Category: Preconstruction

Built to Lead: Denish Sonani

Whether we are managing an already-established capital program or overseeing a project from site selection through owner occupancy, our reason for being is to lead our clients to success. HPMers like Project Manager Denish Sonani are committed to the relentless pursuit of improvement in order to push our firm, our clients, and our industry to new standards of excellence. Denish is currently part of an HPM team that manages $280 million of the Manor ISD bond program where he is overseeing the construction of a new elementary school campus and three multipurpose indoor practice facilities. Continue reading to learn about his role at HPM, what leadership means to him, and more.

HPM: What does a typical day at HPM look like for you?

As a project manager, my key role is to manage day-to-day communication between various parties, including the architect, contractors, consultants, and the owner. Besides that, I spend a good amount of time managing the budget and schedule. In my opinion, an HPM project manager’s everyday job is to remove hurdles and clear a path well in advance so all parties can work effectively and efficiently.

HPM: What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is getting to know the project from a very early stage. I enjoy being there for the land acquisition, witnessing the programming and planning phases, getting in the mix with architects, consultants, and contractors, and seeing the building take shape. Finally, I enjoy closing out the project on a high note, followed by a long-awaited ribbon cutting. Basically, I get to know the project inside out.

HPM: Tell us about someone who inspires you. Why do you consider them to be a great leader?

My father inspires me more than anyone else because of his ethic, dedication, and ownership of the work. He works more than 80 hours a week as of today but I have never seen him tired. He always tells me that if you love what you do, you will never get tired but instead, you will get joy.

HPM: What does leadership mean to you?

To me, a great leader is one who believes in creating more leaders and not followers. Great leaders are more focused on the “process” to get the results, not just the results. Leading from the front is one of the main characteristics of a good leader because that is what inspires and motivates others.

Are you built to lead and interested in joining the HPM team? Check out our current job openings and apply today!

Saving Time and Money, Despite a Pandemic

It is no secret or surprise that construction projects around the world have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. For many, it has caused delays and budget increases, setbacks that public-school districts typically cannot afford. At Round Rock ISD, however, we delivered over $75 million of work in a period of eight months.

“One of the great successes is that we have been able to accomplish an incredible amount of work in an amount of time that really would not have been possible if we didn’t have the assistance of HPM,” said Melanie Camarena, Round Rock ISD (RRISD) director of construction.

Despite any delays caused by the pandemic, all summer 2020 projects were completed successfully on time. The projects included miscellaneous HVAC, roofing, bleachers, kitchen, and flooring renovations. In addition, there were renovations completed on the PA system, fire alarm system, cafeteria stage, main distribution frame room, a track replacement, and a field turf replacement. Electrical renovations were also completed, including the replacement of panels and main switchgears.

In order to provide a successful completion on these projects, the team helped to redefine and implement schedules, document management, and control protocols. In addition to keeping projects on track, HPM saved the district approximately $1 million in the first year through Guaranteed Maximum Price (GMP) reviews and pre-audit work.

“From a K-12 district point of view, it’s very difficult to hire a project manager who has the experience to be working in 30 to $50 million dollar or larger projects,” said Terry Worcester, Round Rock ISD chief operating officer. “You really need someone with experience and the knowledge base to be able to work with designers and builders who are in that league, so we procured and were very delighted to have HPM join our team here as a partner, not necessarily just as a consultant, but as a partner to augment our staff and work with us directly.”

HPM is currently serving as the program manager for Round Rock Independent School District’s $500+ million capital bond program, which spans 199 individually approved bond projects. Our role includes the three-year management of the planning, design, and construction of several large projects, including a new elementary school, a new aquatics practice center, expansion of existing schools, modernization of two high schools, and more. This also includes technology, security, and ongoing maintenance. We provide program controls with a dedicated interface with the accounting and financial systems of the district and the development of the master schedule, including all procurement, design, construction, occupancy, and startup milestones.

HPM’s Brooks Ballentine Promoted to Vice President of the East Region

Brooks Ballentine has been known to say he values HPM’s family atmosphere and size—it is small enough to know everyone, yet large enough to provide opportunities for growth. He has spent nearly 14 years of his career growing with the company and has proven himself a dependable leader in every position he has served. For his immense dedication to our team and our clients, Brooks is being promoted from Director of the East Region to Vice President of the East Region.

“As a director, Brooks has worked tirelessly to improve his group’s organization, promote inclusion, and support his team in their programs and pursuits,” said Frank Marsac, HPM Vice President of Operations. 

