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Guiding with authenticity

Pietro Giovenco enjoys a challenge.

He has spent a large part of his time at Bergmann Associates working with municipal officials and the public, providing input on projects that were proposed in the areas where they lived.

He relished the engagement, the back and forth dialogue and coming up with ways to best highlight the project.

“I love the challenge associated with working together and solving problems,” he says.

Bergmann ranked first on the most recent Rochester Business Journal list of engineering firms and third on the list of architectural firms. The company has more than 400 employees across 10 offices in five states. Roughly 185 of them work in Rochester.

As Bergmann’s president and chief operating officer, Giovenco, 50, has a role to fill that is different from those he filled in the past, but he remains motivated as a problem solver. 

“I’m constantly looking at how we do things and how we can do them better; that’s what motivates me,” Giovenco says. “I hate being stagnant when it comes to what we do and where we are.”

Giovenco grew up in Ontario, Wayne County. His parents, immigrants from Sicily, worked hard running a family restaurant.

As a teen, Giovenco helped out with the family business, but he did not know what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

“I had no idea what the professional world was all about,” Giovenco says.

So when a high school guidance counselor suggested Giovenco pursue a career in engineering, given his aptitude for math and science, he took the advice.

After high school, he attended Monroe Community College and received an associate in applied science degree in civil engineering technology in 1986. He then went to Rochester Institute of Technology, earning a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering in 1989.

After graduation, he landed a job at Bergmann, working first as a project engineer. Giovenco focused on land development.

He gained experience in project development, working with clients including Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the New York State Dormitory Authority and Griffiss Local Development Corp., which oversees the redevelopment of the former Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, Oneida County.

During those years, Giovenco found he enjoyed interacting with clients and the public, and began to get on a managerial track at the firm.

While at Bergmann, Giovenco received his MBA from RIT’s Saunders College of Business in 2012.

New role

He worked his way up the ranks at Bergmann, serving in roles that include vice president of operations and chief operating officer, before being named president this past October.

On the job, Giovenco spends a portion of his time traveling, meeting with clients and visiting Bergman’s regional offices.

He likes that there is no typical day on the job and that he can help others develop ideas and come up with solutions.

Giovenco describes his leadership style as participative and transformational, which refers to providing leadership that leads to positive changes. He also uses the term authentic leadership as a way to describe his style.

A favorite quote of Giovenco’s is from the late singer Kurt Cobain: “It’s better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you’re not.”

Giovenco enjoys sharing his story with others and serving as a mentor inside and outside the company.

He serves on the advisory committee at the Saunders College of Business and, along with other Bergmann staffers, works with kindergarten through third-grade students at the Dr. Walter Cooper Academy, School No. 10 in the city, focusing on math and engineering.

Jacqueline Mozrall, dean of the Saunders College of Business, works with Giovenco on the college’s advisory board, which he now serves as chairman.

Mozrall relies on Giovenco’s insights and perspective.

“He’s so willing to give his time,” she says.

She describes Giovenco as a thoughtful person, in that he studies and thinks about the best way to proceed.

She also refers to him as a service leader—one who leads by helping others.

“He is always asking how he can help others and is generous with his time and talents,” Mozrall says.

A goal at Bergmann is to get all employees involved in the company’s growth strategy, Giovenco says, noting employees were consulted on where they would like to see the company in 10 years.

He stresses the importance of Bergmann employees to the firm’s success.

“We don’t build widgets here; our only asset is our people,” he says.

Hiring skilled workers is a constant challenge, Giovenco notes, as is staying on top of the latest technology without going over the edge by using more resources than are available.

“There’s a fine line between cutting edge and bleeding edge,” he says.

The firm is in a growth mode. Bergmann’s gross revenue in 2016 was $63.5 million, up from $62 million in 2015, and Giovenco projects a modest increase in revenue in 2017. The firm is also expanding geographically and is looking to add an office in Grand Rapids, Mich.

He sees growth coming in transportation, commercial and manufacturing areas.

Bergmann is busy with jobs across the United States, including in the Rochester region. The company recently worked on the expansion effort at BayTowne Plaza in Penfield. Outside the region, Bergmann is working on the Prospect Mountain construction project in Binghamton, Broome County. The $150 million project is aimed at improving operations and safety on Route 17 and Interstate 81 in Binghamton.

The firm has also served on the engineering team for the state Thruway Authority for the design and construction of the $3.9 billion New NY Bridge in Tarrytown, Westchester County, formerly called the Tappan Zee Bridge.

Bergmann is also part of a team on the short list of firms being considered for work on the Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will connect Windsor, Ontario, and Detroit across the Detroit River.

Acquisitions will play a role moving forward, Giovenco says. Attractive candidates include firms that are located in geographic areas new to Bergmann and those that provide complementary services.

Rufus Judson, CEO of the Pike Cos. Ltd., has known Giovenco for years. Outside of work, the two see each other socially at community events and have gone bird hunting together, Judson says.

The firms have collaborated on projects including the Seneca Building downtown, which that Pike developed. The firm hired Bergmann to complete the design work.

Judson describes Giovenco as a great friend to himself and the rest of the team at Pike, as well as an advocate, hard worker and leader.

“Pete is what I think of when I think of Bergmann,” Judson says, adding he expects Bergmann to continue to grow with Giovenco in his new role. “He’ll continue to build on the company’s past success and chart new success.”

Off the job

Giovenco lives in Macedon, Wayne County. He and his wife, Suzanne, have a son, Pietro, 27, and a daughter, Danielle, 25.

In his free time, Giovenco enjoys cooking, a skill he learned from his mother. Among his favorite dishes to prepare is pasta with Bolognese sauce.

He also describes himself as an outdoorsman who enjoys hunting and fishing. He and a friend are building a hunting cabin in Ossian, Livingston County.

On the job, Giovenco is not only settling into his new role but a new office as well. In October, Bergmann Associates moved into Tower280 at Midtown from First Federal Plaza. The firm is occupying 60,000 square feet of space, the entire second floor, and is the tower’s anchor commercial tenant.

Giovenco, a member of the Rochester Downtown Development Corp. board of directors, is bullish on the recent development he is seeing in the area.

“There is activity going on here, which makes it easier to recruit new talent,” he says. “Things are really starting to happen downtown.”

Pietro Giovenco

Title: president and chief operating officer, Bergmann Associates

Age: 50

Education:  AAS in civil engineering technology from Monroe Community College, 1986; B.S. in civil engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology, 1989; MBA, RIT’s Saunders College of Business, in 2012

Residence: Macedon, Wayne County

Family: Wife, Suzanne; son, Pietro, 27, and daughter, Danielle, 25

Hobbies: Cooking, hunting and fishing

Quote: “I’m constantly looking at how we do things and how we can do them better; that’s what motivates me. I hate being stagnant when it comes to what we do and where we are.”

1/27/2017 (c) 2017 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.

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