For Adam Jelen, buildings are about more than concrete, steel and glass. They are a chance to make the places around them more vibrant.
Jelen, Gilbane’s Midwest regional director, has overseen some of the largest building projects in the state in the past year. But no matter how big they might have been, all are dwarfed by Gilbane’s latest project: Foxconn Technology Group’s $10 billion factory complex in southeast Wisconsin, easily the largest construction project in state history.
Despite his long experience, Jelen says he has discovered no template for managing projects such as the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons, an expansion of the Potawatomi Hotel and Casino and the Medical College of Wisconsin/Children’s Research Institute Translational and Biomedical Research Center.
“Every project has unique goals, every project has unique dynamics,” Jelen said. “The operations need to be throttled or customized to produce the results. I’m very passionate about building community in every project that I do.”
For the massive Foxconn project, on which construction began this spring, Jelen and Gilbane introduced a plan to hire Wisconsin residents and minority contractors.
Jelen said efforts like these on large projects can transform the industry and places where they are taking place. This commitment extends beyond Gilbane to its dozens of subcontractors, which are also expected to find residents and minorities for projects like Foxconn and Northwestern Mutual.
But Gilbane also combines its ideals with “militant” operations and air-tight plans. Jelen said the company’s projects are the ultimate “team sport.”
“These are the opportunities for us in Wisconsin to shine, to build that capacity, not just build the job,” Jelen said. “I believe that’s the essence of what leaders do, that we’re here to make a difference for the greater good.”