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To Our Readers: As we continue to build our space, our goal with each issue of North American Construction Journal is to bring you top-shelf reporting about an increasingly diverse number of compelling companies across the broad spectrum of the industry. We lay the foundation for this issue by introducing you to SteelFab, Inc. of Charlotte, NC, which is featured on our cover. Established in 1955, SteelFab is a leader among fabricators of structural steel in the United States certified by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). Chairman and CEO Glenn Sherrill represents the company’s third generation of family ownership. If you build it, you better insure it. That’s where Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company of Farmington Hills, MI comes in. Established in 1912 as a worker’s compensation specialist, Amerisure has provided top-shelf services to policyholders for more than a century. Today the company maintains $2.9 billion in assets, a $984 million surplus, and $840 million in direct written premiums. We are especially pleased to feature two of the Top Solar Contractors in the United States – Directional Services, Inc. of Hope Mills, NC and Swinerton Renewable Energy of San Diego, CA. Established in 2005 as a regional provider of directional drilling services DSI grew into a renowned national solar electrical subcontractor supplying turnkey services to the burgeoning solar industry within a decade. Recognized in 2018 by Solar Power World as the largest solar electrical subcontractor in the United States, ranking third overall on SPW’s 2019 Top Solar Contractors list in 2018. While many construction firms saw disaster at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, traditional construction specialist Swinerton took a leap of faith and established its Swinerton Renewable Energy division under the direction of President George Hershman. SRE builds and manages utility, commercial, energy storage and high voltage substation solar installations across the country. We hope you enjoy the issue as much as we do bringing it to you! Kevin Doyle Editor-In-Chief Kevin.doyle@naconstructionjournal.com

The Team Editor-In Chief - Kevin Doyle Executive Director - Alex Hortaridis Creative Director - Stephen Marino Developer - Andrew Twomey Director of Sales - Jason Wright

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Table of Contents

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SteelFab, Inc. 1 Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company 13

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DSI 25 Swinerton Renewable Energy 37 The Association of Union Constructors 51 RAM Construction Services 57

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Dearborn Mid-West Company 69 North State Environmental, Inc. 79 ABC Florida East Coast Chapter 89

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FX Concrete 111

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WJ Groundwater Canada 121

97 121

Plaza Construction 97


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SteelFab, Inc.:

A Towering National Presence Established in 1955 as a handrail manufacturer, SteelFab, Inc. of Charlotte, NC today is among the leading fabricators of structural steel in the United States.

Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal stablished in 1955 as a handrail manufacturer by J. Glenn Sherrill, SteelFab, Inc. of Charlotte, NC today is among the leading fabricators of structural steel in the United States certified by the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC). Now under its third generation of family ownership, the company works across a wide range of sectors and provides clients with fabrication, miscellaneous metals, connection design, subcontract steel erection, project management and detailing services as a turnkey operation. “My grandfather grew up very poor during the depression but he started SteelFab, rented a barn and made a pretty good living making rails for patio stairs. That eventually grew into light structural and then my dad and his brothers started doing larger, heavier jobs in the mid-‘70s,” says company Chairman and CEO Glenn Sherrill. His father Ron and uncle Don serve as company Vice Chairmen and his brother Stuart is President of SteelFab Alabama. The company did $867 million in revenue in 2018 and with its recent acquisitions of SteelFab Texas (formerly Alpha Industries) and L & M Fabricating of Tangent Oregon could eclipse $1 billion in the coming year. The company currently employs 1,300 people at its eight divisions

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from coast to coast. Its goal is to provide clients with superior customer service and delivery of the highest-quality product that is on time as well as on or under budget regardless of the size of the job. “The majority of our growth is because we have a principal that we just try to never tell the clients no. Part of that is out of fear. If you tell a client you’re too busy to get to it they may find somebody else that does a good job and all of a sudden we’re not doing the majority of that client’s work,” Sherrill admits. “We absolutely want to work with the right customers. We have grown with a number of our clients that are doing bigger and bigger work and they really want us to be their steel contractor.”

A Lasting Impact The drive to succeed is imbued in the company’s DNA and it continues to draw upon the lessons learned and examples set by its founder. After working in a textile mill and in the service department of a gas station, J. Glenn Sherrill took a job in the maintenance department of steel fabricator Southern Engineering, eventually working his way up to head of the miscellaneous metals department. He returned from serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II to find that job had been filled.


North American Construction Journal He eventually joined up with two brothers who owned a general contracting business and wanted to start a steel fabrication plant. They had a falling out over not bonusing the shop employees and he sold his shares and started SteelFab in 1955. “My grandfather established a few things that we’re really proud of and

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that we still have. No. 1 is our culture to treat people the way you want to be treated, with respect, whether they are customers, suppliers, vendors or fellow employees. No. 2 is to share the profits with the workers, not just the executives. No. 3 is make sure you are paying bonuses to everyone who shows up to work every day and helps to make SteelFab successful,” he adds.

“I’m really proud of how our guys have performed on this (Ally Financial Tower) project. The last count I heard was that we had lost 47 days due to bad weather but we will still is topped out at 33 weeks. I’m thrilled with how it has progressed.” - CEO Glenn Sherrill

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North American Construction Journal 5 days due to bad weather but we will Showcase Projects Ally Financial Tower: The 30-story high rise in the middle of downtown Charlotte required approximately 7,200 tons of steel and added 742,000 square feet of floor space. The steel brace frames required load-bearing columns at the base that weighed more than 1,400 pounds per foot and required the use of a hydraulic crane for precise placement. The project’s location inside the busy I-277 beltway necessitated coordination of an accurate delivery schedule with the city. “I’m really proud of how our guys have performed on this project. The last count I heard was that we had lost 47

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still be topped out at 33 weeks. I’m thrilled with how it has progressed,” Sherrill says.

Capital One Performing Arts Center: Sherrill calls this project in Fairfax County, VA “one of the more complex steel projects we have ever done.” The project is part of Capital One’s 24.5-acre mixed-use urban development and will require 3,000 tons of steel. The 125,000-square-foot event center will include a 1,500-seat auditorium, 300-seat black-box theater, conference rooms, and foyer available for corporate use, community, arts, education and civic events. The Center will open in 2020-2021.


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“When you look at the complexity of some of the pieces we’ve fabricated, it really makes you appreciative of just how smart the craftsmen that we have in our plants are,” Sherrill notes. Among its many notable projects, Steelfab was presented the Star Award for Excellence in the Face of Adversity presented by the Washington Building Congress for its work on the National Museum of African American History and Culture; won the 2018 Washington Building Congress award for Structural Steel Framing for the International Spy Museum project; and provided 7,300 tons of steel for the Memorial Herman-Texas Medical Center expansion that included 160 additional beds, 24 operating rooms, 16 additional emergency center bays, more than 600 new parking spaces, a 335-seat café and seven shelled floors, including six operating rooms, to accommodate future growth as needed.

Day to Day The company builds client teams anchored by Project Managers who operate more like General Contractors, overseeing multiple accounts simultaneously. Sherrill favors an open door management style, dividing his time among marketing and sales; administrative duties; visiting offices and plants across the country; and ensuring that projects are set up and

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kicked off on time. The company subs out all of its steel erection and maintains a network of preferred partners in all the major cities that it works. The company’s prequalification program requires subs to fill out a safety questionnaire and to submit annual financial statements, safety data, EMR data and a copy of their safety practices. SteelFab’s risk management team then provides a grade of low, moderate or high-risk for each of our erectors. “We bring in high risk guys and explain why they are high risk and we try to help them get on the right path. Steel


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Building systems that build America At New Millennium Building Systems, we do more than just build the structural steel systems that support America. We build reputations and relationships. We build trust. It takes a special kind of dedication to quality, performance and customer service to build a better steel experience. New Millennium offers the broadest range of structural steel joist and deck building systems on the market. Your business is backed by one nationwide resource, ready to engineer, manufacture and meet the dynamic challenges of your biggest projects. Nationwide support: A division of Steel Dynamics, we are a leading supplier of steel joists and metal decking to the North American market. Inspiring solutions include unique architectural steel decking, and the most complete range of long-span composite floor systems for multi-story construction. Our advanced manufacturing facilities are strategically located across North America, staffed by experienced and dedicated teams to locally serve you.

Engineered cost reductions: When New Millennium is involved early in the design process, we can remove a chain reaction of project costs, starting with RFI acceleration, steel tonnage reduction, and ending with lower on-site labor costs for handling, lifting and erection. Owners of larger and more complex steel building projects can greatly benefit from cost-accountable engineering that shortens project timelines and prevents delayed occupancy or lost retail revenue. BIM-based design: For almost a decade, our industry-leading Dynamic Joist ® BIM component has enhanced collaboration in real-world projects across America. Available for immediate download from ARCAT, our joist and deck BIM objects, specifications and support materials will accelerate your project. All backed by our local engineering and detailing experts, ready to assist you.

TOGETHER, LET’S BUILD A BETTER STEEL EXPERIENCE.

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The right building systems built the right way. To learn more, visit www.newmill.com.

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erection is a hard business and they are a big part of our success so we owe them that much. But if they don’t improve we remove them from our data base,” Sherrill stresses. The company’s attractive benefits package has proven to be a lure for workers. “Guys who work for us now who have worked with other fabricators say that our profit sharing and bonus plans are much more generous and that they feel more appreciated,” Sherrill says. In addition to AISC, the company belongs to the American Welding Society, the Virginia Carolinas Fabricator Group and the Southern Association of Steel Fabricators, among others, and usually sends representatives to the annual North American Steel Conference. Sherrill

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cites education and networking as the premier benefits of membership. “We have a lot of very smart people within our organization. If we encounter a problem that I have not seen before, there will be somebody on our team that will have a solution.” Sherrill says. Worthy of note is the fact SteelFab has the largest commercial distributed rooftop solar array in the state of Alabama at its Roanoke location. The Renewvia rooftop system installed in December 2018 includes 2,296 solar photovoltaic panels providing 746 kilowatt (kW) of power. The company’s wide array of software includes Sage and Tekla 3D modeling. It is looking into updating its FabTrol operating software.


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“Once you have been trained … you have to be accountable for your own safety and the safety of those you’re working with. We have no tolerance for someone working unsafely.” - CEO Glenn Sherrill

Safety Steps

SteelFab goes well beyond posting the usual informational signs and holding toolbox talks to keep its work force up to date on the company’s safety initiatives. Sherrill says “the number one thing that has helped us when we hire new people is that we bring them through our safety training first.”

“We have a dedicated network of crane operators that we use. We’ve found that most of the bad injuries that happen involve the crane, so we continuously do training for those guys,” Sherrill notes.

Staff Replenishment and Retention

“Once you have been trained if you do something that is unsafe, you’re sent home for three days without pay. If you do something twice that’s unsafe we say ‘This job just isn’t for you and you need to go find another job.’ You have to be accountable for your own safety and the safety of those you’re working with. We have no tolerance for someone working unsafely,” Sherrill stresses.

The company has taken a proactive approach to dealing with the industry wide problem of replacing an aging work force. It has partnerships with a local high school in proximity to each plant to provide summer internships to students interested in pursuing a career in the industry. SteelFab also has partnerships with NC State, UNCC, Georgia Tech, Texas A & M and The Citadel for the recruiting of estimators, project managers and engineers. Following their sophomore year, students work in the office. After their junior year they are exposed to plant operations.

That is especially true of crane operators.

Under the program, interns earn $15 per hour plus available overtime; are

As far as the company is concerned, working safely is an obligation and there are serious consequences for not doing so.

