Connect. Create. Construct.
Family-owned PROCON: Optimizing the customer experience for over 80 years
When a family-owned business has thrived for multiple generations, people usually want to discern what’s behind its success in achieving such longevity. For PROCON, a New Hampshire-based design-build firm led by the Stebbins family, one simple truth has anchored its leadership since the company’s birth in 1935: Exceptional customer service never grows old.
PROCON’s evolution over the years has been quite extraordinary. It was established as a residential homebuilder by Blanchard Stebbins at the height of the Great Depression. Then, in the 1950s under Herbert Stebbins’ leadership, it transitioned to constructing small commercial, industrial and retail projects. The company’s offerings shifted even more dramatically under the leadership of current Chairman and CEO Mark Stebbins, who in 1988 added architectural services.
As a single-source provider of design and construction solutions, PROCON can more successfully optimize the customer experience with its customized, seamless project delivery process. “Because we have architects, engineers and the construction management team members working under one roof, it gives us the unique advantage of providing solutions quickly, which translates into speedier project completions and a more enjoyable development process,” Mark says.
Today, PROCON provides architectural design, virtual design and construction, preconstruction, engineering and construction management services to clients throughout the Northeast. With over 160 team members, the company has the agility, expertise and resources to handle a variety of project types, scopes and scales—and boasts a broad portfolio of commercial work ranging from $10 million to $140 million. Its biggest markets of business include senior living, mixed-use, education, hospitality and industrial/manufacturing.
“Over 95 percent of our work is repeat business from happy clients,” Mark shares. “We treat every project as if it were our own, and this really gives our clients the peace of mind they might not typically enjoy on a project. We are not satisfied until our clients’ dreams become a reality.”
Mastering the Client Connection
Taking a personal approach to design and construct clients’ dream facilities is what has earned the company so many lasting partnerships. Supported by a fully integrated team of industry professionals from various disciplines, the company’s mantra, “every solution is just down the hall,” resounds with clients in mighty ways.
This is certainly the case for David Carliner, Executive Vice President of Development at Brightview Senior Living, a client of PROCON’s for the last 12 years. “I love working with PROCON. We have built eight buildings together and we have one more under construction in Shelton, Connecticut,” David says.
He points to a project in Tarrytown, New York, where PROCON oversaw the final design and construction of a 70,610-square-foot, four-story senior living facility. “We’d had another architecture firm help us with the initial conceptual drawings,” David explains. “When PROCON took over, its team came up with such great solutions to what initially seemed like just problems. They turned those obstacles into opportunities, and that’s why we keep coming back.”
Another client impressed by PROCON’s skill and efficiency is Merrimack College, located just outside of Boston. “The value of PROCON’s services, in my opinion, is all about speed and efficiency,” says Felipe Schwarz, the college’s Associate Vice President of Capital Planning & Facilities. “As a growing institution, we make a lot of decisions that are entrepreneurial, innovative and growth-driven. Having a firm that can come in and react to what we’re thinking about and carry that into implementation almost immediately is invaluable.”
PROCON has completed nearly a dozen projects for Merrimack College, including Crowe Hall in 2016, the educational institution’s first new academic building in 30 years. The initial 12-month timeframe to design and build this three-story, 50,000-square-foot academic pavilion was condensed into just nine months. PROCON’s aggressive pre-planning strategies and installation procedures used to accelerate the schedule earned a 2018 Excellence in Construction award from the Associated Builders and Contractors New Hampshire/Vermont chapter (ABC NH/VT).
Extensive work performed in the hospitality and multifamily residential sectors is also a source of pride for this innovative team. PROCON has spearheaded numerous projects for XSS Hotels, a major hotel development and management company in the Northeast, including The Row Hotel at Assembly Row in Somerville, Massachusetts, the AC Hotel in Medford, Massachusetts, and the Homewood Suites by Hilton in Chelsea, Massachusetts. Also, PROCON has collaborated on several hotel/multifamily residential projects with Waterford Development Corporation (WDC), one of its longest-standing clients.
