Nov/Dec 2019

Page 1

Volume 8 Issue 6

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◊ Glenn A. McCollum: Arizona’s Mid-Century Mall Marvel

Serving Contracting Firms and the Arizona Community. . . Then & Now

◊ The Layton Paver: Adding Blacktop One Driveway at a Time ◊ Tempe’s Haunted Temple of TB Healing at Papago Park ◊ Scottsdale’s “Hi-Fi” Executive House Hotel ◊ Barrie Groen: H & J Construction’s ”Gourmet” Architect

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Contributors Andrea Ake Chad Beito John Bueker Chris Cody Brent Myers Luke M. Snell

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Arizona Contractor & Community (ACC) magazine is published bi-monthly (Jan/Feb, Mar/Apr, May/June, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov/Dec). ACC is a professional publication designed for the contracting industry, engineers, architects, equipment rentals, suppliers, and others interested in Arizona and its history. Content including text, photographs or illustrations may not be reproduced without the written permission from the publisher. The publisher does not assume responsibility for unsolicited submissions. ACC reserves the right to reject any editorial and advertising material and reserves the right to edit all submitted content material. Arizona Contractor & Community Copyright © 2019 All rights reserved.

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contents 12













From The Editor - ACC’s Puppet Show Douglas Towne Construction Around Arizona: Projects • People • Practices Back When - H & J Construction’s “Ranger” Douglas Towne The Riskas of H & J Construction: Innovators in Building - William Horner Glenn A. McCollum: Arizona’s Mid-Century Mall Marvel - John Bueker The Layton Paver: Adding Blacktop One Driveway at a Time - William Horner Tempe’s Haunted Temple of TB Healing at Papago Park - Douglas Towne Building on the Past - 1961: Scottsdale’s Executive House Hotel Architect’s Perspective - Barrie Groen: H & J Construction’s Designer - William Horner

Digging Through the Archives - Dave McNeil William Horner


Bid Results - Bidjudge


ACC Advertisers’ Index

Front Cover H & J Construction collage, 1962. Executive Team: Kenneth L. Dixon, - 10, 14 Barrie Groen - 12 Milt D. Hill - 6, 15 Edward Inman - 9 Charles Mericle - 4, 5, 17 Harry Riskas - 7, 11, 13, 16 John Riskas, - 1, 3 Danny Speros - 2, 8





16 13









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John Bueker Article on page 36

Luke M. Snell Article on page 25

Bueker was born in ow did this country have Jinohn Detroit, MI but raised Hthe courage to build the Phoenix, where he Erie Canal when there were

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experienced a rather sublime childhood that he never entirely abandoned. Something of an expert on mid-century Phoenix culture and history, John has contributed to Arizona Contractor and Community magazine since its inception in 2012. He specializes in topics such as shopping centers, restaurants, housing subdivisions, and amusement parks. He created and maintains a series of nostalgic websites at, which commemorate his favorite locations growing up in the Phoenix area. These include such iconic locales as Legend City, Chris-Town Mall, Westown Shopping Center, and the Copper Belle restaurant. John is also the writer and editor of the Joan De Arc Crusader, a street newspaper he began at the tender age of 9, which won a Phoenix New Times award for “Best Phoenix Neighborhood Blog” in 2012. His book on the vanished Arizona theme park, Legend City, was released by Arcadia Publishing in 2014. A former classroom teacher, John currently works as an instructional designer at Arizona State University. In addition to Phoenix history, John enjoys such pastimes as astronomy, Shakespeare, collecting antique board games, and writing and performing music on his trusty Galanti vintage guitar. John now lives in Glendale with his wife Susan and assorted canines and felines.

no engineering schools in the U.S. and little expertise in canal building? The challenges faced by these self-taught engineers were monumental. The canal, which traversed the wilderness of upstate New York, was twice as long as any previously built canal and required 34 locks due to elevation changes. But as a kid living in rural New York near it, we were not taught about the engineering challenges but rather the political issues of building the canal. After I attained my engineering degrees, I became fascinated by how we developed our construction and engineering techniques that we take for granted today. As a hobby, I began to research the Erie Canal since I knew some of its stories. I discovered that a cement company was started because concrete was needed to build the locks. And that because of an inadequate budget, the bridges over the canal had a low clearance. Thus, the “Erie Canal” song, “Low bridge, everybody down,” was required for safety reasons. This fascination with how we build, and the materials we use, has become a lifelong obsession. Some topics have become articles in Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, and I have many others to offer about the history of construction.

Nov-Dec 2019

Arizona Contractor & Community

From the editor: Acc’s Puppet Show Douglas Towne


t ACC magazine, we hate to see anything go to waste – especially a beautiful historic building. So, it was with considerable anticipation that we celebrated “National Historic Preservation Month” at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. The Spanish Colonial-style building at 302 West Latham Street near downtown first opened in 1932 as the Phoenix Second Ward Chapel. Designed by architect Harold W. Burton, it was the first Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel to have the cultural hall placed perpendicular to the chapel. This configuration allowed churchgoers to sit in either space to hear a speaker, according to the website, An organ installed by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut provided music for the congregation. The 400-person church served the Mormon community until 1972 when it closed because it was in the path of the proposed I-10 freeway. ADOT purchased the church and planned to demolish it, but changes to the freeway alignment allowed the building to be saved. The Phoenix Arts Council used Below: Mayor Kate Gallego the property leads the cheer for “This Place for several Matters!” at the Great Arizona years and then Puppet Theater, 2019. in 1999, the Right: The Great Arizona Pup-

Images courtesy of City of Phoenix Historic Preservation

pet Theater, 2019. Top right: Donna Reiner, William Horner, Douglas Towne, and Vic Linoff contemplate how best to answer a trivia question.

building reopened as the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. ACC staff, however, weren’t on-site to watch some marionettes. We were part of the show. To commemorate National Historic Preservation Month, the City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office hosted a reception at the puppet theater. The city rolled out the red carpet with a program that featured opening remarks by Mayor Kate Gallego and an appearance by former Mayor Terry Goddard. Then the fun began. Many in the audience hoped to be crowned King (or Queen) of Phoenix history in a challenging trivia contest. The competition was co-hosted by Michelle Dodds, the Phoenix Historic Preservation Officer and an ACC contributor, and Sherry Rampy, the chair of the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission. Our magazine put together a team of staff and contributors that should have been tough to beat: • ACC publisher, William “Billy” Horner, an expert on local construction history, • Donna Reiner, a local history author, history columnist for The Arizona Republic, and former director of Historic Heritage Square, • Vic Linoff, aka “Jay Mark,” a local history author, longtime history columnist for The Arizona Republic, and president of

the Mesa Preservation Society, and • ACC editor, Douglas Towne, a history columnist for PHOENIX magazine and The Arizona Republic. My prediction was unchanged after the first round, which found us in second place just behind the eventual winners, the “Pumpkinville Refugees,” who were ably assisted by another ACC contributor, John “Mr. Phoenix” Jacquemart. Our hopes steadily decreased, however, as the questions became more complicated and obscure. We limped home with a fourthplace finish out of nine teams, which is nothing to crow about. But our disappointment was appeased by a prize of a bottle of Arizona wine produced by Pierce Wines in Camp Verde, one for each team member. Thanks to the city for hosting this fun and unique event. And for inspiring the diverse, committed crowd to remain passionate about historic preservation.


