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Unlocking Industry Success

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A company built on good ethics above all else is a company of which you can be proud. This is the case for Heim Construction Co., Inc., a full-service General Contractor, Design Build and Construction Management firm based in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. Today the story of Heim Construction comes right from the source, that is founder and President Roy Heim. The company was started by Heim back in the early nineties, and though it has evolved over the years in tandem with the construction industry, its core values remain the same today. “We incorporated in 1994 with approximately three employees at that time,” says Heim. “It’s sometimes a little seasonal, but we now have between 65 to 100 wonderful men and women employed with us today. One of the things that we believe contributes to our success is not only making sure we have good employees, but also training them and keeping our core values in place. We hire people with integrity and good ethics, and that keeps us moving forward in the right direction.”

Keeping core values in place is just one of the three keys to construction industry success that Heim candidly reveals throughout our conversation. Recognizing the importance of functionality before aesthetics and adopting a forward-focused mindset are the second two and third, and it is these three keys that capture the true essence of Heim Construction. But before we get into that, Heim talks me through the full range of services that Heim Construction offers to the Pennsylvanian construction market. The General Contracting side of the business sees Heim Construction delivering projects in the traditional way, which involves working with owners, architects, and engineers to get the job done. This involves first bidding on the project, reviewing specifications, and ultimately completing the work at their request.

Heim Construction’s long history of delivering projects through this method has resulted in repeat business and customer satisfaction, both of which contribute in no small part to its thirty years of continued success. Under its General Contracting title Heim Construction operates within the Commercial, Industrial, Institutional, Healthcare, Residential, Educational and Manufacturing sectors, delivering jobs big and small to the highest of standards. “We also have our transportation division where we do heavy highway work and public infrastructure,” Heim says. “We have worked in the past on bridges, dams, wastewater treatment plants. We do concrete slab replacement on roadways, we do a substantial amount of extruded concrete curbs, handicap ramps coupled with the associated sidewalk replacement. , some projects as a general contractor, some as a subcontractor.”

As part of its General Construction title Heim Construction also offers the more modern methods of project delivery that are growing in demand as the industry evolves. This includes, Construction Management, design build and interior design services. “For most of that work, if you’re looking at Construction Management, we would represent the owner,” he says. The Construction Management method of project delivery sees Heim Construction provide both pre-construction and construction phase services. “That includes research evaluations, land development assistance, zoning and building permitting, budget, estimating, RFP and RFQ services, and construction phase coordination and inspections.” Regardless of what shape the job takes in terms of the method through which it is delivered, service is always at the center. “Heim Construction is a service-oriented company,” Heim says, “so we understand whether we’re a general contractor and working for an owner, or we’re a subcontractor working for other general contractors, that service is key to our success.”

“Also key to Heim Construction’s success is its functionality before aesthetics approach, which is simple in theory yet often overlooked in practice.”

Also key to Heim Construction’s success is its functionality before aesthetics approach, which is simple in theory yet often overlooked in practice. A poorly constructed building may be one that is designed to achieve a desired visual appeal, but with less priority given to how it actually functions. This is not to say that buildings cannot be both functional in operation and aesthetically pleasing, in fact the opposite is true for many of Heim Construction’s award-winning projects that we go on to discuss, but Heim Construction only design buildings that look the part once they are satisfied first with both its functionality and practicality. “In the design build our goal first and foremost is to use the best space design for practicality,” Heim says. “Second, is the aesthetics. The number one thing has to be, does the space work and will our customer be able to use it properly? And then, how do we make the area look good after we know it’s going to work for the customer?” The end goal is to strike a balance between the two, ensuring that the building is both fit for its intended use, and easy on the eye.

Though there is no single key to unlock construction industry success, no one-size-fits-all that is guaranteed to yield positive results, a good place to start is a forward-focused mindset. That is, one that sees each new day as a fresh opportunity regardless of yesterday’s achievements. “I’m not big on goals or milestones,” Heim says. “My goal is to get through every single day and be the best we can be. That’s what we talk to our people about, not long-term goals and not big milestones.” To rely too heavily on past achievements when it comes to future success is, in Heim’s opinion, a step in the wrong direction. “There’s one fear in life and that’s becoming content, because the minute you become too content is the minute you start going backwards.” Perhaps this mindset comes with over thirty years’ experience in an industry that does not stand still.

