Chicago transportation and infrastructure case study
Dunnet Bay Construction solves infrastructure challenges to improve Chicago transportation
Understanding a city’s transportation network is one of the best ways to get a feel for its history — and its future.
For Dunnet Bay Construction, it’s also the key to success as a general contractor that upgrades aging infrastructure for residents in and around Chicago.
“We work almost exclusively in the Chicagoland region,” says Tod W. Faerber, owner and president of Dunnet Bay Construction. “It’s important that we understand the dynamics of the various communities and the diversity found in different parts of the city.”
Through the years, the heavy highway contractor has maintained steady growth through a willingness to take on new challenges and develop creative, forward-thinking solutions to make improvements faster in one of the nation’s biggest transportation hubs.
"We are a rare ‘startup’ in the heavy and highway construction industry.”
– Tod W. Faerber, Owner and President, Dunnet Bay Construction
“Our real customers are the traveling public, the folks that pay a gas tax at the pump or pay tolls,” Faerber says. “We understand and respect their needs and try to deliver a safe work zone and a completed roadway or bridge that will improve their commute and benefit their neighborhood. Our work enables drivers to get home sooner and safer to be with their families.”
From startup to award-winning firm
Founded in 1989 by Faerber and co-owner Doug Stuart, Dunnet Bay got its start working on small subcontracting projects for other general contractors in the Chicago area. But it wasn’t long before the Glendale Heights-based business was able to build its own reputation — and its portfolio — as a general contractor in a market filled with established competitors.
“Our history is very important — it is really what separates us from our competition,” Faerber says. “Most of our competitors have been around for a long time; they are second- and third-generation companies. We are a rare ‘startup’ in the heavy and highway construction industry.”
Many of the company’s managers, supervisors and engineers have been with Dunnet Bay since its early years, and have seen its growth firsthand, he says.
“They know that they are responsible for our growth and, therefore, can take credit in our success,” says Faerber. “That is what makes our managers and supervisors different — taking pride in building a company that, not long ago, was trying to break into the bridge business. Thanks to them we have earned a reputation as one of the best contractors in the bridge and highway construction marketplace here in Chicago.”
Securing, managing and completing competitive-bid, large-scale infrastructure projects aren't easy tasks — especially when your clients include large public agencies as well as private sector clients. Yet Dunnet Bay has risen to the challenge, and exceeded expectations.
The company received the 2015 Bridge Contractor of the Year award from IDOT for bridge construction on IL 38 in Kane and DuPage counties and, in 2016, it was named General Contractor of the Year by ISTHA for its role in rebuilding and widening the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway (I-90).
Growing the right way
Dunnet Bay is pleased with the recognition that it has received over the years. But its leaders know that a big part of being an award-winning Chicago construction company is understanding how to manage growth.
“Growth, done the right way, is always a challenge,” Faerber says. “We love giving our employees the opportunities for personal and professional development that are only available if we grow.”
Transparency as a business and a willingness to involve the community in its projects are two factors that have helped Dunnet Bay expand from smaller jobs to multimillion-dollar building projects. The company posts plans for all its jobs directly on its website so the business community can see the work that is being done in real time.
Another way the company supports its local community is by encouraging minority-owned businesses, disadvantaged business enterprises and other local companies to participate in its projects.
“Our model is based upon utilizing the best union labor available,” Faerber says. “We rely on our labor force to be the most productive and safest in the business.”
The road forward
Growing a business takes help — not just financial, but the ongoing support provided by a company’s most trusted advisers. Dunnet Bay has benefited from both throughout its 12-year relationship with Huntington.
“We can trace our entire 26 years of banking relationships through Kevin Hughes [senior vice president and team lead at Huntington],” says Faerber. “He’s been a part of the team that has handled our account over the years, and we are comfortable with Kevin and his team handling our financial needs.”
As Dunnet Bay grows, its leadership continues to look for project opportunities both in and outside of Chicago, Faerber says. And there is no shortage of new infrastructure challenges on the horizon.
“We have plenty of roads and bridges,” Faerber says, “so the work will be there.”
For more information, visit dunnetbay.net.
Quick Facts- Dunnet Bay Construction
Headquarters: Glendale Heights, Illinois
Owners: Tod Faerber, Doug Stuart
Public sector clients: The Illinois Department of Transportation, The Illinois State Toll Highway Authority, The City of Chicago, Cook County Highway Department, The CTA and METRA.
Private sector clients: Commonwealth Edison, Peoples Gas, the Archdiocese of Chicago, Alberto-Culver and the ENRON Corporation.
- 2016 General Contractor of the Year, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority
- 2015 Bridge Contractor of the Year, Illinois Department of Transportation
- 2011 Award of Excellence (Urban Improvement), Illinois Department of Transportation