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Historic Vail, Arizona Railroad Building Rehabbed by Students Chris Cody, State Historic Preservation Office Deputy Director


he Iron Horse drove the creation of the Section Foreman House at Marsh Station, located just east of Tucson, in 1915. In contrast, the 2018 restoration of the structure was powered by youth in a partnership between Vail Preservation Society (VPS) and Vail Unified School District (VUSD). The rehabilitation work proved convenient for the students since

the historic railroad building sits in the middle of Cienega High School. How did this unusual location come to be? When the VUSD acquired the open land for the new high school, planners noted that a section of historic rail bed bisected the site. That rail bed inspired the school’s railroad theme. VUSD approached VPS with the idea of relocating one of six remaining historic buildings from the Vail area and incorporating it as a place for experiential learning opportunities for students. VPS was excited about the chance to weave historic preservation, history, and heritage into the fabric of this new school,



The restored Section Foreman House at Cienega High School.

and a great partnership was born. The structure was initially built for the El Paso and Southwestern Railroad as a residence for the foreman who oversaw operations at Marsh Station. VPS purchased the building and moved it to within 15 feet from the school’s historic rail bed, the same distance as it sat from the tracks at its original site. As site construction continued, Lloyd Construction built a bridge whose design mirrored a nearby railroad bridge. Students cross over the below-grade rail bed on their way to physical education. A core belief of the VPS is that youth Arizona Contractor & Community





Nov-Dec 2019


Images courtesy of Vail Preservation Society

involvement raises young adults who value the historic resources in their communities and will actively engage in preservation. VPS worked to involve students, and more than 400 Cienega High School Construction Tech Joint Technical Education District (JTED) students participated. Construction Tech students and the Esmond Station Section Gang Museum Club (grades 5-8) were involved in research Top: Opening reception for the Section Foreman House, October 2018. Right: Construction Tech class photo, 2015. Below: Construction Tech students work on the building, 2015.

and decision-making about the interior and future uses of the building. They selected paint colors based upon their chosen date of significance. To give Vail students an understanding of how a historic preservation project was different from new construction, they took site visits to the 1915 Section Foreman House’s original location and watched film footage of the house’s first move in the 1960s. The students also listened to stories of the Haro family, who lived in the house students and teachers as it weaves a sense from 1927 until 1952. of place and local history into the fabric of The house now serves the needs of the school’s culture. An accessibility ramp, however, is needed to make the building accessible to all. VPS is working to raise $6,000 to purchase materials required: steel handrails, structural steel, welding supplies, steel mesh, powder coating, and Trex decking. Working with Construction Tech students, we plan to complete the ramp this fall. Together we can make what we believe to be, “The most significant and successful historical and educational restoration project in Arizona” accessible to every student. For additional information, email J.J. Lamb at vailpreservationsociety@gmail. com. Tax-deductible donations can be made at www.vailpreservationsociety. org//donation-form.

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Managing a Magazine – And a Construction Project William Horner


grader added more work, but it was also refreshing to return to my construction roots. I learned what’s involved in completing a small commercial project and the challenges of scheduling to finish on time. I was grateful for the opportunity. Top: Keystone Concrete Co., Mesa, handled curb and gutter work. Bottom left: Arizona Materials Co., Phoenix, delivered all concrete for the project. Bottom middle: Danny and Duane with Allstate Rent A Fence Co., Phoenix, which installed the project fence perimeter. Bottom right: I’m running the E&E Companies’ 1986 Cat 140G blade, cutting curb grade.

Images courtesy of Billy Horner

n 2019, I committed myself to working full-time as the publisher of Arizona Contractor & Community magazine. Then came an opportunity in the construction field that I couldn’t pass up. Tad Peters, a project manager from my former employer Ace Asphalt, asked me in June to take a part-time position managing a construction project in Scottsdale. Although I did not have prior management experience, I agreed to the challenge. Previously, I had operated a blade and

managed grading operations on projects with the assistance of a supervisor. This time, I would be supervising several subcontractors. The project, which was recently completed, is an auxiliary parking lot, connecting Top Golf and Hampton Inn near Talking Stick Way and the Loop 101. My new role was filled with phone calls and visits from field inspectors and subcontractors. These individuals had a wide range of personalities, but it was easier than manual labor in the sun, though I did some of that as well. While my main focus was keeping the subcontractors on schedule, I also elected to operate a blade on occasion. Running a

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Andrea Ake


ome would say the entrepreneurial journey for Daniel and Leane Owen has come full circle. They say they’re just getting started. Earlier this year, the husband-and-wife team founded Tenec Coatings, a contracting business offering concrete coatings installation, flooring removal, and specialty flooring services to residential, commercial, and industrial clients statewide. While this venture is new, the Owens are hardly new to the industry. The couple previously owned and operated Arizona Polymer Flooring (APF), a leading manufacturer of concrete coatings, which they grew from a local niche operation into a globally recognized brand known for quality and high performance. The Owens sold the company in 2018. “For nearly three decades, we had a challenging yet highly rewarding ride,” Daniel says. “We developed products and systems that met some of the toughest environmental demands, and we gained a fast and loyal following because we never wavered on the highest level of customer service or the quality of our materials, practices, or processes.” APF was originally founded in 1985 by Daniel’s parents, Dean and Carol Owen. As established concrete coating contractors, they sought to manufacture their own coatings that would better withstand the desert heat. They succeeded, and word about their superior products spread throughout the contracting community. Daniel literally grew up in the industry, sweeping the plant floors as a boy, and then moving on to serve in virtually every production, technical, and

leadership role within the company. He gained additional experience as a concrete coatings subcontractor during this time, fine tuning coating installation processes and gaining a deeper understanding of raw materials and chemistries used in the industry. He ultimately took over the business with Leane – a marketing and customer service expert – and together the couple transformed APF from a mom-andpop operation into a national powerhouse. “We reached the pinnacle, building an incredible team that delivered incredible products. For us, the excitement throughout our journey came from growing and refining the business,” said Leane. “The decision to turn the page wasn’t a sign of slowing down, but a sign that we were ready for a new adventure.” With an entrepreneurial fire burning inside, the Owens dabbled with a few new business ideas in other trades. Yet Leane says that venturing outside of the concrete coatings industry – an industry they knew intimately and completely – just didn’t feel right. “After careful thought, we decided to dive into contracting, where APF got its start. But this time, we were launching with a lifetime of learnings from the

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manufacturing side.” Invigorated, the Owens have set out to do it all again, refocusing their energy on the contracting side of the industry in an effort to elevate the level of service and technique available to homeowners and businesses throughout Arizona and the Southwest. “We come to the table with a deep understanding of the products, equipment, installation processes and resources that are necessary to complete any job,” Daniel added. “We really do thrive on new challenges. It’s the successful troubleshooting that makes the job so rewarding.” Tenec Coatings offers a wide range of concrete coating installation and specialty flooring services, from traditional offerings such as a decorative overlay, color chip flooring, and metallic coatings, to more complex projects involving flooring removal, concrete moisture remediation, and concrete polishing. For more information, see

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Jim Beito, Insearch Corp. Founder, Passes Away



time, we were running multiple jobs per day. She did a fantastic job ensuring her projects were always on schedule. Heather, too, has worn many hats with the company while learning the business. She has been doing an exceptional job for some years as Director of Marketing and Estimating. From the early days under Dad’s leadership, the company has grown tremendously. We enjoyed success recycling concrete and asphalt as the Galaxy Corp., and with Eclipse, our maintenance division. Singularly, Insearch’s sales before the Great Recession topped $20 million annually. Our father was a caring and vibrant man full of life! This vitality was especially apparent in the later years when he didn’t have to be involved in most company decisions. Relinquishing those duties tends to do that, which it certainly did with him. We are ecstatic he was able to enjoy his retirement, albeit too short. Early on, Dad insisted that both myself and Heather learn all aspects of the company, for which we are forever grateful. Since then, we’re able to share the same vision with the rest of our team members. We are honored to continue Dad’s legacy being the supplier of popular choice in the Valley. Dad was a wonderful inspirational leader and a true friend, who will be missed dearly by many! Chad Beito President/Owner Top left: Jim Beito. Bottom left: Jim with Insearch Corp. truck. Below: Chad and Heather with their father, Jim.

