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March 29, 2012

2012 Construction Surveys: JE Dunn Construction

Specialty: General contractor/construction manager and design-builder, locally focusing on health-care, science, technology, residential, office and American Indian projects

Local management:Trent Wachsnicht, vice president/director of operations; Allison Raduziner, director of business development; Stan Hadler, director of estimating/preconstruction

Founded: 1924

Local office: Bellevue; national headquarters in Kansas City, Mo.

2011 revenues: $1.9 billion

Projected 2012 revenues: $2.2 billion

Current projects: $16 million Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Station replacement; $12.4 million, 34,400-square-foot Valley Medical Center Emergency Department

Photo courtesy of CHG Building Systems [enlarge]
JE Dunn built the Tacoma Recovery and Transfer Station replacement, which is one of the state’s largest open-span pre-engineered buildings. CHG Building Systems erected the metal building.

Trent Wachsnicht, vice president/director of operations with JE Dunn Construction, said there’s been lots of apartment construction in Seattle lately, prompting some concern from economists and others that the market is getting saturated. Wachsnicht said JE Dunn hopes it isn’t, and expects demand will hold up if the economy continues to improve.

Surprising South Lake

Wachsnicht said the thing that surprised him most in construction locally in the last year or so is the expansion of the South Lake Union area. “I think it’s gotten real hot,” with Amazon.com to biotechnology, he said. Wachsnicht said he hadn’t expected it to grow this much this quickly or that the current building boom would still be going on now.

Wachsnicht said biotechnology continues to be strong locally, and that his firm is hoping health-care rebounds after a shakeout due to national mergers and acquisitions is done. “We’re hoping it settles down so that the hospital groups feel confident and have the capital available to continue pursuing their capital programs here,” he said.

Labor shortage coming?

Other than in the apartment sector, developers are generally not putting projects in place locally and financiers aren’t financing them due to a lack of confidence in the economy, he said.

Wachsnicht said that when firms start hiring again, the office sector should pick up, as should health-care because of ongoing demand and an aging population.

When that happens, the construction industry could face a labor shortage because some people who got laid off in the recession have trained for other careers and the workforce is aging.

To address this, JE Dunn has taken steps to mentor and help people move up through the company and is spending a lot of resources to train people.


Wachsnicht said the biggest and best trend in construction is more collaboration, fostered by delivery methods such as integrated project delivery in which all team members come together for the good of the project. JE Dunn uses those methods, he said. It also employs technology that includes a central website, electronic documents, and web-based software to provide better real-time project information to those involved in a project.

“Our approach is open-book, collaborative and communicative,” he said.

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