BizTucson Fall 2023 BFL Construction

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Carondelet St. Joseph’s Neurological Institute and Women’s Pavilion El Rio Health Congress Center

Built to Last

BFL Construction Honors 50 Years, Solid Growth

Over the course of five decades, BFL Construction has evolved from custom home builder, to tenant improvement expert, to builder of recognizable Tucson establishments in multi-family living, health care, industry and education.

Its corporate office was once a 6-by-7foot, $42-a-month space on the sixth floor of a Tucson office building. Today, BFL’s classy, technologically equipped, two-story office on Broadway and its new office in Phoenix form a first-rate place for smart people to “go learn what we don’t know.”

That’s the challenge new BFL President David Eves puts in front of his management team.

“Every industry changes every day,” Eves said on a recent Monday morning in his Tucson office. “There’s always a new nugget to pick up.” The effects of technology alone on the construction business are exponential.

So, he asks: “What are the critical flaws in the thinking? One has to be willing to test their own assumptions. We have to stay out in front of it.”

Eves is one year into BFL leadership, building on its foundation of excellence, integrity and strong relationships while navigating a hyper-competitive, dynamic construction industry. He must serve different constituencies – customers, owners and employees. While it’s a lot to manage, he sees limitless opportunity.

“Fifty years is a huge accomplishment.

We have a legacy to continue. Mr. (Garry) Brav left the company in a really good position. We’re positioned to do well,” Eves said, referencing BFL’s founding partner.

Big likes big

Eves said BFL Construction’s 2018 acquisition by the Canadian firm JV Driver Group helps propel the company into the future because it provides expanded resources and bonding capacity. Those abilities would have taken years to achieve.

“A lot of these Tucson companies, and there’s some really good ones, we’ve all struggled to build our bonding capacity,” Eves said. “If you’re companies bonding capacity is maxed, it can reduce your opportunities, particularly in the public sector.”

JV Driver affords BFL $1 billion in bonding capacity, Eves said. “That really can open up doors that were tough to push through in the past. They like to say, ‘big likes big.’”

Conversations about projects may not start with a contractor’s qualifications, but rather its financial ability. “Then, discuss whether you’re qualified to actually build it,” he said.

“Having the resources, with the right talent, the right people, the right team, and timing with bonding capacity, there’s a whole art to balancing all that,” Eves said. It requires “being selective on what you are going to go chase. Not all jobs are continued on page 151 >>>

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Roche Tissue Diagnostics
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El Rio

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created equal, not all clients are created equal.”

Where BFL wants to go

BFL started into multi-family construction in 2003 with the successful and very profitable Finisterra project in Tucson. Multi-family has “grown to a large piece of our portfolio,” Eves said, and continues with current Tucson projects such as the 392-unit Solstice project near Topgolf, the Avilla singlestory apartment communities, and a project for Bourn Companies in The Bridges.

That’s great work. And “the sky’s the limit for the foreseeable future,” Eves added.

But it’s imperative for BFL to diversify its portfolio. Eves wants to make a larger push into medical construction. “We had the medical community’s lion’s share of that market segmentation in the ‘80s and ‘90s. It’s in our core DNA of what BFL is.”

Further opportunities exist in the full array of market segments – defense, mining, retail, healthcare, industrial, educational, institutional and nonprofit customers. BFL is certainly capable of creating the “clean room” work needed by high technology, Eves said.

“There’s not really one lane,” he continued. “I challenge the executive team, if we’re migrating into one lane and staying in that lane, then are we just being lazy and not executing and pushing and stretching ourselves back into other segmentation?

“We cannot get comfortable in just one market segmentation,” Eves said. “The market will shift, and that’s not good if one is not predicting the predictable.

“We have a lot of families to take care of,” Eves said. “It’s a big responsibility. You don’t want to let your team down and not have a backlog of opportunities.”

Developing new business

To expand its reach, BFL has a new business development team working in both the Tucson and Phoenix markets. It’s an actual de-

partment, led by VP Alex Ortega, charged with the pursuit of new business.