Images courtesy of Author

he founder of Insearch Corp. and our beloved father, Jim Beito, passed away at age 75 after a recent resurgence of melanoma. The cancer was initially diagnosed in 2016 and was in remission for nearly three years. Our father’s rapid health turn and ultimate passing took us by surprise. Dad grew up in a small farm town in

Minnesota; he expected to become a farmer like many of his friends and family. One fateful day, however, he encountered Tom Buesing, Jerry’s brother, at a gas station. The brothers had recently started a trucking business in Minneapolis and had just ordered their third truck. The company needed another driver, so my father took the job. Dad worked with Jerry for 27 years, eventually becoming an executive in his company. Not bad for farm kid without a college degree. In the early 1990s, he entered the vending machine business using the type that dispensed a handful of candy for a quarter. He would place a picture of a missing child on the machine to help locate them; hence, the name Insearch was born. In 1993 Dad returned to construction, the business that he loved. He did an astounding one million dollars in sales that first year, with only our mother helping out part-time with the invoicing. The following year, I joined Dad in the company as a laborer in the field. I was promoted to General Superintendent and, after many years, worked as an estimator and in other office administrative positions. After years of faithful guidance by my father, I was promoted to President in 2006. Heather, my sister, joined the firm in 1996 and also worked in the field. By that

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Luke Snell


his article is the second part of a piece in which I review some construction materials mentioned in the Bible. In the first installment, I discussed cypress wood and fired brick. In this article, I’ll cover adobe brick and the iron nail. Mud/Adobe Bricks (Part of the Exodus story - Exodus 5: 6-9)

Images courtesy of Author

Mud bricks, also called sun-dried or adobe bricks, have been used for centuries. They are easy to make, as clay is combined with some type of reinforcement. The account given in the Bible indicates that the Israelites living in Egypt were required to make bricks, and used straw gathered by others for support. When they asked to have three days for a religious retreat, the Pharaoh was angered. As punishment, he required that they make the same quota of bricks while also gathering the straw themselves. This punishment appears to be “the straw that broke the camel’s back,” and set in motion the famous Exodus story. So, what is mud brick, and why is straw so important? Mud bricks were used for low-income housing in Egypt. Important buildings, such as temples, pyramids, and palaces, were made of stone. Many of these structures still exist today, and we marvel at their engineering and construction. To build these structures required thousands of workers at the job site. This created a

need for inexpensive housing near each significant project, which required mud bricks. Archeologists have uncovered the remains of many ancient houses constructed with mud bricks, though these discoveries rarely make the news. The mud bricks made by Egyptians are composed of clay gathered from the Nile River, put into molds, and left out in the sun to dry. Egypt was an ideal environment for their manufacture, with its arid, desert environment. Each brick would be about 4 x 8 x 12 inches and weigh about 25 pounds. Nile clay is extremely fine, and the straw acts as a reinforcement to help hold the brick together, and it also provides chimneys or vents to allow the interior of the block to dry out. Mud bricks are energyefficient material and continue to be widely used in hot, dry areas around the world. Nails (Building the Temple - 1 Chronicles 22:3) Religious structures have been created by some of the finest construction. The engineers and contractor are building to honor their religious belief, and ensure the best designs and materials are used. The building of the first temple in Israel is no exception. Under King David, people wanted a place of worship. To build this temple, they brought together some of the finest craftsmen, the best stone and wood, and used iron nails. The recorder of the temple construction called attention to the nails because 3,000 years ago, iron nails were rare, as their manufacture was difficult. Iron nails were a significant improvement


Construction in the Bible - Materials

over bronze nails, which were common at the time. Thus, iron nails were selected for what they considered to be their most important construction project. About 2,000 years ago, after Romans conquered parts of England, they set up blacksmith shops at each of their forts. Part of the blacksmith’s responsibility was to make nails. In the fifth century, Rome pulled its troops from England to deal with conflicts closer to home. Nails were too bulky to bring back to Rome, yet the Romans were concerned that the barbarians would use leftover nails to make weapons. They hoped to return to reclaim England at a later date and did not want to fight a well-equipped army that had iron weapons. Thus, the Romans buried the nails, and many were unearthed in the 20th century. Nails were considered so crucial in Colonial America, that when people moved, they would burn down their house to recover their nails. Nails were handmade; families would hammer them out in the evening by the fireplace. Thomas Jefferson wrote that he made his own nails for his farm at Monticello. Today, nails are so common that it is cheaper for a carpenter to take a new nail from his pouch than pick up a dropped one. This fact makes you wonder why so many of us keep a jar of old bent nails in our garages. Most of us would likely buy new nails rather than take the time to straighten and reuse our old nails. This practice is probably one we learned from our parents or grandparents, who went through the Great Depression.

Top: Handmade iron nails from the Roman era. Bottom: A tomb painting illustrating brick making in Egypt.

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’ve written about the importance of a vendor payments strategy for companies in today’s business climate. But the reality is it’s twice as imperative for construction companies to implement this process because the industry’s payment challenges are more significant – and so is the opportunity. Payments are at the center of two critical areas of the construction business—vendor relationships and job progress. So, getting strategic about how you pay can make a big impact. What exactly is a payments strategy? In the check-centered world of the past, it meant managing float, capturing earlypay discounts, and/or shifting some payments to a credit card to get rebates. Today it means using intelligent payments automation to get the most leverage from every payment you make. Beyond replacing checks It starts with eliminating paper checks—but it doesn’t end there. You have to think strategically about how you’re going to replace them. First, you want to encourage as many vendors as possible to take virtual card payments. Explicitly designed for AP (Accounts Payable), virtual cards offer the convenience and rebates of credit cards along with an extra level of security. You can sign up any vendors that won’t accept a credit card for ACH (Automated Clearing House) payments. After that, only holdouts that absolutely won’t take any form of electronic payment should get a paper check. Sounds easy, right? It’s not, for two reasons—workflow and vendor enablement. Workflow changes can mean extra work For years, businesses have tried to eliminate paper checks, with only moderate success. Merely adding a card product or bank-provided ACH hasn’t gotten them across the finish line because those solutions only move money electronically. They don’t help reduce the necessary front-end work to get to the point of payment. Ironically, introducing payment types like card and ACH solutions on their own can actually add more workflows and complexity to the process. That’s one reason construction companies are still mostly check-based. They’re already managing lien releases, progress payments, and job-cost accounting on top of the usual AP process. Adding

more workflows for electronic payments is the last thing they need. The vendor enablement challenge The other factor that’s kept businesses from going electronic is the task of vendor enablement. All you need to pay any vendor by check is their name and address. But electronic payments require you to know who will accept a card or ACH—and getting that information is a lot of work. Besides that, to pay vendors who agree to accept ACH, you need to collect, securely store, and maintain their banking information. Most AP departments don’t have the resources to add comprehensive, ongoing vendor enablement, and data security to their workload. Construction companies face even more significant vendor-enablement challenges. Every job is almost like a mini-company, with different owners and different business entities, localized vendors, and an ever-changing roster of local and specialty subcontractors. I’ve sold AP solutions for over a decade, and I’ve never seen an industry with as much payment complexity as construction. At the same time, construction also faces low-profit margins and scarce IT resources and sees fit to spend most technology investment in field operations. Further, with many construction companies run by founding families, the tradition of the owner signing every check dies hard. Not just for consumers Here’s the good news: just as they did with consumer payments, technology companies have stepped up to go beyond moving money electronically. Automated payment solutions enable you to make every type of payment from a single interface. There’s just one workflow— deciding which invoices to pay and clicking the “pay” button. You don’t even have to know how a vendor wants to get paid. Solution providers now use cloud-based networks to handle vendor enablement and information management at scale—and a lot of your vendors are probably already part of their networks. Plus, the cloud lets providers integrate their solutions into your ERP or accounting system with just a few hours of IT time. These new financial technology systems can help most businesses reach 80 percent or more electronic payments. It’s a project that pays for itself quickly and frees up AP time for other initiatives. Early electronic-payment adopters in construction have found that being able to pay vendors on time consistently with full remittance data helps them attract


Why Your Construction Company Needs a Payments Strategy Brent Meyers

top subcontractors to bid on their jobs. They can also enable field supervisors to approve payments in the cloud while on their job sites, which saves tons of time and helps keep tasks moving. Positioning for the future Although construction lags other industries in adopting technology in general, it’s not far behind in terms of payment automation. Many companies are often slow to adopt electronic payments because they’re unaware of new automation solutions. For years, bank and card products have been the only game in town, even though they haven’t solved for all the complexity surrounding payments. Things have changed, and a lot is coming down the pike, including innovations in accounts receivable, trade finance, and dynamic discounting. As payments become automated in the cloud, companies are gaining enough visibility and speed in invoicing and payments to leverage these advanced programs. Even if you’re still heavy into checks, you’re not a long way from being able to capitalize on new technology solutions. So, it’s time to start thinking strategically about payments—not just as paying bills or shifting from paper to electronic. Think about payments as an area where you can leverage technology to increase value and get out on the leading edge of back-office innovation.