Brooks does an excellent job of partnering both internally and externally. His team feels like he is fully supportive of them and their careers and that he works hard to not only ensure their success and HPM’s success but the client’s success, as well. 

“Brooks exemplifies the golden rule, whether that is with a client or his team, and they truly see him as a trusted advisor who is always seeking the best solution in every situation,” Marsac said. “He is always willing to step in and help whenever there is a need or challenge and is a true servant leader. He is optimistic and encouraging to his teams, which pushes them to higher levels of success in their roles.” 

Brooks began his career at HPM in 2007 as a Project Manager. He worked on the Regions Bank account in Birmingham before representing HPM as an indispensable leader for the University of Alabama (UA) account in Tuscaloosa. Brooks helped manage the UA program’s many projects and teams from 2008 to 2017. 

In 2018, Brooks took on the position of Program Executive for HPM. In this role, he managed multiple senior program managers who supervised numerous programs—such as UA, Regions, Homewood and Vestavia Hills City School districts, and the Birmingham-Jefferson Civic Center (BJCC) arena. Brooks displayed clear communication skills, strong leadership, and a determined work ethic. Because of these qualities, he was promoted to Director of the East Region, a position in which he has managed multiple program executives who are working on projects in HPM’s geographical East Region. 

We’ve been named one of the Best Medium-Sized Companies to Work For in America by Great Places to Work multiple years running. Interested in joining our team? Learn more by clicking the button below.

Built to Lead: Foster Veazey

At HPM, we are dedicated to being an advocate for our clients from start to finish. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service while providing unparalleled expertise in construction management. For the past three years, HPM Project Manager Foster Veazey has soared to new heights by leading successful aviation projects for HPM clients like Airbus and the Mobile Airport Authority. Keep reading to learn more about Foster’s role at HPM, his proudest accomplishment, and more.

HPM: What does a typical day at HPM look like for you?

One of the things that I enjoy the most about my job is that aside from my standard weekly meetings, most of my days are different and not a “standard” or “typical” day. Depending on the phase of the project, the overall schedule, risks, etc., the priorities for how my day is spent change constantly. This allows for constant engagement and excitement while preventing a sense of monotony while at work.

HPM: What is the best part of your job?

Without a doubt, the best part of my job is being able to work in close proximity with and collaborate with our HPM team. We have an extremely unique culture that fosters a collaborative spirit and team atmosphere in everything we do, which I have found to be very atypical compared to other organizations. Working with others who I consider friends and not just co-workers is a unique feature that sets HPM apart.

HPM: What is your proudest accomplishment?

My proudest accomplishment was completing a full renovation of a 100+-year-old house amidst the COVID pandemic. I completely gutted the house down to the studs, moved walls, re-wired the entire house, laid new flooring, transformed the third bedroom into a master bathroom, and re-plumbed the house amidst 1,000+ other projects that I completed. I’d never done a project of this size by myself and was able to learn more than I ever thought was possible while restoring a beautiful home that my wife and I were able to sell. Lots of literal blood, sweat, and tears went into the renovation which took right around 13 months for me to complete by myself.

HPM: What are the characteristics of a great leader?

To me, a great leader is one who is able to inspire others to do things that they don’t want to or are unwilling to do on their own. Too often clichés that “everyone is a leader” are thrown around today, but this simply isn’t true. There are leaders and there are followers, but to truly be a leader you must inspire others to follow you. Personally, I feel that this is most easily accomplished by the leader having the humility to only ask of others what they are willing to do themselves.

Are you built to lead and interested in joining the HPM team? Check out our current job openings and apply today!

HPM’s Brian Morris Promoted to Senior Project Manager

When it comes to our industry, being a people person is a critical component of forging connections that will last long after a project is completed. Brian Morris is the perfect embodiment of this skill and exemplifies this quality in every facet of his career. His natural talent at building strong client relationships led him and his family from Tuscaloosa to Central Texas, where he is now helping to oversee HPM’s growing presence in the region. Brian’s ability to earn and maintain the trust and respect of clients is what led to his promotion to Senior Project Manager.

Before heading to Texas, Brian worked on our University of Alabama account, where he managed numerous renovations and quickly became an admired colleague among the entire UA team and campus partners. He relocated to Austin, where he now works on one of HPM’s major K-12 program in the Texas market. Since being in the Lone Star State, Brian has established himself as the project management leader in the Round Rock ISD facilities and construction department. He is a go-to resource for the district, providing consultation on a wide range of topics and offering his problem-solving skills when challenges arise. Brian’s current projects at Round Rock ISD (RRISD) include a $51 million program for McNeil High School, an $8.1 million Support Services building and a $2.4 million addition to the Chisholm Trail Athletic Facility.

