Magazine Store

30 Fastest Growing Private Companies To Watch 2018

An Interview with Gordon Lansford, JE Dunn Construction President and CEO: ‘We Use Technology and Our IT Team to Solve Problems Rather Than Simply Buying Solutions’


“We’ve always been an open book with our clients when it comes to project cost, schedule, and performance.”

The construction industry is changing rapidly, and new materials and technologies are being introduced on a regular basis. Execution of construction projects and their timely delivery has become a prime concern for developers in view of the buyer’s agitation on delay in construction.

In view of the above-mentioned scenario, we are thrilled to highlight JE Dunn Construction.

JE Dunn provides general building contracting services that include lean construction; project solutions that cover construction services for corporate interiors, small office projects, retail improvements, historic rehabilitation, additions, fixtures and equipment projects, building upgrades, and maintenance works; and general contracting, construction management, design-build, program management, and integrated project delivery services.

The company’s services also include pre-construction services, such as estimation, feasibility studies, scheduling, MEP review, constructability review, risk management, market analysis, and cost and quality control; construction services, including LEED certification, progress monitoring, change order management, quality control and testing, and resolutions for labor relations; and post-construction services comprising commissioning, lien releases, operations and maintenance, final closeout, and one-year walkthrough.

In addition, JE Dunn provides sustainable construction/LEED and building information modeling services.

The company was incorporated in 1924 and is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri. It has additional offices locations in Portland, OR; Phoenix, AZ; Denver, CO; Colorado Springs, CO; Williston, ND; Dickinson, ND; Omaha, NE; Springfield, MO; Des Moines, IA; Minneapolis, MN; Oklahoma City, OK; Dallas, TX; Austin, TX; Houston, TX; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA; Charlotte, NC; Savannah, GA; and Tampa, FL

Gordon Lansford, JE Dunn Construction, President/CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Q. Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

Initially formed as a residential contractor, JE Dunn’s transformation into one of the nation’s largest general contractors stemmed from founder John Ernest Dunn’s willingness to adjust to the market’s—and the country’s—needs. From taking on projects of unfamiliar scopes for the government during the war effort to ensuring all laborers were valued and treated fairly during the formation of labor unions, he did what it took to grow the company while doing so with the highest level of integrity and adaptability.

With that same entrepreneurial spirit, JE Dunn continues to expand, both in its capabilities and reach. We recognize that each region has a unique set of needs and requires different expertise. To capitalize on those opportunities, we have grown geographically through acquisition, going from a $1.4 million company in 1964 when Ernie passed away to revenues in excess of $3.6 billion today. We have 20 locations from across the country to ensure we are well positioned to continue building world-class structures from coast to coast.

Q. How successful was your first project? Share the experience.

As a CEO at a construction company with an accounting background, I don’t have the traditional first project experience as some others in the industry, but my first major undertaking in this role was a company- and culture-changing one. In 2010, we began moving the company from family-owned to partially employee-owned. We established the ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) as a retirement vehicle for our employees and created a vesting schedule.

We did this for many reasons, but one of the biggest changes has been to our culture. By creating transparency from the top, painting a clear picture of success, and creating a sense of ownership among fellow coworkers, everyone pulls in the same direction and genuinely wants to make each other better—and I see examples of that every day.

Q. As a question of adaptability, how do you stay relevant to the consumer interests and needs in this high volatile market?

It may sound cliché, but it really comes down to listening to our clients. It’s important to us that we are a business partner, not simply a builder for them. We make it a point to understand our clients’ goals, limitations, and definitions of success before we begin each project. This helps us deliver certainty of results as well as recognize that no two projects are the same. This goes a long way with our clients, partners, and trade partners and creates a positive building experience that, hopefully, keeps us top of mind when they have new projects in the pipeline.

Q. Do you have any new products ready to be to be launched?

We are always looking for ways to improve our business and find solutions to common problems affecting others in the industry. Some of the technology we are exploring to help our men and women on job sites are robotics and labour-saving initiatives. With laborers at a premium, employing robotics to complete some of the mundane tasks would be a game changer. We are also investing in technology that improves our safety culture – everything from tracking worker fatigue to maintaining safe distances from dangerous work zones through RFID chips.

Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

I see our company building on our history of success by empowering employees and encouraging them to be innovative. We want them to bring innovative ideas—no matter how blue sky they sound—to us to explore and even develop if it makes business sense. I believe by doing this and by being selective in the opportunities we pursue, we’ll continue to see growth and enjoy more record-setting years in the future.

Leadership | JE Dunn Construction

John Ernest Dunn (Ernie): Founder Ernie Dunn started JE Dunn Construction in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1924. What began as a small, family-run residential contractor has grown into one of the top general building contractors in the country.

William H Dunn, Sr: After Ernie’s death, his son Bill Dunn, Sr. carried on his father’s work and commitment to their shared core values. Known by many as Mr. Dunn, he led the company as president and CEO for the majority of his 70-plus-year career. He served as Chairman of the Board from 1974 until January of 2000 when he became Chairman Emeritus—a role he still holds today.

Throughout Mr. Dunn’s decades in the construction industry, he remained committed to keeping his father’s legacy— for JE Dunn Construction and the Dunn family— built on the spirit of giving and growing alive. He is a philanthropist most known for starting the Dunn Family Foundation in 1981 and supporting countless local and national charities.

Terry Dunn (retired): Former CEO, JE Dunn Construction.

Steve Dunn: Chairman, JE Dunn Construction.

Bob Dunn: President, Dunn Family Foundation

Gordon Lansford, President/CEO: As President and Chief Executive officer, Gordon oversees the operations of JE Dunn’s four regions and 20 offices as well as the corporate staff. He maintains key relationships with clients, civic and political leaders, banks, sureties, trade partners, and other key stakeholders. Mr.Lansford has held this position since 2014 after serving as Chief Financial Officer for the company for 15 years.

"Our vision is to be an indispensable business partner for our clients by first understanding their purpose, goals and customers and then delivering transformational solutions with certainty of results."