Brent Meyers is the Vice President of National Sales for Nvoicepay. His extensive knowledge of the accounts payable industry includes regulation compliance and expense reporting solutions. Brent has held positions in accounts payable, claims, and credit cards, both on the merchant and issuing side. He is an accredited Payables Solutions Consultant through The Accounts Payable Network and a Certified Purchasing Card Professional through the National Association of Purchasing Card Professionals. Arizona Contractor & Community

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Back When

H & J Construction’s “Ranger”



Top: Linda Sue Riskas (right) posing for the Lew King Show, mid 1950s. Right: Lew King (right) interviewing Wayne Newton for KOY radio, early 1960s.

Image courtesy

Image courtesy of Riskas family

of Arizona Contr actor & Comm unity

hoenix appeared to be very-much a law-abiding city after World War II when Lew King deputized more than 200,000 children as “Rangers” from 1948 to 1973. King gave the kids a badge, which obliged them to be good citizens, during his musical talent show at the Fox Theater. The show was later broadcast on radio and TV. Future stars who had their start on the show include Lynda Carter, Vonda Kay Van Dyke, Linda Day George, Wayne and Jerry Newton, Marty Robbins, and Tanya Tucker. Linda Sue Riskas was among the young talent that shared the stage with the “Rascals in Rhythm,” as the Newton brothers were billed. Linda Sue was the daughter of John Riskas, Sr., who co-founded H & J Construction in Phoenix. She became a local celebrity at the age of four and appeared regularly on the Lew King Show. Linda Sue performed in several productions at the Phoenix Little Theater and starred at a Christmas party held for 8,000 people at the Goodyear Aircraft Corporation in Litchfield Park. She modeled in fashion shows at the Arizona Manor and Uptown Plaza, and for newspaper ads. After her show business career, she attended Camelback High School and Northern Arizona University, before working in real estate in the title insurance field. Linda Sue was an expert in difficult title closings and retired as vice president for U.S. Life Title in 2001. She passed away in 2017 and is survived by her brother, John J. Riskas Jr.

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The Riskas of H & J Construction:

Innovators in Building William Horner


$9,000 capital and a used Studebaker truck. The brothers initially completed every job themselves, utilizing their carpentry experience acquired in the Midwest and afterward during World War II. But 14 years later, when H & J Construction moved its operations from

Image courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

ne of the Valley’s most innovative mid-century construction companies was started in 1949 on a shoestring budget by brothers, Harry and John Riskas. The office of H & J Construction Co. was a converted barbershop, and Betty Riskas, John’s wife, provided much of their

Phoenix to the Bay Area, things were different. The company had up to 1,500 employees on the payroll. The tale of how H & J Construction became so successful so quickly corresponds to their pioneering methods that dovetailed with the Valley’s explosive growth. The H & J Construction story starts with their father, James Riskas, who immigrated from Corinth, Greece to Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1905. He was in the construction business until retiring in 1947, when he moved to Phoenix. James and his wife, Ann Marie, had three daughters, Sofie, Marie, and Helen, and three sons Tom J., Harry J., and John J.

Nov-Dec 2019

ity Images courtesy of Arizo na Contractor & Commun

Tom Riskas, who was discharged from the Army after landing at Normandy on D-day, followed his father to Phoenix and started Riskas Construction. The company built several homes around Phoenix starting in the late 1940s. He hired his brothers, Harry and John, as carpenters. In 1949, the brothers split from the family business to open H & J Construction. “Their one-room office was once Red’s Barber Shop at 16th Street and Camelback,” says John J. Riskas Jr., John’s son. “Dad was a field guy and a true craftsman while Harry was more the businessman.” The company started with small projects, such as custom houses, and later built housing sub-divisions. By 1952, H & J Construction focused on commercial construction, particularly motels. Harry was born in 1920 in Wisconsin and educated in Indiana. Six months before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Harry joined the Navy and served as a fighter pilot in the South Pacific during World War II until being discharged in 1946. He completed his education in uniform, attending three institutions: DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana; Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington; and the U.S. Naval Air University in Jacksonville, Florida. John, the younger brother, was born in 1922. He also was stationed at Top: H & J President Harry Riskas and H & J Pearl Harbor as a member of the U.S. Executive Vice President John Riskas (l-r). Merchant Marine but spent most of

Above: The hardhat of John Riskas. Left: Construction of the Frontier Gardens Apartments in Phoenix, 1960.

the war as a machinist building B-17s in a former Studebaker plant in Fort Wayne. It was there he met Betty Beber, who then became his wife and lifetime partner. With his experience in industrial construction, John designed improved methods of scheduling sub-contractors. He directed the company’s on-the-job operations in the critical early phases of building and was recognized as an expert in handling concrete. John pioneered the development of pre-cast concrete slabs, which increased efficiency. “He laid out the construction schedule and materials, and the crews went to work,” his son says. “I remember going to the Frontier Gardens Apartments in Phoenix with Dad and riding on a forklift with him. He brought me up in construction.” H & J Construction considered prestressed concrete floors both expensive and unsatisfactory. John devised a method of casting concrete slabs to the proper size and, using only simple forms, stacking them atop one another like a layer cake. When the slabs cured, a large crane lifted them into place. This method was revolutionary, requiring only an oil-type spray between layers to prevent slabs from sticking together. This simple solution solved a complicated problem that had plagued builders for decades. In 1959, John’s methods enabled the company to complete the construction of Arizona Contractor & Community

A Retrospective of H & J’s Projects 1947-1962 (see page 58 for listing of buildings and signs)

Image courtesy of World Wide Web

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Clockwise from the top: Three projects built by H & J Construction: the Camelback West Shopping Center at 37th Avenue and Camelback Road (1957), the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, WA (1962), and a Sprouse-Reitz variety store in Scottsdale (1954). Left: John Riskas, Jr., president of Riskas Construction Corp, 2018. Bottom left: Riskas Construction Corp fleet in Boynton, Florida, 2019. Bottom right: Blue Martini in Orlando, Florida built by Riskas Construction Corp, 2019.

preliminary plans were ready within 15 days. By the early 1960s, H & J Construction had offices in New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Houston, as well as its headquarters in Phoenix. The company had an estimated 400 employees on payroll and, depending

Images courtesy of John J. Riskas, Jr.

the Caravan East, a 233-unit motel at 3323 East Van Buren Street in an astounding 154 days. Similarly, the company completed a 144-unit Ramada Inn located in Albuquerque in less than 90 days, when typical construction time was six months. “At one time, H & J Construction owned 25 percent of Ramada Inn’s stock,” John Jr. says. H & J Construction specialized in “packaging” projects for their clients, a groundbreaking idea at the time. The firm expanded in 1959 to include their subsidiary, EDCO Engineering and Development. Harry, the company president, assisted prospective clients with their proposals, including financing and construction. Financial estimators and architects suggested cost-saving ideas, and