“Brian has the natural ability to become close, like family, to anyone he meets out on the field,” said Ben Henson, HPM Program Executive. “He’s exactly the kind of person you want on your team. He works hard, but always finds a way to keep people laughing and engaged every step of the way during a project.”

In addition to his work in Round Rock, Brian has built a wide network of relationships throughout Central Texas with contractors, designers, representatives from various school districts in the region and other valuable partners. On top of the success he maintains for his ongoing projects, he is also constantly looking for opportunities to improve HPM’s brand recognition in the community and to spread the firm’s name across the state.

Terry Worcester, Chief Operating Officer at RRISD, recently said the following about Brian: “In the span of my many years of architectural practice and education administration, I have not had the extraordinary honor of working and collaborating with such a talented and capable colleague as Brian Morris. He is my go-to HPM ‘associate’ of client and project management within my many departments in the school district.”

We’ve been named one of the Best Medium-Sized Companies to Work For in America by Great Places to Work multiple years running. Interested in joining our team? Learn more by clicking the button below.

Project Success and School Spirit at Hyatt Place TCU

The new six-story Hyatt Place Fort Worth/TCU is the first and only hotel located directly adjacent to the Texas Christian University campus, making it a popular place for out-of-town fans and alumni to stay. Its unique location called for an equally unique design, one that is distinctly inspired by the university’s history, mascot, and colors. The 113,000 square-foot, $40 million hotel development includes 150 guestrooms, a 6th-floor rooftop bar and restaurant, Top Golf Swing Suites, an expanded lobby and first-floor bar, extensive meeting and ballroom spaces with catering kitchen, and an outdoor pool and gym.

Once the project came to fruition, a former TCU board member recognized the need for an experienced owner’s representative to oversee this unique and challenging project. As a trusted advisor to TCU, HPM was introduced and accepted the challenge.

HPM procured and managed the various team members including but not limited to the general contractor, architect, designers, operator, furniture, equipment, interior and exterior signage, security, audiovisual, food and beverage, acoustic consultant, envelope consultant, access control, technology, warehouse, moving, commissioning and final turn over.

We also coordinated and managed municipality efforts, compliance with TCU’s guidelines and design standards, cash flow, brand communication and approvals, bank inspectors and the model room process.

Having experience in leading hotel developments, HPM was able to provide solutions and value options when city codes and urban development requirements changed during design and planning. The project overcame additional planning approval time, budget and scope additions through HPM’s efficient and effective leadership.

In addition to the standard build-out procedures, special pre-planning for the design had to be implemented to accommodate changes in sanitary precautions due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the dining area in the lobby of the building was originally designed to feature a buffet-style setup. In response to the challenges and lifestyle changes created by COVID-19, changes were made to install sneeze guards and other modifications to allow for prepackaged food service and to adhere to safety protocols related to self-served meals. HPM remained agile, ensuring that the project moved forward and delivered on schedule, despite the challenges of designing and constructing a hotel during a pandemic.

Through effective project management, HPM led Hyatt Place Fort Worth/TCU to completion on time and within budget, while maintaining safety, achieving quality, and maximizing our client’s resources.

Avoid Weather Delays with Early Planning and Prefabrication

By Kyle Talley, HPM Electrical Preconstruction Manager

It’s cold and raining, yet I have miles of duct bank to go. In this blog post, we will discuss a planning option to avert schedule delays due to concrete-encased duct bank installations that must wait on good weather.

The cold and rainy season is well upon us and for most construction projects the thought of installing any significant length of underground concrete-encased duct banks is simply out of the realm of possibility. After all, we need minimum levels of dryness and warmth for the proper setting of the concrete. If current weather conditions do not meet these minimum requirements, we simply must wait until weather conditions improve. However, our construction schedules cannot always conform to the current weather situation. Sometimes we simply must get that duct bank installed in the dead of winter to maintain a tight schedule. With forethought, this potential situation does not have to impact your schedule. In fact, a longtime construction buzzword has presented the potential solution: prefabrication.

