target any changes that you may want to make during the course of construction.

-A good GC will have a well-established relationship and open line of communication with their subcontractors. At D&B, our team works hand in hand with our trade partners to achieve perfection on your project. Our high standard of cleanliness, safety, and quality of work shows through the duration of the project.

 

 

“The bottom line comes down to this,” explains Joe: “When the project is completed the client should feel like we exceeded their expectations of the finished product. Starting with the pre-construction team and ending with the final cleaning of the project, we take extreme pride in the work we deliver, as well as the relationships formed with our clients. This makes all the difference.”

 

A transitional photo showing the before and after shots throughout one of our many medical office fit outs

for our client, Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists.

                                     
We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Luca over the past year as he shadowed members of our team on D&B job sites and in the office. Luca gained valuable hands-on experience from experienced members of our team leading the project for Stratix Systems’ new headquarters in Wyomissing. He also got to shadow members of our residential sister company, D&B Elite Custom, and watch a custom home come to life while also seeing finishing touches to a home renovation.

 

Join us in wishing Luca continued success as he pursues his degree in Civil Engineering at Drexel University! We know he will accomplish great things.

How his days at D&B were spent:

“The majority of my days were spent on jobsites shadowing site superintendents. My responsibilities included communicating with my intern supervisor, site supervisors, signing in on jobs, wearing appropriate safety equipment on site, and completing weekly site inspections when needed.”

 

What he learned:

“A lot of valuable skills and information on how a construction management business runs both in the office and on the site. Some of the skills I learned was the importance of communication on the jobsite and in the office. I was able to sit in on meetings in the office and also saw communication take place on the job site through formal meetings, RFIs, and informal communication when the job superintendent talks with subcontractors onsite.”

 

Some of his favorite memories:

“Some of my favorite memories are coming back to my internship after Winter or Spring break. My supervisors were very excited to see me since they hadn’t seen me in over a week, and it was the best feeling. Another favorite thing to do is to look back at the old photos on Procore and see the progress that has been made on the sites I have been attending the company. I have seen rubble turn into an 8,000 SF home.”

 

What he is most proud of:

“Everything that I was able to accomplish from this internship within the past year. Looking back and seeing everything I have done and learned from this amazing experience has been great.”

 

How this internship impacted him:

“This internship has helped me influence my plans for the future. Before this internship, my plan was to attend college to study civil engineering, and although that plan hasn’t changed I owe the confidence I now have for this major to this internship with D&B. Being at a company almost every day now for the past year has helped me truly understand my passion. This provides comfort to me because I can finally say with confidence that I know what I am doing in my future. I am very thankful for both this internship program and D&B for providing me with this comfort.”

 

Luca with some of the main team members he worked with throughout his internship: Barry, Site Superintendent at Stratix Systems’ jobsite; Jess, Internship Committee Chair; Rachel, Office Coordinator and Bryan, Foreman at Stratix Systems’ jobsite

Wyomissing, PA – On Monday, May 9, Stratix Systems and D&B Construction held a topping off ceremony to commemorate the completion of the fifth floor of Stratix Systems’ new corporate headquarters at 200 North Park Road, Wyomissing. This 80,000 SF building, which is currently receiving extensive exterior and interior renovations, was part of the original Wyomissing Industries. View coverage from the event here!

Learn more about the details and history of this adaptive reuse project here on our blog.

“Topping Off” is a long-standing tradition among construction workers that commemorates the completion of the building’s structure as the final steel beam is placed. In attendance for the topping off ceremony were building owner and future tenant, Stratix Systems, the general contractor, D&B Construction, the project architect, RHJ Associates, the Project Engineer, Martarano Engineering, Inc., the Structural Engineer, Structure Labs, LLC, and the steel trade partner, United Weld Services LLC.

 

President of Stratix Systems, Brent Simone, signs the final beam before it is placed by our steel partner United Weld Services LLC during the topping off ceremony on Monday, May 9

 

Members of Martarano Engineering, Inc. sign the beam during the topping off ceremony

 

Our trusted Trade Partner United Weld Services LLC prepares to lift up the final beam to complete the fifth floor of this 80,000 SF building!

 

The final beam in route to be placed at the top of the building

 

United Weld Services LLC doing what they do best!

 

Dan Gring, Chief Executive Officer of D&B Construction, commented on the importance of high-end commercial office renovations such as this one: “Adaptive reuse projects like the Stratix Systems corporate headquarters are important because they revitalize historic buildings, creating a stronger future in the community. We’re thrilled to lead the project team.”