Thirty four

Nov-Dec 2019

Image courtesy of Kim Riskas Marshall

California,” she says. “I’m working for Dean Riskas, the son of Tom Riskas, Harry and John’s older brother. My business is named The Contractor’s Daughter.” John Riskas and his son, John Jr., formed Westwind Construction Co. in 1975 and built restaurants and mid-rise office buildings in Los Angeles. They constructed 18 of the famous Hamburger Hamlet Chain establishments throughout L.A., and in Georgetown, D.C., and worked together until John Sr. died at age 82 in 2000. John Riskas Jr. Kim Riskas Marshall, owner of “The Contractor’s Daughter,” 2019. has served since on the workload, up to 1,500. They built more than 5,000 hotel and motel rooms across the country including Yavapai Lodge at the Grand Canyon, and the Thunderbird Motel at the San Francisco Airport. By 1961, the company had completed almost $60 million in construction projects, including apartments, motels, hotels, shopping centers, industrial buildings, custom homes, commercial buildings, housing subdivisions, and government buildings. Corporate clients included: Fred Harvey, Remington-Rand, Ramada Inn, Hi-Way House Motor Hotels, O’Malley Investment Company, Allied Hotels, Ltd., Dream Inns, Inc., and The Wolf Corporation. “Despite the success of H & J Construction, the company suffered from labor shortages, strikes, and financial problems,” John Jr. says. During this period, the company won two large building contracts in Seattle. The Edgewater Hotel, a $4 million, 176-room hotel that was the city’s first built over water, and an 11-story office building and accompanying 400-car parking garage. H & J Construction moved their headquarters to Millbrae, California in 1963. The Elfrida Investment Co. purchased their Phoenix office building at 1722 East Indian School Road. After relocation, Harry and John announced the company’s name change to Pacific Western Developers. The company continued until 1975 when John and Harry parted ways. Harry remained in the Bay Area and entered the investment business. He died at age 90 in 2010 and is survived by his wife, Joan, and daughter, Kim Riskas Marshall. Kim often visited construction sites with her Dad and Uncle John. “I particularly remember taking a construction elevator to the top floor of a condominium building that they built in Burlingame, CA when I was a little girl, around 1970,” she says. Kim works as an owner’s representative and on-site project manager. “My first project is a residential remodel in Atherton,

2009 as president of Riskas Construction Corp. in Boynton Beach, Florida. He has built nationally for almost two decades for The Cheesecake Factory, The Blue Martini, Allen Edmonds, Perfumania, and Apple Spice. Portraits of the three Riskas brothers adorn his office wall. “I call them my ‘Guardian Angels,’” he says. H & J Construction is long gone from Arizona but not forgotten, due to their innovative construction techniques and impressive commercial structures. And their descendants continue to thrive in the industry.

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Glenn A. McCollum: Arizona’s Mid-Century Mall Marvel John Bueker


hen legendary Chandler architect Glenn A. McCollum was asked by developer Grant Malouf to design the Westown Shopping City mall in the late 1950s, his immediate reaction was one of legitimate practical concern. “I told them not to build it there,” he said. “There was no way to get off the freeway!” Built on the barren, tumbleweedladen frontier miles north of Phoenix

civilization along I-17 in 1960, Westown was the beloved neighborhood shopping mall of my childhood. And while freeway access was ultimately arranged for the center, there is no question that its remote location was a visionary development. It also foreshadowed the explosive growth the Phoenix metropolitan area would soon undergo. McCollum gave the new shopping

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Nov-Dec 2019

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mall his signature modernist mid-century flair with sleek lines, unusual angles, and an innovative corrugated walkway shade structure. He used a unique juxtaposition of building materials including wood, glass, metal, flagstone, and pre-cast concrete to accomplish this. It was a beautifully designed project, and for us living in the new Westown and Surrey Heights subdivisions, the mall was a veritable oasis of our far-flung community. And so, it was with a sense of honor that I accepted an invitation earlier this year to attend a celebration of McCollum’s architectural career at the Vision Gallery in Chandler. The well-attended event allowed me to meet the remarkable man who designed the hallowed shopping center of

my youth. In the process, I learned more about his background, career path, and exceptional contributions to mid-century architecture in Arizona. Operating from his home base in Chandler, McCollum’s career spanned 35 years from 1954 to 1989 and involved nearly 500 architectural projects throughout Arizona. Each design was entirely hand drawn. McCollum’s journey in preparation for this astounding career is an inspiring story. Born in Chanute, Kansas in 1926, McCollum displayed at an early age an architect’s love of drawing and marked infatuation with buildings of every variety. After a stint in the Air Force during World War II, he stopped in Mesa to visit his brother on his journey back home. McCollum took a marked fancy to his surroundings. “I asked myself, ‘Why am I going back to Kansas?’” he remembers. McCollum made the fateful decision to Left: A rendering of Papago Plaza at Scottsdale and McDowell roads, 1959. Top: Papago Plaza sign, 2019. Top right: Papago Plaza grand opening ad in the Scottsdale Daily Progress, 1959. Above: John Bueker and Glenn McCollum in 2019.

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Left: Tri City Mall grand opening ad in the

remain in the Valley and pursue his dream of becoming an architect. McCollum began his path through higher education with an arduous daily commute from Chandler to Phoenix

Thirty eight

Scottsdale Daily Progress, 1968. College for two years. He then transferred Above: Penneys at Tri City Mall, 1968. to Arizona State College (now ASU) to complete his degree. Since the school did step in the long road to his ultimate goal. not offer diplomas in architecture at that Without an architectural degree, time, McCollum majored in mathematics. McCollum was obliged to complete four But college graduation was only the first years of work under a registered architect before he could apply for licensure in Arizona. He first worked for acclaimed architect Kemper Goodwin and then secured employment from 1950-54 with the prominent Phoenix architects Lescher and Mahoney, who were students of Frank Lloyd Wright. After four challenging years of apprenticeship, McCollum qualified to sit for his architectural licensing test in 1954, which was quite the formidable examination. “It was a 5-day written exam,” he remembers, “and I had to know all of the trades: plumbing, electrical, and mechanical. On the last day, I had to design a complete project. The room was full of architects and engineers, and I was the only one who passed!” McCollum opened his first office at 554 North Arizona Avenue in Chandler in 1954. Over the years, he designed homes, apartment complexes, churches, schools, banks, restaurants, businesses, and city buildings. But his primary architectural legacy might be shopping centers. While the Westown center is of personal significance, McCollum also designed a pair of more high-profile Valley shopping malls, which were also developed by Malouf Enterprises: Tri-City Mall in Mesa and Papago Plaza in Scottsdale.

Nov-Dec 2019

Tri-City Mall, which opened in 1968 at Main Street and Dobson Road, derived its name from servicing the three major cities of the East Valley: Tempe, Mesa, and Chandler. The 500,000 square-foot mall was the first enclosed shopping center in the East Valley and had a layout similar to the popular Chris-Town Mall. Tri-City incorporated multiple major anchors and a medley of retailers and restaurants, with a J.C. Penney in the central mall, graced by an elegant fountain array. Interestingly, McCollum gave Tri-City a somewhat more eclectic architectural flavor than Chris-Town, with a lovely series of decorative arches incorporated within a vertical lattice structure enclosing the Diamonds department store. Tri-City Mall was a popular destination, but its fate was sealed when the nearby Fiesta Mall opened in 1979. Tri-City closed in 1998 and was demolished to make way for a scaleddown strip mall called the Tri-City Pavilions. Papago Plaza, on the other hand, remains on the corner of Scottsdale and McDowell roads in Scottsdale. But it will soon be gone too. Papago Plaza opened in 1959, and the 11-acre site is slated to be demolished and replaced by a mixed-use project that will include a grocery store, retail space, restaurants, a hotel, and 260 apartment units. But Papago Plaza had quite a run. Amusingly, Malouf’s proposal for Papago Plaza was greeted with much the same skepticism as to their Westown project. “It’s a crazy idea, the location is too far out,” being a typical reaction. The plaza initially consisted of 100,000 square feet of retail space anchored by that familiar trio of businesses that would soon echo across town in Westown and other Valley locations: A.J. Bayless, Ryan-Evans, and T.G. & Y. The architectural style of Papago Plaza was influenced by the Southwestern motifs already popular in Scottsdale. McCollum added a low-elevation building design, an unusual canopy styling, and Kachina dolls as a decorative symbol. Interestingly, Papago Plaza was the first all-electric shopping center constructed in Arizona. The original merchants of the center outlined their space and utility requirements for McCollum, which he integrated into a massive electrical system plan implemented by the engineering firm of Baker & Moody. The Arizona Republic marveled that Papago Plaza would be illuminated by the equivalent of “200 miles of residential street lighting.” Sadly, most of Papago Plaza’s decaying structure is now fenced off. Only a handful