Kyle Talley

For many years now, prefabrication has been used to mitigate some of the risks and delays incurred with onsite construction. The use of an offsite location with more controlled conditions has become a tried and true method for both quality assurance and schedule enhancement. A prefabricated concrete-encased duct bank is a product that could very well help a project maintain a tight schedule while also allowing the actual installation to occur in conditions that otherwise would not allow. The sections of the duct bank are built offsite to the specifications of the project and then shipped to the job site. The onsite crew opens a trench, lowers the duct bank sections into the trench, joins the sections together, covers the trench, and the installation is done. The time-consuming work was completed offsite.

This allows prefabrication to be a solution to our weather-constrained schedule issue but also presents a challenge: planning. For this solution to work, the construction team must be able to anticipate the problem a minimum of six weeks in advance – the typical lead time for a prefabricated duct bank. The other main constraint to prefabricated duct banks is cost, mainly due to shipping. This potential solution will not be cheaper than a cast-in-place duct bank. The construction team will need a cost versus benefit analysis exercise to determine which installation method is best for the project.

HPM’s Preconstruction Services set the table for a successful project and make the entire building process easier for the owner. We offer expertise in planning a construction project before the actual construction begins, including feasibility studies, cost analyses, estimating, master scheduling, and design team structure and selection. The Preconstruction team includes mechanical, electrical, and plumbing engineering (MEP) specialists. Visit our Preconstruction Services page by clicking the button below to learn more.

HPM Selected as Program Manager for Manor Independent School District’s Capital Projects

We are proud to announce that Manor Independent School District (Manor ISD) has selected HPM to serve as program manager for its capital and facility-based projects. Representing $174 million in new development, these enhancements are the result of a $280 million school bond program approved by voters in Manor, Texas, in November 2019.

HPM will work alongside Manor ISD to provide project management and preconstruction services while ensuring schedule and budget compliance over the next three years. This includes several new classrooms, transportation, and multipurpose facilities.


“Manor has seen tremendous growth over the past decade, underscoring the need for improved educational infrastructure that can support a student body expected to exceed 12,000 students within the next few years,” said Greg Ellis, HPM’s Vice President of Program Development. “We look forward to seeing firsthand the positive impact that this investment will have on the community.”

Redbud Elementary- Round Rock ISD

The partnership is a continuation of HPM’s growth strategy in Central Texas, where it has already built an extensive program management portfolio for K-12 districts including Round Rock Independent School District, Belton Independent School District and Austin Independent School District. HPM’s success is largely attributed to the firm’s full range of services uniquely tailored to meet the demographic and socioeconomic needs of every community it serves.


“Our work is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and HPM is well known for the ability to cater our services to the specific needs of each school district we partner with,” said Derek McSween, Senior Program Development Manager at HPM. “HPM has the expertise to understand the nuances and challenges that come with working in K-12 facility planning and bond implementation, especially as the coronavirus continues to impact regulations. Our team is pleased to play a part in Manor ISD’s growth story by ensuring that its scholars are provided the highest quality academic and recreational facilities possible.”

Greater Austin is one of the fastest-growing major metropolitan areas in the U.S., having increased 34% in population size since 2010 and an impressive 3% in the last year alone. The population of Manor, located just 12 miles northeast of Austin, has grown by more than 160% since 2010, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

“We are grateful to the Manor ISD community for voting to pass the 2019 bond. As we continue to put scholars first, these new state-of-the-art educational facilities will address equity gaps, overcrowding and prepare for the continued population growth,” said Dr. Andre D. Spencer, Manor ISD Superintendent of Schools. “Most importantly, Manor ISD scholars are more than deserving of quality facilities that will enhance their learning environment. We are excited to work alongside HPM for this effort. HPM is truly a remarkable project management partner. It would be almost impossible to complete $280M worth of bond projects without their expertise and dedication to excellence in Manor ISD.”

HPM’s Taylor Thorn Promoted to Program Executive

In our business line, the ability to build strong, impactful relationships is crucial to our success and growth at HPM. Whether these relationships are with owners, design teams or even internally, it takes a true leader to possess the ability to forge meaningful connections with everyone he or she meets. Taylor Thorn is the perfect embodiment of this quality, known for his ability to effortlessly convey that HPM can provide solutions to meet any client’s needs. He has quickly become a go-to resource for clients and colleagues looking for assistance in solving complex challenges. This dedication to maintaining strong relationships both inside and outside of our firm is the driving force behind Taylor’s promotion to Program Executive.

