Five Questions With: Benjamin Hyman

Benjamin Hyman is project executive for Warwick-based Bentley Builders LLC, which was founded in 2014 and provides services, including construction management, design-build, development and facility maintenance.

The company has been general contractor on projects, including the Portsmouth police headquarters that was unveiled in 2019, the Rhode Island Grows indoor tomato farming facility that broke ground in Exeter a year ago, the 100-room Fairfield Inn in South Kingstown that opened in 2018, and the Faces of the Rainforest building at the Roger Williams Park Zoo that same year.

PBN: What is the state of commercial construction in Rhode Island right now, what’s your prediction for this market going forward after all the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic? Any major challenges?

HYMAN: Material supply chain continues to be one of the biggest obstacles in the industry. The smallest component can mean an entire product does not deliver in time, which potentially translates to everything else in the schedule getting pushed out. However, I think that manpower is the biggest commodity facing shortages.

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PBN: Your company delivers solutions for a number of select core markets, including agriculture and cannabis. With marijuana becoming legalized in Rhode Island, is your company anticipating doing some construction for clients that get a state marijuana business license, and if so, what will that mean for Bentley Builders?

HYMAN: Although still not federally legalized, Bentley has been actively helping clients expand in this market in Rhode Island, as well as other states. As we continue to expand in this market sector, we are training more of our staff and bringing on key acquisitions that understand the intricacies with these build-outs. With our in-house design-build team, it allows us to help guide clients throughout the process to provide a turnkey solution.

PBN: Your company received an award last year for its work at the Roger Williams Park Zoo. What did your company do there and how do you feel about it looking back?

HYMAN: Building the Faces of the Rainforest building was one of the more challenging and rewarding jobs in my career, along with Bentley’s. With an extremely tight worksite with a comprehensive life support system for all the future animals and plants housed in the exhibit, it required an extensive amount of coordination across many disciplines.

PBN: Can you tell us a little bit about a project that your company is working on now and why it’s important to Bentley?

HYMAN: As we continue to grow, our main goal is to diversify into new markets and territories. We currently have a significant amount of projects in 20 different states across the country, all in various states of design and completion. We continue to enjoy adaptive reuse projects and the challenges and rewards that come along with that particular sector.  One particularly interesting project, locally, is an adaptive reuse of a church in Woonsocket. This is a perfect example of renovating an existing building that is currently being underutilized to provide a solution to the increasing demand for market rate housing for young professionals.

PBN: Aside from cannabis and agriculture, what is the most active sector or industry right now for construction in Rhode Island? Office, education, health care, manufacturing, residential, mixed-use apartments, government or retail?

HYMAN: With the ever-changing economy, Bentley has tried to be as diverse as possible to help insulate ourselves from market shifts. With the exception of residential, each of the markets you mention carries a similar weight. Our business is all about client satisfaction and speed to market.

Marc Larocque is a PBN contributing writer.