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T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R C A P TA I N S O F I N D U S T RY

CONSTRUCTION LEADERS TODAY

www.constructionleaderstoday.com

GOING GLOBAL

RW Armstrong 3

In the past five years, President Roland Salman has transformed the Indianapolis-based firm of RWA Architects into an international firm with over 600 employees.


T H E M A G A Z I N E F O R C A P TA I N S O F I N D U S T RY

CONSTRUCTION LEADERS TODAY

Editor-in-Chief Todd Weaver Editor Diana Doyle Executive Editor Jonathan Mack Assistant Editor Joseph Orange Creative Director Emily Detoro Art Director Stephanie Hess Director of Advertising Julian Vu Production Coordinator Jason Rone Assistant Production Coordinator Elizabeth Macks Photography Editor Ian Palmer Video Director Susan Maybach Editorial Director Kate Darling Editorial Production Rachel Goldberg Copy Editor William Finch Assistant Copy Editor Amy Roberts Correspondents Brandon McBride (W), Aaron McGaskey (SW), Juan Orellana (NE), Steve Peters (Nation), Mike Rodgers (Nation), Juan Stewart (SE) Vendor Relations Director Diana Stephens Vendor Relations Eric Miller, Dov Teta Advertising Sales Coordinator Patricia O’Brien Advertising Sales Director Peter Jostens Advertising Sales Moe Kazemi, David Levi, Tom Nichols Publisher Steve Reed OZ WORLD MEDIA, LLC 1330 NEW HAMPSHIRE AVENUE SUITE B1 Construction Leaders Today is a quarterly B2B trade journal that services the construction industry in architecture, custom build, geothermal, green building, specialty architecture, posttentioning, and new technology sectors. CLT has a readership of 100,000 C-Level executives within the energy industry. We do not accept subscription requests from the general public, however an abbreviated version is available on our web site.


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GLOBALLY FOCUSED by Rachel Goldberg

STARTING AS A SMALL INDIANAPOLIS FIRM, RW ARMSTRONG HAS EXPANDED THEIR SCOPE AND BRANCHED OUT WITH UNPARALLELED GROWTH IN THE PAST EIGHT YEARS NOW TACKLING PROJECTS AROUND THE WORLD.

2 Under the leadership of Roland Salman, RW Armstrong has seen unprecedented global growth in the past eight years. When Salman joined the firm in 1988 as a young engineer, the company was an Indianapolis firm of about 35 employees which focused mostly on local infrastructure projects. He became president of the company in late 2001, and since then, the company has grown to 600 employees in 19 offices across the U.S. and around the world, providing construction management, development and finance, design, planning, and program management services. Salman’s own background served him well in guiding the company’s growth. Born and raised in Jerusalem with a travel agent father, he has always had a global outlook. International work seemed impossible at first within the limitations of the small Midwestern company. But Salman, the company’s first leader from outside the founding families, brought a fresh perspective that matched the company’s innovative culture. “We are very strategic in our growth but also we maintain an 4 Construction Leaders Today

3 entrepreneurial approach,” he said. “We’re always open to new ideas, whether design or strategies or new ventures, and that’s how we grew.” RW Armstrong’s rapid organic growth is highly unusual in the industry, and is thanks to a diverse client and service base, including strategic domestic initiatives and RW Armstrong’s proactive approach to international markets. Though the company had never worked internationally before, they adapted quickly to take on more building projects overseas. “Because we have a deep bench within our management group, I can basically got on a plane and spend time there establishing a network and relationships,” Salman said. “We did our first international project in Abu Dhabi in 2005, and that was the first project that jump-started the international market.” Once they had established a presence in the Middle East, it became easier to get new opportunities in Egypt and Libya. Now they are continuing to expand in the Middle East as well as Asia and South America. Though building internationally can be


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very different from in the U.S., but Salman is up to the challenge. “Even though I grew up in the Middle East, having worked most of my adult life in the US, there were a few shocking things about working there and things that I had to get adjusted to,” he said. Building personal relationships is paramount in successfully establishing overseas markets, so he spends a great deal of time traveling to his foreign offices and communicating with clients and officials there. Salman has also become accustomed to navigating distinct political and economic structures. RW Armstrong is currently working as Project manager on the presidential palace in Abu Dhabi, a landmark 1.6 million sq. ft. facility that houses the offices of the president, crown prince and ministers. They are the project managers for the entire project, overseeing design and construction. Their flexibility to manage projects of various scales also enables them to enter new markets in developing countries. “There are some challenges there, but if you’re able to navigate

IMEDCO has been involved with RW Armstrong on a number of projects during the past 24 months, all involving Veteran Administration Hospitals that were located in Des Moines, Minneapolis, Sioux Falls and Ft. Rucker, Ala. These projects required placement of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) equipment into special environments. IMEDCO provided the special Radio-frequency, Magnetic and Acoustic shielding that was engineered for each location.

the bureaucracies and the culture, I think you’ll be rewarded later, because you’re on the ground floor and there’s not a lot of competition for a lot of work,” Salman said. RW Armstrong is involved in some high-profile public projects back in the United States as well. One of their most significant is the Design Build of the 64,000 sq. ft. presidential helicopter hangar in Quantico, Va. The LEED-silver facility includes space for the presidential helicopter, administrative offices, medical facilities and storage. Most of the company’s domestic work has been in the public sector, which has helped them continue to grow despite the economic downturn. Their geographic and disciplinary diversification has also been an effective strategy for continued success. Though the company has grown, Salman says their fundamental values have not changed since they began. “Every company has a personality,” Salman said. “And I think a big part of our success is how we treat employees and clients. Everything is based on personal communication and trust.” CLT Summer 2010 5


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1-2. 65,000 sq. ft. Westwind C130 and helicopter two-bay Maintenance Hangar. Photo courtesy of RW Armstrong. 3. 44,400 sq. ft. two-story administration and research building at the Littoral Warfare Systems Facility. Naval Air Station, Jacksonville, Fla. Photo courtesy of RW Armstrong. 4. The new headquarters of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates. Photo courtesy of RW Armstrong. 5. Edwin Moses bridge replacement. Dayton, Ohio. Photo courtesy of RW Armstrong. 6. Presidential Palace Project, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Photo courtesy of RW Armstrong.

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In the past five years, President Roland Salman has transformed the Indianapolis-based firm of RWA Architects into an international firm wit...