Baker Concrete Construction, Inc.

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Baker Concrete Construction, Inc.:

Forming Long-Term Success

Based in Monroe, OH, Baker Concrete Construction, Inc. is the leading specialty concrete contractor in the United States. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

Baker workers standing atop the Panorama in Miami, FL.

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ounded in 1968 by Dan Baker and his brothers in Oxford, OH, Baker Concrete Construction, Inc., has grown to become the leading specialty concrete contractor in the United States. As impressive and as gratifying as that sort of recognition is, it’s not the company’s primary motivation. Not by a long shot. “It’s not what drives us,” explains Kerri Smith, Vice President and General Manager for the Southeast Region, which is based in Fort Lauderdale, FL. “I would say what makes us a bit different is that we are a people company that forms, places and finishes concrete. It’s the people and the relationships all around the country that make us successful.” As a full-service concrete contractor, the company provides construction, preconstruction and project management services across multiple sectors. Core competencies include concrete formwork design and installation, concrete reinforcement installation, and concrete placement and finishing. Preconstruction services include conceptual estimating, project scheduling, design assist and value engineering, and technical and constructability reviews. “The end user is the ultimate client. Creating an experience that they are happy with and take pride

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in is important from a company standpoint,” Smith says.” The company’s growth has exploded as it embarks on its 53rd year of operation. Baker generated $1.3bn in revenue in the last fiscal year, has around 5,000 co-workers at numerous locations across the country and has completed more than 12,000 projects. “We’ve had $250 million in growth in the last five years alone. A lot of it is internal, and we’ve also made several strategic acquisitions that have strengthened our offerings. There is so much opportunity out there, and our talent pool is strong, engaged and eager to take it on,” Smith notes. The company belongs to multiple industry associations, including the Construction Association of South Florida (CASF), the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). Their membership includes reasons that extend far beyond networking opportunities. “We have a responsibility to make the industry better, and one way we do that is by joining high-profile industry associations,” Smith asserts. “These associations are the industry’s cheerleaders. And collectively, we have more clout to push for important changes than we could as individual companies and we want to help drive that growth.”


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Daniel Baker

Brad Wucherpfennig

Premier Projects

slab on metal deck, consisting of more than 200,000sf of various finishes. Baker coordinated logistics with other trades due to the tight site, short schedule and restrictions set by the Port of Miami because of cruise day traffic congestion.

Norwegian Cruise Line Terminal B: The Design/Build project in the Port of Miami included a new cruise terminal, a multi-level parking garage and a vessel-provisioning warehouse. The Haskell-NV2A Joint Venture team contracted Baker for all structural excavation and backfill, building foundations, demolition of existing concrete structures, slab on grade and

The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino: The nearly $1.5bn expansion of the Hollywood, FL venue for client Suffolk-Yates JV added a larger casino,

“You have to know who you are as a company and make sure you have the right core values … Getting the right people, positioning them, and supporting them is more important to us than a career path on a piece of paper.” - Kerri Smith, Vice President and General Manager www.bakerconcrete.com


Baker Concrete Construction, Inc. | 6 60,000sf of retail and restaurant area, a 7,000-seat theater, a 10-acre lagoon pool, 41,000sf of spa space, and a 36-story guitar-shaped hotel that has 638 rooms and reaches 450 feet into the sky. Baker Concrete poured more than 80,000 cubic yards of concrete on the total project, in coordination with their joint venture partner.

oriented space and a teaching facility, a 2,000-car garage below the medical facility, a 208-room hotel lining the garage to the east of Brickell Bay Drive, and 50,000sf of high-end retail outlets and restaurant space on the first and second levels. The remaining 64 stories rise to 830 feet and include a 48thfloor club and lounge.

Panorama Tower: Located in downtown Miami’s Brickell Financial District, the 83-story tower is the tallest residential building south of New York City. The 2.5 million square foot structure includes more than 800 luxury rental apartments, hotel rooms, office space and retail space. The 19-story pedestal at the base contains more than 100,000sf of medically-

Creating A Winning Culture

Kerri Smith

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Despite Baker’s massive size, people are at the center of every decision and action. That mindset was shaped by founder Dan Baker and starts at the top. Treating co-workers, partners, subcontractors, and clients with the utmost respect and civility is ingrained in the company’s culture.