According to Brent Simone, Stratix Systems president, “We think it’s important for us to reinvest in our community. In fact, we’re committed to that philosophy. That’s why we chose the former Wyomissing Industries property. Not only is it a gorgeous building, one with a significant history for Wyomissing and Berks County, it gives us the size and flexibility to accommodate our growth for many years to come.”

 

A proud moment for everyone involved

 

Members of both Team D&B and Stratix Systems watch the last beam getting placed

 

The Simone family poses with our Chief Operating Officer, Brennan Reichenbach, and our Chief Executive Officer, Daniel Gring

 

From left to right: Wilson School District Internship Coordinator, Stefanie Wagner, Senior Honors Intern Savanna, Jake Peterson, and Ramon Marquez, Assistant Principal for Wilson

 

From left to right: Chief Executive Officer of D&B Construction Group Daniel Gring, President of Stratix Systems Brent Simone, and Chief Operating Officer of D&B Construction Group Brennan Reichenbach

 

The Simone family at the topping off ceremony

 

About Stratix Systems:

Stratix Systems is one of the region’s leading technology solutions partners. With a history that spans nearly 50 years, more than 130 IT professionals, and offices in Wyomissing, Bethlehem, King of Prussia and York, Pennsylvania, as well as Edison, New Jersey — it’s no wonder why Stratix Systems is the partner of choice for over 6,500 organizations throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Very few providers in the country can match the vast array of technology solutions and responsive service available from Stratix Systems. Whatever a client’s technology needs — Managed IT Services, Cybersecurity, Imaging & Printing Solutions or Document Management, Stratix Systems has the people, the technologies, the expertise and the experience to deliver the advanced solutions and support clients rely on. Stratix Systems has earned recognition as a member of the prestigious Inc. 5000, as well as recognition as one of the fastest growing companies from both Lehigh Valley Business and the Greater Reading Chamber Alliance. The company has also been recognized by Ricoh USA with Ricoh’s Circle of Excellence designation and Ricoh USA’s President’s Award. Stratix Systems has repeatedly earned certification as a Pros Elite 100 dealer – the only Pros Elite 100 dealer in the region – a certification that recognizes the top-shelf achievement and client service of the top 100 service organizations in the country. Learn more at www.stratixsystems.com.

 

About D&B Construction:

Founded in 2010 by Dan Gring and Brennan Reichenbach, D&B Construction has grown into one of the region’s most trusted construction firms. Headquartered in Reading, Pennsylvania the company is driven by a commitment to quality and transparency. They have grown from the two founding members to over 50 employees with an additional office outside of Philadelphia to conveniently serve the Delaware Valley region. Today they are a full-service construction management firm offering a variety of services to commercial clients in the healthcare, multi-family, professional office, retail / hospitality, institutional, and industrial sectors. Delivering an individualized, superior experience to all of our clients, D&B is a team of genuinely good people who love to build and work hard, with their success built upon long-standing relationships anchored in honesty, trust, and fairness. Leveraging vast design and build experience, D&B is the conduit for business owners, corporations, and developers looking to enhance the places in which they work, grow, and invest. Completing projects safely, within budget, and on time to minimize any disruption to business is always top priority. For more information, visit online at: dbconstructiongrp.com.

 

Just over a year ago, D&B Construction began demolition of the exterior and interior of an 80,000 SF building in the heart of Wyomissing, PA. The culmination of this design-build core and shell project will reveal a completely renovated building offering five stories of high-end commercial office space. The building will be home to the headquarters of Stratix Systems, a leading technology solutions partner that is rooted in Wyomissing. Three floors totaling 45,000 SF of space will be fit out for Stratix Systems and two floors totaling 30,000 SF will be available for future tenants.

 

Rendering provided by the project’s architect RHJ Associates, P.C.

 

Some highlights of this project include:

-Asbestos abatement and lead paint removal

-The removal of all interior furnishings, finishes, partition walls, and MEP’s to make way for all new floor configurations and finishes specific to Stratix’s wishes and providing clear space for future tenants

-Removal of sprinkler and fire alarm systems to allow for all new NFPA 13 sprinkler systems, including a new fire pump and fire alarm systems

-Removal of existing exterior insulation finish system and aluminum windows made way for an upgraded EIFS and enlarged aluminum windows restored to their original size.

