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Earnie Eng

Relentless Ally

Your IT Guide

If you’re having technology problems in Portland, Oregon, there is only one person to call: Earnie Eng, developer and IT regional specialist. Earnie is an expert in technology, but he also prides himself on being an expert in people. In everything he does, Earnie looks to put people first – prioritizing the people behind the machines, rather than the machines themselves.

Throughout his more than 22-year career with Balfour Beatty, Earnie has worked tirelessly to improve efficiency, leverage technology to its full potential and ensure that he is doing all he can to help his teammates achieve success.

From Intern to Integral

IT was always a natural fit for Earnie; after his parents immigrated to the U.S. from Hong Kong in the 1970s, his mother became a software developer who owned her own company. Earnie grew up surrounded by technology, experiencing the latest and greatest new tech throughout the 1980s.

As he grew up though, Earnie found himself less interested in the mechanics of technology and more interested in the people who were using it. He went on to study business with an IT focus and began his career as an intern with Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company (HSW), during his last year of college.

During his internship, Earnie was tasked with developing software for HSW. Project teams were struggling to provide the manpower needed to hold in-person trainings on jobsites, so Earnie worked with an external developer to create a platform to host online trainings.

“From day one, I came in with ideas and suggestions on how to improve and redesign what the team had started on,” Earnie says. “Anyone could have found the errors in the code, but my education in business helped me understand the user’s perspective. I recognized that it was primarily a business problem and needed a business technology solution.”

That people-first mentality carried him through his internship. Earnie often went above and beyond his job responsibilities, regularly helping others in the office with everything from fixing printers to improving marketing databases.

Breaking Through Burnout

When HSW was acquired by Balfour Beatty, Earnie transitioned from a software developer into his current role of IT regional specialist. When he stepped into this role, Earnie knew he wanted to do things differently; with that thought in mind, he developed a catch phrase: “I’m not just any IT guy—I’m your IT guide.”

“I don’t simply want to fix things that are broken, I want to show people how to use our technology to serve their needs,” Earnie explains. “That has become my mission and the question I ask anyone who comes to me for help— ‘how can I help you succeed?’”

Earnie is the first to say that he is a people-pleaser by nature; this tendency to put others before himself early in his career grew him into the helpful, accommodating professional he is today – but it also led him down a path toward burnout.

“I always bent over backwards to make sure everyone around me was happy,” Earnie says. “That would burn anyone out after a while.”

As he has progressed in his career, Earnie has learned the importance of setting boundaries and communicating what he can handle. While his people-pleasing nature was once a negative that ultimately overwhelmed him, Earnie has turned people-pleasing into a positive – allowing him to be an empathetic leader and partner to his teammates.

“While exclusively people-pleasing was ultimately detrimental, the skills I learned during that time were invaluable,” Earnie says. “Over time, I’ve learned to be a better listener, I’m a better team player and I’ve learned how to prioritize. Now, rather than sacrificing quality in trying to improve everything, I’m more focused on making what I’m working on successful.”

Thinking Inside the Box

A major aspect of success for Earnie is anticipating needs and alleviating headaches for those in the field. Several years ago, Earnie recognized frustration between his technology teammates and those in the field when setting up jobsite trailers. The process of getting internet set up on a jobsite was complicated; superintendents were often not equipped to set up the network, but sending an IT teammate to every jobsite was costly and time-consuming.

Earnie, along with Steve VanHuss, senior regional technology specialist in Seattle, developed an idea: what if they could provide project teams with everything they needed, pre-wired, so all they had to do was plug it in?

The first “IT Job in a Box,” as they call it, was a simple file box and a piece of plywood with all the elements screwed in, and a hole cut on the side to plug in an AC adapter. Since the first prototype, Earnie and Steve have continued to improve upon the design. As new technology emerges and wireless connectivity improves, so does the IT Job in a Box; the duo have evolved the design of the box itself to ensure that it can withstand rugged jobsite conditions as well as added features such as an external strip of ports to connect a computer to the device directly and LED lights that indicate the box’s status.

“We’ve iterated quite a bit since the first box, based on feedback we’ve received from the field and our own experience with troubleshooting and maintenance,” Earnie says. “Ultimately, we’re very proud to have created something that makes life for those in the field a bit easier.”

Our use of the current version of the IT Job in a Box has expanded since Earnie and Steve created it, now being used on several jobsites in the Northwest and at select jobsites in Florida. 

