American Builders Quarterly #71

Page 1


abbs Steven D g it. is buildin

The 450-foot structure will become the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino-Hollywood, managed by Seminole Gaming Administration’s Steven Dabbs. The completed hotel will have 12 restaurants; 150,000 square feet of added meeting space; and a 10-acre campus filled with waterfalls, plunge pools, and retail shops. P. 26

Klai Juba Wald Architects


Open Work? OK! Lisa Rogers builds out spaces for multiple generations at Thomson Reuters P. 154

Where Communication Is Deluxe Whether in Bangalore or Beverly Hills, Ben Soble is the man for the job P. 138

Garrett Rowland/Gensler (Allergan), Courtesy of Thomson Reuters (Thomson Reuters), Cass Davis (Deluxe Entertainment)

Headquarters Magic How Jay Bapna transformed Allergan’s new headquarters, practically overnight P. 78

Webb Chappell (Fresenius), Jeffrey Totaro (David Yurman ), Michelle C. Torres-Grant/MCTG Photography (MINDBODY)

Combine Theory and Practice John Gioioso shares tips for success, drawn from his 20-year work history P. 144

Mindfulness at MINDBODY Kevin Foley on failing quickly and thriving fully P. 38

From the Artists Laurent Charlet pulls design inspiration from his company’s founders P. 128




ABC Allergan Armstrong, Chad Bapna, Jay Behar, Doug Boghigian, Brett Boraski, Mark Caromont Health Cemex Charlet, Laurent Chicago Cut Concrete Cutting

76 100 76 68 43 118 10 149 128 50

DEF Dabbs, Stephen David Yurman Dell EMC Deluxe Entertainment Duraes, John Foley, Kevin Fresenius Medical Care North America


GHI Gioioso, John Heartland Dental In-Shape Indigo Agriculture Informatica

144 100 172 43 113

JKL Kaestner, Nik Kindred Healthcare Krall, Scott LaMont, Mike LG Electronics

34 109 168 15 163

MNO Mamet, Linda Mannle, Kevin MINDBODY Neiman Marcus Nester, Lee Netflix New York Yankess NHCC

26 128 168 136 91 38

158 20 38 118 10 94 68 20

PQR Pastore, Anthony Phillips, Tiffany Prins, Ed RealPage Rescia, Dorothy Rogers, Lisa Rush University Medical Center STU San Francisco Unified School District Scobie, Ochi Seaton, Sandy Seminole Gaming Administration Shedd Aquarium Shuluk, Phil Signature Healthcare Soble, Ben Thomas, Greg Thomson Reuters Toler, Tollin TRI Pointe Group TTEC Ulta Beauty United Rentals USI Insurance Services Usta, Nizam VWXYZ Vreeland, Patti W.R. Grace & Co. Wengel, Bob Wisk, Dan Wong, Corey Ziff, Ken

82 50 149 124 158 152 15

34 94 124 26 54 141 91 136 109 152 163 158 60 82 141 104 88



VP of Creative Sean Conner

VP of Sales Kyle Evangelista

Editorial Director Cyndi Fecher

Sales Director Ben Julia

Senior Editor Geoff George

Executive Success Director Anna Jensen

Contributors Galen Beebe Alex Borkowski Randall Colburn Will Grant Joseph Kay Russ Klettke David Levine Aaron Orsini Lior Phillips Jeff Silver Paul Snyder Clint Worthington

Onboarding Director Sarah Jameson

Design + Photo Director Caleb Fox Designer Juliet Desnoyer Photo Editors/ Staff Photographers Cass Davis Gillian Fry

Business Development Director Jenny Vetokhin Business Development Manager Erin Malone Content & Advertising Managers Evan Arnashus Jordan Cofer Norman Edwards Marty Gaieck Abi Humber Jay Jones Nathan Meginnes Charlie Murphy Patrick Murphy Andrew Psenka


CEO Pedro Guerrero Managing VP Marc Jerbi

104 88 54 172 113 60

Executive Assistant Jaclyn Gaughan Client Services Director Cheyenne Eiswald Senior Client Services Managers Rebekah Pappas Katie Richards Client Services Manager Skylar Garfield Director of People Kathy Kantorski Recruitment Director Elyse Schultz Office Manager Megan Thorp

Director of Network Engagement Vianni Busquets


Director of Finance Nichole Roiland

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Core values, hurricanes, ducks, and a giant guitar? Many companies have core values or ideals to hone how they work—how to treat one another and keep common goals top of mind. At my company, one of ours is, “be a duck.” Sounds strange, right? Let me explain. The other day I went running shortly after a big rainstorm. I do an easy loop around a park full of beautiful trees and small wildlife. It’s not uncommon to see rabbits or birds, sometimes deer. As I rounded the bend by the pond, ducks had already descended back to the water after the storm. The wind was still whipping across the pond as the weather settled, but the birds seemed entirely unfazed and carried on with their fishing, or whatever ducks do—an image of calm on a body of water that just moments before had been churning. When we talk about “being a duck” while conducting business, what we mean is exactly that. Calm, cool, and collected on the surface, but paddling like hell underneath. In my world, that means meeting the deadlines, editing the stories, hammering out the details. I’m sure this phrase has meaning for your work as well. I can’t think of a more apt description to describe some of the folks we’re featuring in this issue. Take Ken Ziff, who looked to TTEC’s core values to do the seemingly impossible: convert its headquarters to a volunteer contact center to provide relief from Hurricane Harvey—in only ten days (p. 60). It takes an incredible amount of calm it to pull off such a feat in such a short time, not to mention a stellar team ready to jump at a moment’s notice. But they got the job done. And then there’s our cover story, a massive and joyful project, also on a tight deadline. Stephen Dabbs is building out Hard Rock Hotel & Casino–Hollywood in time for the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami. When completed, the guitar-shaped hotel—yes, you read that right—will top out at 36 stories, totaling 450 feet. (Flip back to page 2 to see a rendering of the finished project.) Projects of this scale require an immense amount of coordination, budgeting, and teamwork to get off the ground successfully. But what actually interests me the most is the process: Dabbs and his company, Seminole Gaming Company, must complete the build-out while the hotel and casino remain open. Temporary facilities have been created simultaneously to replace those being renovated or demolished. The team must ensure that game counts, dining venues, and guest accommodations are still operating at optimal levels while renovation occurs. On the surface, the show must quite literally go on, but underneath, the crew is working around the clock to complete the project. I hope the stories in this issue leave you feeling inspired to work creatively and calmly, paddling like hell to get it all done.


Just keep swimming,

Cyndi Fecher Editorial Director

From managing tight budgets to serving broad populations with low incomes to reaching patients where they live, regional healthcare systems face a host of unique facilities challenges.

Better Community Care

Rush University Medical Center p15

CaroMont Health p10

Nassau Health Care Corporation p20

American Builders Quarterly spoke to three facilities leaders working to improve the way their systems run to better their communities.



Right Size, by Jeff Silver

Lee Nester considers many factors in optimizing CaroMont Health’s growth plans



Lee Nester never planned on a career in healthcare or real estate management, but fate had other plans. So, when his MBA and experience working for a cleaning company that served skilled nursing facilities and small hospitals brought him to CaroMont Health, he jumped at the opportunity. What began as a position as assistant manager in environmental services has evolved into his current role as director of property management. In addition to covering a wide range of responsibilities—everything from assessing and negotiating properties for new locations to managing outlying facilities to addressing weather events—Lee is highly dedicated to CaroMont’s role as a community hospital. “Our flagship hospital is in Gastonia, but CaroMont provides service to the surrounding five-county market,” Lee says. “In addition to offering high-quality healthcare, we’re also one of Gaston County’s largest employers. That means we take care of local residents and contribute to the economy.” Being less than twenty-five miles and a thirty-minute drive from Charlotte, CaroMont faces significant competition from providers such as Carolinas Healthcare System, which, after forging a partnership with UNC Health, could become one of the largest providers in the country. Although CaroMont already covers the majority of the Gaston County healthcare market, it has implemented an initiative to strategically place facilities throughout the region to remind consumers that their needs can be taken care of without leaving home. “We want to treat local patients but also need to address the needs of patients in western Mecklenburg County and the northern part of York County in South Carolina,” Lee says. “We want to keep a high profile so that a CaroMont facility is the first thing you see when you arrive and the last thing you see when you leave.”

Lee Nester

Nicole Ansalvish

Director of Property Management CaroMont Health

To date, that effort has resulted in a significant increase in key services such as emergency medicine, acute care, and urgent care. As part of the ongoing expansion, Lee spends a great deal of time researching and investigating demographic metrics to source properties and determine new locations. This involves developing relationships with builders, developers, and other real estate professionals to gain insights that will help assess a location’s ultimate visibility and ease of access; it also aids in analyzing the area’s population density, payer mix, and types of needed services.


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The company opened the new building in April of 2017.

Peter Brentlinger

The building also drastically reduces the square footage per employee.



“You don’t have to care for patients to have a positive impact. There’s always a need for the support people who keep everything up and running. It’s great to have the opportunity to contribute to our mission without having a medical degree.”

Determining the sweet spot when it comes to location requires a subtle blend of art and science. In one instance, a CaroMont family-medicine facility was placed in a new neighborhood but was set back just far enough that its sight lines from the road were obscured. This resulted in lower patient volume than expected. Another facility, which was placed on a highly visible corner, has greatly exceeded its predicted usage. Properties in rural areas present their own unique challenges. Code and other regulatory guidelines can vary from location to location and can require extra time to work out with city, county, and other officials. To streamline the process and mitigate unforeseen obstacles, Lee routinely works with local economic development agencies, which also helps build homegrown support and momentum.

“In order to provide needed services and act as a community partner, there are instances when our construction and development decisions are not driven solely by financial interests,” Lee admits. “The long-term relationships that result, as well as the improved local access to quality care, are well worth the investment.” In August of 2017, CaroMont opened its professional office building. The facility was created in order to move nonclinical, back-of-house functions off of medical campuses to provide more space for treating patients. Lee was involved in every step of the negotiation, vendor selection, design, and construction processes. Among his top priorities were clearly defining the space and logistical parameters for each function and ensuring that each one got what it needed to be effective and efficient. “The process was set up so that the overall design could be optimized to serve everyone’s existing workflow,” Lee says. “That required us to question and validate every detail to make sure we rightsized the building. In some cases, we found ways for departments to operate comfortably even though the square footage per employee was reduced 32 percent from the departments’ original spaces. It was a real opportunity to be innovative in how we set standards for office space throughout the organization.” As Lee manages day-to-day requirements of the company’s properties and keeps his eye on the evolving long-term healthcare needs of the southern Piedmont region of North Carolina, he is always grateful for the role he is able to play. “You don’t have to care for patients to have a positive impact,” he says. “There’s always a need for the support people who keep everything up and running. It’s great to have the opportunity to contribute to our mission without having a medical degree.”

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From the Ground Up

by Alex Borkowski

Mike LaMont of Rush University Medical Center on how working for an airport,

Chicago’s public transit system, and Cook County led him to work in healthcare




In spite of having spent a large portion of his career involved in healthcare, Mike LaMont didn’t see his professional life heading that way when he got out of school. “My grandfather owned an ambulance business,” he says, “my dad was an ambulance driver, and my mom was a medical transcriptionist. My younger brother is a cardiac technician, but I didn’t have any interest in working in healthcare initially.” Currently the vice president of facilities management for Rush University Medical Center, LaMont says he started off most captivated by design. “I enrolled in an engineering program at the University of Illinois at Chicago [UIC],” LaMont recalls, “because I was interested in construction but more in how buildings are designed as opposed to actually built. I wanted to get the technical background to do that, so I got a bachelor’s of science in structural engineering.” For seven years, LaMont designed power plant structures, until a downturn in the economy forced him to look for new work. Luckily, one was quick to arrive in the form of project management at Chicago’s O’Hare airport. “There was a new program starting at O’Hare to modernize and expand the airport,” LaMont explains, “That was my first introduction to moving out of actually designing and into managing separate projects and the people who are actually doing the design.”



Working For The City

Sorbis/ (Top), Chad Zuber/ (Bottom)

LaMont found that he liked project management, and his detour into transit continued further when an opportunity arose within the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA). “Working at the CTA was similar to the airport in that you had different companies designing different projects and you were coordinating and integrating the work of multiple different contractors,” LaMont says. “Except this time it was the rail system and not the airport.” Ultimately, however, LaMont didn’t want to finish up his career in transit, so he pivoted again, this time working for John Stroger, president of the Cook County Board of Commissioners. “My main project for the county was overseeing and directing the work at the new county hospital,” he recalls. “So that was quite a pivot. I hadn’t been in healthcare design at all, but I had a good sense of what it takes—to get a project going and work with design teams and then get contractors involved—from my previous positions. However, working for the county meant learning to deal with red tape—and a lot of it at that. “Dealing with that,” LaMont says, “taught me a lot about just remaining cool and also about really preparing yourself prior to a board meeting because you never know what’s going to be leveled at you. Everyone who wants to be in management at a big program should have some government experience if they can; it’s a good way to learn process and protocol.”


“At Rush, we’re trying to involve the community more. We’re very conscious of our role on the west side of Chicago to be a catalyst for community development.”

Bill Richert



Michael LaMont VP of Facilities Management Rush University Medical Center

The Harrison Street Collection After debating the merits of demolishing the Old Cook County Courthouse live on television and landing his photo in the pages of Ebony magazine next to his boss, the late John Stroger, LaMont decided to continue his path into healthcare and made the switch to working with Rush. “I really liked healthcare,” he says. “From a technology point of view, it’s very challenging. You get to interact with people a lot. Just being in the hospital, you see people coming and going, and I thought that would be worthwhile—I’d feel good about working in a hospital and managing and building facilities and maintaining them properly.” Currently, Rush is facilitating the construction of a new $400 million, 400,000-square-foot outpatient-care building located on Harrison Street, which LaMont says is designed to be easier for patients to navigate and will facilitate Rush’s role in community development. “At Rush, we’re trying to involve the community more,” he says. “We’re very conscious of our role on the west side of Chicago to be a catalyst for community development, so we’ll have programs that will try to get young people involved in construction so that there are jobs and careers available to them long term. We call that our anchor mission, where we’re trying to help revitalize the west side of the city.” The new outpatient building and the tower it will eventually connect to are just the latest projects in what LaMont calls the Harrison Street Collection. “When I was at UIC as an undergrad,” he says, “I helped build a 20-by-20-foot concrete teepee structure on Harrison with the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Student Chapter. The county hospital was located on Harrison, and I built a daycare center with Rush and a courthouse there as well. I’ve got a whole string of projects on Harrison Street; I started my career there, and it’s funny to think I’ll probably finish it up there, too.”

The Chicago Flood During LaMont’s tenure as CTA’s vice president of design and construction, he helped get the trains running after a massive breach of the Chicago River that came to be known as the Chicago Flood. “When I first went out and saw the flooding,” he says, “I think it was an hour or so after it happened. The Chicago Fire Department was over by the tunnel where the flooding had started, trying to stuff mattresses in a hole no one knew the exact location of. Buildings started filling up with water, our underground train operations were halted, businesses were sending people home, and the Army Corps of Engineers was eventually brought in. Gradually we got our arms around the problem and the water was pumped out, but it took three weeks before we could even send test trains through the transit tunnels again.”


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Improving Care, at a Better Cost Despite modest funding, Kevin Mannle is finding ways to update NHCC’s facilities to help the hospital help those in need in its region

by Will Grant

Sullynyflhi/Wikimedia Commons


Kevin Mannle is fairly certain there isn’t an infrastructure project he hasn’t done. With more than twenty years of healthcare administration and facilities-management experience, he’s had a hand in upgrading, improving, and maintaining every part of a hospital, including elements most people don’t think twice about unless something goes wrong: electrical systems, HVAC systems, sprinklers, fire alarms, boiler and chiller plants, and more. He’s also overseen building construction and power plant installations. Nassau Health Care Corporation (NHCC) might just be his biggest challenge yet, though. As vice president of facilities for NHCC, which encompasses the Nassau University Medical Center and the A. Holly Patterson Extended Care Facility, located just outside New York City, Mannle is tasked not just with helping maintain its existing spaces; he’s also tasked with modernizing, within a tight budget, the most important public safety-net healthcare system serving Nassau County. While the area is often known for its affluence, Mannle says, the hospital handles a large portion of people in the county who don’t have access to quality healthcare. For Mannle, it means planning ahead more steps than most facilities leaders even have to consider. And, he adds with a laugh, it means being grateful for $5, even when you need $10. Mannle credits his 18 years with New York Presbyterian Queens hospital—first as an in-house mechanic, then working his way up to associate vice president of facilities—as an ideal proving ground for the challenges he would later face at NHCC. “There was a lot of focus on growing and serving community needs,” he says. Working to make facilities part of the conversation to further these goals was essential, and eventually, Mannle says, he was able to highlight the importance of infrastructure to hospital operations. Another skill he learned quickly was how to make use of the limited capital afforded to his department. “We focused a lot on process improvement, efficiency, and improving the business model,” Mannle says, adding that the skill became essential when he came to NHCC. The immediacy with which Mannle can list the current facility needs of his hospital aren’t just impressive in their specificity; they reflect his detailed and scrupulous thought process and his drive to find solutions. It’s an attitude that is desperately needed at a capital-strapped hospital system such as NHCC, responsible for caring for a patient population that often cannot afford care. Mannle has worked to master the art of, as he calls it, “getting the best bang for the buck.” “One of the biggest challenges is not being able to do everything that you want to do or what everyone expects you to do,” Mannle says. “Every chairman

has us looking to address something in their particular area.” It’s why Mannle believes that getting facilities to the C-suite level is imperative. “People don’t always understand the implications of the budget decisions that get made and why you’re not putting enough money into certain aspects,” he says. Being up front and open about those choices not only ensures transparency; it helps keep infrastructure—an often overlooked essential—at the forefront of the conversation. Despite capital challenges, NHCC has two major facilities projects under way that are set to widen the hospital’s care capabilities. As the only emergency facility in the county capable of receiving patients requiring psychiatric care, its psychiatric emergency room is in need of serious expansion. The hospital is set to transition to a comprehensive psychiatric emergency program requiring three components: a psychiatric emergency room, extended observation beds to hold patients for up to three days, and mobile crisis outreach to follow up with patients in their communities after they’ve been discharged. “We will triple the space of our psychiatric ER and thus provide a much better flow and environment for our patients,” Mannle says. The hospital is also working to expand its cardiac catheterization lab. It’s currently only able to offer diagnostic cardiac services. Those who need intervention have previously had to find another provider. Mannle


At the Nassau University Medical Center, Kevin Mannle is expanding an ER, a lab, and other spaces.



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Kevin Mannle VP of Facilities Nassau Health Care Corporation

says the hospital’s burgeoning intervention services make sense because many of those they serve are so far from those essential services. “It’s not just about growing the patient base; it’s about serving the community,” Mannle says. While such projects highlight NHCC’s commitment to evolution, Mannle and the facilities team still have the all-too-real challenge of working within the confines of buildings, wiring, and plumbing that sometimes go back several presidential administrations. Mannle often returns to a phrase coined by a friend when faced with all of the infrastructure needs of his hospital: “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” For starters, Mannle says, the hospital has had success seeking grant money for essential services. Last year, it received funds from the Essential Health Care Provider Support Program as well as the Statewide Health Care Facility Transformation Program, both offered by New York State. The most important part of the facilities plan, for Mannle anyway, is the plan itself. While capital for projects may be limited, he knows where it needs to go when it comes. HVAC overhauls, emergency power-system upgrades, and elevator overhauls are all on the horizon for NHCC, and Mannle says the plans are in development for when the funds are. Additionally, his vendor partners are excited to work on the improvements with him, including Donald Speranza, CEO of Nouveau Elevator. “Nouveau’s ongoing work with Kevin Mannle of NHCC is advancing the state-of-the-art Internet of Things, elevating the vital signs of the human network to the next level,” Speranza says. Mannle says he’s motivated to maintain the best he can offer for the people he serves. “I have such an appreciation for the people we serve here, more than even when I got here, having already worked in healthcare for 18 years.” Working for a public hospital may have its challenges, Mannle says, but he knows he’s helping build the infrastructure of a much larger community.


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Stephen Dabbs is overseeing the massive Hard Rock Hotel & Casino– Hollywood project for the Seminole Gaming Administration—with the aim of completing it in time for the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami



Story by Jeff Silver | Photos by Gillian Fry



Stephen Dabbs Senior Project Director Seminole Gaming Administration




pproximately six miles inland from the Atlantic Coast, between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, in the municipality of Hollywood, a hotel is going up with a head-turning shape. Already its curved sides are starting to give away what it will eventually be: a 450-foot-tall glass guitar, complete with strings and the single curved lower horn of a classic Les Paul. The project is being overseen by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which, in addition to attracting attention for its rich cultural heritage, has set a number of precedents in the gaming and hospitality industries. In 1979, it was the first tribe to open high-stakes bingo halls. In 2004, it opened two Seminole Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos in Florida. And, in 2007, it acquired the entire Hard Rock brand. Now, in addition to expanding the Hollywood Hard Rock–Tampa, the Seminole Gaming Administration is working on the guitar as part of a massive renovation and expansion of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino–Hollywood. With $1.5 billion in new construction alone, the project is

scheduled for completion in the summer of 2019, just before the 2020 Super Bowl at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium. When completed, the site will include the 36-story guitar-shaped East Tower, with 638 guest rooms, private gaming suites, and lighting in the curtain wall of its façade for computer-controlled music and light shows; the new 6,500-seat Hard Rock Live entertainment venue; casino space twice the size of the original; 12 restaurants; 150,000 square feet of added meeting space; and a 10-acre campus filled with waterfalls, plunge pools, and retail shops. The new Pool Tower hotel will have an additional 168 guest rooms, including swim-up suites. Stephen Dabbs is Seminole Gaming Administration’s senior project director. His most important priorities are keeping the entire project on schedule and accommodating guests while the facility remains open for business. “We can’t shut down while we’re working, so the process is logistically very difficult,” he says. “We have to make sure game counts, dining venues, and guest accommodations are all operating optimally from start to finish.”



