‘The past 40-plus years have seen unparalleled growth’

By Mike Lewis
Gregg Thompson directs marketing and business development at Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. Inc. in Chambersburg, Pa. He has been with the company for more than four decades. He enjoys unsweetened iced tea during the warmer months, hot tea during the colder months.

Gregg Thompson director of marketing and business development at Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. Inc.

Coffee Break

 

Gregg Thompson says he’s learned the business from the ground up, literally, at Brechbill & Helman Construction Co. Inc. in Chambersburg, Pa.

He started working for the company as a laborer during his days as a student at Shippensburg University. “I’ve swept plenty of floors and shoveled mud off foundations,” he said with a smile.

Thompson graduated from Shippensburg in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education. But he went to work for Brechbill & Helman.

“They were really growing then, and they were looking for help,” he said.

More than four decades later, Thompson, now 66, is still with the company. For the past 15 years or so, he’s been director of marketing and business development — with an emphasis on “business development.” Much of his job involves building relationships with clients and potential clients in Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia.

“We cover four states, so I’m on the road a good bit of the time,” he said.

He described the company as having three different types of projects. It offers design-build services, working with architects and engineers. 

“That’s really what I love to do,” Thompson said.

Brechbill & Helman also works with clients as partners in what Thompson called “negotiated” projects. And it gets involved in “hard bid” projects, primarily for public projects.

Thompson said the company also works with nonprofit agencies on their projects, pointing to Doey’s House in Hagerstown, Md., as an example. Doey’s House is the hospice inpatient unit for Hospice of Washington County, the only active licensed hospice in Washington County.

On a break, is it coffee, tea, soda, water … ?

On break, it is unsweetened iced tea in the summer and hot tea in the winter.

An average day for you includes … ?

I try to be in the office an hour before we officially open as it gives me some time to prepare for the day’s schedule. Most days are divided between pre-construction meetings for our design-build-negotiated projects and traveling to establish new relationships with potential clients, architects and engineering firms in the four-state area.

You have been with the company for more than four decades. What kinds of changes have you seen in the industry and in the area, and how has the company adapted to them?

When I first started with Brechbill & Helman in the early 1970s, we had none of the technology we take for granted today. Sometimes in remote project locations, we would have to find a phone booth to place our calls. All our communication was handwritten and delivered by mail or hand-delivered. There were no fax machines, cell phones, or computers with the capability of email or texting. Brechbill & Helman has consistently upgraded our information technology systems for project management, accounting, estimating, and field communication.

The past 40-plus years have seen unparalleled growth in the four-state area. In particular, the Interstate 81 and I-70 corridors and members of many state, county, township, local chambers of commerce, development corporations and marketing organizations, we have been able to build many signature projects. We are also very excited to have worked with international firms from Germany, Finland, India, South Korea and Vietnam.

What are some of the projects in the company’s pipeline?

Currently, we will be breaking ground in June for a new $12 million medical office building for Summit Health at (Pa.) Exit 3 off of I-81. Also, we are in the development of a masterplan and three phases of additions and renovations for Shalom Christian Academy, Leg Up Farm to be located at Penn National, Town Centre to be located at Penn National, Cloverly Crossing in Smithsburg, Md., and we have contacted with JGBLI for the redevelopment of the Fort Ritchie Army Base to be known as Cascade Town Centre, and a new Home2 Suites in Hagerstown.

Outside of work, what are your ambitions and aspirations?

I’m a Philadelphia sports fan, following the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and the Flyers. I was concerned I might not live long enough to see the Eagles win a Super Bowl until this past February. I also enjoy visiting wineries and microbreweries in the four-state area. I look forward to spending more time with my five grandchildren and the possibility of more on the horizon. I also look forward to traveling internationally when retired.

Want to share a cup of coffee with our readers? Send an email to facetime@crossroadsbizjournal.com or call reporter Mike Lewis at 301-791-7482.