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Andrew Beal and Michael Derkenne established a general contracting company in 2010, a time many of their peers were either going out of business or struggling to survive. “It was definitely not a great time in the marketplace to form a new company, and a lot of people thought we were crazy to be starting from scratch,” Beal says.

Just two years after founding their company – Beal|Derkenne Construction – the two have a portfolio of more than a half-dozen projects under their belt including a large mixed-use student housing development in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona is proving to be a major market for the Des Moines, Iowa-based commercial contractor, which also counts its home base among its main areas of operation.

Beal credits the relationships he and his partner made with developers and others during their tenures at previous companies with its success. One of those clients, Core Campus, a Chicago-based student housing developer, contracted Beal|Derkenne Construction in 2011 to build The Hub, a $40 million development that will help fill a growing need for housing near Arizona State University in Tempe.

“We worked with several of the Core folks on a previous project in Tempe,” Beal says. “They were drawn to us because of our management style and wanted to partner with us on this new project.”

Beal previously has worked with several large contractors building projects including large-scale, complicated high-rise developments. Derkenne’s prior experience includes project management and executive positions, a wealth of pre-construction experience and an extensive design/build portfolio.

The men received bachelor’s degrees in construction management from the University of Newcastle in Australia. Beal and Derkenne are each OSHA 30 certified and licensed Iowa B-01 commercial general contractors.

Amenity-rich Housing

The 19-story, 410,000-square-foot Hub project broke ground in January 2012. Beal|Derkenne Construction in October topped out the building’s concrete structure and is now working on its exterior skin, which is composed of glass and stucco. Work is also now underway on a three-story, 90,000-square-foot parking structure integral to the building that will be topped with an amenity deck.

The project is on track for completion in August 2013.

Each of the building’s 269 apartments will be fully furnished with features including flat-screen televisions, granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and washer/dryers. “This is not your standard student housing project,” Beal says.

The amenity deck will include two infinity edge pools, indoor and outdoor workout facilities, a sand volleyball court, tanning areas, steam room, a library and an outside grilling area with a fire pit.

In addition to student housing, the Hub will also include 25,000 square feet of retail space on its lower floors.

Beal|Derkenne Construction and Core Campus are targeting LEED Silver certification for the project. Sustainable features include tracking waste, recycling and using locally sourced materials, Beal says.

Adapting to Clients’ Needs

The Hub’s location on a formerly vacant lot across from ASU’s Sun Devil Stadium presents a number of challenges. The contractor was required to revise its logistics plan to accommodate for the delivery of materials to the small site dependent on the stage of construction, which is surrounded by streets and located near a light rail line.

Beal|Derkenne Construction has needed to have materials delivered on a just-in-time basis, as it has little space for storage on site. The contractor has also coordinated closely with local authorities – including the light rail operator – to ensure it can operate a 250-foot high crane without interfering with rail service or adjacent power lines.

The project site is in close proximity to culturally significant Native American burial sites, requiring Beal|Derkenne Construction to retain the services of an archeologist during excavation. The state of Arizona requires contractors to have sites monitored in the event that artifacts or gravesites are discovered. Any such discoveries are required to be reported to the state and local tribes, Beal says.

Nimble and Responsive

The company and its subcontractors are also keeping a close eye on safety on-site during the project. A full-time safety consultant is overseeing safety, and all subcontractors on the project are required to hold and document regular safety meetings.

Beal|Derkenne Construction plans to apply many of the lessons it is learning while building the Hub to a 15-story student housing project in Tucson, Ariz. The company will break ground in February 2013 on the project, owned by developer Campus Acquisitions LLC.

The company’s size and structure allow it to be nimble and responsive to all of its clients.

“We have the right people in place in the right positions, and given the smaller size of our company, we’re a little more adaptive to our clients’ needs,” Beal says. “I feel we have the ability to turn on a dime and adapt to changes on a project very quickly.”

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