For decades, Hunzinger Construction Co. has demonstrated the true value that can be found in helping build up disadvantaged businesses.
The person perhaps most responsible for leading the company’s charge on that front is Joan Zepecki, who for 24 years has served as Hunzinger’s diversity and community outreach coordinator. In this role, she has helped develop and carry out plans adopted to meet and exceed the company’s contracting and hiring goals.
Zepecki said she first worked with Hunzinger when she was executive director of the Historic Third Ward Association, representing the interests of the neighborhood just south of downtown Milwaukee. The Brookfield contractor was working on a project that set a goal of having disadvantaged businesses perform at least 18 percent of the work.
“They were just incredibly easy to work with, and willing to develop processes to be successful,” Zepecki recalled.
From there, Zepecki was brought on to help reach various inclusion goals associated with other major projects, such as the construction of Miller Park. The goals on these projects included a requirement that 25 percent of all new recruits brought on for the work be either women or minorities.
Hunzinger took those goals seriously, and worked with various community groups to get the word out they were seeking local companies and workers.
“We got out and took the approach that we were going to be aggressive in our outreach and (in) connecting with the community to make sure they knew those opportunities existed,” Zepecki said.
Hunzinger’s commitment to meeting these goals has meant good things for those who work with the company.
The woman-owned construction-cleaning firm Gibraltar Industries, for instance, was first hired by Hunzinger to work on the Progressive Community Health Center Lisbon Avenue clinic project.
That project, which included the construction of a new three-story building, came with a goal calling for 25 percent of the resulting construction spending to go to small, minority- or women-owned businesses.
Officials at Progressive were deeply impressed by Gibraltar’s work and its commitment to hiring people from the surrounding neighborhood, Zepecki said.
“I am grateful that Hunzinger gave my firm an opportunity to prove themselves,” Shannon Jefferson, Gibraltar’s chief executive officer, wrote of her company’s relationship with Hunzinger. “Their support has allowed my firm to grow and build its reputation as the company to turn to for high-quality construction final clean.”
Beyond that, Hunzinger turned to Gibraltar once again to work on two projects at the Henry Maier Festival Park grounds, the home of Summerfest and other festivals. These projects, led by the Hunzinger executive vice president Kevin O’Toole, also had inclusion goals that the company managed to exceed.
Zepecki said Gibraltar’s success is just one example of how small-businesses and workforce inclusion goals benefit the broader community.
“We have a systematic approach for providing opportunity,” she said. “It’s just part of how we do business.”