Case Studies

J. Calnan & Associates

Construction Managers Doing Business with an Open Mind

Jay Calnan, founder and CEO of J. Calnan & Associates (JC&A), has built his own successful organization from the ground up, while never losing sight of who he is and the importance of always giving back. Calnan cashed in his 401(k) 16 years ago, and set out to create the industry’s best construction management firm built on integrity and superior client service.

Surrounding himself with exceptional partners and employees, Calnan has grown JC&A into the company that it is today: a world-class construction management firm that employs talented, honest and knowledgeable professionals.

Calnan got his first break with Bank Boston working for Sally Baer. “The project was the renovation of a kitchen cafeteria and repairs to the first floor,” he explains. Calnan and his first employee, Barry Ledin, took tremendous pride in their work, and quickly built a solid relationship with the Bank Boston team. Having that household name as a satisfied client opened the doors to other long-term relationships.

One of JC&A’s most prized working-relationships is with Philips, which paved the way to work with Liberty Mutual. As JC&A continued to prosper, the company established relationships with Reebok, Talbots, The TJX Companies, The MathWorks and many others.

JC&A’s mantra has remained the same through the years: always deliver world-class service and don’t take any client or employee for granted. “I have built a team of extremely hardworking professionals who truly enjoy coming into work each day and genuinely care about the needs of our clients,” says Calnan. “Our employees have all been recruited based on level of professionalism and history of hard work, integrity and unselfish teamwork.”

JC&A’s strategic, proactive approach, as well as the team’s commitment to both clients and community, made the company an industry leader. Among other recent awards, JC&A has received a Boston Business Journal Citizenship award for its philanthropic efforts six years in a row, and Corenet was recognized JC&A as Regional Service Provider of the Year.

Three partners join Calnan in making JC&A successful. Tim Kelly, CFO of JC&A, handles the firm’s financial, accounting and administrative functions. Mike Crowther, COO of JC&A, is responsible for internal organization processes and infrastructure to help the business realize continued growth. Meanwhile, Jim Cahill, president of JC&A, focuses on strategic planning, as well as client relationships and development.

“You cannot find three more qualified, talented or well-respected individuals in this industry,” says Calnan, discussing his partners. “I have had the privilege of working alongside all three of these professionals for nearly 16 years. Their business acumen, passion for the company and work ethic can only be matched by their personal character and unwavering commitment to always doing the right thing.”

Aside from the firm’s executives, the team at JC&A boasts a multitude of well-informed and eager employees. “We’re one of the more entrepreneurial, nimble and dynamic companies,” says Cahill. “We want young, aggressive and smart people. We look at the industry a little differently than a lot of companies who are second- or third-generation family-operated businesses. We’re not stuck on having project managers that offer more than 25 years of experience. And we’re not stuck in the way we deliver and execute projects.”

High-profile Projects

JC&A’s diversity and agility ensured growth, even during the economic recession. Cahill explains the company now takes a more targeted approach in hiring staff and finding projects. This includes efforts to build a broader management team and work on challenging projects that prove profitable.

With a more directed client base, a large portion of JC&A’s work is within the science and technology field. The company recently completed managing a $15 million project for a biotechnical company, PAREXEL International, in the Boston area. The project included upgrading two existing data centers and the construction of a brand-new facility. The project was complete in a short timeframe with crews working 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

PAREXEL International is a 12-plus-year relationship that Cahill has cultivated. “Jim’s professionalism and focus on quality is apparent and translates throughout all of JC&A,” Shawn Neal, vice president, facilities for PAREXEL International, was quoted as saying. “He is a true partner, which is exemplified in many ways, including in offering feasibility assistance for projects [even those Jim knows will be put out for bid], within and outside of JC&A’s market area. Jim’s leadership and the confidence in his team are clear throughout the industry. As a result, a specific sense of quality in “product delivery” also defines JC&A employees. Jim has clearly generated tangible interest and excitement within JC&A toward the success of our projects, which has resulted in satisfaction within our organization. Jim is a true leader in his field and JC&A is a proven partner and contributor in meeting our construction requirements.”

Cahill is also proud to report JC&A was involved in the recent corporate headquarters project for the Massachusetts-based software company Pegasystems. Working collaboratively with Visnick & Caulfield Architects, WB Engineers and Officeworks, the project team transformed the existing 162,000-square foot space into a flexible corporate headquarters that would accommodate future growth, and also tell Pega’s story.

The project’s highlights include new private offices constructed to double as small meeting rooms, flexible conference rooms with extensive audio visual equipment, as well as various workstations and public open space that promote collaboration. A combination of both solid and glass demountable architectural walls were utilized throughout the space to provide maximum flexibility and allow for various reconfigurations. Overall, the space was designed for change with the anticipation of rapid future growth.

“After working together for five years on various projects, my team was very positive about their past experiences and felt confident working with J. Calnan & Associates for this signature project,” Dan Ryan, vice president, real estate and facilities for Pegasystems, was quoted as saying. “From the start, they offered whatever support they could by joining us on tours to talk about potential concerns with various sites; working closely with the architect on design costing for various scenarios; and supporting us throughout the lease negotiation process as well. During this time, never once was there a discussion that it was expected that we award a construction contract to them. From my perspective, it’s all about the relationship with the crew at JC&A. Once you have that, the rest just falls into place and we were not disappointed.”

One even higher profile client for JC&A is Reebok International Ltd. (Reebok). JC&A has worked with Reebok on a number of projects, including The Rockport Showroom, OnField Showroom, ChaseHouse, Reebok’s Crossfit Gym- Reebok 1 and the Child Care Center.

As JC&A continues success within the industry, the team is dedicated to volunteering time and offering financial support to more than 20 different organizations. “Our philanthropic work is something we take very seriously,” says Cahill. “We were ranked No. 1 in 2012 for employee hours donated; each of our employees donated about 20 hours.”

One organization JC&A is proud to support is the nonprofit organization Team IMPACT, which helps improve quality of life for children facing threatening illnesses through matching each child with a college athletic team of which they become a member. Calnan helped found the organization and is a member of its board of directors. A recent fundraiser held by JC&A raised more than $600,000 for Team IMPACT. These funds will help bring more children into the program and add more collegiate teams to the organization.

Calnan, Cahill and the entire team at JC&A truly care about the company, as well as its clients and community as a whole. The JC&A team’s dedication and passion for what the company does is proven on a daily basis. It is the team’s care and attention to even the smallest detail that will keep J. Calnan & Associates successful for years to come.

Published on: April 25, 2013

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