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.

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.”

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

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.

Technology is ever-evolving, and part of this evolution includes the construction industry. In response to COVID-19 and technological advancements, the construction industry has begun to innovate more than ever before. One of the most fascinating practices that is growing in popularity is modular or off-site construction.

Modular or offsite construction is the process in which a building is constructed off-site under controlled conditions using the same materials and built to the same standards as conventionally built facilities. The only difference? It can be built in nearly half the time. Buildings are constructed in modules that can be put together to form the original design, all while still resembling the work of the most sophisticated site-built facility. Why do companies use modular construction? The answer is simple. Modular construction is greener, faster, and safer.

 

A Greener World with Modular Construction

Since modular construction is a factory-controlled process it generates less waste and creates a site that is less likely to evoke disturbances. A modular construction site also promotes more flexibility and re-use. Modular projects can be disassembled and relocated or refurbished for new use. This reduces the demand for materials and limits the amount of energy used to create a building that meets the new needs. Additionally, a modular site produces less material waste since the building is constructed in a factory and waste is eliminated by recycling material, controlling inventory, and protecting building materials.

 

Finish Projects in Record Time

Modular construction is also faster than traditional building methods. Construction of modular buildings occur while site and foundation work are both being done. The Modular Building Institute reports that this can reduce construction times by 30%-50%. This can also be credited to the elimination of weather delays. Sixty to ninety percent of construction is completed inside of a factory, leaving no need to worry about inclement weather delaying a project.

 

Staying Safe with Modular Construction

One of the most important benefits of modular construction is safety. As we know, safety is always a priority in construction, and modular building makes it easier than ever to be safe. A report by McGraw-Hill Construction found that over 1/3 of their respondents (34%) who are currently using modular construction have seen site safety improve. This may be credited to the fact that it is free from weather elements like rain or snow that can cause slips and falls. It also reduces the risk of a worker falling from great heights, which OSHA reports as the cause of 33.5% of construction worker fatalities. Learn more about OSHA and their dedication to safety by reading this article on D&B Construction’s blog.

 

Modular Construction: How It’s Done

Modular building is done mostly on the ground level, but if working from height is required permanent scaffolding is used. This permanent scaffolding is different (and safer) from the scaffolding normally used on a traditional job site. Because it is not constantly being moved and reassembled, there is less likelihood for error and accidents.

Modular construction is growing in popularity. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global modular construction market is going to be valued at $114.78 billion USD by 2028. The market was valued at $72.11 Billion USD in 2020. Here are some examples of just how much you can do with modular construction:

 

Star Apartments, Los Angeles, 2014

The Star Apartments in Los Angeles were built in 2014 on top of a previously existing single-story commercial building. A concrete superstructure was poured over the existing structure. Next, five stories of modules that were built off-site were added on top of the single-story commercial building. The modules were stucco-finished on site. These modules provide 102 apartments and have pre-installed bathrooms, appliances, cabinets, and surface finishes.

 

Habitat 67, Montreal, 1967

An iconic example of modular construction is Habitat 67. Built in 1967, architect Moshe Sadfie’s unique cuboid block of 158 apartments caught the eyes of many. The way Sadfie designed Habitat 67 allowed for 15 different kinds of housing, gardens and terraces to fill the voids in between. The complex stack of concrete houses was connected by high-tension rods, steel cables, and welding. Even though it was built in 1967, Habitat 67 shows the true possibilities of modular construction.

 

Nakagin Capsule Tower, Tokyo, 1972

This 14-story tower was the world’s first example of permanent modular construction. The building has 140 self-contained, prefabricated concrete capsules that each measure 2.3m x 3.8m x 2.1 m. The capsules were each connected to the shaft of the building with just four high-tension bolts, allowing each unit to be replaceable if needed. These capsules were delivered to the site already fitted out with a small bathroom. Owners used the capsules as small living or office spaces, and the interior space of each module can even be extended by connecting to other capsules.

 

These are three unique examples of modular construction because of their structure. While these extravagant and unique designs are made easier with modular construction, you can also make very basic structures that look identical to buildings that are constructed on-site. The possibilities with modular construction are seemingly endless thanks to its ability to make construction greener, faster, and safer. We look forward to seeing just how far modular construction will go.

The Reserve at Rivers Edge will include 260 luxury apartment homes being built in Summerdale, PA. Located on the property of this new development is the Enola Miller House, a historic home beloved by the community. Before starting construction of this future multi-family apartment complex, efforts were made to preserve this important historical building.

Our VP of Business Development, Drew Bell, says “It’s not always about tearing down and building new in construction. There’s special occasions when preservation is worth the stress, fatigue and cost. We take pride in being good stewards in the communities we work. The Enola Miller house is a source of history and pride in Enola, Pa. D&B is proud to be part of the team preserving this iconic house for future generations to come.”

