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Business Technology Incubator builder named Contractor of the Year
Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The busy construction year at SUNY Fredonia that saw the expenditure of more than $30 million was capped off with the presentation of the university’s annual “Contractor of the Year” award to Perry Construction Group, general contractor of the university’s new Business Technology Incubator in downtown Dunkirk , set to officially open later this year.

More than 160 representatives from 64 companies engaged in building projects for the university during 2009 attended a luncheon held Nov. 23 at Cranston Marche dining hall.

Perry Construction, based in Erie, Pa., is the building contractor of the almost $6 million facility and also served as the general contractor. In the latter role, Perry oversaw the entire project and also supervised electrical, plumbing, mechanical and other subcontractors and building trades. Accepting the award for Perry Construction were Dennis Dolph, vice president of operations, and Dan Kean, project superintendent.

Criteria for the award, which the university has been presented since 2001, include professionalism, overall performance, completion of the project on time and within budget, and the ability to adapt to changes as they occur, according to Tracy Bennett, vice president for Administration at SUNY Fredonia.

What was most impressive about Perry’s role in the project was its ability to work collaboratively with university officials to resolve unforeseen circumstances in a cost-effective manner that wouldn’t hinder the project’s completion. That capacity to react decisively and quickly began when the firm which was initially awarded the contract withdrew at the last minute, forcing the university to secure an alternate builder in very short order. Perry was able to coordinate all its resources, schedule subcontractors and submit project documents to the state capital — all within 24 hours — so it could break ground last fall.

Bringing another contractor onboard set the construction timetable back 45 days, according to Markus Kessler, director of Facilities Planning at SUNY Fredonia, “but Perry came right in and they got into the saddle. And when they kicked the horse, it was at a full gallop — it wasn’t a little trot. They really wanted to get the project moving.”

Kessler said Perry resolved unexpected obstacles that included bricks and other building debris from old foundations as well as underground utility lines that were discovered when excavation began. “The site was not as clean as everybody had thought,” Kessler noted.

“The contractor really had some difficult times because of unforeseen conditions that were on the site, and was always able to work it out, find ways to make it right, cost effective and try to get the project back on schedule,” Kessler said. Perry also adjusted its own timetable due to the early arrival of winter weather last year. “They really had to flip their schedule around quite a bit, and that really impressed me,” Kessler said.

The 21,000-square-foot incubator is Perry’s first project at SUNY Fredonia. The firm is currently engaged in several high-profile projects, including multi-million-dollar facilities at Hamot Medical Center and Penn State Behrend, both in northwestern Pennsylvania, and a $1.6 million renovation for Westfield Academy and Central School.

Perry Construction was one of 147 different companies, including 49 from Chautauqua County and 127 from Western New York State, that worked on the campus during 2009, which Bennett characterized as “one of the busiest ever” for construction. “And based on what’s in the pipeline, the momentum of construction projects on campus is still increasing.”

More than 40 different projects were completed in 2009, and work continues on many others, including the new $4.6 million Campus and Community Children’s Center, the $5.7 million rehabilitation of Maytum Hall, and a $3 million addition to Mason Hall.

Also recognized at the luncheon were recipients of the first eight “Contractor of the Year” awards: LeChase Construction, 2008; BECC Electric, 2007; Clark Companies, 2006; Kideney Architects, 2005; Habiterra Design Group, 2004; S. St. George Enterprises, 2003; Concept Construction, 2002; and Wendel Duchscherer, 2001. Each contractor at the luncheon was recognized for its contributions to the campus during 2009.

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State University of New York at Fredonia