“We always go to PROCON first for any project, and always will,” says Becky Mahoney, Vice President of WDC. “The PROCON team is able to take our dreams and visions and make them reality—and honestly, they make them better than what we had envisioned.”
Robert “Bob” Shapiro, WDC’s co-founder and CEO, adds, “The firm’s vertical, integrated approach gives us benefits in terms of overall cost and control of the project. With those cost savings we can add more components to the project, which makes it a better property at the end of the day. I would recommend PROCON wholeheartedly to other developers because I think the company’s design-build approach is very well-executed.”
A Culture of Achievement, Generosity & Opportunity
On top of client testimonials, PROCON has received countless other accolades for its service to the industry and the community. In recent years it’s been ranked consistently by trade publications as one of the nation’s top design, design-build and construction management firms. Also, Business NH Magazine has recognized the company multiple times as one of the best places to work in New Hampshire. Last year, the ABC NH/VT chapter presented PROCON with three of its prestigious Excellence in Construction project awards as well as a Workforce Development Award—a testament to the leadership’s consistent focus on providing opportunities for industry development. The list of honors goes on and on—all thanks to the unique culture that fuels this top-performing company.
The culture at PROCON is one that encourages innovative thinking and continuous improvement, champions safety and rewards dedication and loyalty. The team also promotes generosity both in and outside of the workplace.
“Ever since my grandfather started this business, we have believed in the lasting impact of giving back to our local community,” Mark says. “Over the years we have spearheaded fundraisers, sponsored campaigns and matched corporate gifts, raising millions of dollars for organizations like Easterseals, the YMCA, Granite United Way and more. We are committed to sharing our time and talents through compassionate giving so that the disadvantaged among us may access the programs and services they need for a hopeful future.” PROCON is also a place where the CEO and other executive-level leaders know the employees and their spouses by name, imparting a sense of camaraderie and compassion for others that inspires a caring, family- style environment.
“We have some of the most dedicated people in the architecture, engineering and construction industry at PROCON,” Mark affirms. “Our employees become vested in the company and its future with increased productivity that is passed on to our clients through excellent customer service. PROCON benefits overall by retaining good employees averaging 15 years’ tenure, and enjoying a low staff turnover of less than 6 percent.” Year-round, PROCON demonstrates its appreciation for its hardworking employees through gifts, sponsoring family days and various other fun events, holiday and annual celebrations, bonuses and even surprise extra paychecks.
Because PROCON is driven to enhance the client experience, its leadership provides a host of professional development opportunities. This includes in-house lunch and learns and PROtalks (an informative, interdepartmental program modeled after TED Talks), internships and on-the-job training, and online programs, such as technology webinars and ClickSafety courses on safety management, compliance and documentation.
“We believe that workforce development is one of the most important things a company can do for its employees,” Mark affirms. “Fostering a culture of learning and constructive attitudes is a continual investment in their jobs and skill levels. It has the tangible effects of keeping them engaged, challenged and empowered with additional competencies, which leads to a happier workforce with a take-ownership approach to problem-solving.”
The company also spearheads initiatives to ensure a next-generation industry workforce. Examples include launching an ACE Mentor-affiliate program in New Hampshire, and working with a local school district to develop an engaging program that exposes middle school students to career opportunities in the construction trades.
Giving Credit Where It’s Due
There are a great deal of accolades, impressive projects and savvy business practices that support PROCON’s ability to cultivate enduring partnerships with clients. Ultimately, though, there is a single powerful factor that drives all of this achievement: a loyal team comprised of top-notch industry experts.
Mark concludes, “Our company’s core values of innovation, collaboration, safety, integrity, a positive attitude and a focus on building valuable long-term partners have remained unchanged over 84 years of operation. Above all, we are proud of our second-to-none team members whose dedication and hard work have made PROCON’s success possible.”