General contractor is right at home as the community grows up around it.
While restaurants and recreation seem to attract the most attention in Martin City, a local construction company has quietly made a name for itself that radiates from 135th Street across Greater Kansas City. Like other local businesses, Pearce Construction is a specialized operation and proud to call our community home.
Martin City and Beyond
As you drive through the heart of our community on 135th Street, look closely across the street from Martin City Brewing Company and you’ll notice a small sign representing a big Martin City treasure: Pearce Construction. Turn down the tree-lined driveway and you’ll arrive at the company’s headquarters, an enduring landmark at 417 East 135th Street.
“Pearce Construction was established in 1953. We’ve been in Martin City for about 20 years,” explains Pearce President Darin Heyen. “That’s the typical way we direct people to our offices. We tell them we’re in Martin City because everybody knows where Martin City is.”
Pearce Construction includes a team of approximately ten project managers and administrative staff in Martin City and dozens of field superintendents, carpenters and other support workers spread across the Kansas City area. Heyen says the move to Martin City way back when gave them the room they needed to continue building their tradition of high-quality work.
“We were looking for a property that offered office space as well as warehouse and equipment storage all in one place without excessive restrictions. So, Martin City was a great fit for us. Being close to I-435 was a big plus, too.”
Martin City is the center of the Pearce universe. Every project in its portfolio is located within approximately 50 miles of our community. Pearce has always been devoted to the Greater Kansas City area and its fingerprints are all over many of the buildings that define our way of life, from restaurants, retail, and theme parks to medical centers and faith-based organizations.
The company’s portfolio is huge and sparkles with projects such as the Overland Park Soccer Complex, André’s Confiserie Suisse, Oceans of Fun, and Deanna Rose Farmstead.
It also features more than 150 churches, including sites where Pearce has helped introduce modern ideas like gyms, commercial kitchens, coffee shops, and escalators into the facility.
Every project is memorable, but Heyen says there’s one that makes him especially proud. His face lights up when he talks about it.
“Everything we’ve done at Powell Gardens working with E. Fay Jones (one of the best-known disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright) and his partner Maurice Jennings is particularly satisfying. Those architects are known for their redwood and cedar structures and chapels. The Marjorie Powell Allen Chapel at Powell Gardens is just so iconic. It was truly a once in a lifetime project.”
You won’t find Pearce involved in publicly funded government projects or anything similar. They like to stick with private building owners who also occupy the buildings they commission. Heyen says the Pearce team thrives on client relationships.
“We really put ourselves in their shoes. We want to understand what their businesses are all about. It makes a big difference in the work.”
Ryan Warman, Pearce Vice President of Construction Management, says that working closely with clients is both important and rewarding.
“We get a look behind the curtain to see how they do what they do, whether it’s the barbecue process at Jack Stack or making chocolate at André’s. It’s just so much fun and no two projects are the same.”
Architectural Influence by Design
Pearce Construction founder Don Pearce brought his architecture background to the business at the start. That influence strengthened with the addition of Heyen 25 years ago and Warman five years ago. Heyen says the influence of architecture is the core of the company’s appeal.
“What makes us different is the fact that our principals and our senior project managers are architects who have left architecture and come to the construction side. We are not an architectural firm, but we reap the benefits of knowing all about that discipline.”
The influence of an architecture background results in a better understanding of construction projects from start to finish. That means working closely with outside architecture firms and clients to develop uniquely beautiful designs expressed in high-quality materials and construction that also make sense for budgets.
“We treasure the fact that our clients really appreciate high-quality work,” says Heyen. “They are definitely looking for good value and a fair price, but quality is also a very high priority and we have a reputation for delivering all of it.”
Collaboration powers that reputation. Heyen says there’s a passion at Pearce for the great things that come from effectively drawing on collective skills and strengths.
“If we’re going to build for a restaurant, for example, we want to get a restaurant architect involved with the owner along with us bringing our restaurant experience to the table. Then we’ll all work together to design, budget, schedule, and construct something fantastic.”
Collaboration not only boosts thinking and creativity, but Heyen says it also ensures valuable efficiencies and cuts the risk of surprises as the project unfolds.
