Turner the Tops
Peter Davoren, James McKenna
Named 2004 Contractors of the Year
very fortunate that we have Jim and Peter in leadership
positions. They're the type of leadership that the industry
needs right now."
When the Shiloh Baptist Church was looking for a general
contractor to build its new $10.6 million facility, church
officials never dreamed that a company like Turner Construction
would be interested in the job.
Known for its work on such mammoth projects as the Times
Square Tower and Time Warner Center, Turner seemed an unlikely
candidate to build the new 68,000-sq.-ft. Shiloh Baptist Church
and Community Life and Cultural Arts Center in Plainfield,
But a church official - who also runs a small construction
management firm - decided to contact the company anyway, and
it was a decision the church didn't regret.
"Since their selection as our general contractor, Turner
has provided the highest level of attention to detail,"
said Rev. Gerald Lamont Thomas. "We believe they have
the capability to deliver a quality project on time and within
Community involvement is among the reasons New York Construction
magazine has named Turner Construction - with president Peter
Davoren and senior vice president and general manager of the
New York business unit James McKenna leading the way - as
the 2004 Contractor of the Year.
The sheer volume of work the company is completing, not just
in the metropolitan New York area but around the world, is
another. For the nine-month period ending Sept. 30, Turner
reported that the value of new contracts secured was $5.2
billion, one of the highest nine-month sales figures in the
company's history. Gross sales earnings were $189 million,
the second-highest ever reported, according to a third-quarter
report issued by the company in December.
With 5,000 employees worldwide and an estimated 1,500 projects
each year, Turner is the largest contractor in the world.
The company has 600 employees in New York, 200 in Connecticut
and 200 in New Jersey.
When Turner Construction undertakes a construction job, the
company looks far beyond the bricks and mortar to find success.
It looks to the people and relationships - as well as the
structures - built during the construction process.
"Anybody can build anything," Davoren said. "We
have competitors all across the city that can build. We believe
the asset that sets us apart is our people."
This is the second year the magazine has selected a Contractor
of the Year. The award is granted to a contractor whose work
- either through innovation or volume and scope (or both)
- has most impacted the development of the New York metropolitan
area. Last year Peter Tully, president of the Tully Construction
Co. Inc., was given the honor based on the company's work
at Ground Zero.
"We're very fortunate that we have Jim and Peter in
leadership positions," said Louis Coletti, president
and CEO of the Building Trades Employers Association. "They're
the type of leadership that the industry needs right now."
After former president and CEO Robert Fee announced that
he was retiring last year, Davoren, a 25-year veteran with
the company, was named his successor. McKenna, who has been
with the company 24 years, has been in his current position
With $2.06 billion in revenue for projects completed in New
York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Turner topped New York Construction
magazine's list of top contractors in 2003. With $6.2 billion
in revenue for projects around the world, Turner also topped
the magazine's list for companies ranked by worldwide revenue.
Evidence of Turner's work can be found throughout the New
York metropolitan area. Among large projects the company has
completed in recent months is the office building at 300 Madison
Ave., Times Square Tower and the reconstruction of the Winter
Garden at Ground Zero.
Jerry Speyer, president and CEO of Tishman Speyer Properties
based in New York City, said he has been satisfied with the
work Turner has completed for the company over the years.
Among projects Turner has been involved with are work at Rockefeller
Center, 222 East 41st St. and the planned headquarters for
the Hearst Corp. at Eighth Avenue and 57th Street.
"Turner has a very unique culture," Speyer added.
"The concern they show for their clients is unique."
Speyer said Davoren is "first rate" and "a
man of his word," and "he gets things done on time
and on budget, and that's the best thing you can say about
When seeking prospective work, Turner tries to put forth
a bid that adds value to a project because private owners
typically are not just looking for the lowest bidder for a
"Private owners normally pick the most comprehensive
team," McKenna said. "We don't just want to win
one job, we want to win the client."
The multibillion dollar company fosters the type of personal
relationships critical to success in an increasingly competitive
environment by creating an environment where employees want
to spend many years, not just a few.
"We're not mercenaries. We don't go from company to
company," said McKenna, who along with Davoren has been
successful in ascending the ranks at Turner. "When we
started with Turner, we tried to build a career with them."
Davoren joined the company in 1978 after completing a bachelor's
degree from Pratt Institute's School of Architecture the same
year. After working his way up through the ranks from cost
engineer, his first executive assignment was as general manager
of the interiors division.
In 1997, he was promoted to vice president and general manager
of the New York business unit. In 2000, he was named senior
vice president for the New York region and in January 2003
he was appointed president of the company responsible for
46 business units across the country.
McKenna joined Turner in 1979 as a field engineer assigned
to the New York business unit on the Beneficial Management
project. In 1980, he was promoted to PMCS assistant engineer
and two years later to superintendent.
In 1996, he was promoted to vice president and deputy operations
manager for the New York business unit and in 1998 was promoted
to vice president and operations manager. In 2000, he was
named to his current position.
Davoren and McKenna said they learned much from Davoren's
predecessor, Fee, who spent 40 years at the company and worked
his way up from an operating engineer to chief executive officer.
"He viewed Turner as if it were family," Davoren
added. "Our greatest accomplishment will be to continue
Both men have substantial involvement with industry organizations,
a vital part of being a successful leader in the construction
industry. Davoren was president of the Contractors' Association
of Greater New York from 1998 to 2002 and is a member of organizations
such as the BTEA, New York Building Congress and the Real
Estate Board of New York.
McKenna is the current president of the Cement League, serves
on the union contractors committee of ACE of America and is
a member of the CAGNY and the Irish American Building Society,
among other groups.
"Peter and Jim are extremely active in the industry,"
Coletti said. "They set an example that I hope others
James Heyliger, president of the Association of Minority
Enterprise in New York, said Turner has been involved with
the organization for the past 20 years and the firm has done
much to advance efforts on behalf of minority-owned businesses.
Turner and AMENY sponsor a joint construction program, and
Turner has mentored some of the organization's constituents.
"Turner has a whole different mindset than the rest
of corporate America," Heyliger said. "They think
doing business with minority-owned companies adds to the bottom
line, not detracts from it."
Heyliger said it is common for Turner to do work gratis in
a community to create good will. For example, the firm did
work for York College in Queens for free. Later, when the
federal Food and Drug Administration was looking to build
a facility on the York College campus, Turner was awarded
"If corporate America followed Turner's example, there
wouldn't be a need for set asides," Heyliger said.
In looking to Turner's future, McKenna said much of the activity
in the New York area will be focused in the institutional,
industrial and residential sectors. One area of the company
that is expected to be active is the health care division,
headed by vice president and manager Charles Murphy and operations
manager Chris Zegler. Currently, the company is doing $2 billion
of work in New York alone.
If Thomas' reaction to the company is any indication, the
company will also continue to build more churches.
"Shiloh Baptist Church is grateful for Turner's concern
and support for our new facility," he said.