As a former athlete who played basketball all over the world, Tony Qorri can’t help but to approach his job at DataBank like the sport. When the vice president of construction talks about how he runs procurement, supply chain, and construction, he sounds like a seasoned vet who has a passion for setting his teammates up for good shots and doing the intangible things that may not appear on a stat sheet.
“I was always captain of my teams, but I was also a role player and it’s the same in the workforce,” he says. “I’m driving the guys, pushing the guys, leading them, but I’m also there for them. If they need me to go on-site to one of our locations, I’m flying out there and helping them. We got each other’s back.”
That collaborative culture and mindset has allowed Qorri and his team to apply a full-court press to DataBank’s expansion and capacity goals amid rapid growth that has been driven by several acquisitions. Recently, the company completed the expansion of a data center in Irvine, California, adding 24,000 square feet of raised floor space and 4 megawatts of capacity, with the company’s Las Vegas and San Diego data centers seeing a similar fate.
The construction team also completed the company’s Atlanta ATL3 facility, which touts 72,000 square feet of raised floor space; 44,000 square feet of white space; and 6 megawatts of additional capacity. That success is slated to continue in 2023 with new and expanded data centers planned for Salt Lake City, Atlanta, Denver, and New York City, financed by a $350 million credit facility.
Qorri’s secret to building cutting-edge data centers is similar to the lessons he learned on the hardwood. He maintains a constant drive to improve himself as a team player, eyeing new ways to collaborate, structure his team, track costs, and simplify operations. He also knows his personnel and leverages his team’s strengths by empowering his people to be themselves.
“I don’t go and say, ‘This is how you’re supposed to do things,’” he explains. “I tell them, ‘Hey, you got your own style, and you got your own approach.’ If you feel you need to travel every week and be on the job, then you got to do it. If you feel like you can do it from home and still manage your contractors, so be it. Everyone can be themselves, enjoy their jobs, and we just collaborate whenever there’s issues.”
Qorri didn’t always plan on being the leader he is today. After playing basketball overseas, he was vacationing in New York one summer when he ran into a cousin who had friends in the construction industry. Connecting with them motivated Qorri to move to New York to work for a general contracting firm. He started working doing mission-critical work in data centers for enterprise banks and found it intriguing.
“I thought it was really challenging, and I became passionate about the work like it was a sport,” he says.
Beyond finding his new passion, he learned about data center infrastructure and managing relationships with clients and other project stakeholders. As time and his responsibilities progressed, he took a job with one of his clients, zColo, as a director of construction, rounding out his general contracting expertise with the leadership role. In 2020, the company was acquired by Databank and Qorri was promoted to his current role as the company began to rapidly scale.
“It’s been a bit of a rush,” he says. “It was cool to see how we went from busy to crazy busy. We’re putting 300,000-square-foot buildings in the ground in record time and putting our head down, trying to manage the 20 to 30 projects we’re working on. It’s been quite the ride.”
With that kind of growth comes growing pains, which are further complicated by persistent supply chain and labor issues. Navigating those challenges has required Qorri and his team to stock more equipment, uphold consistent design standards, and make more strategic decisions about who they choose to work on projects.
“Over the next year, as we continue to grow, my team will continue to grow and we’ll be simplifying how we’re approaching things,” he says. “One of the biggest goals I have is to be less engulfed in the trenches and to give my guys the keys to the car.”
If other construction leaders want to see the kind of success Qorri has seen, they should listen and pay attention to the people on their team.
“A lot of people who are running a team have their own way—they’re leaders because they have their way and their way works,” he says. “But I like to pay attention to what my guys are saying, I like to adapt to what they are saying, and I like to be flexible. I don’t want to get stuck in my ways.”
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Texas AirSystems is proud to partner with Tony Qorri and the DataBank team to deliver reliable, efficient, and sustainable cooling solutions for DataBank’s data centers. As an independent manufacturer’s representative, Texas AirSystems represents over sixty manufacturers of HVAC equipment and supports customers located across Texas and the United States through their National Account Program. In addition to distributing HVAC equipment, Texas AirSystems has an experienced team of factory-trained service technicians providing start-up assistance, system commissioning, and warranty service. For more information regarding HVAC equipment and solutions, contact Brian Miller, Account Executive, at [email protected] or (972) 652-3138.