Ryan Cos. – W.L. Gore Pinnacle Peak Campus

Whether it is for a university or a manufacturing company, a master-planned campus will contain certain common features. According to Casey Cartier, division manager for Ryan Cos. in Phoenix, whether such a project can be fast-tracked depends on how early a design/builder gets involved with the job. A good example is the W.L. Gore Pinnacle Peak campus in Deer Valley, Ariz.

“We are naturally a design/builder, but we’re not usually handling design/assist,” Cartier says. “While it’s not in our normal realm, the fast-track construction taking place  [for W.L. Gore] while the design was still being processed made it necessary.”

The Ryan Cos. served as the construction manager at-risk for the $84 million project. This project created a new campus for W.L. Gore – a manufacturer of medical devices  – in a rural part of Flagstaff, Ariz. 

For the first phase, Ryan Cos. delivered two manufacturing facilities that combine for 230,000 square feet. The second phase involved construction of a parking structure with 420 spaces. The company broke ground on the project in August 2009 and completed the work in February 2011. 

Relationships Matter

The campus connection extends far beyond familiarity with a master plan. Ryan Cos. was hired after a negotiated bid with W.L. Gore’s project team, which included individuals who had worked with the Ryan Cos. on a project at Northern Arizona University (NAU), Cartier says. 

“The project manager and some others had moved from NAU to Gore, so we had a relationship and experience of doing these types of jobs together,” Cartier says.

“We have a strong development arm, so there was an understanding of how to navigate zoning efforts and entitlements,” he adds. “It was not part of the base contract, but it was part of the services we provided.”

Ryan Cos. managed the job by utilizing BIM throughout the course of the job. This was especially important as design plans were being disseminated after construction had begun.

“We were utilizing BIM for the planning and turning over the asset management portion of it,” he says. “With a final product on top of being an as-built model, we had all the information we needed from a management standpoint. This is the type of turnkey package we look to turn over to a client.”

The smooth coordination of this project is even more impressive when considering that the three designers of the project are based in three different cities. Fortunately, Ryan Cos. is adept at bringing its best people together through its various IT programs.

“We had information sharing in electronic format because a lot of the design/assist happened electronically,” Cartier says. “This was necessary because of the proximity of the job to the designers.”

Generations of Quality

Ryan Cos. US Inc. was founded in 1938 by James Henry Ryan, in Minnesota when James and his brother, Francis Ryan, purchased a lumberyard. Since lumberyards were plentiful in Minnesota, the owners competed by serving as contractors, as well, which forced the Ryans to learn construction on the fly.

Ryan Lumber and Coal since has seen all four of James Henry’s sons work in the business. Today, two of his grandsons co-own the business, and many of his great-grandchildren have worked for the company, as well. 

Along with corporate headquarters in Minnesota, Ryan Cos. has offices in Iowa, Illinois, Florida, California and Arizona. The company has performed work in 30 states. 

Through the years, Ryan Cos. has credited its dedicated work force for its success, and says its exceptional people are the key differentiator in the marketplace.

“We may be a little biased, but we believe we have the finest, smartest people in the industry,” the company says. “They live our mission, promote our culture, work closely with our communities and take care of our customers like no one else can.

“They are responsible for Ryan’s 97 percent overall customer satisfaction and the 77 percent repeat business Ryan enjoys.”

As the construction industry continues to churn out green projects more efficiently than ever, Ryan Cos. has adapted with the times. The company says it constantly seeks ways to be more efficient, more cost-effective and more sustainable for its clients.

“[Being] lean and green takes full advantage of Ryan’s core strengths — integrated design and full-service real estate solutions, the company says. “We’re utilizing the latest in building science and business improvement methodology to evolve the master builder model even further — refining and advancing our processes to continually deliver more value and better quality to help customers ‘future-proof’ their buildings.”

Ryan Cos. bases its lean initiative on Lean Six Sigma, which is a business philosophy that combines practices from lean manufacturing, which focuses on speed, and Six Sigma, which highlights quality. 

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