Monday, November 19, 2012

The Inquirer » Company fills need for patient-friendly designs

Harold Brubaker, Inquirer Staff Writer
Posted: Monday, November 19, 2012, 3:01 AM

As a designer and builder, William G. Burris Jr. clearly relishes details.

Demonstrating a recliner at a $30 million rehabilitation center under construction by his company in Voorhees, Burris explained the importance of the chair's control.

"Two positions. Back-up. Down-up. It doesn't take too much to figure out what to do here," he said.

By contrast, a popular recliner brand has eight buttons on the control and is "very confusing" for patients, said Burris, whose small Burris Construction Co. Inc. in Moorestown specializes in nursing homes and related health-care facilities.

The Voorhees project, nearing completion, is for Kennett Square nursing-home giant Genesis HealthCare Corp. The facility, with 124 private rooms, will house a new rehabilitation model, called PowerBack, for patients who have had joint replacements or heart problems and who are not ready to go straight home from the hospital.

Genesis was responsible for the clinical area's design, but the rest is Burris, said Paul Bach, a Genesis executive vice president and central-area president for the company in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

"Over our history, we've worked with a lot of different contractors, but Bill is the most knowledgeable person I've ever come across when it comes to thinking about patient-driven design elements," Bach said. "He incorporates them without a lot of added cost."
Burris, 57, did not start out with that touch.

His father, William G. Burris, who died this year, founded the company in 1975, he said.

Now with about 140 employees and a five-year backlog of work worth $260 million to $290 million, the firm initially concentrated on government work, mainly schools, Burris said.

"My father was insistent that we do that type of work because with municipal, state, county governments, school boards, you knew you were getting paid."

In the early 1980s, after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development started financing nursing homes 100 percent, Burris Construction shifted much of its business there.

But a contract to build a YMCA in Hamilton Township, Mercer County, in the late 1980s played a pivotal role for Burris Construction, which had worked on numerous projects with architectural plans that could not be executed within budget.

The Hamilton YMCA had a $3.2 million budget, but construction plans called for $5.2 million. Burris persuaded the YMCA board to let the company use its own architect.

"We were able to build it for $3.2 million," he said.

"It taught us that it should be an integrated process. This concept where construction is done and the parts are all removed from each other doesn't work."

Burris took what he learned and - with most of his employees in tow - went on to direct construction and development activities at two large senior-living companies.

First was Multicare Cos., which Genesis bought in 1997. From 1999 to 2009, Burris was executive vice president for construction and development at CareOne L.L.C. in Fort Lee, N.J., and a partner in a development entity with CareOne's owner, Daniel Strauss.

"My partner and I got a business divorce in 2009," said Burris, who then revived Burris Construction.

The goal was to start from scratch, "forget what we knew, and study what we didn't know. That's the real needs of the residents," Burris said.

He saw that all new hospitals had private rooms.
"If people are going to those hospitals with private rooms, what are they going to expect when they come to this level [of care]?" Burris asked.

Surveys of patients told him that the top complaints were the absence of a doctor for too much of the day and bad food. Genesis took care of the doctor, and Burris took care of the food by designing a kitchen capable of preparing meals to order.

"This is a room-service program like you would have in a hotel," Burris said. "Gone are the days where at 7:30 in the morning, we send tray lines out to 130 residents with whatever we think we can get away with feeding them."

Residents also complained about uncomfortable chairs in their rooms.

Patients get tired from working on rehabilitation, Burris said: "We wanted to make them as comfortable as we could."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Burris Family Donates Funds To Complete Swedes Run Barn Restoration

November 1, 2012 — Moorestown, NJ  William Burris along with his wife, Linda Burris, continue in their advocacy for the historic preservation of Moorestown as evident by their recent donation to the Swedes Run Barn Restoration Project.

The Moorestown Historical Society published recently the need to source financial alternatives after discovering that the Open Space Trust Fund could not be used to help pay for completed renovations to the barn. Members of the historical society had been counting on the town council to aid in paying off associated debts of the project and encountered a roadblock once they learned that public expenditures are required to follow public financial law, which does not allow for retroactive reimbursements.

In a recent article in “The Moorestown Sun”, one of the project organizers, Julie Maravich of the historical society stated that $5,000 was needed to complete the restoration of Swedes Run Barn and the Burris family wrote a check for that amount so the job could be finished.

“I don't believe this is a place for spending township open space funds,” said Mr. Burris. “This should be the effort of locals who support these type projects.

Maravich remarked of the Burris donation, “It’s spectacular because we were fairly maxed out as far as donations from the townspeople. To have the Burris family come forward and respond to our dilemma is phenomenal for us as we are so close to completing the project. This kind of generosity will really help us push it through.”