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North American Construction Journal assigned mentors to work with during training; and undergo an exit interview to determine their interest in a full-time position upon graduation from high school. The company prefers to promote from within and performs annual reviews. “We try to find the right fit. On the relationship building side, we place those who are good with people and groom them in the sales side because we don’t have a dedicated sales group and our executive team wears a lot of different hats. Each division has a different way of grooming the next leaders. It’s tough because we have a lot of smart people but there are only so many slots. We’re proud of the fact that the only Division President who did not work his way up is from the division in Oregon we just acquired,” Sherrill says.

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SteelFab. We are focused on having SteelFab remain a family-owned and operated business but if my boys are not interested, we have colleagues who are not family members that are very capable of running the business.” Sherrill says. He says he’s never bored and looks forward to coming to work every day. “Every job has a different set of plans, specifications, and stakeholders. Every day and every year presents a new set of challenges. Also we are in a technical business as a contractor and manufacturer and every job is a separate profit and loss center,” he concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Moving Forward

Company Name: Steelfab, Inc.

With a burgeoning client list that continues to grow and its plan for measured future growth, the company seems set up for continued long-term success. Sherrill’s older son interned with the company this summer.

Country: U.S.

“My sons are in sixth grade and ninth grade and I would love for them to come work here. But my priority is for them to find a passion and a career that they enjoy – I don’t want to put any pressure on them to work at

supplier of fabricated structural

Industry: Construction Est: 1955 Premier Service: Manufacturer and

steel. CEO/President: Glenn Sherrill Website: www.steelfab-inc.com

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Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company:

Providing Insurance Across the Construction Industry Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company of Farmington Hills, MI has provided top-shelf services to policyholders for more than a century. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal stablished in 1912 as a workers’ compensation specialist, Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company of Farmington Hills, MI has provided top-shelf services to policyholders for more than a century. “In the early 1990s we introduced a contractors’ standards program which brought together highly exclusive construction-only aspects that helped us dominate the market with 30 years experience. With the downturn in the economy in the early 2000s we were able to stay true to construction and followed the rebound, if you will, all the way up. Construction has been a major driver of our growth over time so we’ve remained focused in the construction industry,” explains President and CEO Greg Crabb. Today the company maintains $2.9 billion in assets, a $984 million surplus, and $840 million in direct written premium. The company employs approximately 750 people and is especially proud of its customer service, which is reaffirmed by the 80 aggregate Net Promoter Score it maintains among agents and policyholders. That’s more than double the industry average. The company writes all lines in construction except D&O and E&O, accounting for two-thirds of its business. Of that amount, 23 percent is within the commercial general contractor’s space. The company

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brings the same level of service and expertise to the healthcare and manufacturing sectors. The cornerstone of the company’s business model is its Partners For Success® program, which gives an exclusive group of approximately 120 independent agencies access to Amerisure products. The company is “A” rated (Excellent) by A.M. Best and is licensed in all 50 states.. “We are doubling down on specialization, expertise in construction and dedication to our highly exclusive distribution model,” explains Matt Ford, the company’s Vice President of Field Marketing and Underwriting. “We really focus on dealing with actual agency construction experts to help us build out our expertise. We work primarily with heavy bond agencies that are involved with construction agencies. That’s what has made us successful for a long time.” “Construction is a big umbrella and we have expert employees who are able to partner with the construction firms, understand their business, and deliver added value. That’s really our differentiator,” notes Vice President of Risk Management Kevin Clary. “One thing about our model that I really enjoy is because we have exclusive relationships with a relatively small number of sophisticated agency partners, we can spend a lot of time


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“ Greg Crabb

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Matt Ford

“We work primarily with heavy bond agencies that are involved with construction agencies. That’s what has made us successful for a long time.” - Matt Ford, VP of Field Marketing and Underwriting

Kevin Clary

working with them to understand their needs and, equally importantly, the needs of their clients and our policyholders in the contracting space,” Crabb adds.

What They Do The company focuses on providing unmatched service and protection primarily to commercial general contractors and the specialty trades, including carpenters, concrete, electrical, drywall, insulation, plumbing, and HVAC.

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North American Construction Journal By collaborating with a network of independent agents, the company is able to connect those agents, policyholders and employees to provide communication and tools to manage the policyholder’s business. That includes training its own construction experts. “There aren’t as many qualified experts as we’d like there to be so we’re developing our own. It’s a pretty powerful added value proposition to attract and retain those folks. We spend a lot more time on that today than we did five years ago,” says Clary. By developing its own team of experts, Ford says, the company provides a powerful differentiator between itself and its competitors. “It is a major problem, the number one challenge in the industry. Everyone is constantly trying to find talent so being able to provide our own team of experts separates us from our competitors,” he explains.

Day to Day

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honored with a pair of prestigious national industry awards. In July 2019, Amerisure earned an Impact Award from the Novarica Insurance Technology Research Council for continued improvement in its digital capabilities in the two years since launching its emerging technologies initiative. The insurance technology industry’s largest peer-juried award features a council of more than 100 insurance carriers, including more than one-quarter of the industry’s Fortune 500 companies. Dozens of case studies examined by the 50-person Chief Information Officer Council determined the winners. Additionally the company has been a Best and Brightest company to work for in the nation from 2014-19 and one of Business Insurance magazine’s Best Places to Work in Insurancefrom 2011-19.

With its intimate understanding of the construction industry, Amerisure aims to reduce exposure to job site injuries, vehicle accidents and equipment theft, lowering the total cost of risk in the process. The company provides this value add for its healthcare, manufacturing and special risk policyholders as well.

“We view that as proof positive of our commitment to our employees and our value proposition, which focuses on the ability to deliver the customer experience, and to be passionate about the relationship and collaboration that’s needed with our agency partners and policyholders to be successful in the contracting space,” Crabb says.

This year, the company has been

The company belongs to numerous

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EXPERIENCE INDUSTRY LEADING SERVICE Partnering with an exclusive group of independent agencies is a cornerstone of our strategy. Our Partners For Success® agency program is strategically focused on offering industry-leading commercial insurance solutions, with a flexible and superior service delivery. And when it comes to service, policyholders give Amerisure a Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 84, more than twice the commercial insurance industry average.

AMERISURE IS LICENSED IN ALL 50 STATES. OUR AGENCY RELATIONSHIPS ARE LOCATED IN: Alabama ◆ Arizona ◆ Arkansas ◆ Florida ◆ Georgia ◆ Illinois ◆ Indiana ◆ Iowa ◆ Kansas ◆ Kentucky Michigan ◆ Minnesota ◆ Mississippi ◆ Missouri ◆ Nebraska ◆ North Carolina ◆ Ohio ◆ South Carolina Tennessee ◆ Texas ◆ Utah ◆ Virginia ◆ Wisconsin

CONTACT AN AMERISURE AGENCY NEAR YOU VISIT: AM E RISURE.C OM/ FIND-AN-AGENCY

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industry associations such as the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA) and the Construction Financial Management of America (CFMA) and is endorsed by both the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) and the AGC of Tennessee.

name is on that product and because we’re recommending it we make sure the highest customer service is in place,” Clary says. “We understand we’re going to be learning together in a lot of cases. When you talk about the technology that’s coming, there are a lot of options out there and we need to have an understanding of them.”

“My job is to help construction companies and policyholders reduce loss. We are always looking for reduction of loss but one of the things that really separates us is bringing expertise and value to the operation to help reduce loss and cut costs operationally,” Clary explains.

Among the technologies the company is now involved in developing are telematics and wearables.

“We have a connection to contractors in the AGC. It is really important for us to be thought of as leaders in the construction industry. We are participating in the AGC National Convention next year on a panel discussing technology and its implementation in the construction industry. That allows our risk management employees to speak about the value we bring and the expertise we have in the industry,” adds Ford.

Innovative Operations Due diligence is part of the company’s success and it’s built into every partnership. “When we partner with a vendor our

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Telematics tracks driver behavior to provide corrective actions that can help improve driver safety and reduce fleet accidents. Wearables are small devices clipped to a worker’s belt which track unsafe lifting behaviors. The devices may assist in reducing claims from strains and sprains.


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“Our value proposition focuses on the ability to deliver the customer experience and to be passionate about the relationship and collaboration that’s needed with our agency partners and policyholders to be successful in the contracting space.” - Greg Crabb, President and CEO

“Our folks engage with the policyholder to implement, gather and understand data to help companies be more successful. That’s an added value and something we do differently than our competitors,” explains Ford. “The expertise is there to transform an organization and do more with less labor. We take steps to understand the operation and add value through technology by identifying what is important to a construction company right now whether it’s wearables, telematics, or fleet maintenance,” Clary elaborates. “We want to help you transform your organization to be successful for the future because that’s how we’re successful.” Amerisure is 20 months into a pilot program with a construction company that has reduced unsafe behavior on the job by 53 percent on average. “That is a perfect example of expertise, being ahead of the curve and providing differentiation to our

construction companies,” Clary says. The same methodology is applied to identifying imperfect technology. Clary cited one trial the company walked away from because it didn’t fully believe in the product. The company is revisiting that technology and is hopeful of making the changes necessary to make it market ready. “We want to validate before we roll something out. That pilot didn’t work as well as we’d hoped so we weren’t comfortable rolling it out,” explains Crabb.

Looking Forward As a committed community partner, Amerisure embraces the importance of its presence in the regions its employees work. That commitment is reflected in the nonprofit organizations it supports, such as Construction Angels, which supports the families of workers killed on the job; the Christopher

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Reeves Foundation for research of traumatic brain and spine injuries at the Shepherd Center in Atlanta; and countless regional initiatives selected by company employees. “We are proud that every year we give $500,000 or more to causes that our policyholders and our employees actively support. Those causes are critical to us as we go forward,” Crabb says. These members of the leadership team

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also have a bit of advice for those considering a career in construction. “Learn the industry. Take the time because it is complex and sophisticated. Make sure you have that skillset so you can add value,” says Crabb, who has 20 years of industry experience and holds degrees from Emory University (Juris Doctor) and the University of Western Ontario. He serves on numerous boards, including the American Property Casualty Insurance Association; the Boys &


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focusing on understanding that information is invaluable for those entering the industry. “Getting involved in the construction industry can be incredibly valuable. Become a known entity early on and it will carry you a long way through your career,” he concludes. Learning. Passion. Understanding. It sounds like the foundation has been laid for continued success as Amerisure embarks on its second century of providing quality service and innovative insurance products across the construction industry.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name:

Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan; Business Leaders for Michigan; and the U.S. Department of Treasury Federal Advisory Committee on Insurance. “Have a thirst for knowledge and have the passion to fully understand the industry. Find a mentor and don’t be afraid to try new things and push the status quo,” says Clary, who has been with the company for 22 years. Ford cites learning, studying and

Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company

Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1912 Premier Service: Insurance Carrier CEO: Greg Crabb Website: www.amerisure.com

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Directional Services, Inc.:

Powering Up With Solar Directional Services, Inc. of Hope Mills, NC is a renowned national solar electrical subcontractor supplying turnkey services to a burgeoning industry Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal irectional Services, Inc. of Hope Mills, NC began in 2005 as a regional provider of directional drilling services but within a decade grew into a renowned national solar electrical subcontractor supplying turnkey services to the burgeoning solar industry.

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overhead distribution electrical systems for electric utility companies, municipalities, and rural cooperatives, performing all aspects of construction and maintenance needed to provide quality services.

“We’re still committed to succeeding and growing in drilling and utility work but solar has just taken off. In 2018 about 90 percent of our work was turnkey solar with the remaining being split pretty evenly between drilling and utility,” explains Keith Crumpler, the company’s Chief Financial Officer.

Directional Drilling: DSI provides premier directional boring installations with a proven model that starts from the beginning of every bore with supervision, bore profiling, job planning and post bore product inspection, followed up with job quality assurance. DSI’s drill operators and employees rank among the most qualified in the industry.

