One of the leading proponents and pioneers of the modern design-build construction industry, Preston Haskell has spent the vast majority of his storied career advocating the alternative delivery method now so commonly utilized today. After earning a civil engineering degree from Princeton University in 1960, and an MBA from Harvard two years later—and also after continuing his studies in Building Engineering and Construction at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—the young Haskell, in 1965, founded The Preston H. Haskell Company, now known simply as Haskell.
The company he founded promoted design-build project delivery for a time with its former slogan of being “America’s Design-Build Leader.” The phrase could have applied to Haskell the man as well, as the design-build evangelist continued to advocate for the design-build method’s adoption—and legalization—helping to found the Design-Build Institute of America in 1993, fittingly serving as its founding chairman.
Mr. Haskell hasn’t stopped working, either, still maintaining an office in the company’s Jacksonville, Fla., headquarters building. Earlier this year, Haskell spoke to ENR about his company’s evolution over its 55-year history, including its increasing use of the engineer-procure-construct (EPC) delivery method, which it utilizes with many of its industrial projects. To him, the trend toward more EPC contracts is an extension of the firm’s original focus as a design-builder.
“Perhaps the most important feature of EPC is guaranteeing the outcome, and guaranteeing the process capability,” Haskell says. “If we said they would produce 10,000 bottles an hour and it only produces 9,000, it's up to us to make things right and bring every project up to the specified productivity. That's because we can control everything—we control not just the four walls of the building but everything inside of those four walls.”
Self-performing more of the work brings the obvious benefit of increased income. “We are rewarded for being smart and attentive and capable,” Haskell says of the EPC method. “So it's been a been good business for us and most importantly, it's good for our customers. We want our clients to be happier because they chose Haskell."
There’s much more to report about Preston Haskell’s stellar career and construction industry legacy, though, and ENR Southeast will provide readers with more of Preston Haskell’s “story” in our upcoming Legacy Award feature profile in our upcoming January 2021 print edition.