The Ultimate Team Player

Construction is truly a team sport – it takes every member of our team to ensure a project is successful. In his time with the business, Earnie has proved that he is the ultimate team player, solidifying himself not just as a subject matter expert on technology but also as an ally to every one of his teammates. He is a true servant leader; even without being asked, Earnie takes the initiative to lead his teammates and the company behind the scenes.

Though his role has evolved over the years, Earnie has been unwavering in his priority of putting people first every step of the way. His work has led to increased efficiency for his teammates while his dedication to the people behind the machines has built a culture of trust and collaboration. 

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Dan Ferguson

Relentless Ally

Maximizing Every Priority

Building corrections facilities pulls owner and stakeholder priorities in many different directions. Our clients must simultaneously consider budget, safety and facility security, critical system redundancy and more. There are simply no negotiable priorities. Over a nearly 40-year career, Dan Ferguson, Balfour Beatty’s director of justice and civic projects in California and a true market expert, helps clients balance and maximize them all.

Decades of Market Expertise

Some construction professionals take a circuitous route to their ultimate career calling, experiencing a range of construction types before dialing into a niche that suits their skillsets and personalities. Not so for Dan – educated as a designer, he first entered the industry as an intern architect for a Kansas-based design firm that specialized in precast detention modules.

“At the time, my employer specialized in turnkey services, where we could provide our clients with cost and schedule guarantees and a full-service package,” Dan says. “I learned early in my career that corrections clients value construction allies that align completely with their mission, a philosophy that found its highest application with Balfour Beatty.”

Over the following decades, before becoming Balfour Beatty’s preeminent corrections expert in California, Dan consulted and led successful corrections and civic projects across the entire US – in Alabama, Georgia, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas, up and down the Eastern seaboard and more. In addition to sheer weight and variety of experience, Dan’s project history further reinforced the value of complete mission alignment in public work.

 Mission Alignment Meets Custom Solutions

Corrections construction involves many wholly unique considerations, especially related to safety, durability and redundancy. Office building or multifamily housing developers will likely never have to consider the relative safety of bolted-down furniture, anti-ligature measures for light fixtures and door handles or the utility implications of certain room arrangements, but corrections experts like Dan solve these problems and many more on every project.

Dan’s and Balfour Beatty’s approach involves engaging in the design and preconstruction phase at the earliest opportunity. During this phase, our team of market experts collaborates closely with clients to align with their program values, comprehend their vision for a safe and transformative facility and then introduce innovative and cost-efficient construction solutions to bring that vision to life.

“The needs of our client’s program determine the most suitable project solutions” Dan explains. “Whether a client values time, budget, quality of finish, safety or a combination thereof in varying proportions, our teams possess the necessary expertise and extensive project history to guarantee successful outcomes.”

Dan’s extensive corrections resume includes almost every possible iteration of these changing client priorities and consequently extensive experience implementing varying design solutions. For example, Dan has built facility structures using almost all the standard industry building materials, including prefabricated modular steel cells, metal studs, precast panels, precast cells, grouted metal TrussWall panels and masonry. Each represents some balance of schedule, budget, safety and durability considerations, but Dan has seen the real-world impact of each solution and can therefore provide expertise and advice in response to our clients’ needs.

Transition Team-Ups

As much as Dan and his fellow California teammates have embraced the importance of early program value alignment with our corrections clients, they’ve also learned that alignment is just as important as a project progresses and ultimately approaches completion. Early and active engagement with the client’s transition team – and maintaining that engagement throughout the entire project lifecycle – is critical to avoiding costly rework and ensuring a safe, functioning facility from day one.

Client transition teams typically include facility maintenance & operations staff, a chief deputy, experienced corrections officers, the client project manager, a training coordinator and other logistical staff, all familiar with the eventual needs of the planned new correctional facility.

“We work hard to understand and align with client needs as early as possible, but how our design and construction solutions interact with real-world implications can be hard to identify on paper,” Dan adds. “Active engagement with client transition teams ensure our early planning and subsequent work are consistent with the facility’s and client’s program needs at turnover.”

On the San Diego Youth Transition Campus, a design-build partnership between DLR Group and Balfour Beatty, the leadership team demonstrated final security camera views for the client’s transition team during the design phase. Due to mid-project program changes and changing facility operational staff, the planned new camera system required further refinement to meet the detection, observation, recognition and identification (DORI) standard of CCTV coverage.

“Using the DORI standard, the transition team identified an increased need for high-resolution cameras that could be used for positive recognition and Identification of an individual beyond a reasonable doubt,” Dan says. “By bringing the transition team on as early as possible, we were empowered to make the security system changes during the design phase while still reducing expenditures elsewhere, keeping the project’s budget and schedule on-track.”