Planning, preparation, and a whole lot of heart from people across many organizations went into the move of the historic Enola Miller House in Summerdale, Pennsylvania, especially from the Historical Society of East Pennsboro, who has advocated for the preservation of the home for many years. As the oldest standing home in East Pennsboro Township, it was added to the Cumberland County register of historic places in 2018. The home was the birthplace of Enola Miller, which the town of Enola and the Enola Rail Yard were named after. Moving a historic home built in 1841 and weighing over 400 tons is about as daunting as it sounds. Here’s a look at how D&B Construction (the general contractor), Metropolitan Companies (the developer who bought the land in December 2020) and Wolfe House & Building Movers got the job done:

According to Barbara Gertzen, member of the Historical Society of East Pennsboro, “the struggle to develop the Summerdale property has been going on for over a decade.” There have been multiple plans in the works since 2009 from developers that would build on the land where the Enola Miller Home is. Instead of relocating the house, they planned to destroy it.

However, members of the community and the Historical Society of East Pennsboro had other plans for the fate of the Enola Miller House and thankfully the current team developing the property listened.

Once the preservation of the Enola Miller House was for certain, countless hours of preparation took place from many individuals. A completely man-made gravel path roughly half a mile long was constructed by Schlouch Incorporated. Building this temporary path that the house would travel took roughly three days to complete.

Additions that were added to the 180-year-old home also had to be removed from the original stone house so crews could disconnect the building from its utilities and reinforce the windows and doors to prepare the home for its 1,300-foot uphill journey. The old foundation needed to be excavated and removed so it could be replaced with oak timbers known as cribbing, which provides support to a steel grid structure that helped protect the home throughout the move. Hydraulic jacks were then placed under the cribbing to lift the building onto huge dollies.

The move was so tedious that it even had to take place over the course of more than one day. On April 5th, the electric company, PPL, removed overhead high-voltage lines that crossed over the route. The home also needed to travel over a ditch in order to reach its new foundation.

Wolfe House & Building Movers did the heavy lifting – quite literally – for this historic home. The most difficult part of the move was something beyond anyone’s control: A substantial amount of rain resulted in steel plates needing to be placed along the route in order to safely move the house. Because of this, it took about four hours to move the first 100 yards on the first day of the move. The moving crew started around 8 AM on Tuesday, March 30th and finished around 5:30 PM.

Robert Sauder of Wolfe House & Building Movers, shares a bit that goes on beyond the scenes leading up to the actual moving day: “There is a lot of planning with the steel work and some of the details of the move and understanding the structure. We don’t have an exact amount on the total number of hours that were spent on the project. A dozen guys have worked several weeks, whether doing the work or preparing.”

Thanks to a press conference that took place due to efforts of the Historical Society of East Pennsboro, over a hundred people came to watch the move take place, including news crews, neighbors across the street curious as to what was going on, and members of the community who cared about the beloved Enola Miller Home.

No pressure for the moving crew, right?! When asked if they ever get nervous before performing such a move, Robert said: It’s all about having a good plan and having people with experience. That’s what we have here. Guys that have done this all of their life. They are multi-generational people doing this, so they’ve grown up with it. Understanding the concepts take a lot of the fear of things going wrong out of it.”

Robert said the size of the crowd usually depends on the type of building being moved, as well as the publicity that the building and move receives. “We have some where there is no one and other’s where there are full on barbecues with family and friends watching,” he says with a laugh. “The Enola Miller House did have a lot of community involvement in trying to preserve a piece of the community, so it created a fair amount of interest. Historic projects generally have more interest in it to make the preservation happen. That in turn created a lot of people wanting to see it actually happen. It’s a nice community and working with D&B Construction and the others have been really good,” Robert said, as he reflects on this particular project. He also enjoyed the opportunity to work closer to home, as Wolfe House & Building Movers has completed moves throughout the country and even internationally.

Once the Enola Miller House reached its new foundation, there was still several weeks of work left to complete. Randy, D&B Construction’s Superintendent in charge of this jobsite, said that the basement was just recently poured. Exterior site work on the Enola Miller House is starting soon now that the three phases of the foundation work is complete. Member of the Historical Society of East Pennsboro, Barb Gertzen, says “The HSEP extends our thanks to D&B Construction for their great work constructing the new foundation for the EMH in its new location so that it will stand securely for at least another 200 years!”

Randy is in charge of overseeing the construction of The Reserve at Rivers Edge, a luxury apartment multi-family complex being constructed on this 50-acre lot. Site work for this started shortly after the move of the Enola Miller House was complete. The first of 13 buildings began about four weeks after the sitework.

The preservation of the Enola Miller House was the third building and second historical structure that Randy was involved with moving. Reflecting on the last few months of work at the Summerdale Property, Randy says: “The local community was very concerned about the future of the house. There was a sigh of relief from the majority of them when they heard we were moving it and not tearing it down. We heard from quite a few of the local residents over the past few months. Everyone had their favorite stories to share.”

One such resident was Sheryl, who has lived in Enola since age 10, even living on the same street that the Enola Miller House just moved to. Both she and her husband, Jack, graduated from East Pennsboro High School and came to watch both days of the move for seven hours each day. They even brought their cute dog, Ginger, along. Sheryl and Jack have close ties to the house, reflecting on the time that the house was up for auction and they even considered purchasing it.

She and her husband were there when the Enola Miller Home reached her new foundation, cheering with the rest of the crowd. “I was glad they were moving it. I was a little upset it had to be done, but through watching the move and everything… I just think she’s an old lady that’s found a new home, and she’s going to be very happy. I like her new spot.”