Recognized in 2018 by Solar Power World as the largest solar electrical subcontractor in the United States, DSI employs 200 full-time staff and works directly with over 300 trusted subcontractors who display the company brand on their protective gear, clothing and vehicles and are considered part of the family.

Solar Electrical Turnkey DC/MV: DSI provides complete electrical installation to include terminations, wire management, underground trenching, transformer and inverter installation with complete interconnect to the customer. Completed turnkey projects have ranged from 5MW to over 100MW.

The company ranked third overall on SPW’s 2019 Top Solar Contractors list and executed 646MW in 2018 with projected projects totaling 700MW for 2019. It does not work in the commercial or residential sphere.

“We focus on quality and timeliness. We don’t focus on price and we don’t try to be the cheapest out there. It all goes back to our people – when

The company’s core competencies are: Electrical/Underground Utility Construction: DSI constructs and maintains underground and

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“It all goes back to our pe customer’s expectations o clients are OK with paying a is top-n - CFO Keith


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you exceed customer’s expectations on quality and timeliness, clients are OK with paying a premium price. Our work is top-notch and, in that regard, word of mouth carries a lot of weight,” Crumpler says.

An Expansion Story Tim Sealey and Thomas Horne were the company’s two partners upon founding it as a directional drilling contractor in 2005. “Thomas and Tim developed a

eople – when you exceed on quality and timeliness, a premium price. Our work notch.” h Crumpler

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relationship with Brantley Turner, who was an operations manager elsewhere and were doing some work for him. Brantley joined DSI in 2014 and he became an equal partner in January of 2015. That added utility work to our scope, mostly overhead and underground utilities maintenance. We did some construction but all on the distribution side,” Crumpler explains. The company’s metamorphosis began in earnest when Turner received a cold call from a company requiring assistance laying underground cable. “Brantley started doing that and that slowly led to that scope within the business. While we were doing utility work we were still doing drilling work and we expanded to the point they wanted us to do the entire electrical

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North American Construction Journal scope as well,” Crumpler says. DSI began subbing work out to Justin Keck in 2015. He held an unlimited electrical license that allowed him to work from the meter back, of enormous importance to DSI. “With solar farms, the connection is at the meter but there is a lot of work to be done that his skillset didn’t cover and Brantley’s did. They meshed perfectly. Since they were sharing a building it was more beneficial to merge the two companies as DSI with Justin’s company as a complete subcontractor. We kept building bigger projects while moving outside of our typical region,” Crumpler says. Today DSI operates in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Texas. “We’ve increased our geography quite a bit. We installed

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646MW of turnkey solar in 2018 and it was probably half or less than that in 2017, so it’s grown pretty quickly,” says Crumpler. The company is a member of SEIA, the national trade association for the U.S. solar industry.

Key Projects The Palmetto project for Cypress Creek, a leading developer of utility scale solar, is located in Bowman, SC. A Cypress Creek press release stated the 106MW farm went online in August 2019 and will provide enough power for approximately 94,000 homes across Orangeburg County. “It was the largest in the state when it was put into operation. It had all kinds of challenges around the engineering and there was a new racking system. Our guys did a really good job and adapted to the changes, making sure it was a success for us and for

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North American Construction Journal the customer and that everyone was happy,” said Crumpler.

up the process of our management,” Crumpler says.

DSI is also involved in the 101MW Bowman project for Pine Gates Renewable, also located in Orangeburg County. Located on 651 acres, it is one of largest solar projects in the state and will be powered by approximately 850,000 panels. It features The BLA (Big Lead Assembly ®) system developed by Shoals Technologies Group that, according to the Shoals web site “takes all the guesswork out of wiring your solar field.”

Staying Safe

“We went out to Shoals for a factory tour. They trained us how to do it. Our guys are really excited about this system and how it’s going to speed

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DSI exceeds the highest industry standards, carrying a 0.74 EMR rating. The company’s Safety Director oversees a corps of eight safety coordinators, who fan out to job sites to ensure enforcement of site-specific protocol. Weekly Toolbox Talks examine every possible situation from recognizing the warning signs of heat exhaustion during the summer months to avoiding poisonous snakes in the field. The company has experienced only one incident of lost work days in the last three years.


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“Our customers require a certain level of safety presence on site and whatever those requirements are, our standards are typically above and beyond,” Crumpler points out. “Our safety culture is driven around our employees first. The EMR rating is a product of what we do and we’re proud of it, but we do it for our people.” Ultimately, Crumpler says no member of the management team wants “to make that phone call to a spouse to tell them something happened because we missed the ball.”

The Solar (R)evolution As CFO, Crumpler oversees everything

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to do with capital planning, including but not limited to managing forecasted capital needs, capital expenditures, developing relationships with banks to ensure the availability of working capital, budgeting projects and managing materials costs. He is constantly challenged by the adjustments needed to keep pace with the speed at which the industry continues to evolve. “Solar is so new, especially the utilities field, and it’s changing all the time. You go from underground-based systems to a CAB system where the wire management system is above ground. The industry is moving really fast and we really have to plan what it’s going

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to cost for these projects,” Crumpler says. “You have to be dynamic in your budgeting process and how you’re looking at theses projects to make sure that you’re going to be able to perform profitably. Otherwise it’s all for nothing,” he adds. While the cost of panels continues to fall, benefiting end users, the materials DSI uses – particularly conduit cables and wires that are measured in miles – remain expensive. “Our labor costs certainly aren’t going down. We buy all commodity-driven materials and those are going up,” Crumpler notes.

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The company’s CapEx spend is typically 5-10% of annual revenue on items such as mini-excavators, skid steers and utility cars, all very necessary when a 100MW site typically tops out at 350 staff. The average age of the company’s equipment is three years old. “When you’re on an 800-acre tract of land you have to be able to get them around. We have a fleet of utility cars and we are buying those all the time. To keep up with the growth we have experienced, the only way to keep our guys productive is to give them the equipment they need to succeed,” Crumpler asserts. “We want them driving around in quality trucks and for


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“Solar is so new, especially the utilities field, and it’s changing all the time … The industry is moving really fast and we really have to plan what it’s going to cost for these projects.” - CFO Keith Crumpler

the equipment that they use to be topnotch.”

by making sure they take ownership in the planning process,” Crumpler says.

Day to Day

“We don’t want to be a company that says ‘Here are your numbers, figure it out.’ That’s not how we work and these guys don’t like to be told that. These are smart guys and they know their trade very well,” he adds.

Project budgeting is an exercise in cooperation – Crumpler provides historical data regarding typical spend on a given job and the site foremen and Project Managers build the budget. “These guys really take on ownership of the process. They know the expectations that have been set. If they are over in a certain area, they know why they planned it that way and what went wrong and we can address that

The company doesn’t utilize formal continuous improvement methodologies such as Lean, Six Sigma, or Kaizen but Crumpler suspects many of the concepts are ingrained into how DSI conducts business.

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North American Construction Journal “We just know what works for us. I bet if someone from DSI took the courses they would say we already do a lot of that,” he says. For example, the company tracks everything by cost codes and conducts post-project debriefings. “What did we win at? What did we lose at? How did we do compared to what we planned for and what did we miss? We want to know,” Crumpler explains. “Maybe we weren’t that great at wire management. What did we do different? Basically we want to know what did we do right and what should we keep doing in the future?” The company works with two subcontractors whose workforces are essentially de facto DSI employees

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“They are supervised by DSI and have very little work outside of what DSI does. They come to all of our safety meetings, they wear DSI vests when they’re out there and we’re really integrating them into our culture, a core group of guys that understand what we expect because we want to help them to grow and we want to help them to win. We can’t ask for better partners on the labor side,” Crumpler says. The company has been using the same materials vendors since its inception and, Crumpler says, “the reliability of our materials partners is huge. They haven’t let us down yet and if there is going to be a delay, they let us know.” Committed to community betterment,


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the solar wave, an industry with a growth curve that can be measured in decades. DSI has established an enviable workplace culture of shared success and the company offers profit sharing and 401k matches. Securing, training and maintaining a highly skilled staff does not project as a problem.

DSI sponsors local sports teams and its annual golf tournament benefits the Communities In Schools of Cumberland County, NC with a population of approximately 320,000. The first two tournaments raised approximately $100,000, including $60,000 in 2019. “We’re involved with Communities In Schools because it puts additional support people into guidance and provides additional behavioral counseling and tutoring. We’ve partnered with that organization because we want to put our energy into education for the kids in our region,” Crumpler says.

Looking Ahead The company has positioned itself as a premier firm riding the crest of

“Being a part of this company and helping to make sure it’s successful and being part of a new industry are exciting. We’ve built the largest solar plant in the state (North Carolina) two times and now we’re doing the same thing in South Carolina,” Crumpler concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Directional Services, Inc. Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 2005 Premier Services: Full service Licensed Electrical and Utility Contractor Website: www.directionalservices.net

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Swinerton Renewable Energy:

Powerhouse Solar Power Project Provider Established in 2008, the Swinerton Renewable Energy division of Swinerton has developed into an industry standard-bearer, delivering more than 4GW of projects. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal hile many construction firms saw disaster at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, opting to batten down the hatches and ride out the storm – or worse during those bleak times – industry stalwart Swinerton took a leap of faith. With great confidence in the ability of its personnel to learn, adapt and perform at a peak level, the company established its Swinerton Renewable Energy division to fill a void as traditional construction sectors contracted. “We saw a lot of our traditional industries struggling through the financial crisis so we were looking for opportunities to find new marketplaces and grow opportunities for our employees. We looked at some solar opportunities, partially driven by the California Solar Initiative (rebate program established in 2006) and we saw an opportunity to go back to some of our traditional clients,” explains SRE President George Hershman. Developers brought Swinerton on board for commercial projects such as hospitals, community colleges and schools as well as Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) solar projects. “In 2010 as we started seeing the growth of utility scale projects, we really moved into that market because we had significant quantity capacity,

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a lot of equity and working capital, so doing a larger project made a lot more sense for us. So we pretty much grew through 2010 and, up until 2016, we almost doubled year over year as we started to see the market grow,” Hershman says. SRE is imbued with the DNA and pioneering spirit of its parent company, founded in 1888 during The Gold Rush. It is 100 percent employee owned and operated; has delivered 4GW of renewable energy projects; and employs approximately 600 across its EPS and SOLV groups. Headquartered in San Diego, SRE also has locations in San Francisco, Bend, OR and Raleigh, NC. SOLV, its standalone solar operations and maintenance group, formed in 2014. “I’m happy to say I’m employee No. 1 of the organization. I started the group with essentially myself and had been with Swinerton for almost 15 years when we started this,” Hershman says. “I moved over from our more traditional operations and I believe – and, I think other folks would say, it’s the strongest team in the industry. I’ve really focused on industry and policy and the execution of projects and I have a great leadership team that runs our day to day operations,” he adds. SRE works exclusively with contractorpartners Blymyer Engineering and Construction Innovations.


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“They are two partners we’ve had since the very beginning and we’ve done 100 percent of our work together. Those are the three legs of the stool that keep this organization growing and moving forward,” Hershman says.

