To make room for what it says is a record number of new hires, Burns & McDonnell on Wednesday announced a $42 million expansion of its Kansas City headquarters campus.
The global engineering firm is adding a four-story office building on the south side of its campus at Ward Parkway and Wornall Road.
The headquarters expansion is coming about two years before the company originally planned to make room for new employees it’s hiring rapidly. Chairman and CEO Ray Kowalik said the company would finish hiring about 1,200 employees nationwide by the end of the year. More than 450 of those positions are expected to be in Kansas City.
Kowalik said about 70 percent of that is job creation, but the company has to do some hiring to replace workers who leave the company or retire.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
According to a release, the company expects to continue hiring about 1,000 employees each year “for the foreseeable future.”
“We’re growing as fast as we can hire good people,” Kowalik said. “We could probably sell more work if we had more people.”
Burns & McDonnell is hiring across its various business lines, bringing on scientists, construction specialists, architects, engineers and others, Kowalik said.
By the end of the year, Burns & McDonnell expects to have about 3,225 employees in Kansas City and 6,650 around the globe.
When construction on the four-story office building wraps up in the summer of 2020, it will add 780 seats and 22 percent more space to the Burns & McDonnell campus. The company also plans to add a parking garage with 550 spaces.
Kowalik said strong energy production and infrastructure sectors combined with general economic health are the primary drivers of Burns & McDonnell’s growth.
“In fact, in the first seven months of this year we’ve almost sold as much work as we did in 2017,” Kowalik said.
By the time the expansion building has been open for a year, Kowalik expects it to be full. And the corner Burns & McDonnell sits on — where Ward Parkway dead ends into Wornall Road just north of Bannister Road — will be totally built up.
“So we’re going to have to evaluate what our next option will be whether we go to a new campus, a split campus or look up and down the Ward Parkway corridor or whatever our options are going to be, but it’s not going to be more people on this corner,” Kowalik said. “We’re at capacity when we finish this building.”
That’s a good problem to have, Kowalik said.
Burns & McDonnell is developing the expansion building with VanTrust Real Estate LLC and financing the project in cash. When it’s built, Burns & McDonnell will be the sole owner.
The new building is the second recent expansion for Burns & McDonnell. In 2016, the company opened a 1,400-employee building with a child care facility, pharmacy and other amenities. When the newest building is complete, Kowalik said, the campus will accommodate 4,295 employees.
To reduce energy consumption, Burns & McDonnell designed the building to comply with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, best practices and use LED lighting. Adjustable desks, pullout furniture and numerous conference rooms are included to foster collaboration.
Founders Clinton Burns and Robert McDonnell established the company in Kansas City in 1898. The new building will incorporate elements of the area, including hackberry wood native to Missouri. The existing world headquarters includes white marble reclaimed from a synagogue that previously occupied the site.