When completed, the guitarshaped hotel will top out at 36 stories totaling 450 feet. There will also be new meeting, performance, and casino spaces.

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino– Hollywood is undergoing a massive expansion, with $1.5 billion in new construction.




“To meet deadlines, everything is always moving simultaneously full speed ahead. You’re buying steel and starting foundations while you’re still designing the structures.”

That has meant creating some temporary facilities to replace those being renovated or demolished. In the case of the Hard Rock Live performance venue, the Hard Rock Event Center was built inside what will be the East Tower’s Grand Ballroom. The final show occurred in the old space at the end of February, and the event center, with special finishes, seating, and sound attenuation for a concert venue, went into operation in March. The old space was torn down, and when the new Hard Rock Live is completed, the event center will be dismantled, and finishes for the Grand Ballroom will be installed. A similar process took place to create a temporary steak house in the Pool Tower’s ballroom, which is using kitchen facilities in the new meeting room space while the old steak house is completely rebuilt. Dabbs points out that the timing and scheduling for casino/hotel projects—what he calls “fast-track” or “flashtrack” construction—is very unique. “To meet deadlines, everything is always moving simultaneously full speed ahead,” he says. “You’re buying steel and starting foundations while you’re still designing the structures, and you’re still pricing while you’re building. It’s push, push, push, all the time.” Extensive custom-design features also frequently lead to scheduling and coordination challenges. A previous project Dabbs worked on used custom tiles produced by a specialty supplier who worked out of his garage. Dabbs





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sent pickup trucks to wait for the finished product. For another job, an Italian plant producing custom marble was flooded, so, to meet deadlines, Dabbs sent crews to help rebuild the facility. Custom features at the Hollywood Hard Rock include a canopy for an outdoor walkway, with a unique, organic shape that moves and rolls, and a porte-cochere with a steel skin. These sorts of challenges require a carefully selected team with the flexibility to accommodate the unusual scheduling and construction processes as well as a willingness to collaborate to work around numerous hurdles along the way. “Teamwork is critically important because when things go wrong—which, at some point, they always do—you’re able to pull together to figure out solutions,” Dabbs says. “You don’t spend time blaming anyone or defending yourself. You keep working to exhaust every possibility to find fixes for problems that would normally delay a project.” There are a few considerations that are unique to this project’s Florida location. The water table is high, so extensive pumping to prepare the site and building foundations heavy enough not to be lifted by water are required. Also, due to hurricane-influenced building codes, many items must be fabricated, assembled, and tested during construction. And, because the Seminole Tribe is a sovereign entity, all construction logistics, inspections, zoning, and approvals must stay within the boundaries of the reservation. “Accessibility and coordination are actually easier on the reservation than in a large city because it’s a smaller, more intimate community,” Dabbs says. “There is also a communal spirit within the tribe. That creates a very good feeling that the work we’re doing will ultimately make a real difference in people’s lives, not just produce lots of profit for an impersonal corporation.” Even though it creates some of the greatest challenges, producing custom features is one of Dabbs’s favorite parts of his job. In the past, he has constructed a two-story turtle shell and a three-story mountain made of glass stones, the latter for the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut. He also got the chance to do a multitude of 20- to 30-foot ribbon kites for the Revel Casino, in Atlantic City. “I get to be involved in specialty designs that go way beyond hanging drywall and erecting steel,” he says. “I mean, I’m building a guitar hotel! That’s something no one’s done before—and probably won’t do again.”



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Schooled in y t i l i b a n i a t Sus Nik Kaestner, a former biology teacher, has learned a thing or two about eco-friendly building in his career, and he’s applying his knowledge to dramatically improve the efficiency of San Francisco’s public schools

Jack Alexander

by Russ Klettke




Nik Kaestner and his school district believe that through the use of solar power, hydroelectricity, and other renewables, they can achieve carbon neutrality by 2040.

SFUSD by the Numbers


Students in the district

133 Nik Kaestner Director of Sustainability San Francisco Unified School District

Schools in the district


Percentage by which the district has cut electricity usage over the past decade

1.7 billion

Kilowatt-hours produced annually by the renewable Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric system, which generates all the district’s power

Katherine Du Tiel, Courtesy of Nik Kaestner (Bottom)

Nik Kaestner is a man of science. Early in his career, he taught biology at the same high school he had attended a few years earlier. But, he has since proven to be a pretty good student of finance and psychology, too—to the benefit of the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Kaestner is now the director of sustainability for the 57,000-student, 133-school district, and he has figured out several ways to finesse smart building efficiencies into capital improvements. At the same time, to reduce transportation energy consumption, he is focused on understanding how exactly people interact with urban infrastructure. “When I was a teacher, I was also the student-activities director,” says Kaestner, who began his teaching career in 1998. “Students were very interested in matters of the environment, and that led to what came next.” He followed that interest to a series of sustainability-focused jobs on both the East and West Coasts before eventually landing at SFUSD in 2008, where his marching orders were and remain to reduce energy and water usage—as well as solid waste. The district has already made great strides, cutting the 2008–2010 averages of gas usage by 28 percent and electri-


“The old mantra of sustainability is ‘How can we be more efficient?’ The new mantra is ‘How can we get to zero?’”

cal usage by 22 percent, as of 2018. Water consumption, too, has declined by 29 percent. This all was achieved by what Kaestner describes as simple modernization: replacing light bulbs with LEDs, replacing old boilers with efficient electrical heating (all electricity is drawn from the Hetch Hetchy hydroelectric system, a renewable resource that generates 1.7 billion kWh annually), and updated, reduced-flow plumbing fixtures. Whereas the energy-use intensity (EUI) in most school districts around the US ranges from 50 to 80, the mild climate of San Francisco allows for an EUI of 35, and with SFUSD’s modernizations, that number is falling into the teens. The enviable circumstances—a mild climate and abundant hydroelectricity—might make Kaestner’s job seem like a breeze. But, even working for a board of education that prioritizes sustainability, he still has to fight for money to improve buildings, and the capital-improvement budgets for new and modernized structures only reach so far. Fortunately, Kaestner is able to draw from a portion of a separate bond—$5 million of a $700 million issue—to pay for such things as better-insulated windows and roofs. “We finance these changes through different pots of money, representing two objectives, to achieve one sustainable goal,” he says. Or looked at another way, the capital-improvement fund is directed at basic construction and renovation while the other is about cutting long-term greenhouse gas emissions. Kaestner knits the two together to achieve a coherent plan that satisfies both objectives. The board of education has enough confidence in Kaestner and his team that they’ve decided to up the ante. The board voted unanimously in 2017 to entirely phase out the use of fossil fuels—achieving carbon neutrality—


by 2040, and it voted to source half the district’s water needs from rain harvesting. “The old mantra of sustainability is ‘How can we be more efficient?’” Kaestner said in a recent KQED radio interview in San Francisco. “The new mantra is ‘How can we get to zero?’” Notably, Kaestner doesn’t see the need for exotic future technologies to get there. “We can do this with what we have already,” he says, citing solar power and building efficiencies as extant tools. Also, to reduce single-student car drop-offs at schools—a clear contributor to greenhouse gasses—the district encourages walking, biking, use of public transit, and carpooling. It also highlights pedestrian- and bike-friendly street infrastructure through events such as a “Bike & Roll to School Week.” Taking a step back and looking at his plan from a distance, Kaestner connects his work to the community-based social-marketing ideas of environmental psychologist Doug McKenzie-Mohr. “We are building an action-oriented culture,” Kaestner says. “When students see their actions work, they view themselves as a person who cares.” Kaestner seems to recognize that the physical plant can only go so far in achieving sustainability. It still requires people to adopt behaviors that are green. Ultimately, the two are closely intertwined and interdependent.

Proudly working with Nik Kaestner to evolve the San Francisco Unified School District with sustainable and inclusive learning environments that cultivate creative, ethical, and committed students.

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The Utility Player Kevin Foley didn’t want to give up his job running the front desk at MINDBODY— until he realized there were different areas in the company he could help. Now, as director of real estate and workplace services, he’s helping grow and define the company’s image.

by Paul Snyder


Michelle C. Torres-Grant/MCTG Photography

MINDBODY’s 60,000-square-foot headquarters reflects the company’s focus on wellness with an abundance of outdoor meeting space.




When people remark to Kevin Foley how exciting and cool it must be to work at a fast-growing company, he has to agree. However, it can also, at times, be a little overwhelming. “We were around 70 people large when I started here in 2009, and now we’re supporting 1,400 employees, with locations all over the world,” Foley notes. “It takes steady footing and patience to ride that fast-moving train—or the ship, as it gets rocked from side to side.” Foley has the constitution to ride the train (or ship) wherever it might go. As director of real estate and workplace services for MINDBODY, a San Luis Obispo, California-based company that provides cloud-based business-management software for the wellness-services industry, he’s charged with not only opening new locations around the United States and in other countries but also bringing a sense of uniformity to a company that’s growth has, at times, outpaced policy and procedure. “The really interesting thing about fast growth is that it forces you to dial into what is both most important and most critical,” he says. “When you do that, you leave a wake of stuff behind you that you hope to get back to.” That wake can contain everything from design uniformity to safety procedures at each MINDBODY location— important facets that Foley has been sure not to leave behind as the company continues its growth. In the past year, Foley has brought on an operations manager and personnel dedicated to planning and design as well as safety and security in an effort to bring a stronger foundation to the company’s various locations. The attention to jobs that might otherwise be overlooked has been there from the start for Foley. After a stint in the retail industry, Foley found himself applying for a job at MINDBODY in 2009 and was offered two different roles: one in sales and one in customer service. “I wasn’t passionate about sales and I’d ‘been there, done that,’ so I took the customer-service route,” he recalls. “Anybody that was hired in those days had to work at the front desk for a while to get a feel for who the people were and how the company worked from the inside out.” While others looked to bring an end to their front-desk shifts as quickly as possible, Foley says, he insisted on holding on to the duty as long as he could. “I remember looking around and saying, ‘Well if I don’t want to go into customer service, what can I do?’” he says. From his vantage point, he could see people doing odd jobs and tasks that no one else wanted to do. One such

Kevin Foley on the key to finding a new MINDBODY location: “There is a checklist, but the checklist changes depending on who the stakeholders are. Really, it all leads to ‘Does this feel right?’ I used to think it was a waste of money to fly out to a city and walk around and look at properties. I can use Google Maps and walk around the street, right? But, if you can travel to an area, you experience and understand those nuances of the local surroundings. We look at employment law, demographics, all kinds of different things, but numbers ultimately come second to feel. We’re not going to put someone in a building that has a great rental rate that we can make amazing inside if it’s not safe or doesn’t have great surroundings outside.”

area was order fulfillment. Foley spoke with the manager about helping that area of the company, and within a year he was managing it. With that promotion, he began going around the rest of the company, talking to managers, asking them what their pain points were, and trying to see how he could help. “I started supporting everything from business-card orders to construction for tenant improvements,” he says. “I kept my ear to the ground and gave my opinion, whether it was asked for or wasn’t. I just kept driving. It’s great to work for a company that recognizes that desire and willingness and gives employees the flexibility to run with it.” That flexibility has allowed Foley the ability to help set up 11 locations, including spots in the United Kingdom and Australia. The Australia experience, in particular, he says, helped guide the philosophy he now adheres to in his role. “I didn’t have a travel budget to open that office,” he recalls. “It was all based on late-night conversations, sourcing the right construction team, networking with existing furniture providers to see what they could do there from here. I learned that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. If you’ve got the right team around you,



Michelle C. Torres-Grant/MCTG Photography

MINDBODY’s HQ includes the fun elements expected from a tech firm, including a slide.

“I go out there and get the job done—MINDBODY has been gracious to allow me to fail, identify how I failed, and go out and fix it. My favorite part of the job is driving to be better.”

The Coppola Cheney Group of Lee & Associates is proud to represent Kevin Foley and Mindbody’s real estate needs.

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you can really do tremendous work in a short amount of time. I couldn’t do what I do without my workplace team. What once was a one-person show is now a lean operations team that I’m extremely proud of.” Now, Foley says, the goal is to bring a uniform company image and culture into all its offices. First, he says, is the company’s executive building, which consists of multiple suites the company has acquired over the past decade as it has grown. Right now, it’s not uncommon to walk from a space with brown shag carpeting to another with LEED-certified flooring. “It’s important that people feel branding and consistency in our environments,” Foley says. “I’m excited to start going back into these environments we’ve touched in the past few years and not only form that uniform look but spread it around the globe.” Defining that look might take a little time, but Foley says he looks forward to the challenge and appreciates the freedom he’s been given to experiment. “MINDBODY has given me tremendous flexibility and trust,” he says. “I go out there and get the job done; leadership has been gracious to allow me to fail, identify how I’ve failed, and go out and fix it. My favorite part of the job is driving to be better.”

NKT COMMERCIAL PROUDLY CONGRATULATES KEVIN FOLEY AND MINDBODY, INC.! Kevin’s experience, integrity, reputation for creativity, and commitment to quality work make him the perfect subject of focus for American Builder’s ongoing look at cutting edge corporate real estate and facilities.

nkt commercial Commercial Real Estate Development

Nick Tompkins, Manager 805-541-9004 |

We have enjoyed a collaborative partnership with Kevin and MindBody since 2006 as we have jointly developed multiple innovative spaces for their incredible growth on the central coast of California. This relationship continues through our current new building project which will be completed in early 2018.


Building for Growth, in More Ways Than One by Geoff George


Brett Boghigian is overseeing the expansion of Indigo Agriculture’s office, R&D, and commercial facilities as the company adds staff and extends its reach to enhance its mastery of the plant microbiome

There’s been a surge of interest, particularly in the new century, in the many benefits of a probiotic diet and the cultivation of a healthy microbiome within the human gut. Now, Indigo Agriculture wants to introduce that same idea in the plant world. By analyzing the microbes found inside, on the leaves of, and in the roots of plants, the company has developed and commercialized microbial seed treatments for key crops: corn, cotton, rice, soybeans, and wheat. The treatments, which are natural and non-GMO, will help boost crop yields, make the plants more drought-resistant, and, ultimately, improve the sustainability of farming by reducing pesticide use and lowering chemical and fertilizer run-off into watercourses. Brett Boghigian, senior director and head of project management and facilities, is overseeing the build-out of more office spaces, grow spaces, and labs as the company continues to expand. Here, he discusses how his expertise has helped him with the work and what the particular challenges are.



So, you’ve been with Indigo almost since the beginning. How’d you come to join the company?

entirely within R&D. It was very much a startup. Now we’re over 300 people.

Yeah, I’ve been here about four years now. I was introduced to Indigo through founder Geoff von Maltzahn. I worked with him at a company he founded before Indigo, in the therapeutics space. I’ve known him for about eight years, and he brought me into that first company just out of graduate school, and then he brought me into Indigo. What got me excited in the beginning was that we were a technology company developing microbes to be used as seed treatments to improve the productivity and resilience of plants against stresses. I had worked with microbes in a variety of capacities, from engineering them when I was in graduate school to developing them to make molecules for nutritional and therapeutic uses. As we’ve grown, our ambitions have grown. What excites me now is the rate of growth that we’ve had and the fact that I see our technology being able to impact hundreds of millions of acres of farmland.

You mentioned your background in chemical engineering. How much did that prepare you for the job coming in?

What was it like when you first walked in the door four years ago versus now? We were in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which is just about a mile from where we are now, in Boston. In 2014, we were about eight people, and I was the first person that wasn’t

I had never worked in agriculture before, and it was one of the concerns I had when I signed up. I’m an engineer, so obviously I’m biased, but I think chemical engineering training teaches you a broad skill set. People go work at drug companies or oil refineries and all things in between. Chemical engineering sets you up to solve macro-level questions.

It sounds like there were ways in which it prepared you for both the microbial work Indigo does and the facilities work needed to build its labs. I run both project management and facilities for the organization. That ranges from research collaborations that we have with universities to our product-development process to our capital projects. At first, facilities was just a thing that some of us did because we needed to, and then it became a real function and I took ownership of it. There is a lot of lab infrastructure involved, and understanding the science and technology and the prod-

A researcher rolls a cart of plants through one of Indigo Agriculture’s labs. The company’s research facilities meet BSL-2 specs to handle plant bacteria and fungi.


uct-development process was really important. We needed to design the facilities to support that—not just today but as we continue to grow.

Lara Woolfson/Studio Nouveau

You’re at about 300 people and climbing, and you’re now spread out in different locations (see sidebar on p. 48). Are there specific facilities needs you’re anticipating as you continue to grow? We’ve now got about a 40-person team in Memphis, Tennessee. There aren’t a lot of agricultural companies in Boston, and Memphis is a lot closer to a broad customer base. There, we are in the process of growing a site responsible for logistics, supply chain, customer service, sales, and all the stuff that’s more grower facing. In Boston, at our corporate headquarters, is where R&D, software technology, and all corporate functions reside. We’re currently 200 people and will continue to grow there to support the broad business and technology development, and proportionally we’re building out a

large sales team. We’re also building out R&D in Research Triangle Park, in North Carolina.

Are there particular challenges or concerns when designing R&D facilities for your kind of work, with microbes and plants? Our microbes are naturally occurring, but we have to harvest plant samples and extract their microbiome, the community of bacteria and fungi that live within them. We ship a lot of plants back to Boston to be able to do that. This requires BSL-2 specifications on our laboratory space and numerous pieces of automation equipment to efficiently identify beneficial microbes that would make good products. To enable year-round testing, we have invested in state-of-the-art indoor grow rooms. These precisely mimic environmental conditions such as light, temperature, and humidity. When we moved into our Boston headquarters, these were the biggest grow rooms Conviron had built.


Three Indigo scientists examine cotton plants in one of the company’s new state-of-theart grow rooms in Charlestown, MA.



Richard Mandelkorn



“In 2014, we were about eight people, and I was the first person that wasn’t entirely within R&D. It was very much a startup. Now we’re over 300 people.”



1, 2



Ever Expanding Indigo Agriculture is building out four key sites further. Here’s a brief rundown of the locations: 1. Office and Lab Space in Charlestown, MA Indigo currently has 65,000 square feet of space here, but over the next few years, it will be expanding it to hundreds of thousands of square feet, likely with additional amenities, including a gym, a cafeteria, automation labs, and grow rooms. 2. Manufacturing Facility in Massachusetts Indigo plans to build this space near its current Boston space so that researchers there can collaborate with the manufacturing team to produce the microbes the company needs. It will include tens of thousands of square feet of flexible space.

3. Commercial HQ in Memphis, TN The company started with just 3,000 square feet of space here for 20 people, but it’s working to expand it to more than 20,000 square feet, including open office space, warehouse space, and customer-service space, to help the site cater to the many growers in the Mid-South. 4. Lab and Greenhouse in North Carolina Indigo is moving some of its research to where the agricultural talent is, in Research Triangle Park, between Durham, Raleigh, and Chapel Hill. Analysis at the new lab and greenhouse will be focused on microbial responses to biotic stresses such as pests and diseases.


You were there for Indigo’s first product, and you’ve seen the company reach $1.4 billion in value. How do you see your current work helping to take the company to the next level?

Courtesy of Indigo Agriculture

I feel really fortunate to have been a part of Indigo in its infancy, and now to be a global commercial company is thrilling. We’re constantly learning, growing, and expanding our ambitions in order to improve grower profitability, environmental sustainability, and consumer health. To be adept at delivering against our expanding scope, we rely heavily on project management. When we were launching our first product, we made a list of the questions we needed to answer and developed a project plan to get there. It was the most exciting project I’ve worked on in my career, and I know that’s true for many of us here at Indigo. Project management is at Indigo’s core, whether we’re developing a microbial product, software tool, or new facility.

Indigo Agriculture Headquarters Charlestown, MA

Brett Boghigian Senior Director and Head of Project Management & Facilities Indigo Agriculture

Creating dynamic spaces where we work, live, heal, play, and celebrate.