Noteworthy Projects Kayenta II: Located within the Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona, Kayenta II is the first tribally built, owned and operated solar facility in the U.S. Owned by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) and developed with Arizona utility, Salt River Project (SRP), the Kayenta II project serves as a platform for future ventures as NTUA and SRP work

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together toward the development of up to 200 megawatts of renewable energy projects by within the Navajo Nation by 2023. Solar energy projects, like Kayenta II, support the Nation’s goal of charting their own energy future and improving the health and welfare of the residents of the Navajo Nation. Sweetwater: Sweetwater is a 97.9-megawatt solar facility in Green River, Wyoming. Completed in early 2019, the project is Wyoming’s first utility solar project and the largest in the state. Located on approximately 703 acres, 638 of which are federal land, Sweetwater is expected to generate enough clean energy to

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power 12,000 homes per year. After experiencing a 6-week start delay, the project team worked 7 days a week, while battling severe weather and difficult ground conditions, to deliver the completed project on time. Three Peaks Solar: Three Peaks Solar is an 80 MW solar facility and 138kV substation that sits on 739 acres in Cedar City, Utah. The facility was Swinerton Renewable Energy’s first 1500-volt system and one of the first projects in the U.S. to feature SMA’s 2500 EV inverters. The array type is a ground-mount, single-axis tracker utilizing NEXTracker’ s NX Horizon tracking system. Swinerton worked closely with NEXTracker to develop

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and customize a unique module rail, which significantly reduced the installation time while and allowed for a high-quality finished product. Three Peaks was also the first project to utilize SRE’s new production and quality tracking app, Sunscreen.

Safety Initiatives The company employs a large staff of safety professionals who provide training and constantly monitor and identify challenges and changing conditions on job sites. SRE’s workers are outfitted with top safety gear. Flex and stretch programs are part of the daily routine and workers are


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“If … we have to work seven days a week in Wyoming to finish a project in record time in bad weather on BLM land, if that’s the requirement, then that’s what our employee-owners believe in.” - President George Hershman

empowered to stop work and report a potential problem if something seems amiss. Root cause analysis is performed and the company will change operating procedures as needed. With hundreds of people working across thousands of acres at any given time, the company must remain vigilant. “It’s a constant process. [The message] has to be ingrained in your culture and

in your teams and they have to hear the same thing over and over and over again,” Hershman says. “This is a difficult business. It gets very hot and it gets very cold and we build during all those various periods of time. Safety can never stop; it’s a constant training and reinforcement process and we’re establishing new procedures almost daily to address issues we may not have seen before. Bottom line is

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80MWac | Sweetwater, Wyoming

200MWac | Los Banos, CA

32MWac | Kayenta, AZ

OF PROJECTS & COUNTING

200MWac | Boulder City, NV

“ We ’ r e p r o u d o f t h e c o n t i n u o u s s u p p o r t a n d t r u s t f r o m S w i n e r t o n i n selecting our technology for landmark projects across the US, “ - H a n k Wa n g , P r e s i d e n t o f S u n g r o w A m e r i c a s

| s u n g r o w p o w e r. c o m |

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Nevada: Techren II Solar Power Plant SUNGROW INVERTERS | SG2500U-MV

Techren II solar power plant is located in El Dorado Valley, Boulder City, Nevada, home to many various utility-scale power plants. The project is developed by Clenera, which aims at adopting advanced new solar technology and achieving large power capacity of 250 MWp. It is expected to supply 572 GWh of reliable solar power every year, which is equivalent to the electrical usage of more than 48,000 Nevada households, offsetting nearly 323,000 tons of CO 2 annually. Sungrow, as a global leading inverter solution supplier for renewables, provides the advanced central inverter solution SG2500U-MV for this project. It is well integrated with bifacial modules (from Canadian Solar / LONGi), and solar trackers (from NEXTracker). In partnership with leading EPC Swinerton Renewable Energy, Techren II was successfully commissioned in Aug, 2019 and is running smoothly ever since. Most of the utility-scale solar projects are moving forward to apply 1500Vdc technologies. With shifting to 1500V, a PV plant needs less cables, DC combiner boxes, and labor cost compared with the project with 1000V technologies. The turnkey station SG2500U-MV is highly integrated with 1500Vdc inverter, communication units, and pad-mount transformer. It is standard containerized design, which means easy transportation and low installation cost of inverters.

and meets the long-term operation requirements of the power plant and ensure a high yield. Besides, it is integrated with auxiliary power supply for solar tracker, which can significantly ensure less power supply cables and reduce installation labor cost. Techren II project is located in an arid high plateau, which often experiences high temperature in summer exceeding 40℃ (104 F) With smart forced air-cooling technology, SG2500U-MV can maintain excellent efficiency and full power operation under the conditions of high temperature (2500kW@50℃, 2750kW@45℃) and it can run stably from -30 °C (-22 °F) to 60°C (140 °F). Due to the high protection design, Sungrow SG2500U-MV performs well in extreme environments. Sungrow is one of the few companies which introduced its 1500Vdc inverter solutions as early as 2015, and has more than 8GW of 1500V inverters deployed globally as of June 2019. Equipped with robust delivery capability for each project, regarding to R&D, production & assembly, shipment and implementation, Sungrow also has extensive cooperation experience with project partners to ensure a successful and timely COD.

According to the operational data, the annual equivalent power generation hours of Techren II PV plant is more than 2500 hours. The project can generate more solar energy and demand stricter requirements regarding to high load capacity and long-time The project can generate more solar energy and demand stricter requirements regarding to high load capacity and long-time stability SG2500U-MV presents excellent performance 200Wac | Boulder City, NV

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North American Construction Journal we need to get people home to their families,” says.

Operations The company thrives on repeat business and strives to make the customer experience as enjoyable as it can possibly be. “Part of the reason we’ve been successful and continue to grow is because 80-90 percent of our business is repeat business. If we built for you once, we’re going to build for you again because the experiences have typically pretty good,” Hershman notes. The company has either built or manages facilities in 26 states. Its core market has been California, Nevada, Arizona and the West. Texas is an emerging leader and the Midwest is beginning to open up. “Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota – the most exciting news for us is that we are starting in the Midwest,” Hershman notes. “The

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market is starting to change in that it is a much more national focus and we will go anywhere our clients want us to go. We’ve built from Washington to Central Florida, from down in Calexico up to Boston, Maine and Connecticut. We’ve kind of dotted all four corners of the U.S. and see that as our marketplace.” When SRE goes, it does so with a remarkably small footprint. Typically a small group – superintendents, foremen and management personnel – will move to a site and hire every other person on the job from the local talent pool. “On any given day we have 1,000 to 2,000 temporary employees that we work with in different regions to man our projects. Essentially they work directly for us. We use employment services because of the administration of it, but they work directly under our people across the country. Our intent is to move a relatively small footprint into any region where we’re building a project and then hire 80-90 percent of the people working on it,”

“Part of the reason we’ve been successful and continue to grow is because 80-90 percent of our business is repeat business. If we built for you once, we’re going to build for you again because the experiences have typically pretty good. ” - President George Hershman www.naconstructionjournal.com


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Hershman explains. Blymyer Engineering performs all the electrical and construction engineering while, Hershman says, Construction Engineering executes “all balance of system fabrication and all of the AC and DC manufacturing. All component parts are fabricated closely with our team’s input and they deliver that side of the product to us. So we’ve really optimized the installation process.”

Power in Collaboration

Since it self-performs up to 90 percent of work on a given job, local subs are used only as needed. “We use local subs only for the small scopes of work we don’t do ourselves. We have a history of treating our subcontractors very fairly, of paying our bills on time, and of doing things that will help them become successful as well,” Hershman notes. The company’s extensive global supply chain network features many top tier vendors. “We’re recognized as a good

counterpart and fair business partner with those vendors, so we get a lot of preferential treatment,” Hershman says. “We have a world-class procurement group securing materials from all over to make sure we have the product we need when we need it. We’re not always shopping the latest and greatest product out there; we limit our supply chain to a number of products we know we can deliver successfully

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and at the lowest cost.” On those occasions when the company brings on new vendors or products, they undergo a rigorous vetting process and start small to determine whether they can meet SRE’s needs. “NEXTracker was probably the best example of that. When they first came online we did a 500Kw project with them on their beta product. We provided a lot of feedback, they listened and continued to develop that product and our installation process and how we worked, and now we know with certainty that we can deliver gigawatts of power with their product,” Hershman says. Every decision the company makes is done so with the goal of delivering a world-class project on schedule. “If that means we have to work seven days a week in Wyoming to finish a project in record time in bad weather on BLM land, if that’s the requirement, then that’s what our employee-owners believe in – doing whatever it takes to make this happen, on time and on budget,” Hershman stresses.

Driven To Improve While the company doesn’t utilize any formal continuous improvement methodologies, its own systems work quite nicely. SRE self-analyzes via

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feedback loops. “That works even with our operations and maintenance teams and getting information back to our Engineering teams to make sure that we are continuously improving on the design process of the plan,” Hershman says. The company’s in-house Project Management app-based platform Sunscreen tracks every project in real time. “Foremen in the field with iPads are able to track their performances and it translates into a web-based portal that provides analysis on productivity, equipment performance, down to the


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the board. Because the organization is one group tied together, we can do a pretty efficient information loop and we can effect change quickly,” Hershman says. If a flawed process is discovered during the course of a project, it is remedied immediately. Likewise, if new generation products are determined to have advantages, they are implemented as quickly as possible. “And that’s okay because our teams can adapt to that,” Hershman says.

Forward Looking SRE continues to set the industry bar with its ceaseless focus on improvement. crew level performance on a given day. So we have a huge amount of data in the collection process and can analyze our production metrics in real time,” Hershman notes. The company’s technology group in Bend, OR handles all of its data management with the goal of supporting better and faster installation methods. “We have a lot of data across the spectrum. What is the total cost of ownership and what is the total cost of installation? We may have a lower CapEx cost on a certain component but its entire installation cost may be higher. We do a lot of analysis across

“I love the innovation culture that we have as a team. We will continue to find better ways of doing things. We’re committed to challenges in the industry to make projects successful that others have walked away from,” says Hershman, an industry veteran of 35 years. He began a term as Chairman of the Solar Energy Industries Association®, the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, in January of 2020. With its robust workforce, more equipment than other EPCs, the ability to self-perform most of its work, and a growing pool of projects around the world, expect SRE to continue in its

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COMPANY INFORMATION

role as an industry leader for decades to come. “I can’t overemphasize the cultural aspect of Swinerton. Because we’re 100 percent employee-owned, every single person has a vested interest in the success of every project. It is real and they take it personally, so it’s just a pleasure for me to represent an organization like this. I’m at a point where I’m more cheerleader than manager and I love the fact that we are hiring people today that will close out their 30-year career at the same company,” Hershman concludes.

