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Tony Iannessa Named to Crain's 40 Under 40 Class of 2022

Join us in congratulating Tony on this well-earned honor and hear what he has to say about leadership in this interview!

His Crain's Chicago Business profile is copied below.

Tony Iannessa's path to running his own construction firm building out offices for some of the city's most recognizable companies started when he lost his job.

After rising over six years from project manager to become the youngest vice president in the history of Chicago-based builder Leopardo, Iannessa was let go in 2016 as he sought a higher role—"I was not meant to be an employee," as the River Forest native puts it—and soon after got suburban general contractor Builtech Services to back him in a new office build-out venture, Builtech Interiors Group.

Iannessa spent the next few years riding the wave of tech companies expanding and sprucing up their downtown workspace, building a client roster for his rebranded BIG Construction that includes Grubhub, Motorola, Vivid Seats, CareerBuilder and Grant Thornton, among others.

Iannessa is a "distinguished industry veteran and one who we trusted to oversee the important investment we were making in our talent," said Vivid Seats CEO Stan Chia, who worked with Iannessa on a 2015 office expansion as then-CEO of Grubhub and recently hired BIG to build out the new Vivid Seats headquarters in the redeveloped Marshall Field Building.

When office business dried up early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Iannessa pivoted to building out interiors for health care, life sciences and cannabis cultivation companies and put 31-employee BIG on track for $100 million in sales this year—up from $70 million in 2019, he says.

The Indiana University graduate, who credits scale models displayed by TV architect Mike Brady of "The Brady Bunch" with sparking his interest in real estate development, says BIG has thrived by finding ways to work around historic supply chain delays and skyrocketing materials costs in an industry dominated by established players that can be inflexible. "It's about saying yes, we'll figure it out," Iannessa says.

Iannessa expects corporate offices to remain BIG's core business, but the firm is poised to play a key role in the build-out of life sciences lab space around the city through Helix Construction, a joint venture he formed last year with San Francisco-based lab space construction specialist GCI General Contractors.

By Danny Ecker (originally posted to the Crain's article linked above)

Photo by John R. Boehm

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