Case Studies

Swinerton Builders

125 Years of Construction Excellence

Swinerton Builders has been providing commercial construction and construction management services throughout the western half of the United States for 125 years. Founded in 1888 and headquartered in San Francisco, Calif., the company works in many market sectors with a diverse range of clients. It has found success through delivering innovative construction solutions and outstanding service on projects that demand exacting performance.

Swinerton Incorporated, the parent company, is a highly stable, diversified, $2 billion enterprise with a staff totaling nearly 1,000 people. The company’s interiors group alone brings in $200 million in annual revenue. Swinerton’s Arvada, Colo., office, located within the greater Denver metropolitan area, employs 65 people and has held a place in Colorado’s construction industry longer than most. It recently celebrated 70 years of business in the area and has completed such landmark projects as the Denver Coliseum and the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences (now the tallest concrete structure in Denver).

Scott Conrad, vice president and division manager of Swinerton’s Colorado office, brought over 30 years of construction experience to his position when he joined the company almost two years ago. He attributes the success of the Colorado Division to a group of similarly experienced associates.

“We have an extraordinarily strong group of long-term veterans here,” says Conrad. “As an employee-owned company, we really focus on a philosophy of promotion from within.”

Conrad believes one major factor in Swinerton’s growth is the relationships built between employees – all of whom are deeply invested in the business – and their clients. Swinerton team members are keyed into what clients have to say. They work hard to achieve the unique goals of every client, conducting all activities on a platform of integrity, leadership, passion and excellence. Swinerton calls upon experience in preconstruction/site analysis, building information modeling (BIM) design and coordination, sustainable/LEED construction and many more capacities in public spaces and critical facilities. Employees use solution-driven teamwork to build an environment for success, whether on a design-build or construction management project. The result has been a lot of repeat business, especially for public entities, the federal government and office developments.

“Our people are really focused on listening to what their clients’ priorities are,” says Conrad. “You can’t walk in and presume a client simply wants a project done faster or done cheaper. There are unique values to identify, and we strive to satisfy those expectations.”

Finding Excellence in Its People

Swinerton uses its staff’s depth of experience and shared values to find work in many different sectors, from education and commercial to health care and government. The company looks beyond basic market sectors to keep business growing. Keeping an eye on industry trends without targeting a specific market has allowed Swinerton the flexibility to provide the best construction services possible.

Evaluating every market separately aids in this flexibility. For example, the Colorado location determined that it’s more cost-effective to work as a general contractor on a project and subcontract work to local tradespeople. In such a competitive arena, this has helped Swinerton maintain an edge over other contracting companies that perform some or all of the labor.

Conrad is constantly looking out for new and strategic opportunities. “We have quite a few strong projects that we’re in negotiations with right now,” he says. “The multifamily and office sectors here in Colorado is very strong, and there are a couple of those projects we’re pursuing.”

Swinerton was recently awarded a contract for an eight-story concrete apartment building with about 300 units for multifamily living. The company is also keeping an eye out for education market opportunities. “Although dollars are tight, we’re seeing some investment in kindergarten through 12th grade and higher education,” explains Conrad.

Swinerton also has seen an uptick in office work. The company has a strong history building corporate campus and office developments, including the Avaya Research & Development facility in Westminster, Colo. The four-level building consists of two wings totaling 480,000 square feet, connected by a 118-foot vertical steel-and-glass atrium entrance. A 120-foot-wide, sloped, concave skylight tops this structure. “That is one of my favorite projects,” declares Julie Spencer, business development manager for Swinerton.

Providing Value to Clients

The economic downturn has posed a great challenge for Swinerton, as it has for most in the construction and real estate development industry. However, Conrad believes things are looking up. “We’re starting to see some optimism back in the marketplace,” he says. “We’re also starting to see some financeable quality projects and feeling pretty hopeful ourselves about the future.”

In anticipation of more work being available, Swinerton has started to hire up-and-coming construction management professionals. Conrad states that the company is recruiting at various universities and colleges across the country for top-notch graduates. “We’re looking for those first-round draft picks,” he explains.

Recognizing the strength and business longevity that come from a staff of life-long employees, Swinerton looks for new employees that will start at entry level and continue to work for the company throughout their careers toward upper management. “We’re trying to create a self-sustaining organization that way,” says Conrad.

Infusing new perspectives throughout the company helps Swinerton stay competitive. Even before the recession, competition for construction work in Colorado was fierce. The economic downturn only increased the industry’s competitive nature. By seeking the brightest people graduating with degrees in construction management and civil engineering, Swinerton maintains an edge to think creatively and develop out-of-the-box ideas for clients. Company goals of client satisfaction and achieving a letter of recommendation for every project will continue to enrich both Swinerton and the communities it serves.

As the economy improves and the construction industry strengthens, Swinerton Builders is reinforcing its position as the preferred and trusted partner in every market it serves.

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Spring 2018



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