of lingering businesses, such as Mika’s Greek restaurant, still operate within the walls of those iconic pink adobe buildings. Soon it will be gone, joining its longdeparted neighbor Los Arcos Mall across Scottsdale Road. Vanished and vanishing shopping centers aside, however, most of McCollum’s architectural achievements are still extant. One example is the splendid contemporary Gothic Revival style Church of the Nazarene in Chandler. The structure, which required a decade from design to completion, was built from blond and red, wire-cut brick

and occupied an entire city block. “We went clear to Texas to select the brick,” he recalls. This meticulous attention to detail and commitment to innovation exemplified McCollum’s career. Only now am I beginning to fully appreciate the scope of unique talent and gifted foresight that went into the Westown Shopping City design that I thought I knew so well. “I always tried to do things differently,” McCollum observes when musing over his prolific body of work. And so, he did.

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The Layton Paver: Adding Blacktop One Driveway at a Time William Horner


company founded in Salem, Oregon in 1960 was destined to change the lives of Arizona paving contractors within the decade. Its namesake, Jack D. Layton, founded the Layton Manufacturing Co. He was called “…an ambitious entrepreneur always striving for new and better methods,” according to an article that


year in the Capital Journal. The company referred to itself as a “paving equipment specialist,” and would soon perfect the Layton paver. “The Layton paver was ideal for paving small-to-medium size jobs,” says Roman Candelaria, co-owner of RoBil Contracting, founded in 1968. The small “box paver” fit

the company’s needs for the Phoenix-area jobs they specialized in. “The machine would lay a 12-inch pass perfect for private driveways and custom homes,” he says. “We did many jobs in and around Camelback Mountain.” The machine would go on to have an impressive 30-year run before being retired, all thanks to the engineering genius of Jack D. Layton. Layton was born in Salem in 1934. He joined the Operating Engineers, Local 701 out of Oregon in the early 1950s, and spent six years operating cable shovels, dozers, and asphalt machines and rollers. Layton spent his last two years with contractors running motor-graders and LeTourneau electric scrapers. At this time, Layton developed concepts of how to improve Nov-Dec 2019

Images courtesy of Ajax Images courtesy of Arizona Contrctor & Community

equipment engineering. In 1955, Layton founded the Douglas Paving Co., where he operated lay down machines and asphalt rollers, paving projects around Oregon. He also constructed his first asphalt plant, with a capacity of 30 tons per hour. Layton then changed vocations and moved to the Bay Area in 1958. He worked as a draftsman for a large steel fabrication company based in Richmond, CA. Layton eventually became a junior design engineer and craftsman, building jigs and fixtures. In 1959, Layton moved back to Salem to launch Layton Manufacturing at 4792 Silverton Road NE. His father, Harold Layton, served as secretary-treasurer. The company manufactured heavy equipment

for highway and street paving, such as rollers and other paving-related machines. They sold 75 truck-pulled pavers to local contractors in their first year. The company’s focus, however, was creating a low-cost, self-propelled asphalt paving machine, which became the Layton paver. A contractor in Lake Oswego, OR bought the prototype machine. Layton pavers quickly became popular throughout the region for small projects. By the early 1960s, Layton Manufacturing was selling small paver units to contractors, and state, county, and city governments across the globe. The company expanded in 1963 and constructed a new $60,000 plant in a 16,000 square-foot site located on Turner

Left: Jack Layton at the Chicago ConExpo, showing his paving equipment line, 1969. Top: Ajax Contracting paving with a Layton box at the Southwest Tire Co. parking lot on South Central Avenue, 1964. Above left: United Materials paving the Fan-Western Industrial Park on 35th Avenue south of Buckeye Road, 1966. Above right: Ajax Contracting paving in Phoenix, 1970s.

Road southeast of Salem. “The new site was needed because of the firm’s intention to expand production of asphaltic paving equipment,” Layton told the Capital Journal that year. “The firm, which presently employs 20 persons, expects to manufacture more than 500 low-cost pavers in the next year and is currently negotiating with a European company to build an additional 300 more.” Arizona Contractor & Community

ing reported an 80 percent increase in sales from the previous year. The firm had more than 150 dealers in the U.S., along with additional foreign representatives. In Arizona, the Layton dealer was the Western Machinery Co. (WEMCO), located at 820 North 17th Avenue in Phoenix. A new Layton machine weighed around 2,500 pounds, and cost $4,500-$7,000, depending on the model and year. “We owned three small box pavers, two Laytons, and one Fordlane,” Candelaria recalls. “These small pavers didn’t have a drive system. The Fordlane was our first

and would attach to the back of a dump truck to be hauled from job to job. The Layton box we bought new from WEMCO, and it had an attachment arm centered on the machine, where you could pull it from job to job by a pickup truck.” During paving operations, the Layton would hook to the inner wheels of a dump truck to be pulled around the project. When Candelaria went into business with partner Bill Sudbrack to form RoBil Contracting, the two had to economize and find their paving niche. The larger companies owned larger laydown paving



At the 1969 ConExpo in Chicago, IL, Layton Manufacturing was one of the few Oregon companies displaying equipment. During the four-day, billion-dollar construction equipment trade show, Layton presented his paver machines to 80,000 contractors from around the world. Along with his signature paver, the company introduced two new paving roller lines and a rubber-tired asphalt paver. In the late 1960s, Layton Manufactur-

Images courtesy of RoBil

Left: RoBil Contracting operating their Layton box in Phoenix, 1980s; Bill Sudbrack (green shirt) is the operator in the top right image.


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2004, adding Stevens Equipment Company, Welliver Metals Co., and A.B. McLauchlan. These new equipment lines shifted from asphalt paving to industrial food processing and rebranded the company, Layton Systems. The Layton paver line ceased production in 2013. Two years later, John Layton died at the age of 60 in a small plane crash. His father passed away in 2019 at age 84. Their legacy remains, however, including the many asphalt driveways on Camelback Mountain.

Left: An upgraded Layton paver still in use today. Right: Layton box paver for sale at $400.

machines for heavy highway and subdivision work. The small box paver, however, was perfect for RoBil’s small, private driveway jobs. Candelaria says that their earlier Layton box was all manually controlled by hand, whereas RoBil’s second Layton had a battery to control various functions. “For the manual setup, after every pass, individual jacks were used to shut off the asphalt flow,” he says. “This was just a lot of work, as this process was done each time.” Paving parking lots, streets, and drives has always taken a lot of effort no matter the machinery. Candelaria insists though that the Layton box was a better paver for their applications. RoBil’s paving operations had an allstar lineup. Steve Johnson, their longtime employee, ran the right side of the paver, and Sudbrack operated the driver side, directing the dump trucks. After their crews fine graded and detailed the jobs, the same team would switch from grading equipment to paving equipment and dump trucks. This procedure was a common practice for smaller companies during the 1970s and 80s. RoBil used their Layton box for almost 30 years until a City of Glendale inspector made them stop using the paver. The official demanded that they use a machine with automatic controls. Over the years RoBil traded out equipment, and eventually, another local paving contractor purchased their last Layton box paver. “Once we stopped using the Layton box, we never purchased another paving machine,” Candelaria says. “From the mid-2000s on, we rented paving crews and dump trucks for all our paving work.” Jack Layton remained president and CEO of his company until 1995, when his son, John, assumed ownership. During those 35 years, Layton Manufacturing obtained 19 U.S. patents and one foreign patent for paving and grading equipment. John Layton expanded the company in

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Tempe’s Haunted Temple of TB Healing at Papago Park Douglas Towne


