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Construction Classes Help to Share Knowledge and Opportunities

TURNER CONSTRUCTION Co.

CEO: Peter J. Davoren.

Financial information: The average local construction volume is $200 million annually.

No. of local employees: 125.

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Investors: None. A privately held company.

Headquarters: New York City. The San Diego business unit was established in 1983.

Year founded: 1902.

Company description: Turner Construction Company has ranked among the leading general builders in the U.S. since the early part of the 20th century. Turner’s San Diego operation provides a wide range of services to its private and public sector clients in corporate office, biotech, education, health care, justice, hospitality and pharmaceutical arenas.

Turner Construction Co., San Diego is giving something back to the community by helping to prepare women-owned, minority-owned and small businesses to compete for construction jobs.

The construction firm is offering classes to train subcontractors from historically underutilized business enterprises. The Turner School of Construction Management began in 1969 in Cleveland. Since then, training has taken place in 70 cities and students from more than 32,000 businesses have participated. Classes are led by community leaders and Turner executives.

The free series of classes in San Diego is available to companies and individuals in any segment of the construction industry. It is designed to explain the industry’s newest technology and best practices. The focus is on aspects of the construction industry, such as purchasing, submitting bids, estimating, logistics, insurance and bonding.

Vera Howell, community affairs director for Turner in San Diego, said there is no charge to attend.

“I have been running spring and fall sessions since 2007,” said Howell. “This year the City of San Diego has requested that we run another one in partnership with them, which brought us to three academies in 2011. That is a big push for the Turner staff.”

Local partners here have included Centre City Development Corp., the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority, the Port of San Diego, the Black Contractors Association, the San Diego County Water Authority, the American Subcontractors Association Inc., the National Association of Women in Construction, and the San Diego Regional Minority Supplier Development Council.

Training for Larger Role

There have been 328 graduates from the Turner school locally. The program “is critical to support the growth and capacity of the smaller subcontractors in order to lead them in the process of doing business with the larger subcontractors,” said a statement released by Turner. While other training programs are offered by schools and professional associations, most charge a fee.

The six-week courses feature evening classes. The classes are limited to a maximum of 40 students.

Jose Ortiz, president and CEO of Front Line Construction Inc. in Lakeside, is a graduate of the program. The Marine Corps veteran said he began his career as a carpenter, gradually working his way into management and ownership. He has eight employees.

“I grew up in the San Diego area,” he said. “We do general building construction and general engineering. I spent 22 years in the Marines. I really love building. Having worked for a lot of the big developers here, I knew that Turner has always promoted small business.”

He enrolled in the school at the end of 2010. “The thing I got out of the class was the importance of setting up your company properly with bonding insurance and bookkeeping, running the business from estimating to projects. The bottom line is to make money. They brought in other firms they work with.”

Shawn Rosenberger, vice president and general manager for Turner Construction Company, San Diego, said the school has gathered industry leaders to share their knowledge in upcoming classes.

“The idea is to not just say we want to hire small, minority and women-owned businesses but to create them so there is a pool of them to work on our projects,” he said. “The goal is to give people the tools they need to succeed whether they are working for Turner or other general contractors.”

Completing the program places subcontractors in a stronger position to compete for city projects, San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders said in a prepared statement. “Having a robust local small business community benefits all of San Diego.”

Emmet Pierce is a freelance writer for the San Diego Business Journal.

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