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Your Steady Hand

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DBI Projects empowers clients to make informed project decisions. Founded in 2002, the United States-based owner’s representative firm has made a name for itself in planning, real estate advisory, and project management on a global scale. From non-profit and educational developments to commercial and public work, DBI has spent the last 22 years building its business and earning the trust of organizations and parties all over the world by doing the difficult work — bridging the gap between the diverse stakeholders involved in complex projects in the real estate and construction space and delivering projects that matter.

DBI’s team of 65 is comprised of dedicated individuals with diverse backgrounds, all of whom embody the company’s values of hungry, humble, and smart. DBI has established a strong reputation thanks to a solutions-based approach to project management and a ‘whatever-it-takes’ attitude. As real estate and construction experts, DBI provides planning and management expertise for clients around the world, across numerous different sectors. Backed by a national presence with offices across the U.S., DBI provides a robust set of specialized, in-house practices that range from project planning and capital project execution to ongoing asset management. In a complex industry, rife with potential challenges, DBI’s mission is to deliver their client’s vision, leading the building process with clarity, commitment, and care.

“Our intention is to drive complex projects forward on behalf of everybody involved,” says Partner and Senior Director of DBI, Chris Tomlan. “So, if there’s a conflict in the field between the architect and the contractor, DBI is there to help communicate, streamline processes and ultimately resolve issues.” Tomlan has been with the company since 2011, starting his career as a project manager, armed with a master’s degree in architecture and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati. Internal promotion, professional development and growth are another set of core values that Tomlan believes differentiates DBI from the rest. “Our model of management is very hands-on, which stems from the fact that no matter what level you’re at [in the company], we all went through the same training process and therefore approach problems the same way.”

It takes a very roll-up-your-sleeves approach to be successful, particularly as the effects of rising construction and borrowing costs continue to complicate many aspects of the construction industry, from budgetary constraints to supply chain disruptions.

“At its core, we are brought into projects to protect budgets and schedules, but we are successful because we really care.”

Recently, DBI successfully completed two complex ground-up school construction projects in The Bronx neighborhood of New York City. With every project comes opportunities and challenges, some issues the team faced when delivering these two major projects included delays with city infrastructure, supply chain disruptions, and pandemic related cost escalation. DBI relied on its relationships with stakeholders and vendors while maintaining clear and constant communication with the client. This allowed the entire project team to navigate through the difficulties as they arose. Excitingly, both schools officially opened their doors to students, on schedule, in August 2023. “Turning over two schools to 800 students after two years of hard, grueling work is extremely rewarding,” says Tomlan.

DBI aims to affect positive change in the communities and clients it serves, which includes an impressive non-profit and public sector portfolio featuring social service organizations, performing arts centers, faith-based organizations and learning institutions. “The role we serve to our clients is really that ‘right hand’ – acting as their trusted advisor and manager, guiding the project from start to finish.”

The company’s success, in large part, comes from the team’s ability to simplify even the most complex of tasks. As Tomlan puts it, “At its core, we are brought into projects to protect budgets and schedules, but we are successful because we really care.”

DBI’s role in its projects usually extends beyond traditional project management. As owner’s representatives, the DBI team is often brought on board early in the process to establish realistic project parameters and to assist organizations in refining their vision. Tomlan highlights the company’s commitment to making everyone’s lives easier by streamlining processes and ensuring the best use of resources, right from the beginning of the project. “Engaging a group like DBI early will prevent project headaches down the line. It’s our job to have foresight, predict and plan for potential problems early,” says Tomlan.

One typical role DBI assumes on behalf of their clients is to assemble teams through a transparent and efficient process. Running competitive Request for Proposals (RFPs) to ensure compliance while leveraging industry relationships to engage the most equipped professionals for the task. Whether the project price tag is $500,000 or $500 million, DBI’s priority always remains the same: represent the client’s goals, priorities, and mission effectively, every step of the way. As Tomlan puts it, “It’s about construction, but it’s also about doing good things and being a part of positive change.”

Looking ahead, DBI’s goals are twofold. DBI plans to capitalize on its past successes –and passion for– working on community-centric projects, investing more time and effort into growing its portfolio in the education sector, forming partnerships with more independent schools and higher education institutions. Building on DBI’s current partnerships with a number of different clients in these fields (Pace University, MIT, Barnard College, Bard College, and the Cooper Union to name a few), Tomlan sees a real opportunity to expand services and provide more value-adds to those organizations, whether it’s supporting student housing projects, strategizing phased deferred maintenance plans or compliance to evolving regulations. The team also hopes to continue building their commercial and public infrastructure portfolio, two sectors that could benefit greatly from DBI’s approach to real estate consulting and project management. The second goal focuses on DBI’s ongoing geographic expansion. In addition to its headquarters in New York City, DBI has an office in Boston and Philadelphia, as well as a new office in Austin, TX.

Find out how DBI can help support your project and create creative solutions for your organization. Visit its website for more information or email the Director of Business Development, Emily Puhnaty at [email protected].

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