Tiffany Phillips Founder Chicago Cut Concrete Cutting

Cut through the Noise Founder Tiffany Phillips lifts safety, diversity, and customer satisfaction beyond expectations at Chicago Cut Concrete Cutting Story by Rebecca Stoner | Photos by Gillian Fry





The company Tiffany Phillips built, Chicago Cut Concrete Cutting, has left its mark on a remarkable number of Chicago-area landmarks. Its electric sawing and core drilling helped Google headquarters and the Michigan Avenue flagship Starbucks come alive. The company has done renovations on Argonne National Laboratory, the United Center, Wrigley Field, the Chicago Board of Trade, and the John Hancock Building. But the prestige of the projects they’ve worked on isn’t the only distinctive thing about Chicago Cut. Its founder and president, Tiffany Phillips, is a multitalented entrepreneur with a unique business background, and she’s committed to bringing innovation to the concrete industry to ensure a safe, healthy, and proudly diverse workplace. Phillips began her career in advertising, educating consumers about products from companies such as Sears, Kmart, and General Mills. But, after 15 years in the business, she says, “I needed a change and a challenge.” She decided to “go back to my roots and union family,” which meant entering the construction business. Because of her years in advertising, Phillips is open to change and experimentation in a way industry lifers might not be. While others, she says, might have the mentality of doing things how they’ve always been done, that isn’t good enough for Phillips. “I wasn’t going to settle for doing it the old way if it could be done better and more efficiently,” she says. But, she also made sure she was as knowledgeable as anyone in the field, racking up certifications in concrete-construction management, concrete sawing and drilling, project management, and leadership skills. Chicago Cut began as a “little two-truck company,” but it grew rapidly thanks to Phillips’s work and the work of her dream team, which includes some of the best in the industry, she says. When hiring, Phillips adds, she keeps in mind a quote from Olive Ann Beech: “I like to have around me people who find ways to do things, not tell me why they can’t be done.” According to Phillips, her company flourished because of its commitment to customer service, professionalism,



“I wasn’t going to settle for doing it the old way. . . . Our end goal here is for each worker to come home each and every day the same way they left, if not better.”

and collaboration. The secret to making customers happy, she says, is simple: it involves finding solutions. “Our job is to make our customer look good,” she explains. “We do that by providing cost-effective and safe solutions that get the job done right.” Collaboration is a key part of keeping customers satisfied, too. Phillips says that Chicago Cut’s approach allows the company to deliver the safest, most-effective results, which satisfy its partners’ requirements while also adhering to the highest standards for safety and quality. Chicago Cut stands out as a woman-owned business in an industry where less than 10 percent are owned by women, according to the US Census Bureau. Phillips has received a number of diversity certifications, including the Woman Business Enterprise Certificate from the City of Chicago and the National Women Business Owners Corporation as well as the Woman Owned Small Business federal contracting certificate. Choosing to work with women-owned firms adds value in a number of ways. It helps governments and businesses meet their diversity requirements, and, Phillips says, it “helps benefit the industry as a whole” by “equaling out the playing field” and supporting a more meritocratic system. Phillips also finds it personally meaningful to help create space for women in the construction industry. “It is important,” she says, “that I continue to create change and inspire the next generation.” Chicago Cut is leading the industry in more than just diversity; it is also on the cutting edge of safety regulations for its workers. Years before the Occupational Safe-

ty and Health Administration officially adopted similar rules, Phillips says, Chicago Cut worked to limit “workers’ access to areas where silica exposures are high, used effective methods for reducing exposures, provided medical exams to workers with high silica exposures, and trained workers about silica-related hazards and how to limit exposure.” Silica is a mineral found in many construction materials, including stone, concrete, and mortar. When concrete is cut, drilled, sawed, or worked on in other ways, it creates respirable crystalline silica—tiny particles that can cause lung cancer, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and the incurable lung disease silicosis. In other words, silica is commonplace on construction sites and a potential harbinger of life-ending or disabling ailments. That’s why high safety standards are so important—and why Chicago Cut’s early adherence to these standards is so laudable. “All in all, Chicago Cut is always moving forward and progressing with all safety procedures to keep employees safe and efficient by maintaining the best quality control possible,” Phillips says. “Our end goal here is for each worker to come home each and every day the same way they left, if not better.” Phillips and her company have left their mark on the Chicagoland area. It can be glimpsed at Maggie Daley Park, the Chicago Bears’ Halas Hall, and the Old Post Office, among other places. And, they’re also making their mark on the concrete industry. With a strong commitment to innovation, diversity, and safety, they’re pioneering a better way forward for the industry.







NABLE Susan Conard Pauls/


Bob Wengel is steering Chicago’s iconic aquarium toward a greener, more efficient future by Joseph Kay



A public gift from retail tycoon John G. Shedd, Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium sits at the eastern edge of the city on Museum Campus. Its location affords a pair of equally cinematic views: the city’s downtown Loop to the west, and the glittering surface of Lake Michigan to the east. “I loved coming here as a kid,” says Bob Wengel, senior vice president of facilities. “Taking care of buildings comes naturally to me; this was the opportunity to take care of a landmark.” As a young man, Wengel was a carpenter, using his skills to pay his way through school. He was working toward a career as an airplane mechanic, but when he graduated, in the early 1990s, the industry was collapsing rapidly. Construction, however, was still booming. He signed on with the Shedd in 1995. One night, he found himself assisting with the care of a beluga whale, a pale Arctic mammal with a canary-like twitter. Assigned to a position at the animal’s head, he had a unique chance to connect. “I was able to touch that animal’s head and look it in the eyes,” he recalls. “How a kid that grew up on the South Side of Chicago gets that opportunity, I don’t know. I thought, ‘It would be amazing to be able to stay here.’” By continuing his training and pursuing opportunities, he worked his way up through management to his current position. Today, he continues to make Shedd a leader in sustainability and environmental stewardship. With a living collection, public and private events, and up to 10,000 daily visitors, the facility demands meticulous and collaborative care. The Shedd is staffed and operating 24 hours a day. Across three shifts, its workers coordinate repairs, habitat maintenance, and events. After the overnight cleaning crew takes out the last of the recycling, the first shift arrives at 7 a.m. to the same sparkling Shedd—every day. “That’s the magic of this: you’re operating a building where so many things happen,” Wengel says. “Anywhere from 2,000 to 10,000 people come here every day, and

when you come here the next morning, it looks like nothing happened.” The Shedd is open to the public 363 days per year. With such a demanding schedule, responsible utility usage is a priority—for financial reasons and environmental ones. The Shedd began seriously rethinking its sustainability efforts in 2010. After some lively debate, Wengel insisted that real progress would require a new, comprehensive understanding of how the organization could operate on a daily basis. That gave rise to a strategic sustainability plan with ambitious reduction targets, including a 50 percent cut to water usage by 2018—though the aquarium hit that target two years early, in 2016. Wengel championed a focus on water, waste, and energy. His team took a chance meeting with Lakeshore Recycling Systems, which had just opened its new single-stream Heartland Recycling Center. One tour was enough to sell Wengel on its service. “They said, ‘We don’t own a landfill,’” he recalls. “Ninety percent of their stuff gets recycled, and only 10 percent goes to a landfill that they have to pay for, so they have an incentive not to send it. When I look at the values of an organization, that aligns with us.” To maintain efficient power usage, facilities personnel monitor and optimize the entire facility from a basement command center. Usage is reported in real time and compared against targets in half-hour increments. When use threatens to exceed targets, staffers choose from a variety of power-saving tactics such as adjusting chilled water from 39 to 41 degrees for a few hours on a hot summer day or slowing the motors and pumps controlling flow rates in pools.


Brenna Hernandez/Shedd Aquarium

Beluga whales swim in Secluded Bay, part of the Abbott Oceanarium. The oceanarium is a major portion of the aquarium, which Bob Wengel’s facilities team oversees.

A Love for Belugas Passed Down Bob Wengel kept fish as a kid, but he only became seriously interested in animals and conservation after starting at the Shedd. Then, his own children would ask him, whenever he came home from work, “Did you visit the animals today?” “They thought that this job was a joke or something,” he says, laughing. It’s easy to grasp why: a place of such joy and curiosity as the Shedd couldn’t also be a place for work. “I don’t visit habitats every day, but those beluga whales—those are my favorite,” Wengel says. “That’s what kept me here. There are 32,000 animals here, but there’s something about those belugas. And I’m probably not the only one who thinks so.”



“Sustainability is conservation. When we’re doing these conservation projects, we can’t forget about the big one in our own backyard.” Bob Wengel SVP of Facilities Shedd Aquarium

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The facilities team collaborated with research scientists to ensure that they could reduce power usage and keep animal habitats safe. “We did testing with animal-care teams and proved that even if we slow the flow rates for three to six hours a day, it doesn’t have any effect,” Wengel says. “The water stays the same for the animals.” He emphasizes that human decision-making is a key component of this approach. Some elements of building management are automated, but Wengel has made sure not to “automate” his people’s behavior. Instead, they’re trained to make strategic choices to respond to any situation. “We look at that target-setting software, and it doesn’t tell them exactly what to do,” Wengel says. “You give them a list of menus. It’s an exercise in giving them tools and teaching them how to think.” The new technology and strategy introduced learning challenges, but continuous training and ambitious goal setting have kept the organization moving forward. In the coming years, as it adds more recent usage data to its models, Wengel expects that it may become more difficult to outperform estimates—especially after the recent dramatic reductions. Along the way, the Shedd is continuing to develop its holistic culture of sustainability—in ways as big as rooftop solar panels and as small as serving drinks without straws. “Sustainability is conservation,” Wengel says. “When we’re doing these conservation projects, we can’t forget about the big one in our own backyard.”

Kimco Janitorial Services has served Bob Wengel and the Shedd Aquarium for more than 15 years. Our goal is to deliver consistent, quality janitorial services for Shedd and its patrons. Kimco’s purpose is to care for those we serve: our people, our customers, and our stakeholders. We offer customer-focused solutions, delivered by engaged and empowered service teams supported by leading technology.

Brenna Hernandez/Shedd Aquarium


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How to Build a Volunteer Contact Center in

10 Days

Ken Ziff shares how TTEC established contact centers to help with Hurricane Harvey emergency relief by Will Grant

Eric V Overton/





In September 2017, as the severe impact of Hurricane Harvey became apparent, the business community rallied to support those who had been displaced or otherwise affected by the storm’s disastrous damage. Global customer-experience company TTEC (formerly known as TeleTech) turned its corporate headquarters into a volunteer contact center for the American Red Cross in just ten days, and it was ultimately contracted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to establish contact centers in communities that might otherwise have been without a means of supporting aid requests for those in need.

“TTEC is proud to support the humanitarian efforts of the federal government and looks forward to working closely with the affected communities to support those impacted by Hurricane Harvey,” said Martin DeGhetto, chief operating officer for TTEC, in an official statement. “One of the cornerstones of our company’s values is to be of service to those in need, and it is in the DNA of our 48,000 employees across the globe. Everyone in our organization, from the CEO down to the front lines, is committed to doing all we can to support the people in these communities that have been impacted by this disaster.” As executive director of global real estate and construction, Ken Ziff played an integral role in two projects TTEC took on to help hurricane victims in any way possible. “One of our core values here is ‘Act as One,’” Ziff says. “It was very apparent in these efforts.” Since joining TTEC in March 2017, Ziff has taken on extensive responsibilities at the company—not to mention weathering one of the worst storms on record. TTEC’s initial response to Hurricane Harvey was to transform its Englewood, Colorado, corporate headquar-

ters into a volunteer contact center in conjunction with the American Red Cross. “We had volunteers from the company stay at the corporate office basically around the clock, even during their time off,” Ziff says. Turning the headquarters into a contact center presented some challenges. “The corporate offices do not typically house a contact center,” Ziff explains, “but we did have some areas to which we brought in furniture, tables, and chairs, and our IT partners were able to bring phones and computers to support those goals.” The flip took the transition team only two days, and TTEC was able to raise more than $500,000 for relief efforts during the event. Ziff says that initial volunteer experience was invaluable for TTEC when FEMA hired the company to assist directly in hurricane relief efforts. FEMA tasked TTEC with providing contact centers for areas that were potentially without electricity, let alone communication capabilities. “When you think of the massive destruction, people don’t know where to turn, where to get help, how to contact their relatives, or how to get aid and relief and supplies to all these areas,” Ziff says. “FEMA distributed information


Sasa Kadrijevic/

The Strength of the Storm

and phone numbers, and, ultimately, those numbers led to our contact centers.” The magnitude of the devastation and the number of people in need created a rather staggering timeframe—10 days—for TTEC to set up and entirely staff two new contact centers. This meant round-the-clock efforts from several of TTEC’s departments, including talent acquisition, facilities, operations, IT, construction, real estate, global project-management services, and workforce management. “Our talent-acquisition team and IT folks did a lot of heavy lifting,” Ziff says. “We had folks on the ground in Texas that Labor Day weekend, working to find locations to get everyone aligned.” The initial goal was to locate existing customer-experience centers to make use of existing furniture and cabling for a faster turnaround. But finding the sites was only the beginning. The construction team didn’t have enough time to design an ideal footprint, pull the necessary permits for construction, order furniture, or do much rewiring. They were tasked, in essence, with playing constructional jazz. “We did have to bring in some

According to an analysis in January 2018 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Hurricane Harvey is tied with Hurricane Katrina as the costliest storm on record in American history, having caused approximately $125 billion in damages. Here are a few more ways to measure the storm’s toll. • Meteorologists estimate that Harvey poured more than 50 feet of rain in some locations over the course of just a few days, and overall it unloaded 15–20 trillion gallons. Usually it takes months—or even years—for that much water to fall. • Immediately after the storm, it was estimated that as much as 30 percent of Harris County, which includes Houston, was under water. • Also not long after the storm, the Federal Emergency Management Agency estimated that as many as 450,000 people in the area would likely seek federal disaster assistance.




A rendering offers a look at a coffee bar and lounge concept TTEC intends to put into some of its sites to make colleagues feel more comfortable and at home.

Foro Consulting, Inc.

“When you think of the massive destruction, people don’t know where to turn, where to get help, how to contact their relatives, or how to get aid and relief and supplies to all these areas. FEMA distributed information and phone numbers, and, ultimately, those numbers led to our contact centers.”


Ken Ziff Executive Director of Global Real Estate & Construction

Randy Jenkins/TTEC


furniture, do some recabling, and drop in some electrical, but no construction was needed,” Ziff says. Then, IT was clear to bring in all the necessary equipment to set up a network and base of operations as well as all the necessary hardware for the new associates to use. It was then, Ziff says, that the talent-acquisition team really “acted like rockstars.” Each center had 500 seats that needed to be filled with entirely new hires. Because these positions were technically government jobs, the extensive background checks and fingerprinting operations meant that TTEC was hiring faster than its hires could be put to work. Both sites were ultimately staffed. “This incredible speed with which we were able to set up the contact center was pretty awesome,” Ziff says. “We didn’t have a ton of infrastructure to work with, but we were able to really bring in what we needed to get it done.” Ziff’s own pride in his contributions to TTEC’s hurricane response, he says, is reflected in those hundreds of jobs he helped provide. “We were able to provide jobs, and they were meaningful jobs because you could see it in their faces,” Ziff says. “Our associates were able to help people—and understand what it takes to help people on the other end of the phone get some relief and get some assistance.” For those who might be tasked with creating immediate change in just 10 days, Ziff has some advice: form strong alignments with your company, and be a good partner. “Forming those bonds in everyday life and everyday business means so much,” he says.

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Doug Behar SVP of Stadium Operations New York Yankees



Around the Horn at Yankee Stadium From right field to left field to the foul lines, Doug Behar provides a tour of the improvements he and his operations team have made over the past two seasons and how they’ve elevated the fan experience

Story by Danny Ciamprone | Portraits by Gillian Fry



On a chilly night in the Bronx borough in the fall of 2017, the anxious eyes of the nearly 50,000 faithful on hand at Yankee Stadium watched as their pinstriped heroes trailed 3–0 in the top of the first inning. The team faced elimination by the Minnesota Twins in the American League (AL) Wild Card game, and the tension was palpable throughout the venue, especially given that the Yankees had to mount their comeback against right-hander Ervin Santana, a 2017 all-star.

Then, in the bottom of the first, Didi Gregorius found himself facing a 3–2 count with runners on the corners. The Yankees shortstop had hit 25 home runs during the regular season, but none were arguably more important than the 391-foot shot he drove to right field that night. Having tied the game at three, the Yankees went on to win 8–4 and advance to the AL Division Series. Off the field, Doug Behar shared the joy that erupted throughout the stadium. A lifelong Yankees fan and now senior vice president of the team’s stadium operations, Behar has had a front-row seat to some of the most memorable moments in Yankee history—including Gregorius’s home run—since starting with the organization in 2000. “To see the energy that night in the stadium really took me back to when I first started with the organization and we went on that historic World Series run,” Behar says. When Behar last spoke with American Builders Quarterly late last year, he recalled the joy of watching the Yankees’ new stadium open back in 2009. But, with last year’s playoff run and a strong roster, the team was facing some high expectations—both on and off the field— entering the 2018 season. Behar and his team had already introduced a series of new amenities around the stadium last year, including the Kids Clubhouse and the Masterpass Batter’s Eye Deck. Behar and his team set a high standard of excellence, and it’s one his outside partners are more than happy to contribute to. “Unity Electric continues to be a proud partner in maintaining Yankee Stadium’s infrastructure,” says Joseph Margiotta, assistant superintendent at Unity International Group. “Doug sets the bar high with his work ethic and vision for Yankee Stadium’s future, and Unity is honored to be a part of it.” Now, on the cusp of the 2018 season, it’s a good time to look at some of the other changes that have been made at the home of the 27-time World Series champions. From new social gathering areas in the left and right field concourses to a safer fan experience in the stands, American Builders Quarterly took a trip around the stadium with Behar to understand some of the additional improvements he has made to the legendary venue without losing sight of its rich history.


“Our goal is to make sure that our fans have an experience that transcends the game itself.�



Fans watch from the AT&T Sports Lounge, a new sports bar within Yankee Stadium.

AT&T Sports Lounge Location: Left Field, Section 130 Size: Accommodates up to 72 guests In the left field concourse, one of the most recently opened social gathering areas in Yankee Stadium is the AT&T Sports Lounge. Featuring DIRECTV services, the lounge evokes a sports-bar atmosphere on the stadium’s main concourse, in section 130. “Our vision was to try and not only create these communal spaces but also take spaces in the stadium that we thought would be best suited for these types of places,” Behar says. “With AT&T, we transformed an underutilized area in a prime location and created a destination point that is easy for fans to find and easy for fans to access.” The lounge includes a menu of craft beer, cocktails, and an array of food options. And, thanks to DIRECTV, its patrons are able to view other nationally televised games, from every sport, while still keeping an eye on their home team. “It’s a fan experience that’s more than just coming here to sit in a seat and watch a game,” Behar says. “It’s a really cool sports bar right inside of Yankee Stadium.”

New York Yankees



UNITY ELECTRIC CONGRATULATES DOUG BEHAR FOR BEING FEATURED IN AMERICAN BUILDERS QUARTERLY. We commend Doug on his leadership and commitment in establishing Yankee Stadium as an icon of Major League Baseball.

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“We want our fans to enjoy the modern, fan-friendly aspects of these spaces, but we always make sure to present them within the context of our traditions and unique history, which we’re all very proud of.” Extended Netting Location: Either side of home plate Height: Extends nine feet above the dugout roofs and 5.5 feet above the short walls that run down the foul lines

The Judge’s Chambers Location: Right Field, Section 104 Capacity: Accommodates up to 18 fans Aaron Judge has made a sizable impact since his 2017 debut—both literally and figuratively. The 6-foot-7 right fielder not only broke Mark McGwire’s rookie record for most home runs in a season, with 52, but he also earned honors as the AL Rookie of the Year. He has quickly become a fan favorite, inspiring many to show their support by wearing robes and white wigs to resemble judges. Now, Behar and the Yankees have given those fans an official courtroom: the Judge’s Chambers. Made up of three rows in section 104, the area features faux wood paneling to resemble a jury box. “Aaron Judge, at the beginning of the year, showed signs of being a real star, and our vice president of media relations had this great idea to create a space to embrace his stardom—one that fans could participate in,” Behar says. Fans who are selected to sit in the space can also show their support with foam gavels and robes that feature Judge’s jersey number on the back. “We always want to make sure that the fan experience here is engaging on every level, which is why the Steinbrenners have always invested in putting the right players together to try and bring home the championship year after year,” Behar says. “It’s also about creating spaces that are current and a part of the trends in our industry. Our goal is to make sure that our fans have an experience that transcends the game itself.”

When designing for fans in the stands, Behar and his team keep safety top of mind. During the off-season, they took the opportunity to evaluate the stadium’s protective netting and decided to extend it beyond the dugout and farther down the foul lines in left and right field. The netting will provide increased protection for fans without obstructing views of the game. “We wanted to make sure that we not only created a safe environment but also an environment that would be the least obstructive to our fans,” Behar says. “We were careful in choosing the color of the net and how it would be engineered and rigged to provide the most optimal setup.” The color is in fact a composite of all the colors that a fan sees beyond the netting, resulting in a matte green tone, Behar explains. “The idea is to help camouflage the net as best as possible so that fans are getting the true baseball experience,” he says. The extended netting and the debut of more fan amenities may be new, but what hasn’t changed is the rich history and tradition synonymous with the Yankees. Whether the team is creating new chapters in its history with events such as Gregorius’s game-tying home run or reliving old ones such as Joe DiMaggio’s seemingly unbreakable 56-game hit-streak record, its legendary moments will never be forgotten, and its new spaces will continue to evolve. “Everything that we do should feel authentic and part of the Yankees,” Behar says. “We want our fans to enjoy the modern, fan-friendly aspects of these spaces, but we always make sure to present them within the context of our traditions and unique history, which we’re all very proud of.”

In the words of DOUG BEHAR – “At the root of what we do, safety, security, and providing a world-class experience is always going to be at the foundation.” Securitas USA salutes and congratulates you on your achievements over the last 20 years. We applaud your dedication to ensuring the safety of all players, staff, and visitors who frequent the world-class and iconic Yankee Stadium annually!