“Taylor lives HPM’s core values every day, through his dedication and care for his clients, his community and his teams,” said Brooks Ballentine, HPM’s Director of the East Region. “Along with his determined work ethic, infectious attitude and can-do approach, Taylor puts relationships at the forefront of all of his actions as he strives to exceed client expectations.”

In his previous role, Taylor provided oversight on more than 10 programs executed out of the Birmingham office, and was responsible for managing client partnerships, program staffing and internal controls and reporting. He joined HPM in 2012 as a project manager on the University of Alabama (UA) account team and has quickly grown in his professional career as a part of our firm. Throughout his nine years here, he has provided oversight and leadership for multiple programs in addition to UA including Regions, the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, Calhoun Community College, Buffalo Rock, Ole Miss, National Cement and Avanti Polar Lipids.

“Taylor’s passion for his work and for supporting his teammates through any and all challenges is what sets him apart from the rest,” said Frank Marsac, HPM Vice President of Operations. “This is evident through his reliability, drive to be the best in the business and his willingness to lend a hand to anyone in need. This promotion is well deserved, and I look forward to seeing what great things Taylor will accomplish for our company as he grows his impact across our industry.”

Taylor graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in construction management and is also a graduate of the Hoar Leadership Council. He is a Certified Construction Manager (CCM).

We’ve been named one of the Best Medium-Sized Companies to Work For in America by Great Places to Work multiple years running. Interested in joining our team? Learn more by clicking the button below.

How Does HPM Help School Districts Like Yours?

By Anna Sullivan, Senior Program Development Manager

When a capital bond program becomes inevitable due to growth or change, school districts seek out an advocate who will work with them, teach them, and support them through the entire process. HPM is ready to assist and, as K-12 advisors and managers, we’re here to help.

Anna Sullivan

Experienced in the various facets of bond measures and planning for such, we understand the complexities and tasks required. We are here to ensure a successful outcome and allow you and your staff to focus on your day job- educating students.

Program Management is the process of managing several related services and projects. The intent and deliverables are to provide transparency with reporting, consistency with processes and performance, and streamline the outcomes.

HPM works as an extension of your internal staff and can be engaged at any time during the process. Some may believe we should be embedded at the time of a bond measure to execute construction and fiduciary oversight, but this is not necessarily the best solution. HPM can provide more valuable input when we are involved earlier in the process for planning and then throughout the program.

Here is a brief summary of how we can help you and your district:

Facility Assessments

Our team will review and document the physical state of all site work, buildings, and systems, and provide cost estimates for repair or replacement. We will make recommendations of life cycle cost and ADA accessible evaluations, as well as provide capacity and utilization analysis of existing spaces. We will assess the educational adequacy of your facilities and whether or not they align with the district’s visions and goals. In the end, we will provide prioritization of facility needs with cost projections of each.

Long-Range Facility Planning

Strategic planning for facilities and operations is an essential component of short and long-term efficiency models. When engaged in the long-range planning stage, we provide demographic analysis of past and current projections, review and recommend potential boundary changes, and offer recommendations of facility use and improvements.

Preconstruction Services

Before construction begins, HPM’s Preconstruction Services team can develop conceptual budgeting and master program budgets for your district. We provide detailed cost estimates for proposed designs or options and program and project schedules. We will also review all design documents for constructability.

Audit and Contract Services

HPM’s Audit and Contract Services provide you with the expertise you need to be confident you haven’t overpaid on your construction projects. We offer contract language preparation and assistance with procurement methods, including pre-bid documentation and vendor RFQ/P. We complete construction audits, delay claims, and change order audits.

Program Management

HPM is dedicated to leading clients to success by managing all the intricacies of capital bond programs. When we manage a district’s construction program, we provide design management and coordination of all proposed projects in the program. We provide project construction management, coordination, and oversight of all project activities in the program. We also provide post-construction management, coordination, and warranty oversight, including coordination of all of the district’s vendors (ie. technology, AV, furniture, and security).

HPM provides an objective and thorough analysis for the district to make efficiently timed and knowledgeable decisions. The details in the data bring the confidence of transparency and reporting for the school board, administration, and community.

We can bring a flexible team of professionals at any time during the life of your program. HPM consistently delivers savings equal to, or in excess of our cost to you, due to our efficiencies and effectiveness. We are your advocate in every step of the process and will work closely with your architects, engineers, and additional vendors in a relationship-driven environment so that we can develop a win-win solution for your district.

To learn more about our services and our K-12 experience, click the button below.

Ready to discuss your next project?