Although the revitalized roof has already been completed, the donation will now allow the Moorestown Historical Society to pay for it. Outstanding objectives include custom doorjambs with custom iron-forged strap hinges to prevent weather damage and keep animals from using it for shelter.

Other projects slated for future restoration include the recreation of an interior loft, the building of a small landing with step on the interior as well as exterior landscape enhancement. At some point in the future the building may be used for photo opportunities, historical events and tours.

The Burris family has personally sponsored several historic preservation initiatives. They own Boxwood Hall in Haddonfield and just last week purchased 10 West Main Street in Moorestown. Mr. Burris was the recipient of the Walt Whitman Historic Preservation award in 2006 for his efforts in establishing the Beach Haven Historic Advisory Commission.

For additional information regarding the Swedes Run Barn Restoration Project and to make a donation, please visit For additional press information regarding the Burris Family, please contact Diane Pilla at or (856) 642-0007.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Construction of new rehabilitation center in Moorestown underway

Moorestown, NJ – Burris Construction Company, a premier design-builder of post acute rehabilitation healthcare centers in the Northeast, has announced construction of its newest center, PowerBack Rehabilitation in Moorestown. Located on Marter Avenue, it will be the only Moorestown facility solely dedicated to post acute rehabilitation.

The design/build company’s innovative process of its post acute centers implements unique critical programming designed to include high end amenities, advanced rehabilitation and optimal medical care for the short-term patient journey from hospital to home. With a focus on the future of energy efficient buildings, the Moorestown center is the second Burris facility of its kind to introduce a net-zero energy initiative to New Jersey’s healthcare industry. This facility, due to open by the end of next year, as well as the PowerBack Rehabilitation at Voorhees’s projected opening later this year, is designed to produce almost as much energy as it consumes. This initiative is achieved through a combination of energy reduction and efficiency measures and on-site harvesting of renewable energy.

Each facility’s 124-private room, 87,000 square foot platform includes cutting edge technologies as LED lighting, solar arrays, rainwater collection for irrigation and toilet operation, geothermal heating/cooling, superior insulation and induction kitchen ovens. Its ventilation system uses variable-drive fans that are computer controlled based on CO2 building levels. Both facilities are operated by Genesis HealthCare, one of the nation’s largest skilled nursing and rehabilitation therapy providers.

“We very much appreciate our partnership with Burris Construction Company,” stated Paul D. Bach, Executive Vice President of Genesis HealthCare. “Their expertise enabled us to design a building with the optimal environment that best meets the needs of short stay guests transitioning from hospitals to a post acute care facility.” 

Burris is capitalizing on the national trend of placing rehabilitation centers in close proximity to hospitals and wellness centers. The Moorestown center’s close accessibility to the Virtua Health and Wellness Center is a component of the town’s burgeoning reputation as a medical nexus. ”We are getting a reputation for being a center for healthcare related businesses, making it an integral part of our town” stated Moorestown Mayor John Button. “In addition to getting an excellent facility for our town, it increases commercial ratables and creates jobs.  And it certainly strengthens the positive perception of Moorestown,” Button added.

Burris Construction Company is a design-build group headquartered in Moorestown, NJ. An industry leader since 1973, Burris maintains an outstanding history of construction and development throughout the Northeast.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Nursing home design-builder chooses MTU Onsite Energy generator sets for critical standby power at 13 new facilities

MTU Onsite Energy generator sets were selected for their 85 percent 24-hour average load factor, which exceeds industry standards.

Burris Construction Company, a large design-builder of post-acute-care nursing facilities in the Northeast, has selected emergency standby generator sets from MTU Onsite Energy for 13 of its current healthcare construction projects. The generator sets range in size from 300 kW to 600 kW and will be used to provide emergency standby power at the care facilities in the event of utility outages. A major factor in the purchase was the ability of MTU Onsite Energy generator sets to supply an 85 percent 24-hour average load factor compared to the industry standard of 70 percent.

“Instead of just meeting basic regulations – where standby generators are able to supply only certain critical loads at a facility – we made the commitment that our standby power systems should be able to power the entire load of each facility,” said Bill Burris III, vice president, Burris Construction. “When we learned that these generators were capable of higher load factors than other generator sets, it meant we could have more confidence in our standby power during extended outages.”

During the selection process, Johnson & Towers, the MTU Onsite Energy distributor in New Jersey, shared a technical white paper with Burris that explained how generator sets with high 24-hour average load factor ratings can provide higher standby power capacity in extended outages. The average load factor capability also affects generator sizing and allows the use of a smaller generator set than would otherwise be needed.