Securitas remains proud to support the Yankee Stadium team

It is with sincere gratitude that we thank you for your confidence in Securitas, as well as allowing us to continue to participate as the preferred security partner with your Yankee Stadium team.

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Allergan’s Dream Come True

The biopharma company’s new administrative headquarters in Madison, New Jersey, came together in a flash, thanks to Jay Bapna by Randall Colburn




“I knew this was the right building the moment I saw it.” So says Jay Bapna, talking about 5 Giralda Farms, where the bold biopharmaceutical firm Allergan moved its New Jersey colleagues late last year. Allergan needed a new office in order to bring together colleagues and establish its administrative headquarters in New Jersey. Numerous acquisitions had left its staff working in different offices throughout the state. “We had to decide whether we wanted to continue renewing multiple leases or actually find a new location,” Bapna says. He was serving as the senior vice president of global engineering when Allergan’s leadership decided that it was time to bring everyone under one roof. By bringing together most of its New Jersey employees in one place, Bapna says, Allergan could unify its teams and focus on “a single, bold culture.” This also meant having a building that was the company’s and only the company’s. “That way, it’s our choice how we manage it, what we do, what kind of culture, branding, and amenities we want to have,” he explains. Furthermore, having the majority of the staff in a single location would increase the opportunity for chance encounters. No longer would relationships be confined to email threads and telephone calls; instead, decisions would be made in person and in a collaborative manner. The tricky part? Allergan made this decision in May 2016 and needed to be moved into its new space by September 2017. Bapna, whose job it was to find the building, had to look for roughly half a million square feet of space near a rail line that could be moved into within the tight timeline. Consider it fate that Bapna found not only the perfect space but also one with history. Once upon a time, Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, famed philanthropist and niece of John D. Rockefeller, had her mansion at 5 Giralda Farms. Among countless other things, Bapna praises the building’s beautiful stonework, its tree-spotted surroundings, and the way it catches light from three sides. “Beautiful light and space on a truly beautiful property,” he says. “They don’t make buildings like this anymore.” Just as nice is its location in idyllic Madison, New Jersey, a town so charming that it’s served as a quaint backdrop to films such as The World According to Garp and The Family Stone. That said, the interior of the office building needed substantial work. It was designed as an office space in 1990, and it very much looked like it. “It was very old-fashioned,” Bapna says. “Very large offices, not inviting, no glass. We had to completely gut it and update it.” Allergan’s goal was to create a workspace consisting of only 5 percent offices, with the remaining 95 percent open work spaces to help stimulate conversation and collaboration. “We wanted a lot of glass, a lot of visibility,” Bapna explains. “We designed it in a way that allows people to interact.”

Garrett Rowland/Gensler


When conceiving Allergan’s new workplace, Jay Bapna tried to adhere to the company’s goal of having only 5 percent offices and 95 percent open work spaces.



Jay Bapna SVP of Global Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Allergan

Garrett Rowland/Gensler




“We wanted a lot of glass, a lot of visibility. We designed it in a way that allows people to interact.”

Furthermore, Allergan wanted its new office space to feel welcoming in ways both personal and professional. A 2016 article on Allergan’s move into the building describes the space as “a neighborhood, rather than just an office space.” A walk through the building shows informal gatherings of colleagues at tables and workstations alike. Some colleagues are sitting, others standing at ergonomic sit-stand desks. It’s easy to see into meeting spaces, giving even closed areas light and transparency. Throughout the space, there are digital boards sharing corporate messages but also whiteboards with messages left by colleagues for one another. The building is also home to a gym, a wellness center, a coffee shop, and what Bapna calls an “absolutely amazing” cafeteria. The feeling is collegiate, but the work being accomplished is focused. “Our Allergan colleagues are bold for life,” Bapna says. “They are focused on delivering treatments that make a difference to patients around the world.” As a demonstration of Allergan’s commitment to fostering an employee-friendly workspace, Bapna worked with the company’s leaders to have staff weigh in on the design choices. More than 100 employees tested out potential furniture pieces and workplace styles, and their feedback was then used to select and design components to best fit the work need. “As a collaborative process between the employees and designers, it worked out extremely well,” Bapna says. Bapna and Allergan’s construction team met their deadline and secured a certificate of occupancy by September 2017, just as they had planned. Bapna’s only true source of anxiety throughout the process, he says, was the quick turnaround of such a massive project. “You can’t imagine how many sleepless nights I had,” he says, discussing the physical pile-ups that became a necessity during such a tight period of construction, with electricians, plumbers, and designers often having to bump up against each other while trying to get everything ready. In just eight short months, $120 million of construction work was completed on the building. Good fortune smiled on so many portions of the project, from the finding of such a perfect site to a smooth transition of 1,500 employees to a strong relationship with the City of Madison. Bapna says the city was the best government body he’s dealt with in his nearly 40-year ca-

reer. “They were tough,” he says, noting that they required around 300 inspections throughout the process. “But, they made the effort to actually work with our schedule.” The project marked one of Bapna’s last in his role as senior vice president of global engineering. As of January 1, 2018, he’d transitioned into a role focused on the manufacturing and production of Allergan’s products as its senior vice president of global pharmaceutical manufacturing. But, what a fantastic project to go out on. Of the finished building, he says, “It’s like a dream come true.”

Celebrating our long working relationship with JAY BAPNA and ALLERGAN We wish you continued success, Jay! Partnering to imagine, execute and realize our clients’ vision. 10 Woodbridge Center Drive | Woodbridge, NJ | 07095 |



Virtual Design, Real Life Beauty Anthony Pastore’s design work is not just gloss. Using virtual reality to build out Ulta Beauty’s spaces, he ensures that the retailer shines.

by Kathryn Kruse

Moss Photography





Ulta Beauty promises all things beauty, all in one place. It is up to Anthony Pastore, director of store design, to make sure that the brand’s retail spaces deliver on that promise. Guided by a passion for aesthetics, function, and technology, he is making it happen. Pastore is a designer who understands the physical realities of building things. As a kid, his dad took him out to help with construction jobs. It was not long before Pastore started borrowing tools and lumber to make skate ramps. At a young age, Pastore became thoughtful about visual effect as well as form. “I’d tell my dad things like, ‘I don’t want to see this screw here,’” Pastore says. For the past 12 years, he has brought this knowledge and sensibility to the architecture, fixture design, and store layout of hundreds of Ulta Beauty stores. It’s his job to create the base layer, frame, and structures that will allow Ulta Beauty’s 20,000 products to pop. It is also his job to understand the company’s philosophy, strategies, business culture, and products in order to translate them into the physical form of retail space. His work must build a world that encourages customers to explore and have fun. To achieve this, Pastore has honed and adapted a store prototype. Each real-life space, however, requires its own tweaks and customizations. This includes urban locations—one in Manhattan and one on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue—that opened in 2017. These stores pushed Pastore to adapt his 10,000-square-foot prototype to spaces with unique layouts and structural constraints. For Pastore, working within such constraints is an exciting challenge. “Retail design is always changing,” he says. “Even the same stores are in constant transition.” Currently, Ulta Beauty is investigating new designs and the future of an omnichannel retailer. “We need a store where customers come to play, test, and learn,” Pastore explains. “Retail is not going away; it is just evolving.” Pastore and his lean team of five drive the store design aspect of this evolution. The group, with interior design, architectural, planning, and layout specialists—as well as designers that develop and render concepts—is multifunctional and reacts quickly. “We all cover each other. We have a really good process,” Pastore says.

Moss Photography



Ulta Beauty’s Chicago store adheres to Anthony Pastore’s prototype design but includes flourishes customized for its location at 430 N. Michigan Avenue.



The group came together to respond to challenges at the Manhattan and Michigan Avenue stores. “We had to creatively find ways to offer lots in a smaller footprint,” Pastore says. Beyond getting products on the shelves, he seeks to offer the same customer experience, no matter the location or size of a store. “What is the story people are experiencing?” Pastore says. “The space needs to be modern, exciting, and impactful and serve as a backdrop for our product.” That means designing for flow and cadence. Ulta Beauty employs an open-sell concept, with full salon services. The intent is that customers come, play, and test. “People need to be able to see the whole store,” Pastore says. “We have to find good ways of indicating what is happening. We need the educational and marketing graphics to stand out.” For the special-location projects, in order to achieve the goals of the Ulta Beauty retail space, Pastore took his knowledge of design and construction to a new realm: the world of virtual reality. While he has previously used still renderings, he now also employs 3-D virtual reality (VR) to design and visualize concepts. He’s thrilled about the possibility the technology brings. “If I can save one change order on a project, it is worth it to use VR,” Pastore says, and it has been worth it. VR also helps solve site-specific problems. For example, at the

Michigan Avenue site, the structure appeared much lower than their prototype called for, and the team thought they would have to produce everything custom, which is much more expensive. However, once Pastore was wearing the VR headset, looking at the store from all angles down to the inches, the team realized they could drop a soffit, rework the wiring, and use almost all prototypical fixtures. This shift from 2-D modeling is also helpful for contractors. “They can understand connection and flow,” Pastore says. “They have more information. Even details like how a baseboard might wrap around are really helpful to be able to visualize. We can look at design elements with different options. We build the store once in the VR world. We just reproduce it in the physical world.” The downside to this new technology? “It kind of spoils the reveal at the end,” Pastore says, laughing. “We have already seen the store.” In his 12-year tenure, Ulta Beauty has gone from around 100 stores to 1,074, with approximately another 100 slated to be up and running by the end of 2018. Last year also saw the addition of 700 boutiques and 11 major remodels of Ulta Beauty stores. Pastore is proud of the quantity his team puts out, but it is the quality that defines his success. “When the customer has a great experience, and when we evolve, I am successful,” he says.

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“In other countries, the relationship matters more.” Nizam Usta, director of global construction management for W. R. Grace & Co., believes the personal is as important as the professional when working overseas

by David Levine W. R. Grace & Co., an American specialty-chemicals and materials company based in Columbia, Maryland, operates in nearly 40 countries around the world. As anyone who works overseas knows, a global business presents unique challenges and opportunities to many divisions, not least of which is construction. Nizam Usta, Grace’s director of global construction management, has more than 30 years of experience with the company and has handled projects all over the world. “We have sales in almost every country, manufacturing and operations in Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, North America, and Latin America,” Usta says. “I build offices to support these organizations. Whether it’s in Brazil or Beijing, Dubai or Manila, I have to make it happen, either remotely or on site.” Born in India, Usta studied chemical engineering in his home country and earned a master’s degree in industrial engineering at Northeastern University and an MBA from Boston University. He did research on concrete for Grace while working on his masters. After graduation, he worked as an industrial engineer for several companies until 1987, when Grace contacted him to oversee the construction of a lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“I was always interested in working for a large corporation,” Usta says. “With my chemical and industrial engineering background, this opportunity was very unique. It was to optimize the design from the chemical viewpoint, and I could bring my particular strength to the project.” What was intended to be a small project grew into a $20 million rebuild of nearly 90,000 square feet of space that was formerly a balloon factory. Usta was made a full-time employee during the project and has been with Grace ever since. His current overseas projects include a new groundup build in Abu Dhabi and a just-finished lab in Oman, and he’s also expanding several North American sites. Usta has called his career a journey of personal acceptance. “I raised my hand and accepted them,” he says, referring to the new roles that have come up in his career. “Most of my work is project related, and every project is unique—not only the challenges and issues within the technology but also the people related to those projects. You have to accept that people will be different, their expectations will be different, and instead of fighting it, accept it and work within the constraints of both the people and the technology.”


Courtesy of W. R. Grace & Co.

Nizam Usta has managed construction projects for W. R. Grace & Co. in nearly 40 countries all over the world, including the building of its facility in Qingdao, China.

“Here, we are driven by contracts and litigation. We can take the shelter of the law to get things done. In other countries, the relationship matters more than the law.�




These differences are heightened when working abroad, according to Usta. “Working across cultures requires flexibility,” he says. “Communication can be very difficult. What is said is not always what is heard. In certain parts of world, when someone with authority says something, people nod their head. In the West, we assume that means they understand and accept what is being said. In their culture, it means you are the boss and we will do what you’ve asked.” There may be a big gap between hearing and understanding, Usta explains, adding, “That part of communication has to be very slow, with feedback to make sure everyone understands the problem and the expectations around the solution.” Diverse workforces can be challenging, he says, especially in places such as the Middle East. “Their training and their needs are unique to their culture, and their values are different,” Usta says. “To bring a diverse ethnic workforce together becomes a hot spot. If not managed properly, it can explode and bring disaster to the project.”

Nizam Usta Director of Global Construction Management W. R. Grace & Co.

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There are legal and practical challenges working abroad as well, so Usta and his team rely heavily on local support. “Regulations and construction practices are very different, and there is often a lot of bureaucracy where one department doesn’t communicate with the other departments,” he says. “It’s not synchronized. In layman’s terms, I call it red tape. You have to get involved with locals who know the local agencies.” He uses local consultants and contractors who understand how to cut through that red tape. “You usually need people on the ground to bring some kind of decision,” he says. These relationships are fostered over time and take on different meanings overseas. “You may have a supplier-owner relationship, but these people go beyond work,” Usta says. “They invite you to their homes, into their private life to share meals and drinks.” Building those relationships, whether they present themselves late at night or Sunday afternoon, is critical. “Here, we are driven by contracts and litigation,” Usta says. “We can take the shelter of the law to get things done. In other countries, the relationship matters more than the law.” Usta loves that part of his work. “Being raised in India, I was exposed to the culture, so it came easier to me,” he says. “Also, I enjoy people. That helps me to build long-term relationships in other parts of world. I have relationships that go back 20 years, at least. A personal touch is as important to the success of the project as the project itself.”

Safety in Numbers Safety in Numbers Safety in Numbers From the clinical staff to those in facilities management, everyone at Massachusetts’s Signature Healthcare collaborates on safety

by Lior Phillips




Early in John Duraes’s tenure as director of facilities management and engineering at Signature Healthcare, a vendor needed access to the healthcare system’s roof to repair a piece of equipment. But, when a patient looking out a skylight spotted the man wandering around with a bag of tools and wires, an alarm was raised. “He called the nurse and said there was a man on the roof with a bomb,” Duraes recalls. “Since then, we’ve installed a roof-access program where workers sign in and need to wear designated red vests. It’s a funny little thing, but at the same time it helps us ensure safety.” Though he might not be treating patients directly, Duraes has found ways to make an impact on the health and safety of patients, practitioners, and the community—something every Signature Healthcare employee is trained and encouraged to do. From doctors to custodians, all Signature Healthcare employees go through a “Culture of Safety” program, which is far more than lip service. These individuals are expected to eat, sleep, and breathe safety. The system names safety coaches— individuals trained to coach others in best practices—for each shift in each department. “Management isn’t always around to coach, so we enable peers to help everyone be more conscious of safety,” Duraes says. But even within facilities management and engineering, Duraes notes, everyone works together to find new solutions for patient safety. Across the main campus and Signature Healthcare’s additional 17 off-site properties, Duraes and his team keep close documentation of myriad details to ensure compliance and consistency. “We have five three-inch-thick volumes of documentation we have to maintain every year to ensure that we’re doing our due diligence,” he says. “But, my secret is my awesome team.” In fact, this push for safety is so ingrained in the inner workings of Signature Healthcare that it even differentiates the organization from other healthcare organizations. The lean, strategic leadership team has an open-door policy and encourages any employee with an idea that could improve processes to share it. The CEO and the rest of leadership also start every day with a 15-minute huddle in which they discuss any safety issues or concerns and any “catches”—moments when team members prevent potential issues before they occur. “We want our neighbors and our family members to come here because of our quality of care and our focus on safety,” Duraes says. “Our mission is to find things that we’re going to make mistakes at and then try to prevent them before they happen.” That focus extends to both patients and Signature Healthcare’s own employees. The organization has been regularly and routinely recognized by the likes of US News and World Report and the Joint Commission as a top hos-

The lobby at the Cancer Center at Signature Healthcare features comfortable seating and natural light. The facility offers high-caliber care to those who might not be able to the Boston area quickly. Courtesy of Signature Healthcare



fers top-tier care to those that might not be able to get as easily or quickly into the Boston area. “We’re only 20 miles out of Boston, but it’s not unusual to take an hour to get there,” Duraes says. “When patients are going through chemotherapy and radiation therapy, those trips can be very difficult for these individuals and their families. We wanted to build the best-quality healthcare possible to serve our community.” From updating bathroom fixtures to relamping the entire hospital, every seemingly minor decision that Duraes and his team make needs to be carefully considered, well documented, and made with safety in mind. Luckily, the entire organization is working together to make those decisions the right way. “We’re stewards of our community and stewards of our environment,” Duraes says. “It’s all a team effort. You really have the opportunity to be successful in this organization because we empower and encourage each other. We’re committed to the health and well-being of everyone in our community.”

John Duraes Director of Facilities Management & Engineering Signature Healthcare

pital for both quality and safety and a key performer on quality measures. Those accolades come, Duraes explains, from being equally passionate about the safety of employees. In addition to spotting catches for the well-being of patients, safety coaches are tasked with, for example, checking whether a nurse is wearing the proper personal protective equipment when attending to a contagious patient, or whether the ice in front of the entryway could cause a worker to slip and fall. The organization has rolled out wellness programs to ensure employees are safe and healthy away from the workplace as well. “We are an organization that not only cares for our patients and the community but genuinely cares about the staff that work here—as well as their family and their health concerns,” Duraes says. “Through weekly and monthly programs like walking challenges and diet challenges, we’re trying to entice our staff to be healthier. As part of that program, they earn points and can save up to $100 for certain goals.” In addition, the healthier the staff becomes, the more the organization saves on insurance costs—but even this is then reinvested into infrastructure, continuously providing employees with a safer workplace that provides better care to the community. One such investment was the recent development of the Cancer Center at Signature Healthcare, a project Duraes worked closely on. The 37,000-square-foot building broke ground in August 2016 and admitted its first patients a year later. The facility offers both radiation oncology and medical oncology in affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The Cancer Center of-






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Mindful Growth As Netflix has become one of the most ubiquitous companies in modern life, its leadership has developed appropriate spaces to keep its evergrowing multitude of employees happy and thriving


by Betty Horace




A lot has changed since Netflix began shipping DVDs around the country in 1997. The company has become one of the most ubiquitous in modern life, a font of seemingly endless entertainment. It’s gone so far as to become a content creator in addition to a distributor, even earning an Oscar for Best Feature Documentary. In the fourth quarter of 2016 alone—10 years into offering streaming services in addition to DVDs—Netflix added seven million subscribers worldwide, pushing its net profit up 55 percent and bringing revenue up to $2.5 billion. Between 2014 and 2016, the company saw 27 percent growth in head count annually, according to CNBC. All that growth and change means a lot more employees keeping it all moving forward—and a lot more space to keep all of them productive, comfortable, and happy. Netflix moved into an office in Beverly Hills in 2003, coinciding with its move into content creation. The company quickly outgrew that space, eventually occupying 80,000 square feet across multiple buildings, according to a report from Variety. The latest stage of that expansion has seen Netflix moving 800 Los Angeles employees into a 14-story building with more than 300,000 square feet in Hollywood, a relatively glamorous change from its Los Gatos, California, startup days. The building, known as ICON, stands on the Sunset Bronson Studios lot, formerly the home of Warner Brothers Studios. Not long after agreeing to that lease, the company made a move on a second, smaller building, called CUE— and an additional 99,000 square feet of sound stages and additional space on the lot. Altogether, the Hollywood campus now totals more than 560,000 square feet, housing employees working countless projects and types of work, from production to tech support.



At Netflix’s headquarters in Los Angeles, an outdoor patio overlooks a broad stretch of Hollywood.



The legacy and surroundings of the buildings were certainly not lost on Netflix’s leadership. “A building like ICON is a statement—of who you are, what you believe, and what you want to do,” chief content officer Ted Sarandos said at a gathering of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce in 2017. “It’s aspirational for sure, but beautifully functional.” Not to be outdone, the Los Gatos offices recently got their own exciting facelift to keep pace. The campus features a handful of buildings beaming with natural light, polished wood, and lots of plant life. Communal areas, cheery cafeterias, outdoor spaces, and tech vending machines that offer everything from wireless mice to headphones keep people happy and productive. And in a move that keeps employees comfortable, saves on air-conditioning and lighting costs, and benefits the environment, smart glass tints and clears in response to environmental conditions, allowing in ideal amounts of light and heat, either automatically or through control from a mobile device or wall-mounted switches.

Ochi Scobie Site Workplace Operations Manager Netflix

The smart glass isn’t the end of Netflix’s work toward sustainability and environmentalism. In a June 2017 statement on renewable energy, the organization detailed its aims to minimize use of electricity and to use more renewable energy whenever possible—even joining the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, a voluntary program where businesses commit to using more green energy. In addition, Netflix has committed itself to purchasing carbon offsets when renewable energy isn’t an option. “We know there’s more to be done, and Netflix will continue to explore new ways to reduce our footprint in the coming years,” chief product officer Neil Hunt said in the statement. Beyond new buildings, leaders such as site workplace operations manager Ochi Scobie are ensuring that the facilities will have spaces and amenities that teams will need to thrive. As the company continues to grow and change rapidly with the needs of modern employees, that can mean developing flexible work spaces to maximize available room. Netflix offices have taken to using “hot-desking,” a strategy whereby a bay of desks are made available to those employees who are in the office that day, assigned based on need—as opposed to holding a desk for an employee who may only be in the office a day or two each week and working from home or visiting other offices the rest of the week. Scobie is a case study of the kind of leader that excels in Netflix’s empowering but demanding culture. Formerly the first employee of BuzzFeed Video, Scobie helped drive the innovative, lean organization to massive success to the tune of billions of YouTube views per month. Her experience spans countries, industries, and expertise, though always with an eye to helping others succeed, particularly in digital and video production and operations. As a workplace operations manager, that of course involves everything from studio management to commercial real estate and construction. But having opened and run multiple offices and campuses, her experiences set Netflix up for even further success. Little touches such as the smart glass and hot-desking are clearly working. The organization continues to grow, and employees are apparently happier than those working at other major tech organizations. According to Blind, an anonymous chat app for employees wanting to share experiences and discuss their workplaces, a recent survey showed that Netflix employees reported the lowest rates of wanting to change companies—a full 10 percent lower than Facebook and an astonishing 30 percent lower than Google. While other factors such as compensation and benefits play a part in that fact, developing a comfortable work space and continuing to upgrade and advance for its employees surely does as well.


