Tom Pantazis – Impec Group
Given how online shopping has revolutionized the retail industry, a construction professional would be well advised to think creatively after years of building or renovating storefronts and showrooms.
Tom Pantazis realized this years ago, his Bay Area construction and management company Pantazis & Associates having handled builds and rebuilds in the United States and Canada for clients including adidas, Gap Inc., Banana Republic, Gateway, Panera Bread and DSW.
Not that the need for retail outlets would entirely disappear. Neither did Pantazis lack a well-rounded portfolio that extended into facilities projects. It would just make sense for his firm to join forces with an entity equally credentialed, the result being a more comprehensive outfit in a most competitive business.
“So I went looking for someone else but didn’t find it in a person,” the friendly Pantazis tells Blueprint in late 2019. “But I did find a company I could partner with.”
That company would be the Impec Group of Hillsborough, California, which had carved out a reputation for serving the technology and life sciences industries, higher education and the public sector. In the summer of 2018 it absorbed Pantazis & Associates, placing its boss and founder on the executive team and entrusting him to develop the construction management end of its strategic environmental solutions to the public, private and institutional sectors.
Making the grade at SRI
In some ways the job hasn’t changed that much for Pantazis. His company may now be under the Impec umbrella, but he remains responsible for his own bottom line. He’s still counted upon for strategic planning, as well as project and budget cost management. The only notable difference, he says, is he has more resources.
And there’s quite a need for new and upgraded facilities, particularly between San Francisco and the Silicon Valley, an R&D and technological mecca that just happens to be an Impec stronghold.
“What we’re positioning ourselves for are relationships,” he says. “We can build a facility, move you into it, set up the infrastructure and help you staff and run it.”
Impec has been doing that and more at the nonprofit SRI International research institute, one of the clients Pantazis brought with him. It’s quite the honor working on that 64-acre campus in Menlo Park, Pantazis says, noting that Stanford University-affiliated SRI can claim the computer mouse among its contributions to the modern world.
Could be Pantazis and his Impec connection can enable more such progress. The bolstered operation offers a menu of services and bandwidth that can do much to modernize SRI buildings, some dating back to the 1940s.
It’s not all sexy work, Pantazis says with a laugh. Impec’s to-do list includes an upgrade to the SRI power plant, the installation of a sprinkler line with backflow prevention and connection to the fire alarm, the addition of an elevator and the construction of a new cafeteria.
Though a premier research and development institute whose clients include the federal government and multinationals, SRI’s finances aren’t unlimited. Much of the challenge handed off to Pantazis is to recycle and renovate the old bones of erstwhile medical barracks rather than break ground for new construction. And the modern SRI must be much different than the one established in 1946 to primarily foster the Bay Area’s rather than the national economy.
“One of the challenges is to keep it up to par with the young people,” Pantazis says. “Lots of collaborative spaces and amenities that allow for constant engagement and creativity.”
But it’s nothing that he hasn’t done elsewhere. It’s also not as if he’s creating edifices for Google or Facebook. He’s essentially enabling an environment for SRI to pursue excellence, and that includes the assembling of sanitary laboratories, learning-friendly classrooms and all kinds of support space.
“All these projects have a beginning, middle and end,” he says. “We get to see all those phases and can take a certain satisfaction in completion.”
Old clients follow
DSW and Panera Bread are also among the long-time clients that Pantazis has brought to Impec. Though both enterprises are healthy, they too must be creative in an evolving retail environment that’s jeopardized the well-being of so many shopping malls.
DSW selects its own architects and hands off to Pantazis, who’s also provided a list of approved contractors. He’ll qualify the bids for the general contractor, manage the completion and sometimes take over ownership if issues arise with a landlord.
At last count he had seven or eight DSW projects in progress and about the same number of Panera remodels. Each chain—and so many others—having to rethink and repurpose their space, Pantazis is confident his services will remain in demand.
It’s always been an evolving industry, says the man who’s been in some facet of construction since commencing with a seven-year stretch as project manager for the now defunct department store chain Mervyn’s in 1981. An architectural graduate of City College of San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley, he’d hold executive positions with Gap Inc., Charles Schwab, Gateway and Microsoft, and then make some of those companies his clients upon founding Pantazis & Associates in Burlingame in 2004.
The industry may change, but some of the best practices don’t, he reminds. That includes communication with clients, responding to their concerns and extending the relationship with the contractors and consultants who become part of the project.
It’s a formula that won Pantazis national clients during the 14 years he ran his own company.
And exciting days seem ahead, Pantazis saying how he’s looking to break the mold of the facilities world through new solutions.
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