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Published: Friday, 5/22/2009

Local construction management firm thriving

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER
First Solar's plant in Perryburg Township takes shape under the eye of Program Solutions Group. The construction management firm has two other building projects going in the Toledo area. First Solar's plant in Perryburg Township takes shape under the eye of Program Solutions Group. The construction management firm has two other building projects going in the Toledo area.
JETTA FRASER / THE BLADE Enlarge | Buy This Photo

In Perrysburg Township, construction crews have passed the halfway mark on a $100 million expansion of a solar-panel factory for First Solar Inc.

In Maumee, workers are busy renovating a technology center of Dana Holding Corp. to accommodate the relocation of corporate offices there by late September.

And on Dorr Street in West Toledo, plans are being drawn up to retrofit Dana's current headquarters for the new headquarters of Toledo real estate investment trust Health Care REIT Inc.

The three projects are providing much-needed work for a troubled construction sector mired in recession and a nationwide credit crisis.

But they have something else in common. Five-year-old Program Solutions Group LLC is managing construction.

At a time when hammers are silent across much of the Toledo region and construction firms struggle to survive, Program Solutions is thriving. Executives expect sales to double again this year to $70 million.

The Maumee company is profitable. And president and majority shareholder Wayne Burrer is full of optimism.

"We're pretty fortunate," he said. "We're extremely busy in a down economy. We've managed to develop some strong customer contacts and a good customer base that we travel all over with."

So many projects are scheduled for 2010 that the firm is nearly "tapped out. That's not to say we're not taking on new work," the 40-year-old company president quickly interjected.

He was working as in-house construction manager for Dana in 2004 when the auto parts producer began to encounter serious turbulence. He figured it was time to strike out on his own.

Dana became one of his top clients.

Five employees typically juggle 30 jobs a year, acting as either construction manager or owner's representative on construction projects.

"They have a very good reputation around town," said Steve Palmquist, vice president of development for Health Care REIT, who was involved in picking Program Solutions to oversee work at the firm's new headquarters campus. The company is due to take possession of the building Oct. 1, although that could be delayed if Dana doesn't complete its move by then.

Other customers include La-Z-Boy Inc., Monroe; Affinia Group Inc., Ann Arbor; Comprehensive Logistics, Youngstown; FedEx Corp., Memphis; The Andersons Inc., Maumee; and Nagle Cos., Walbridge.

In Mexico, for example, Program Solutions is overseeing construction of a plant where La-Z-Boy plans to consolidate fabric cutting and sewing.

Maumee-based Tomahawk Development, which specializes in retail and office projects, has used Program Solutions on 15 to 20 jobs.

"Every project Wayne has done for me has been on time and under budget," said Mark Rasmus, president. "He's been able to control costs so that he is more than competitive."

Contact Gary Pakulski at:

gpakulski@theblade.com

or 419-724-6082.



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