Tony Iannessa joins Crain's Chicago for a virtual roundtable

Tony Iannessa, CEO, Big Construction
Tony Iannessa, Founder & CEO

Earlier this week, Crain's Chicago published "Building Chicagoland" a virtual roundtable with industry leaders including BIG's CEO, Tony Iannessa. Tony along with the president of ICC Group Inc. and head of the Chicago office for WiredScore discussed their company's impact on the construction market, the increase in construction costs, the impact of technology on construction, and how to keep the City's architectural gems relevant.

A few questions answered by the participants didn't make the final cut. Tony expands on what amenities drive the highest value for users, how labor shortages are impacting construction, and offers some advice to young professionals.

  1. Q: What amenities or features drive the highest value for Chicagoland occupiers or users?
    A: Fitness centers, technology, and entertainment amenities are increasing rent costs in Chicago. But, as work-life integration continues, employers are being pressured to find office spaces that can accommodate their employees’ work and personal needs especially companies focused on recruiting millennials'. A building owner’s primary goals must be amenity improvement and infrastructure upgrades to attract the City’s top companies. I think companies are willing to spend more on rent and their office construction costs if they will receive a return on their investment, by recruiting top talent.

  2. Q: How is the shortage of skilled labor affecting your business?
    A: We survey our pool of interior-focused subcontractors quarterly to gain their perspective on labor shortages, pricing volatility, and project backlog in the Chicago market throughout the year. In Q1 2018, we found that 62% of BIG’s surveyed subcontractors anticipate an increase in their costs compared to the 54% of national subcontractors reported in the Dodge Commercial Construction Index. BIG’s subcontractor pool also reported 80% of their supplier pricing will increase this year. Skilled labor shortages in Chicago are most prominent in masonry, millwork/interior finishes, and steel erection aligning with the national skilled labor shortages reported in the Dodge Commercial Construction Index, Q1 2018 report. This data gives BIG’s estimating department a reference point when creating client budgets and finding project solutions.
  3. Q: Any advice for students and young professionals interested in your industry?
    A: Whether you want to work in the construction industry or become an account, you need to find an internship in your field of interest. If you intern in the construction industry, you might directly interact with clients, architects, brokers, superintendents, or subcontractors. The more people you talk to and understand how they contribute to the industry, the better positioned you are to set short and long-term career goals. Each group has different expectations and work-style. You will likely be able to determine who you work well with and allow that to influence career path. Never be afraid to ask questions or share your ideas.

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