-Removal of the entire roofing system and entrance vestibules / porticos to make way for a completely new roof system, as well as a five-story storefront entrance with stairs and two passenger elevators

-A freight elevator and loading docks are also being added to the building, while the fifth floor receives an expansion

-Given the intricacies of this project and the fact that safety is our standard at D&B, a full site specific safety plan was created and implemented for this project, including bi-weekly JSA/JHA, weekly site meetings, confined space training and regularly scheduled scaffold inspections.

 

A view of the scaffolding on the side of the building

 

Stepping Back in Time to the Building’s Original Pioneers:

Like many adaptive reuse projects, this building comes with a rich history:

 

 

Blueprints from the 1954 addition of the building.

 

The building was part of the original Wyomissing Industries, a multi-faceted manufacturing enterprise founded by Ferdinand Thun and Henry Janssen in 1906 when they incorporated their three main businesses: the Textile Machine Works (soon to be the future home of Stratix Systems), Narrow Fabric Company (braided products), and the largest full-fashioned knitting mill in the world, the Berkshire Knitting Mills (hosiery and fabrics).

 

In 1969, following the decline of nylon, the nation’s first outlet center was purchased by VF Corporation. The VF Outlet had six million visiting shoppers annual during its peak, and in 1991 Reading was officially declared “The Outlet Capital of the World.” Today UGI Energy Services’ headquarters, Teleflex, and Tower Health System’s collaboration with Drexel University’s College of Medicine Branch, along with updated restaurant and retail offerings, can be found at the new Knitting Mills that locals and visitors alike have come to know and love.

 

Adaptive Reuse: A Delicate Balance of Preserving A Building While Paving the Way for the Future

In addition to D&B employees and the project architect, RHJ Associates, approximately 45 of our dedicated Trade Partners, made up of both individuals and entire organizations, have been collectively working to revitalize this space. One such Trade Partner is Pullman Services, who was on site for about four months completing a variety of tasks involving structural repairs to the existing building and installing temporary lintels so more windows could be cut into the building façade. As part of their structural repairs, Pullman restored deteriorated concrete on over 50 columns and girders in the original portion of the building. Their Foreman, Jamie, referred to the project as a unique job. “I’ve never seen columns built like this in my 20 years in the industry,” he explained.

Some of the Trade Partners on this project have multiple contracts from demolition into core and shell. Once all is said and done, approximately 45,000 man hours will have been spent completing this project between over 100 individuals, ranging from Project Manager to laborer.

 

Some other key players in the building’s transformation include the following Trade Partners:

EHC Associates completed both interior and exterior demolition, as well as asbestos abatement and lead paint stabilization.

Paramount Contracting has completed framing and various exterior work, such as the exterior insulation finishing system. (Learn more about our partnership with them here!)

Shea Roofing is installing the new roof and aluminum clad panels as part of the new exterior finish system

United Weld Services LLC is erecting steel, which expanded the fifth-floor roof over 26 feet and will be integral in the new entrance lobby

B&G Glass is installing new windows throughout the building

Michael C Wall is completing all HVAC work

H.B. Frazer Company is heading up the electrical work

Haller Enterprises, Inc. is leading the plumbing work

 

Anyone that frequently drives over the bridge on Park Road headed towards the Knitting Mills has undoubtedly received a first row look at the transformation taking place on the building’s exterior. For those not from the area, here’s a look at the transformation:

 

March 2021 – Prior to start of the exterior demolition

 

 

 

Our trade partner EHC working on exterior demo of the building in Spring of 2021. The old EIFS system over the building was removed to reveal the building’s original brick.

 

By late summer of 2021, new framing is added to the building and windows are restored to their original size. Framing was modified to allow for these new windows, as well as the new exterior insulation finishing systems. The EIFS that was on the building was installed in 1989.

Here you can see many layers to the new Master Wall EIFS. The green you see is the exterior gypsum sheathing attached to the exterior wall framing. The yellow / orange portion of the building is the Master Wall roller shield air and vapor barrier system. According to our Senior Project Manager, Dave Moyer, this new system is beneficial from an energy standpoint, as it is air and vapor tight.

 

The white you see being added here is 1.5” of foam. This serves as insulation to the building. (Photo taken mid-November 2021)

 

After the foam was applied and rasped with sanding tools, the next step was to start troweling the finish base coat, which is the gray you see on the front of the building in the picture above and in the photo below.

B&G Glass installs the new aluminum windows in mid-March of this year.

 

A recent progress shot from April 12, 2022. You can see the five-story elevator shaft being built from the bridge.

