Q&A with Brian Fuemmeler about Veloxity + Serving Nonprofit Clients
Brian Fuemmeler is Project Executive with McCownGordon, and he’s also the leader of Veloxity Building Concepts. This group tackles some of McCownGordon’s jobs that require a quick and nimble management approach and has served many of our nonprofit clients. In this season on giving back, we sat down with Brian to learn a little more about the nonprofit work he’s done and how it’s impacted him and our firm.
Q: Tell us about some of the nonprofit clients our Veloxity group has worked with before.
A: Just in the time that I’ve been leading the Veloxity Group, we’ve completed projects for Kansas City Young Audiences (KCYA), the Plaza Academy, Folly Theatre, Citizens of the World Charter School with IFF, Starlight Theatre, Stowers Institute for Medical Research and most recently the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art Feingold House renovation. Very soon, we’ll be working on the new Mattie Rhodes Cultural Center and we’ve been selected by Habitat for Humanity to renovate their office. We’re also about to break ground on the KCMO Law Enforcement Memorial Garden, which will be a powerful project for many, but is especially touching for me with my military background.
Q: What do you like about working with nonprofit clients?
A: These are some of the most passionate, incredible people we get to work with and work for. Generally, they’re the most excited to renovate or build a new project because of the ability to enhance the experience or offer additional services to their clients. Being engaged with these owners early in the preconstruction effort and planning for the project really helps build excitement for their fundraising efforts. Ultimately once the project starts, there is a lot of buzz and enthusiasm for the project and what it means for them and their mission.
On the Plaza Academy, this unbelievable school gives kids a second or third chance on education. We were fortunate enough to be selected to renovate this project for them and it’s been open now for a few years. You can’t help but think about every kid that walks through those doors and how their lives are being changed for the positive. Obviously, we aren’t involved in their educational process, but when we build their facilities, we know that we created a space to help foster their success.When I think about some of the projects I mentioned earlier, for example there is the Folly Theatre. We renovated their lobby area. The square footage of the project isn’t immense, but what it does for their efforts and the number of people that it impacts on an annual basis is huge.
The KCYA project is near and dear to my heart as a dad of little kids. They are an unbelievable client that is teaching kids various forms of art. Kansas City has a wealth of talent in all forms and quite possibly a future award winning artist, dancer or comedian on SNL could be attending KCYA right now. I am very proud every time I drive by their new space on Main Street. I hope all the parents, educators and kids appreciate the hard work our team did to create this incredible space.
Q: What is one of your favorite projects?
A: It’s hard to choose just one when you think about all the people that our projects touch around our city and our community. But if you look at a few that I just mentioned, you start to see the amount of impact we’re having. If I had to choose just one, I’d say KCYA. This project was especially fun because we were able to creatively maximize the budget and enhance their space; ultimately giving them a finished deck or outdoor space that didn’t fit into the budget at the beginning.
Q: How has the Veloxity group engaged with nonprofits in our community and our city?
A: We often attend luncheons and fundraising events for our nonprofit clients. We love to be able to help and support their fundraising efforts. When you’re working with nonprofit clients, you get this unique opportunity as a construction manager to present to their audience, help build excitement and gain interest from donors. I really enjoy being a part of this process and answering questions about the project. The fundraising process also strengthens the whole team’s relationship, between us, the design team and the owner. It builds our bond of trust and creates a great team dynamic.
Q: How has working with nonprofit clients impacted you?
A: I’ve come to really appreciate the time I get to spend with the amazing leaders of these nonprofit organizations. Working closely with them has really opened my eyes to see the many hats these leaders must wear. They have a board to answer to, they’re responsible for fundraising goals and obviously they are driving their mission forward. I’ve had the opportunity to learn from them and witness how they manage so many things in their leadership role, ultimately doing work for the good of our community and the KC Metro.
The relationships I get to form with these folks is ultimately one of the most impactful aspects for me. Timelines on these projects are typically longer than a usual construction project because of the fundraising component, so you really have time to get to know each other. It’s amazing when we start a project off as total strangers and eventually exchange handshakes and hugs with our partners at the end of a project. It truly leaves a lasting impression.
Q: Any final thoughts you’d like to share with us?
A: I’ve said many times during this interview that “I’m honored to work on this…I’m honored to work on that.” But I have to say it, because it’s true! Working with these great people and amazing community organizations is truly an honor for me, and I know it’s true for my coworkers at McCownGordon as well. As a company, we give away more than 10% of our profits every year to community organizations like these great partners I’ve mentioned. But it’s so inspiring to see what our giving back really means on these projects. That statistic takes on a whole new meaning when you’ve worked with one of our nonprofit partners. It’s a real example of what makes McCownGordon such an incredible company. It makes me love working here!