Monitor Builders Inc.
Partners John Weaver and Domenic DiGiorgio founded architectural firm DiGiorgio Associates Inc. (DAI) in 1984. In 1988, the company added a construction subsidiary to the business, Monitor Builders Inc. (MBI), with Steve Kovacs, now partner and president of MBI, originally joining the firm as director of field operations. The dedicated team of over 35 professionals has since built a reputation for quality design and construction services. The organization is devoted to innovative and appropriate design solutions that meet and exceed client needs.
“We set ourselves apart by incorporating in-house architects, engineers and builders into our full-service approach,” says Weaver. “None of our competitors do that; DAI designs over 90 percent of MBI’s building projects. Our niche is health care construction, which makes up 95 percent of what we do. We serve clients with a variety of needs in New England and beyond.”
Weaver got an unusual start in the health care construction business. “It was almost by chance,” he explains. “My mother worked in a hospital. I started working with a health care design-build firm in 1977.” Weaver worked for seven years with DiGiorgio before starting DAI.
The company operates out of two locations, with one in bustling Boston and the other in Farmingdale, Maine. MBI’s geographic footprint is continuously expanding, with projects in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island. The team’s focus on clients in the health care system makes the operation unique. This focus, spanning several decades of leadership by Kovacs, has resulted in a stunning portfolio of complex projects.
Taking Care of the Caretakers
DAI and MBI share a simple philosophy regarding health care construction. “The organization treats every health care client as if they were their own care provider and each continuum-of-care facility as a place they might one day live,” Weaver says. “What sets DAI and MBI apart is that as practitioners of empathic design, seeing and hearing from the patients’ and residents’ point of view enables the team to properly plan, design and build patient and resident centered healing facilities.”
According to Weaver, this approach is one where both the design and construction teams consistently put themselves in each client’s shoes in order to determine respective goals and needs. In turn, these requirements and standards for potential buildings can be better addressed.
Over the years, DAI and MBI have applied this method to a number of complex construction projects with great success. This has resulted in long-term partnerships with a number of major health care providers across the region.
“We have had a partnership with Lakes Region General Healthcare in New Hampshire for over 25 years,” Weaver elaborates. “We constructed a major addition to the Laconia hospital campus in 1986 and recently fast-tracked the design and construction of a renovated psychiatric facility for them at their Franklin, N.H., campus. Lakes Region is one of our largest clients and MBI completed a $38 million addition and renovation in 2012 as part of a $140 million HUD-backed financing endeavor.”
The company’s other major partners include Huggins Hospital in Wolfeboro, N.H, with which DAI recently developed a new 101,000-square-foot replacement hospital. MBI, through the leadership of Kovacs, provided preconstruction services; the scope included a brand new replacement hospital of 101,000 square feet. Additionally, outside, to foster the principles of evidenced-based design, the team put together a beautifully landscaped healing garden and a patio area for outdoor dining.
The firm takes the lead on each project, incorporating subcontractors and vendors as necessary. Strong partnerships with local contractors and medical equipment vendors help boost efficiency and control cost and quality. “We work with a proven network of reliable vendors,” Weaver notes. “Maintaining our connections with them is very important.”
Managing Changes in the Health Care System
With major buzz around the country’s changing health care system, it comes as no surprise that DAI and MBI have faced new challenges in recent years. “The change in the health care delivery system has caused a down turn in the hospital construction industry,” Weaver explains. “Inpatient volumes will probably never return to where they were. We conclude that the build industry will grow again as the industry continues to shift focus from inpatient care to outpatient care, although not to pre-recession levels.”
Weaver is quick to note that it is always a challenge to maintain profitability. “Less experienced firms are coming in and bidding and underestimating what needs to be done in the unique environment of health care,” he continues. “To move through those challenges, we have to maintain firm bonds with the hospitals and health care clients we have served over the decades. We will continue to be a true partner in the process of creation. We take great pride in keeping our clients happy with both ends of the business, design and construction.”
Despite industry constraints, the business continues to grow. Weaver and his team are cultivating existing partnerships with health care providers while keeping an eye out for new opportunities in the region, including community health centers. The company plans to grow organically by maintaining a focus on existing clients and changing needs while pursuing a focused group of new clients. With a strong portfolio and a proven approach to health care building, DiGiorgio Associates Inc. and Monitor Builders Inc. are maintaining a strong presence in the market and even stronger relationships with clients.
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