Building on a legacy: Constructive efforts continue at FCI

Phil Castle, The Business Times

Shane Haas says a lot of what he really needs to know about running a construction company he learned from Ed Forsman.

“He’s been a great mentor,” Haas says, one who taught him the importance of honesty, listening and cultivating a culture of teamwork.

The admiration is mutual. Forsman praises Haas as a hard worker and quick learner who supports others. “He’s always there for anyone in the company.”

As Haas takes on his new role as president of FCI Constructors based in Grand Junction, he says he hopes to build on the legacy Forsman established over his 22 years in the position. As Forsman begins his retirement, he says he’s confident that legacy is in capable hands.

It’s a changing of the guard of sorts at an operation that’s grown over the course of more than 40 years from a small, family-owned firm launched in Grand Junction as a concrete contractor into a large, employee-owned construction management company with offices in six states and more than $500 million in annual revenue.

FCI has grown in terms of not only its staffing and service area, but also in the diversity of projects the company undertakes — everything from office buildings and schools to hospitals and airports.

“I think it’s really phenomenal,” Forsman says of the evolution of FCI and an operation that ranks among the top 10 private companies in Colorado and top 400 contractors nationwide.

What hasn’t changed over the years, Haas and Forsman say, are core values that include trustworthiness, hard work, honesty and professionalism. That’s in addition to a company culture that promotes collaboration and philanthropy as well as long-term relationships with clients.

Forsman retired in September after working for FCI for 34 years, the last 22 as president.

The board of directors appointed Haas to succeed Forsman as president. Haas also has worked for FCI for 34 years in a succession of positions that’s included superintendent, project manager, vice president of Grand Junction operations and executive vice president.

While FCI is headquartered in a building along the Interstate Highway 70 Business Loop, the company also operates smaller regional offices in Durango and Frederick in Colorado, Phoenix and Flagstaff in Arizona, Aztec in New Mexico, Williston in North Dakota, Edmond in Oklahoma and Cheyenne in Wyoming.

FCI employs about 420 people, about half of whom are shareholders under an employee ownership plan.

FCI has expanded, Haas and Forsman say, by taking on a project in an area, securing additional work and then opening an office. The company now operates throughout the Rocky Mountains in a geographic service region stretching from Mexico to Canada.

FCI worked on Grand River Health and its expanding facilities in Rifle and won an award for its work on the
St. Vrain Valley Schools Innovation Center in Longmont.
FCI has joined with other construction companies in a project to build additional gates at Denver International Airport.

But FCI also has completed some large and what Forsman considers iconic projects in the Grand Valley. That includes the Century Project at SCL Health St. Mary’s Hospital. The 12-story patient tower was part of what at $193 million was one of the largest scale construction projects in Grand Junction history.

FCI constructed the end-of-life care center for HopeWest as well as the new Orchard Mesa Middle School. FCI recently completed a four-story building housing the new headquarters of Timberline Bank.

Haas says construction evokes a sense of accomplishment. “At the end of the day, you get to look back and see what you did.”

But the process is satisfying, he says, in working with others. “It’s the people and camaraderie you’re developing.”

Forsman says FCI has always promoted a culture of collaboration among employees. “It’s like a pretty big family.”

Developing relationships with clients is also rewarding professionally as well as personally, he says.

At the same time, the company culture also includes giving back to the communities in which FCI operates, Haas and Forsman say. The company contributes to more than 200 local and national charitable organizations. Haas says many of the contributions constitute investments in the future in supporting 4-H, Little League and other youth organizations.

Looking ahead at business, Haas says FCI is well positioned for continued growth. “I’ve got a very positive outlook.”

That makes his new position a supporting role in providing employees what they need to succeed, he says. “It’s just to support everybody out there to the fullest extent possible.”

It’s also a matter, he says, of setting an example.

To that end, Haas says a lot of what he really needs to know about running a construction company he learned from Forsman. “He just set a good example.”