Primetime news & Events

Better Planning, Better Execution, Better People: Primus PEPs It Up in 2016!


Primus President Matt Hirsch addresses the team.

Primus is committed to providing its team with the tools required to successfully manage their jobs and find work/life balance. That is why, every March, Primus team members from around the country gather in Georgia for training, information sharing and general commaradarie.

President Matt Hirsch made the decision last year to introduce more formal training into the company meeting program. “Because our projects are spread all over the U.S., we have limited time to share ideas and connect as a team. I wanted to maximize our face-to-face time. It’s important to the team.”

The event kicked off with a presentation by Paul Voss, Primus’s ethics and corporate responsibility advisor. Paul’s focus was success in the service-based economy. He emphasized that service providers like Primus must create a user experience that nobody else can provide. Innovation and willingness to disrupt the status quo are essential to remaining competitive.

Paul noted Primus’s ability to innovate and present our clients with completely new ideas by referencing our United States Cold Storage project in Covington, TN. “That is a beautiful building,” he said. Cold storage distribution facilities are not known for being architecturally exciting, but Paul noted that the Covington facility has aesthetic elements not typically found on similar buildings. He complimented the team on its willingness to deliver something new and different. “No other firm provides it that way. Nobody else strives for beauty AND efficiency,” he said.


Paul Voss spoke on disruption and the experience economy.

Paul concluded by challenging the team to find ways to enhance the experience economy. “We know there’s going to be disruption. There’s going to be winners, and there’s going to be losers. We have to dedicate ourselves to being among those winners and continue to move forward so next year’s celebration is even better than this year’s celebration.”

Paul was followed by Chief Executive Officer Rich O’Connell. Rich’s presentation highlighted the successes of 2015, but also recognized areas that require improvement. “We’re trying to improve as a company,” he said. “We will keep finding better ways to do our business, whether that’s training or hiring the right people.”

Rich also emphasized the importance of maintaining relationships with existing clients. Primus is recognized as an industry leader in cold storage and medical device sterilization design and construction. We earned that title by building strong relationships with our clients based on their specific needs. “Everyone’s working very hard in here. And we are seeking solutions to making that better. But the one thing I do also know is that we have customers who call us, and they say to us, ‘I need you to build this project,’ and we can’t say no. We have to find a way.”  That commitment is part of the exceptional user experience Paul Voss referred to.


Primus CEO Rich O’Connell emphasizes the importance of existing relationships.

Primus President Matt Hirsch followed, reiterating Rich’s appreciation for the successes of 2015. “Not many companies can over double in capacity in a year and then sustain it for another year, so I’m very proud of everyone in this room for helping us be able to do that.”

Matt went on to elaborate on Primus’s 2016 motto: Better Planning, Better Execution, Better People. “We want to focus on a very macro level. Getting back to the basics of what we are as a company, and how we’re going to continue to provide our services better.” And that all comes down to planning, execution and people.

Matt went on to break down each component. Regarding planning, Matt explained, “You can boil every problem down to one or two shortcomings in planning. Planning is absolutely paramount.”
Matt cited several examples of the Primus team implementing strong planning practices. These include:

 •  Allen Beveridge serving as a resource for Revit training and solutions.

 •  Tony Pitrone, Ian Smith and Chuck Adams doing the up-front planning required to give the design team clear direction on our medical device sterilization projects.

 •  The United States Cold Storage Dallas and Warsaw teams for conducting master scheduling meetings.

•  Mark O’Connell ensuring our panel teams have the proper materials on-site prior to a panel job starting.

When it comes to execution, Matt emphasized taking the proven plan and putting it into motion. “The game is not won or lost in the final seconds. It’s won by sticking to the plan and following through.”

Matt used our Richardson project in South Sioux City, NE as an example. That project had an exceptional number of challenges: bad weather, over-scheduled subcontractors and owner change orders, to name a few. “We didn’t run away from that. We took the time to assemble a team and came up with a plan we could execute to successfully deliver that project. That’s execution.”

Matt saved the best for last: people. “We absolutely have the best people in the industry, I do believe that.”  Because of this, Primus has committed to helping team members achieve a better work/life balance by taking steps such as:

Creating support roles that allow team members to more effectively execute their jobs
Forging a partnership with Kennesaw State University to improve recruiting efforts.
Introducing wellness training that develop soft skills like time management and fitness.

Rebecca Elliott & Rick Williams, the first-ever winners of the Making It Happen award.

Rebecca Elliott & Rick Williams, the first-ever winners of the Making It Happen award.

Rich and Matt concluded their talk by presenting Primus’s first-ever Making It Happen award. This award is meant to honor Primus employees who are committed to getting the job done right. Recipients this year were Superintendent Rick Williams and Marketing Director Rebecca Elliot. Congratulations!

There was a lively vendor session on Thursday. Primus team members met directly with service and product vendors to ask questions and get information on their latest advancements.

Primus Senior Vice President Paul Grenier, PDS President Michael Jones and Director of Construction Jay Navarro kicked off the second day with a presentation on the power of partnerships.

“While it is imperative to have strong relationships with our subs and our clients, the most important partnerships are internal,” Paul said. “Live by the Golden Rule: treat others as you would like to be treated.”

Michael Warren, Rob Lane and Matt Jones deliver BIM updates.

Michael Warren, Rob Lane and Matt Jones deliver BIM updates.

Project Architect Michael Warren, Structural Engineer Matt Jones and Mechanical Designer Robert Lane updated the audience on the advancements achieved by the design team using Building Information Modeling (BIM).

“We are no longer just representing objects with lines on paper. These objects exist in a model with information we can use,” said Matt.

Before leading the team in a Town Hall exercise, Executive Vice President Erik Gunderson spoke on the importance of courtesy.

“I see this motto every time I go to my bank, and it rings true to me every time I see it,” he said of the quote by Henry Wells, right.

Then Erik asked the group to break up into small teams and discuss ways to demonstrate courtesy in our day-to-day interactions. Common responses included be on time for meetings, be true to your word, and treat others as you would like to be treated.

Breakout sessions supported this year’s motto and were centered on Planning, Execution and People.

The event wrapped up with our second keynote speaker, Maura Thomas. Maura is the author of the book Personal Productivity Secrets and offered tips on managing workplace distractions. Think “Next Action,” “Project,” and “Waiting On.”

John & Honey Navarro

John & Honey Navarro

Finally, we celebrated the career of the great John Navarro! Retirement rumors have been swirling around John since our Kroger project in Forest Park came to a close. But who can retire when they have ANOTHER Kroger project to execute? Instead, Primus chose to honor the legendary career of our friend. A good time was had by all! A special thanks to Whitnay White for putting it all together!

We are looking forward to another great year!


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