History of the enola Miller house

Thanks to the Historical Society of East Pennsboro for providing detail about the history of the Enola Miller House as well as historic photos from their collection:

HSEP's "Save the Enola Miller House" Subcommittee

The Historical Society of East Pennsboro (HSEP) was founded in 1999. The following members of the Historical Society of East Pennsboro (HSEP) took the time to provide their insights on the history and significance of the Enola Miller House: Jim Leonard (Executive Director of the HSEP for 14 years), Jim Hertzler (Vice President of HSEP), Ron Blauch, and Barb Gertzen. These individuals and one other board member of the HSEP, George DeMartyn, make up the “Save the Enola Miller House” Subcommittee, which was founded in 2017. Each Subcommittee member has longstanding ties or developed deep connections to the Enola Miller House (EMH) through their affinity for historic preservation projects or extensive public service to the residents of East Pennsboro Township and Cumberland County. 

Q: What was the Subcommittee’s involvement with the Enola Miller House move?

A: Ms. Gertzen wrote numerous “Letters to the Editors” of both Harrisburg’s Penn Live.com and The Carlisle Sentinel in the years leading up to the relocation of the EMH.  She renewed her efforts in the months prior to the March 30,, 2021 move of the house. 

Recognizing that media coverage of the EMH’s relocation was crucial to jump-start a fundraising campaign to restore the EMH (a major component of the Subcommittee’s work) led Subcommittee members to organize and highly publicize a press conference held on Friday, March 19, 2021.  Messrs. DeMartyn, Hertzler, and Leonard were joined by a Wolfe Brothers representative at the press conference, which was held across the street from the EMH.

These articles greatly increased public awareness of the move so that well over 100 bystanders and Township representatives were on-site on Tuesday, March 30, 2021, the day of the move.  As dawn broke over the EMH at its original site for the final time, personnel from Wolfe Brothers and D&B Construction began last-minute preparations for the relocation operation. Mr. Hertzler’s outreach to numerous public officials and members of the media ensured that all local print and video news outlets were on-site for the move.

Q: What was it like to watch the move of the Enola Miller House happen? Is this the first time you ever saw a house being moved like this? Was it what you expected?

A: All Subcommittee members were on-site the day of the move and remained through most of the move. It was exciting to watch – although certainly bittersweet for us – considering the exhaustive effort Subcommittee members made trying to keep the EMH on its original site. Despite losing that battle, we felt we won the war since the house was being relocated – rather than demolished – which is an outcome that tragically has occurred with other area historic landmarks. 

To the best of our knowledge, none of the Subcommittee members witnessed a move like this before. The actual relocation occurred at a slower pace than most of us anticipated, and a slight delay when the EMH became stuck in soggy ground and lost a few tires made for some breathless moments, but we were impressed with the competence and professionalism of Wolfe Brothers House & Building Movers (Subcommittee members agreed that we are fortunate that Wolfe Brothers was contracted for the move since most of us were confident in their ability to move the EMH safely). 

We were particularly grateful that D&B Construction had their drone aloft to record the move. Aerial footage of the relocation will be an invaluable part of the Society’s historical records of their new headquarters.

Q: Why is it important to preserve houses such as the Enola Miller House?

A: The Enola Miller House stood as silent witness to these and many more pivotal historic events that altered the area and impacted the lives of numerous generations of residents of Enola, East Pennsboro Township, and Cumberland County. The EMH represents a dwindling number of structures that can trace their history through the earliest years of a community’s development and through dramatic transformations in the area’s economy and its residents’ lifestyles. 

Was saving and working to restore and preserve the Enola Miller House worth the effort? It is if we care about the generations that follow charting their path forward with an appreciation of the past. The mission of the Historical Society of East Pennsboro lies in preserving artifacts, documents, genealogical records, and mementos of residents of the three villages of East Pennsboro Township: Enola, West Fairview, and Summerdale, and the many other community neighborhoods, businesses, and office areas that now make up a bustling and diversified 21st century community. The House is a meaningful symbol of the area’s history connecting current Township residents to individuals who preceded us, while offering lessons and reminders of who we are to those who will follow us. The Enola Miller House not only serves as a tangible reminder of our collective history; it also provides a crucial “sense of self” for the community, which is certainly worth celebrating and preserving.

Q: What’s in store for the future of the Enola Miller House?

A: The Society is raising funds and developing plans to restore the EMH as a museum to display memorabilia related to the memory Enola Miller and her family, as well as relics related to the heritage of the three villages comprising East Pennsboro Township – especially the area’s historic connection to the growth of the world-renown Enola Rail Yards.

Perhaps more importantly, the Society plans to restore aspects of the House that convey a sense of what life in the 17th century was like. The original portion of the House on the first floor was a common room with a walk-in fireplace that occupies virtually the entire northern wall of the main room (one of the Society’s first orders of business is to uncover and restore this impressive walk-in fireplace). This fireplace – located in a central room of the homestead – not only provided heat for the family but was also a gathering place where the family cooked and ate their meals. Unlike today, separate dining and living spaces were unheard of.

 

Our first Trade Partner Spotlight features Gillespie Electric, Inc. Located in East Greenville, PA this full-service electrical contracting company has been a recognized industry leader known for its reliability for over 40 years.

