Case Studies

Joseph J. Duffy Co.

Skillfully Building Smarter Living Spaces

Joseph J. Duffy Co. (JJ Duffy) has built a reputation for quality construction throughout the Chicago area throughout nearly a century in business. The general contractor specializes in multifamily senior housing projects and has recently delved into more green building initiatives, as well. JJ Duffy’s vast portfolio, expertise and experience continue to set the company apart from others in the competitive building industry.

Founded over 90 years ago, in 1923, JJ Duffy still indulges today in its slogan, which reads: “We don’t just build buildings, we build your building.” With that mentality, the team at JJ Duffy works with clients, developers, architects and consultants to ensure a vision becomes reality, meeting design, functionality and budget goals.

The team’s dedication to service has fashioned JJ Duffy a well-known name throughout the region. JJ Duffy employs a team of talented craftsman to serve an approximate 200-mile radius of Chicago. The company’s number of employees varies – depending on the site – from 15 to 40 employees.

Additionally, JJ Duffy believes in a family-driven mindset. “The relationships between the groups of owners when the company began were family-oriented,” details Joe Beuttas, vice president of business development for JJ Duffy. Beuttas is an industry veteran, growing up in the world of construction. “My family owned a construction business, and I was involved from a young age,” he says.

Beuttas’ mindset is one that carries throughout the company. “From early on, we’ve believed our reputation is the most important thing since so much of our work is through word of mouth and referrals,” he details. JJ Duffy has been working to maintain its reputation for quality construction in all of its endeavors as established by Michael Mozal and Jerry DeCicco, co-owners of JJ Duffy.

Living Space Experts

In the late 1970s JJ Duffy switched its focus from industrial and commercial markets to multifamily housing projects. “We have built thousands of units for HUD and IHDA tax-funded projects through the state of Illinois,” explains Beuttas.

JJ Duffy’s portfolio also functions as its reference list and a reputation builder. The roster of multiunit apartments and residential buildings highlights decades of experience. “A good 90 percent of our work is negotiated through referrals and repeat business,” reveals Beuttas.

The firm’s most common repeat clients include multiunit residential, market rate, affordable housing, senior retirement and assisted-living facilities. A prime example of this niche is JJ Duffy’s work at the Pathway Senior Housing complex in Vernon Hills, Ill. The facility is one of the nation’s premier developers, providing independent senior apartments and assisted-living communities.

“We just finished our eighth project for this client,” shares Beuttas. The $33 million job consisted of two connected buildings with about 230 apartment units, requiring a team of specialized subcontractors. “While we perform our own finish carpentry, we have found great subcontractors for the various trades,” says Beuttas. “It’s more cost-effective to subcontract out the balance of the work. In order to be competitive economically and quality-wise, you must go out and seek the best subcontractors and suppliers.”

Lean Construction Practices

“Our continuing efforts to bring our clients the latest and best in construction technologies leads us to the issues of sustainability, green building and Lean construction pertaining to each project,” stresses the JJ Duffy website. The company began implementing more green standards when clients started incorporating the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) energy grants into projects along with IHDA green checklists, LEED certification and updated energy codes.
Sustainable projects begin with an integrated design process.

Specialization enables JJ Duffy to provide cost-benefit analysis, product recommendations and data, which results in LEED-certified structures. The company collaborates with clients, engineers, architects and experts alike to develop energy- and cost-saving solutions.

Fountain Square Apartments, built for Banner Apartment Management LLC (Banner Apartments), are a prime example of how JJ Duffy is “LEEDing by example.” In March 2012 Banner Apartments installed the largest PV solar arrays in the state of Illinois. The power from the 28-kilowatt array will generate approximately 31,000 kilowatt-hours of total electricity, roughly enough to power four homes and prevent an estimated 22-ton reduction of CO2 emissions.

Even with the recent success in green building, Beuttas admits the industry isn’t always kind. “Some people say you have to be crazy to be in this business because of the risk,” laughs Beuttas. “It’s always a rugged business with financial challenges, but we rely on what we know.” Nonetheless, Joseph J. Duffy Co. knows how to compete and more importantly how to maintain satisfied clients after 90 successful years in business.

Published on: April 25, 2013


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