“A lot of cost issues are happening during the initial design phases of a project. So when you have a contractor like us involved upfront, it’s much easier to budget everything. Historically in the industry, many construction projects haven’t involved a contractor until after the design phase is complete. That often leads to big cost surprises on the back end of the project or a tendency to resort to lower-quality materials. Everything works so much smoother when the architect, the owner, and the contractor work together from day one.”
“This is where our architectural understanding really comes into play,” says Warman. “We as architects understand where the project architect and the owner want to go with the vision. Therefore we’re able to ensure a more collaborative process and bring all of that through the construction portion of the project.”
You will typically find Pearce on a list of the biggest general contractors in the Kansas City area, but they’re not looking to climb that list. Rather than focusing on volume, they’re more about refining craftsmanship and strengthening bonds with others who share their values.
“We get a lot of business based on referrals from other clients,” says Heyen. “We attract the people and the projects that allow us to do our best work.”
Adding to their reputation is high-profile involvement in key industry groups. Heyen currently serves as the Chair of the Builders Association in Kansas City and Warman is now the President-Elect of American Institute of Architects in Kansas City. It’s the first time both positions have been held by people from the same company, which tells you something about Heyen, Warman and how Pearce is seen by industry leaders.
“I’m thankful for the recognition and it’s a great opportunity to give back,” says Heyen. “I’ve personally benefited tremendously from professional associations like this through professional development and learning from my peers. I honestly care about the construction industry and I’m a strong advocate, so I welcome the chance to help make a difference.”
“I look at architecture and construction as tied very closely together. Serving as the AIAKC President will help me support both,” says Warman. “I really look forward to exploring how we all can work better together in the future.”
Neighborhood Building Blocks
When you listen to Heyen talk about Martin City, you sense a deep understanding. He’s seen a lot over the years and sounds like a neighborhood historian.
“Jack Stack Barbecue, Jess & Jim’s Steakhouse and RC’s Restaurant really anchored everything for a long time. Then Martin City Brewing Company moved in and drew even more visitors. Steaks, Mexican food, fried chicken, craft beer — I mean you can have it all here! Suburban Lawn and Garden is another one that’s been here for a long time too. I remember when they moved across the street to their current location.”
Heyen is excited about the upcoming Holmes Road improvements. He’s impressed by how many businesses have invested along Holmes in Martin City despite the road conditions.
“Just look at what’s happened over there. Volleyball Beach, the redeveloped Quick Trip, Martin City Coffee, and we’re really branching out with companies like Fishtech. There’s so much going on.”
And now there’s even more happening on Holmes Road thanks to Jack Stack Barbecue’s ambition and Pearce Construction’s help. The two Martin City businesses are longtime partners.
Pearce Construction will help Jack Stack complete a major renovation and addition project in Martin City
“They’re undergoing a major renovation project,” says Heyen. “They’re putting a new commercial kitchen on the south side of the building, removing the existing kitchen and then remodeling the dining room in a complete exterior renovation, including exterior patios and a new entry.”
“We’ve done several smaller projects with Jack Stack over the years,” adds Warman. “In fact, we recently finished the parking lot over there which benefits Margarita’s too.”
Heyen and Warman believe Martin City’s best years are yet to come. Heyen says Pearce Construction and its neighbors are starting to see the area’s unique style really shine.
“It’s beginning to develop more of its own feel, like a Brookside or Prairie Village, as far as locally-owned restaurants and shops for more of an intimate community feel than a big city.”
“It’s holding onto its small-town charm as it grows, which is what I think people really like about it,” says Warman. “The shops and restaurants are sort of like an old town main street feel versus big parking lots with buildings pushed way back. The area is very walkable. Our colleagues take walks over lunch to enjoy what the neighborhood has to offer.”
“Martin City is very social and friendly,” says Heyen with a smile. “The people here are good people and have a good time. It’s a great place to be and it’s going to get even better.”
Thank you Pearce Construction for investing in our community and believing in its possibilities! We’re so proud of the fact that one of the Kansas City area’s most prestigious construction companies calls Martin City home and enjoys the special way of life we all share.