May 21, 2009

Rick Philipovich


Rick Philipovich

Company: BNBuilders

Position: Operations manager

Rick Philipovich is a newcomer to BNBuilders — he’s been there just shy of two years — but as the operations manager he has a hand in most of its projects, overseeing staffing, execution and profitability.

Philipovich joined the company as a project executive after seven years of working locally for Mortenson. The Pennsylvania native moved here from Maryland.

Philipovich was eager to talk about BNBuilders’ green credentials — the company has 22 LEED-accredited professionals and is converting its vehicle fleet to hybrids. But BNBuilders is piling up AGC honors for other reasons this year, including its safety record, community service and work on King County’s Muckleshoot Library.

The company, which was founded in 2000, looks for projects where it can serve as a general contractor-construction manager. Much of its work is in biotech, health care, commercial and educational markets.

How did you end up in construction?

When I got out of school, I started doing structural engineering work and it was pretty much a desk job. My first experience of going out to a project site, I knew right there and then that this is where I want to be, where the action’s at.

How do you plan for safety?

In many of our projects we get involved in pre-construction, which gives us plenty of time to be prepared when construction starts.

Has the industry always been that way?

For years it was moving in the direction of collaborative procurement, where you’re bringing contractors in during pre-construction. Lately, there’s been a movement toward hard-bidding projects, and that’s a shame. I think the economy is forcing that.

So there’s less chance to plan now?


Do you see a silver lining to the recession?

Yeah, I see a lot of projects that want to get built right now. So that’s the positive thing — there’s a lot of projects on the sidelines that are just sitting back waiting.

What’s the next innovation in construction?

Integrated delivery practice. Building-information modeling has been advancing over the last 10 years, and that’s essentially just putting all your drawings in a 3-D environment.

What you’re going to see in the future is not only is that going to be a component, but you’re going to have your schedule, your site logistics and your drawings all coordinated together as one.

I see a movement toward integrated practice as well, where an owner might not have separate contracts with the architect and the contractor, but (where) everybody signs the same contract. It’s a whole philosophy of building as one entity.

How does that help?

It gets back to collaboration. All the team members can come up with creative solutions together, rather than working on opposite sides of table. Your projects can get built quicker and with better quality.

What’s been your most memorable project?

Probably the Paul Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington. It was a very team-oriented project from day one. And I got to meet Bill Gates senior and junior, and so that made it pretty memorable.

Is that project a model for you?

Yeah, absolutely. The biggest thing I try to recreate is the push toward everybody working as a team. What I saw at that project was a table of people sitting together. At a meeting you wouldn’t know who worked for whom, because they’re all working together toward a common goal.

What are you reading?

I’m currently reading “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life.”

Learn anything?

Yeah, I learned that I’m nothing like him. He’s very analytically minded.

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