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Contractor Spotlight: Wise Construction

General contractors come in all shapes and sizes. Some maintain small in-house teams with fewer than five employees, while others employ up to one hundred or more with clients across different regions. 

However, an effective general contractor is not defined by the size of its staff but by its ability to facilitate safe projects. And for Marty Leik, Corporate Safety Director at Wise Construction, a general contractor based in Winchester, Massachusetts, the barometer for success is not a measure of how many different projects his company can juggle at one time. Instead, it’s about doing right by your customers so that they come back.  

Leik tells Highwire that Wise Construction, one of Highwire’s Platinum Safety Award winners for 2023, is proud that 90-95% of the company’s work is with repeat clients.

“One of my favorite phrases I’ve heard here is, ‘We grow with our clients,’” Leik says. “We’re not actively bidding on every project possible—we try to stay in a serviceable range so that when our clients need something, we can respond.”

Carving out a niche

Leik says that since 1984, Wise Construction has carved out a niche in Greater Boston as a reliable general contractor specializing in interior renovations in “occupied, highly sensitive areas.” The company’s clients, he says, span some of the biggest name hospitals and biotech and pharmaceutical firms in the region, such as Massachusetts Eye and Ear, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston University, Harvard, and MIT, among many others. 

“Most of our work is inside occupied buildings, which is one of the more challenging environments to work in,” Leik says. 

The company’s relationship-centered approach to business has made it stand out among the contractors in its network. Like its clients—they, too, are repeat customers. 

“We use many of the same trade partners as well,” Leik says. “Most of our projects have almost the same crews from other jobs, so there’s a lot of familiarity between our trade partners and the Wise team.”

The importance of safety in occupied buildings

Servicing occupied buildings can present enormous challenges to general contractors. Whether that’s conducting a project in the emergency rooms and wards of Brigham and Women’s Hospital or overhauling mechanical systems in the gargantuan Boston Design Center, the Wise team and its crews have to tend to business knowing that the personnel who occupy those buildings are working right beside them.

“They need to be able to perform their job just like we do, without being interrupted by construction activity,” Leik says. “That’s one of the reasons we try to keep our trade partner pool small. We only want to work with people we trust to come into those active areas.”

Being able to consistently retain clients such as Harvard University, Moderna Inc., Pfizer Inc., and Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, among others, is the most significant marker of success, according to Leik. 

Underpinning that success, Leik says, is a strong safety culture. 

“One of the things that drew me to this company was that safety is so ingrained in everyday work,” Leik says. “Safety is a powerful endorsement of a company’s culture.”

On receiving the Platinum Safety Award, Leik said: “The fact that we earned the Platinum [Safety] Award with Highwire automatically helps put us in conversation with clients in an extremely positive light.” 

“It’s a way for me to justify to everyone why we do things the way we do them,” he says. “Safety isn’t always first nature to everyone in this industry—or life in general—but I think one of the things that Wise has done such a good job at is saying: it’s part of our business.”

Find contractors on The Highwire Network

We launched The Highwire Network as a way for builders and owners to connect with contractors. You can search by trade specialty, industry experience, DBE status, labor relationships, etc.

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