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Bowa Construction Grows With Innovation and a Focus on Building Communities

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The state-of-the-art, 139,000-square-foot Gately Park Indoor Track and Field facility in Chicago was a Bowa project. 

Bowa Construction has completed more than 200 projects, and it maintains a repeat client rate of 95 percent. This is a level of loyalty that many construction managers and general contractors strive for, but Bowa is able to achieve it while working on large and high-profile projects throughout Chicago. The Second City is a highly competitive market, but Bowa aims to continue rising above the rest with its focus on “the Bowa Way.”

“The Bowa Way is being passionate about delivering buildings while exceeding customer satisfaction,” CEO and President Nosa Ehimwenman explains. “It’s about going above and beyond the normal way of delivering a construction project and understanding our relationships with these clients.”

He says the Bowa Way includes “managing the budget, the schedule, the types of people on the projects and making sure we set a platform of standards with the customers so we can get that repeat business. We never want a one-and-done type of deal where we just go onto the next client. We value the relationships we’ve developed, as well as the ability to walk away from a project knowing it was built the Bowa Way.”

With a mission to construct buildings in all communities that represent the diversity of the nation, the company delivers the Bowa Way by hiring skilled, talented people, advancing its processes with technology and finding innovative ways to ensure project success. 

To start with its people, Bowa looks for individuals who understand the all-hands-on-deck approach it takes to projects. Understanding that Bowa requires a strong team, the firm aims to give individuals leadership goals so they can further the vision of the company as a whole. 

Bowa’s main office is in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, which looked a lot different in the 1970s: it housed both a liquor store and tire shop. However, Bowa’s physical presence “has transformed the corner,” People and Company Culture Manager Ashley-Lauren McLean says. “We are a viable business that is doing work in the community and supporting the neighboring businesses. 

“Nosa started this company in one room in the building with three employees with the goal to expand and build it up,” McLean says about the firm’s origins on Chicago’s South Side. Bowa Construction “continues to grow and build — we want to be a staple in this neighborhood.”

Innovation and Approach to Complexity

Bowa continues to grow by offering construction management, engineering, design and general contracting services to its clients in a range of market sectors such as aviation, medical and mission-critical. 

The company provided construction management at-risk services for the interior build out of the Little Italy branch of the Chicago Public Library, and worked with McHugh Construction on the state-of-the-art, 139,000-square-foot Gately Park Indoor Track & Field facility. 

In January, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot cut a ribbon on the new Chicago Police Department facility that Bowa built at O’Hare International Airport. The facility provides additional office and training space for officers, and dedicated space for the airport’s bomb squad, SWAT teams and K-9 units. 

“This was a highly technical project,” Ehimwenman explains. “Because of the nature of the structure, it had secured elements such as bulletproof drywall and special mechanical and electrical components. This made the project very complex.”

Bowa, however, is focused on enhancing its ability to deliver complex projects while maximizing clients’ budgets and providing the quality finished products they expect. For example, the company uses virtual design and construction, BIM, project management software and other technologies to coordinate jobs and ensure real-time access to information for the client team, as well as project efficiency and enhanced safety. 

“We pride ourselves on our innovation and use of technology,” Ehimwenman says. “We started using Procore four or five years ago to stay connected and work more efficiently. We use BIM through every phase of a project to eliminate schedule problems and risks for the client. 

“Our focus on innovation is always evolving and changing,” he adds. “Looking at prefabrication, we try to see what systems and components can be prefabricated off-site to eliminate safety issues, accelerate the schedule and mitigate budget problems. This plug-and-play delivery puts us in a position to deliver on a high level for our clients.”

Currently, Bowa is working with a client to convert an old bakery into a data center in the Chicago area. Ehimwenman says it was good to be able to coordinate the mechanical and electrical early after creating a virtual model to show the project team how to build the structure and run the underground utilities — especially because there is a fuel tank in the ground where the data center’s generators need to be located. 

Going forward, Ehimwenman wants to continue building and growing the firm in Chicago and other markets, while continuing to invest in Bowa’s team. With Bowa University, Ehimwenman and other senior staffers will be working with newer employees on project excellence, technicalities of the company’s day-to-day operations and keep the overall team on the same page of the Bowa Way. 

Ehimwenman says the firm is focusing on the next generation of construction professionals. “We are, essentially, the new kids on the block and are focused on strong talent to change the Chicago landscape,” he says.  

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