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Clockwise from top left: The Arizona State Tuberculosis Hospital under construction; the hospital’s dedication; and the finished hospital building, 1934. Above: Kitchell-Phillips building the new Arizona State Tuberculosis Hospital in Tempe, 1963.

ne person’s health-care facility is another’s haunted house. Or so it seems with the former Arizona State Tuberculosis (TB) Hospital in Tempe in Papago Park. The 26,000 square-foot TB facility opened in 1935 at a desert location described at the time as “seven miles east of Phoenix.” The sanitarium was built by the Civil Works and the Federal Emergency Relief Administration for $185,000. These federal job programs created during the Great Depression provided critical employment. “Uncle Sam’s gift to the state of Arizona,” said the Maricopa County Board of Public Welfare in a 1934 Arizona Republic article. Architect Edward Morgan designed the 75-bed sanitarium in a Moorish Revival style with a dome, minarets, and arched windows. Machinery was not used in the construction of the building to increase the number of workers on the job. The structure was described as “hand-made.” The sanitarium had wards for men, women, and children that featured rounded walls, so there were no unsanitary dust-gathering corners. “If there’s a better plastering job anywhere, I’ll eat the whole sanitarium,” Mr. Stolbert, superintendent of construction, said. Specialized medical equipment was located in the basement. Arizona Governor Benjamin Moeur, a Tempe doctor, helped dedicate the new facility, which replaced another located “in the shadow of the packing plant east of Phoenix.” By the early 1960s, the sanitarium had been condemned by the Tempe Fire Department, State Board of Health, and State Planning and Building Commission. The building was razed in 1964 and its basement filled-in to become the parking lot for an adjacent facility. In 1962, the Arizona Legislature voted to fund the new 173-bed Arizona State TB Hospital, which included 40 beds for children. Kitchell-Phillips Contractors, Inc. won the contract with a $2.24 million bid, exclusive of foundation work already completed. Kemper Goodwin of Tempe was the architect. The H-shaped, threestory brick building was located at 200 East Curry Road at the intersection of Mill Avenue. A few months before construction Arizona Contractor & Community

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Left: The Arizona State Tuberculosis Hospital in Tempe, 1967. Above: ASU Community Services Building, 2019.




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bids were accepted, however, there was a snag. For many years, the State Health Department had assumed, incorrectly, that the state owned the land. This problem was overcome when the federal Bureau of Land Management deeded the 22.9-acre property to the state, according to a 1962 Republic article. The new hospital cost $3.25 million when fully furnished and featured two on-staff physicians. Many of Maricopa County’s 192 home-bound TB patients relocated there. The hospital’s grand opening was on March 1964, with 83 patients moved from the adjacent facility. Dr. J. Whitelaw Birss, the sanatorium administrator, told the Republic that, “The keys that turn the locks to recovery are medicine and surgery.” The new hospital was predicted to fill soon. A 170-person staff with an annual payroll of $0.5 million ran the facility. Surprisingly, tobacco use was allowed. “Smoking isn’t good for anyone,” Dr. Birss said. “We do not recommend it, but we find it difficult to prevent smoking except in critical areas where oxygen is in use or surgery is underway.” But the State Tuberculosis Hospital never reached capacity. In 1968, Maricopa County moved 22 TB patients to the sanitarium to free up beds at the county hospital. The Republic article noted that new treatment options had made TB hospitals mostly obsolete. By 1974, the TB sanitarium was closed, and the building became Arizona’s first children’s hospital. ASU bought the building for $1 in the 1980s and now houses the university’s Community Services Building. It seems, however, that the building retains aspects of its past use. Although the building is only a half a century old, it was named one of the school’s “spookiest spots” in a 2018 State Press article. Reports include items falling off shelves, doors closing, and the sounds of children playing in the halls. Nov-Dec 2019

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Building on the Past 1961: Scottsdale’s executive house hotel


cottsdale went “hi-fi” in 1961 when the Executive House Arizonian opened in the “West’s Most Western Town.” The $3 million, 210-room resort at 4823 North Scottsdale Road, located just north of Camelback Road, was built with five wings facing a central patio. The Chicago-based hotel chain had outlets in Chicago, Washington D.C., Memphis, Puerto Rico, Aruba, and Dutch Guinea. Resort amenities included two swimming pools, a sun deck, and a nine-hole putting green. Sustenance was provided by the Sun Dial coffee shop, while the upscale Fountain Room offered dancing along with dining. The glass-enclosed La Roca cocktail

lounge dispensed adult beverages overlooking a rock garden and waterfall. The resort, however, was most proud of their rooms’ interior features, according to an article in The Arizona Republic in 1961. These conveniences included a refrigerator, coffeemaker, and a mirrored panel that opened to produce an ironing board and iron, the latter of which shut off thanks to an automatic timer. The owners of the Executive House Arizonian selected interior design and custom furniture specialists from their hometown. However, the firm went local with their contractor, H & J Construction Co., Inc., and architect

Barrie H. Groen of Edco Architectural Co., Inc. Construction consisted of concrete, block-bearing walls, with precast reinforced concrete slabs for the second floor. The architectural highlight was a bridge across a reflecting pool at the main entrance. The gala opening in 1961 included Hollywood sex-symbol Jayne Mansfield, her body-builder husband, Mickey Hargitay, and actor Preston Foster. The resort changed its name over the years becoming the Sunburst Resort in the 1970s, the Caleo Resort in 2005, and later that year, the FireSky Resort & Spa. In 2017, it became The Scott, rebranding itself as where “Old Havana meets Bauhaus eclecticism.”

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Nov-Dec 2019

Above: A diving demonstration at the Executive House, 1961. Top right: Executive House ribbon-cutting with Miss Arizona, Paula Lou Welch, company executives, and Jayne Mansfield, 1961. Middle right: Miss Arizona, Paula Lou Welch from Tucson, with “cowgirl� assemblage at the ribbon cutting ceremony, 1961. Bottom right: General Motors management at Executive House banquet, 1962.

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Architect’s Perspective: Barrie Groen: H & J Construction’s Designer


William Horner

Groen, of Dutch descent, was born in New York City in 1930. He graduated in 1951 from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N. Y., having previously attended the University of Cincinnati. Groen worked at the New York City architectural firm of O’Connor & Kilham until drafted by the Navy during the Korean War. Groen served as a naval architect at Pearl Harbor. After his military service, Groen became a licensed architect in six states, Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Texas, and had a certificate from the National Council of Architectural Boards. Groen moved to Arizona with his wife and three children in 1955 to become an associate with John Sing Tang & Associates in Phoenix. Arizona subsequently passed a certification to practice architecture within the state. Groen, along with architect Top right: Barrie Groen at EDCO headquarters, 1962. Frank Lloyd Wright, were among those any talented architects were working in the Valley during the mid-1950s. But one was equally renowned for his skills in the kitchen. Whether it was the design for a commercial building or the presentation of delicious Baked Alaska, architect Barrie Groen was a success at both. Besides his culinary skills, Groen had a unique history as an architect during the period of the Valley’s mid-century growth. When H & J Construction Co. launched EDCO Engineering & Development Co. in mid-1959, they named Groen as its executive vice president. He would go on to design most of the firm’s major construction projects and head the company’s architectural department until it left the Arizona market in 1962. How did this relative newcomer to the Valley achieve such a plum position?

Images courtesy of Arizona Contractor & Community

Bottom: Harry Riskas and Barrie Groen (l-r), 1962.

to register. The American Institute of Architects (AIA) named Groen as a committee member in 1957. While working for Tang, Groen prepared the drawings for the Community Auditorium at Phoenix Central High School. The expansion increased seating capacity to 3,000 and cost an estimated $800,000. In early 1959, Tang prepared plans for two H & J commercial developments. One was for Neptune’s Table, a seafood restaurant owned by O.A. Helsing at the northwest corner of Camelback Road and Seventh Avenue. The other was for a $5 million, 10-story Hotel Oasis on Central and Cypress Street, which was never built.