We recently drove out to Souderton, PA to check out the new 12,500 SF community health center quickly taking shape for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Every time we visit we are greeted by the smile of D&B’s Superintendent on the jobsite, John. He always has a positive energy about him, but when we visited on June 23rd he was literally excited to show us the work that Gillespie Electric, Inc. just completed. We’ll show you as well so you can see what John was talking about:

Although new to Team D&B, John has been in the industry working on a variety of large construction projects over the last 34 years (including the delicious Steak 48 on Broad Street in Philadelphia). John described the work the Gillespie team completed as a “quality standardized performance” and claimed he has never seen such well-executed work from electricians. “This demonstrates the quality and care that these guys have to make this job beautiful,” says John with a smile as he admires their work once more.

John, D&B Construction’s Superintendent, admires Gillespie Electric’s work in the electrical room of CHOP’s future new healthcare facility.

According to Gillespie Electric’s Project Manager, Keith Lewis, who has worked on this healthcare project with D&B Construction since it began, they “have been on and off site since this project first broke ground last year and will be on site until the job is complete in a few months.” Over 350 receptacles and 15,000 linear feet of HFC Hospital grade MC are being installed on this project. “All of the lights are LED and we are installing a back-up generator for all of the vaccine refrigerators,” explains Keith.

The company’s Foreman, Mike, as well as Nick (who John admiringly refers to as “another badass” on the Gillespie team) just recently finished tying everything into the panels, a job that took about a week to complete. “Mike and Nick both completed two different rooms. A lot of times when you have two electricians on the same job you can notice slight differences, but their work looked identical. I couldn’t even tell who did which room since their work was so precise,” says John.

The Foreman, Mike, has been with Gillespie for 10 years since 2011 and received his Electrical Apprenticeship from Bucks County Tech in 2012. Keith, who sings high praises of his co-worker, says that Mike was a journeyman for nine years and became a Foreman at the company last year. “Interestingly enough, this job is Mike’s first job that he is completing from start to finish as a Foreman. It’s not every day you win both the core and shell and fit-out phases and are able to be involved in the entire project.”

Although Gillespie has completed a number of jobs for CHOP over the years, this is the first job they are completing for D&B. “There are always some challenges when working with a new general contractor,” says Keith. “It’s like when you first start a new job. You have to feel out your new boss, and they are doing the same with you. But we have had very minimal challenges working with D&B. Communication has been easy, and working with Jim (D&B Project Manager on the job) has been easy, too. It honestly feels like we have been working with them for much longer than we have.”

Keith had similar remarks to say about our Superintendent on the job. “John is on top of things. He gets questions answered efficiently and makes good, on-his-feet decisions. If I ask John a question, I know I will have the answer within a day or two. That’s unusual. Construction should be fluid, and he makes it that way,” says Keith.

Superintendent John on the job at his traveling desk.

At D&B, we view our trade partners as an extension of our team. That’s why we work with trusted trade partners like Gillespie Electric who bring the same level of care that we do to the jobsite.

If you are even remotely connected to the construction world, talking to you Mr. and Mrs. weekend DIY’er, you have heard about the current state of construction material costs.  Last week lumber hit a new all time high of $1,188 per thousand board feet, nearly a 250% increase from the same time last year.  The worst part?  Prices are expected to climb further through the remainder of the building season.  Steel products, if you can find them, have also doubled in pricing over the last six months.  This perfect storm of sky-rocketing costs has forced contractors, developers, business and home owners, suppliers and everyone else in the supply chain to adjust.  Some are hoarding materials while others just hit the pause button.  Ground-up construction for the remainder of 2021 looks to be a big question mark for everyone.  However, one sector is proceeding full steam ahead; adaptive reuse.

Adaptive reuse, historically, has been seen as an eco-friendly construction practice that “recycles” existing structures through a conversion of it’s intended use into something new.  In Baltimore, the old Pratt Street Power Plant was converted into retail and restaurants.  In Philadelphia the Independence Press Building, a paper box production facility, is now a 92-unit apartment building.  You can find incredible examples throughout the world of converted buildings getting new life through reincarnation.  Given the current construction climate due to soaring costs, the green tint of adaptive reuse isn’t coming from the ingrained environmental benefits.  It’s coming from money.

Developers who have long valued the environmental impact of reusing or repurposing a building are finding new returns on their investments. The financial benefits speak for themselves. Cost savings are everywhere in adaptive reuse. Obviously, it takes a lot less material reusing an existing structure than building a new one out of the ground. Beyond that, savings are coming in the way of demolition costs, design and approvals, and time, which is commonly overlooked. Other non-monetary benefits include preserving a community identity, enhancing local accommodations and offerings, economic and environmental sustainability, among others.  It is no surprise why adaptive reuse is getting so much attention.

Fortunately for D&B Construction Group, there are a few of these projects in pre-construction and under construction currently.  The Metropolitan Edison Building, once the tallest building in Reading, Pennsylvania, is a prime example of adaptive reuse.  This 14-story brick building is being converted into market rate apartments to answer growing demand for modern urban multi-family living.  A stone’s throw up Washington street is another adaptive reuse project that will start this summer.  The Berkshire Building, originally a hotel then converted into office space, prepares for new life as student housing supporting Alvernia University’s new Collegetowne campus.  The projects have been a boon for D&B. Dan Gring, D&B Construction Group CEO, recently reflected on the downtown Reading, PA projects:

“To have these large projects that are filling a need in the community, creating a good business venture for our clients, and providing the company with steady and reliable work is invaluable.  There’s a lot of speculation and analysis between us, our clients, vendors, and so on with new construction projects that has many people in our industry worried.  Luckily for us, we’ve built a wide range of clients who trust us with their projects, and we’re fortunate that several of them focus on adaptive reuse projects.  We know with relative certainty that material costs are not jeopardizing those jobs.”

