Monarc Construction Inc.

La Casa bldgMonarc Construction Inc. is planning for its next generation of family leadership.
By Jim Harris

Prior to starting Monarc Construction, Inc., John D. Bellingham, the president and majority owner of the Falls Church, Va., based company, worked as the property manager for the British Embassy buildings in Washington, DC from 1974 to 1977. One achievement during Bellingham’s time at the embassy was his role to design a security entrance for the property as a result of the IRA terrorist bombings that occurred in 1973.

Now 43 years later, Monarc Construction, Inc. was selected in a competitive bid process to renovate the original security entrances Bellingham designed. However, this time the work was under the supervision and direction of Bellingham’s son, Mark A. Bellingham.

“Maybe, in 40 years time, my grandchildren will renovate the entrance again,” he notes.

Bellingham, 67, is now taking steps to ensure the company eventually reaches its third generation of leadership. “I have maybe another two to three years left in me here,” he says, noting that several members of the company’s executive team consisting of vice presidents Byron Kassing, Randy Mullen and Gene Prichard, who are also planning to retire within the next five to seven years. “This is a good opportunity for the younger generation to really step up and help the company plan for the future.”

The company’s younger generation includes Bellingham’s son Mark and daughter Tanya, both of whom are playing large roles in Monarc’s succession planning. Mark Bellingham, who has been with the company full time for eight years, was recently promoted to vice president and director of service and special projects. Mark studied mechanical engineering at the University of Maryland.  Mark’s younger sister, Tanya Bellingham works as an assistant project manager and has been with the company for three years. Tanya attended Dickinson College in Pennsylvania where she majored in Environmental Studies with a focus in sustainability. Monarc Construction box

Mark Bellingham is expected to take his father’s place at the helm of the company, while Tanya Bellingham is anticipated to lead the company’s client relations and business development.

Like their father, Mark and Tanya believe in providing further educational opportunities for their company coworkers and promoting engagement within the industry. Bellingham warns “that our industry faces a huge lack of skilled individuals entering the industry as a career. However, with the fast approaching predicted reduction of the number of service industry positions due to computerization, the construction industry provides an attractive alternative.”

John D. Bellingham was trained in London by George Wimpey Company, which undertook major international construction projects. In addition to his work with the British embassy, he previously worked for several large contractors in the Washington, D.C. area. In 1984, he began working with Trammel Crow Co., with which he later co-founded Monarc.

Recurring Clients

The company specializes in renovating and rehabilitating buildings ranging from historic structures to high-rise office and residential buildings. “We’re very good at taking existing buildings and implementing an adaptive re-uses for them,” Mark Bellingham says.

Monarc’s very first project was the renovation of one of Washington D.C.’s oldest buildings, the Forrest-Marbury House, which was originally built in 1788. Working with the owner, the company restored the building while adding office, residential and retail space to three sides of the structure. The company also underpinned the building and excavated for one level of underground parking. Today, the Forrest-Marbury House is the home of the Embassy of Ukraine and a Category One Landmark.

The company’s other notable past projects in Washington, D.C., include the restoration of Terminal A at the Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Va., and the restoration of the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum, which was built in 1750 and is “one of the original buildings on Capitol Hill,” John D. Bellingham says.

Monarc has completed numerous embassy projects including renovations throughout its history. “For us, the biggest issue isn’t lack of work; it’s being selective in the work you do,” John D. Bellingham says. “Embassies are a key target for us that we focus on securing work in, so we believe in keeping in their good graces.”

In addition to its recent work on the British embassy, the company recently completed or is working on several other embassy projects. These include renovating the historic Japanese embassy, renovating the embassy of Marshall Islands and upgrading security measures at the Embassy of Sweden.

Leading the Way

Many of Monarc’s embassy and other clients look to them to perform environmentally aware projects. The company’s focus on sustainability and restoration has its roots in John D. Bellingham’s childhood in England. He grew up in the country’s post-war era when food and basic materials were in short supply.  His uncle was a local builder whose firm specialized in reclaiming building materials from bomb-damaged buildings and country mansions that were no longer feasible as single-family occupancy due to their size.

“Monarc has always sought to minimize the built environment’s effects on the world,” the company says. “We traditionally reuse building materials – removing them carefully and with respect for their age and history, to be reused or recycled into a new project.”

The company’s sustainable project portfolio includes a 33.6 kilowatt solar installation on a daycare facility in Northern Virginia, geothermal systems and numerous LEED Certified projects. In addition to installing sustainable systems, the company helps clients secure tax rebates and other financing to offset the systems’ costs, John D. Bellingham notes.

Monarc’s other recent sustainable and adaptive reuse projects include converting the former U.S. Navy lumber storage shed at the U.S. Navy Yard into a headquarters building for developer Forest City Washington.

Completing projects in a safe a manner is a high priority for the company. Monarc’s safety record has earned it recognition from Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), which has honored the company with its Platinum Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) award for the past nine years.

“Having a good safety record is not only something our clients want, it also makes us cost competitive when it comes to securing workers’ comp and other insurance,” John D. Bellingham says. “We make sure we lead the way when it comes to being safe.” 

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