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The construction company must have been impressed with these designs, for a few months later, H & J launched EDCO Engineering & Development Co., with Groen as acting executive vice president. Groen would go on to design most of the company’s major construction projects and head the company’s architectural department until H & J’s exit from Arizona in 1962. After EDCO, Groen stayed in Arizona and opened an architecture office at 1722 East Indian School Road. His design for the Los Arboles Apartments was one of 12 buildings that was cited by the Arizona Masonry Guild in 1968 for “excellence in the use of unit masonry.” Groen retired from architecture to pursue his other passion: gourmet cooking. He was a member of the Phoenix Male Chauvinist Gourmet Cooking Society, according to an article in The Arizona Republic in 1986. “With this club, you can devote a whole day to one dessert or one appetizer.” Groen participated in the annual Scottsdale Culinary Festival and was a league member, chairing cooking demonstrations. Groen died in Prescott in 2001 at age 71.

Top: Executive House Hotel in Scottsdale, architectural drawings prepared by Groen. Bottom: Frontier Gardens Apartments, 347 East Thomas, Phoenix, 1962.

Valley Projects by Barrie Groen: • 1959 - Frontier Gardens, 347 East Thomas Road. • 1960 - Executive House Hotel, 4823 N. Scottsdale Road. • 1960 - Executive Inn - Tucson, N. 11th Ave & W. Drachman Street (SW corner). • 1962 - Town House Apartments,

Maryland Avenue & 13th Street. • 1962 - Executive House Addition, 4823 N. Scottsdale Road. • 1963 - H.L. Nace Theater, 1405 E. Thomas Road. • 1963 - Danelle Plaza, Mill & Southern avenues (SW corner). • 1968 - Los Arboles Apartments, 5023 N. 18th Street.

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Digging Through the Archives: Dave McNeil William Horner


ave McNeil has enjoyed a life-long hobby of photographing construction around Arizona with a 110 Pocket Instamatic. “I just always liked taking pictures, and that camera was easy to carry as it sat nicely in my front shirt pocket,” McNeil says. Images from the camera also help McNeil trace his long construction career. The Texas-bred McNeil grew up in South Phoenix near 10th Street and Southern Avenue. McNeil attended Roosevelt School and played baseball with his friends, including George Vasquez, whose family owned the original Ponchos on Central Avenue, and later founded Someburros. McNeil later went to Thunderbird Academy, and worked construction during the summer with his father, L.D. McNeil

Top left: Dave McNeil (paving operator), Cliff McNeil (screed man), and Charlie Henderson (asphalt raker) (L-R), on Skousen’s Cedarapids laydown machine, 1970s. Top middle: Skousen paving crew with laydown machine, 1970s. Fifty four

Jr., at W.R. Skousen Contracting in Mesa. McNeil’s grandfather also worked the trades, making Dave a third-generation with the Local 428, Operating Engineers. Before McNeil’s senior year in 1967, he quit school and went to work full-time for Skousen as a laborer. His mom was displeased and ordered McNeil’s father to work him hard. But McNeil was up for the challenge and excelled in his new job. In 1976, McNeil and his father worked on a $3.35 million contract for three major road projects Skousen had in the CameronTuba City area in northern Arizona. The construction, supervised by L.D. McNeil Jr., consisted of grading, drainage, installation of culverts, placing aggregates, asphalt overlays, and paving. Backcountry radios were used to coordinate work on the expansive project, which allowed for 2,000 hours of on-the-job experience for trainees. Skousen used a new Cedarapids asphalt plant to produce their mix for the project. The new machine used a continuous mass-mixing process to dry the aggregates and blend them in a single

drum, which could create up to 600 tons of asphalt per hour. The operators, however, knew a few tricks to increase the tonnage. The new machine decreased set up time from 500 to 200 hours. Skousen later brought in their own personnel to manage the company and fired several employees, including McNeil after 14 years, and his father, a 26-year veteran. “I tried out for a few other companies and after a tip from a former co-worker, Bill Postert, took a paving position with M.M. Sundt, working a big project in Chandler,” McNeil says. McNeil and his friend did well together at Sundt. “They were happy with our production as we increased numbers to an all-time high,” he says. “I liked my paving boss, Henry Warren. He treated us very well.” But the honeymoon came to an abrupt end. “Sundt had purchased another contractor around this time, D.C. Speers, and acquired a lot of their employees while we were paving Sky Harbor Airport,” McNeil says. “Of course, I got a bad boss, a real jerk, so I left and decided to relax a bit.” “About this time, I received a call from Bob Skousen, the son of Willard Skousen, and also the man who fired me from Skousen,” he says. “Bob said he fired his paving crew and wanted to know if I would come back. I asked what he had to offer; he said more money and a company pickup, Nov-Dec 2019

Images courtesy of Dave McNeil

Top: Charlie Henderson and Dave McNeil next to Skousen’s Cedarapids laydown machine, 1970s. Bottom: Darrel Styles, Bob Steal (mechanic and supervisor), and L.D. McNeil Jr. (supervisor) (L-R) working for Skousen, 1970s.

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Images courtesy of Dave McNeil

and I said, ‘OK.’” McNeil says that Bob then asked him if he thought his dad would come back too. “I stated, ‘You are the one that fired him; you call him.’” His father had moved to Texas, and after some convincing, returned to Phoenix. Skousen did well for a while, but it didn’t last long. “Things changed for the worst, so we all left and split to different places,” McNeil says. McNeil then paved for Pulice Construction for five years, until moving to C-70 in 1990. “I paved many subdivisions and commercial projects until 2011,” he says. “After retiring, I continued to help Banicki occasionally.” He celebrated his 70th birthday this year and spends his retirement by riding his motorcycle and connecting with friends on the internet. And yes, he still has his 110 Pocket Instamatic camera.

Top: Skousen truck drivers and paving crew, 1970s. Left: C-70 paving Superstition Springs Mall at Power Road and the Superstition Freeway, 1990. Above: Dave McNeil, 2019.


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H & J Projects 1947-1962

Beverly Estates Main St. & Gilbert, 1955 200-Car Storage Sky Harbor Blvd., 1955 The Bermudian Apartments 842 N. 6th Ave, 1955 Tempe Center University & Mill, 1955 Riviera Auditorium Washington St. at Greyhound Park, 1956 Palms Plaza Apartments 26 E. Virginia, 1956 * Arcadia Village 44th St. & Camelback, 1957 Camelback West 37th Ave & Camelback, 1957 Winton Park 33rd Ave & Glendale, 1957 * Indian Arms Apartments 8th Ave & Indian School, 1958 * 300 Bowl 19th Ave & Bethany Home, 1958 * House of Pancakes University & Mill, 1958 * Wagon Wheel Lanes 43rd St. & Thomas, 1958

Beverly Manor 10th St. & Ocotillo, 1950 Beverly Park 18th St. & Missouri, 1951 Beverly Park Two 20th St. & Missouri, 1952 Maryland Estates 19th Ave & Keim, 1952 Brentwood Estates 31st St & Camelback, 1953 Chesterfield Subdivision 20th Ave & Camelback, 1953 Egyptian Motor Hotel Polk & Grand, 1954 Standard Mortgage Co. 1802 N. Central, 1954 O’Malley Building 1202 N. Central, 1954 * Sandman Hotel 21st Ave & Van Buren, 1955 * Bali-Hi Motor Hotel 15th Ave & Grand, 1955 Beverly Village 35th Ave & Camelback, 1955 Fifty eight

Beverly Mayan Apartments 14th St. & Thomas, 1959 * Caravan Inn East 33rd St. & Van Buren, 1959 * Caravan Inn West 1501 Grand, 1959 Freeway Plaza 27th Ave & Bethany Home, 1959 ** Frontier Garden Apartments 3rd St. & Thomas, 1959 Executive House Scottsdale Rd. & Pasadena, 1960

Which H & J/Riskas’ family project do you remember? Email your recollections to be featured in our Feedback section and a chance to win a free annual subscription to: * Images on page 32-33 ** Background Image Nov-Dec 2019

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