Spotlight on the Special Projects Group (SPG)


When a tree falls through your roof or a train drives through your building, who are you going to call? What if you just need a small renovation?

At Perlo, these situations fall to the Special Projects Group (SPG) and yes, those are real examples! The SPG began in 2009 with Elissa Looney and just one field carpenter. Since then, the group has become a significant part of the Perlo team.

There are now four dedicated project managers, six superintendents and many others who are pulled in on an as-needed basis for projects. The SPG exists as a resource for owners, tenants and property managers. The goal is to respond to any warranty issues as quickly as possible and to ensure we’re taking care of our clients across ALL of their construction needs. No job is too small!

The SPG encapsulates the Perlo Way: working hard and always doing what’s right.

Who are the SPG?

With their fully-equipped vans, SPG superintendents stand ready to respond in times of need. Small repairs are often taken care of on-the-spot, while larger jobs are assessed and teams deployed as soon as possible.

The SPG are a tight-knit team. They’re often finding creative ways to solve problems and assign projects based on the skills of individual team members. Variety is the norm for them – you can find them attending to projects large or small.

SPG superintendents are multi-disciplined experts. They may be managing several projects at once, including coordinating with subcontractors. SPG superintendents are adept time-managers and have great, practical skills of their own. An SPG superintendent might be found installing accessories, fixing a door, putting in drywall or building schedules for bigger jobs.

What does the SPG do?

The SPG focuses on tenant improvements, renovation and repairs. This includes projects like emergency situations (for which Perlo has a special phone line for after-hours calls) as well as for less urgent needs such as a “fluff and buff” to update flooring and paint for a new tenant.

It’s important to Perlo that clients know the company is there for them. It doesn’t matter if the project seems small, Perlo always wants to see it done right! “I always say that I want Perlo to be someone’s first call when a building issue arises,” shares Jeff Hankins, the Senior Manager of SPG. “If we can’t complete the work ourselves, I’m happy to refer them to someone who can.”

The SPG team has done everything from major repairs to referring high-quality subcontractors to complete flooring or storefronts. With a $250 minimum project size, and larger projects running to $3 million or more, the SPG means it when they ask clients to call at any time. Here are some examples of how the SPG team has helped out.

VLMK Engineering + Design

VLMK Engineering has a unique, vintage building in Southwest Portland. When a 100-year-old oak came crashing through their roof, it caused severe damage.

The SPG received the call early on a Sunday and promptly arrived to install temporary shoring and prevent further damage. To add even more urgency to the situation, a major storm was forecast over the next few days. The SPG worked hard to install a temporary roof structure prior to snow arriving, followed by a complex replacement of the original tectum roof.

Water intrusion from the tree damage meant that the team also had to redo the finishes on all of the second floor and much of the first. The renovation was completed, while protecting the existing terrazzo floors and vintage windows.

Portland French Bakery

The Portland French bakery had a tricky problem: their wood roof deck was significantly damaged, requiring a whole new roof. However, the bakery still needed to be able to operate safely and make their delicious products throughout the project.

Enter the SPG. Through careful planning and management, they split the roof project across two summers, while ensuring that food safety would remain throughout production. While they were at it, they gave the exterior a refresh and upgraded the building’s mechanical systems.

This is a great example of how the SPG works to manage complex client needs. Many commercial businesses need to be able to use their buildings throughout construction projects, so the SPG finds ways to make it work. Occupied construction requires extra levels of detail, planning and care; including noise, dust, safety and timing. The SPG are accustomed to working quickly and efficiently!

Mahlum Architects

Mahlum Architects set the Living Building Challenge in their sights when it came time to renovate an existing warehouse for their office needs. They targeted the “materials petal,” the part of the challenge that demonstrates low-carbon and low-impact in terms of building materials.

The SPG was called in to do the construction work on the project, using specified eco-friendly materials, with a focus on minimizing waste. Working with Mahlum’s project team, close to 95% of waste materials generated onsite were recycled. The result is Portland, Oregon’s first Living Building Challenge-certified project.

Building Modifications for COVID-19

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses and organizations that are continuing to operate — or looking to re-open — have needed to adapt to different operational needs. The SPG has been there to help, completing a variety of projects to modify buildings to account for these needs.

The team has come in to take care of modifications such as touchless door openers, including automatic or foot-opened doors; installation of hand sanitizer dispensers; installation of plexiglass dividers; additional trash cans; and new signage. The SPG is also available to manage entire touchless systems, including faucets and towel dispensers. Several companies are taking advantage of this time to make permanent changes that will satisfy health and hygiene needs into the future.

No job is too small…

The SPG would like to encourage companies to call any time they need a repair, renovation or tenant improvement work done. At Perlo, “doing the right thing” includes ensuring that the right people come to do the job. The SPG will always assess the project requirements. If the project falls outside of the SPG’s scope, the team will readily refer companies to our list of vetted, reliable subcontractors. Find out more about the SPG or get in touch with us at