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Rochester Top 100: Safety plays vital role in company's culture

Rochester Business Journal
September 11, 2015

Manning Squires Hennig Co. Inc. began in 1958 as a masonry contractor formed by Richard Manning and Duane Squires. Richard Hennig joined the team in the early ’60s, and by the mid-’70s it had grown, offering a wide range of construction services as it gained Eastman Kodak Co. as a customer.

That client shaped a good bit of the Manning Squires Hennig culture, along with a sharp focus on safety to drive the quality of work it installed, President Gary Squires said. He joined the company in 1976, not long after his father attained full ownership. The elder Squires retired in 1995, but a third generation works for the company: Gary’s son, Matthew, is vice president.

Manning Squires Hennig is known for several major projects, including the concrete backdrop for the polar bears and sea lions in the Rocky Coasts Exhibit at the Seneca Park Zoo, the arched windows and interior design of the Rochester School of the Arts and the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse.

The Batavia, Genesee County, firm recently was hired as the general trades contractor on a $5.6 million Monroe County Fleet Center improvement project. It will construct a 68,000-square-foot building and 7,900-square-foot addition to the existing space of the special operations building at the Paul Road facility, which maintains county-owned vehicles.

Much of the work driving the business over the past two years has been school modernization projects, Gary Squires said.

“The Rochester City School District just completed phase one,” he said. “There are three phases over 10 years with approximately $1 billion of work to be performed. We are one of the bidders and hope to be fortunate to be selected.”

The firm already has completed renovation projects at School 58 and is doing work at Monroe High School.

Revenues grew significantly with the school projects, from $65 million in 2012 to $74 million in 2013, dipping to $71 million in 2014 as the work leveled off.

Tracking employment in the construction business is a constant job since much of it is seasonal and market dependent, Squires said. It has remained at 125 to 150 for the past three years. He thinks the outlook is good for the company and sees many opportunities in the upstate region.

“We’ve seen most of our growth in the education and health care markets,” he said.

A key priority and a major challenge for Squires is safety on the work site.

“Our safety policy is constantly evolving. We find ways to tweak it,” Squires said, pointing to a practice his company adopted following a data center project in Lockport, Niagara County, where workers were required to warm up before work.

“It was a mandatory set of six basic bend-and-stretch exercises to limber up,” he said. “We found back injuries were greatly reduced. We implemented it companywide.”

The firm recently completed the first phase of a $3 million renovation project at the Geva Theatre, which included work on the rehearsal hall, reception area and offices, along with the green rooms and dressing rooms.

“It’s a really tight turnaround since we’re trying to do this in the off-season,” said Thomas Parrish, the executive director at Geva Theatre Center.

Manning Squires Hennig had from June 15 to mid-August to complete the first phase; phase two will be on a similar timeline next summer.

“They have been fantastic. My team met with their team every week of the project,” Parrish said. “They’re completely transparent on the finances. They’re very generous in spirit and they are true problem solvers.”

The team is planning work on the main lobby, adding a patron lounge and a VIP level.

“It looks transformative. They’ve done a beautiful job. Geva’s one of the country’s top theaters. Now we’re starting to look like it,” Parrish said.

Squires is pleased with the project as well.

“It isn’t always the big-dollar projects we’re most proud of,” Squires said.

Squires has a five-year succession plan in place to retire and transfer the firm’s presidency to his 33-year-old son.

“I still feel great. I told my doctor that I think 60 is the new 40,” Squires said. “My doctor joked and said, ‘That’s what all you 60-year-olds say!’”

The Rochester Top 100 program is presented by the Rochester Business Alliance Inc. and KPMG LLP. Launched in 1987, it recognizes the fastest-growing private companies in Greater Rochester. The 2015 Rochester Top 100 event will be held Nov. 4. For more information, go to

Manning Squires  Hennig Co. Inc.
Construction Firm
Year founded: 1958
Top executive: Gary Squires, president
Current employment: 135
2014 ranking: 24
Headquarters: Batavia, Genesee County

9/11/15 (c) 2015 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email

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