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Heartland Dental and the Rise of the De Novo Heartland Dental’s mission is to ensure dentists are able to focus on the clinical care they do best. As its head of construction, Chad Armstrong works to create beautiful, world-class offices for exceptional patient and team experiences.

205 Photography

by Randall Colburn


One challenge that doctors of all stripes face is balancing the clinical sides of their practices with the business aspects of them. It’s not easy to clear out a cavity when you’ve got the weight of accounting, marketing, maintenance, and management on your mind. The desire for dentists, in particular, to focus on the skills that make them special is what led Dr. Rick Workman to develop Heartland Dental. The company supports dentists around the country by essentially clearing their plates of the overwhelming administrative tasks that tend to clog up their otherwise robust operations. The tasks include everything from filing and accounting to IT work and education, and the company also has an integrated call center that books appointments while an office is on vacation. It currently supports roughly 840 dental offices nationwide. “What makes us stand out from our competitors is that we’re doctor led,” Armstrong says. “In other words, doctors make the decisions on the clinical aspects of their day-to-day, and we’re here to support them on any business decisions and any additional support they need.”

Armstrong isn’t a dentist, but that made him no less enamored with the business model at Heartland. An old high school friend and Heartland Dental’s current CFO Travis Franklin reached out to him to lead the company’s construction team. Armstrong, who had spent 17 years as a project manager on commercial construction projects in Effingham, Illinois—the same town that serves as Heartland Dental’s central hub—was already curious after witnessing the company’s rapid growth. “Once I started hearing about the behind-the-scenes story, I knew it was a cultural fit for me,” he says. Heartland Dental’s model doesn’t only benefit dentists; it also benefits people such as Armstrong, who, in his role as director of construction, was able to surround himself with industry experts in a variety of fields. At Heartland Dental, everyone gets to focus on what they do best. Armstrong’s team, for example, includes experts in site selection, construction, facility management, and more. There’s another way that Heartland Dental executes its doctor-led philosophy, and that’s where Armstrong comes in. As the head of construction, he’s behind the company’s De Novo program, which provides scratchstart locations for supported dentists. What makes each

Stadium Family Dentistry, in Rockledge, FL, has a completely different look and feel than Mountain Crest Dental (right). Both were built using the De Novo model, retaining a sense of individuality for each supported office.

Courtesy of Heartland Dental




Stephen Shefrin

Architectural details for this Mountain Crest Dental location, based in Mesa, AZ, draw inspiration from the natural desert landscape as well as other buildings in the region.

of these locations special is that you won’t find a carbon copy in the bunch. Instead of branding each of its supported offices, Heartland Dental helps them retain a sense of identity and individuality, in terms of both branding and aesthetic. “We are not nationally branded on the outside of the building,” Armstrong says. “It goes back to that idea of Heartland Dental being doctor led. In other words, we don’t want it to have a corporate feel. We’re proud of our brand, but we’re here to provide the back-end services.” Instead, the practices are designed to fit their local environment and architecture. “Not all offices in Florida or on the East Coast look like ones in Texas or Colorado,” Armstrong says. A few years ago, when Heartland Dental was still early in its growth, Armstrong says, the individuality of each De Novo was even more set apart. But, considering the past several years have seen a rapid rise in supported offices, the company is working to create more synergy with its prototype design. And while Armstrong and his crew are standardizing some aspects of the De Novo to help leverage both materials and labor to decrease the development-cycle time from approval to completion, he emphasizes that the design still allows for individuality. Many different exterior schemes are available, ensuring customization and a lack of aesthetic redundancy for offices in the same region. “It was a piece of the puzzle that we had to solve to be more scalable,” Armstrong says. Since starting in 2014, he’s been behind the construction of 163 De Novo offices, and 2018 will find him leading the charge on 50 more. In 2019, the number could climb to 60 or more, depending on final growth strategies. Still, he says the strategy is definitely to accelerate the De Novo program. Armstrong notes a few challenges he’s anticipating looking ahead: One is ensuring that each new location is aligned with the company’s existing infrastructure. Though Armstrong wants Heartland Dental to diversify its portfolio, he also needs to ensure the opportunities it has preselected have the operations and infrastructure in place to support its offices. Finding the right locations is key. Another challenge is one any construction professional working on a national level would recognize: the state-by-state intricacies of permits, reviews, and inspections. Still, the delays they can cause are nothing compared to Mother Nature herself; Hurricane Irma, Armstrong says, indefinitely hindered the construction of several offices in Florida. One thing’s for sure, though: no storm is big enough to stop Heartland Dental’s relentless growth. The De Novo projects will keep coming.

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On the Move How Patti Vreeland and USI Insurance Services successfully moved nearly 3,000 new employees over a single weekend by Jeff Silver Over the course of her 20-year IT career, Patti Vreeland has developed significant negotiation skills while working out details of contracts with the likes of Microsoft and Dell. In 2006, she leveraged those skills to join USI Insurance Services, one of the largest insurance brokerage and consulting firms in the world, where she is now vice president of corporate real estate and procurement. In previous positions, she had been responsible for teams of up to 70 people, who supported networks and systems in 120 countries. That required extraordinary management and coordination skills, but she may have set new personal performance records when she successfully oversaw USI’s acquisition of 99 Wells Fargo offices in 2017. Despite having coordinated many other acquisitions for USI, including a previous transaction in 2014 involving 40 Wells Fargo offices, this was a daunting assignment. “Expansion by acquisition is part of USI’s growth strategy,” Vreeland says. “But, they typically involve individual agencies of up to 50 people or bank deals of up to 300 employees. The scale had never been this large before.” The deal was announced at the end of June 2017 and was scheduled to close on December 1. It included 2,900

The USI office spaces were designed to highlight innovation and collaboration, which form the foundation of the firm’s USI ONE Advantage value proposition.

Brianna Calvi-Rogers





Wells Fargo employees who were transitioned into 70 USI offices. That five-month period also saw 1,100 employees relocated, 17 new offices built, 7 offices renovated, and 35 Wells Fargo leases assigned to USI. In addition, because of banking regulations, USI could not work directly with any of the transitioning staff until after the transaction was completed and they officially became USI employees. Preparations were made so that when they left work on Thursday, November 30, every single element of business—vendor contracts, computer systems and networks, credit cards, utilities, lease assignments, security, postage meters—was aligned with USI and the new employees could hit the ground running when they returned to work Monday morning. As preparations for the acquisition were under way, USI had 35 other simultaneous lease transactions in 2017, including relocating its corporate headquarters. Vreeland herself was on 33 flights, spent the night in 41 hotels, toured 134 offices, and was involved in 73 RFPs during this period. However, she also worked closely with some of USI’s longstanding partners. KAD Associates handled office designs and furnishings and developed test-fit drawings and other architectural plans. These were used to maintain design standards and guide local architects and contractors through construction and renovations in various locations. Cushman & Wakefield located properties that met USI’s requirements and helped negotiate contracts and leases. “Cushman & Wakefield understands how we work

Patti Vreeland VP of Corporate Real Estate & Procurement USI Insurance Services

and how critical timelines are in this kind of transaction,” Vreeland says. “Even though the spaces we needed were larger, which makes finding suitable locations more difficult, they utilized their network of brokers across the country to help pick landlords who could deliver on time.” Because USI wants to stay focused on insurance without having to become a construction expert, it requires turnkey build-outs that meet its design standards “We let the building professionals handle the projects,” Vreeland says. “We only manage the expectations.” She uses a two-stage strategy to manage this type of acquisition. First, Vreeland and her team do extensive analysis to determine current workflows, locations, and evolving trends. Zip code and drive-time analyses are conducted to understand commutes. Metrics are also developed to assess details such as rent and parking charges as a percentage of the projected revenue of each office. These results are used to decide how much square footage is needed for the new groups, how space will be allocated, and how to choose between locations in areas with both former Wells Fargo insurance offices and legacy USI locations. After the closing, her strategy switches to consolidating operational logistics. This includes local leadership laying out goals and objectives such as how costs will be managed and how new metrics will help determine local-office profitability. In addition to including standardized design elements such as natural light and features that facilitate collab-

Brianna Calvi-Rogers

“Expansion by acquisition is part of USI’s growth strategy. But they typically involve individual agencies of up to 50 people or bank deals of up to 300 employees. The scale had never been this large before.”

KAD Associates


KAD Associates congratulates Patti Vreeland

and USI Insurance Services on their recognition by American Builders Quarterly.

For the past eight years, KAD Associates has been proud to serve as USI Insurance Services strategic project management partner and chosen furniture provider. Throughout the Wells Fargo acquisition, KAD Associates collaborated with USI on various deliverables to ensure an accelerated, seamless transition on a national scale. We appreciate the continued opportunities and look forward to future successful projects.





A collaborative space in USI’s Bloomington, MN, office allows for open flow of work and communication.

TARTER KRINSKY & DROGIN CONGRATULATES PATTI VREELAND Vice President, Corporate Real Estate & Procurement at USI Insurance Services on her tremendous achievements and is privileged to partner with USI.

oration, Vreeland works extensively with USI’s IT team. This enables all offices to be appropriately networked, to adhere to stringent USI security protocols, and to manage logistics for a range of details. “We have to understand the nuances of each building, so we have weekly meetings tied to the infrastructure side of IT,” Vreeland says. “For example, we installed Microsoft Surface Hubs in many of our locations, which provide touchscreens and highly interactive remote communication, but they’re 84 inches wide and wouldn’t fit in some of the elevators. We knew that ahead of time, so we made arrangements to load them in through the windows.” Some of the other challenges of the transaction included accommodating energy-efficiency requirements in California, navigating the timing of acquiring appropriate business licenses in Reno and Las Vegas, puzzling out leasing strategies for multiple offices in Chicago; Houston; Charlotte, North Carolina; Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Denver; and Summit, New Jersey, and locating a suitable 40,000-square-foot space in Bloomington, Minnesota. Vendors in every location had to be synchronized as well. Ultimately, the acquisition increased USI’s rentable square footage and its employee population by more than 40 percent. “USI’s mergers and acquisitions team is always looking for new opportunities, so this type of operation becomes a way of life for us,” Vreeland says. “And, despite the challenges we faced, the weather was perfect across the entire country the weekend that hundreds of our people were, quite literally, on the move. Sometimes you’re lucky like that and get a little extra help.”

Courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield and USI Insurance Services



) t u B g n i h t (Any

General Hospitals Greg Thomas on how Kindred Healthcare’s focus on model building has streamlined its design and construction processes

by Alex Borkowski



Greg Thomas’s path to healthcare was a long and winding one. Currently the division vice president of developmental construction projects at Kindred Healthcare in Louisville, Kentucky, Thomas’s story began out west, while he was studying engineering. “I graduated from the University of Colorado with a civil engineering degree,” he recalls. “But, before that, I went to a college called LeTourneau College—now LeTourneau University—in Longview, Texas, where I studied mechanical engineering technology. After I graduated from Colorado, I worked in Denver with the Regional Transportation District, where at the time they were building a district shop for bus repairs.” Although he got his start in Denver, it wasn’t long before he left. An old acquaintance connected with him and “told me to come out to Louisville and work with him on a development that he was planning,” Thomas recalls. “I thought, ‘This’ll be great. I’ll go out and work for him and grow in the development side of the business,’ which I really wanted to do. So, I packed up my bags and moved from Colorado at age 28, out to Louisville to start working for him.”

Everything In Its Right Place Thomas spent his first 20 years in Louisville at the Ford Motor Company Kentucky Truck Plant, flexing his mechanical engineering chops. He oversaw a 200-acre development in Jefferson county, one of the largest in the county at the time. Then, in 2007, he got the opportunity to work at Kindred Healthcare. For his first nine years at Kindred, Thomas oversaw the design and construction of long-term acute-care hospitals, which required operating rooms, intensive-care units, and radiology departments. He also began implementing new design initiatives for Kindred’s new Transitional Care Center buildings. “I, along with a developer, created a model building for our transitional care centers,” Thomas says. “By designing a building using a model, we were able to keep the core of the building relatively unchanged and only had to adjust our layouts to compensate for bed counts and different land configurations.” Kindred’s model buildings revolve around several core design elements such as a typical patient-room layout; locations of support spaces such as pharmacies, labs, nurse’s stations, kitchens, and administrative offic-

Greg Thomas Division VP of Developmental Construction Projects Kindred Healthcare

Courtesy of Kindred Healthcare






Kindred Healthcare’s Renovations and New Constructions Throughout his time at Kindred Healthcare, Greg Thomas has overseen a number of unique and interesting projects simultaneously. He shares some of the most exciting ones below.


1. Kindred Hospital (Melbourne, FL): “That was my first building, built to withstand hurricane conditions. Early on in the project, we actually got hit by Hurricane Faye, but luckily we were in the early stages of the project, so we didn’t have too much damage. You can land at the Melbourne Airport and be at that location within five minutes—it’s right on their property.” 2. Kindred Hospital (Seattle): “This particularly challenging hospital project, located on a hill in the city, was a renovation of a concrete structure with low floor-to-ceiling clearances. New rooftop HVAC systems were installed, with ductwork running to each floor, down the outside of the building, and through shafts creatively designed to architecturally enhance the exterior appearance of the building. We also constructed a large underground electrical-transformer vault beneath the building portico and connected an entrance through the basement.” 3. Mercy Rehabilitation Hospital (Des Moines, IA): “The part I welcomed the most was that this was a model building, so there wasn’t a need to go through a lot of hoops with our user groups and design meetings ahead of starting construction, like you would in another case.”

es; and common-size therapy spaces with standardized equipment. These buildings tend to be of a similar shape, with standardized equipment and furniture, but it’s important to note that each of these buildings is unique in its own ways, with interior finish selections and exterior material and color choices. Model buildings also still need to be adjusted to meet variable patient needs, functional programs, and local code requirements—including ensuring their HVAC systems are appropriate for each hospital’s climate. Thomas’s move toward model buildings expanded. Not long after, Kindred acquired a company that had designed a model building for its inpatient rehab facilities. “We acquired a company with outstanding development leadership that also had a model building that it had been using effectively to meet its program and needs,” Thomas says, “and we wanted to continue to grow by utilizing those same design expectations it’d operated by.”



Kindred Healthcare builds its inpatient rehab centers from a model developed by a company that Kindred acquired.

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Currently, Thomas’s biggest project has been overseeing a new addition for Kindred’s Support Center in Louisville proper. “The new addition to the Support Center was a lot of fun to build,” Thomas says, “because it wasn’t a hospital. It was something different and challenged me to coordinate a variety of construction detail in a busy office environment. It engaged a good group of architects who led the way on designing and integrating a new, modern building onto our older, existing facility.” The project was also very enjoyable because it was at Thomas’s office. He could walk down to the construction site, making it easy to for him to be involved and engaged with the contractors on a daily basis. It’s also one of Kindred’s tallest construction project to date, at six stories, outpacing its previous largest construction—a hospital—by three. “What I enjoy about all the projects I work on,” Thomas says, “is that there’s not a single site that’s the same. I’m a trained civil engineer, so I enjoy the variations you get from job to job. There’s challenges and different design requirements related to the site work and layout.”

Courtesy of Kindred Healthcare

The Kindred Support Center



An Unexpected Third Act

Corey Wong Global VP of Real Estate and Workplace Solutions

Boris Amchislavsky


After three years of retirement, Corey Wong’s love for business brought him to software-development company Informatica, where he’s doing some of the best work of his career by Randall Colburn



Corey Wong loved retirement. “For two years, my wife and I traveled the world,” he says. “I golfed every day. I ate tons of food. It was pretty glorious.” It might come as a surprise, then, that Wong’s retirement lasted only a few years. It wasn’t boredom, per se, that brought him back into the real estate and workplace solutions field, but rather what he calls “the itch.” “I really missed the buzz of the workplace,” he says, and it’s easy to sympathize when he describes retirement as “quitting work cold turkey.” “You can’t just walk away from 35 years of your professional life,” he says, noting that he missed the communication and intellectual stimulation his career had offered him. That led him to try consulting, which he spent the third year of his retirement dabbling in. And while it satisfied certain needs, it felt like he was only going halfway. “As a consultant,” he says, “you don’t get to execute.” Still, the appeals of retirement are abundant, so when Informatica, the world’s leader in enterprise cloud data management, called, he wasn’t immediately sold on moving back into the workplace. “They called me two times, and finally, reluctantly, I said I’d just come in and talk,” Wong says. He wound up being taken with the company, which was on the verge of a transformation that inspired in him his own ideas for reinvention. Despite being a 25-year old company, he notes, Informatica functions like a startup, and its emphasis on work-life balance was refreshing. He also mentions Informatica’s spirit of collaboration, which he describes as unique. “They really want to collaborate,” Wong says. “I’ve worked a lot of places, and in 38 years I’ve seen a lot of people pay lip service to such things, but the people here are really with it. I noticed that right away when I interviewed.”


Courtesy of Informatica

At Informatica’s Redwood City, CA, headquarters, a collaboration area in R&D has open-plan seating alongside breakout areas.




Courtesy of Informatica

“Just a little bit of structure and process and definition and goals goes a long way.”


He said he’d be interested in coming onboard, but only if he and his team were made an integral part of the business. “If I join, I need to come and really do something,” he says. “I’m not just going to come in and run your facilities and janitorial services. If you’re truly trying to make a difference with the workplace and the facilities and the locations, then I need to really be allowed to make changes.” Informatica was sold, and Wong was given what he calls “free reign,” as well as direct access to the company’s board, with promised board approval within 24 hours. That was a deal Wong couldn’t refuse. He set right to work, too, and within two and a half years has transformed a staggering 80 percent of the company’s portfolio. His first priority was the construction of customer-facing, high-performance office spaces—ones that he describes as “employee enabling.” This change, which involves shifting to an open office plan and better facilitates Informatica’s culture of collaboration, not only boosts face-to-face interactions but also assists with attraction, retention, and morale of the team, Wong says. Not only are the team members and leaders sitting in the open office; the CEO and CFO are, too. “Some were a little bit concerned with the CEO being right across the way from them,” Wong says with a laugh. “They’re worried the CEO will be paying attention to what they’re doing, and I said, ‘Yes, but you get to pay attention to what the CEO is doing; it goes both ways.’” Wong also worked to consolidate two different headquarters into a single building in Redwood City, California—to better execute and represent the company’s brand identity as “provocative, brilliant, and sleek”—in addition to adding some new regional offices in several of Informatica’s auxiliary cities, including Tokyo, Dublin, Bangalore, and Austin. A huge concern for Wong was ensuring that all these changes would impact the bottom line positively. By repositioning the portfolio the way he has, though, Wong has turned his transformations into a profit center. “We’re generating lease revenue from certain properties around the world,” he says. “We’re not a real estate company, but we’re going to take advantages of those areas where we can add to the bottom line.” Most impressive of all, perhaps, is that Wong’s able to do it all with a lean team. “Between the five of us, we make it happen all over the world,” he says, and he’s not kidding. Despite Informatica’s business operating across multiple continents, Wong stays connected with his team on a regular basis through video conferencing and a structured, transparent leadership style.

Workrooms have isolating felt panels to block noise and vision as needed. The Redwood City HQ space fosters independent work as well as collaboration.


While he loves Informatica’s startup mentality, he also knew there was space in the organization for greater standardization. For Wong, it’s integral to establish particular guidelines and processes for your team while also being up front about each team member’s goals, roles, and responsibilities. “Standard communication” is another phrase he uses, citing the need for regular meetings, “whether it’s through phone, WebEx, or video conferencing.” “It can’t be ad hoc,” he says. “It has to be regimented. Otherwise, it doesn’t work out.” Still, this isn’t to say he doesn’t still embrace the creative, open-minded environment of Informatica. “Just a little bit of structure and process and definition and goals goes a long way,” he says. A nice bonus? Through all of it, he is still finding time to golf.




