HBD Construction

HBD ConstructionWith nearly 95-years of industry experience, HBD Construction prides itself on maintaining strong communication with its clients and subcontractors.  By Bianca Herron

Founded in 1922, HB Deal was a family-owned company until 1978 when Dan O’Keefe, Russ Shilt and Melvin Schaefer bought the firm and shortened the name to HBD Contracting. Nearly a decade later, Michael Perry and his partner, COO Brian Kowert, bought out the owners changing the name to HBD Construction.

Today, HBD Construction is a full-service general contracting and construction management firm that participates in a wide variety of construction projects, including multifamily, retail, office, healthcare and commercial.

“Brian’s son, Brian Jr., is also a partner in the company today,” Perry says, now president of the St. Louis, Mo.-based company. “As we approach our ninety-fifth anniversary next year, I can’t help but feel great. Even though my family did not start the company, it is certainly great to be a part of a tradition here in St. Louis. Not too many firms have been around that long, so it speaks to the longevity of the name of the company.”

Perry notes that HBD is customer-oriented and very proud of its repeat clients – a key component of its success.  “We are a service organization and service our customers well,” he says. “We are also honest with both our customers and subcontractors, and we do what we say, which speaks to our history as a company.”

In addition, Perry credits the company’s relationships with its subcontractors as a major factor in its long, 95-year history. “We subcontract out nearly 90 percent of our work, so we obviously couldn’t perform without them,” he explains. “We’ve been blessed with a good group of capable subcontractors here in St. Louis who we utilize.”

Evolving Communication

Communication has played an essential role in HBD Construction’s success, a source of pride for the company. “We are more or less the go-to person as the owners, but we’re also dealing with 30 or 40 subcontractors and many workers and designers, so communication is essentially what makes our business thrive,” Perry explains. HBD box

“We consider ourselves a medium-sized company, but we can take on rather large projects and adequately service them,” he adds. “That’s why we keep our management style very simple. It’s not only my partner and me, but our employees are always available to customers to answer questions and handle issues, so that we don’t have a long vertical tree of hierarchy. Our project managers are responsible from start to finish and report directly to Brian Sr. and me, so it’s a very simple communication process for customers. This is also how we maintain the quality that our company is known for.”

With its 95 years of experience in the industry, the way HBD communicates with its clients and partners has certainly evolved as well, just like the industry, Perry adds. “When I first started here, you either picked up a telephone or mailed a letter – those were your only two choices,” he says. “Today there’s cloud computing and virtually every person is connected electronically on the project. We have embraced that technology and utilized it to better serve our customers and everyone involved on the projects.

“Certainly some of the basics remain the same in construction – digging a ditch or pouring concrete – but many of the other things, like drones and cloud communication, have been integrated into our company, which makes working in this business more seamless and efficient.”

Crestwood Mall Project

One of HBD’s recent projects is the demolition of Crestwood Mall’s 1.2 million-square-feet of vacant retail space in St. Louis. In its place, Chicago-based developer UrbanStreet Group LLC will build a multi-use project combining senior apartments, retail and an entertainment district.

“We’ve been working on the project now for about six months,” Perry says. “It’s an existing regional mall that went through several changes of ownership and numerous failed attempts to develop it. This year we are working on the demolition and abatement of the existing building.”

Perry explains that the project will be broken into three phases, and that the sloping site has been a challenge, as the east side of it is nearly 75 feet lower than the west.

“It was not only a challenge from a demolition standpoint, but also from a development standpoint as far as what to put back in its place,” he says. “The new site will include a movie theater, restaurants, clothing stores and a grocery element. We’re just finishing the plans for the overall site layout. Next year the owners will announce tenants and we will be preparing to develop infrastructure and then start building later in the year. It’s going to be about a three-to four-year project from start to finish.”

In Control

Due to the site having 1.2 million square feet, Perry says the most important key to the project was “getting arms around” the environmental aspect of the site, which was certainly a challenge.

“Terracon, our environmental firm, did a great job getting in and locating the majority of the hazardous materials so we could get an accurate bid to present to the owner,” he says. “In addition, we are going to be utilizing a lot of the construction debris for the project. We’re trying to be as green as possible so we’re salvaging steel, copper and precious metals to be recycled – which is typically done on any project – but we are also keeping all of the concrete to grind up and use as fill to level the site.

“In doing that, we had to plan how to take those buildings down and have an adequate area to crush up all of the concrete and still keep the process going,” Perry adds. “Our demolition contractor, Ahrens, did a great job with that.”

Culture of Safety

With more than 40 employees on site at peak, Perry says it’s not only important for its subcontractors and demolition crews to be safe, but to ensure they are outfitted with the necessary PPE equipment while working.

“We also have to ensure our abatement people from Midwest Service Group are following all of the rules and regulations because they are working with full containment areas to ensure nothing gets to them or gets away,” he added. “We also have to think about the public because this can be an attractive nuisance. So we have barricaded off the street, put up fences and have security services to keep the public out and safe as we demolish the buildings.”

“It’s important that we maintain this safety for everyone – ourselves, subcontractors and the public – as we finish this phase,” Perry concludes. “The demolition is about 30 percent complete. The biggest building is just about to be taken down and then we will move on to some lower buildings and will have one larger building to take down in the end of the phase.”


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