 

What’s Next on the Schedule for Stratix:

Once the new exterior insulation finish system is complete, we will then begin to stencil the brick. The stenciled brick will nicely compliment the other buildings of the Knitting Mills across the street. Here are some photos from a mock up that was completed last August by Paramount Contracting Inc. to give you an idea of what the final exterior will look like:

 

D&B Construction also looks forward to hosting our first topping off ceremony to commemorate the completion of the steel work for this building in May.  “This long-standing tradition of construction workers commemorates the completion of the buildings structure as the final beam is placed,” explains Chief Executive Officer of D&B Construction, Dan Gring. “We are happy and excited to be part of projects such as this one that will revitalize such a vital, historic building. The fact that our first topping off ceremony just so happens to be in the hometown of where it all began for our company, where many of our team members not only work but live, is just the icing on the cake. It’s a true honor,” he states.

D&B Construction’s partnership with Earth Engineering Incorporated dates back eight years to 2014. They have completed over 12 projects with D&B Construction since becoming our Trade Partner. These projects range from large multi-family projects on 50 acres of land to large healthcare projects for clients like Tower Health and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

EEI performed numerous services on these projects including compaction testing, concrete testing, geotechnical consulting, sinkhole remediation, structural steel inspection, geotechnical investigations, clean fill assessment, and design services. Paul J. Creneti, P.G., Director of the Lehigh Valley division of Earth Engineering Incorporated, has been part of the industry for 26 years now. “Working on these projects with D&B Construction was fulfilling, as they were a collaborative effort with the construction and design team,” he reflects.

 

Earth Engineering Incorporated on-site at a 12,000 SF ground-up construction project for an ambulatory medical office for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

 

Paul has worked with many members of Team D&B over the years, including our Chief Operating Officer Brennan Reichenbach, Vice President of Pre-Construction Mark Keever, Project Manager Scott Weaver, and Vice President of Construction for Reading and Central PA, Tom Rinaldo. His favorite part of working on a D&B project? “Being part of a project team that has trust with all parties involved.” Paul can count on the fact that “quality would never be an issue” whenever he works with Team D&B. “If problems arose during development, the team handled these problems quickly and most appropriately to ensure that sites were being developed properly.”

According to our VP of Construction Tom Rinaldo, who has worked with Paul and EEI for the last 15 years on various projects, “they bring undeniable value and knowledge to D&B projects as a valued Trade Partner.” Tom most enjoys how knowledgeable their geologists are. “We utilize them to do proctors for us. They help out in a variety of ways, from testing and analysis of soil on job sites to concrete testing. When we completed work for 999 Berkshire Blvd. we had to excavate and remove 10,000 SF of soil and excavated around the entire exterior of the building to remediate soils. Their team’s analysis of the unsuitable soil and assistance in finding suitable soil was imperative to the success of this project.”

Earth Engineering Incorporated completing work at 999 Berkshire Blvd. a few years ago. This project involved excavating and removing 10,000 SF of soil, remediating soils around the entire exterior of the building, and creating a new 10,000 SF crawl space.

 

About Earth Engineering Incorporated:

This full service geotechnical / environmental engineering consulting firm was founded in 1990 in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. By 2003, EEI outgrew this facility and established their Corporate Headquarters in East Norriton, Pennsylvania. Today they have approximately 125 employees and other regional offices in West Berlin, New Jersey, the Lehigh Valley and Central Pennsylvania that allow them to service projects from New York to Maryland.

EEI provides their clients with geotechnical engineering and environmental consulting services. Such services allow them to contribute to the successful development of a wide variety of projects for their clients, as issues such as cost-effectiveness and site development issues are evaluated by their team. This analysis allows EEI to provide clients with the best recommendations on how to proceed with their project.

The predominance of their geotechnical and environmental work is in the private commercial and residential sectors, with a portion of their geo-structural design work in the public sector. EEI takes on approximately 1,200 new projects within a year.

Our VP of Construction for Reading and Central PA, Tom Rinaldo, discussing the soil compaction rating with Dan, a Geotechnical Engineer with EEI, at our latest multi-family project in Sinking Spring, PA in mid March.

 

Q&A With Paul Creneti, Director of EEI’s Lehigh Valley Division:

 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to others looking to get into the industry?

A: “Listen to your client’s needs while at the same time keeping the project within or below budget. You can accomplish this through quality engineering and quick decisions.”

 

Q: What makes a good leader?

A: “Being true to your corporate values and goals and holding a high standard for others to follow.”

 

Q: What do you love most about your job and why?

A: “Being part of a project team that leads to the successful completion of projects despite countless variables along the way. It’s rewarding.”

 

Q: What about a D&B project stands out in comparison to other General Contractors you work with on other job sites?

