Frequent Flyer

Billy Harbert, BL Harbert International

Constructing the new, luxury Vesta Apartment complex on Highland Avenue here in Birmingham is a different animal than building an $18.5 million manufacturing facility for GE Aviation in Asheville, NC, or a new performing arts center at Auburn University—a tiny sampling of projects at different stages of completion for Birmingham-based BL Harbert International.

But for as many varied domestic projects for which the company’s services are sought, the differences in scope, expertise and sensitivity to location are nothing compared to what’s required for the projects Harbert is entrusted with around the world. These include renovation of U.S. diplomatic offices in Helsinki; construction of a U.S. Embassy office annex in Abuja, Nigeria; and design and construction of a new U.S. Embassay office annex in Amman, Jordan.

Billy Harbert, who has been chairman and CEO of BL Harbert International since its inception in 2000, provides leadership and direction of all BL Harbert projects in more than 42 countries. Building on the legacy of his father and uncle, Bill and John Harbert, along with Ed Dixon, who orginally founded Harbert Construction Company in 1949, Harbert fully embraces the company’s commitment to provide high-quality work that meets U.S. specifications regardless of the location.

He also sees the company’s presence in locations around the world as an opportunity and obligation to act as a good global citizen and build relationships in unique ways.

“We make every effort to immerse ourselves in local cultures and contribute to the welfare of local communities,” Harbert says. “We also hire workers from the local workforce and, by training them and refining their abilities, provide them with a life skill that they will be able to use long after we have gone. Our goal is to leave behind not only a world-class building, but also a local population that has a new positive view of the United States.” says Harbert.

“Many of our international jobsites are located in underdeveloped countries, where many of the things we take for granted are not available,” he adds. “Our team members spend their personal time building kitchens, playgrounds and fostering lasting relationships in these remote communities.

“We understand that our reputation depends on serving the communities in which we build.  Whether it’s providing basic food and shelter for those in need internationally or investing our time and resources in local organizations and nonprofits at home, we take pride in giving back. It is our duty to help, so we make philanthropy part of who we are.

“Overall, we feel it is our duty to help, and strive to make philanthropic efforts a natural choice for all of our employees near and far,” Harbert says.

At the core of their success is a  decentralized decision-making and management operating philosophy. This has led to the formation of two distinct operating groups: the U.S. Group and the International Group.

From offices in Birmingham, Houston, Nashville, Greenville, Atlanta and Washington, D.C., the company’s U.S. Group serves four distinct market sectors: Industrial, Federal, Commercial and Healthcare. Within its international group, BL Harbert provides clients with secure, professional construction in every corner of the world. Since 2000, they have performed in excess of $5 billion worth of new construction in over 42 countries; all of the work built to U.S. specifications and standards. The company has a proven track record of delivering first class facilities in some of the most remote places on earth.

Sustainable construction is also a high priority for the company, with the goal of reducing impact on the environment while remaining fiscally responsible. The company is the 28th ranked green contractor in the U.S. according to Engineering News Record (ENR) and is ranked the number one contractor for green government office buildings. With over 45 LEED Accredited Professionals, they have completed over $4 billion in green construction.

BL Harbert International has annual revenue in excess of $1.25 billion and 7,000 employees working all over the globe.

 Written by Joe O’Donnell