He likens it to having a new race car in the garage. “Let’s go take it for a test lap,” and “test assumptions, recalibrate and relaunch. Wash, rinse and repeat. The pursuit of perfection. They’re going to be chasing all kinds of work.”

BFL is definitely encouraged by parent company JV Driver to grow beyond Arizona. “There’s an art in parachuting into other municipalities in other parts of the country,” Eves said. “There’s a way you do that organically, from hiring within. I’ve seen it more successful from the bottom up, grassroots, from hiring within that community, and that takes time.”

Finding talent

BFL now has 100 employees, half in Tucson, half in Phoenix. That workforce has doubled in the past 30 months. Those people work in the office as project administrators, engineers, coordinators and managers, and in the field as directors of operations and superintendents.

The need for talent is great, and the competition intense. Right now, in Maricopa County, there are more than 800 open project manager positions within Southern Arizona industries.

“Finding the talent and retaining the talent” is essential for BFL, Eves said. He believes the company has much to offer, in terms of culture, compensation, benefits, opportunities to advance, robust training, a commitment to the well-being of its team ... and history. “Being in business 50 years gives some stability,” he said.

The company also has a good recruiting team. “Human resources is almost full-time in recruitment mode.”

Eves sees a generational gap within the construction industry, noting too few people ages 35 to 55.

“As an industry, it’s almost like we are a teaching institution now, because of the generational gap,” he said. Over the last half-century,

Pima Air & Space Museum
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Jewish Philanthropies of Southern Arizona at the Harvey and Deanna Evenchik Center for Jewish Philanthropy

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most parents want their children to get an MBA, and not attend a trade school. So, as BFL recruits new employees, “we have to be willing to have a heavy mentoring culture, a teaching institution mentality,” Eves said.

Half of BFL’s employees are on job sites. “There is no working from home,” he said. For the other half, Eves believes, “there’s so much collaborative, ‘in the moment,’ real-time problemsolving” when people are together, in an office. “I’m a fan of having folks in person, but in the same breath, I don’t manage in absolutes or ultimatums. I’m open to when folks need to work from home, as related to the cadence within the employee’s family needs.”


Look around Eves’ office, and you’ll see two metal signs with one word –“Vigilance.” It relates to a paramount value – safety.

BFL Construction uses the “active vigilance” application as part of its safety program. An app, on the phone of

every BFL superintendent, gives daily reminders for their constant attentiveness. At least once a day, superintendents are catching something in the moment of a safety concern.

But it’s not about constant harping on a negative. “We want to point out the good behavior, and celebrate the good behavior as well,” Eves said.

Safety is important as well to JV Driver and its chairman, Bill Elkington. “For him, the way he measures companies, he asks ‘What does your safety look like? What’s your culture?’” Eves said.

The BFL culture

“We’re here to take care of the people,” Eves said, and he is committed to a culture that does so while having fun along the way.

“By extension, we’re one big family,” he said. “We rise in one another’s successes and we get pulled down on each other’s failures. I tell the team, ‘Don’t look for pats on the back outside of these walls, we pat each other on the back in here.’”

BFL has a “think different/build better” program, challenging people to think of different ways to approach things. Team building is critical. That care extends to subcontractors, too.

“As a general contractor, we live and die by our subcontractors, aka Trade Partners,” Eves said. “We want to always be sure we’re maintaining good relationships with our Trade Partners who are performing well, and we’re always looking for new relationships.

“The volume of work is so large,” he said. “We have to be careful not to overload one relationship with too much work.”

The future

As the company’s leader, Eves must think both short- and long-term. In the next two years, BFL must make “a focused push on market segmentation, and diversification,” he said. “That would be the minimum.”

“As a leader of an organization, you have to be thinking beyond 24 months,” while still making sure “everyone’s eating the vegetables on their plate today.”