Courtesy of Neiman Marcus

“Go Offline and Come Inside”

Mark Boraski and Neiman Marcus are pulling out all the stops for a new flagship location in Manhattan’s new Hudson Yards development, designed to entice customers who increasingly shop on the internet Story by Galen Beebe | Portraits by Sheila Barabad



On Manhattan’s West Side, a new neighborhood is being built. Hudson Yards is the largest private real estate development in US history, going up atop a rail yard with more than 30 active train tracks, in a congested part of Midtown. The development will include 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space, 14 acres of public open space, a 750-seat public school, and more than 100 retail stores, the largest of which will be Neiman Marcus’s 190,000-square-foot flagship location. The luxury department store, set to open in March 2019, is emblematic of the future of brick-and-mortar shopping, combining traditional retail and in-store experiences. For Mark Boraski, vice president of property development, facilities, and construction for Neiman Marcus Group, it’s the pinnacle of his career. “I’ve been involved in thousands of projects over the years—none as exciting and challenging as this one,” he says. The Neiman Marcus Group store development and planning team worked closely with the interior design

firm Janson Goldstein and Hudson Yards designers to create a store that would reflect Neiman Marcus’s aesthetic while fitting within the development’s structural constraints. To service the retail podium, the development’s designers installed shafts and other mechanical features throughout Neiman Marcus’s space. “Normally we get a wide-open space,” Boraski says. “In this particular project, we had a lot of landlord systems that we had to design around.” The development will also generate its own electricity and provide services such as air-conditioning for adjacent high-rises. To accommodate these features, there are three levels of mechanical rooms in the floors above Neiman Marcus. “In a typical store of ours, we would directly access the rooftop for HVAC systems,” Boraski says. “The uniqueness of this building is that we had limited access, so everything had to come in and out through the sides of the building.” Boraski is no stranger to individualized store designs. Each Neiman Marcus location has an original layout and design features that complement its location. “Neiman

The completed Midtown Neiman Marcus will feature several entrances, a concierge desk, and digital directors both outside and inside the building to guide shoppers through the multilevel store.

Courtesy of Neiman Marcus



Marc Boraski VP of Property Development, Facilities & Construction Neiman Marcus




Marc Boraski consults with his lead project manager, Richard Lopez. The two work closely to fit the Neiman Marcus aesthetic into existing and new spaces.

“We did a very good job of providing those services that are diverse and unique enough to make it worth a person’s effort and time to come in.” Marcus takes any new store or remodel and starts fresh with a design,” Boraski says. “No two Neiman Marcus stores look the same.” To amplify the easy access from street level, Neiman Marcus and the developer’s team built a lobby on 10th Avenue, with a concierge desk and three passenger elevators that open directly into the store on floors five, six, and seven. For those entering from the west, through the retail podium, digital directories both outside and inside the building will guide shoppers to the store. Inside, the floor plan will make it easy for shoppers to quickly find each department. “Our floor design is very open, allowing customers to look across a particular floor and immediately see where they want to go,” Bo-

raski says. “If customers want to go to the men’s or beauty departments, they won’t have to navigate through a maze to find them.” Along with helping shoppers, the open floor plan is allowing the Neiman Marcus team to build more adaptable departments that can transform as trends shift. “Our stores are designed to be fluid so that vendors can evolve without major disruption,” Boraski says. “At Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards, there are numerous designer shop locations that can change at any time.” In addition to shopping, Neiman Marcus will also offer multiple food and beverage spaces, beauty services, and special-event and entertainment spaces. The retail venue is well positioned to address the evolving interests

of a consumer base that increasingly shops online. “A lot of thought was put into engaging the customer through experiences and giving them a reason to come inside,” Boraski says. The store and its many services also address the unique challenges of building in Manhattan, a landscape Boraski knows well. Before he joined Neiman Marcus in 1990, he worked at Bloomingdales’s New York City headquarters. And, since joining Neiman Marcus Group, he has been an integral part of a property team that has built several Neiman Marcus stores and has been involved in hundreds of renovations, including those of the Bergdorf Goodman stores in Manhattan. “Being in New York City, people are searching for experiences in a city of conveniences,” Boraski says. “We want Neiman Marcus Hudson Yards to be an experience that will delight both our discerning and aspirational customers.” Boraski understands the online customer on a personal level. He does most of his shopping online and, outside of work, rarely visits physical retail locations. “I use myself as that litmus test,” he says. “I do a good amount of shopping online, and if I can objectively say that I would visit the store, then I think we’ve been successful. Our goal is to provide exceptional merchandise, unrivaled customer service, and experiences that are both diverse and unique to spark customers’ curiosity.”

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Eyes on the Prize VP of Real Estate Sandy Seaton led RealPage through a highly disruptive— but incredibly successful—move to a new headquarters, despite the odds

by David Baez

Jesse G. Patterson IV


Of all the challenges one might imagine would come with working for leading multinational software-solutions company RealPage, squinting at a spreadsheet while fire alarms wail or focusing on a phone call as jackhammers pound away nearby aren’t likely the first that come to mind. Those are some of the most extreme examples of what RealPage employees were asked to endure during the company’s move to a new headquarters in Richardson, Texas, but they illustrate the steady disruption caused by the nearly nine-month process. As it was happening, Sandy Seaton, the company’s vice president of real estate, knew that the frazzled employees would eventually benefit from the move and renovation. But, she was frustrated that she wouldn’t be able to show them that until the project reached completion. “The most difficult piece for me was that I couldn’t finish the project, wrap it up in a bow, and present it to our employees as 100 percent ready,” she says. “It took away the ‘wow’ factor, and that was personally disappointing for me.” That frustration was softened, however, by Seaton’s vision of the renovation and what she thought it would do to positively transform the day-to-day experience employees would have—as well as client relations and the company’s overall success. “The goal was to build something innovative and simple,” Seaton says. “As an innovative company, we wanted a high-tech look. We also wanted to enhance

Sandy Seaton VP of Real Estate RealPage


collaboration, so we created a ‘center’ for the space that includes the double-helix staircase to allow for impromptu contact and collisions. We wanted a space that would be easy to expand and contract and would be relevant for years to come.” To get to that ideal place, however, meant a lot of jangled nerves and more than a few gray hairs for Seaton, who had never worked a project of this magnitude. The company’s lease on the current headquarters space at that time was going to expire soon, so there was no time to reflect on anything other than how to get it done. After Seaton and her team gutted the new building and started renovations, the company’s 1,600 employees began migrating over in phases designed to protect the synergy necessary for the business to keep operating at a high level. You couldn’t blame Seaton if she wondered if the heavens were on board with the project when a hurricane swept through and led to a drought in the supply of sorely needed metals. Not only that, but auto behemoth Toyota was also building its new headquarters in the area, tying up a lot of subcontracting. Still, the deadline loomed. Seaton says that given the complex web of relationships and all the potential disruptions to the business, a solid team and clear communication among all involved parties was crucial. “I had a small team that needed to accomplish a very large task,” she says. “Each one of them gets credit for the amount of ownership they took in the project. We also



“The biggest affirmation for me is to see the employees enjoying the space, recommending it, and being proud of it.”

Architecture for the RealPage Headquarters

Architecture w Interior Design w Workplace Strategy Change Management w Environmental Graphics

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relied heavily on our vendor partners. Trust was critical—I had to trust that team members and vendor partners were going to follow through with their commitments.” Several times a month, Seaton would meet with the CEO to make sure real estate was in lockstep with the company’s overall vision and strategy. She says this allowed for quick decisions that could be executed efficiently. Once the renovation was complete, the subcontractors were gone, and all employees had been moved into the building, Seaton and her team scrutinized the building with a punchlist of more than 1,000 items. But the light at the end of the tunnel had been reached, and now everyone could see what their sacrifices had led to. Those fire alarms and jackhammers had become faint and distant, even forgotten. Today, RealPage employees come to a high-tech, 400,000-square-foot collaborative headquarters space. Because of the layout, not one of those employees is too far from a window to have a view of the pastoral campus. Employee clusters are “neighborhoods,” and each neighborhood has a hub that offers coffee, printing, and a huddle room. Every hub has an “ambassador,” who represents the neighborhood and is available for questions. It’s a true community. Seaton realized that even with the delayed “wow” factor, people still had to deal with the process of change, so she told them to give it 90 days and then tell her how the new building felt. “Ninety ended up being a magic number,” she says. “Fears and concerns died out over time, and our employees really started to embrace what they had. There have been a lot of positive comments and almost no negative ones.” Seaton says that looking back on what they have and what it took to get there, the one word that comes to her mind is “amazement.” “It was the largest project in my career,” she says. “There were so many pieces that had to come together. The timing had to be right, the location correct. Everything needed to fall into place. There were definitely bumps in the road, but now I’m here at the other end. The biggest affirmation for me is to see the employees enjoying the space, recommending it, and being proud of it.”

A MESSAGE FROM HGA ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS Our goal is to create a company and culture where all people—employees and clients—can do the best work of their lives. We value empathy, are fueled by curiosity, and embrace the hard work that leads to innovation. For the people who work, learn, heal, serve, and gather in the spaces we shape, we strive to exceed expectations— today, tomorrow, and into the future.



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Every Facet

Jeffrey Totaro

Architect and designer Laurent Charlet translates the artistic vision of David and Sybil Yurman into stunning retail spaces

by Jacob Winchester



One of Laurent Charlet’s earliest memories is helping to revitalize the warmgray masonry of a few humble stone structures alongside his father in the south of France. “I had the good fortune of having parents who had a piece of land there with a couple of old stone ruins on it,” he says. “My father decided to rebuild them himself, so many of my childhood memories are of my father building things. As soon as I was of age, I started helping out, and I became more and more involved in the actual building and making of things. I think those experiences had a deep impact on me eventually becoming an architect.” Today, Charlet channels those early experiences as senior director of architecture and interiors for New York-based luxury jewelry designer and retailer David Yurman. Along with his team, Laurent Charlet’s task is to bring every facet of the iconic jewelry brand to life by designing, planning, implementing, and remodeling the brand’s 32 retail boutiques across the globe as well as the company’s corporate facilities and the occasional special event. “I’m involved in all projects in which the brand manifests its presence in three dimensions, in the real world,” says Charlet, who was born in Switzerland and earned his

David Yurman stores use subtle nods to the techniques and materials used in the artwork of David and Sybil Yurman, founders of the company.

masters of architecture from the esteemed École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. “The Yurmans have worked very hard to ensure that their values were embodied in their stores and corporate facilities,” he adds. “It’s our duty to make sure their sensibilities and personal affinities translate into the 360-degree environments we build for the brand. We want our environments to speak to who the Yurmans are and what their journey from art to jewelry has been.” Originally a sculptor and a painter, free-spirited founders David and Sybil Yurman met in New York City and established the designer jewelry brand after a gallerist noticed the remarkable sculptural craftsmanship of a necklace David had made for Sybil as a gift. From there, the Yurmans set out applying their natural eyes for art to the world of bespoke retail. “Craft is really the foundation this company was built upon—the craft of two artists—so it’s really important to bring nods to their techniques and the materials that they originally used in their art into the environments associated with the brand,” Charlet says. As artists, the Yurmans frequently use organic materials such as wood and naturally textured metals in their works. Naturally, these elements also surface in their jewelry designs. The Yurmans’ son Evan, who designs for the company as well, also has a talent for using raw, almost

Jeffrey Totaro




Laurent Charlet Senior Director of Architecture & Interiors David Yurman

Gary Petersen



industrial materials, which, Charlet says, might not be acknowledged by other jewelry brands as noble enough to be worthy of consideration. “He’ll take these materials and reveal their natural beauty by working them using techniques maybe not even traditionally associated with them,” Charlet says. “It’s about acknowledging and admiring the little accidents that nature makes along the way, working with them, and learning to enjoy them.” In turn, Laurent Charlet ensures natural materials such as stone, wood, metal, and leather are ever-present within the stylishly sophisticated interiors of the stores. And, staying true to the nature of these materials is a core value, too. “If something is meant to look like concrete, then we’ll build it out of concrete,” Charlet says. “If we want a piece of wood to look like it was just sliced from a tree, then we’ll use real live-edge American walnut rather than try to sculpt the edge of a reconstituted slab of wood.” “We often also refer to Mr. Yurman’s sculptures and Mrs. Yurman’s paintings when creating color palettes for the stores, again because their art is at the core of the values of this company,” Charlet adds. “Looking at their work is always a great inspiration.” Additionally, these material touchstones provide unseen benefits for the clientele. “We don’t want the spaces to command a behavior from the customer,” Charlet says. “We really want them to feel comfortable and at ease. In addition to referencing the Yurmans’ work materials, using relaxed and relatively common materials makes the stores feel approachable, relaxed, and less intimidating than other brands in luxury retail. I think that artistry is something that separates us from the competition.” The physical characteristics of a boutique’s location also come into play. “We use stone on a lot of our façades, but we don’t go around slapping the same thing on every storefront,” Charlet says. “Our position is that we should try to think about what a particular stone would feel like if we were building store in Hawaii, Chicago, or Florida, so we choose different stones in a variety of shapes and textures in order to connect the store with the geographical area in which it’s located.” Charlet and his team also recently started to imbue the boutiques with unique and tasteful vernacular elements from the regions in which the stores are located. “Last year, we commissioned plaster artisans to stencil floral patterns on a white-gold, leafed panel in every store, and we subtly used each state’s flower as the motif that we superimposed onto these panels.” His team further connects the David Yurman culture to its customer base by using heritage walls, which are curio shelves artfully showcasing the Yurmans’ early work and significant jewelry pieces. The vast majority of customers may not even notice such small, symbolic details, Charlet says, but these flourishes all combine to create a vital point of relation between the old and the new as well as the brand and the customer.


“We constantly walk a fine line between creativity and the adherence to certain iconic principles,” Charlet explains. “We look at what we’ve done in the past to remind us of who we are and where our successes were, but we also insert elements into each store to join our company values with these specific customers in a certain specific location.” “How the brand manifests in the real world should truly be a faithful representation of the brand’s values across all channels,” Charlet adds. “This is a company that was created by two people who wanted to find a way to make a living designing and creating beautiful things that they loved. It’s about that rather than simply trying to make a fortune and conquer the world. That was never the plan.”

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Crane Construction Company LLC wishes Laurent Charlet continued success in his work building the David Yurman brand. Crane feels honored to collaborate with Laurent and the entire David Yurman team. Crane Construction Company LLC is a rare breed in the construction industry. Crane was founded on the philosophy that our owners be intimately involved in every project. Quality and client satisfaction are the most important aspects of the company. Our people love what they do and have the longevity to prove it. A family-owned and operated business with roots in construction for more than 60 years, we’ve built a reputation for excellence, collaboration and integrity.




portraits Sharing stories that detail the motivations, ambitions, and missions of executives in the building industry and getting a firsthand look at what they are achieving today




Story by Kathryn Kruse

Agility Relationships Follow Through With 20 years of experience, Ben Soble is bringing Deluxe Entertainment new ways to do old business Portraits by Cass Davis


Ben Soble VP of Global Real Estate & Facilities Deluxe Entertainment




Deluxe Entertainment Services Group has been a leader in the tech side of entertainment since 1915. A large part of its key to success is agility and adaptability. While those are characteristics that you expect in tech, they are skills necessary to the management of the company’s brick-and-mortar real estate as well. In April 2017, Ben Soble, vice president of global real estate and facilities, joined the company and has been proving his worth. “We are in the business of providing services to the entertainment industry, and that is a business that calls for constant change and nimble response to a very fast-moving sector,” Soble says. “Sometimes you get your orders and start to march and suddenly you have to turn left instead of right, midstride. You just have to learn to disengage your ego.” This ability to roll with the punches and thrive in an environment of constant change is no surprise. Soble comes to Deluxe with 20 years of experience in real estate and facilities management, 10 of those in international work, and with more than 100 buildouts under his belt. He now acts as the gatekeeper for all of Deluxe Entertainment’s office space. “My job is to ensure that our real estate footprint matches the needs of the business,” Soble says. He is responsible for 80 locations worldwide, the majority of these leased properties. His role runs the gamut from understanding leadership needs to acquisitions to design to remodeling to facilities management to closure. “I must understand location needs, things like, ‘Will this be client-facing?’” he says. “Then I have to do my due diligence on locations; work with brokerage, scouting, bringing choice to leadership; then develop space, design, and deliver; and then, after they open, manage the facilities.” Already in his tenure with Deluxe, Soble has completed an overhaul of California offices and received a promotion. But all this is small potatoes compared with what he is working on now. In Bangalore, India, he is

managing a transition from a 33,000-square-foot space to a 100,000-square-foot office park. Even with all this room, Soble will have to be creative to fit everything in. He needs 1,650 seats—some with open-bench workstations and others in L-shaped desk spaces—as well as an NOC room, all to provide distribution services to Deluxe clients. The current building developed on an as-needed basis. “When you have an operation that has just grown for 12 years, the spaces have not always been planned,” Soble says. “We have an opportunity to design something great.” The property is designed to be beautiful, an experience, a stateof-the-art-facility, and an office park that is LEED Gold-certified and built to attract top-notch employee talent. Floor plans and all the fixture details are finalized, Soble has approvals, and the building is slated for an impressive four-month turn around, opening in September 2018. When asked about working in another country, Soble says, “International work is not that different. You have to know the real estate and construction rules, but if you have to build a space, you have to build a space. You take the steps.” Soble insists that, no matter where you work, you must focus on transparency and communication. “You kind of get to be the mayor of where you are,” he says. “You know everyone, what they like, what they want.” This does not mean that Soble thinks his job is to tell people what to do. “Listen to your customers and understand their needs,” he says. “Don’t just infuse your opinions—maybe your experience, but not your opinions.” For the India office, like all projects, there are a lot of relationships to manage. “It’s a really cool job,” Soble says. “You don’t sit on your butt on a computer. You interface with so many types of people. That includes, internally, everything from understanding pain points for clerical workers to deliverables for the CEO. And then there are so many professionals: designers, brokers, and lawyers.” Soble is going to be using those incredible communication, relationship, and follow-through skills to



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help overhaul pieces of Deluxe’s culture and structure. Beyond managing individual locations, Soble has also been tapped to design and implement some consistency in standards and practice for Deluxe spaces. This large, complex, and dynamic company is looking to shift to a shared-services model, with a more centralized approach to real estate management. The company wants to unify the work experience for its 8,500 employees and numerous clients, in terms of workplace allocation, perks, and design. “As we build new facilities, we will be infusing a culture of efficiency and workplace standards,” Soble says. These standards are important for branding, ensuring that customers have a sense of the Deluxe design. It will also allow Soble and his team to have more purchasing power. Already, many people who are not his direct reports are looking to Soble for guidance in real estate choices. Ben Soble is a busy man. He is flying around the world, participating in meetings with global partners, and managing domestic employees. When asked about real estate management and development, it becomes clear that the work continues to fuel his passion for the field. After years of working his way up and learning to build relationships, spin on a dime, and follow through, he is bringing Deluxe a lot of enthusiasm and knowledge.



“Trust is a huge factor.” Phil Shuluk of United Rentals depends on his far-flung team to handle more than 600 projects a year across North America

by David Levine

With about 1,200,997 locations across the United States and Canada, United Rentals, Inc. is the largest equipment rental company in North America. The Stamford, Connecticut-based company’s facilities portfolio comprises about 10.8 million square feet situated on just under 3,100 acres. Designing, building, and maintaining all that space is in the hands of Phil Shuluk, director of design, construction, and facilities. But, because the company is spread so far and wide, Shuluk depends heavily on his direct reports to get all the work done on more than 600 projects a year—and that depends on trust, open communication, and respect for his team’s abilities. “We are not all under one roof, so trust is a huge factor,” Shuluk says. “I am not a micromanager by any means. Trust is critical simply because of the logistics.” He built his team with a diverse group of talents and strengths. “I like to bring on people who are brighter than me, with stronger skill sets,” he says. “Then I keep things simple. I tell everyone to hold themselves accountable and don’t ever lie to me. If you do that, everything else falls into place.” Shuluk, born and raised in Dobbs Ferry, New York, attended the University of Arizona and graduated with a business degree in 1982. After graduation, “I continued my trek west, to Southern California,” he says, where he worked at a local bank handling a bond portfolio. The bank was expanding and needed someone to manage its new development and construction group. And Shuluk, who had worked construction jobs in high school and college, was the perfect fit. “I had hands-on experience and had learned a lot of the practical trades,” he says. He took the job in 1984, and since then he has worked in that role for restaurants, health clubs, and other businesses. He joined United Rentals in 2006.


The company had a loosely organized design and construction department then and outsourced much of the work. Shuluk was hired to direct the department to handle the company’s rapid growth. (It now controls about 11 percent of market share nationally.) His department is divided into two groups. The first is concerned with the development, design, and construction of new facilities. “We handle all site due diligence, entitlement processes, planning and zoning, all the design work with architects, permitting, bidding, and the building or rebranding of structures,” Shuluk says. The other group handles facilities management and capital-improvement projects. Shuluk directs all this with a team of 14. His five construction project managers are based in northern California, Denver, Houston, North Carolina, and Detroit. “I try to visit each of my direct reports in the field two or three times a year,” he says. “That is a personal goal of mine.” He also holds a quarterly business-review meeting with the entire team and is always communicating by phone and email. This constant communication is one of his keys to success. “I am always available to my team 24-7, and they know that,” he says. “They are not shy about approaching me about anything, from continuing education to assistance on a project. My team is my strongest asset.” He

United Rentals is the largest equipment rental company in North America, with about 11 percent of the US market share.

tries to get to know all the people on his team and take an interest in their growth. “I put them in scenarios where they will succeed,” he says. “That’s my job.” As befits his hands-off management approach, Shuluk lets his project managers handle the daily chores. “They are all self-sufficient and tasked from the get-go,” he says. “They own the project, and they need to be familiar with the project from beginning to end.” There are two types of projects: self-perform and built-to-suit. In the former, United Rentals buys or leases the land and handles the entire build-out. A recent project in Orlando that created 23,000 square feet of space on 12 acres to combine two existing locations was a self-perform project. In a built-to-suit project, the company partners with an outside developer. “The developer hires the architect, does the planning and build-out, and then turns it over to us,” Shuluk says. “You need to do a bit more babysitting on those.” He developed a design and construction manual about a dozen years ago to codify precise guidelines that the developer must follow. A typical ground-up project encompasses about 10,000 square feet, he says, and the manual has blueprints and a complete set of comprehensive specifications needed to meet United Rentals’ footprint and brand guidelines. For existing buildings that are being repurposed, Shuluk works with

Courtesy of United Rentals


Equipment Company Inc.

