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Construction giant Suffolk gets more ambitious

The Boston company plans to expand beyond its long-standing focus on general contracting.

An image of construction company Suffolk's new logo.Lou Jones/Copyright Lou Jones

Boston-based construction company Suffolk wants to do more than just build things.

This week, it’s rolling out a new brand, and a new line of services designed to capture more work on big development projects, from conception through to completion. It’s the latest evolution of a company that over nearly four decades has grown from scratch to become one of the largest players in Boston’s construction industry.

“We see ourselves transitioning from being a traditional general contractor to a more fully integrated end-to-end platform,” said Suffolk chairman and CEO John Fish. “We want to get ourselves involved in everything from the early aspects of the development process to property management of the assets we build.”


That means financing projects, helping to design them, doing even more construction with in-house staff instead of farming work out to subcontractors, insuring that work, and ultimately providing property management services on its completed projects.

“Who better to manage a building than the people who built it?” Fish said.

It’s Fish’s bid to simplify an often-fragmented development industry, where a developer typically finds investors, buys insurance, hires an architect, and then enlists a general contractor who employs an array of subcontractors to do the actual work. There will still be a role for all those people, Fish said — for instance, he doesn’t envision Suffolk fully financing projects or performing all construction in-house. But Suffolk would be a constant partner through every step of the process.

“You’re really streamlining the relationships,” Fish said. “You’re designing in a very progressive way, and taking on the responsibility for delivery.”

At the same time, the company is investing in construction-oriented tech startups, hoping to “drive the pace of change in the industry,” according to Fish. Suffolk Capital has helped fund six new companies already, and will construct an incubator and product-development space at the company’s Roxbury headquarters.


Suffolk can do all this, he said, because of its sheer size.

The 38-year-old firm — which Fish launched and where he remains the sole shareholder — had about $4.5 billion in revenue last year and ranks among the 25 largest construction companies in the US, with offices in Boston, New York, Florida, Texas, and California. Just in the last few years in Boston it has built Millennium Tower and the One Dalton building, as well as the Encore Boston Harbor casino in Everett. Other high-profile projects — particularly Winthrop Center tower — are in the works.

As part of the new approach, Suffolk’s banners on those ongoing construction projects, along with all the rest of its marketing materials, will be revamped. The company is unveiling a new tagline — “Prove Impossible Wrong” — that it will start rolling out this week. Gone, too, will be Suffolk’s traditional blocky red-and-blue logo, replaced with a helix in a shade of purplish blue that combines the two colors. It’s a way to reflect how the company is moving forward, said chief marketing officer Lea Stendahl.

“We are not changing who we are," she said. "We’re amplifying what we do best.”

And that, along with the new diversification strategy and a growing focus on using data and artificial intelligence to better plan construction projects, should help position Suffolk to keep growing, Fish said, even as the world around it changes rapidly.

“I see other industries being disrupted and transformed,” he said. “We absolutely want to be the disruptor, as opposed to the ones being disrupted.”


Tim Logan can be reached at timothy.logan@globe.com. Follow him @bytimlogan.