A: “Quality with a strong focus on the client’s needs.”

 

Getting the job done on-site Photo courtesy of Earth Engineering Incorporated.

A Look at Some of the Jobs EEI and D&B Have Successfully Worked on Together Over the Years:

 

Projects Currently Under Construction:

The Reserve at Iroquois Springs

EEI’s Geotechnical Engineer, Dan, was just on site last week to check the compaction rating of the soil on this jobsite. View some recent drone footage here.

Kennett Pointe

The Reserve at River’s Edge

Stratix Headquarters

Earth Engineering Incorporated team members working on site at Stratix Headquarters at the turn of the New Year.

Completed Projects:

Cardiology Consultants of Philadelphia – Paoli, PA Location

Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists – Warrington, PA Location

Tower Health Medical Group Family Medicine – Womelsdorf, PA Location

Riverfront Federal Credit Union

CHOP Souderton

Bean Funeral Home

999 Berkshire Blvd

                                     
Team D&B is thrilled to be working with the Wilson School District‘s Honors Internship program once more! In the 2021-2022 school year, we have the pleasure of working with two talented seniors, Luca and Savanna. Our Construction Intern, Luca, has been shadowing team members working on our adaptive-reuse design-build project for Stratix Systems‘ new headquarters in Wyomissing. He has also been shadowing our residential team, D&B Elite Custom, as we build a custom home from the ground up. This opportunity has allowed Luca the invaluable experience of seeing the differences between commercial and residential construction, which has helped him get a better idea of what he may want to pursue as he heads to college. We sat down with Luca to learn more about his internship experience thus far:

Q: What do most of your days look like on the job-site?

A: “I spend most of my days shadowing and working closely with the commercial Site Superintendent, Barry, at Stratix’s job site, as well as shadowing John, the residential Superintendent.”

 

Q: Tell us about a day / task that you enjoyed most at your internship so far and why?

A: “I enjoy looking over project submittals the most because I get to see how different applications on the job were approved.”

 

Q: What are some things you’ve learned throughout your internship so far?

A: “I learned the importance of safety on a job-site is by far the most important aspect. OSHA safety requirements are the guidelines for construction job-sites. I’ve also learned that everything must get approved before even starting and this can hold projects up for months. I’m learning about what is on the drawings and how to interpret what is on them. I also have been sitting in meetings and participating in weekly site inspections to really get a grasp of things.”

 

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself so far through your internship experience?

A: “That I know more about the construction industry than I thought I did.”

 

Q: What would you say is the most important skill you developed / strengthened at your internship so far?

A: “I learned the importance of listening.”

 

Q: What  are your internship goals for the rest of your time with D&B?

A: “To continue to be able to complete individual tasks and be trusted at completing these tasks.”

 

 

                                   
At the beginning of January, we sadly said goodbye to Savanna, but we are so excited to hear about her experience interning with our friends at RE/MAX of Reading for the second half of the school year. Savanna shadowed our Marketing and Business Development department to learn the ins and outs of this field, both for our commercial side of the business and our residential side, D&B Elite Custom. After completing her internship experience, Savanna reflected on her time working with D&B and how it has prepared her for attending college as a Business Major. Here’s a Q&A from Savanna so you can learn more about her experience:

 

Q: What were your responsibilities throughout this internship?

A: “My responsibilities included researching, writing, and editing articles for blog posts and newsletters. I learned about graphic design and how to create things in design programs like Canva and Adobe. I also learned how to navigate WordPress and the back end of a website, as well as MailChimp. I completed Benchmarking analysis and learned the differences between preparing copy for social media and blogs/newsletters.”

 

Q: Of all your responsibilities, which did you enjoy most and why?

A: “I enjoyed creating things for D&B on Canva. It gave me a chance to be creative and really understand branding. Besides that I also really liked coming up with research for articles and gathering information in general. I liked interviewing people and getting quotes and information. Interviewing people was a great way for me to learn more about some of the staff here at D&B.”

 

Q: How was your overall experience interning with D&B Construction? 

A: “I was lucky to come into a business that was not only friendly and accepting, but that also had knowledgeable people who I could learn a great deal from, especially since this was my first internship experience. I rate my experience 10 out of 10 because coming into this, I had no idea what my internship was going to be like, but being here for a semester allowed me to learn more than I ever expected to about what goes on in a business. I also strongly believe that I gained a lot of hands on experience, from having my own computer and my own documents to work on in the office, to being able to go out to the job sites and take photos.”

 

 

Q: Do you feel this internship enabled you to apply knowledge and skills to prepare for college?

