Updated March 24 at 12:29am

Enterprising by design

Excellence at an Enterprise Company Shawmut Design and Construction

By Liz Lee | Contributing Writer
It's been more than 75 years since the U.S. government amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, limiting the workweek to 40 hours, and popularizing the 9-to-5 schedule we've all come to know. It's less than ideal for many of us, and is still …

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Business excellence awards

Enterprising by design

Excellence at an Enterprise Company Shawmut Design and Construction

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It's been more than 75 years since the U.S. government amended the Fair Labor Standards Act, limiting the workweek to 40 hours, and popularizing the 9-to-5 schedule we've all come to know.

It's less than ideal for many of us, and is still the standard despite technological advancements and cultural shifts that have had profound effects on the way Americans live and work. It's a wonder then that more companies aren't doing what Shawmut Design and Construction is doing – working to create more flexible, individualized schedules for employees.

"We believe that our people provide the best client service when they feel their best," said Ron Simoneau, vice president and head of Shawmut's Providence office.

In addition to the flexible work schedules, employees also benefit from things that include college-tuition reimbursement, a company-paid health coverage option and incentives to give back to the community. In addition to being named one of Providence Business News' Best Places to Work this year, it was also named one of Fortune Magazine's 2016 100 Best Work Places in the country.

But Shawmut's flexible-schedule initiative is just one of several innovative programs the company has built its reputation on since it was founded in 1982. Today the Boston-based company – with about 80 workers based in Rhode Island – has completed high-profile projects in Providence, from the Bridge Building expansion at Rhode Island Hospital to the renovation of several historic buildings on the Brown University campus.

Though Shawmut's presence in Rhode Island has grown substantially since it opened its Providence office in 2000, the market here has not been without its challenges, says Simoneau.

"A succinct approach where the most talented people work collectively to achieve common goals is a stark departure from … the traditional concept of ‘low bid,' which has plagued the construction industry for decades," he said.

With this in mind, Shawmut uses an approach based on Lean Methodology, Target Value Design and Integrated Project Delivery to ensure stakeholders are fully engaged and accountable, Simoneau said. And it must be working: In 2015, Shawmut experienced revenue growth of about 34 percent.

"Generally over 85 percent of our revenue is from repeat customers, which is incredibly high in an industry where you are only as good as your last project," said Simoneau.

Shawmut's most recent Rhode Island projects include the 34,000-square-foot performing arts facility on the Moses Brown campus, and the 13,000-square-foot Applied Math Building at Brown University.

The company is building Brown's new School of Engineering, a 200,000-square-foot project that will be built using IPD, a method that Simoneau says takes collaboration to a completely different level. "Subcontractors and consultants all place their profits at risk and subject them to the outcome of the entire project, instead of their specific scope," he said.

For instance, quality control and safety measures can be built into the design, he said. Or strategies can be incorporated into prefabrication of work once the project is looked at as a whole by all involved.

IPD is at the core of Shawmut's Lean Initiative, a building technique that breaks down the construction process and makes it easier to understand for not only the client, but for partners and subcontractors as well.

Said Simoneau, "As a 100 percent, employee-owned company, each individual can really get behind and own this transformative initiative. It's really been a great differentiator so far. And I think it will continue to be one for quite some time," with customers ultimately benefiting from this enterprising approach. •

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