Words from Allan Fries, Commercial General Contractor Visionary


Allan, you recently announced your retirement from i2 Construction, a top Commercial General Contractor in Denver. Additionally, the company is celebrating its 25th year in business. Could you share some insights and reflections about the construction industry and your experiences as a business owner.

Why did you start i2 Construction 25 years ago?

I have always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Growing up in the industry and working with several great companies early in my career, I always saw some things I liked and some things I thought could be done much better. Starting my own company allowed me the freedom to try and instill some of the “Big Project” practices on smaller, faster – paced tenant improvement projects. i2 Construction was the vehicle to bring that vision to life.

Which construction project are you most proud of when reflecting on your years of service?

Prior to starting i2 Construction, I spent 12 years with Mortenson Construction. I had the thrill of working on projects from Chesapeake Bay to Honolulu. Here in Colorado, as Business Development Director for Mortenson’s Denver office, I was involved in Coors Field, Ball Arena (Pepsi Center) and many of the bids at Denver International Airport. With i2 Construction, there have been so many great projects and great clients that it is tough to name just a couple. Any time you see one of your clients’ names on a downtown high rise, it gives me a sense of pride. Optiv, Johns Manville, Wells Fargo and Molson Coors are just a few of the long-term clients I am proud to have worked with. Personally, I enjoyed building (and since twice remodeling), the C.E.L.L. (The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab) with the Mizel Foundation. World terrorism, unfortunately, has come a long way since hijacking planes to Cuba. The CELL is a tremendous educational tool to be used to educate everyone on today’s world threats.

How crucial are construction industry partners to your success?

People are the foundation of i2 Construction, and we would not be where we are today without our industry partners. I have many friends in the industry, who are also company owners that I have known for over 30 years. It is very powerful when you can call the owner of an industry partner and speak owner-to-owner as well as friend-to-friend, to meet a client’s project vision and needs. I consider everyone we encounter during construction projects to be our partners – from building inspectors and plan reviewers to architects, property managers, building engineers, subcontractors and suppliers and long-standing clients. In today’s challenging work environment, we need everyone’s input, cooperation and support to do what we do best.

To what extent did cultivating a family culture contribute to i2’s success in building an amazing construction team i2 enjoys today?

I used to struggle answering the question “How big do you want to grow i2 Construction”? My goal in starting i2 Construction was never to strive to be the biggest, but rather to be the best Commercial General Contractor. To be at their best, service companies must rely on their employees, partners and processes to meet and exceed the expectations of their customers. At i2 Construction, we always told new employees “Welcome to the i2 Family”. And these are not just words, it’s from the heart!

Scott Farrell, President of i2 Construction, has been an integral part of i2 for 24 of the past 25 years. I’ve had the pleasure of watching him grow up in the business and become a successful industry leader. Scott and I always focused on the importance of people to our success. When faced with a difficult decision or conversations, we review it as a leadership team. Scott and I always go back to the basic question, “What is the right thing to do?”  Doing the right thing rarely aligns with making an easy decision. Over the past few years, through Scott’s leadership and supported by i2’s Partners, we have instituted multiple benefits to care for our employees and support a healthy work/life balance. Paying for 100% of employee healthcare, a monthly ThrivePass wellness stipend, and an on-staff chaplain are some of the endeavors initiated to make sure our people thrive at life, not just at their job. I know i2 Construction’s future looks bright and is in great hands.

What legacy do you hope to leave behind?

 I don’t have a good answer for this one because i2 Construction has never been about me, it’s always been about providing the “vehicle for a good life” for the employees, managers, and owners of the company. I guess I would like to be remembered as a cultivating, fair and honest leader.

What advice would you give to young professionals considering starting their own company?

If you have that nagging voice in your head telling you to step out on your own, go for it! But go for it with a plan. Listen to those you currently work with and get them to share their wisdom and experience. Be curious and open to making changes on the fly. Listen to your partners, your customers, and your employees. It’s been a great ride!

Thank you, Allan Fries for your leadership, mentorship, and genuine care for others.