Construction Domain: How The Krusinskis Have Spread Their Reach From Coast To Coast
Real estate is full of dynasties, and Chicago is no exception. Since 1973, the family-owned Krusinski Construction Co has worked across a number of generations and asset types and, these days, most of the firm’s higher ranks are filled with family members. The firm—now a premier design and build general contractor and professional manager of construction services—has worked with several impressive clients in projects throughout (and beyond) the Chicago market.
How has the company and the family been able to keep everything together? Plenty of family businesses have fallen apart, and few have reached the level of success that the Krusinskis have. We sat down with Krusinski Construction EVP Jeffrey Krusinski—who joined the firm in 1994 and is responsible for client relationships, strategic company growth and market development—to get his insight into what makes the firm and the family so successful.
All In The Family
Like his father, CEO Joe Krusinski, Jeff gained his inspiration and love for construction during frequent project site visits as a kid. While Jeff and his siblings would sweep the project’s floors, Joe would explain the building process. Despite this initiation at such a young age, Jeff says there was never any pressure or expectation to join his father’s firm.
“My father was generous and open to our involvement as long as we were willing to work hard and earn our way,” Jeff tells Bisnow. “For me, there was never really any other place or industry I wanted to work and I have enjoyed the ride for 22 years.”
Considering the fact that Jeff’s father, uncle, brother and sister have all joined the firm’s ranks, it seems building is in the family’s blood, and luckily Jeff doesn’t see any potential danger in working with his kin. Although there have been moments where family and business “not only intersected but were constantly running on the same set of track,” the family quickly realized it was “disruptive and unfair” to have family gatherings consumed with talk about the firm.
“Now,” Jeff says, “we appreciate that time together outside of the office and are much more immersed in the moment of just being a family.”
But what has done the most to keep the family together are the three virtues that Joe ingrained into his children and made part of the firm’s philosophy.
“The first and foremost is integrity, which has not only created the trust of our clients for 43 years, but is the framework for how our family and all of our associates interact with each other and everyone within our industry. Without integrity, the foundations crumble. Responsibility—for your own actions, with clients and their interests, and for our company and our associates—is another key value. Lastly, in order to succeed over multiple generations, we believe we must be servant leaders and good stewards of our business. Leadership is earned—not bestowed—upon any family member. It’s imperative that we elevate our company and every associate within in order to achieve long-term success.”
The Best In The Business
In order to elevate the company, Jeff says, the Krusinskis have made it their mission to pursue clients, not projects. This has forced the firm to quickly adapt and adjust to different markets—it's tackled projects in lllinois, New York, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Tennessee and Mississippi—as well as product types, including offices, retail and data centers.
“In order to support our clients in their strategic objectives and growth, we must also be strategic and employ a well-rounded and diversified team of professionals with backgrounds in civil, structural, architectural and MEP disciplines with experience in just about every product type,” Jeff explains.
With a capable team that understands a project’s nuances, not only is Krusinski Construction able to provide clients with a successful outcome on any project, but it's also able to future-proof itself against a dip in any asset class’ popularity. This—along with a relationship of mutual trust and respect—is why the family has attracted the attention and respect of huge corporations like Time Warner, Comcast and Canadian National Railway, Jeff says.
A Cross-Country Citadel
But perhaps the Krusinskis’ most interesting key to success is their founding membership with the Citadel National Construction Group, a partnership between seven of the US’s top general contractors, including Choate Construction, Pankow and Rogers-O’Brien Construction. Jeff explains that Citadel started when Bridgestone/Firestone contracted Krusinski to build a 600k SF distribution and office facility in the Chicago market. Bridgestone was so impressed with the firm’s work that he invited a California contractor—who was about to start a project for the company on the West Coast—to visit the site.
“That interaction kindled several further conversations and meetings with the notion that regional contractors could partner to share not only potential clients,” Jeff says, “but also shared experiences, best practices and lessons learned.”
Through various networking events and connections, other carefully selected contractors were interviewed—in order to determine that they had similar values and a history of acting with integrity, accountability, collaboration and responsibility—and eventually admitted into the prestigious group. Jeff says that the benefits of being a member of Citadel have been invaluable and incalculable.
Through close relationships with dynamic and brilliant leaders these partner companies, Jeff and the Krusinski family at large will continue to grow. We’ll have to see what will come as the next generation of Krusinskis enter the fray.
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