A: “Yes! Since I am in high school, I don’t have a focused major just yet, but my internship coordinator, Angela, went through a list of different tasks at the start of my internship. I was able to voice my opinion on what I thought I would be good at, what interested me, and what I wanted to learn more about. This allowed me to use my skills to the best of my ability throughout the internship. For example, I took Honors English all four years of high school, so I was able to write a lot of blogs and articles during this internship. I was given support and encouragement throughout training during my internship. If I didn’t know something, that was alright because then I was taught it, and that allowed me to learn new things and gain new skills. I really feel that this internship confirmed that I am on the right path. Through this internship experience I even realized that I would like to do some sort of marketing in my future career.”

 

Q: Do you feel this internship helped prepare you for your future career?

A: “Going into my internship I knew I wanted a business career, but I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do in the business world. This internship helped me gain knowledge about the business world and what really goes into marketing. It not only gave me an idea of what I want to go for in college, but I also gained experience and have a leg up compared to to my peers since I have an internship on my resume already. Not a lot of high school kids get this experience. This experience is valuable because it not only looks great for future jobs but will help me with getting into college.”

 

Q: What did you learn throughout your internship that you did not expect would be so important?

A: “I learned many things at my internship, but one thing that I didn’t think would be that important is branding and how we have the same colors and logos for everything. Another important thing I learned is the importance of having your business being a thought leader in the industry, not just as a company that does construction. I learned so many workforce skills that a classroom can’t teach me.”

 

Q: What are you most proud of from the work you produced throughout your internship and why?

A: “I am most proud of the blogs I wrote and posted with the help of my internship coordinator. It is something that I can say I worked on from start to finish and can add to my portfolio.”

 

Q: How would you describe D&B Construction’s company culture in three words?

A: “Innovative, thought-leaders, and welcoming.”

Paramount Contracting, Inc., a commercial wall and ceiling contractor, is based out of Lancaster, PA and serves the Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland areas. The company was established as a premier wall and ceiling contracting company by Jeff Mylin in 2005. “The emphasis was always on customer service and building a great team,” says a reflective Mylin 16 years later. “We focused on the needs of the customer and providing an end product that our team would be proud of.” As a result of this, Paramount has “experienced organic growth as opportunities presented themselves over the years.” Today, the company has nearly 100 employees, completes in excess of 300 jobs per year, and specializes in Metal Studs, Drywall, Insulation, EIFS and Acoustical Ceilings, as well as select Carpentry and Specialty items.

 

D&B is proud to have been partnering with a company that reciprocates our core values of being a company that cares about everything from the customer to the finished product. Since Paramount became a Trade Partner of D&B Construction’s nearly five years ago in 2017 they have worked on more than 10 projects with us, completing everything from insulation, drywall, and exterior sheathings to rough blocking, acoustical ceilings and clouds, and FRP.

Some of the current active projects Paramount is working on with D&B include this mixed-use design-build project in Kennett Square, PA, D&B’s new corporate headquarters, and Kreitz Gallen-Schutt Attorney’s office fit out, which is just starting up. Other projects worth highlighting from this year include Tower Health’s newest satellite office in Womelsdorf and Grove Dental Pediatrics.

 

 

Perhaps the most impressive job that Paramount is working on D&B with is the 80,000 SF adaptive reuse building currently being renovated in the heart of Wyomissing. This five-story building will be the future home of Stratix Systems’ headquarters.

Our Project Manager, Andrew, plays an active role in the daily management of what is occurring at the jobsite. This is what he had to say about his experience working with their team on this job: “Paramount has been an integral Trade Partner on our project at 200 N. Park Road in Wyomissing. Their Project Managers and Site Foreman have brought knowledge from previous projects on nearby, similar style buildings that have aided our project in design, constructability and schedule. Their crews have been more than accommodating with a stubborn building that has required much coordination and numerous details from the Architect.”

 

 

Andrew also had the pleasure of working with Paramount on three other projects, including his first job with D&B nearly one year ago, Kingsview Partners. He looks forward to “continuing our strong relationship with such a great Trade Partner” as we head into completing more jobs with them in the New Year.

Oh, and did we mention the Paramount team has some pretty great cooks, too?! This past October, Paramount was kind enough to host a home-cooked BBQ luncheon at Stratix Systems’ future new headquarters for all D&B employees, ownership, the project architect, RHJ Associates, and even invited us to invite other Trade Partners on the job. It was a great day of camaraderie onsite as we all learned about the intricate details of this detailed project. “Their BBQ was the launching point for one of our company’s on-site safety training sessions, and attendance was most definitely enhanced as a result of the promise of good food. We were and still are grateful for their efforts,” reflect Andrew.