“I love seeing a project from the design phase to handing the keys over to the operators.”

the developer to meet as many of the specifications in the manual as possible while maintaining cost control. A 9,900-square-foot facility in Clute, outside Houston, Texas, was recently built-to-suit. A current project, in Brookhaven, outside New York City, is high on Shuluk’s agenda. “It’s in a very competitive market for us,” he says of the Long Island town. “And people tend to look at the larger projects.” This one, at about 25,000 square feet on 10.5 acres, is now in the planning and zoning phase. It will open in early 2019. The company is heavily invested in sustainability as well. Shuluk is overseeing a massive lighting retrofit—“low-hanging fruit with a high return,” he says—involving $16 million in LED-efficient lighting at 685 locations. He believes in recycling and reusing materials whenever possible in both new and rehab construction. “The company has a robust sustainability initiative,” he says. “We do what we can.” Shuluk sees the company continuing to grow, and his team is ready to handle the increased workload. “We have good processes and procedures in place—not so many that they inundate staff but so that they are allowed to do their jobs,” he says. And, after 35 years in the business, it’s a job he still loves. “There is always something new,” he says. “No matter how long I have been doing this, you think you’ve heard it all but you never do.” He also enjoys overseeing the entire process from start to finish. “I love seeing a project from the design phase to handing the keys over to the operators,” he says.

Drill Construction congratulates our friend and colleague Phil Shuluk! There are challenges inherent in every construction project. No one manages them better than Phil. He is knowledgeable, efficient, practical, and passionate about every project he undertakes. He built a URI Facilities team that’s second to none. We feel fortunate to work with the team and pleased Phil has earned such well-deserved recognition.

Congratulations to our friend and partner Phil Shuluk of United Rentals, for a well-deserved recognition. We applaud you on your continued success. Rittiner Equipment stands ready for all your fuel, equipment, and lubrication needs 800-886-5586 • •

Mi-T-M is proud of our long history with United Rentals and look forward to continuing our partnership long into the future.

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Lessons in Real Estate With decades of experience developing and managing real estate, John Gioioso shares the key pieces of wisdom he’s accrued Story by Kathryn Kruse | Portraits by Webb Chappell



John Gioioso Senior Director of Corporate Building Operations & Real Estate Fresenius Medical Care North America



When asked to define what it means to work in real estate, John Gioioso, senior director of corporate building operations and real estate for Fresenius Medical Care North America (FMCNA), says, “I can give you the textbook definition: a structure that serves occupants within state and local safety codes.” He is quick to add that that definition excludes the most important element of real estate. “Everyone thinks real estate is about brick and mortar, but what is important is the people in it,” Gioioso says. In his 20-year tenure with FMCNA, Gioioso has been combining theory with practical lessons learned in order to manage the company’s North American facilities. As the global leader in high-quality care for chronic renal condition patients, FMCNA is a fully vertically integrated company that houses pharmacy, laboratory, and clinical services, product development, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution. This means lots of real estate. In managing facilities, Gioioso makes impressive things happen. Heading a 35-person team, Gioioso’s responsibilities include design development, construction, furniture and fixtures, procurement, and facilities management for around 50 buildings. He and his team conduct capitol projects along with ongoing strategic focus on FMCNA’s real estate portfolio. Doing this work well means maintaining a delicate balance, and Gioioso is trained to keep his eye on several moving elements. He creates and maintains spaces to satisfy individual workers while ensuring that the company’s image and goals drive development. In addition, projects must be completed on time and within budget. There are, it turns out, lots of people to make happy when you do real estate right. Gioioso can certainly claim to do it right. After working on the clinic design side of the company, he leveled up to corporate and manufacturing. “The clinics are more standardized,” he says. They are sped to market and people’s needs—patients and providers—don’t change much. “Corporate and manufacturing are more unique, bigger in scope, and no two are alike,” Gioioso says. In 2017, FMCNA completed a massive transition at its corporate headquarters in Waltham and Lexington, Massachusetts. The redesign added more collaborative, open spaces and led to an overall 28 percent reduction in square footage—without displacing workers. Gioioso just started a similar project at FMCNA’s corporate spaces in Nashville, slated for completion in 2019. Many would be nervous about undertaking such a project, but Gioioso is excited and confident. He has a plan and a process, one he is happy to talk about. Along with his work at FMCNA, Gioioso is an adjunct faculty member at Boston University, where he founded the school’s real estate facility certificate-management program. The following is a brief master class outline for those who can’t get on his roster.



John Gioioso’s Best Practices Understand the individual “Communication is key,” Gioioso says. He uses a 125-step project-delivery model, a scientific approach to completing real estate projects. Communication with the workers who use the space is central to the process. He begins with a project questionnaire to grasp what will make people comfortable and, in the long term, lead to growth. “We need to understand things like adjacencies needs in their space: where the lab should be—that kind of thing,” Gioioso says.

Understand collaboration “The people in the space have to understand the process,” Gioioso says. Top-down focus on individual needs is not enough. Buy-in, he insists, is crucial to long-term success and, in the end, more efficient. “If you steamroll people, you might have short-term gains, but in the end productivity will be down,” Gioioso explains.

Understand the company’s core business “You have to understand the culture of the company,” Gioioso says. Beyond that, you must keep the company’s main goals at the center of your work. “Is it medical?” Gioioso asks. “Then focus on patient care. Is it a bank? Okay, security. Academic? Learning environments and good housing.”

Understand how to be objective “You have got to take your emotions out to the situation,” Gioioso says. “Remember, in real estate, we are the stewards of the companies.” That means being an educator and guide for both the company and its employees. “Take your emotions out of the situation,” Gioioso says. “Do your due diligence, analyze data, offer options, and provide a recommendation. Then draw back and see how to help the company as a whole.”



Understand the budget “We want a safe place for our employees, and we need it at market rate,” Gioioso says. He emphasizes the importance of remembering that, for most companies, after HR, real estate is the most costly line item. So, while working on making people comfortable and productive, never remove focus from the budget.

“Everyone thinks real estate is about brick and mortar, but what is important is the people in it.”

Understand your process “Scheduling to meet user requests is critical,” Gioioso says. This means understanding the process so well you can sift it to make the work work. Gioioso has at least a 24-month lead on the completion of any project. He is looking years away at lease renewals. “Leverage is king,” he says. Without a process, a plan, and efficiency, you do not have leverage.

The take-home lesson While most structures are made of steel and frames, windows and doors, and while they are not that different from each other, a focus on the details of their purpose and design is the key to good real estate management. “I have dedicated my life to the real estate industry,” Gioioso says. And it shows in his clear, scientific vision for how to turn FMCNA’s real estate into productive space for the people in it.

Reservoir Woods Waltham, MA

Our congratulations to John Gioioso!


Reimagining a Resource Cemex’s Ed Prins transforms corporate discards into money-making opportunities


by Galen Beebe




Ed Prins makes something from nothing. He is director of real estate, planning, and strategy at Cemex, a global building-materials company, but he doesn’t use the building materials Cemex sells. Instead, he creates value from the property the company owns. Cemex has approximately 1,100 locations in the United States, including quarries, cement plants, ready mix plants, cement terminals, and aggregate terminals. Prins takes an investment manager’s approach to the real estate, and when the investment ceases to create value, he finds a way to reimagine its worth. “What is exciting to me is being able to create value from what would normally be considered a corporate discard, or from a non-core business,” Prins says. “In Cemex’s case, we make cement, we make concrete, and we make aggregate. We also make surplus real estate.” When one of Cemex’s quarries in Tucson had been mined out, Prins had to find a new use for the land, which had originally belonged to Rinker Materials, a heavy-building-materials company that Prins began working for in 2006. In July 2007, Cemex acquired Rinker, and Prins took over the real estate function for both companies. Instead of letting the mined-out quarry sit empty, he saw it as a development opportunity. Prins and his team sold off the surrounding land to a home developer and developed the quarry itself into a golf course, thereby transforming the property from a money pit into a money-making opportunity. The golf course was originally called the Pines, but Prins wanted its name to evoke its unusual past. It is one of five golf courses built from former quarries in the United States, and this fact alone draws golfers to the location. “People look for experiences,” Prins says. “They look for something that is unique, and this was an opportunity to create something like that.” The owners renamed the course Quarry Pines, which both suggests its history and is a play on Torrey Pines, a famous golf course in California. Throughout his career, Prins has often heard companies say that they “dispose” of surplus real estate. Prins avoids this term, which he says disregards the asset’s worth. “We wouldn’t dispose of our cement,” he says. “We wouldn’t dispose of our aggregate or concrete. We sell our concrete based on the cost of the goods sold, what profit we can make, and what we believe the customer is willing to pay us. So, why not look at your surplus real estate and ask those same questions?” Convincing management to reimagine the company’s scope is made easier by the impact Prins’s approach has on the bottom line. In his 11 years at Cemex, he has sold more than $260 million worth of real estate. “That’s free cash flow that goes to the corporation from things that they might not have thought about,” he says. “If we had an empty pit that we were paying carrying costs on, including property taxes and maintenance, that would be painful. As long as we’re making money, it’s not painful.”

“We sell our concrete based on the cost of the goods sold, what profit we can make, and what we believe the customer is willing to pay us. So, why not look at your surplus real estate and ask those same questions?”

With Quarry Pines, Prins developed a depleted quarry into a viable business, but in other cases, he creates and sells a vision. When a Tucson sand mine had been mined out, Prins again looked at the property’s potential rather than its history. The former sand mine is located on a major intersection at Tucson’ southern entry point, 60 miles north of the Mexican border. It’s a promising location, but selling the real estate is not as simple as putting up a for-sale sign and waiting for a buyer to appear. As with any other product, Prins markets the real estate by putting a package around it and targeting its selling points to a buyer’s needs. He likens it to the marketing done on Madison Avenue, using toothpaste as an example. “You go to your local drugstore and you say, ‘I want a toothpaste that is going to fight cavities,’ or ‘I want a toothpaste that will whiten my teeth,’” he says. “You see a box that says tooth whitening or cavity protection. That box is what catches your attention because you, as the customer, have a need, and that box solves your need.” Prins and his colleagues worked closely with one of Tucson’s city councilmen to advertise the former sand mine property in a way that would address the city’s goals and Cemex’s. The councilman wanted to see jobs and housing, so Prins and his colleagues developed a vision for the space that focused on those drivers and took it to market.


Quarry Pines golf course, a former quarry, was developed by the Cemex team. It is one of only five golf courses in the US built from former quarries.

Scott Rich

“They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, and in our case, it really is,” he says. “The picture we painted is not just of a former sand mine. We’re painting a picture of big-box retail that is oriented to the Mexican border. We’re painting a picture of light industrial that is focused on the air force base—which is across I-19 from us—and the border and the Tucson airport.” By connecting the property’s assets with the customer’s needs, Prins reframes his investment’s value and creates an asset for both Cemex and the buyer. “There’s a reason that this company bought this property to begin with or built the business to begin with: because it was valuable to them,” he says. “So, the question was, how could we make that property valuable to someone else? You don’t just put five pounds of toothpaste on a shelf and say, ‘Come find me.’ There’s got to be a hook.”

Congratulations to our friend Edmond “Ed” Prins and CEMEX USA for their well-deserved recognition as leaders in business innovation. Inventure Design is proud of the relationship between our firms. We look forward to continuing to provide you with inventive design solutions for years to come.

“Ed is the consummate corporate real estate professional with years of experience, not only on the transaction side, but with facilities, construction and architectural management and we congratulate him on all of his successes” Michael T. Fay Principal, Manging Director-Miami Jay A. Ziv, CCIM Senior Vice President

Avison Young congratulates Ed Prins of CEMEX for his many years of success!

Edmond Prins, R.A. AIA Director of Real Estate, Strategy and Planning CEMEX




The Translator of Change

The business world is in constant flux, and Lisa Rogers helps employees navigate change by adapting physical spaces for optimal collaboration and creativity at Thomson Reuters by Jenny Draper

Courtesy of Thompson Reuters





Conventional wisdom says that everyone associates success with the corner office, but Lisa Rogers is overthrowing that outdated line of thinking at Thomson Reuters. Rogers, director of workplace strategy and design for the Americas, knows how to manipulate the work environment to support business objectives at the multinational media and information company. “It requires a little bit of anthropology and forensics in the execution,” she says. “Employees may say they need more conference areas, but what if we’re seeing a lot of empty rooms?” Through this reconnaissance, Rogers is aligning the work space with the true needs of the employees and leaders. “Our approach is about providing choice,” Rogers says. “Articles come and go about trends. For example, open offices can be good or bad, but employees should have the option to select the kind of environment they need to get whatever task done.” About 98 percent of Thomson Reuters employees own a laptop, so, accordingly, Rogers designs versatile places for solo work. Choice is the answer to all the dialogue around new generations entering the workforce, according to the Rogers. “I have to be conscious of everyone,” she says. “We have to offer choices that appeal to Millennials, Gen X, Gen Z, and baby boomers by tailoring work environments.” From beanbag chairs in communal spaces to private, enclosed rooms, options must benefit all people, regardless of assumed generational preferences. Rogers adds, “What’s tough about that is, what’s the right mix?” Yet Rogers and her colleagues are learning that distinct needs occur within Thomson Reuters. “Software developers are different from call-center agents, and legal analysts are different from Reuters News teams,” she says. “There are all these little nuances. I need to understand their daily workload and demands to meet their needs and get it right.” In fact, Rogers has dedicated her career to finding those solutions. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in interior design from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the University of Tennessee, respectively. She began her career in project management overseeing real estate vendors and renovations in greater Minneapolis for consulting firms ICF GHK and RSP Architects. At the latter, she was promoted to design director and spearheaded all office designs and standards for UnitedHealth Group. She officially joined the healthcare company in 2007 as its workplace design director. There, she rose to the position of director of workplace strategy and implemented a new cross-functional mobility program and a change-management program— experiences that deepened her understanding of how physical spaces influence productivity and employee satisfaction. “It used to be a ‘If you’re not at your desk, you

Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc.


“We all spend so much time at work; it should be an awesome experience.”



must not be working’ kind of mentality,” Rogers says. “The biggest ‘Aha!’ moment was adding change management to the platform.” People often confuse change management with communication, according to Rogers. While it involves communication, change management is the broader strategy of how leadership gets employees from point A to Point B with the least amount of frustration. “I’m passionate about it because I’ve seen projects become successful by engaging employees and leaders in the process,” Rogers says. “It has just worked wonders. Rogers brought that expertise to Thomson Reuters in January 2016 and earned her Prosci change-management certification the following year. The multinational media and information firm comprises about 45,000 professionals in more than 100 countries. Its legacy spans more than 200 years, requiring a remarkable ability to evolve with the times.

A view of a collaborative space in Thomson Reuters’s Toronto Customer Center.

Improving collaboration and innovation is a key consideration at Thomson Reuters today, Rogers says, especially during consolidation. Thomson Reuters had acquired numerous small startups that often had limited resources. When one such startup moved into an existing site in Media, Pennsylvania, Rogers had electric sitto-stand workstations installed as strategic morale tool. Rogers also spearheaded the company’s transition from anecdotal feedback, using a systemized annual survey. “The feedback that we get now is fascinating because it provides additional objectivity to our leadership and gives me more credibility to address any issues,” she says. Results reveal that employees are increasingly satisfied at work, Rogers says, and she anticipates that progress will continue as they continue to address issues such as noise levels. “We’ve had to make changes,” she says. “When we didn’t quite get that noise solution right, we hired an acoustical consultant and solved the

Ben Rahn/A-Frame Inc.


Lisa Rogers Director of Workplace Strategy & Design for the Americas Thomson Reuters

problem,” she says. “We all spend so much time at work; it should be an awesome experience.” To boost employee experience, Rogers often works with technology teams. She’s added desktop videoconferencing as the company has moved away from dedicated rooms. “Most corporations are struggling with that,” she says. “Employees can go out and buy better technology than they can get at the office.” She wants to put money where there will be the most benefit to the most employees. At Thomson Reuters, that means providing better collaboration tools that work not only within the local office but internationally as well. Rogers is also responsible for the company’s global design guidelines, working with liaisons and service providers in each global region for optimal project delivery. She selected the Americas as the launchpad for change-management programs, aiming to measure the successes there before implementing it in other regions. For example, town halls introduce a project to the employees for the first time. Rogers gauges employee reactions, hears their fears, identifies concerns, and then builds a program to respond accordingly. Rogers also identifies “ programming,” which describes the process of assessing wants versus needs. After a project is completed, the site is revisited to assess any new conditions and if the new finishes perform well or not. Creating a consistent look and feel across all offices around the world poses the biggest challenge, according to Rogers. She works closely with the brand team to deliver spaces with the right look and feel, and she also works with representatives from each region to incorporate as many different cultures as is practical to the overarching design strategy. “When you arrive in London, Hong Kong, New York City, or Australia, our office needs to look and feel like a Thomson Reuters office,” she says. “It’s an ongoing effort.” Most importantly, Rogers considers all Thomson Reuters employees her constituents. “You’re going to hand over the keys and move on to the next project, but the people have to live there and get work done,” Rogers says. “Establish a way for them to tell you their needs. Even if the consensus is ‘I wish we had more room,’ or ‘I wish my locker was closer to my desk.’ You’ve got to find a way.”

Knoll is proud to partner with Lisa Rogers of Thomson Reuters to create inspirational environments.



Linda Mamet and Dorothy Rescia explain how the marketing and total rewards departments share the passion that drives both external messaging and internal culture at TRI Pointe Group

Home Is Where the Heart Is

AG Photography, Inc.


by Lior Phillips




“Home is the center of people’s lives. It’s where you have your most intimate moments. It’s where your family grows and you connect with your community. It’s the hub of everything that we do.” So says Linda Mamet, who feels the weight of those sentiments every day as vice president of corporate marketing for TRI Pointe Group. The organization builds neighborhoods with a passion for community, togetherness, and care built into their blueprints. As ambassadors of the company’s culture and passionate advocates of its mission, Mamet and director of total rewards Dorothy Rescia have a keen insight into the way TRI Pointe Group stands apart in its industry. “TRI Pointe’s dedication to company culture as well as its reputation for innovation is inspiring,” says Michael Menzia, managing director at Alliant Employee Benefits, which works with TRI Pointe. “We are proud to partner with them and honored to join their mission with a longstanding history of success, team culture, and encouraging a collaborative spirit.” The organization succeeds in part because its leadership understands that building is both art and science. Although it takes an adept scientific mind to design a building and ensure a community has all the necessary infrastructure, the artistic side is just as important when making that community feel like home. Plus, Mamet adds, even the art has to be held accountable to science; every creative idea needs to be measured for its success in terms of customer happiness. But TRI Pointe is uniquely suited to that challenge because of its organizational makeup. In 2009, Doug Bauer, Tom Mitchell, and Mike Grubbs founded TRI Pointe Homes as a revolutionary home-building company; not long after, the company merged with Weyerhauser Real Estate Company—itself composed of five distinct home-building companies in seven states—to become TRI Pointe Group. “We combine the resources and technology of a large corporate company with the local entrepreneurial nature of our regional home builders,” Mamet explains. “That’s essential because we believe that community is very local and requires an understanding of the lifestyle and people who live there.” The individual home builders then have access to resources that they wouldn’t otherwise have. TRI Pointe Group’s LivingSmart, for example, ensures that new construction considers sustainability and environmental impact, and HomeSmart ensures that new homes are built with the realities of an increasingly technological world in mind. “Today, we expect our homes to be able to operate through voice control,” Mamet says. “Having highspeed Wi-Fi in your home is as important as having your electricity and water.” To this end, TRI Pointe is looking at everything from the impact of shared-vehicle services to partnering with manufacturers and installation services for connected devices.

“From transparent information sharing to training and development opportunities, a strong internal culture will drive a strong external brand that attracts customers.”

The organization has used its focus on technology to the benefit of its employees as well. TRI Pointe’s technology platforms allow its workers to give in-depth presentations on new communities to prospective owners, deploy strategic automated email communications, and more. “We’re always innovating so that our team members can use their time more efficiently and with fewer outside resources,” Mamet says. The benefits package is designed just as efficiently, aiming to cover 90 percent of the cost per benefit. “We are an outlier in that regard,” Rescia adds. “We reward our team members, whether in their health coverage or with incentive programs for every individual.” In addition, TRI Pointe Group’s employees thrive because of the intentional, collaborative, positive environment within the organization, Rescia says. Both Mamet and Rescia were referred to the organization by people who loved their jobs at TRI Pointe—something that Rescia stresses is very common. “We’re very fortunate to source 25 percent of our new team members through referrals from our existing team, which really helps us to perpetuate our culture,” she says. And those referrals come because the employees are passionate about the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of homeowners. “One of our brand pillars is our passionate culture,” Mamet says. “From transparent information sharing to training and development opportunities, a strong internal culture will drive a strong external brand that attracts customers.” Rescia’s focus on open lines of communication when it comes to HR programs and total rewards goes a long way toward keeping team members happy as well. “Every day,



Congratulations Tri Pointe Group Alliant Employee Benefits salutes you for your continued success and outstanding leadership in homebuilding. We are honored to partner with one of the Best Places to Work in Orange County and applaud you in creating a culture of passionate and talented team members.

