A DPR employee for nearly 20 years, Brian Gracz has worked in the San Diego, Southern California and Mid-Atlantic regions and currently serves as the business unit leader in San Diego.
Building on the award winning Palomar Medical Center, DPR is continuing work on two smaller projects within the facility: labor and delivery and the neonatal intensive care unit completing this fall. (Photo Credit: David

Q&A: Building Lasting Relationships

To truly develop a lasting relationship with a medical center, you have to be prepared to assist in whatever way is necessary to help them succeed, whether it is to provide a budget, complete a large expansion or come back to move something as simple as a door.

Palomar Medical Center in Escondido, California, a project DPR completed in 2012, recently selected DPR to build two new projects, valued at $200,000 each: retrofitting the existing labor-and-delivery floor and adding a neonatal intensive-care unit to the same floor. Both projects are scheduled to be completed this fall. 

San Diego business unit leader Brian Gracz, who was the project executive on the original Palomar Medical Center, recently chatted with commercial real estate publication GlobeSt about what it takes not only to build great things, but build great relationships.

How is the healthcare industry changing?
The medical industry has been challenged consistently over the last decade to reduce costs while producing better results. It was hard for hospitals to predict how the Affordable Care Act would affect their operations, and as a result, their built environment. 

The industry as a whole has been predicting that the day of the 1-million-sq.-ft. hospital campus is over, since legislation and a drive towards reducing in-patient care has created less of a need for these mega-facilities. This is a whole new concept for a lot of systems and will require a new approach to serving their communities as they find ways to reach deeper into where their patients live and work. Within the AEC industry, we are in a unique position to assist in the decision-making process.

What does it take to develop a lasting construction relationship with a medical center?
At DPR, we try hard to understand what medical centers are going through to better provide them a level of service that can help drive decisions on capital improvements. To truly develop a long relationship, you have to be prepared to assist in whatever way is necessary to help them succeed. In some cases, it may result in steering a project in a different direction, making suggestions that reduce scope or providing creative solutions around phasing to allow the organization to deploy limited capital in the most effective manner.

What’s the best way to nurture that relationship?
For DPR, our approach has always revolved around relationships. We strive to be a long-term trusted partner. What does that mean? To us, it means being available when needed, whether it is to provide a budget, complete a large expansion or come back to move a door. We want to be a fixture within the systems in which we work.
The caveat to this is that the approach really only works with clients who want to build a relationship as well. All too often, systems are squeezed by pressures from administrators, executives and insurance companies. Sometimes, this drives a decision-making process that is transactional and purely based on lowest first cost, which makes the ability to develop a long-term relationship more challenging.

The reality is that if you want to have a strong relationship built on trust, you have to work at it.