 


We sat down with Jeff Mylin, President of Paramount Contracting, for a quick Q&A:

 

Q: Paramount Contracting has completed 4,100 jobs since its inception. What project are you most proud of to date and why?

A: “It is hard to choose just one, but the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute in Lancaster, PA would be near the top. It is a respected facility in our home town and architecturally impressive building.”

 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you would give to others looking to get into the industry?

A: “You have to have a love for the industry. Construction is a tough business with demanding schedules, tight budgets and currently material and labor shortages. Yes, there are many challenges but it also can be very rewarding when seeing the job come to completion. Those of us in this line of work understand how it feels to drive by a finished project and feel a sense of pride that ‘we helped build that.’”

 

Q: You are completing a number of projects with D&B right now. What has your experience been like working with our team?

A: “D&B projects are clean, organized, and safe projects to work on. They communicate clearly with all of the trade teams, which leads to successful projects. We have made a significant investment into bidding to D&B and we feel that has not gone unnoticed. Subcontractor loyalty is obvious, which increases effective teambuilding.”

 

Q: What do you enjoy most about working on a D&B project and why?

A: D&B Superintendents, Project Managers, Engineers, and support/admin staff are always accessible and willing to help. Coordination and scheduling are always well thought out and communicated from planning to completion. The jobs are often local, and our employees enjoy investing in the buildings in their community.”

 

At D&B Construction we like to think of our trade partners as an extension of our team. We are proud to call Paramount Contracting an extension of the D&B family. Every project we have collaborated with them on results in a final product that both teams can be proud of and that our customers can look forward to.

Dedicated, Welcoming, Fun – These are the three words that Ben chose to describe D&B Construction’s company culture following his internship experience.

 

Ben, who will graduate with a degree in Media Effects from Penn State University’s Main campus this coming Spring, enjoyed receiving hands-on experience throughout his Summer internship with D&B’s corporate Marketing and Business Development team. As a Professional Writing Intern, Ben helped write articles for D&B’s blog through gathering research and interviewing team members. He also helped with various business administrative tasks that allowed him to learn to use Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, our construction management software, Procore, and email marketing tools such as MailChimp, to name a few.

 

Although the majority of Ben’s three months with us was spent in the office, our team made sure to take him on active job sites. Ben was able to go to both commercial and residential job sites so he could see what both sides of the industry are like in person.

 

Ben learned about proper PPE to wear on job sites and safety protocols from D&B Construction’s Superintendent, John. This photo was taken on-site at a commercial healthcare project being complete for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

 

Ben eagerly listens to D&B Elite Custom Superintendent, Paul, answer one of his questions about processes out in the field while visiting a residential jobsite.

 

After completing his internship experience, Ben reflected on his time working with D&B, which he described as a “fun and valuable learning experience” for his future. Here’s a Q&A from Ben so you can learn more about his experience:

 

Q: What takeaways, including new skills, techniques, and knowledge did you learn throughout your internship with D&B?

A: “I thoroughly enjoyed learning the ins and outs of construction. The responsibilities I was given aligned with the classes I take at school, and I now have plenty of material that I can include in my portfolio as I start to job hunt post-graduation. I have developed better writing skills throughout the course of my internship. When I look back at rough drafts from my first article versus my rough drafts towards the end of my internship, I can see that I have made a lot of improvement. I learned how to use tools like Canva, which was useful. Ultimately, I was able to experience what it is like to work in marketing in the real world, which was a really good way for me to realize that marketing is a career I think I can pursue.”

 

Q: Did any of the classes you have taken in college directly prepare you for this internship?

A: “Yes! My media effects classes and writing classes prepared me for this internship. For example, my business writing class taught me essential skills to writing professionally. My media effects class taught me many things about how to effectively use social media. Actually, one of my assignments was similar to the benchmarking I did while at D&B, as I was asked to look at a celebrities’ Instagram accounts and analyze the good and bad things about them.”

 

Q: Did this internship make you re-consider what you want to do once you graduate college or confirm that you are in the right field?

A: “I have done a lot of thinking about what I will be doing when I graduate and start looking for a job. Even though I am not exactly sure what field it is that I want to work in, learning more about the construction industry and experiencing the environment in the office has definitely made me consider a job in this industry. I have also realized that I truly do enjoy working in Social Media / Marketing. Before this internship I thought that I would like a position like this, but I was never 100% sure. This internship also made me realize that there is nothing to be scared of, and I should go into the real world with all the confidence possible. Working for D&B has been a great step for me in finding a job once I graduate.”