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David Eves

BFL Construction’s New Leader

David Eves has been in the development, commercial, industrial, residential, multifamily, medical and educational construction industries for 34 years. His experience covers a wide range of public and private projects performed across the United States.

His horizontal and vertical construction ventures to date exceed $2 billion.

Eves’ career has included positions as site superintendent, general superintendent, project manager, senior estimator, vice president, president, and senior executive management – adding value to many small and large firms over the years.

Most recently, he spent 14 years as director of construction for the Rancho Sahuarita Management Company, managing the development of more than 11,000 residential units and 300 acres for town center, commercial and industrial uses. He also served as president and qualifying party for (KB-1) ROC General Contracting licenses of the Rancho Sahuarita Construction Co., a sister commercial construction firm.

He’s also managed the homeowners association, attempting to meet the expectations of 18,000 residents. Such work requires “a different skill set than running a job site or a construction company,” Eves said. “I learned a lot.”

“Not every problem was a nail, and it didn’t need a hammer,” he said. It taught him “a different way of approaching and managing. It broadened my gaze on different ways to manage and lead.”

That broader gaze helps Eves in his new role as president of BFL Construction,

where he’s working every day to build upon BFL’s 50-year foundation of excellence in a dynamic, challenging industry fraught with challenges. It’s a huge responsibility, he acknowledges. But he’s putting his experience, and his desire “to learn something new every day,” to BFL’s benefit.

“The stakes are high, and people are entrusting you, your company, your people with millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars that are invested to deliver on something, everything from safety, to timing, to managing the budgets, managing clients’ expectations, managing relationships with the trade partners, and municipalities,” he said.

It’s a heavy lift for this father of five, who can’t identify what he does for fun. “That’s a good question,” he said. “Not enough. Check the box; needs improvement in that department. I enjoy what we do here at BFL, balancing the home life to the career is important.”

Eves always seeks improvement, and relishes a challenge.

He grew up near Louisville, Ky., and came to Tucson in 1981, when about 385,000 people called the region home.

“In the late ‘80s, early ‘90s, Pima County ... was a tough place for a young person to start out and to make a living, particularly within the construction industry,” Eves said. “As an aspiring young superintendent, I wanted to go build larger projects.”

That desire took him to Seattle, Austin, Tennessee, Kentucky and Indiana, building

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large commercial and publicly funded projects. He enjoyed the instant gratification in a project well done, but finds the real reward in the soft side of construction, the “underlying ripple of the benefit to the community” that a building gives to a place, when it is “being used for its intended use, the lives that it’s bettering, and what it’s bettering for the community. Those are the primary rewards.”

BFL Construction Founder Garry Brav lured Eves back from Louisville in 2000. After working his way through the trades, Eves was a superintendent for 12 years, then a project manager for six years, prior to joining the development of Rancho Sahuarita.

“I took off my general contracting hat, put on a developer hat,” and joined the Sharpe family, Sharpe & Associates, in 2006. Together, they built the bones of the master planned community Rancho Sahuarita, the 3,000-acre piece of ground with entitlement for up to 12,000 homes.

Over 15 years, Eves and the company developed thousands of houses, the lake, the water and wastewater treatment plants at Rancho Sahuarita, donated more than 100 acres to the school district, and promoted school bonds ultimately approved by the voters. He served on the Sahuarita Unified School District board for four years.

He jokes that he missed a meeting, so he was nominated to be the community director, managing the Rancho Sahuarita homeowners association. Eves had earned the trust of a mentor, the late Bob Sharpe, founder of Rancho Sahuarita – one of many who have shaped him.

Those mentors include Tom Chesnutt (Chestnut Contracting) Brian Barker (Barker Contracting), Michael Bowman (Sharpe & Associates), Fred Lewis (Sharpe & Associates), Richard Underwood (AAA Landscape), and Ken Sands (El Rio Health)

“I’ve been so blessed within the moment of my walk with great mentors,”

Eves said. “I was full of thirst for knowledge, and aspiring to go build iconic things, so maybe I was fun to mentor. Maybe they felt I was worth pouring heartbeats into, but I’ve always tried to pay that forward, to share the knowledge and pass that on.” If they’re thirsty for knowledge, “I enjoy teaching it.” In fact, were Eves not a leader of a construction company, he “would probably have been a history teacher,” he said.

