This article is one of a series commemorating HB’s 30th year in business and celebrating the people, projects, and practices that have made HB what it is today.
2021 marks a significant milestone for HB Construction: 30 years in business. Established in June of 1991, HB has gone from three guys in a job trailer to a major contributor to the built environment in NM and Texas.
It’s easy to celebrate achievements spanning three decades as a builder. It takes something more to remember what those three decades taught you.
When asked about his most important lesson over a career that has spanned hundreds of construction projects throughout the Southwest, Jason Harrington had this response:
“It’s the partnerships. When I look back, every one of our truly great projects started with people who wanted to be great partners.”
In many ways, a construction project is like a fledgling business whose partners have often varying, sometimes misaligned interests. Many participants are counted on to work with—or even hold accountable—people who they have no direct contract with. Work is often time-sensitive, and even small communication gaps can have outsized ripple effects.
Within this environment, HB’s belief has always been simple: owners, designers, and contractors should work closer together, using integration to tighten the seams between design and construction. This is evidenced by HB’s continued advocacy for Design-Build and Construction Manager at Risk, where project teams can work as a single unit from concept to completion.
Yet there are other, more personal partnering lessons from HB staff.
“I’m excited by opportunities to add value to our partnerships through creative thinking and problem-solving,” said Zach Gruen, Executive Vice President. “It’s rewarding to present an alternative system or product solution to our Owners and design partners. Sometimes it catches people off guard because they don’t associate contractors with outside-the-box thinking.”
Director of Project Management George Anderson had another insight when asked about lessons in partnership. “Sometimes it’s as simple as asking how someone is doing before you get started with the meeting. You can find out so much about the people you’re working with and where they were coming from, all in a quick check-in. This sets the stage for greater understanding and team success.”
Certain long-standing HB partnerships stand out for their longevity and durability. HB has used the same surety broker since its first day in business. Today, the relationship has now spanned over $1 billion worth of schools, offices, and medical facilities. This consistent financial backing, in the form of bonding and risk management, has been a key part of HB’s journey.
CFO Adam Harrington shed light on this relationship. “Our broker has been an indispensable partner from the beginning. The relationship is truly one of our foundations to be able to build this company into what is today.” HB’s surety broker is LMC and surety is Chubb Group.
Another long-term partner is HB’s insurance broker, HUB International, as well as underwriter CNA. Underwriting, contract review, and risk management are critical aspects of any construction business. Recognizing these behind-the-scenes contributors is a must.
Through the years, HB has come to understand partnerships as the best way to make a positive impact on communities. While an individual can have a positive impact, groups and networks united for a common cause have limitless power. With this lesson in mind, HB has sought to join forces with nonprofits like United Way (partners since 2008) and Albuquerque Community Foundation (partners since 2011).
At the project level, HB project teams have worked alongside building owners, designers, and subcontractors to contribute in ways big and small. One memorable example was the El Paso Child Development Center playground, a construction and donation effort involving over a dozen labor and material contributors.
There’s no telling what lessons the next 30 years will teach us about construction and project delivery. The progression of digital transformation, automation, and other forces make it hard to predict what the 2050 jobsite or project meeting will look like. What we can say for certain is that great partnerships will always be in demand, and the people who believe in them will always have a place alongside HB Construction.