Meeting Community Needs

Dan and Balfour Beatty recognize the dynamic nature of correctional facilities, whether public or private, as they evolve to meet the changing needs of our communities. The design and construction of new justice facilities is critically important to the creation of restorative justice. Dan’s extensive history of accomplishments, from his previous roles before joining Balfour Beatty in 2020 to his current director position where he showcases deep industry knowledge and exceptional leadership skills, highlights his continued dedication to fostering client connections and delivering top-tier construction services throughout the US justice market.

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Kyle Bolejack

Relentless Ally

Standard-Setting Special Projects Leadership

Special Projects Vice President Kyle Bolejack’s father was a professional civil engineer. But by the time Kyle joined Balfour Beatty, he knew his passion would take a related but different path: rather than design things, he wanted to build them.

In the 21 years since, Kyle’s career opportunities have taken him across the country and back, through diverse project experiences and finally to his now-permanent home in North Texas. At every step, Kyle has developed his leadership and keen business sense on our most fast-paced, high-touch special projects.

When projects seem impossibly fast or indelibly complicated by their surroundings, Kyle and Balfour Beatty’s Special Projects team, provide matchless interior finish-out and tenant improvement construction services. On every project, they serve our clients as trusted allies and create repeatable results and decades-long relationships.

Tried and Tested Teams

Kyle’s success in the special projects market displays what sets our special projects teams apart: they aren’t just operations teams executing ad hoc special projects, but rather are fully dedicated to this unique facet of construction and its challenges. Our teams expertly manage accelerated schedules, unconventional work hours, work in occupied buildings and handling sensitive and unique systems to create world-class interiors.

“Working in special projects means encountering new clients, new problems and new solutions much more frequently,” Kyle says. “The dynamic nature of special projects excites us, but it also motivates us to cultivate teams who understand the market and how our clients operate.”

Balfour Beatty’s special projects operational structure is laser-focused on this market at every level, from our dedicated preconstruction group to project engineers and all the way up to superintendents. And backed by years of dedication to the unique rigors of special projects, our teams and sector leaders like Kyle build trusting, longstanding relationships with clients of every size.

“We have relationships with North Texas financial and legal service clients that stretch back multiple decades,” Kyle reflects. “We work to become a trusted ally immediately, but for many clients, that trust has been realized in many years of successful projects and repeat work.”

Balfour Beatty’s repeat interiors clients are a testament to our teams’ expertise, agility and ability to understand and realize each client’s vision.

First-Rate Communicators

In special projects, perhaps more than anywhere else, communication is critical. Kyle and our special projects teams proactively and continuously communicate with our clients to ensure success and meet clients’ unique schedule and spatial needs.

For clients in the financial, medical and many other sectors, construction often simply can’t interrupt day-to-day operations. Shutting down even portions of a floor during normal business hours may not be an option. By establishing this need as early as possible and reconciling the client’s needs with the project schedule, Kyle and his teams find the right solutions every time.

In some cases, after-hours and night work may suffice, but in others work might be restricted to a short window from Saturday afternoon through Monday morning. Whatever the client requires, our special projects leaders like Kyle make it happen.

Unique client needs can also extend beyond logistical solutions and into sensitive Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MEP) systems. Projects in active healthcare facilities involve many of the same scheduling considerations with an added layer of complexity in advanced HVAC filtering, negative air machines, sterile areas and more.

“For healthcare clients, it’s beyond critical that we understand their unique MEP needs and how we can mitigate our own dust and debris,” Kyle says. “Every project is a balancing act of meeting our schedule commitments while serving healthcare clients by protecting their patients.”

Trade partner selection also plays an important role in special projects success, where space, tolerances and schedules are all compressed. Kyle and our special projects leaders ensure the right people match with the right projects by developing rosters of trusted partners with established experience in the relevant sectors.

“Our clients value work done with excellence, not cutting corners for a low price,” Kyle says. “We work hard to partner with or develop trade partners who share those values and our commitment to transparent and constant communication.”

Setting the Standard

When Balfour Beatty clients work with Kyle or any special projects teams, they value more than just our name. It’s all about our people, and our special projects leaders all bring deep industry knowledge, client-first service and unparalleled project management.

When the stakes are highest, the logistics most complex and the sector-specific needs most singular, Balfour Beatty is more than just a known quantity – we’re the industry standard.

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Brian Ficzeri

Relentless Ally

At the Intersection of Design and Risk Reduction

Chief Estimator Brian Ficzeri approaches every project like a three-dimensional puzzle. But unlike a conventional jigsaw project, building critical infrastructure involves a level of complexity that requires the industry’s best problem solvers.