“Mr. Brav,” as Eves refers to BFL’s founder, taught Eves to pay attention to the numbers of the business. Sharpe encouraged him to get his real estate and broker’s licenses, which Eves did in 2010. He also gained insight from Buddy Kocis of Camwest Group, and Bill Hardesty back in Louisville. All have added to his skill set.

“I’m loyal to a fault,” Eves said. “I’m a big believer in second chances. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Leave more than you take.”

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A Partnership for Progress

BFL Helps Pima JTED Best Serve its Students

In its 50 years of doing business, BFL Construction has delivered for many clients in the education sector. Count Pima JTED among its most satisfied.

Pima Joint Technical Education District offers tuition-free career and technical education to sophomores, juniors and seniors in Pima and parts of Pinal and Santa Cruz counties. Its needs are unique because its students are learning trades and earning credentials that vary from welding technology to veterinary sciences.

Through more than a decade of partnership, BFL understands what’s required to help Pima JTED succeed in serving its students, who help Southern

Arizona as members of a skilled workforce.

“BFL’s quality of work has always and continues to be top notch, with careful attention to our needs and great customer service,” said Pima JTED Superintendent and CEO Kathy Prather.

BFL has assisted Pima JTED on a number of new buildings for its campus at East 22nd Street and Camino Seco as well as its campus at the Innovative Learning Center at The Bridges. BFL Founder and former CEO Garry Brav introduced public-private partnerships that allowed Pima JTED to afford new facilities without having to secure bonds or raise taxes.

For example, JTED entered into a lease-purchase agreement with the Bourn Companies and BFL to buy the land and buildings for the Innovative Learning Center, which opened in 2021. The building includes facilities for high-demand medical pathway programs, technical programs including cyber security and 3-D virtual reality game design, a commercial culinary and nutritional arts teaching kitchen and space for robotics, automation, manufacturing and mechatronics education.

“Garry had the vision to enable BFL to support the vision and mission of

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Pima JTED by finding innovative ways to form public-private partnerships,” Prather said. “That approach has allowed us to expand our ability to increase opportunities for all high school youth in our area to have access to state-of-the-art facilities to accompany the premier instructional delivery we offer.”

BFL is building the Mel and Enid Zuckerman Center for Health and Medical Careers at Pima JTED at the Bridges that will also include the Connie Hillman Family Foundation Community Health and Wellness Center and the Potoff Private Philanthropy Veterinary Sciences Center. Ground was broken on the building in May.

When it opens next year, the center will prepare students for careers in healthcare and medicine. The second addition to The Bridges campus will house classroom, laboratory and clinical space for a variety of programs, including Pima JTED’s licensed nursing assistant, medical assistant, public health and veterinary science programs.

The campus at 22nd and Camino

Seco offers classes for students interested in cosmetology, fire service, law, public safety and security. Those interested careers including emergency medical technician, licensed nursing assistant, medical assistant and physical therapy technician also take courses there.

The many facility improvements made in collaboration with BFL are completed with the goal of improving Pima JTED students’ experiences.

“The new facilities allow us to have the space and cutting-edge environment to deliver a high-quality, hands-on experience for our students,” Prather said. “Expansion of our facilities allows us to serve more students as our enrollment continues to grow more than 10% each year.”

BFL President David Eves, who started his position in late 2020, has stepped in to serve as a trusted ally for Pima JTED. Prather is happy to see the partnership continue to thrive and its students reaping the benefits.

“Our projects haven’t skipped a beat and we continue to work with many of the same terrific BFL team members on site,” she said. Biz

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to have the space and cutting-edge environment to deliver a highquality, hands-on experience for our students.”
– Kathy Prather Superintendent & CEO Pima JTED
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