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Company Name: Swinerton Renewable Energy Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 2008 Premier Services: Builds and manages utility, commercial, energy storage and high voltage substation solar installations. President: George Hershman Websites: www.swinerton.com, www.swinertonrenewable.com


North American Construction Journal 50 George Hershman’s Biography (5) among industry leaders in annual George W. Hershman is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Swinerton Renewable Energy (SRE), a division of Swinerton Inc. Originally founded in 1888, Swinerton Builders is one of the largest general contractors in the Country. Mr. Hershman began his tenure at Swinerton in 1997 as a Project Manager, working on a diverse set of projects ranging from a Los Angeles Airport runway, tunnel expansion to a $150-million renovation of the Los Angeles Zoo. In 2006, he was promoted to San Diego Division Manager of Swinerton Management & Consulting. In this capacity, he oversaw Construction Management assignments for municipal and education clients throughout the San Diego region. In response to the growing demand for renewable energy, Mr. Hershman took on the task of building Swinerton’s presence in the Renewable Energy Sector in 2008. Since starting the group, he and his team built SRE into one of the largest Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) and Operations & Maintenance (O&M) firms in the Country. In 2014, SRE formed a stand-alone plant management group called SOLV to enhance plant operations through specialized analytics and customized services. Both the EPC and SOLV teams are consistently ranked in the top five

solar company rankings. SRE has performed over 4GW of EPC work and SOLV group manages over 4.5GW of solar and wind assets. This includes projects throughout the United States and Canada. With over 30 years of construction experience, Mr. Hershman has become a recognized expert and industry leader in the engineering, construction and management of solar power plants. Mr. Hershman is an elected Executive Committee member and sits on the Board of Directors of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

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The Association of Union Constructors :

Providing a Unified Voice The Association of Union Contractors (TAUC) and now consists of more than 2,000 contractor companies that continue employ union labor for their construction and maintenance projects. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal ounded in 1969 to serve as the voice for union steel erector companies, the organization re-formed in 2007 as The Association of Union Contractors (TAUC) and now consists of more than 2,000 contractor companies that continue employ union labor for their construction and maintenance projects. From its headquarters in Arlington, VA TAUC also provides support local contractor associations, vendors and service providers in the industrial maintenance and construction sector. Industry veteran of 35 years Steve Lindauer has served as Chief Executive Officer of TAUC since September 2006. As a spokesman and advocate for the union construction and maintenance industry, he is regularly cited and called upon as an industry expert. Lindauer has completed specialized training in association management and executive leadership and a member of the Joint Administrative Committee to the Plan for the Settlement of Jurisdictional Disputes, Secretary of Helmets to Hardhats Program, sits on the Board of Directors of the Construction Labor Research Council and maintains professional membership with the American Society of Association Executives. Steve Johnson, the President of GEM,

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Inc., is the Association President, elected in May at TAUC’s annual Leadership Conference in New Orleans. In an Association press release, Johnson stated: “We never want to forget those who came before us and helped forge the trail we travel down today. The half-century mark is a milestone – but it’s also a turning point. And once we look back and recognize how far we’ve come, we owe it to our founders – and we owe it to ourselves – to turn around and look towards the future and plan for the next fifty years.” In its advocacy role, TAUC espouses a “tripartite dialogue” involving the union, the contractor and the ownerclient, thereby addressing and even eliminating delays or issues before a job begins. Though technically separate entities, the TAUC web site explains it: “Maintains a close relationship with the National Maintenance Agreements Policy Committee Inc. (NAMPC) made up of an equal number of representatives from labor and management, and together with the help of a dedicated staff, administers a set of standardized project labor agreements whose terms unions and contractors agree to follow on industrial maintenance and construction projects. These agreements set forth a framework and procedure for nearly every conceivable


North American Construction Journal aspect of the job.”

Safety Safety is the core value that drives the TAUC mission. The Association’s Senior Director of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) is on hand to help members with safety-related questions. The EHS Committee brings together the industry’s most experienced safety professionals who tackle the top issues of the day. TAUC’s Thomas J. Reynolds Safety Awards shine a spotlight on the safety accomplishments of its members. Member contractors who achieve a Days Away, Restricted or Transferred (DART) Rate of 25% or more below the national industry average in a calendar year receive one of two awards: • Zero DART Rate • DART Rate 25% below the industry average TAUC also maintains a strategic

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alliance with the National Association of Construction Boilermaker Employers (NACBE) and shares EHS-related information among the collective membership of both groups. Additionally, TAUC supports the Zero Injury Institute (ZII) that offers zero injury services to members at a discounted rate; has long been an active participant on OSHA’s Advisory Committee for Construction Safety and Health; and has been an active participant in the Drug Free Workplace Alliance for a number of years, banning all substance abuse that pose a problem in the workplace.

Strategic Alliances TAUC maintains collaborative alliances with key associations supporting union labor: • TAUC – NACBE: In 2008 TAUC and the National Association of Construction Boilermaker Employers (NACBE) formed a strategic alliance

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that assisted both organizations in advancing their mutual interests. • TAUC – NACA: In 2009 TAUC and the North American Contractors Association (NACA) formally consummated a strategic alliance that helps both organizations advance mutual interests beneficial to their respective memberships and the union construction industry.

Industry Representation The following associations fall under TAUC’s umbrella: • American Institute of Steel Construction • American National Standards Institute A10 & B30 Committees • American Society of Mechanical Engineers • American Society of Safety Engineers • Construction Labor Research Council • Construction Safety Council • Helmets to Hardhats • Ironworker Management Progressive Action Cooperative Trust • Laborers’ Health and Safety Fund of North America • Laborers-Employers Cooperation and Education Trust • National Safety Council • OSHA Advisory Committee on Construction Safety & Health • Quality Construction Alliance • U.S. Chamber of Commerce

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: The Association of Union Constructors Country: US Industry: Construction Est: 1969 Premiere: Union Association CEO: Steve Lindauer Website: www.tauc.org

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RAM Construction Services:

Providing Concrete Solutions

As it embarks on its second century, RAM Construction Services in Livonia, MI continues its evolution as a leader in commercial and industrial waterproofing services Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal s it embarks on its second century of operation, RAM Construction Services of Livonia, MI can look back with pride on its steady growth and development into a well regarded provider of commercial and industrial waterproofing services across an array of industry sectors. Established in 1918, the company today employs more than 800 individuals and maintains additional offices in Michigan (Detroit, Grand Rapids), Ohio (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo) and Minnesota (Blaine).

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works seven days a week. I’ve watched him work so incredibly hard my whole life. Next year will be his 50th year of involvement with the company – for half of the company’s life, he’s been involved! He has built incredible relationships because he’s just a great guy; he walks the walk, talks the talk and never asks anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself,” she says with pride. “Our skilled tradesmen are the backbone of what we do and so incredibly talented – they’re just the best at what they do,” Nagel adds.

“We have been in business growing, adapting and learning for over 100 years now. It’s safe to say that our team is one of the most well established and experienced in the marketplace,” says Erica Nagel, the company’s Director of Marketing.

RAM is a member of several industry associations, including The Association of United Constructors (TAUC), the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), and the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA).

“We have always learned from our mistakes and taken something away from all of them, and we couldn’t do it without the processes and procedures that have developed from lessons learned along the way,” she adds.

“Anything that helps our company establish a better network within the industry is a plus – it gives us the opportunity to talk about projects coming up, opportunities we may not know about, or different training for our staff,” Nagel says.

Nagel credits her father, company President Bob Mazur, for being a visionary while keeping the company moving on its path forward for more than five decades and setting it apart from others in the field. “My dad is an incredible leader. He

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Some Key Projects The Book Tower: Known as “Detroit’s Most Ornate Building”, RAM partnered with Bedrock and recently completed restoration work on the building designed by Louis Kemper and


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“At what point are we going to back ourselves into a corner as a society and not have the ability to fix what needs to be fixed or build what needs to be built? We need talented tradespeople.” - Erica Nagel, VP of Marketing

completed in 1926. The building had deteriorated over time until purchased by Bedrock in 2015. Building elevations were cleaned and maiden statues at the underside of the soffit were removed and completely restored. Tower cleaning began in 2017 and included inspection of the façade and replacement of terracotta as needed. Michigan Central Station: The

600,000-square-foot train station in downtown Detroit was abandoned in 1988 and purchased by Ford for $90 million in 2018. The automaker plans to move 2,500 employees into the restored facility by 2022. RAM is teaming with Christian-Brinker on the project to restore the tower. It will take two to three years to remove bricks and repair underlying steel framework prior to cleaning, repointing

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and replacing the damaged exterior terracotta, limestone and brick. A statement on the RAM company Facebook page reads, in part: “We are honored to be a part of this iconic project.”

2,000 projects a year, from under $1,000 up to in excess of $5 million. Nothing too big and nothing too small.”

May Company Garage for JACK Entertainment: RAM’s Cleveland group is working in conjunction with lead contractor Donley’s, Inc. of Cleveland on this $35 million restoration of a 10-story parking deck, located across the street from JACK Casino in downtown Cleveland. The project is expected to take two years to complete.

The AGC recently presented the company with a Silver Standard specialty sub-contractor award for safety.

In general, Nagel says, “we do over

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Safety Initiatives

“We have an incredible Safety Department that is well-established. Two of our safety managers have been with the firm for over 25 years. They’ve learned first-hand and worked tirelessly to help RAM improve and to ensure that our safety culture is


North American Construction Journal second to none,” Nagel notes. “The things we do just a little bit better at RAM are accountability, proactivity and communication.” For example, new hires wear orange hard hats for the first two years of their employment. “It’s a way for the more seasoned employees and project management to keep an eye out for them. Our safety director Vince Griffin always urges our field crews to look out for their brother,” Nagel explains. The company demonstrated its dedication to proactivity and accountability by investing in equipment a year before new OSHA silica standards went into effect. “With a lot of what we do, we have

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to air monitor to make sure the amount of silica dust is within OSHA standards, so we started investing in dustless equipment and air monitoring equipment to make sure we were ahead of the curve and that our estimators knew what productions were realistic. We knew that by the time the law went into effect we were already four steps ahead of everyone else,” Nagel says.

Day to Day In her Marketing role, Nagel oversees all regions as well as Social Media platforms such as LinkedIn. “I make sure we are well represented in Social Media and that our site is up to date and that our LinkedIn is

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North American Construction Journal constantly updated so that we can recruit talented people. My goal is to make sure the company image is consistent across all of the markets that we work in,” says Nagel, who spent her first seven years at the company as an estimator and project manager. Her dad oversees all project management and estimating for the four divisions that comprise RAM; Building Façade Restoration, Concrete Restoration, New Construction Weatherproofing, and, most recently, Department of Transportation. “During the recession, my father saw a speech given by President Obama about the government’s plan to fix the nation’s roads and bridges that

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inspired him to start our DOT Division. We already had the equipment and expertise working in parking structures, which meant we were doing the concrete work, deck coating systems, and epoxy systems. He thought ‘Okay, they’re still spending money on the roads, so we could keep our guys busy doing the work we’ve been doing, just on a larger scale.’” Nagel recalls. “Twelve years later we’re working in 20 states doing DOT overlay work and the division continues to excel. We’re bidding work for next year and the year after right now,” she adds. The company is addressing the industry-wide issue of a declining skilled labor pool in a number of ways. One is countering the notion that a

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“My dad is an incredible leader … I’ve watched him work so incredibly hard for my whole life. Next year will be his 50th year involved with the company – for half of the company’s life, he’s been involved! … He’s just a great guy; he walks the walk, talks the talk and never asks anyone to do something he wouldn’t do himself.” - Erica Nagel, VP of Marketing

four-year college degree is necessary for future success. “There used to be such respect for blue-collar labor and people who were skilled and could do things with their hands and that’s really not promoted anymore,” Nagel offers. “Kids now are going to college and acquiring a lot of debt – then unfortunately their job security isn’t the same as working in the skilled trades would guarantee.” Construction, she maintains, has a concrete need for the manpower to fill available jobs. “At what point are we going to back ourselves into a corner as a society and not have the ability to fix what needs to be fixed or build what needs to be built? We need talented tradespeople,” Nagel asserts. The company also works with the Michigan prison system to provide training and job opportunities for individuals about to be released.

Candidates are selected only after background checks. Bob Mazur is also working with Catholic priests in the region who operate homeless shelters to provide similar opportunities for individuals down on their luck. Since it self-performs 98 percent of all work, the company rarely needs subcontractor partners. When it does, it calls upon an extensive network of companies established through the years that have stood the test of time. The company has recently been looking for additional limestone and granite materials partners to help meet its burgeoning workload. Their vetting process, though perhaps a bit old school, works. “We ask to take a tour of their facilities so we can see how they work, how their shop is set up, what their real capabilities are. We check out their yards to see how organized they are. You can learn a lot about a company’s culture simply by walking through their

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North American Construction Journal office. And we ask around within our network to verify that other people have worked with them and what they may think,” Nagel says.

Into The Future One year into its second century, RAM Construction Services remains a nimble, vibrant organization that adapts as it grows. “The culture of RAM has changed so much in the last 10 years. We’ve got a great team of leaders looking out for the company to make RAM more effective, more professional, and to provide a better work environment for all of our employees,” Nagel says.

