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Close-up: Steve Sherrer

BSD Builders sidesteps slump with focus on health care

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When it comes to understanding the success of San Diego-based general contractor and construction manager BSD Builders Inc., start with integrity.

Add passion for building and the discipline to get the job done right from start to finish.

Then factor in a culture of relationship building -- trust and accountability -- within the company and with its clients.

"We don't just build, we build with care," said principal Steve Sherrer. "We are a value-based company. We want to build leaders within this organization and coach them how to be better communicators and how to deal with adversity and provide better service."

BSD specializes in delivering building solutions in the commercial, health care, industrial and corporate improvement arenas.

Steve Sherrer

As these markets develop and clients become more sophisticated, Sherrer and co-founders and principals Jeff Blair and Jim Docherty continue to hone their experience and expertise to provide results.

"Jim is a 25 year veteran in the field," Sherrer said. "He moves from project to project helping supers to become better builders."

Sherrer and Blair focus on the business side. Sherrer prepares estimates and budgets while developing the company's value based culture; while Blair is the "financial risk man," according to Sherrer. Blair has more than 25 years of professional experience in health care and has an in-depth understanding of California OSHPD (Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development) regulations and the requirements of working in an operating medical facility.

Sherrer, however, attributes much of the organization's accomplishments to its 36 employees.

"We built a company from scratch based on values and purpose," he said. With a focus on team building, BSD focuses on putting the right combinations of leaders in the right place at the right time.

BSD's pre-construction services offer a partnered approach to establish solid lines of communication and collaboration between clients, architects, engineers and end-users. BSD ensures cost-effectiveness by participating in the design process, implementing research and investigation, zoning and code compliance and constructability reviews.

"We'll look at a set of docs and find out if the details are constructible," Sherrer said. "We'll recommend a more efficient way or faster way to make sure details adhere to current codes and requirements."

Using state-of-the-art digital and online management tools, BSD project teams monitor and control jobs from any Web browser, from bidding to daily reports to cost analysis and tracking.

"What sets us apart is the people," said BSD Project Manager Karin Fowler, who said BSD Builders' No. 1 priority is taking care of clients. "Steve and the guys have gone out of their way to pull the best talent in San Diego."

One of the company's crown jewels is the Inland Valley Medical Center, a $20 million project consisting of a 49,000-square-foot expansion, 38,000-square-foot addition and 11,000-square-foot remodel. The project also covers 47,000-square feet of exterior site improvements including parking lot, new entry areas, ambulance bay and landscaping.

Sherrer's local project experience includes the Scripps La Jolla Women's Center, a $13 million 45,000-square-foot OSHPD remodel; the Scripps Mercy Cath Lab #3 and E-Generator upgrades, a $3.3 million renovation; and the Scripps Encinitas Cardiac and Radiology remodel, a $2.2 million three-phase renovation.

Sherrer predicts that the company will bring in $35 million this year, more than doubling its earnings of $16 million for 2007.

Seventy percent of the firm's revenue comes from the health care industry, Sherrer said. The passage of state Senate Bill 1953, which mandates hospitals to upgrade buildings most vulnerable to earthquakes, means that many facilities are planning expansions or seismic retrofitting to meet the 2013 deadline.

"I see health care being strong until 2030," he said.

Technology in health care moves very fast, also requiring upgrades and remodeling.

"The spaces we build become obsolete in just a few years," Sherrer said.

BSD takes on projects from $5,000 to $20 million. The company wants to be known for "not only building challenging projects but for building better people," according to the company's press materials. "One of the most gratifying elements of being a business owner is mentoring others toward improvement."

BSD's emphasis on balanced leaders, professional growth, participation in the community and strong culture of collaboration has paid off in staff loyalty and long-lasting industry relationships.

"These guys are committed to building relationships," Fowler said of the firm's principals. "Steve is passionate. He is a visionary. I knew from the moment I met him I wanted to work for this company."

Chung Klam is a San Diego-based freelance writer.

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