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Chris Kerns: Transforming Communities through Construction

Chris Kerns, the director of estimating for Powers & Sons, is not just a numbers guy, but rather, he’s a visionary in charge of orchestrating transformations.

At the heart of his role is the pursuit of potential firms to collaborate as subcontractors, and he believes that a project’s impact is key to garnering interest. Kerns joined Powers & Sons in 2017. He has broad experience in construction cost estimating, including pre-construction planning, design development, and project management.

Kerns’ latest endeavor is the joint venture partnership between Powers and Sons and Davis and Associates, operating as Powers/Davis JV Powers and Davis, as they embark on a significant $25 million investment to revamp George Washington Carver School 87, one of the older facilities in Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS).

To help attract firms in the construction industry, Kerns went beyond blueprints. He delved into the history of School 87, revealing its origins as a temporary building addressing overflow from a segregated school in 1936.

Renamed in honor of African-American scientist George Washington Carver, the school has been a cornerstone in the community for nearly 90 years. Kerns passionately communicates this narrative to potential partners, emphasizing the historical significance and the neighborhood’s call for upgrades.

“I think I’m pretty good at reading a room,” Kerns said. “Over the last year, I’ve told the story about the history of George Washington Carver and School 87. Carver went through a lot of adversity to become known as one of the nation’s top African-American scientists.

And School 87 faced many challenges over the years but has become a key component of its neighborhood.

“When I talk to these contractors, I can see the look in their eyes,” he said. “They want to be a part of something that substantially impacts the community.”

Kerns also works on upgrades at George W. Julian School 57 and Thomas Carr Howe Middle School, an IB World School. Both are part of the $410 million Rebuilding Stronger Plan, which includes a plan that aims to create more stand-alone middle schools to disperse academic and extracurricular offerings more equitably to students.

Chris analyzes blueprints and schematics, creates timelines, solicits subcontractor bids, evaluates bids received, and collects all information required to accurately estimate the time, money, materials, and labor required for general contracting and other projects. He is highly skilled in working with owners, architects, engineers, and others to develop estimates, including guaranteed maximum prices.

“I’m looking forward to being a part of Rebuilding Stronger for the next several years,” said Kerns, underlining the pivotal role safe, warm buildings play in unlocking students’ full potential. As construction commences in the spring, Kerns’ leadership ensures physical upgrades and a revitalization that echoes through the school’s storied history and the aspirations of the local community.