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Her advice to those new to the industry? “’Keep yourself at seventeen inches’ – my dad recently shared this message from Coach Scolinos about accountability to our RAM leaders. In baseball, all home plates are seventeen inches, from little league to the major leagues. If a pitcher can’t throw over the plate, the coach must hold him accountable no matter who he is. Don’t widen home plate for anyone, and especially not for yourself. It’s important to keep your team and keep yourself at seventeen inches.” she says. A statement that has 100 years of success backing it up.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: RAM Construction Services Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1918 Premier Services: Commercial and industrial waterproofing services President: Robert T. Mazur Website: www.ramservices.com

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Dearborn Mid-West Company:

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An Unmatched One-Stop Shop Dearborn Mid-West Company of Taylor, MI has designed and provided self-performing turnkey systems of unsurpassed life cycles for more than 60 years. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal stablished in 1947, Dearborn Mid-West Company of Taylor, MI has designed and provided self-performing turnkey systems of unsurpassed life cycles to the automotive and industrial commercial markets. The company’s individualized design solutions for every project allows it to stand apart from its competitors. Proficiencies include Engineering, Fabrication, Installation, Commissioning and Life Cycle Improvement for material handling systems, as well as Tooling and Equipment installation and Construction Services. “Our reputation with our customers; our track record is one of being able to provide our customers with turnkey projects to help them succeed,” explains Todd Begerowski, the company’s Director of Field Operations. “We’re an Owner-Equipment manufacturer and that unique label allows us to serve our customers from design to manufacturing to installation in the field. We’re able to service our customers, ensuring the quality of our product. Our reach is global, not regional,” he continues. The company opened its new headquarters in Taylor, MI in 1998. That office alone employs 152 and generated $240 million revenue in 2018. It belongs to multiple

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industry associations and has won multiple safety awards. The company was incorporated in 1995 and also maintains full-fledged operations in Queretar, Mexico and Hubei, China. “I oversee all installation activities whether regional, national or abroad. While China is its own operation in essence, it does give us a global reach but most of my work is in North America, Mexico and South America,” Begerowski explains. The company belongs to a number of key industry associations such as The Association of Union Contractors (TAUC) and the Michigan Conveyor Manufacturers Association (MCMA). Additionally, Begerowski serves as an alternate on the National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee (NMAPC) and President of the MCMA.

Daily Operations In his role, Begerowski has oversight of all operations. “On the technical side, I’m responsible for all automotive, industrial and construction projects. I monitor estimates, schedules and installation activities and whether we will selfperform or sub-contract,” he says. “On the soft skills side, I’m responsible for all labor relations to our signatory trades at the local, regional and national levels.”


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“We’re an Owner-Equipment manufacturer and that unique label allows us to serve our customers from design to manufacturing to installation in the field.” - Director of Installations Todd Begerowski

As is the case with every sector of the construction industry, combating manpower shortages caused by an aging workforce and recruiting the next generation of skilled workers is an ongoing struggle. “As a union contractor we’re directly tied to our partnership with all the national trades and our ability to provide a safe, well-trained workforce at any given time. We work diligently

with our labor partners to ensure this happens. Upon award of a project, we reach out to labor partners, then set up site-specific training for the members to ensure workers will bring the most value possible to the owner,” Begerowski states. The company finds quality talent at career fairs and provides internships at the high school and college levels. Begerowski says the company works

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diligently to identify and retain talented individuals. DMW provides mentors to aid in the transition to a new job; offers formal training and continuing education opportunities in areas with direct relevance to an individual’s job; and encourages collaboration within peer groups. “We support a team effort. All the different avenues allow us to support one another and to provide a product that exceeds all others in our evolving industry,” Begerowski says. And evolution, after all is crucial to survival in the marketplace. Begerowski says companies need to be tuned into

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the changes within the industry. “[Today] It’s more about partnership and collaboration with all parties involved. We nurture each project with a Cradle to Grave philosophy. From design to field implementation, from labor, to the CEO, everyone is tied together,” Begerowski says. “It’s not about a guy sitting in an office anymore, 200 miles or a continent away from the project relying on somebody else to ensure his success.” The company’s commitment to providing service and quality of the highest order has yielded recognition as 2017’s Conveyor Project of the Year by the UBC Conveyor Committee; and as a Top General Contractor for 2018


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by Crain’s Business Detroit.

Safety Initiatives There is zero tolerance for unsafe working conditions or job site practices. The company takes a zero incident approach to accidents, injuries, illnesses and near misses and that is reflected in both its mandate – “Commitment without Compromise” – and its 2019 Experience Modification Rate (EMR) of 0.68. The company was presented a Zero Injury Safety Award (ZISA) by the National Maintenance Agreement Policy Committee for 60,861 work hours at the GM Fort Wayne, IN assembly plant in 2017. It also received the Michigan State Outstanding Safety Performance Award for outstanding safety performance in 2015. The company holds ISO:9001-2015 certification complying with standards to ensure its products and services meet customers’ requirements. It is also AISC certified as a structural steel fabricator and is an affiliate member of the American Welding Society (AWS). Safety planning starts for each job as soon as a project is secured, beginning with a thorough review of the job site to identify potential areas of concern. The goal, of course, is to “ensure that every person on every job goes home the same way they came to work,” Begerowski states.

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The company’s superintendents take a lead role in the development and implementation of site-specific safety plans and have the authority to change plans on site should that be necessary. “Our site superintendents work with safety managers to create specific JSA’s. They help create the base plan and when there are changes in the field, they are well-versed in what documents need to be current and up to date,” Begerowski says. “We can plan everything on paper but when you get out on the job site, things can change rapidly. By having the superintendent in tune with that and really being in charge of the


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Business District in 30 years. “Basically the building we’re putting up is occupying one of the last vacant parcels in the city. The city has struggled with blight over the last 20 years, so it’s good to be part of the resurgence of Detroit,” Begerowski says. When finished, the building will combine the elements of green living with the amenities of luxury living.

operation, we can review on a daily basis with manpower and make daily recommendations as observations are made,” he adds. The company does a deep dive on sub-contractors it brings aboard. Additionally, the company holds daily toolbox talks and daily subcontractor meetings as well as daily reviews to identify outliers and risk mitigation factors.

Key Projects The high-profile City Club Apartments green building certified development is the first conventionally financed mixed-use high-rise apartment development in Detroit’s Central

“It’s a new urban housing lifestyle option with unique features that include a rooftop sky park, a rooftop swimming pool along with multiple shops. It’s a neat little project, a pretty nice development,” Begerowski explains. The company has abundant work on the automotive side. “We’re really excited about being involved with the FIAT Chrysler Plant here in Detroit and the opportunities it presents. We’re also very involved with the launch of the Ford Bronco – we’ve been selected and are really excited to be part of that,” Begerowski notes. During the summer the company worked on re-tooling projects at Ford Chicago, Ford Michigan Assembly, Ford Ohio Truck, GM In Fort Wayne and Flint, Fiat-Chrysler and GM Truck, all smaller projects that help increase productivity on the line side.

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North American Construction Journal day one of the launch.” he says. Down The Road For more than 70 years, DMW has forged a reputation for providing service and projects of the highest quality by introducing new technology, expertise and services. It is a point of pride and, Begerowski says, it’s not going to change. “DMW products can be found worldwide. From automotive and parcel handling to industrial manufacturing systems, DMW’s experience translates into flawless, on-time and complete turnkey material handling systems. DMW’s ‘Team Approach’ to simultaneous engineering, manufacturing, and testing assures equipment reliability on

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“Recognizing the mindset of partnership and collaboration to bring value to the customer,” he says, summing up the company’s key to success and elevator pitch in a single sentence. The 25-year industry veteran loves the work. “I enjoy dealing with the daily challenges and being part of a team that plans, designs and builds while working in a collaborative environment both internally and with our customers,” he concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Dearborn Mid-West Conveyor Company Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1947 Premier Services: Project Management, Material Handling, Concrete, Automotive, Construction, After-Market Services President/CEO: Jeff Brinker Website: www.dmwcc.com

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North State Environmental, Inc.:

Going with The Flow

North State Environmental, Inc. of Winston-Salem, NC has earned its reputation as a premier provider of restoration and mitigation services to waterways across North America.

Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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stablished in 1994 by Darrell Westmoreland, North State Environmental, Inc. of Winston-Salem, NC has certainly earned its reputation as a premier provider of restoration and mitigation services to waterways across North America. “Our goal is to restore our waterways, streams and rivers back to their proper function and stability and to provide habitat and supply our estuaries. Erosion puts a lot of the strain on our rivers,” says Westmoreland, the company’s CEO. His wife Stephanie is NSE’s President. The company provides stream restoration, wetlands restoration, dam removal, ecological restoration and bio-engineering services. It averages approximately $18 million annual revenue and maintains its’ national reputation across the United States including the Rocky Mountains States. It employs approximately 70 individuals encompassing nine field crews and office personnel.

The company has been honored with several industry awards, including:

NSE’s reach is nationwide, having executed projects nationwide for landowner clients including Federal, state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, universities, and private owners in many geographical provinces.

Award of Excellence for Risk Control 2018: Presented by the National Contractors Insurance Program for superior performance in risk control efforts as demonstrated by effective safety programs, favorable claims experience and experience in risk control workshops and other loss prevention activities.

“Wherever the work is, we go,” Westmoreland states.

Illinois River Environmental Excellence Award 2012: NSE

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received the Oklahoma Conservation Commission Environmental Excellence award from “Keep Oklahoma Beautiful” for planting 10,000 trees, improving 6,000 feet of streambank and keeping 900 tons of sediment out of the Illinois River.

Some Key Projects Linville River Phase 4: This project restored more than 1,000 linear feet of the Linville River flowing through Gill State Forest in western North Carolina. The project used NRCS Western North

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Carolina Stream Initiative Funding and was designed and constructed to re-instate flood plain connectivity by utilizing aquatic structures that maintain the depth and width of its stable state. A Dec. 12, 2019 post to The Resource Institute web cited Westmoreland with implementing the project: “Because the river acts like a conveyor belt, it’s constantly moving the gravel and material that you see on the bottom. What had happened with this specific Linville River project was it had gotten

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North American Construction Journal shallow, and shallow water does not support trout very well,� says Darrell. Stone Mountain/East Fort Roaring River Project: The project located in Stone Mountain State Park, Wilkes County, NC, was implemented in May 2017, to improve water quality and aquatic habitats. It was funded by a grant from the North Carolina Clean Water Management Trust Fund with partner support provided by Trout Unlimited, NC Park Service, and Resource Institute. Designed by Jennings Environmental and implemented by NSE, the 400-linearfoot restoration project included channel realignment, floodplain grading, in-stream log vane structures, toe wood revetments, riffle/pool

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creation, and native riparian vegetation. Buckhorn Dam Project: Completed in 2009 for Progress Energy Service Company, LLC. The Buckhorn Dam Removal consisted of the removal of a 1950’s powerhouse, a large wing wall and several other smaller buildings for the safety of the surrounding community. Once all the rubble from the dam was removed and disposed of properly, realignment of the main steam of the channel ensued to ensure that the pre-existing sediment that was stored behind the dam was handled properly. Vegetation was installed along the channel and the adjacent riparian zones to assist with rapid establishment of native vegetation. This project was a success by reaching the main goals


North American Construction Journal of restoring the river back to a natural channel that allows fish passage and proper habitat. Little Stewart Creek Restoration Project: Located just outside of Two Harbors, MN, Little Stewart Creek was negatively affected by the 2013 flood. Funded by Minnesota TU as a Design/Build project, the main goals and objectives were to realign the aggraded stream bed to its natural profile and dimension along with maintaining fish passage and habitat

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stability and to serve as in-stream aquatic habitat. The transplanting of willows aided with vegetation establishment and stability.