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The company’s purpose statement sums it up well – Building Better Structures, Building Better Lives. “We want growth, we want to change the industry and we want to lead the industry – but it’s not about the numbers; it’s about everyone doing their job,” Smith says. “How can we make installing concrete easier and better for our team and our suppliers? It’s not one person. It’s the carpenters and laborers out there that make us successful, and it’s about us making their lives and their jobs easier.” That same focus on people informs Baker’s approach to career development. It is the primary factor

in the company’s success at building loyalty and molding future champions. And it starts with identifying, hiring, training and retaining the right people. “You have to know who you are as a company and make sure you have the right core values. We have to have the right culture for people, and they have to have the right stuff for our culture. That’s 90 percent of it,” says Smith, who joined the company out of college and has been there for 16 years. “Getting the right people, positioning them and supporting them is more important to us than a career path on a piece of paper.” Creating a loyal workforce is crucial. In

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Corporate Headquarters: 4300 S.W. 74th Avenue, Miami, Florida 33155 Tel: (305) 262-3250 Fax: (305) 267-0698 Concrete Dispatch North: 561.482.0211 Concrete Dispatch South: 305.264.7101 Block Dispatch: 305.805.3226 ww www.supermix.com

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Baker Concrete Construction, Inc. | 9 addition to providing proper tools and training, that process includes a bit of purposeful myth busting. “We’re trying to break down paradigms that you need to be in the industry for 40 years before you can lead, because that’s not true,” Smith states firmly, citing herself as such an example. “When you find leaders and keep them engaged with projects that will allow them to grow, they become loyal. We have a lot of standout coworkers. If there is a superstar and three managers want him or her, first and foremost, we do what’s best for the co-worker.”

The Day To Day Smith wears many hats as a manager, ranging from setting strategy and closing out large projects to keeping her team members engaged and motivated. “You understand that it’s your team and your people that make you a success or a failure,” she observes. “As a manager, you always make sure folks are challenged and happy and that

they want to fight for the team but that we also stay humble as a team.” Smith considers it useful to employ situational leadership in which she will step back and have another team member take the lead in a meeting. She is also quick to credit her team for her own success. “My team drives me daily, and I have a genuine love for what we as a company stand for. Our people get me excited. If I am closing a negotiation, I am thinking, ‘Wow, if we get this project, and there’s 250 co-workers on it, that’s 250 families we are providing for.’” she says. The company is committed to creating an Incident and Injury Free (IIF) workplace and encourages co-workers to become active participants in creating a safe environment. New-hire orientation, regular safety training, weekly toolbox talks, observation programs, period reviews and annual Safety Week participation are all part of the program to prevent incidents from occurring on jobsites.

“We want growth, we want to change the industry and we want to lead the industry – but it’s not about the numbers; it’s about everyone doing their job. How can we make installing concrete easier?” - Kerri Smith, Vice President and General Manager www.bakerconcrete.com


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“Safety is our culture, not a process or procedure. It’s a habit that we reinforce with procedures, processes and training programs. From the top down, we maintain a ‘your brother’s keeper’ mentality. As an industry we used to blame the person who got hurt. Now it’s ‘Nope, it’s not their fault, it’s our fault.’ There was something we could have done differently. Taking the ownership and responsibility have shifted how we deal with it,” Smith explains. The company is fortunate to have a well-developed network of longterm customers, subcontractors and suppliers.

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“We make sure our partners, subs and suppliers have similar values to our own. We have worked hard to build a name people recognize. On those occasions when the company works in unfamiliar territory, key leaders are purposeful in building relationships with the local work force. “We go out of our way to say ‘We’d love to work together and partner with you.’ A name that stands for doing the right thing, after 53 years this is still who we are and what we represent,” Smith says.

The Challenge of COVID-19 At a granular level, the pandemic has


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impacted the company in ways it has never experienced and prompted the company to consider exploring solutions it had not previously considered. “It challenges everything we stand for. It has an impact on the safety of our co-workers and their families. There’s the challenge of how to keep jobs safe and going, but it’s more than that. There’s also the challenge of understanding the mental-health aspect of it,” Smith explains. Still, out of fear, confusion and chaos

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has arisen the opportunity to talk about positive steps to be taken. “We talk about what is constant, and that is our attitude. How can we support you, not just with a paycheck, but also with kids being out of school and with family members who are really sick or passing away. People can’t travel, so how can we help them get to their families,” “Smith says. “I think we’ve been somewhat successful in looking at it holistically, and it’s not just ‘we have to keep the


Baker Concrete Construction, Inc. | 13 job site open.’ In a way this has brought people closer together. There’s more to life than just concrete. It’s been challenging, but it’s also given us a bit of a reality check,” she continues. Looking Forward As the top contractor in its specialty with a reputation for excellence to match, expect Baker Concrete’s success to continue through its next 50 years and beyond. Expect the company to continue to embrace opportunities big and small. Smith offers advice, to those considering the industry as a career path, especially women.

“Be confident. I don’t know everything, but as long as I work hard it will happen. If someone says something bad about your team, remember there is an element of truth about everything, even a negative. There is a little truth you can learn from, so take the good and take the learning and throw everything else away because life is too short to dwell on anything like that,” she says. “In construction, there are so many rewarding career paths to explore. This is an industry that is going to be in demand for decades to come – it’s a good investment of your time because there is so much promise ahead,” she concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Baker Concrete Construction, Inc. Country: U.S. Industry: Construction Est: 1968 Premier Service: Specialty concrete construction contractor VP/GM Southeast Region: Kerri Smith Website: www.bakerconcrete.com

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Corporate 900 North Garver Road Monroe, OH 45050 P: 800.539.2224 South Florida 5555 Anglers Avenue, Suite 1A Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312