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Contractor to Watch: Hensel Phelps

Sky Train Phase II. Credit: City of Phoenix

By Rebekah Morris for Arizona Builder’s Exchange

Hensel Phelps is firing on all cylinders: From recently being selected as the General Contractor on the $690M Sky Train Stage 2 project for the City of Phoenix to the recent completion of the Luhr’s Building in downtown Phoenix, their breadth and depth of work in the local market has us taking note. In speaking with Anthony Jeffers, Project Development Director, he noted internal communication and an entire team of employee owners entirely focused on the client as key factors in their success.

Projects Across Many Sectors, both Private and Public

The recent selection on Sky Train Stage 2 is just the latest of many projects Hensel Phelps is working on in Arizona. The two mile extension of the Sky Train will extend service from Terminal 3 to the Rental Car Facility (AZBEX 1/27/17). The City of Phoenix selected HP in part because of their work on the first phase of Stage 1, the scope being similar to the current project. The extension is scheduled to open in late 2021. The design is being led by Gannett Fleming.

Also at Sky Harbor, HP is working on the Southwest Air Maintenance Expansion with Burns & McDonnell handling the design. That $40M project should break ground this summer and be complete in 2019. HP is currently in preconstruction: scoping and selecting subcontractors.

The third project HP has going at Sky Harbor is the Airport Command Center & EOC Building. This $11.8M project is currently under construction with an estimated completion date of December 2017. The multipurpose command center will have office space, conference/meeting spaces, and building support spaces. Gensler is the Architect.

Hensel Phelps is also leading the construction effort on the Banner University Medical Center North Campus project in Tucson. This is a $64M, three story, 260KSF cancer center and 900 stall parking garage. That project will wrap up in October 2017 with final turnover in January 2018. SmithGroupJJR is the Architect on the project.

Focused, Strategic Pursuits

Hensel Phelps is strategic in market sector focus, declining to pursue every hot sector in the market. Rather, they stay focused on their key clients in just a few segments, namely:

  1. Aviation
  2. Healthcare
  3. High-tech Manufacturing
  4. Federal Government
  5. Higher Education

Even with all the work under contract, Hensel Phelps is still actively pursuing opportunities in the market. In a competitive environment, HP prides themselves on mastering resource loading – both internally and externally – with the subcontractor and labor market.

One key benefit they bring to their clients is a deep understanding of what the market is doing, where issues such as labor shortages might occur, and planning to avoid them. One challenge Jeffers noted was with managing clients’ timelines for decisions. He explained that in healthcare construction decisions on Owner-Furnished equipment, such as a delay in ordering a large piece, can delay design and construction because it might not fit within the room, or significantly change the design of the MEP that support the equipment.

They do see labor challenges in the Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing, Concrete and Drywall trades. Internally, HP sees a need for more engineers: both in the field and in the office. “These major projects take a lot of staff to manage them correctly” Jeffers said.

Hensel Phelps is on pace for a record year in terms of revenue for the Phoenix office, approximately $250M-$300M. They also have a record backlog of projects. There are plenty of subcontracting opportunities on upcoming projects. Jeffers praised the efforts of Rosemary Middleton, the Coordinator of Supplier Diversity and Marketing Coordinator for the Arizona District. Rosemary is at countless events and making a continual effort to stay in touch with the DBE & SBE community to ensure they know what subcontracting opportunities are coming up, and how they can best position themselves to secure a contract.

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