Culture is the key for Ryan Bonner.
And the driving force behind Vertix Builders Inc., a construction company he cofounded in 2014. “Our focus is on our people and our subcontractors,” said Bonner, LEED BD+C, CHC, president of the Frederick-based firm. “Construction is a tough business; you can’t control a lot of its variables, but you can always control the people around you.
“The Vertix culture is not for everyone,” he added, but it is based on individuals who are passionate about building, putting the team and project first, and willing to think outside the box. Bonner first fostered the ideas behind Vertix early in his career.
Following graduation from the University of Colorado with a degree in civil engineering, he started working with GH Phipps. Yet he always felt a draw to starting a new company with a new direction.
“I always thought I would want to work in a small company environment,” said Bonner. “I knew that I didn’t want to be a vice president in a large company where I felt disconnected from certain people or departments, I always wanted to be involved with jobs and projects, working side by side with trusted team members, which is the intention of Vertix.” After nearly 16 years at GH Phipps and working positions from project engineer to estimator to project manager, Bonner started Vertix.
The firm began with three employees and has since grown to 15 employees. Having completed $7 million in projects in its first year, this year Bonner is expecting to finish $50 million worth of projects.
“Our growth is with the growth of our people, not project opportunities,” added Bonner. Bonner relishes that the firm is built on people – knowing your co-worker is pulling his weight and you can trust that he and his goals for the company mirror your own, he added. Additionally, he loves hearing from the spouses of employees how much happier the employee is since coming to Vertix. “It is the most rewarding thing. I couldn’t think of a better compliment than that.” The key to Bonner’s success and the growth of Vertix, he emphasizes, also comes from relationships.
“You don’t get to where you are without good relationships,” he added. “A number of our clients come from working with a large construction company to us, and comment how nice it is to have a decision made and to keep going on the project – and not have to stop and work through the bureaucracy of a larger firm. We are very service oriented, something that is disappearing in our industry.” Growing the reputation of Vertix, Bonner noted, comes from a commitment to the firm’s “word is bond” motto in which servicing the client is at the forefront of its work.
'Construction is a tough business; you can’t control a lot of its variables, but you can always control the people around you.'
Vertix Builders primarily specializes in health care facilities in Colorado, however, it has completed multifamily and education projects across the state and is working to add mission critical and data centers to its resumé.
Additionally, Vertix focuses on projects in the $10 million to $40 million range, a niche Bonner sees the firm excelling at – a small firm being able to build larger jobs.
His achievements, Bonner acknowledges, couldn’t happen without individuals around him, including Mike Murphy, a superintendent he worked with at GH Phipps and brought over to Vertix.
“He has always been the guy who sits down and explains things, takes the time to teach people even if he is really busy,” said Bonner. “He is the type of guy who will pick up the nails on the roof, to take personal ownership of projects to provide better service.”
Bonner also recognizes the influence Ted Laszlo, DBIA, LEED AP, CHC, co-founder of Vertix Builders, has had on his life. But, he jokes, not for the same reason.
“We joke that he gave me my personal life and I gave him his professional life,” laughed Bonner, recounting the intersection of the lives of the friends since college. “He told me, ‘You should meet my girlfriend Jess’ roommate.’ She is now my wife, Tracy.”
As for Bonner, while he was interning at GH Phipps before graduation, he told Laszlo to give him his resumé and he would give it to the right person. He did and Laszlo was hired.
When he’s not fostering a company and culture he is proud of, Bonner, born and raised in Fresno, California, keeps busy with his three daughters, ages 4, 7 and 9, Tracy, skiing, hiking, golf and mountain biking.