Over his nearly 30-year career, Brian has estimated some of Balfour Beatty’s most impactful bridge, highway and water projects. He has seen the industry change and adapt to an ever-evolving variety of supply chain disruptions and project risk scenarios. Through it all, Brian’s expertise has empowered client decision-making and forever improved the way our communities live and move.

Driving Down Risk

Estimators are integral to driving successful project outcomes from the earliest stages of preconstruction by identifying innovative and practical solutions that drive down costs. But far from simply crunching numbers, Brian knows that expert networking and well-cultivated industry savvy is essential to navigating a landscape of escalating risks.

“As estimators, we’re always looking for the best, most cost-effective way to do something,” Brian says. “That often requires some back-and-forth collaboration with our client and designers to arrive at the right intersection of design features, supply chain management and budget considerations.”

Brian maintains a revolving roster of suppliers, manufacturers and trade partners and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of common industry costs, but every component is less predictable than it’s ever been. To ensure our project stakeholders see the best outcomes, Brian keeps a particularly close eye on the prices of steel, concrete and other ubiquitous materials, as well as the strained labor market. Every advantage counts in the pursuit of reducing risk, and Brian finds them at every opportunity.

“In some ways, my role is now more complex, but understanding and facing each new challenge is part of the fun,” Brian says. “I combine my past project experience, knowledge of industry trends and strategic market analysis to determine which escalations are real and lasting, which are temporary and which path works for our client’s and trade partners schedules and budgets.”

Bridges to Success

Brian’s 27 years of estimating experience has touched countless landmark infrastructure projects in Texas. He still has favorites, however, and most are community-connecting bridges. From Houston’s I-10 to the Margaret McDermott Bridge and Skillman Bridge in Dallas, Brian’s preconstruction expertise powers later construction success.

Whatever the project, Brian likes to think of estimating in terms of what he colloquially calls “widgets” – discrete, modular and repeatable packages of design elements that create both cost reliability and eventual efficient constructability. Of course, Brian’s many widgets require constant re-evaluation according to market conditions. They nevertheless provide our estimating teams and the clients they serve with an endlessly useful toolbox of building blocks from which any infrastructure project can emerge.

“Finding opportunities for efficiency during the estimating process is as much an analytical task as it is a creative one,” Brian says. “Balfour Beatty’s estimating teams excel at creative project sequencing, procurement solutions and design revisions that can save our clients money and reduce risk.”

For example, a highway project may require the excavation and construction of a water retention pond. That design element may have a generally reliable set cost based on size and depth, but Brian identifies ways to reduce risk for all project stakeholders. Properly sequencing the pond within the larger project, repurposing excavated material and even strategic over-digging and using the excess to offset backfill costs elsewhere are just some possible opportunities to create savings on any front.

Brian’s project experience has also included a range of contracting models, including smaller hard bid projects and massive, multi-year design-build behemoths like the Horseshoe Interchange and its constituent Margaret McDermott Bridge, now a landmark feature of the Dallas skyline.

No matter a project’s contracting model, Brian strives to understand local municipalities, their construction regulations, project site conditions and how each factor might affect risk. Especially on large-scale design-build projects, many of which span many miles of highway, managing traffic redirection and utility relocation are critical considerations.

Brian and Balfour Beatty’s team of expert infrastructure estimators manage these risks – and so many more – through a matrix of common issues and a risk register, comprising even more movable widgets in their toolbox.

“No matter how complex a project is, we collaborate with all stakeholders to proactively seek out, evaluate and mitigate risks,” Brian says. “If something happens, do we have a half-a-million dollar problem, a $5 million problem or $50,000 problem? By planning for these contingencies in advance, our clients and trade partners are equipped to make the best decisions.”

By simultaneously satisfying local regulations, creating end-user-friendliness and meeting clients’ design and budget goals, Brian sets up projects for success.

Answering the “Why?”

Interstate highways and landmark bridges transport thousands of drivers every day, providing essential channels of connection for our communities. The design choices and cost considerations that inform these projects matter, not just to direct stakeholders but also the people who utilize them every day. Estimators like Brian can explain the “Why?” behind each such choice made at the strategic intersection of savings and design intent.

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Michelle Clark

Relentless Ally

Problem-Solving With a Personal Touch

Project Executive Michelle Clark began her construction career on large projects with budgets in the hundreds of millions. By the time she reached Balfour Beatty in 2010, she had discovered her true passion for the industry’s polar opposite: fast-paced, high-touch and complex special projects.