“For example,” said Robert Shomo, senior vice president for sales of MTU Onsite Energy products at Johnson & Towers, “a 600 kW generator set with an industry-standard 70 percent 24-hour average load factor can only supply 420 kW during extended outages. If your electrical load is greater than 420 kW, then you would need a larger, more expensive generator set or risk damage to your unit. On the other hand, a 600 kW generator set with an 85 percent 24-hour load factor capability will supply 510 kW during extended outages – an additional 90 kW.”

“If I have to buy a 750 kW industry-standard generator set for thousands of dollars more to get the same kind of performance I get from a 600 kW with an 85 percent load factor capability, that’s a lot more generator than I need,” said Burris, who also is a voice of experience on extended power outages. “We had nursing homes in New Jersey and Connecticut that were once off the grid for three weeks because of storm damage. We wound up bringing in rental generators because the standard emergency units we installed there could not perform in an extended outage.”

According to Burris, the company’s construction projects have a heavy focus on energy efficiency and include such cutting-edge technologies as LED lighting, solar arrays, rainwater collection for operating toilets, geothermal heating/cooling, super insulation and even induction ovens in kitchens. In addition, even the ventilation system uses variable-drive fans that are computer controlled based on CO2 levels in the building.

“Instead of the fans running all day long, wasting energy by exhausting tempered air that has been either heated or cooled, they only run when they have to,” said Burris.

This focus on energy efficiency has reduced the power needs of Burris’ nursing facilities by 50 percent – which also reduces the size of the emergency standby generator set they need.

The first of the 13 new construction projects will be a 124-bed post-acute rehabilitation and skilled nursing care facility in Voorhees, N.J., to be operated by Genesis HealthCare, one of the nation’s largest skilled nursing care providers with over 200 facilities in 13 states. Designed and built by Burris Construction, the facility will focus on patient activities and engagement in rehabilitation and will include all private rooms and hotel-like services. It is scheduled to be completed in late 2012.

View/download PDF version of MTU Onsite Energy press release

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Health care officials tout benefits of new center

Bill Burris is proud of his work as the design-builder of PowerBack Rehabilitation. “This one is unique,” said the Moorestown resident. He was especially proud of... Read more...

Friday, June 8, 2012

The June 5th Open House numbers are in, and what a success it was!

The Burris Construction Company’s 2nd Annual Open House benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society reached a whopping $76,736.00!

The total monies raised was a culmination of special events that concluded with our Open House event featuring a night of Phillies baseball, pig roast, 2012 Fiat raffle, Silent Auction and a 50-50 drawing.

We are appreciative of everyone who supported this year’s event honoring the memory of our dear friend Larry Ciletti.

On behalf of blood cancer patients everywhere, we thank you for your support!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

June 5th Open House to Benefit Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Burris Construction Company’s 2nd Annual Open House celebration will be in honor of dear friend Larry Ciletti with proceeds benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. You’ll enjoy a night of Phillies vs LA Dodgers, a pig roast, ballpark food, a chance to win a 2012 FIAT 500 and more.

Raffle tickets are $100 each and only 300 tickets will be sold!

When: Tuesday, June 5th (rain date: June 6th) from 5:00 – 10:00 pm. 
Where: 8 E. Main Street, Moorestown, NJ
Cost: $50 tax-deductible donation per person

For more information or to RSVP and make payment, contact Ashley Basford at 856-638-1250, ext. 5868 or to donate on line visit:

Monday, March 19, 2012

Senior Living Community boasts luxury, home style comfort


Moorestown, NJ – Burris Construction Company has maintained its reputation as the region’s premier design-build firm of healthcare facilities by revitalizing an empty Cherry Hill hotel into a luxury senior living community.

The transformation of retrofitting the former Route 70 landmark into the new Spring Hills Cherry Hill senior care facility was accomplished by combining hotel high end amenities with home style comforts.

The new facility was designed to foster luxurious assisted living with 127 studios or one or two bedroom suites. All rooms feature private bathrooms, walk-in closets, full sized kitchens and individually controlled thermostats.

The Burris design also includes a grand lobby with fireplace, a state-of-the-art movie theatre and outdoor courtyard with gardens, walking paths, fireplaces and waterfalls.

A recent ribbon cutting ceremony was held to mark a milestone in the renaissance of the former hotel and conference center into the first luxury senior living community facility by Spring Hills Senior Communities.

Burris Construction Company is a design-build group headquartered in Moorestown, NJ. An industry leader since 1973, Burris maintains an outstanding history of construction and development in the tri-state area.