At The Weitz Company, employees are guided by a set of Core Values which are an integral part of the culture of this Iowa-based general contractor celebrating 35 years in Arizona.
These values are the foundation of how Weitz builds projects, manages its work, and treats employees, owners, and partners. They are:
>> Honesty and integrity;
>> Respect for people;
>> Performance with absolute reliability;
>> Long-term perspective;
>> Nurturing personal growth.
“At Weitz, we are all about customer advocacy,” says Brendan Morrow, Director-Senior Living, whose major projects include the $73M, 453,000 SF Maravilla Scottsdale that opened in May 2012.
“While we plan and work hard on schedule, quality and budget,
we also create a project specific plan on how to exceed customer
expectations. What can we do that goes above and beyond the things that
a lot of builders do well.
“We try to put ourselves in the owner’s shoes and do what we think is the right thing for their benefit.”
In 2009, Weitz entered into a collaboration with Bombardier Transportation and the City of Phoenix — big shoes to fill — on one of its signature projects in Arizona: a portion of the PHX Sky Train at Sky Harbor International Airport. And according to those involved, this particular project was a testament to Weitz’s Core Values.
“Although it was ‘sticks and bricks,’ this project was very unique,” says Bob Beaver, Weitz Senior Project Supervisor for Sky Train. “It dictated doing things we had never done before. That process including looking at the big picture with subcontractors such as Suntec. We really didn’t know each other. But as the project evolved and picked up speed, we had a ton of respect for each for them.
“Through that process, the ‘Weitz Way’, building relationships — also with Wilson Electric — was clearly evident,” Beaver adds.
In addition to the technical aspects and stringent requirements everyone faced, says Marty Szafranski, project manager for Wilson Electric, there was a huge amount of coordination with the logistical aspects.
“Getting equipment up there (on the elevated guideways) was a challenge,” Szafranski recalls. “But we all sat down in the trailer and charted out who goes first, second … getting the cables and concrete up there. As we looked at each, we started coming up with ideas. We pretty much piggybacked off each other.
In regards to Wilson’s involvement and the partnerships, Szafranski added, “We really started looking out for each other’s scope of work. We integrated with one another. The goal was to do it efficiently and safely. Everyone was Looking out for each other. We were side by side from the beginning all the way to this day.”
From his company’s standpoint, Derek Wright, vice president of Suntec Concrete, says the collaborative effort started with the realization of how technically demanding the job was.
“No one had done or seen something like this before,” Wright says. “Weitz took the lead and everyone quickly learned. Their knowledge and the staff they put in charge were an immense help. The mock-ups and learning process were essential to the overall. Without that we had no real idea of what product would look like.”
A big part of the collaborative effort included “team exercises” even before construction began. A facilitator was brought in to organize these exercises.
“It truly helped us learn about the people we’d be working with,” Wright recalls. “It made us dig a little deeper.
“Some people were more outspoken and drove the train,” Wright says with a laugh. “It helped understand that some people were assertive and some were laid back. This kind of forced all that stuff to fall away. As the project evolved, people put their differences and egos aside.”
PHX Sky Train was the fifth project of its kind on which John Housley, x, with Bombardier, had worked. He says he viewed working with Weitz as a “real team effort.” It wasn’t just Bombardier or Weitz. It was “us.”
Housley says he recalls an instance that stood out in his mind — and even impressed him.
“We had been in the trailer about a month or two,” Housley recalls. “Bob sends an email out and asks us to write something about ourselves. Likes and dislikes. They brought a lunch into the conference room. We read off some funny things … some crazy things. It pulled us together. You learned a lot of things about the guys you were working with. That was the first thing that really grabbed me and the Bombardier team.”
And to think it all started with just one meeting.
“That’s culture of this company,” Beaver says. “We are like a family.”