LVEDC Interview: Sean Boyle of Boyle Construction

By LVEDC Staff on December 10, 2013

Editor’s Note: Boyle Construction has been in the Lehigh Valley since 1977 and has been involved in some of the most significant development projects in our region during that time. We sat down with company president Sean Boyle to find out why. To say Boyle has “walked the walk” in the company would be an understatement. During his nearly quarter century full-time career at Boyle Construction he has worked as a laborer, carpenter, layout engineer, project engineer, purchasing engineer, project superintendent, project manager, vice president and now, president.

LVEDC: Boyle Construction has left quite a mark on the Lehigh Valley. What are some of the past projects you are most proud of?

seanboyleSean Boyle: We are proud to be part of many projects for many different reasons. Some are landmarks in the Lehigh Valley, some represent the growth of our company into new sectors and with new clients, and some represent growth for our clients and growth for the Lehigh Valley economy. Some were just great, fun projects to be a part of.

Melt and Blue Restaurants are two of the premier restaurants in the Lehigh Valley. Their complex and unique designs provided challenges during construction, but they are a great representation of the level of quality of our work. We are very proud to have been a member of a great team which created unique facilities and shared in the owner’s vision at these stunning venues.

Levitt Pavilion and Bethlehem Landing Visitor’s Center (Stock House) are such an exciting part of the revitalization of Bethlehem, and particularly the former Bethlehem Steel Plant, which is the largest Brownfield site in the country. You can literally see the progress of the redevelopment and the excitement rise up from the ashes and deteriorated structures that lie in on this historic site. Generations to come will be able to enjoy the new development that pays respect to the history of Bethlehem Steel and what a critical part it played in building our country and our history.

The Crayola Experience Center renovation was recently completed in downtown Easton. It was exciting to be working on a project in a vibrant and growing downtown by restoring and renovating an existing building with a long history and creating a space which will attract millions of visitors over the years to come. It’s rewarding to work on a project with such exposure to showcase our work to so many people.

The Hoover Mason Trestle project is restoration of the train tracks which, during Bethlehem Steel’s heyday, shuttled iron ore pellets, limestone, and coke from the ore yard under the Minsi Trail Bridge to feed the blast furnaces. This one-of-a-kind project is the vision of Mayor Callahan and Tony Hanna. It creates a key elevated walkway which will be the spine and link for all the current and future development on the site. The walkway will connect the Bethlehem Landing Visitor’s Center to the Sands Casino and all points in between along the half-mile path, and provide amazing views of Bethlehem and the former Bethlehem Steel operations.

LVEDC: What keeps you here in the Lehigh Valley — and what factors help make this the fastest growing region in Pennsylvania?

Sean Boyle: Simply put–this is our home. My family is from the Lehigh Valley; my father started the business here 36 years ago, and we really enjoy all aspects of living and working here. It is just an outstanding  place on so many levels:  from the great innovative companies we have been privileged to work with; to the people who are genuine, intelligent, and hardworking; to all the Lehigh Valley has to offer on a personal level. The Valley is large enough to provide all the opportunities imaginable, yet small enough to feel as though our company can make a difference and have an impact. Whether it’s hiring local people, working with local subcontractors and labor, or helping local companies grow, it’s very rewarding.

LVEDC: What should a company look for when shopping for a contractor or construction firm?

Sean Boyle: A company should look for a partner. Construction projects are usually an enormous investment (of both time and money) for companies. From planning, to design and construction, to ribbon cutting, they usually take many months — or up to a year or more — to complete. That is why you need to find a partner. Of course you want to know their background, experience, and capabilities, but you also want someone you genuinely like and connect with and that you can trust. And that trust must work both ways. To have a great partnership and successful project, the owner needs to have trust and faith in their contractor, and the contractor must feel the same about the client. When a prospective client asks why they should hire Boyle, I always say that I hope they hire us, but they really should hire the firm they trust, like, and are comfortable with. Because they are making a tremendous financial investment and will be spending a lot of time with this team for the next several months or year, and they need to work well with them.

LVEDC: Do you think the Lehigh Valley economy is on the right path? What’s working — and what, if anything, still needs to happen?

Sean Boyle: I most definitely believe we are on the right path, yes. Look at where we have come from 20 or even just 10 years ago, with the loss of so much of our industrial business. The hardworking and creative leaders of our major cities have done a tremendous job in turning that loss into opportunity and promoting businesses to relocate here, stay here, or grow here. I think the political and business leaders of 20 years ago had such great vision. It was prophetic, to look toward the future and to reinvent our region by creating great Lehigh Valley-centric organizations such as LVEDC, as well as LVIP, the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber, and many others that work side by side organizations such as AEDC, BEDCO and GEDP. That type of vision, plus the efforts of our current leaders and our geographic nearness to major East Coast markets, has created the perfect storm of opportunity for Lehigh Valley development.

LVEDC: Downtown Allentown and its Waterfront are the hotbed of activity these days. What do you see as the next big breakthrough area for new development?

Sean Boyle: Obviously Allentown is experiencing exponential development right now due to the vision of its leaders and the creation of the NIZ. This is exactly the type of forward-thinking Allentown needed. I think all of our urban areas are well positioned for growth. Bethlehem has seen tremendous development, especially on its south side, and hopefully is successful in being awarded one of the CRIZ opportunities next year. I believe that will be a catalyst to really push growth in that area to the next level. Easton continues to see steady growth and activity and has an amazing and vibrant downtown. They say everything is cyclical; in my 23 years in construction I have seen the full cycle. When I started, almost all of our work was Greenfield sites in suburban areas. Today we do almost none of that type of work. Most of it is in urban and Brownfield areas, with business growth and the amazing repurposing of older buildings bringing them back to life.

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