 

Q: What are you most proud of from the work you produced throughout your internship and why?

A: “I am most proud of the articles that I worked on while I was here. I have always had to write for school, but writing for D&B’s Blog allowed me to have published work. I am proud to see the articles posted on the website.”

 

Q: How did you enjoy going on the job sites? Was the difference in commercial vs. residential jobs what you expected?

A: “I really enjoyed going to the job sites. It was cool to go on the job sites and see how D&B Construction works. Both residential and commercial job sites were completely new experiences for me. The difference is what I expected. The commercial job sites have a more hectic feel than the residential job sites because there are many more people working at commercial job sites.”

 

Q: What is your most memorable moment throughout your internship and why?

A: “My most memorable moment from my internship was visiting CHOP Souderton. I had never been to a commercial construction site and it was interesting to see the dynamic between the D&B Superintendents and our Trade Partners. I also thought it was really cool to see some of the obstacles they may face while building.”

For this quarter’s trade partner spotlight, we are taking a visit to Fleetwood, PA, where AP Merkel Inc. has resided since the 1890’s. AP Merkel is a four-generation company that offers plumbing, heating, and cooling services. They have come a long way since Augustus P. Merkel first founded the company over 100 years ago. AP Merkel first started out as a company that built farm implements, such as machines that would harvest crops. They are well known for manufacturing grain separators known as threshing machines.

 

 

Their transition into the HVAC world all comes down to a smart, strategic business move. “Eventually, all of these farms that AP Merkel was working with needed heat,” explains Nate Lobb, an Estimator who has been with the company for 10 years. One thing led to another, and eventually the company added plumbing into their wheelhouse. Approximately 30 employees later, “the rest is history,” sums up Nate.

Today the company is run by Pete Merkel, standing President, and busy with approximately 50 commercial jobs a year. Nate is usually efficiently juggling 20 or so jobs at a time, which he enjoys. “I like the diversity of projects we work on. We do everything from senior living, to coffee shops, to dentist offices,” he explains. Nate also enjoys working through and overcoming the challenges that come with starting every new project. “Being involved in a job from when it is just a concept in budgeting to when it is complete is something I always enjoy,” he says.

Nate, who received his plumbing license about five years ago, grew up in a construction environment. “My dad was always in construction. I had an interest more in the mechanical / HVAC and plumbing side of things,” he explains. Nate earned his Environmental Studies degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. While in college, he interned for a company in Philly doing HVAC work and ended up coming back to the Fleetwood area and continuing his career at AP Merkel.

Nate stresses the fact that now is a great time to get involved in the industry. “There is a HUGE need for young, licensed tradespeople. There are few young people getting into this field right now. Get your license when you can, take it seriously, communicate, and you can have a great career,” he urges.

One young individual who has impressed Nate is D&B’s Superintendent, Ryan Hummel, who he has worked with since D&B Construction and AP Merkel established a relationship within the past year. “He has been really helpful and knows the industry, especially for being a younger guy. Ryan is really on top of it and not afraid to pick up the phone and check on something with us. We can talk through things and work it out. It is clear he takes his job serious,” explains Nate.

 

 

This feeling of open lines of excellent communication is just as strong a value for AP Merkel as it is for Team D&B. When we asked Ryan what he likes about working with AP Merkel, he summed it up simply in one word: “Everything.” However, what stands out most to Ryan is “their level of communication and coordination from their office staff to the field staff.” His experience working with AP Merkel over the last year has shown him that “they run a tight ship.”

An example of this can be found at one of our healthcare projects currently in active construction, Grove Dental Pediatrics. Ryan has worked with Nate and Tom, AP Merkel’s Superintendent who has been with the company for around 25 years. “I bid the Grove job, completed estimating, submittals, and the purchasing of equipment and piping, and Tom took it from there and is currently managing the actual job,” explains Nate.

 

 

One highlight of this 3,700 SF medical office space? “This project has medical gas piping, which is something we don’t deal with that often. This type of piping has to be put in very clean. It has a special fitting with a braised fitting joint. The key is to keep it clean, so when we start to install it we have to flush it with nitrogen gas,” explains Nate.

We recently visited this healthcare project in Wyomissing, PA. Here’s some photos of AP Merkel team members, Andy, Zach, and Scott, their lead plumber, working to keep the job running smoothly and safely with Team D&B: