Harkins Builders recently relocated its corporate headquarters to downtown Columbia, celebrating its first day in its new offices on Dec. 5 after what company executives called a strategic move from Marriottsville.

“Not only does the new location allow us to set up our operations in a way that is going to benefit our clients, but it will be a much more convenient and enjoyable place for them and our other partners to come and work with us,” explained Gary Garofalo, president and chief operating offer of Harkins.

After 15 years of being headquartered in Mariottsville, the company signed a lease with the Howard Hughes Corporation for the fourth floor at 60 Columbia Corporate Center, on Little Patuxent Parkway. Also known as Park Square, the 120,000-square-foot office structure is one of a dozen commercial projects Harkins has built in Columbia. Harkins will continue to operate its northeast office in Media, Penn., and Tysons office in McLean, Va.

“The long-anticipated redevelopment of Columbia has begun, and we feel like we are not only part of it, we are right in the middle of the new Town Center,” said Garofalo. “As we look to expand and enhance our brand, we feel like Columbia is the perfect place for us to be.”

The relocation also reflects a sense of collaboration between Harkins’ pre-construction and production divisions, Garofalo added. “We have always believed that one of the key factors in determining the success of a project is the level of pre-construction services we provide to our client,” he said. “We know from experience that the key ingredient to providing exceptional pre-construction services is our level of communication between our client and the design team.”

With the relocation, Garofalo said, Harkins saw an opportunity to improve communication internally between its pre-construction and production teams by putting them together in the same workspace. “In our previous office space, these two teams were on different floors,” he said. “In our new office space, we have fewer offices, which has created an open office layout, which we feel will increase communication between all divisions.”

Inside its new offices, to foster even better collaboration during the pre-construction phase, Harkins has intertwined its pre-construction and production employees’ workstations.

Giving Back

Harkins is well-known not only for providing professional pre-construction and construction management services, but for the company’s history of giving back to the community in its 50 years of doing business.

Over the years, Harkins has sponsored fundraising events for scholarships at Howard Community College (HCC), including the HCC Columbia Classic Grand Prix since 2002, Vino Scholastico wine-tasting event since its inception in 2008, Silas Craft Collegians Fundraiser at Hunan Manor, 5K Challenge Race and the President’s Galas.

Harkins Vice President Mike Drummond currently serves as an advocate for students on the HCC Education Foundation as board chair and as an adjunct faculty member in the construction management department.

Drummond said he is inspired by the hardworking and diverse students at HCC. “The student stories of success and their individual paths to success are always amazing and help me stay grounded,” he said. “The hard work and sacrifices many of these students have encountered along their way to achieving an education and their desire to go beyond HCC always reinforces the college’s motto that ‘you can get there from here.’ ”

Harkins also participates in Rebuilding Together Howard County. Formerly known as Christmas in April, Rebuilding Together Howard County was formed in 1992 when a group of Howard County residents and businesses joined together to mobilize volunteers and provide free home repairs to low-income families in Howard County.

Each spring Harkins employees and their families contribute their abilities as builders, completing a two-day “extreme home makeover” to provide safety and comfort upgrades for a family.

“There is nothing more rewarding than meeting up with a crew of Harkins employees on a Saturday and fixing up somebody’s house for them,” said Drummond. “It’s usually a pretty motley crew — field people, office people, men, women, family members and guests — we often see Allan Kittleman, who pitches right in. You’re contributing your skill and experience to someone who really needs them, and they always really appreciate it. It’s just a great way to give back to the community.”

Celebrating 50 Years

This past year, Harkins celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing professional pre-construction and construction management services for clients with negotiated and design-build construction projects. With annual revenues of $250 million and three locations serving the mid-Atlantic region, Harkins offers a diverse portfolio of commercial, government and multifamily construction expertise.

Harkins Builders was founded when Thomas P. Harkins left his position as president of the Carl M. Freeman construction company to start a general contracting company. His first project was working on the Village of Cross Keys at Falls Road and Northern Parkway in Baltimore for The Rouse Company. Previously headquartered in Silver Spring, the company moved its headquarters to Marriottsville in 2000.

Harkins is also marking five decades since it began working in Columbia in 1966. With a main office staff of three people, Harkins built the 162-unit Bryant Woods, its first project in the new town as well as the first multifamily housing in Columbia. The company built at least one project in Columbia every year thereafter through 1990, and a total of 30 projects for Rouse.