Building a Winning Partnership: An Interview with Bayer CropScience’s Tony Jackman

In December 2014, Balfour Beatty Construction finished work on a 160,000-square-foot renovation of the main office building at the Bayer CropScience headquarters in Research Triangle Park. Tony Jackman works as the project manager for Bayer CropScience “Modern Office Project,” and we were able to get his thoughts on working with our team. Originally from Ireland, Tony has 18 years of international experience in property development, project management, general contracting, as well as construction and design management.

Q. Both Balfour Beatty and Bayer CropScience place a strong emphasis on jobsite safety. How did it benefit Bayer CropScience to work with a general contractor partner whose corporate culture regarding safety aligned with their own?

A. For us, safety is the most important aspect of any project. Some folks think about safety as a general term, but so much attention goes into creating and maintaining a safe work environment. For example, we write a housekeeping requirement into all of our construction contracts. We do this, because we know clean jobs are safe jobs, and safe jobs are quality jobs. And, when you put an emphasis on keeping a jobsite clean, workers stay engaged in safety and keep it top of mind as well. This leads to them taking pride in their own work, which also has a positive impact on schedule and cost. In my mind, safety and quality go hand in glove. Balfour Beatty shared our commitment to safety, which was displayed every day at the jobsite. Local subcontractors were also very safety-conscious, which further carried it through.

Q. When leaders from your global corporate headquarters in Germany visited the RTP jobsite over the course of construction activities, what impressions did it leave on the team?

A. They felt we were well-organized, and that it was a well-run project. There’s a word we use here at Bayer – pristine – which is what we feel like a jobsite should be. This job was definitely in pristine condition every time our global leadership team visited – meaning that it was clean, safe, and run according to our strict standards. Balfour Beatty was thoroughly on board with us every step of the way, and we appreciate that relationship of trust.

Q. Balfour Beatty strives to go above and beyond in communicating with our clients. In what ways did our onsite team keep Bayer CropScience informed at every stage of the project? In your opinion, was Balfour Beatty a responsive construction partner?

A. I would say that Balfour Beatty did a really good job communicating with us. They had to keep our security, safety, and facility teams informed at all times. We held progress meetings once a week, but it’s critical to have more regular interactions than that. Your superintendent, Marty Smith, did an excellent job in the field, and I don’t think a day went by that we didn’t talk to Evan Hanes, who managed safety. What we had was a culture of transparency. We approached conversations from the perspective of working together as partners. There was an openness and trust that made communication effective on both sides of the fence. The Balfour Beatty team also played a key role in helping us create communications for Bayer CropScience employees to keep them in the know.

Q. Balfour Beatty completed each of the project’s three phases on or ahead of schedule. How did the on-time delivery benefit your company?

A. Meeting our phased deadline dates was critical to the success of this project. Throughout construction, we had to move large numbers of employees into temporary spaces. Missing targeted completion dates would have caused confusion amongst our employees and most likely would have negatively impacted business operations, productivity, and employee morale. Overall, we had about 1,200 moves to coordinate. Some employees were relocated twice and others three times. This process had to be smooth – there was no question about it.

It was the first time I’d ever been part of a team that achieved its long-range milestone goals to the day!

We selected the projected completion date for the first phase a year in advance, and we hit that date exactly. It was the first time I’d ever been part of a team that achieved its long-range milestone goals to the day! It also gave our senior management confidence that the rest of the project would be executed flawlessly. Phase 2, which involved 105,000 square feet, even finished a few weeks early. It all goes back to addressing hurdles and possible roadblocks as a team. And not only is it important to finish on time from the project management perspective, but it’s also essential in getting started on the right foot to maintain our culture and helping ensure employees experience the least amount of impact possible. 

Q. Was Balfour Beatty able to successfully deliver Bayer CropScience’s vison for the new space and the overall design intent?

A. Balfour Beatty’s project team was highly experienced in corporate renovation projects. The senior project manager, Jeff Munzenmaier, knew the right questions to ask from day one. He had previously led the Red Hat Corporate Headquarters Relocation project, which was a high-end, phased renovation in downtown Raleigh. His experience, especially in regards to subcontractor procurement, helped us cover a lot of bases. Renovations can definitely be challenging because of existing building conditions, and you don’t always know what you will encounter along the way. Balfour Beatty was able to come up with solutions to the unexpected so we could continue moving forward. The whole team understood our vision and was able to deliver.   

After the job was finished, we had new visitors stop by who had never seen the old building. They remarked that it looked more like a new building than a remodeled building. I think that’s a pretty strong testament to the quality of the finished product.

Q. Our onsite team was led by Jeff Munzenmaier, Marty Smith, Clayton Simmons, and Evan Hanes. Please comment on their level of professionalism and industry expertise.

Balfour Beatty is top notch, and I’m proud to recommend them.

A. Throughout the entire project, I never saw a single team member contradict one another. They supported each other 100% and really complemented each other throughout the project. Someone once told me if you ask Jeff a question, you’d better be prepared for the answer. That was a strength, because having a project manager who delivers what he promises is very important. Clayton is professional and amicable and is a strong field leader. Marty is an outstanding superintendent who gets things done right and is just one of the nicest guys in this business. I often joked he should learn how to lose his temper, because he never gets upset! Evan was brought in a few weeks into the project and just rolled up his sleeves immediately. If something needed to be fixed, he’d just grab a hammer and fix it. I can’t find any fault in this crew, to be honest. If you keep them together, they’ll do well on their next job. Balfour Beatty is top notch, and I’m proud to recommend them.

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