“Preston was a masterful leader in putting together a pretty diverse group of high-level personalities,” said Warren, himself a former DBIA chair.

May 18, 2023

How Did Media Greet DBIA? Revisit ENR’s Accounts 30 Years Later

One article reports the organization's creation. A second recalls Preston Haskell's essential role in its formation and exponential growth.


Editor’s note: In February 1993, Haskell founder Preston Haskell III and Jim Gray, founder of Gray, Inc., led a meeting in Washington, D.C., to discuss forming an organization to provide advocacy for and education on the design-build project delivery. There, 30 years ago, the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) was born. What follows are two articles that appeared in Engineering News-Record – one from August 1993 announcing the organization’s creation, and another that is undated recalling Preston Haskell’s pivotal role in its genesis and growth.

Headline: New organization gears up to represent design-builders

Design-builders claim they can do it all when it comes to delivering projects, and owners increasingly are buying the pitch. Now there is a new trade association to specifically address and promote those interests – the Design-Build Institute of America, headquartered in Washington, D.C.

DBIA was born in February and opened the doors to its office on July 1. According to DBIA, design-build work has grown from less than $5 billion a year a decade ago to more than $50 billion annually. The organization’s goal is to “promote widespread and successful utilization of the design-build delivery system throughout the U.S.”

DBIA intends to accomplish this objective by, among other things, developing and standardizing procedures for design-build company selection, supporting design-build research and sponsoring national forums on the issue. DBIA also wants to draft a model procurement code for design-build that can be adopted at the state level.

The organization currently has 15 members and has hired Jeffery L. Beard to be the first executive director. Beard had been manager of regulatory affairs for the American Society of Civil Engineers. The organization is being run by a steering committee made up of five CEOs of member firms until a board is selected at the annual meeting this fall.

Until the formation of DBIA. Design-builders were “totally without a voice” in the industry, claims steering committee member Preston Haskell, CEO of the Haskell Co., in Jacksonville, Fla. “Existing organizations have vested interests” and lack the commitment to push design-build, he adds.

“At the moment, DBIA has limited itself to seeking members that are building oriented and either a fully integrated design-builder or a contractor or design firm having “a strong commitment” to design-build, says Haskell. Firms working in the industrial market will be allowed to join later, as will associate member firms that provide related services. Membership currently costs $10,000 annually, although that might be changed after the organizational period, says the steering committee.

According to Haskell, “The next big wave (of design-build growth) will be in civil infrastructure.” Sverdrup Corp., St. Louis, already has had some large design-build road projects, says Kraig G. Kreikemeier, president of Sverdrup Facilities, Inc. and a member of the DBIA steering committee. “Things are starting to happen,” he says.

Headline: DBIA’s roots run through Florida

Preston Haskell’s place in the pantheon of project delivery was ensured in 1992, when he led the effort that (created) the Design-Build Institute of America. It all started with a casual phone call.

“Preston called me one cold, December night to tell me that there was no industry organization representing design-build,” recalls Kraig Kreikemeier, the recently retired president of Sverdrup Facilities Inc., St. Louis. Soon after, the pair convened a meeting with Rik Kunnath of Charles Pankow Builders Ltd., San Francisco, Don Warren, of Suitt Construction Co., Greenville, SC, and Jim Gray of the James N. Gray Co., Lexington, KY, and DBIA was the result.

“Preston was a masterful leader in putting together a pretty diverse group of high-level personalities,” said Warren, himself a former DBIA chair.

In the early days, Warren says Haskell was clearly the dominant DBIA leader, serving as its chairman for the first few years. But his actions afterward, when he went on to do much behind-the-scenes committee work, Warren believes, speaks volumes. “It was all about the betterment of the DBIA, not the Haskell Co.,” says Warren.

“(Preston) figured the formula in trying to position his company to fit in that marketplace and hence the vision to create an organization that would enhance those opportunities,” says Executive Director Jeff Beard, who also has been with DBIA from the start.

“It just shows the vision and tenacity Preston has as an individual, to build a company around a (concept) that was not yet accepted,” adds Kreikemeier. And it all started with the ring of a phone.

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Haskell delivers $2± billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 2,200 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.

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