Environmentally sustainable, financially conscious, and preserving communities.  It’s a winning solution all the way around in the current construction market.  Whether or not adaptive reuse projects see a spike as a result of the pandemic fallout or not remains to be seen.  In the short-term companies like D&B and our clients will continue to reap the benefits of this construction approach.

 

Drew Bell, VP of Business Development

Drew Bell, of Wyomissing, brings over 10 years of marketing and business development experience to D&B Construction Group. Prior to joining the team in March of 2020, Drew served as the Business Development Officer at Tompkins VIST Bank. He was also the President of the Reading Royals professional hockey team for three years. Drew is a strong believer that “genuine opportunities come from trust based on knowledge and sincerity.” His dedication to creating and strengthening mutually beneficial partnerships to make collective solutions and his contagious, positive attitude make him not only a huge asset to our team, but a well-respected individual throughout the communities we serve.

Drew graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor’s Degree and received his J.D. from Widener Law School. Active in the community, he is a member of the Berks and Pennsylvania Bar Associations and a committee member for Berks Catholic High School. He previously held board positions with the Greater Reading Convention and Visitors Bureau, as well as the Gilmore Henne Community Fund, Boy Scouts of America Hawk Mountain Council, and Salvation Army of Reading.

Born and raised in Wayne, PA, a suburb of Philadelphia, Drew relocated to Reading in 2010 with his wife, Maryanne Post, after the two graduated Law School. Drew and Maryanne live in Wyomissing with their three kids Charlotte, Amelia and Scotty. In his free time Drew loves to golf and be outdoors.

Trend 1: LEED and Green Building

“A ‘Green’ building is a building that, in its design, construction or operation, reduces or eliminates negative impacts, and can create positive impacts, on our climate and natural environment. Green buildings preserve precious natural resources and improve our quality of life” (WGBC). In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Green or LEED construction is changing. The U.S. Green Building Council, creators of the LEED certification, plans to promote healthier and safer air quality indoors with adjusted certification criteria incentivizing the creation cleaner air systems. In 2021, there will be more building materials and components that help get LEED certification. One interesting and somewhat new development is a form of self-healing bio-concrete. This is a compound of concrete and bacteria that produces limestone when exposed to air and water, which helps with the impermeability of the surface. It costs around $240 per cubic meter. For reference, normal concrete usually costs between $200-$300, making it still cost efficient. Green building will continue to grow throughout the next decades and new technology and policy will come out to reinforce it as time goes by.

 

Trend 2: Modular Construction

The construction industry is rapidly moving towards modular materials because of its cost and time efficiency. Modular building is anywhere from 20% – 50% faster than traditional construction. It is also around 20% more cost efficient to build modular instead of traditional because of the reduced labor and time costs. Modular building also cuts the waste output almost in half due to optimal fabrication and pre-planned units. Everything is built off the construction site, which reduces the challenges of regular construction such as weather, limited working hours, and space. Overall, modular building is great for symmetrical and repeating buildings where sections can be made and stacked or attached to each other easily like in apartment or office buildings.

Trend 3: Safety

As it should be, safety is a huge trend in 2021. The old workplace safety system focused on recognizing problems and fixing them after someone gets hurt or a problem occurs. The new system getting pushed in the industry is based on prevention through education and training and recognizing issues before anyone gets hurt. This is why we have our Safety Committee meet monthly to discuss different topics of safety. Another large change in the safety category is better technology with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). With more women entering the field, there is an increased awareness of the need for PPE to properly fit all employees to ensure safety. In addition, because of the COVID-19 pandemic there are policies across most companies including D&B that promote safe environments using masks, social distancing, and sanitization. When the pandemic hit, our team implemented a sign in and sign out sheet at every job site, making it easy for us to accurately perform contact tracing in the event that someone developed COVID-19 symptoms. D&B will continue to enforce this rule across all job sites moving forward. Learn more about our safety standards here.

 

Trend 4: Multi-Family

Multi-family construction is one of the fastest growing sectors of the commercial construction industry. Because of the lack of inventory in the housing market and changing demographics, multi-family construction is in high demand and will continue to grow in the following years. More people are looking for smaller, more affordable homes and condominiums with less maintenance than a normal single-family house. Research shows that 33% of people who are reaching age 55 are on their own. This is much different than what was the case 20 years ago. Currently D&B has multiple multi-family jobs under active construction and in the pre-construction phases. Throughout my internship, I shadowed the construction of The Reserve at Gring’s Mill, which you can view here.

 

Written by: D&B Intern, Alex Wolf

Alex culminated this list based on what he learned during his time at D&B. He is a Senior at Wilson High School who began shadowing various D&B employees in September of 2020. Alex will be attending Virginia Tech for Architecture in the Fall. “My internship experience at D&B made me realize that I want to pursue a career in residential remodeling and construction,” he explains. “I gained a lot of knowledge about the construction process and enjoyed being able to see entire construction projects from start to finish.”

