Close Partnerships

Even before the recession, in 2007, Japanese firm Obayashi Corp. acquired a majority stake in Webcor. Obayashi provided access to a new portfolio of heavy civil work and "an incredible wealth of bonding capacity," Pedersen says.

Through a joint venture on the Transbay project, Webcor and Obayashi are fully bonding the project and maintaining a balance sheet for cash flow and credit lines. "Obayashi continues to be a strong partner that financially is able to help us go into markets we couldn't have gone into if we weren't teaming with them," Pedersen adds.

Webcor's many years of experience in the commercial markets honed its preconstruction abilities. As a result, the firm has been an advocate of alternative project delivery, which includes the contractor in the early stages of development.

The firm ranks among the top five construction managers at-risk in ENR California's Top Contractors ranking. "Preconstruction and collaboration with owners and subcontractors brings a ton of value, and that's one of our biggest strengths," says Tony Rango, senior vice president, operations.

The city and county of San Francisco selected a similar delivery approach—called construction management-general contracting—for its General Hospital and Moscone projects with Webcor. Webcor is involved in the design phase as a CM and in the construction phase as a GC, which gives the owner more control.

When Los Angeles wanted to make inroads into a similar CM-GC arrangement, Webcor teamed with Obayashi and W.M. Lyles Co., Temecula, to win the $140-million Silver Lake Reservoir Replacement.

"The word spreads," Pedersen says. "We get to help other public entities foray into a much more teaming methodology for delivery projects than they have in the past." In return, Webcor gains valuable experience in water treatment, another recent market area.

The firm's emphasis on preconstruction places it in close proximity with design firms, where it aims to be a collaborator rather than an adversary. "We don't think twice about collocating on a project—there are no secrets," says Shelley Doran, a senior vice president.

"Getting everyone into the room to collaborate avoids the down-the-line finger-pointing," she adds.

Using this approach on the 27-story 350 Mission office tower in San Francisco, Webcor worked with architect Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) on design iterations before selecting the most cost-effective and efficient approach for the elevated concrete decks, says Jitendra Pahilajani, preconstruction director for Webcor Concrete.