If your benefits aren’t built on a sound strategy, your results won’t be either. With Alliant, you can rely on talented professionals who are dedicated to solving your benefit challenges. Our benefit experts build meaningful, results-driven solutions on a canvas that begins with you — your organization’s resources, culture, and people. From high-touch employee engagement strategies to trend and volatility analysis, you’ll enjoy an artisan-like approach executed through a multi-year plan. Contact Michael Menzia at (949) 660-8111 or to see what a masterpiece might look like for you.


I work directly with employees on any questions they may have about compensation, benefits, or payroll,” she says. But even before that, TRI Pointe Group’s robust onboarding and performance processes ensure that the top talent feels comfortable and confident to succeed and grow, whether through further training or additional education opportunities through a tuition-reimbursement program. TRI Pointe Group organizes cross-functional summits to increase collaboration and share skills, whether in design, construction, marketing, or customer care. The organization also looks to first-in-class examples from outside the industry—such as REI, Tesla, and Google—for best practices to emulate. “In these think tanks, we’re developing leadership skills and encouraging innovation,” Mamet says. “We aim to hone their ability to manage change and their ability to be accountable for results.” The importance of that program—as well as enforcing proper work-life balance and driving volunteer work in the community—came from feedback from employees. Although it operates on a large scale, TRI Pointe Group prides itself on its ability to nimbly adapt to the needs of

Employees of TRI Pointe Group’s Southern California division celebrate after winning the company’s annual softball tournament.

its employees. “We really take the time to survey their thoughts and feelings about the workplace, and then we actually deliver improvements through that feedback,” Rescia says. That feedback and open communication, in fact, goes all the way to the top of the organization. “Our founders, Doug, Tom, and Mike, are very accessible and encourage open communication at all levels of the company, whether we’re joining our company-wide quarterly results call or gathering around the kitchen for a snack,” Mamet says. “Those little things help drive us to build a community even within our offices.” All of that art and science of building culture and sharing the brand has led to a combined voluntary and involuntary turnover rate of approximately 14 percent—a startlingly low number in the industry. “We hire slowly to ensure we have the right people, and then we build a healthy, strong organizational culture,” Mamet says. And beyond building a culture, that ensures that TRI Pointe Group continues building dream communities for homeowners across the United States.

Courtesy of TRI Pointe Group


Hitting the Reset Button



How Marine veteran Tollin Toler successfully transitioned from the military into facilities management for LG Electronics

by Jeff Link



When Tollin Toler woke up in the rear cab of a high-backed Humvee somewhere between Fallujah and Baghdad, he couldn’t hear anything distinctly. Sound was coming back in bits and pieces. A fit of chatter broadcasting from the radio. Something about a black sedan and the triggerman. For a few moments, he was blind. Then, as the fog lifted from his eyes, he could make out indistinct shapes and a wash of sunlight. His buddy, Dan Wilson, another Marine in the security convoy of the 1st Marines Regiment, was yelling his name: “Tollin! Tollin! Tollin!” Seconds later, he jumped out of the truck and dropped to the ground. Blood was running down his forehead. The last thing he could remember was the blackness of the carbide smoke, a flash of light. They’d been hit by an IED. Now he was after the triggerman, an Al Qaeda operative. A unit of combat replacements had come to meet him, and as Toler recalls it more than a decade later, “What in the world must they have been thinking? I can just imagine their terror. They’d been in country one week, and they see this guy coming up to them with blood pouring down his face, nothing on his mind but getting the triggerman.”


It was the spring of 2004, and the United States Marines, he says, were in a bloody guerilla-style street fight to reclaim the city of Fallujah, which, at the time, was largely under Al Qaeda’s control. Operating as a sort of highly coordinated street gang, Al Qaeda was raiding homes and killing the families inside, using the residences to set up makeshift IED factories. They had established an underground network of tunnels in the city. Bodies were being burned and hung from bridges. Blackwater contractors were being rounded up and executed. Toler wasn’t terribly shaken by any of this, at least not at the time. As part of his training, fear had been purged from his mental map. Or, as he puts it: “I guess I just said, ‘Screw it. I’m going to go out fighting.’ Or, ‘I’m going to try not to go out. I’m going to fight harder. I’m going to kill a man before he kills me.’”

Lance Cpl. Joshua Murray

Born into It Toler is careful not to glorify his role; he wasn’t a foot soldier “kicking down doors.” Rather, he was part of a security convoy that escorted generals, joint chiefs of staff, actors, and other “high-value targets” to and from US bases. The unit also captured enemy prisoners of war—many featured in a deck of 55 playing cards depicting the most wanted members of Saddam Hussein’s government—and transported wounded soldiers and KIAs across hostile territory. They got “blown up several times,” mostly minor dustups from IEDs and mortar rounds that didn’t require medical treatment. In many ways, he was doing what he had always wanted to do. “I’ve always been drawn to excitement, adventure, the outdoors,” he says. “I love guns, anything that explodes, violent movies. I grew up loving that stuff, so it was kind of a natural fit. I was born into it.” But, he knew, at some point, it had to end. After finishing his first deployment in 2005, he spent two years in the Marine Forces Reserves and studied engineering at Parkland College, where met his eventual wife. He was recalled in 2007, when she was eight months pregnant, and returned to Iraq, serving as a rifleman for another four years. In 2013, toward the end of this time, his commanding officer flagged him as possibly having post-traumatic stress disorder. Following two days of cognitive testing led by a top neuroscientist, Tollin was issued a diagnosis and recommended for medical retirement.

The Business Savvy of a Marine Recruiter The PTSD diagnosis did not hinder his professional ambitions. As a Marine Corps recruiter, he sharpened his


sales skills, applying a technique called “consultative selling” to persuade interested young people to sign on. The approach, Toler says, queries a prospect’s core motivations and then offers a direct path to fulfilling those desires (i.e., “You want to join the Marines because life is tough. Why? You never had any money? If you don’t want to struggle with money, let me show you how the Marine Corps is going to get you to financial independence.”). Additionally, he earned a BA in aviation science and business from Eastern New Mexico University, with tuition assistance from the military, and he developed other skills, too: public speaking, formatting a proper email, analyzing data to cut costs—“things you don’t learn as a Marine infantryman but that are very important for any employee in any company,” he says.

Moving Up the Ladder

By the time he was hired as a regional manager at LG Electronics’ service headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama, in 2013, Toler was an adept negotiator who could manage technicians effectively and keep clients happy. The company recognized this, and his role evolved quickly. Soon he was supervising 30 employees and managing teams in 10 cities across the southeastern United States and as far west as Phoenix. At the same time, from 2015 to 2017, he earned his MBA, with an emphasis on finance, from Southern New Hampshire University. The degree was paid for by the US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program. Later, when a facilities manager position became available in the fall of 2017, he landed an interview and talked his way into the job. “I had never been a facilities manager, but I had the same skill set,” he says. “It goes back to my recruiting days. I figured out what they wanted and gave them that. I told them I had never fixed an HVAC unit, but I know how an HVAC unit works. I can follow a process, and if it’s not an easy fix, I can get somebody out there who will fix it.” He says he is proud of what he has accomplished in the new role. The Huntsville campus includes four large warehouses, corporate office suites, a data center, and a training institute. Toler is charged with keeping it all running smoothly. He manages new construction, employee cell phone plans, building security, janitorial services, lawn care, and the list goes on—from removing dying trees to repairing desk locks.

After a PTSD diagnosis, Tollin Toler earned a bachelor’s degree in aviation science and business and moved quickly through the ranks at LG Electronics.

Before the close of fiscal year 2017, he had cleared out a lengthy project checklist that included adding a new breakroom and resealing the parking lot. His greatest achievement, though, has been his spearheading of a massive LED lighting upgrade, which he estimates will annually save the company $8,000 in utility fees.

Returning to Civilian Life








But, in spite of his workplace success, the transition to civilian life has not always been easy. He takes medication for PTSD. He wrestles with the psychological repercussions of a Marine mind-set characterized by a self-flagellating fear of failure. While at work, he doesn’t talk much about his service. He’s unusually modest. Many of his coworkers are not aware he has a Purple Heart. And, though legislation enacted under the Obama Administration has made it easier to receive retirement and disability payment through the Department of Veterans Affairs, the money is not enough to live on, at least not the way Toler wants: taking regular vacations, raising kids, etc. Most of all, it’s hard to give up the mantle of being an active-duty Marine. “When you’re in the military, people want to buy you meals, shake your hand, wave to you in public,” Toler says. “Everybody celebrates you and what you do. When you take the uniform off, you’re just another civilian. You went from being on top to being on bottom; that’s a really tough spot to be. But, like anything else, you just have to hit the reset button.” The support he’s received from coworkers at LG Electronics has helped eased that difficult adjustment. So, too, has his growing commitment to his family. On deployment in Iraq when his first daughter was born, he didn’t meet her until she was six months old. Now, she and his second daughter, ages nine and six respectively, are at the center of his life. “Having kids shifted my focus; they become my number one priority,” he says. “I was driven to be a war fighter, but that was selfish of me, to be gone for a year at time on security contracts. And with the medical stuff, it’s not in the cards. Any time my daughters see war stuff, though, they say, ‘Daddy is that what you used to do?’ I say, ‘Yep, that’s what I used to do.’ They rub it in. But my youngest thinks it’s awesome I’m a builder. She calls me ‘the builder.’ It makes me happy knowing I’m doing something right.”

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Data Centers Built by Partnerships and Teamwork Technology infrastructure might seem impersonal, but to build it still requires people. Dell EMC’s Scott Krall engages his project team with some very human considerations to get the job done. by Russ Klettke

Robert Benson


The design, construction, and ultimate functionality of a 450,000-square-foot warehouse that was converted into a Tier 3 data center and Tier 1 engineering research and development center ranks in the top tier of modern technological achievements. Without those whirring servers, fiber-optic cables, and networking equipment—collecting, processing, and sharing information—our lives could be thrown back to analog days. But the key strategy with which Scott Krall and his team built the Durham Data Center and R&D Lab in Durham, North Carolina, had little to do with silicon chips and coaxial cables. The key to converting the existing warehouse building into a world-class facility that supports one of Dell EMC’s enterprise data centers and engineering labs in less than twelve months had more to do with human beings who worked together to achieve a common goal, who understood each other’s constraints and concerns, and who listened to the advice and input from all stakeholders involved on the project. The team completed the project at 15 percent below the original budgeted value and earned a LEED Gold certification for commercial interiors as well. About two months into the design phase—and a month before construction began—Krall called together the team to define how they would work together by developing process approaches and commonly held project-performance objectives that would promote high performance. “We had about 40 people in the room,” Krall, the director of construction services for Dell EMC, says. “The group included internal stakeholders, architects, engineers, general contractor DPR Construction, and key subcontractors. We wanted people to meet face to face, which is more productive than virtual meetings.” Krall knows well the benefits of such meetings and how they impact building design. “Engineers have the design vision, but the contractors have the means and methods for delivering the most cost-effective, streamlined approach to accomplish the end result,” he says. For example, with the Durham data center, the original plan was to incorporate the chiller plant within the building. Having the mechanical subcontractor involved early, they proposed fabricating a modular structure, manufactured off-site, to house those functions. “That helped free up valuable space within the building,” Krall says. “It also helped with the schedule, and because the structure was built off-site, there was less waste.” This process of engaging the construction team early on with the design team stems from a similar experience Krall had in 1998. While working on an EMC project, the team was tasked with building a 650,000-square-foot manufacturing facility on a 13-month design and construction schedule, which meant a project team had to work under what Krall describes as a fast-track construction approach.

The Dell EMC data center in Durham, NC, was completed at 15 percent below its original budgeted value.


“One of the biggest challenges on fast-track projects is subcontractor coordination,” he says. A 3-D model-based process gives architecture, engineering, and construction professionals an improved, easy-to-understand way to efficiently plan, design, and construct buildings “With 3-D modeling, the team can sit around the table to virtually plan the means and methods on the constructability of the project,” Krall says. “It makes people accountable to each other, and it reduces change orders that might be due to conflicts encountered during construction.” Overall, Krall’s process solidifies a sense of ownership. But, to underscore the human element in the mix of so much advanced technology, his project team members took a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator questionnaire at the beginning of the project. The MBTI is a respected tool based on Jungian theory that provides reference points for 16 personality types. Knowing one’s own type and that of others on a working team helps foster better working relationships, Krall says. “Scott makes the process enjoyable,” says Greg Haldeman, a DPR Management committee member. “DPR knows that together we will build great things.” That kind of grounding factored into what Krall refers to as the formal partnering session, a single-day event at the outset of the project. Led by a facilitator, each participant was asked to list what was important to him or her in the project. This helped develop common goals, communication protocols, project processes, roles, and



responsibilities. “We established key milestones for the budget, schedule, and quality standards that were tracked throughout the project,” Krall says, detailing how the construction team was able to shorten lead times on purchasing equipment using a prepurchasing process. Krall says that safety was another important goal established in the partnering session and that attention to accident prevention has other beneficial effects. “Safety means implementing comprehensive safety programs,” he says. “Having zero lost work days, all workers had ownership, ensuring that a safe work environment was maintained. And, having a clean work site led to enhanced productivity and better quality of the end product.” That cleanliness mattered to the Durham project simply because it is a critical systems environment. Data centers and R&D labs not only need to house massive power demands and high heat loads; they must also adhere to strict maintenance protocols. The facility was renovated in two phases. The first phase encompassed




building a structure within the existing building to support the mechanical and electrical systems for the data center and lab space. For the second phase, the team took what it learned from the first phase and removed all the internal structural elements and the roof, leaving only the perimeter walls. Then, it replaced the elements with a new internal structural system and roof, which allowed for more mechanical equipment on the roof. This approach yielded a substantial savings compared to the first phase. In 2015, Dell Inc. acquired EMC in one of the largest deals ($67 billion) in tech history, according to The company now relies more on outside providers, which changes the process a bit. What remains the same, though, is the quality of the product delivery, according to Krall. “Our internal customers expect a high level of quality and service to perform their work,” he says. That still comes from a highly sophisticated infrastructure, meticulously constructed and maintained, in structures—built by people.

Scott Krall Director of Construction Services Dell EMC






TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE BUILT-TO-SUIT The Connectivity Group is a “technology general contractor” in the business of designing, building, and maintaining end-to-end solutions for I.T. infrastructure, audio/visual systems, and security equipment. We want to be your One Point of contact. Contact us today for a free consultation on your next project. 866-782-0200



Congratulations to our incredible client, Scott Krall!

For more than ten years, DPR has had the privilege of working with Scott and Dell EMC. Scott has always been committed to changing the way design and construction services are delivered. He believes in collaboration, consistency and quality, providing the best possible project to his end user. “Scott makes the process enjoyable,” says Greg Haldeman, DPR Management Committee Member. “DPR knows that together we will Build Great Things.” Congratulations Scott on this well-deserved recognition. ABOUT DPR CONSTRUCTION DPR Construction (DPR) is a forward-thinking national general contractor and construction manager specializing in technically complex and sustainable projects for the healthcare, advanced technology, life sciences, higher education and commercial markets.




“When you stop learning, you stop growing.” Dan Wisk has worked for nearly a dozen companies in his 30 years in construction and facilities. Now, he’s using his process-focused approach to build a future at In-Shape.

by Galen Beebe

Daniel Blue




Dan Wisk’s passion for construction began when he was a child. He often helped his father, an engineer at General Motors, with building projects, including a garage for the family home. “My dad would think things through very carefully, and he would draw out multiple options. I would sit with him, and he would explain to me how he arrived at his end solution,” Wisk says. “I got a lot of that analytical approach from my dad.” Much like his father, Wisk is drawn to developing the most-efficient, most-effective solutions. In his 30-year career, he has worked in wide array of industries, but his goal has remained the same: to improve the performance of his organization and the skills of his colleagues. “The fundamentals of construction are applied consistently across all the different formats and industries,” Wisk says. “If you have an open mind, you’ll find that those skills that you acquire and the challenges that you overcome will be applicable to new challenges that you’ll find.” Now, Wisk is applying his experience to his role as senior vice president of construction and facilities at InShape Health Clubs, a California-based health club network with more than 70 clubs throughout the state. Soon after joining In-Shape in 2017, Wisk completed a technical review of the club’s prototypical building with the internal construction team and a team of design professionals. In a six-hour meeting, they considered every mechanical, structural, and material element. “We challenged the design professionals and consultants at every single level—not because we didn’t think they had arrived at the right decision but because I wanted to understand the logic behind the decisions,” Wisk says. In 2018, his team planned to complete a similar operational review, examining the size allocations for spaces within the building, from group fitness studios to weight lifting rooms. One of Wisk’s goals for these reviews is to create a consistent design across the network. “We’re going to exercise a lot more discipline and rigor around that process,” he says. “The goal is always to deliver the optimal experience for our members.” This continuous review outlook proved beneficial in Wisk’s previous roles. When he joined Kohl’s Department Stores, the process of opening a location—from identifying the site to opening the doors—took 18 months to complete. By reevaluating and reengineering the process, Wisk and his team shortened the process to just under 12 months. “Six additional open months for a retailer is huge,” he says. “Increasing the efficiency, making us smarter about how we did things—that was a huge achievement, in my mind.” When Kohl’s acquired 38 stores from a competitor, the company’s CEO challenged Wisk’s team to open the new locations within six months. They worked collaboratively with architects, contractors, and building officials, and because of these strong partnerships, they opened the new locations on schedule. Reviewing the technical and operational systems will help In-Shape stay to competitive, but not all external partners were excited about this process at the beginning. To win their partnership, Wisk was transparent about his goals and objectives. He focused on building

Dan Wisk SVP of Construction & Facilities In-Shape Health Clubs

“Every single opportunity that you encounter in your career is an opportunity to learn. When you stop learning, you stop growing.”

Albert Benichou




The In-Shape facility in Napa, CA, is one of more than 70 health clubs the company owns and Dan Wisk oversees across the state.

for the future and developing productive relationships and emphasized collaboration as the key to finding the best solutions. “In most of the companies that I’ve been at, once we get that rapport and we build that relationship over a number of months, people are more comfortable and open to bringing new ideas to the table,” he says. Wisk applies the continuous-improvement approach to his team as well as to his projects, building the skills of those he works with to make their collaborations more productive. He invites coordinators to attend staff meetings with principals and executives to give them exposure to, comfort with, and a better understanding of how the organization works and how they can add value to it. “If people function in silos and only see the work they are asked to do every single day, then they don’t have a great understanding of how their work impacts other people in the organization,” Wisk says. By creating an inclusive environment and cross-functional understanding, Wisk empowers team members to consider how they can improve the process. Wisk also meets individually with his team members to determine how he can help them improve their performance by maximizing the work that engages them and reevaluating the work that doesn’t. “At the end of the day, this is really about making a positive impact on the bottom line—both the company’s bottom line and the team members’ bottom line,” he says. “If they’re feeling more engaged and more satisfied, they’re going to perform better.” Most of all, Wisk continues to find new opportunities for himself, his team, and In-Shape. “Every single opportunity that you encounter in your career is an opportunity to learn,” he says. “When you stop learning, you stop growing.”

Better Built. Better Equipment.

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points of interest Some of the quirkier takeaways from this issue


A Positive Percentage

The ratio of women to men in a business is often unfortunately and unfairly tipped heavily toward the latter, but not at Ulta Beauty. Of the company’s 35,000 associates, approximately 92 percent are women. “At Ulta Beauty, we work every day to help women build fulfilling, longterm careers doing what they love,” said CEO Mary Dillon in a press release. (P.82)

2,100 pounds

Shedd Aquarium contains approximately 32,000 animals in total, including mammals, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates. The biggest is a beluga whale, Aurek, who weighs in at 2,100 pounds. That’s just over a full ton. Visitors can pick him out by the gray smudge that runs over his head. (P.54)

Keith Allison

Batter Up One of the hottest players on the Yankees’ current roster is 26-year-old Aaron Judge. A power hitter, Judge knocked 52 home runs in his rookie season in 2017, beating Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 49. He also beat the record for most walks in a rookie season, with 127. (P.68)

That’s One Big Beluga


Oleg Krugliak/ (Top) Pamela Au/ (Bottom)

Born of Frustration If not for a $40 fee CEO Reed Hastings incurred from a video store in 1997 for returning a VHS copy of Apollo 13 in an untimely fashion, Netflix might never have been. Shortly after, on his way to the gym, he realized it “had a much better business model. You could pay $30 or $40 a month and work out as little or as much as you wanted.” He applied the same model to movie rentals. (P.94)

Staying Power

Life, Liberty, and Rush Rush University Medical Center began as Rush Medical College way back in 1837. Its founder, Daniel Brainard, named the school after Benjamin Rush, who was the only doctor to sign the Declaration of Independence. (P.15)

Neiman Marcus’s original store opened in Dallas on September 10, 1907 and expanded out from there. Today, it is one of the few department-store brands that still survives with its original name and its headquarters in its founding city. (P.118)



Stephen Dabbs poses for Gillian Fry on one of the higher floors of the soon-to-becompleted Hard Rock Hotel & Casino-Hollywood building. Fry photographed him from across the way, while standing on the roof of a parking structure.

Gillian Fry