It’s hard to believe it has already been one year since we completed renovations that converted two existing administrative office spaces into a state-of-the-art orthodontic office! Aside from this healthcare project’s stunning design, this project was special to us because it was the start of Wyomissing native and local orthodontist Molly Hottenstein’s dream of owning her own practice. Molly knew she wanted to be an orthodontist since high school. It was then that she shadowed various doctors because she always knew she wanted to work with people in the medical field. She shadowed an orthodontist and immediately knew it was for her. “I loved the science behind making smiles beautiful… The perfect balance of physics and biology and art. I also loved being able to hang out with cool kids, teenagers and parents all day while really getting to form relationships with them over the course of their treatment. I loved that I could be part of an amazing community and hopefully make a difference in some of their lives,” explains Molly.

Now, she didn’t always plan on opening her own office. That wasn’t on the horizon until after she had worked four years as an associate at different offices. “It was then that I realized I wanted to bring something different to Berks County,” she recalls. She dreamed of opening an office that offered patients something more personal and a bit slower paced, allowing for more one-on-one time. In doing this, her patients would become her friends and family, not just another case. “I wanted to bring a little ‘Disney magic’ to my office, making it a place people wanted to come. I wanted them to feel like there was something different about what we were offering, and the only way to do that was to take the plunge and create it.” And take the plunge she did! It was the D&B team’s pleasure to be able to watch Molly’s hard work turn into a reality before her eyes through the construction of her one of a kind office!

Today, Molly Hottenstein Orthodontics is still loving their office as much as (if not more than) the day they first laid eyes on it. We’ve loved watching them grow since first opening their doors on March 10 of last year, and we are so happy to see them celebrating one year in their office space. Of course, it doesn’t take a math whiz to figure out that the date Molly’s business opened unfortunately coincided with state-wide shutdowns due to the spread of COVID-19. They actually had to shut down operations just two business days after their grand opening… Definitely not something that Molly was anticipating! In reality Molly and her team were planning two grand openings, one for the dental community and an open house for the entire community as a whole.

Like many local business owners, a lot of perseverance and adaptability from her team had to take place within the last year. We sat down with Molly to reflect on the rollercoaster of emotions that she and her team went through after having to shift gears from “grand opening of their beautiful office space” to “closing down operations due to a global pandemic” in a matter of just 48 hours. Here’s what she had to say:

“It was heartbreaking and terrifying. I was six months pregnant and would walk around my empty, beautiful office and cry because I just wanted people to be able to use and enjoy it,” recalls Molly. However, she didn’t let herself wallow in her pity for long. “After a few weeks of crying, I pulled myself out of the pit” she says with a laugh. “Fortunately, the office is laid out in a way that I can easily keep families separated and manage the flow in and out.”

Molly and her team continue to “learn, adapt and grow,” just as any start-up would – pandemic or no pandemic. “Honestly, I don’t have experience with any other start-up NOT during a pandemic,” she says. Molly applauds her staff, who have been “incredible at adapting, learning and being flexible.” The team of three has also received amazing support from the community and other dentists throughout the area. With a smile on her face, Molly says: “At this point, I feel like we are thriving despite the difficult timing!”

Transforming an Office Space to an Orthodontics Space

What all went into transforming Molly Hottenstein Orthodontics’ office space into the area the community knows and loves today? The team at D&B actually renovated two separate spaces and connected them into one larger space. Molly recalls the spaces being “pretty much bare bones” when she first saw them. Even still, she fell in love with a few key elements that our crew kept and highlighted in her new office space. Molly knew she wanted to have a lot of natural light to help keep her office cheerful and bright. “I love spending time outside, and I wanted my staff to not feel like they were stuck in an office all day,” she explains. Luckily, the space already had large windows around the exterior walls, and it was a no-brainer that they were here to stay. Another added bonus to these windows? Molly didn’t have to worry about decorating bare walls! “I love that nature is my best decoration. The property management group does an amazing job keeping the area landscaped and clean, too,” she says.

When it came to creating the vision for her office, Molly’s husband, Kyle, was by her side! “We always had a very focused vision for the look and feel we wanted for the office,” she recalls. “My husband and I are the perfect team because we have very similar taste. I have a very specific vision for the big picture and feel, while he is very particular and good at digging in to the details and making everything perfect.”

It also helped that this wasn’t their first rodeo. The couple worked together to decorate their home, and Molly’s husband even completed their home renovations. “We really wanted to have a professional space that looked and felt more residential. We met with three potential contractors and D&B was the first that completely embraced and understood that!”

Molly and Kyle took care of the design and selection, while the D&B team gave this dynamic duo direction so it was easy for them to find exactly what they were envisioning. Molly recalls spending A LOT of time on Pinterest and Houzz looking at architectural and design aspects so they could gain an understanding of what they loved and wanted to incorporate into the space. Kyle even made an extensive PowerPoint showing all of the images and aspects they loved to illustrate where they wanted to utilize them. From there, D&B helped make the vision possible.

From Rendering to Reality

One of Molly’s favorite parts of the construction process was meeting with the subcontractors and seeing how all of the little pieces fit together to start making her vision come to life. Molly’s husband, Kyle, enjoyed seeing the progress made every single day and how each small step got them a little closer to the beautiful finish!