What They Do While working with a wildlife biologist for the North Carolina Department of Natural Resources, Darrell and Stephanie discovered a shared passion for stream restoration. “In 1994 we started focusing on erosion

“In 1994 we started focusing on erosion control. Part of stream restoration is to limit erosion. The streams began to blossom, so we started taking specialized training to position ourselves to do this kind of work.” - CEO Darrell Westmoreland

for the native Steelhead. Onsite trees were utilized within the design and construction methods to assist with reestablishment of necessary biomass. Ryan Ranch Bank Stabilization Project: Completed in 2015 in Saratoga, WY, the private project was designed by the NRCS to stabilize a riverbank on the North Platte River that was losing 40 feet of bank each year during Spring runoff. The design featured four 100-foot boulder structures to assist in turning flow regimes in high flows. Toe Wood was installed in the spacing between the boulder structures to also ensure bank

control. Part of stream restoration is to limit erosion. The streams began to blossom, so we started taking specialized training to position ourselves to do this kind of work,” he recalls. Darrell oversees field operations, stream restoration and wetlands projects for the company. Stephanie researches and prepares bids and prequalification packages; handles human resource issues related to EEO and Affirmative Action policies; and manages insurance, payroll and billing. “The job changes a lot and it changes

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Ecosystem Restoration Services

Stream and wetland restoration • Dam removal • Fish passage Mitigation banking • Permittee-responsible mitigation • In-lieu fee mitigation

Designed by CEC Constructed by North State Environmental

Partners like North State Environmental work with CEC on the most demanding projects. CEC’s aquatic ecologists, geomorphologists, wetland scientists, botanists, agronomists, and engineers work together to create functional, self-sustaining stream and wetland systems. Whether devising special restoration techniques specific to each site or developing innovative mitigation credit options that are considered models for complex mitigation projects, we truly push the limits on what can be done from a restoration design standpoint. CEC also provides turnkey design-build and construction management services for restoring ecosystems. By developing realistic, ecologically relevant and measurable performance standards, as well as post-restoration monitoring programs to determine compliance with state and federal permits, CEC is specialized in delivering self-sustaining projects that provide an ecological uplift to watersheds.

Offices nationwide 800.365.2324 www.cecinc.com

every day. There are days I’m in the office helping with estimates, hiring, scheduling and reviewing projects. There are a lot of conferences, presentations and site walks with clients for new projects, days when I’m out in the field all day. It’s certainly not boring,” Darrell explains. The company employs subcontractors as needed, primarily for seeding for erosion control. “We take references, we vet them, and we give them the opportunity to see if they are a fit for what we do. Some have grown into long-term relationships,” he says. NSE has a reputation of retaining

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employees for a long while. “I’ve been here 16 years. I began at the entry level, not knowing much about the industry. I came here for a job and I found a career,” says Brandon Spaugh, Project Manager for Business Development. “Not only do I find what we do rewarding but the culture here is great. Darrell and Stephanie are great to work for, a really strong team.” The company also owns Atlantic Reef Maker in Wilmington, NC and a Heavy Civil Division in Winston-Salem.

Looking Ahead With a quarter century of experience behind it, a reputation as one of the


North American Construction Journal industry’s premier providers and an abundance of work, NSE is just getting started. The company is perfectly positioned for a bright future. “It has been a wonderful, wonderful ride and the employees have been everything for us. They’re friends and

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we spend time outside work with them,” Westmoreland says. “They’re hard-working and they always have a smile on their faces, and we do too. And that goes for the clients as well. That’s the biggest part, the people; it’s not just a job, it’s about the relationships you build.”

“It has been a wonderful, wonderful ride and the employees have been everything for us … They’re hard-working and they always have a smile on their face, and we do too.” - CEO Darrell Westmoreland www.naconstructionjournal.com


North American Construction Journal 87 North State Environmental’s alter a river’s flow regime by blocking a river’s passage, storing water Core Competencies To learn more, visit: www.nsenv.com Stream Restoration: A comprehensive program to reestablish the structure and function of an ecosystem, including its natural diversity and aquatic habitats. Methods to control land surface features to prevent erosion by surface water or precipitation runoff. Stream restoration requires a complex understanding of stream function and the diverse habitats that are in and surround the stream. It requires that ability to see the vision of the end goal and still meet the requirements of the landowner, designer, etc. Wetland Restoration: Watering or dewatering of protected wetland areas to promote regeneration of native flora. Wetlands are like our stormwater treatment wetlands, but on a larger scale and are used to provide a flood plain and allow storage during a flood event. They provide habitat for a large array of animals and insects and are a natural buffer to our streams and rivers. Wetlands can also be used to treat stormwater runoff. Water can be treated and released slowly back into the water shed. Dam Removal: Dams dramatically

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in both large and small artificial reservoirs, and disrupting the cycles that many aquatic organisms depend upon. We offer a turnkey service of removing a dam of any size and complexity and replacing it with the necessary revetments to maintain a proposed grade control, to reestablish the river’s natural pattern, profile, & dimension. Ecological Clearing: North State Environmental now has the capability to perform an ecological approach to tree removal. Using a Shinn Grinding System installed on a CAT 321 Excavator, we can grind any size tree into mulch where it stands. This approach alleviates the cost of debris removal from a project site or a burn pile. It also allows the root system to stay in place for bank stability where needed. Bio-Engineering Services: Applying engineering processes to change sediment transport, geomorphology, bank failure mechanisms and flooding by using vegetation to help stabilize stream banks, slopes, and wetlands areas. Reintroducing the design plant diversity and type back into the system in such a way that it will provide stability and habitat for the restored area. Also, reintroducing native plant types that were loss due to land use, changing climate, etc.


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COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: North State Environmental, Inc. Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1994 Premier Services: Provider of stream restoration, wetlands restoration, dam removal, ecological restoration and bioengineering services. CEO/Founder: Darrell Westmoreland President: Stephanie Westmoreland Website: www.nsenv.com

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ABC Florida East Coast Chapter :

Serving the needs of South Florida’s contractors

The ABC East Coast Chapter espouses the merit shop philosophy and as the largest industry association in Florida, serves as the voice of commercial construction Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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hen Hurricane Irma careened through Florida in September 2017 causing catastrophic damage in excess of $100bn, Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Florida East Coast Chapter stood ready to help both residents and its members impacted by one of the most ferocious Atlantic Ocean storms on record. “A lot of people need help that don’t have the means themselves, the elderly and the poor. Those are the ones we try to do extra outreach with. The hurricane just made a bad situation even worse,” says chapter President & CEO Peter Dyga. “We have the contacts. We can reach out to our 500-plus members and say ‘Can somebody out there help this person?’ That’s one of the ways we can help, through sheer volume of contacts. “South Florida and especially the Keys have a long way to go to recover. In the Keys, there are often not enough contractors to begin with and a lot of them lost everything – their tools and, in some instances, their only form of transportation. We’re able to help,” Dyga adds. “There is going to be a lot of long-term reinvestment in infrastructure. Any way we can help out, we’re trying to.”

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The association is a member of the Disaster Contractors Network in Florida and has also partnered with The United Way in the recovery effort. Now in its 50th year, the ABC East Coast Chapter espouses the merit shop philosophy and serves as the voice for its membership at the local, state and federal levels of government. As the largest construction association in Florida with the highest percentage (67%) of contractors, it provides industry training, safety training and professional development


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the Florida Legislature. He became President in 2012. The chapter is regarded as a leader in Government Affairs, now under the leadership of VP Carol Bowen. “To get a single bill passed in State Legislature is a challenge – we had three of our major objectives pass (in 2017) and I just think that speaks incredibly well to our influence and the respect we have in Tallahassee,” says Dyga. “We’ve gotten better at the things we were recognized leaders of. It comes down to you have to be in tune with your industry needs.” The association supplements Bowen’s work with contract lobbyists to ensure it has maximum opportunities to each of its 518 members. “We are very conscientious about being a contractor organization. The contractor community doesn’t always see eye-to-eye. You have General Contractors and the Specialty trades but all are equal within our association. Our goal is to represent the entire industry,” Dyga explains.

A Respected Voice Dyga joined the chapter in 1999 as its Vice President of Government Affairs after seven years working for

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North American Construction Journal representation. ABC also holds the largest industry “Day on the Hill” in Tallahassee. “It is the largest gathering and it’s important for any industry to be there. Legislators want to hear from company owners, the people signing the paycheck. We take contractors up there for a day and a half and encourage them to have conversations with legislators about the challenges we face in the industry,” Dyga explains.

Pitching the Profession Replenishing a work force that is aging out of the industry has long been a challenge across the

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country. The impact of Hurricane Irma has exacerbated that problem in South Florida, creating more work in an already tight market. Dyga says ABC spends about $2 million in training, marketing and PR, sponsors programs at middle and high schools, and engages with school counselors. Importantly, he says the message had to change. According to research by the Federal Government, 65% of jobs in in the future will not require a traditional four-year college degree. “The opportunities available in construction are good first choices


North American Construction Journal that are in high demand. They may require a journeyman license, or apprenticeship, but you will have zero student debt and a job right from the get-go. In Florida, student debt has to be borne by the contractor. So you’re working while you’re training,” Dyga points out. In addition to middle and high school students, those in the 25- to 35-year-old age group who may be disillusioned with their chosen profession are a prime target market. “Our culture is such that everyone is encouraged to go to college. It’s like turning a battleship, but we’re trying to change that. A good

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alternative is a four-year certification program. It’s not a booby prize. It’s an equally good first choice,” he stresses.

Safety Initiatives The more than 900 apprentices who are association members are immersed in the importance of job safety for the first six months of their tenure. “It includes OSHA 10 training. Safety is a huge part of what we’re about. It’s a culture thing and, as an industry, we need to be sure we are promoting it,” Dyga asserts. Nationwide, as an organization, ABC’s Safety Training and Evaluation Process (STEP) provides every contractor the tools necessary to evaluate and assess its own safety protocol. “We have as many of our members take part as possible. You find out where your shortcomings are and you find out how to improve them. If it’s inconvenient for our contractors to go somewhere to take OSHA classes, then we’ll bring it to them. We can offer that convenience,” Dyga says.

Professional Development The association has a Young Professionals Committee and a

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Leadership ABC program. Its member companies are encouraged to identify employees who may be interested in pursuing a management track. “They may need some soft skills or some advanced management skills to achieve even higher goals in their professional career,” Dyga says. “It’s been a tremendously successful program.” The association also maintains two student chapters at Florida International University and Florida Institute of Technology, which both offer Construction Management

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“To get a single bill passed in

State Legislature is a challenge – we had three of our major 0bjectives pass (in 2017) and I just think that speaks incredibly well to our influence and the respect we have in Tallahassee.

- Association President Peter Dyga


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COMPANY INFORMATION degrees. Additionally, it provides apprenticeship, foreman and superintendent training, the latter through a two-week program at Purdue’s highly acclaimed Project Management Academy. In the final analysis, given the depth and breadth of all that the ABC Florida East Coast Chapter offers, it is sound business for South Florida commercial contractors to become members.

Company Name: ABC Florida East Coast Chapter

Country: U.S. Industry: Construction Est: 1968 Premiere Service: Industry Association

“We’re in tune with our industry needs. In general, we’re here to be part of the solution,” Dyga concludes.

