ABOVE: Two Bit Circus (L) and Crayola Experience (R) are two prominent projects Weber Group has worked on recently Photo courtesy Weber Group
In November 2017, design-build firm The Weber Group announced a new branding campaign and reorganization of the company. Initial founders Tom Weber, who passed away in 2016, and his brother Donny Weber had built the company into a respected design and fabrication leader (Donny remains a part-owner of the company). Many of their most high-profile projects came from the waterpark and zoo/aquarium sectors, but the company is lauded for their skill designing residential and commercial developments as well. Recent success stories include the Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Cape Canaveral, FL), the Crayola Experience (Orlando FL and Plano TX), the National Aviary (Pittsburgh) and the newly opened Two Bit Circus (Los Angeles).
The new Weber Group is managed by four partners, all of whom were actively involved in the business prior to the reorganization:
• Jim Doiron: Jim oversees the fabrication team for Weber Group. Jim has decades of experience in construction management. He has been with Weber since 2010.
• Adam McIntyre: Adam joined Weber Group in 1999. A licensed architect, he oversees the creative design work done by the company.
• Paul Ohlin: Paul serves as Weber Group’s current COO and CFO. He’s been with Weber since 2015.
• Max Weber: The son of the late Tom Weber, Max has worked with Weber Group since 2002. In addition to being a project manager, he now heads up business development for the company.
How did the Weber Group get to be where it is today?
Max Weber: We have always been a family business, and we owe our success today to our dedicated staff and excellent client base. We have been very fortunate to find and be able to grow alongside our many great clients. For us it is important to have a symbiotic relationship with our clients as well as our staff. I like to think that we have grown in concert with our clients to become the company we are today.
How did the business change with this transition?
Paul Ohlin: Previously the company was an S Corp. with Tom and Donny being 50/50 owners. The new company is an LLC with the four new partners and Weber Group, Inc. as the owners.
Jim Doiron: The partner team selection was strategic. The group that was chosen came from a variety of departments that produced a nicely rounded group.
Max Weber: It is exciting to have a new generation of management taking on leadership positions. Everyone in our new partnership not only shares the responsibility in managing our company, but we still maintain our original responsibilities. For example, I am a partner in the company, but I also am still a project manager, which helps us keep a finger on the pulse of Weber Group.
Tell us about your rebranding.
Adam McIntyre: Rebranding is a difficult undertaking… especially if you’ve become comfortable with an identity for many years. Tom and Donny started the effort to coincide with the new ownership team. The intent was to move forward with an evolution of where we’ve been, something that the new ownership team could galvanize around.
Jim Doiron: The rebranding was in response to people knowing the name and the company but not really knowing what we did both as a theming contractor and as a general contractor (GC) that built commercial construction. The rebrand was done in hopes to help fix that and give the company a fresh new look to go with the transition to the new generation of owners.
What other changes are happening at the company?
Jim Doiron: We recently established a new technology division alongside the rebrand with a project coming to completion at Kennedy Space Center. We are seeing more and more tech integration with projects and realized we needed to stay ahead of that. The addition of water play and signage divisions was a direct result of the new partners’ roles and came about through both new and established relationships we have cultivated.
Adam McIntyre: We’ve added onto our facility due to the growth. It coincided with the transition and is allowing us to grow our skill sets and provide our clients with more in-house services than we had only a year ago.
Paul Ohlin: We have also focused on a lot of internal promotions and creating much better career paths for our employees and creating more opportunities for everyone.
What markets are you most active in right now and where do you see the greatest potential for growth?
Max Weber: Currently, we have experienced great growth in affordable housing as well as the entertainment industry. The next generation utilizing our client’s services is much less concerned with having material possessions and more concerned with having great relationships and experiences. We are excited to meet the demands of our growing client base as we mature as a company.
Jim Doiron: It’s true that the multifamily housing business has been going strong and we don’t see any sign of that slowing down. In our unique position as a theming contractor and a GC we are seeing a bit of growth in traditional construction done for “theming” clients like zoos and waterparks, which is something we have done historically but got away from with changes in approach from clients and divisions on projects. We welcome that line of work back and feel we are uniquely qualified to provide those kids of turn-key services to our customers.
Any plans to change your offerings?
Paul Ohlin: As Jim mentioned, we’ve recently added a Technology department as we realize the ever growing need to integrate more tech into our projects. We also acquired Design2Play, to be even more able to offer turn-key solutions to interactive play. And we now have a sign division that can handle any kind of signage that our projects may require.
Max Weber: We are working more and more with interactive audio, visual and light effects to heighten guest experience on our projects. As Jim touched on, we did all the design development and installation of the AV, VR and AR experiences for the new ATX education center at Kennedy Space Center. Billy Boyd is our new technical project manager. He designed, specified and installed most of the interactive technology components for the education center. Billy will work with our project managers to be the liaison between the client and Weber Group for all technical components for our upcoming projects.
In what ways is the design/build field evolving?
Adam McIntyre: Design-build had always been and will always be built on TRUST…I don’t see that changing at all, but we do see an increased desire for documentation and clarity that describes the intent to a client. Technology is helping that quite a bit, and we are always looking to stay ahead of emerging tools to help the entire team manage expectations.
How do you make your Midwest home work for you?
Adam McIntyre: Being in southern Indiana has its challenges, but it has its advantages too. We like to think
we are centrally located and only within a few hours’ drive from a number of cities and states. We have access to a large skilled workforce and costs are a bit more reasonable than on the coasts. We do work ALL over the country and have found that producing our work in southern Indiana and shipping it is still competitive. We’ve learned how to do that efficiently over the years.
Jim Doiron: I think the other thing to remember is there is a huge market in the Midwest that counters the California/Florida mindset. Companies like Cedar Fair and Herschend Family Entertainment are huge players in this region and are at their heart Midwest based. We are proud to have those two as customers.
Are you feeling positive about all the changes the company has gone through?
Max Weber: I actually have never been more confident than I am now in Weber Group. I can’t wait to see what new and exciting ventures we get into as a company. I am one of the lucky few that enjoys coming into work every day. I truly believe we make a positive impact on people’s lives. It is rewarding to the see the tangible product at the end of the project. • • •
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