Spring 2021|volume 14|Issue 3

    Meet: David Heaton

    Joins The Buncher Company as President and CEO


    A new President and CEO has taken over The Buncher Company, a Pittsburgh-based firm that has been developing real estate in southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere since 1954. Perhaps best known for its holdings in the Strip District and several commerce parks throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, the company also serves the railroad industry through its Multi-Service Supply Division.

    David B. Heaton, a longtime resident of Pine Township, succeeded Thomas J. Balestrieri in November. Joining Heaton on the Executive Committee are senior officers and long-time employees H. William Doring, Executive Vice President/Treasurer, and Brian R. Goetz, Executive Vice President and head of real estate operations.

    Once solely owned by founder Jack G. Buncher, a prominent entrepreneur and philanthropist, the company is now owned by six nonprofit organizations, including the Jack Buncher Foundation. These nonprofit organizations complement the generosity of Buncher, who always wanted to give back to the communities in which he invested.

    A graduate of Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor of architectural engineering degree, Heaton grew up in Verona and attended Riverview High School, where he met his future wife. He played two sports growing up—baseball and basketball. After graduating in 1986, Heaton went to Penn State.

    “I never really chose to do engineering,” Heaton recalls. “Not that I was forced into it by any means, but I was always good at math and science, and my brother and I were the first people in our family to go to college. Penn State has a great reputation as an engineering school. I decided to study architectural engineering, which focuses on building construction.”

    Upon graduating, Heaton headed to Arlington, Virginia, to join CRSS Constructors, which was part of Jacobs Engineering, one of the largest construction companies in the world. His projects included work on a biomedical research building and other research facilities at the National Institute of Health campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

    Heaton left CRSS to become a superintendent with Barton Malow, a construction management company with an office in Baltimore. His principle projects there were an expansion at the National Aquarium and a new School of Nursing for Johns Hopkins University.

    By this point, Heaton had married his wife, Keri, and they decided that when they started their family they would come back to Pittsburgh. Their son was born in January 1997 and they returned home in March 1997. Heaton went to work for Burt Hill, which is now part of Stantec.

    “We wanted to be near our families, and we think western Pennsylvania is a fine environment in which to raise a family, with a great quality of life,” says Heaton. “By then, I had agency construction management work and at-risk construction management experience. I then worked in an architect’s office, and ended up working for an owner/developer. My experience has been well rounded, but it was not planned. I was fortunate for it to evolve that way.”

    Today, Heaton lives in Pine Township with his wife. They have two children—a son who is pursuing a PhD in Informatics at Penn State, and a daughter who attends the Rock Life program at Slippery Rock University.

    Prior to joining The Buncher Company, Heaton had been with Oxford Development Company for over 20 years and served as a Project Manager, Director of Construction, and Vice President of Development before being named Chief Operating Officer in October 2019. As COO, he oversaw new development, property management, investment, marketing, and realty services. One of his favorite projects was Phase 2 of the Three Crossings development, because he had an important role in shaping the vision.

    “It was a challenging and a transformational project,” Heaton says. “We weren’t displacing anybody; instead, we were taking vacant lots and properties and creating something with them. We had environmental issues, flood plain issues, floodway issues, and a change in zoning. There were some significant obstacles and we were able to pull it all together, so it was rewarding.”

    With Heaton’s broad experience in both the construction and real estate fields, the Board of Directors and senior management are confident that he will be a good fit as President and CEO of The Buncher Company and will bring a fresh perspective and new energy as the company continues its planned growth for the benefit of its shareholders and employees. Heaton says he relishes the challenge. One thing that attracted Heaton to the position is the ability to lead a company at this stage in his career.

    “This was an immediate opportunity and it’s a Pittsburgh-based organization,” he says. “Buncher is a financially strong company with great assets. Its ownership is unique as well. The mission and goals are to grow assets and income. The resulting distributions made to the shareholders then assist these nonprofit entities to advance their missions. Our real estate development success increases the ability to support those nonprofits and do good throughout the community. It’s a great structure and it’s exciting to be part of something like that. I look forward to working with Bill Doring and Brian Goetz and the rest of the management team to lead Buncher in its continued growth.”

    Looking ahead, Heaton plans to continue to expand the portfolio.

    “We have a very industrial-focused portfolio, which has been pretty much immune to the impacts of COVID-19. I’d like to add industrial projects and also add a little diversity,” he says. “I want to look for ways to continue the progress that’s been made in the Strip District with District 15, Edge 1909, the Strip District Brownstones, and the under-construction Vision on 15th. I’m not sure if it means we’re going to be multi-family, or more office buildings, or some combination thereof.”

    Heaton says that he sees a great deal of development potential in the Strip District. “We have great access and it’s continuing to evolve as an Innovation District,” he says. “We have technology companies up and down Robotics Row and that’s continuing to draw in more restaurants, bars, and housing options. While they’re certainly struggling now with COVID, I think when people start getting back into the office, they’re going to flourish and grow. It’s very walkable and a true “Live, Work, and Play” community. We have new offices, apartments, and hotels, and we also still have what native Pittsburghers think of as the Strip with lots of local merchants. That section is unique and cool, and there are things growing around it. I think development in the Strip District will continue for many years.”

    For further information on The Buncher Company or its Multi-Service Supply Division, visit https://buncher.com.