In the decade since, Michelle has refined her problem-solving skills and earned a reputation as an enthusiastic advocate for Mid-Atlantic clients with unique project needs. In occupied buildings and on accelerated schedules, through night work and more, Michelle and her teammates leverage their years of special project experience to solve problems no one else can, delivering beautiful renovations and additions suited to each client’s needs.

Tackling Complex Logistics

Balfour Beatty experts like Michelle excel at special projects with truly unique challenges. Converting a mid-level tower floor into parking space or renovating a busy lobby with minimal disruption present a Gordian Knot of logistical considerations, but one that our teams are uniquely suited to untangle and overcome.

“Owners and clients come to us because they know we can see even the most complicated jobs through to success,” Michelle says. “Our clients trust us to solve problems that no one else can with design assistance, complicated or accelerated scheduling and innovative solutions – it’s where we thrive.”

On a current project in Washington, D.C., Balfour Beatty’s Mid-Atlantic special projects team has been tasked with adding an elevator to the interior of a historic downtown building. Beyond the aesthetic considerations of building an appropriately styled addition, the project site logistics are especially complex.

In addition to providing design input to help the elevator mesh with the surrounding structure, Michelle and her teammates are delivering construction solutions tailored to the site’s challenges, including limited space for material laydown, equipment and selective demolition. Backed by years of creative problem-solving experience, the team is performing complex shaft drilling, hydraulic installations and more within a narrow footprint.

Security Clearance: Granted

The Mid-Atlantic construction market, especially near historic Washington, D.C. is such that Balfour Beatty’s special projects teams often perform work for the federal government. Such projects can involve stringent security measures that Michelle loves to approach as another opportunity to solve a complex puzzle of logistical challenges.

“Federal special projects, just like special projects for private clients, are often located in occupied and secure office buildings where you must be a U.S. citizen, you can’t bring in any mobile devices and you can’t interact with surrounding offices in any way,” Michelle says. “It requires more planning and coordination than others in the industry may want to tackle, but we have the experience to ensure success. Every challenge is an opportunity to excel.”

Project coordination in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) also requires a unique approach to project management and Building Information Modeling (BIM) coordination.

When our teams can’t bring smartphones or tablets onto a project site, they rely on paper plans, intensive and intentional day-to-day planning and strategically timed communication with off-site personnel. Our special projects teams adapt to and overcome these unique constraints, carefully coordinating operations to maintain accelerated schedules and reliable budgets.

Making the Impossible Personal

When faced with challenging special projects, Michelle takes a personal, high-touch approach. By getting to know a client and understanding their project goals, she and her teammates can overcome any hurdle through innovative planning solutions, enhanced trade partner engagement and simply thinking outside the box.

Two back-to-back projects in the Warner Building in Washington, D.C. showcased Balfour Beatty’s ability to bring a client’s vision to life, first while converting an office floor into additional parking space. The team needed to avoid disrupting the existing parking structure above the floor and the offices above that, but the added complication of doorway-sized access points to the space precluded any large demolition equipment.

To effectively execute the garage conversion, including pouring a concrete ramp down to the new garage level, the team transported small loads of concrete in buggies that could navigate the space. Avoiding larger equipment also meant they could keep the rest of the garage open, which greatly benefited traffic to the rest of the building.

Impressed with the team’s work on the garage conversion, client JBG SMITH engaged Balfour Beatty to build a fitness center and renovate the Warner Building lobby. The client desired a green space despite the limited natural light, so Michelle and the team found a film set design specialist in California who could construct a 10-foot-tall artificial tree inside the lobby.

All the while, the team worked closely with JBG SMITH and the Warner Theater, a major occupant of the building, to coordinate work around live theater performances and peak activity hours in the lobby.

Near project completion, the team navigated even more complex logistics with the client and the city to deliver, assemble and install massive steel trellises, a key design feature of the renovated lobby. Though prefabricated in pieces off-site, each trellis component was large enough that the team worked with our delivery partners and the city of Washington, D.C. to coordinate lane closures during low-traffic hours.

The team needed to deliver the trellis components through the lobby’s front door, so constant communication with the client and its tenants was critical to mitigating disruptions to the Warner Building’s daily business.

Chasing the Next Challenge

Like many Balfour Beatty special projects experts across the U.S., Michelle feels uniquely suited for the fast-paced nature of these projects and loves what she does.

Every project has at least one especially unique, challenging or interesting feature. Whether she’s tackling an accelerated schedule, the challenge of delivering massive steel beams down a crowded city street or performing a complete lobby renovation without disturbing stage performances, Michelle is a passionate and respected Relentless Ally for our clients and communities.