Burns & McDonnell to Expand Campus, Hire in Waves



Burns & McDonnell is expanding its headquarters to make room for more jobs. The company announced this week that it would break ground on a $42 million expansion (which includes a 550-stall parking garage and 142,000 square-foot office building) to accommodate its rapid growth rate of 1,000 new employees each year for the foreseeable future.

Burns & McDonnell CEO Ray Kowalik stands in front of large-scale renderings that provide the new view of the expansion.


What the Expansion Means for Kansas City

About half of the total hires each year will be based in Kansas City, and chairman and CEO Ray Kowalik said there would  be a trickle-down effect in the community, benefiting businesses in every sector–from the subcontractors helping to complete the project down to the restaurants in the area that will gain business with an increased population from added jobs. Additionally, half of new hires will be straight out of college, which Kowalik says, will boost the urban housing market that many Millennials are drawn to.

When recruiting talent, Kowalik finds particular success in drawing new employees from local and regional universities. “We like to bring people into our company young and teach them what it means to be working at an employee-owned company that puts customer service at the center and forefront,” he said. “We have a great system of universities around that are really drawn from the rural areas, and Kansas City is the like the big city of the region. After college, people can still move to a pretty good sized city and have that hometown feel.”

Burns & McDonnell’s growth is being driven by a strong economy and a demand for quality infrastructure around the country, and Kowalik is aware even with an addition, the headquarters won’t be able to sustain the company’s growth. “When we’re finished, we’ll have just under a million square feet here in Kansas City, and we’ll have spots for 4,295 people.” Kowalik said. “We expect to be completely out of space by 2021 at our current growth projections, so we can’t build anymore on this site and we’ll be looking for more space in the areas soon, which is a good sign for the economy.”

Details on the Addition

The company is still not sure who will populate the new building, but Project Manager Brittney Swartz says the current thought is that the federal group will take the new space, because it has stricter security requirements and the addition will be more isolated.

Swartz also said that the theme of connection is at the forefront of the addition’s design. There will be collaborative work spaces, large conference rooms and skywalks linking buildings, which speaks to the broader mission of Burns & McDonnell.

“It’s about that collaboration, that opportunity to just be across the aisle. Keeping that open workspace adds to the value of just everyone’s overall growth in their career,” Swartz said. “You hear all the conversations going on and all the teams sit together. Everyone is right there to help solve the problems so you don’t have to go far.”