“Honestly, Kyle was the most involved with the entire process. He is amazing! This wouldn’t have happened without his hard work and dedication, and I am forever grateful for that,” Molly says. “Kyle was very hands-on throughout the entire process, and D&B was amazing at staying on schedule and keeping us informed.”

Molly and Kyle had known of D&B through friends. “We knew they had done amazing work with different offices, and honestly, we had the most amazing experience with D&B. I can’t imagine having it go any better. The amount of detail and communication they had with us was unmatched. I was so impressed with how thorough they were and how well they kept us in the loop and on schedule. My husband and I already talk about how we will use their residential services for our home project when that time comes. In fact, my co-resident even used D&B’s Philadelphia office to renovate his office after our experience,” says Molly.

Once construction was complete after just five months, Molly was moved in and all ready to go in less than a week! She was in disbelief when she first saw her new office space. “I felt like ‘WOW! No way is this mine. It’s here. It’s done. It’s better than I could have imagined,’” recalls Molly.

A Little Grit Goes A Long Way

After nine weeks of being closed, Molly and her team were able to open up their office and enjoy the new space! Although they weren’t able to have the two grand openings they had been planning and many things they originally envisioned did not look exactly the same due to safety precautions, they were thrilled to be starting this chapter in their new office.

“The team has really grown into the space and gotten into a groove with our patients,” says Molly, who has two favorite spaces throughout the office. She loves her doctor’s perch because it allows her to be totally present with all of her patients, while also being available to her staff and still able to get work done. Another favorite spot is the consult room, which is the first space that families see. “I am absolutely obsessed with the windows,” exclaims Molly. They remind her of her time in college at Villanova. It was here that she fell in love with the beautiful side sun rooms that all of the older Main Line homes had. “I’ve wanted that look so bad since then, and we made that happen in the office. People LOVE it!”

With confidence Molly reports that “within the first five minutes of arriving, 99% of patients will comment on how much they love the office. They love how inviting, clean and homey it feels. People even take pictures for inspiration for their own projects!” Molly’s patients love the farmhouse sinks at the toothbrush station, and parents tend to love the bench at the foot of the clinic chairs because it allows them to enjoy the view outside the window. “We also always get comments on the colors and the counters… Everyone just says it has a good feel.”

Katelyn, Head Orthodontic Assistant, and Lyn, Patient Coordinator, appreciate the hominess of the office, just as the patients do. They describe the office as their “home away from home,” both feeling so comfortable at the office that they almost feel like they are at home and not at work. The beautiful space definitely makes it easier for them to not dread coming to work!

Aside from the overall aesthetic and design of this office space, another aspect that makes it so enjoyable to visit and work at is the atmosphere. Molly’s motto is “Personal. Passionate. Precise,” and a quick visit to her Facebook or Instagram will show you that her office is big on bringing fun and friendliness back to orthodontics.

“I think the number one key to anything in life is being genuine,” says Molly. “You can’t force yourself to be something you aren’t. To be happy and successful, I knew my office had to be a genuine reflection of who I am. I love to joke and have fun, while also being honest and a good communicator. I don’t ‘try’ to make my office fun… it just happens. My staff members are naturally this way, too. They are naturally kind and focused, and they smile and laugh. I want them to be themselves. The rest just follows,” she explains. Molly prefers this natural, organic approach over getting hung up on what her competitors are doing or feeling. “I want people to choose our office because they feel comfortable here. Orthodontics isn’t a once and done thing. It’s a relationship over a series of a few years,” she says. For that reason, she wants people to feel like her practice is the right fit for them. She doesn’t want people to come to her because she has contests, prizes, or toys. She wants them to come to her because they trust her and feel comfortable.

“I think people are starting to talk about their experience with us, and we are starting to be a little more known in the area. I hope this is just the start to the forward momentum. I am so thrilled with the outcome and so proud. I feel like the space is a true reflection of who I am and the type of service I am offering,” says Molly, with a lovely smile – of course.

On February 22, 2021, we celebrated our 10 year anniversary! This milestone is something to celebrate. According to historical data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the construction industry has one of the lowest business survival rates. About 25% of small construction companies don’t survive their first year, and labor statistics also show that 70% of these businesses never make it to their 10th anniversary.

From flipping homes and completing renovations, to building entire custom homes from the ground up, to entering the commercial construction industry and completing over 5 million SF since then… A lot has happened in the last decade. We owe it all to our amazing team members, trade partners, suppliers, clients, friends and family! Thank you for being part of this journey, and we look forward to what’s to come in the next decade!

               

Reflecting on 10 Years

To celebrate this milestone, we asked our team members to share some of their thoughts on what it is like working at D&B Construction, how they have personally grown during their time here, and any fun memories they wanted to share:

Q: Any fun memories or stories that you’d like to share?

“When I first started at D&B we were much smaller, with offices across the hall. I was excited to work for Al, Dan and Brennan because there was an underlying positive energy that was contagious. I remember Brennan bouncing his ball against a wall when he would visit our side, driving us all crazy, and Dan running through the office saying “coming through”. When Tom started we made him a make shift desk in the copy room. It was a little rough and we made it work.  If you ever need anything go to Adam, he is our historian and remembers everything! We have grown so much in the five years I have been here, and it has been fun being part of that growth both personally and professionally. I work with the best team! They happily share their knowledge, teach me something every day and challenge me to grow. They are my extended family. I also want to thank Al, Dan and Brennan for giving me an opportunity to be a part of a great team!”

