Brian Johanning

Superior Bowen paves way for growth and diversification with new HQ, hires

Superior Bowen is capping off its 70th year with new Crossroads digs and a flurry of projects in the pipeline.

The third-generation asphalt and paving contractor is growing its SiteWorks portfolio, recently winning contracts for Metro North Mall’s redevelopment and Johnson County’s new Indian Creek Library, while building its bread-and-butter business of large paving projects such as the Ford Claycomo Assembly Plant and Cerner Corporation's Innovations Campus.

“We’ve been incredibly busy and continue to diversify into business ventures necessitated by expansion and growth,” said Brian Johanning, Superior Bowen vice president of business development. “We are continuing to beef up our corporate resources and strengthen our foundation for growth.”

Superior Bowen doubled its footprint when it consolidated operations into a 30,000 square feet office in the historically renovated McQueeny Lock Building, 520 W. Pennway. Previously, staff had been cobbled together in a workshop and three mobile trailers adjacent to one of the company’s six asphalt plants at Manchester Trafficway and I-70.

The makeshift campus embodied Superior Bowen’s trademark grittiness and offered clients an up-close view of the plant and equipment, but Owner Trey Bowen recognized that the company needed a change of scenery to grow. After searching unsuccessfully in the West Bottoms for new digs with plentiful parking, Bowen opted to join Centric Projects and Inspired Homes in the century-old brick building.

“When it came to recruiting and retaining the next generation of talent, we needed to be where that talent wanted to be, and that is here in the Crossroads,” Bowen said. “This is an established, vibrant area.”

Superior Bowen also added four positions to its leadership team in 2018, hiring new vice presidents of marketing, human resources and business development, as well as a new safety director. Each hire is more than just an employee; they’re an investment in Superior Bowen’s future.

“When people come here, they don’t leave. During the Great Recession, nobody was laid off,” Bowen added. “We have room to grow here, which is purposeful.”

Five minutes with new SKW President Brian Johanning

In July, Shafer, Kline & Warren announced that Brian Johanning would step in to lead the firm’s infrastructure and development business, replacing Larry Graham. The promotion is the culmination of a leadership succession plan two years in the making. MWM caught up with Johanning recently to find out more about his strategy for SKW’s future success.

MWM: What are your immediate goals?

Johanning: Right now, we are trying to build on a company that has a 67-year old foundation here in Kansas City-- with roots and survey records going back to the late 1800s-- and trying to maintain that strong brand while injecting a startup mentality back into the business and really trying to drive an entrepreneurial, performance based culture.

MWM: Clearly, SKW has a strong market presence and history. How do you preserve that while innovating growth?

Johanning: The leadership of old certainly was cognizant of the myriad of risks out there in the marketplace but their propensity to talk about it and be transparent about those risk analytics was a bit more reserved. In today’s world where information flows so quickly and freely, you have to be willing to “coach your people up” beyond the contract. We have partners who are dynamic, and at the end of the day it boils down to building good, solid relationships bonded in trust. That trust comes when the walls to difficult conversations come down, so we have to think strategically to soften some of those barriers.

MWM: SKW is mid-sized engineering firm. What are the advantages and disadvantages to that?

Johanning: It can be a tough spot, but it’s also fun to figure out your strategy. Some of the biggest engineering companies in the world are here in KC. Sometimes you’re going up against them and other days it’s a survey guy working out of the back of his pickup truck, and you find a way to compete accordingly. So we are trying to share more value, and that isn’t always about price; sometimes it is about expertise and local experience. Larry Graham, Tom Smith and others who have been here 45 plus years are walking CRMs. You can walk up to them and ask about any intersection in town and they have a story about it and probably have a record about it. The competition can’t say that. Having that walking encyclopedia down the hall is so valuable. 

MWM: As you work to grow SKW, what kind of team will you be building?   

Johanning: We see the market shifting to more integrated project delivery and where the entire project team is brought together sooner, if you will. Having talent that can support multiple business units is highly desirable. The utility player is sometimes looked at as a commodity, but Ben Zobrist changed that for the Royals, so for us it is about finding people like that who are capable of tackling different projects. On almost every land development project there’s a public component—whether it’s sewer line or land change or water main—so being able to straddle that fence and represent all the stakeholders is really important, and that’s what we are looking at going forward.

MWM: How will you use your business development background to grow SKW?

Johanning: The most effective business business development tool in the world is doing good work. I feel like the rainmaker of the next 21st century is the person who can attract the most skilled and entrepreneurial talent because if those folks come to an organization and focus on delivering a quality product, there’s no better business development tool than that.

New Design-Build law will drive innovation, value in Missouri

New Design-Build law will drive innovation, value in Missouri

Missouri is the latest state in the nation to adopt alternative procurement legislation, thanks to a handful of local A/E/C professionals and organizations. The new law, which went into effect this week, allows public agencies to use the design-build procurement method for all types of design and construction. It’s a process that’s promising to drive innovation and value for those who use it correctly.

Shafer Kline Warren will lead Shawnee $5.2M extension project

The City of Shawnee is investing in an improvement district to better connect area residents to a new 300-unit residential development in Western Shawnee.

Developed by Bank of Blue Valley and Prieb Homes, the new 20-acre single-family subdivision, dubbed Greens of Chapel Creek, will be located between Clare and Gleason roads; However, Clear Creek Parkway currently dead ends after crossing K-7. That’s where Shafer, Kline & Warren steps in.

The improvement district being offered to the developers as an incentive includes $1.6 million in special assessments that will go toward the construction of an extension of a new Clear Creek Parkway. Shafer Kline & Warren has been selected to lead that project, an estimated value of $5.2 million.

As the Clear Creek Parkway project lead, SKW is providing site survey, as well as roadway, lighting, recreational trail and storm sewer design, and the construction observation to ensure the Clear Creek Parkway extension to Clare Road is done according to plan. Terracon will provide geotechnical engineering, while Landworks Studio will serve as landscape architect.

In addition to passing through the new development, the Clear Creek Parkway will split Shawnee Golf and Country Club and include golf cart underpasses. SKW partnered with Landworks Studios to develop the proposed design and landscape architecture that incorporates the stonework and sculptures from the K-7 Bridge into the connection of Clear Creek Parkway and Gleason Road.

Additionally, Brian Johanning, SKW vice president for infrastructure and development, will leverage his 10 years of experience in residential and commercial development as the project’s development liaison to assure the project meets the public and private needs.

“This alignment will be an important and beautiful asset for the community as it grows and develops,” Johanning said. “Each of us on the team at SKW will use our experience and expertise to ensure it fulfills the needs for the developers, the golf course and the entire community.”

The $5.2 million project is underway and is slated to be completed in late 2016.