Whatever the next "big thing" in construction might be, chances are George Pontikes will be a part of it. After all, the CEO of Houston-based Satterfield and Pontikes Construction Inc. (S&P) has a 30-plus-year track record of keeping his firm on the cutting edge of innovation. First exposed to building information modeling more than a decade ago, Pontikes quickly grasped the potential value of 3-D technology in helping contractors plan and track costs of project elements and sharing that information with other project team members.
"BIM was perfect for our firm, as it complemented the way we schedule projects and always stay on top of prices as plan documents change," Pontikes says. Acquiring early proficiency in BIM has since paid off for S&P and its clients.
For example, as the owner's representative for Delta Airlines' highly complex $1.2-billion renovation project at JFK Airport in New York City, S&P built the 3-D models and embedded information that has been extracted for use in estimating, scheduling and earned-value, change and facilities management.
Pontikes also recognized early on what green design meant to owners, not just in terms of public image, but also for overall building efficiency and performance. S&P has constructed many environmentally responsible and energy-efficient buildings, including the company's own three-story, 65,000-sq-ft headquarters, which was also Houston's first LEED-Gold building.
Pontikes scoffs at the notion that he has any kind of special knack for predicting the future. All he's done, he says, is to make sure the firm he founded in 1989 with Tommy Satterfield and wife Laura Pontikes, S&P's executive vice president, continually operates by its core principles: Always do the right thing for the right reason; deliver, no matter what; and adhere to the company's system of doing business.
But Pontikes also stresses the ongoing need to improve processes and do the job better. "It's a matter of continually gathering and monitoring good information," he says. "That gives us the ability to manage change better, which is a huge benefit to our project owners as well."
The Past as Prologue
These and other attributes have been essential in the progression of S&P from its start in 1989 as a two-person, Houston-centric manufacturing facilities contractor to a premier provider of construction services for commercial, educational, institutional, government and military facilities throughout the Southwest and across the U.S.
Now with more than 300 employees and four branch offices, S&P's portfolio spans the $106-million first phase of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, the $42-million expansion of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and a $22.5-million officer-housing complex at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Fla.
The lessons learned from hundreds of projects over the years have enabled S&P to keep abreast of trends that not only shape the industry's future but also include harbingers from its past.