-Beth, Project Coordinator

“When I first started we were limited on office space at the Park Road office. I was sharing an office with three other team members. Within a week, I adapted and found a corner in the room where the printer was. I made a desk from cardboard boxes and an old countertop. Talk about improvising. It actually worked well. HA!”

-Tom, Construction Manager & Safety Director

“I remember the first time I met Dan & Brennan when they first got started 10 years ago. I was on the other side of the job as an inspector for Lower Heidelberg Township. I believe they were constructing a deck, sunroom or an addition somewhere in the Green Valley area. I came across a lot of contractors in my 13 years as a building inspector, but always remembered them from the first meeting. Great guys with a goal of doing it the right way! This 10-year anniversary is a testament to them honoring their commitment to doing things the right way for their clients, employees and themselves!”

-Andrew, Assistant Project Manager

 

 

Q: How have you personally grown since first starting at D&B? What have you learned?

“The importance of teamwork. D&B has shown me what can be accomplished when there is a team that will support you from top to bottom.”

-Matt, Project Manager

“I have grown my leadership skills tremendously, and I learned that I can actually make a difference.”

-Tom, Construction Manager & Safety Director

“I’ve been here since January of this year, but I feel like it’s been much longer. The team has accepted me, and I love the company culture. I have learned a ton about our processes, software and my teammates. The ‘go-getter’ attitude of our leaders has me extremely excited for the future!”

-Andrew, Assistant Project Manager

 

 

Q: How have Dan and Brennan evolved as leaders since you began?

“They are evolving into awesome leaders. The growth that the joint venture of Metro and D&B bring are endless. They always have and always will have each other to bounce ideas off of. Not one decision is made for the company without them both discussing it together.”
-Alex, Superintendent

“Dan and Brennan are growing as leaders since I started and will continue to grow with the company.”

-Tom, Construction Manager & Safety Director

 

 

Q: When you think of your D&B family what is the first thing that comes to mind?

“Teamwork. A commitment to excellence and doing things the right way for the client.”

-Andrew, Assistant Project Manager

“Compassion and understanding.”

-Matt, Project Manager

“Unbelievable teamwork and teammates.”
-Alex, Superintendent

“Teamwork.”

-Tom, Construction Manager & Safety Director

“Cooperation.”

-Barry, Superintendent

 

 

Q: Anything you want to say to the D&B team as a whole?

“Keep up the good work and adapt with the growth.”

-Tom, Construction Manager & Safety Director

“I would like to say thanks to everyone. Many people in the company reached out to me when my mother passed, and it means more to me than they know.”

-Matt, Project Manager

“Being a part of this team makes me feel so proud. It’s a breath of fresh air knowing I can rely on our team for help or ideas. As long as we stick together and use all of our teammates, there is nothing we can’t do!”
-Alex, Superintendent

 

 

Q: How would you define our company culture in a few words?

“Teamwork. Cohesive. Fun!”

-Andrew, Assistant Project Manager

“Engaging, welcoming, team oriented, rewarding, flexible, motivating and connected.”
-Alex, Superintendent

“Teamwork and striving for excellence.”

-Matt, Project Manager

“The culture here is unique compared to other companies.”

-Tom, Construction Manager & Safety Director

 

 

Q: What do you love most about working at D&B?

“The challenge to keep up.”

-Barry, Superintendent

“Everyone has been extremely helpful in bringing me up to speed and getting me involved in as much as possible. The work atmosphere is fun, all while getting the tasks accomplished in timely manner. It is a great team with great balance across all facets.”

-Andrew, Assistant Project Manager

“The people. Everyone is down to earth and is there to support whenever possible. In times of need, D&B employees have been there to lend a helping hand or provide insight on an issue on a project.”

-Matt, Project Manager

“Mentoring the younger team members and watching them grow.”

-Tom, Construction Manager & Safety Director

 

Learn More About D&B

If you follow our social media, you’ve likely seen our YouTube series reflecting on 10 years to celebrate the company’s milestone. Catch each episode here:

Episode 1: Dan and Brennan, and their wives, Urs and Jenny, reflect on the many different office spaces we’ve had throughout the last decade. Learn more about how we went from an office space in a house Dan and Brennan ended up flipping to three offices located in Reading, Philadelphia, and Lewes, DE.

Episode 2: Dan and Brennan discuss how D&B has grown in the last 10 years and whether or not they expected to be where they are now.

Episode 3: Did you know that Dan and Brennan were teammates long before they started the company? They played soccer together at Elizabethtown College (where they were also roommates). Learn how they have grown over the years and how their partnership complements one another.

Episode 4: This episode focuses on our most important asset – our team! In the words of Dan and Brennan, “Our team is what got us here today.” Dan, Brennan, and their wives recognize and celebrate everyone who makes up the D&B family.

Episode 5: Dan and Brennan’s family send their congratulations to Team D&B on their 10 year anniversary. Plus, you’ll learn what some of the D&B kids love most about visiting their dads and the team at the office.