How a Bernhard Crew Stuck Together, Became Family, and Built the Raleigh Skyline


As new projects are started, it’s common in the contracting industry for a crew to shuffle their roster with new incoming workers while outbound members join new teams on different projects. This may be the norm for some, but certainly hasn’t been for one Bernhard crew in North Carolina.

A group of 26 crewmembers have stayed together and are finishing their third project in the Raleigh area with plans to stay together for a fourth.

“I haven’t seen anything like it,” said Stacy McKillips, superintendent. “There is definitely a culture here now where we have more of a family than a crew.”

Beginning in July 2017, the crew of 26 has worked on three high-rise apartment buildings (two in Raleigh and one in Durham) totaling more than 1.4 million square feet and 84 stories. North Carolina residents will have seen the result of the crew’s work over the years with the construction of Durham City Center, FNB Tower, and one of the tallest high-rises in the North Hills area, Kane Tower, a 35-story residential tower that is projected to be completed in April 2022. These buildings are some of the latest in Bernhard’s storied 20+ year history working in the Carolinas.

The group of mostly plumbers, sheet metal workers, and pipefitters, includes multiple father-and-son pairs, a father-daughter duo, and even a set of identical twins.

“Even though each person is different and there are so many different backgrounds, everyone gets along,” said Chris Esposito, plumbing superintendent. “Ego gets left at the door immediately and everyone understands they are on the same team and the same level. With that mindset, each member is held accountable and that has created some incredible results.”

The expertise of the group and track record of success is part of what keeps them together. Leveraging the team as a one-of-a-kind asset has increased the demand for their high-quality work.

“We’ve had a pretty impressive run where one project ends and then we’re ready to go onto the next one all in the same region,” said McKillips. “Everyone agrees it makes sense to keep this team together. The results speak for themselves.”

Aside from the connections the workers have made with each other, supervisors and managers have benefitted from the continuity just as much.

“Each job you’ll usually go through learning periods and have to hope the crew catches on quickly,” said McKillips. “These projects don’t have that trial and error period. No one has to play catch up, which greatly increases our efficiency.”

It also enables the team to employ creative solutions to project challenges. For construction of Kane Tower, Bernhard installed piping as individual floors were built to meet demands of an aggressive timeline. This work, along with off-site manufacturing of key mechanical and plumbing components, has helped put the project four months ahead of schedule.

Without a dramatic learning curve, the project site has also become safer, which is always Bernhard’s top priority.

“When you work with new crewmembers, you don’t know what their habits are,” said Pablo Gomez, foreman. “I know exactly the training everyone on this crew has received and I know they practice safe procedures because of our time working with them. That level of comfort allows us to focus on our task with the trust that we are all doing what we’re supposed to.”

The team’s collective experience and knowledge of safety practices is a trademark of Bernhard’s approach to a safer workspace. Bernhard instills safety at every job site with an industry-leading safety training program geared to maintain a safe and healthy work environment, safeguard all persons who enter, work, or live near worksites, and meet or exceed regulatory standards.

The team is scheduled to begin work in 2022 on The Cardinal at North Hills East Tower addition. The 453,390-square-foot building will bring 18 stories of residences and upscale amenities to The Cardinal senior living community. The project is located just blocks away from Kane Tower.

Although the crew are professionals with decades of experience and projects between them, they admit to feeling a sense of pride with what they’ve accomplished together.

“I catch myself noticing the skyline when I drive down the highway,” said Gomez. “It brings back a lot of memories of days on the job with people I now consider good friends.”

If you are interested in opportunities in the craft job market and would like to know more about the benefits of a career with Bernhard, visit for more information.


Bernhard Eclipses $135,000 towards Lymphoma and Leukemia Research with 6th Annual Light The Night Golf Tournament

Donations Fund Lifesaving Research by Leukemia and Lymphoma Society


Bernhard’s 6th annual Light The Night golf tournament was held on Monday, Oct. 25 and all funds raised at the event were donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. During the tenure of the tournament, Bernhard has raised more than $135,000 for cancer research.

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is the largest nonprofit dedicated to blood cancer research in the United States and is the largest funder of cutting-edge research to advance cures. They have invested nearly $1.3 billion in research, leading the nation in advancing breakthroughs in immunotherapy, genomics and personalized medicine.

“We all want to see an end to cancer,” said Ralph Stingo, business unit manager at Bernhard’s Raleigh, N.C. office. “Light The Night is our largest community experience where we partner with companies to bring light to the darkness of cancer and raise funds for our mission.”

Light The Night is a series of fundraising campaigns across the United States funding of research for blood cancer cures. Bernhard continues to support Light The Night by hosting its annual golf tournament and accepting monetary donations to support patients, survivors and their families. This year’s tournament was held at Hasentree Country Club in North Carolina, where over $29,000 was raised.

“Bernhard believes in nurturing strong community contributions and serving surrounding communities as if they are one of our most cherished customers – because they are,” said Alyssa Jaksich, vice president of environmental, social and governance at Bernhard.

Stingo has been a part of the Executive Committee for the North Carolina Lymphoma and Leukemia Society for five years, and leads a team with fellow Bernhard team members each year to manage the logistics of the golf tournament.

“Our mission begins and ends with the ever-powerful word: cure,” said Stingo. “We are focused on curing blood cancers through our three pillars of research, patient access and advocacy.”

Melissa Samuel Named to Ragan’s 2021 Top Women in Wellness & HR

Louisiana local recognized for expertise in strategic human resource management


Ragan Communications announced that Melissa Samuel, chief legal officer at Bernhard, has been named to its 2021 Ragan’s Top Women in Wellness and Human Resources list. Leading the HR team at the largest privately-owned Energy-as-a-Service (EaaS) company in the United States, Samuel has been recognized for her expertise in strategic human resource management.

Ragan’s Top Women in Wellness and HR are defined as those leading the charge when it comes to employee health (financial, mental, physical and social), performance management, diversity and inclusion, organizational development, talent recruitment and retention, compensation and benefits, human resources information systems, training and development, coaching and corporate leadership.

“Melissa’s expertise has been indispensable as we continue to innovate our services and experience growth,” said Jim Sabin, COO of Bernhard. “She has been a vital piece in our recruitment and retention of the best talent in the industry. We are proud she has received such prestigious recognition for her commitment to creating a better workplace and doing what she champions in all aspects of her life: investing in people.”

Samuel works to build bridges between internal communications, external communications and marketing, legal, HR and the executive leadership team at Bernhard. With Samuel’s counsel, Bernhard has seen a 75% reduction in annual spend on professional placement firms and a more than 40% reduction in its use of third-party labor. Samuel effectively improved the company’s bottom line by avoiding placement fees and vendor markup, while investing in individuals at all levels and rewarding longevity.

“As the largest privately-owned EaaS company in the country, we believe maintaining a strategic human resource department is imperative to fueling our growth,” said Samuel. “I’m thrilled to be named to Ragan’s 2021 Top Women in Wellness & HR as we continue to look for new opportunities to grow and sustain our company’s talent while also evolving our company culture to better serve our clients.”

With more than 25 years of legal experience and more than 13 years of experience in the engineering and construction industry, Samuel is focused on strong partnerships with operations to find optimal and sustained solutions. Prior to joining Bernhard, Samuel served as senior vice president for H&E Equipment Services overseeing HR, legal and safety, and as vice president and associate general counsel for The Shaw Group, Inc.