Turner Construction Named Contractor of the Year
Turner also places a priority on bringing new talent into the profession. Peter Davoren, Turner president and CEO, serves on the ACE Mentor Program board of directors, and the company donated 13 scholarships to ACE in the tristate area last year. In addition, Turner created the YouthForce 2020 program, which awarded 17 scholarships last year.
“We know we have a depleting work force, and we work diligently to entice the young kids,” Di Filippo says. “The sooner we start, the better we are for the future of our industry.”
While many firms are laying off talent, Turner plans to hire about 60 new construction graduates in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut region. New employees spend time in every department to learn, among other things, Turner's standard processes before being assigned to a project in the field.
To support small minority- and women-owned businesses, the company offers the Turner School of Construction Management, which instructs principals about estimating, scheduling, accounting, sales, insurance, safety and other topics. In addition to offering training programs in the communities in which it is working, Turner collaborates with two City University of New York colleges, providing faculty for a certificate program.
Turner has awarded about $200 million to New York-area minority and women contractors during the last six years, most of it to established businesses. However, the goal of the school is to bring those small businesses to the point that they can become a prequalified subcontractor, Murphy says.
That's Cheryl Green's goal. The Brooklyn architect and project manager completed the Turner program in August 2010, becoming a LEED Green Associate and receiving an Occupational Health and Safety card through the program.
“When you have an instructor who works on a live project and is not just teaching, it makes a total difference in the classroom,” says Green, owner of Cheryl Green Studios, Brooklyn.
Although Turner has stayed stable in today's economy, Di Filippo concedes that it faces the same significant challenges as other contractors. Cost structures are particularly difficult, given that materials prices are on the rise while profit margins remain slim. Tight budgets cause heightened price sensitivities between union and nonunion work forces in New York City. Plus, once the market rebounds, work force reductions caused by the recession could create labor shortages.
“When you take a look at all of the diverging forces, every day is a challenge,” he says. “We work hard to ensure a constant source of confidence in leadership—confidence we will have the work.”
As a public company, Turner is guarded about future prospects, but Murphy notes that the market is offering signs of hope. The improved health of the banking industry, for instance, bodes well for the future. “Financial institutions make the city go,” he says. “They contribute to the tax base, to the philanthropy in the city. When the financial institutions are healthy, more law firms are hired, the restaurants are busy. There's a big ripple effect. In New York, we enjoyed a quicker recovery because they got back to making money.”