Heim talks about some of the company’s recently completed projects, many of which are award-winning. Though he believes that such achievements are not to be focused on as the measure of Heim Construction’s success, they do give us an insight into the company’s high standards, and therefore cannot go unmentioned in the Heim Construction story. “There’s the 90,000 square foot new addition and renovation of the corporate offices at Empire Beauty School,” Heim says, “and the 88,500 square foot, five-story academic building for the Westchester University Business School.” The third project Heim highlights is a two and a half story, 250-space car parking garage along with a 45,000 square foot Regional Traffic Management Centre (RTMC) and Parking Garage in King of Prussia, PA. “That was a Class 4 building, meaning that it was designed to withstand all kinds of environmental elements, hurricanes and so on.”

Class 4 buildings are constructed using durable building methods, for example with non-combustible materials, and are naturally growing in demand as the climate crisis grows in urgency. “The project was the first Design Build done in the State of Pennsylvania with the PA Department of General Services (DGS) and the PA Department of Transportation (PennDOT) as partners,” he tells me. “We were picked as the contractor through a Request for Proposal (RFP). There were two sections to that proposal, one technical and the other monetary, which was a bid. The Department of General Services and PennDOT took all the bids and reviewed the technical section first, and then opened up the low bids, and we were fortunate enough to be awarded the project.” While price is always a factor when awarding jobs through this method, RFPs often allow companies the opportunity to take a quality-first approach and win on that basis instead. “The Design Build team we put together is partly how we got that project. We went for quality versus pricing and made sure we had the best team we could have.”

That team included Schrader Group Architecture, Philadelphia, PA. ,Benesch Engineers out of Allentown PA, and Vistacom Technology Consultants, also out of Allentown. Also on the job was Revision Architecture, Philadelphia, LEED Consultants. That is Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED), which is the world’s most widely used green building rating system. Together they designed and built a highly efficient Regional Transportation Management Center that is fully equipped, through the implementation of innovative technology, to monitor, manage, and improve the flow of state-wide traffic. “From the very first day our job was to start the design and work with two of the owner’s reps, which were Jacobs Engineering representing PennDOT and Urban Engineering representing the Department of General Services. It was a three-year project, completed on time and under budget, which is something to be said in in our industry today. It was done during the COVID period when there were major shutdowns throughout the state of Pennsylvania as well as major price increases and lack of supplies and material. That makes it a little bit more special in our opinion. Our team and our subcontractors did a wonderful job in making sure everything was procured properly and done correctly. The building is LEED Certified, functional, and is in our opinion one of the best Department of Transport owed buildings in Pennsylvania today.”

But it is not only Heim and the team at Heim Construction that hold this project in such high regard. The project went on to win an ABC Excellence in Construction Award for Institutional Project in the $10 Million & Up category, which honors the region’s most inventive and well-constructed buildings16. I ask Heim about his future outlook for the company, and he answers with the same forward-focused mindset that has guided our conversation thus far. “I believe there’s definitely a future in Pennsylvania infrastructure,” he says, “which is where we work 99% of the time. Pennsylvania is very low on the scale in terms of quality of infrastructure, so we have a major investment through the federal government and the state government, and that in my opinion will continue for the next 20 years. It’s going to have to in order for Pennsylvania to get back to where they need to be. So, infrastructure wise we see growth and we see continuous work on the general construction side. We do a lot of healthcare work and that’s very prominent. The commercial market is going to be economy based and right now that has slowed down a little bit, but I do see a future enhancement as we go forward, and I think it will grow eventually.”

But in the background of all these industry changes that fluctuate in line with state budgets and construction trends, the team at Heim Construction will continue to take each day as it comes and strive to be the best that they can be. That is the key to unlocking thirty more years of construction industry success.

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