Benchmark Construction names new leaders
As part of a succession plan that began playing out two years ago, one of Lancaster County's largest construction firms is making some changes to its senior leadership team.
On Oct. 1, Bobby Brandt III, Benchmark Construction Co.'s vice president of health care and son of founder Bob Brandt Jr., will take over as president of the West Earl Township-based company.
The 39-year-old Brandt will succeed current president Mike Callahan, 60, who will take on the new role of CEO.
The elder Brandt, who is 65, will remain on board as chairman of the company he started in 1985.
Chris Flynn, a health care market executive for the company, will replace the younger Brandt as vice president of health care.
"We have a great young and dynamic team of people we're grooming to run a larger Benchmark Construction," Callahan said of the succession plan. "We didn't want to wait until the last minute."
Fueled by growing demand for commercial construction, Benchmark has grown to 193 employees. It finished 2017 with nearly $161 million in revenue, up from $133 million the previous year.
"We are continuing to aspire to grow," said Callahan, citing a goal set in 2015 of growing revenue 10 percent per year to reach $260 million by 2024. Benchmark is on pace to hit that mark ahead of schedule.
As part of its 10-year strategic plan, Benchmark adopted a new approach to tackle the company's core markets in health care, senior living, higher education and commercial/specialty construction.
Rather than a department of estimators expected to work in all markets, Benchmark has estimators dedicated to each market who work closely with other construction disciplines in that segment.
Officials believe the market-driven approach has helped Benchmark pick up more projects because its teams are viewed as experts in those areas.
Benchmark's continued growth also has allowed it to expand into new region. It opened a new branch office this year in Towson, Maryland.
Three employees staff the Towson office today, but officials believe it will grow.
Projections are for the office to do about $7 million in revenue in the company's next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
For Bobby Brandt, a job as president of the company wasn't always in the plans.
Brandt grew up around Benchmark Construction, but left Lancaster County to go to Indiana University, where he played Division I football. He signed as a free agent offensive tackle with the New York Jets in 2003, but didn't make the team.
He returned to Lancaster County and started at Benchmark as an assistant project manager. Over time he worked his way up through various departments, including estimating and preconstruction.
More recently, he served as vice president of health care.
"I've gotten my education in the business by working in it the last 15 years," he said.
And that business continues to evolve. Benchmark officials say they hope to expand into new industries and regions.
The company also has its sights on buying properties and developing its own commercial projects, rather than just overseeing construction for others. Other large construction firms like High and Kinsley have entered into development over the years as a way to diversify their revenue. The move also offers greater control over construction schedules and costs.
"It's something we're actively looking at," Brandt said. "Over the years, we have dabbled in it. We need to develop that staff and a strategy."
Officials expect Benchmark's development arm will focus on markets the company already serves. But Brandt said everything will be on the table.
In the meantime, Benchmark has a strong backlog of projects for other clients, Callahan said. An aging population in Pennsylvania is driving expansion projects at senior-living communities. Health systems also are investing in new facilities.
Benchmark sees additional opportunities in areas like behavioral health and memory care facilities.
"People are a little bullish right now to get things done," Callahan said. "We have a strong pipeline for the next fiscal year and the following year."