President: Peter Dyga Website: www.abceastflorida.com

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Plaza Construction:

Future Shines Bright for Innovative Plaza Construction Growth continues for Plaza Construction, Southeast Florida’s premier construction management and general contracting firm Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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lready well established as Southeast Florida’s premier construction management and general contracting firm, the Plaza Construction management team decided a bit of self-reflection would be beneficial. “We took a little pause and went on retreat with some of our senior leaders and spent some time thinking about “Who are we?” and “Who do we want to be?” It was a self-introspective exploration as a company,” says company President Brad Meltzer. Two primary initiatives emerged from those meetings – the elevation of Human Resources to a more primary role within the company’s structure and the decision to involve more employees at all levels to provide input that would help guide the company’s future. “Our HR people went from being an internal group managing 401K and benefits within the organization to becoming the heart pumping blood through the organization. We spent a lot of time allowing people within the company to join different committees and teams to truly shape the future of the company,” Meltzer explains. “We have let our people know that they actually have an opportunity to change the [company’s] trajectory, enabled by executives who take action and allow them to do it. This initiative is

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paying dividends with great results; it’s really made an impact on the company. And, by the way, that’s people at all levels, all tiers of the company,” stresses Meltzer, an advocate of an open door management style who adds, “There’s not a lock on my door and my office is made entirely of glass.” Meltzer joined Plaza as a summer intern in 1989 and then permanently upon graduation from Tulane University School of Architecture Masters program in 1990. Today Plaza Construction Southeast employs roughly 200 people and has $1 billion in projects under construction, most of them in Miami-Dade County,


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with Tampa/Orlando growing as well. Globally the company employs roughly 700 people and is headquartered in New York City with regional offices in Jersey City, NJ, Washington, DC, Orlando, Tampa, Los Angeles and San Jose producing annual revenue in excess of $1bn. What separates the company from a

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bevy of high-profile competitors in the region? “It comes back to respect. You want to earn the respect of your clients, work transparently and have a common goal that puts the project first. Our clients know that we are innovative and working on their behalf,� Meltzer says.

You want to earn the respect of your clients, work transparently and have a common goal that puts the project first. Our clients know that we are innovative and that we are working on their behalf. - President Brad Meltzer www.naconstructionjournal.com


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Swap out the word “company” for the word “yourself” from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and you have essentially what could be the company’s operational mantra: “If you know your company and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.”

Premier Projects KNEE 1000 Museum Tower: The 706foot tall skyscraper in downtown Miami designed by the late architect Zaha Hadid took four years from concept to completion and opened in July. It features a stunning exoskeletal façade

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and includes 84 residential units. “It is one of the 14 most anticipated buildings of 2019 in the world,” according to Architectural Digest. Royal Caribbean Project: Plaza was awarded a contract to provide a new 10-story, 380,000 square-foot office building and a 1,500-space parking garage at the southwest corner of Dodge Island. Skyrise Miami: Upon completion, the 1000-foot tall entertainment and observation tower on Biscayne Bay will be tallest structure in the state. The Berkowitz Development Group is the


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Mall expansion; and was one of three firms on the short list of companies being considered for a Public-Private Partnership venture with SACYR of Spain for the new Miami-Dade County courthouse.

On The Job Adherence to the company’s business principles and expected behavior, detailed in a notebook given to every company employee, are the primary drivers behind Plaza’s success.

primary developer. “It’s one of a kind, a modern day Eiffel Tower,” says Meltzer. Resorts World Casino: Plaza is the construction manager for the Phase 1 expansion of the casino located at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens. Expansion will include a 10-story, 400room hotel as well as the addition of new restaurants, a conference center and meeting rooms, fitness center, and the addition of 800 electronic video games. Plaza was also involved in providing one million square feet of parking and retail space for the Aventura

“At the core of all of that is transparency. For so long the construction industry had skepticism from outsiders. We have always been transparent and when people see how we operate it breaks down barriers and creates teams. People can talk all they want about innovation and technology, but making the industry better comes down to your company’s culture,” he stresses. The company most often works with a dedicated core network of subcontractors developed through the years but occasionally takes on a new vendor. All undergo a rigorous vetting process. “We have a prequalifying process and conduct a financial review of their operations to make sure they can handle the job. We also have a subcontractor appreciation night, with a barbecue at a local restaurant,

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because we want them to know we appreciate them. Our people are our most important asset and we need to help them grow and create a culture emphasizing that we are a team,” says Meltzer. “I am a big believer in the principles inherent in team sports. We need to make sure all the links of the chain are strong.”

or money, they feel like we are one of them and that we have a certain sensitivity to the design and that we are not looking to simply cut scope out of the design. As a group, we are looking for ways to save money but not change the aesthetic, or change the longevity and long-term maintenance of the project,” he says.

Meltzer followed his father into the field of Architecture, earning a Masters Degree in Architecture. He says the company’s appreciation of and sensitivity to quality design is a cornerstone of its relationship with clients.

Plaza is respected throughout the industry for the wealth of knowledge possessed by its employees and its dedication to provide every client with a unique solution for their project.

“When the design professionals ask us to strategically find ways to save time

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“When you’re sitting at a table with people and they feel you’re one of them, there is a comfort level that is created amongst all stakeholders in


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the project. Much of our staff was educated as architects and engineers, including some who worked in the professional sector previously. The people at Plaza are thinkers and builders at the same time. People want to be respected and mutual respect is created when we share a common goal,” says Meltzer. Since an overworked staff doesn’t necessarily produce the best results, Meltzer values down time for every employee. “I try to find time for my three boys with two in college and a 12-year-old. I try not to miss his games and my wife and I spend time bouncing around

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between sports events. It’s a great sense of family and a great sense of pride. Sometimes I get to play a round of golf – that’s four hours of free time for me, which is important. At Plaza, we really believe people should take their vacations. We believe when you take your vacation you are better to yourself, your family and your coworkers. You need to take break and have your batteries re-charged,” he says. The company belongs to multiple industry associations, among them the Construction Association of South Florida (CASF), the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC), the Associated General Contractors of

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North American Construction Journal America (AGC), the Construction Employers Association (CEA) and the Latin Builders Association.

Safety Initiatives Plaza has maintained an enviable Experience Modification rate (EMR) through the years. The number used by insurance companies gauges the past cost of injuries and the future chances of risk. “We believe it is differentiator with our clients, who want to have their contractors perform work safely. We think it sends an incredibly powerful message to our staff and ultimately to the sub-contractors, who have the right to go home to their family safely each and every day,” Meltzer notes.

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The company rewards employees for their performance when they surpass a set number of hours of having worked safely on a job site. “We recognize and reward workers who have moved the needle on a jobsite or who did something above and beyond that was exceptional. We do it in front of the entire work force, so these workers have a moment to shine. We’re recognizing them not just for their work but for their safe work,” Meltzer says. He tells the story of a young electrician who arrived at a company top-out barbecue hopeful of winning a gift card or a new power tool in the raffle. “Instead he walked away with the keys


North American Construction Journal to a new pickup truck,” Meltzer says. “We had another worker win a truck who began to cry and told me he took the bus to work two hours in each direction every day to get to work. It’s become part of our culture and when you see the impact it makes it is worth all the hard work.”

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The company has awarded trucks to multiple winners and has convinced its clients to partner in the initiative.

Staff Training The company’s Plaza Futures program under the direction of Human Resources Director Maria

“We recognize and reward workers who have moved the needle on a jobsite or who did something above and beyond that was exceptional. We do it in front of the entire work force so these workers have a moment in the sun. We’re recognizing them not just for their work but for their safe work.” - President Brad Meltzer

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Molina in South Florida is designed to introduce individuals who have been in construction for two years or less to the scope of opportunities available within the industry. “It is something I’m really proud of because we are following through on an initiative, we thought was important for the future of young people in our industry,” Meltzer says. “It is for those who have been in the industry for two years or less, whether they joined us from a college program or from another company. We believe, they need to understand all facets of our business, especially before they make career choices.”

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Participants are provided mentors and work for six months as a Superintendent, six months as an Estimator, six months as a Project Manager and six months in other facets of the business. Upon completion of the program, they meet with their mentor to map out their career trajectory. “We have seen folks think they want to be a project manager but because they spent six months as a Superintendent realize, “Wow, maybe that’s what I want to do,” says Meltzer. The inaugural class in South Florida is scheduled to complete its training the


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first quarter of 2020 and the program will be offered in the New York and D.C. offices for the first time this fall.

with mentors and provide them with guidance to spread their wings into the real world,” Meltzer says.

Committed Community Partner

Plaza built the Fisher Houses, which have provided nearly 400,000 veteran’s families, since 1990, with free high quality housing accommodations across the country, while veterans are treated at military facilities.

The company is well known for its charitable initiatives, both nationally and in Florida. The American Corporate Partners (ACP) year-long mentorship for military veterans and their spouses features mentors from Fortune 500 companies and has earned a 98 percent approval rating from participants. “So you’re someone who worked in the military for 30 years and your time is coming up to move into the private sector. It can be very difficult for veterans to transition, so we buddy up with them and provide them

“Some of the treatments can take five, six or seven months if not longer for brain trauma, serious burns, and significant arm or limb damage. The Fisher family donates a significant amount of their cost and time and Plaza has tried to do the time on the construction side of those facilities,” Meltzer explains. Finally, the company’s Florida office has sponsored a golf tournament for the past several years, raising money

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for Voices for Children that according to the organization’s web site “ensures that every abused, abandoned and neglected child in Miami-Dade County has a court-appointed Guardian ad Litem (GAL) and that financial assistance and other resources are available for their health, educational, and social needs.” “We’ve been able to raise a significant

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amount of money with that event and we decided to give that money to Voices for Children for kids in the foster care system to provide them with mentorship, guidance and support. To have an impact on young people’s lives, I can’t think of a better way to spend a beautiful day on the golf course with our industry partners to raise money for such deserving children,” Meltzer says.

“The collaboration of many people coming together to build something and being able to build a project and then walk friends and family through and show them and then have dinner there or spend a night there is a special experience.” - President Brad Meltzer www.naconstructionjournal.com


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three decades ago. “The collaboration of so many people coming together to build something special and then to walk friends and family through and show it to them and then maybe have dinner there or spend a night there is a special experience. I was recently at a black-tie event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel and spoke about standing “here” in my first Florida project, with special memories of those who made it a reality… together here in Miami 19 years ago. It was a great project then and it’s still a great project” he concludes. Many more seem certain to come.

Looking Forward While there are signs of a possible recession in a year or two, Plaza Construction is well positioned to weather that storm given the vast scope of work both in South Florida and nationally. “I think that along with the maturity and growth of South Florida our portfolio diversifies, matures and grows along with the community and the marketplace,” Meltzer says. “We had one billion dollars all finishing in the same six-month period in 2018. It’s a challenge we are constantly managing while preparing for the next wave of work.” Two things keep Meltzer coming back every day with the same vigor he had

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Plaza Construction Southeast Country: U.S. Industry: Construction Est: 1986 Premier Services: General Contracting, Construction Management President: Brad Meltzer Website: www.plazaconstruction.com

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FX Concrete:

Pouring It On

FX Concrete of Fort Worth, TX has grown into a well-regarded provider of concrete services across multiple sectors in less than a decade. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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I

North American Construction Journal t’s not often a company hits the ground running as efficiently and effectively as FX Concrete of Fort Worth, TX has. Established on March 5, 2010, FX Concrete has grown into a distinguished purveyor of turnkey pour and finish concrete services across multiple sectors in less than a decade. The father and son team of President Frank De La Rosa and Vice President Xavier De La Rosa founded the company, bringing a wealth of combined experience to the operation. The company knocked it out of the park with their first endeavor, a $1.2 million project, and hasn’t looked back. “We’ve been pretty much focusing on our employees, focusing on our work and making sure everything we do is quality. Developing relationships with general contractors and keeping those relationships open is very important,” says Xavier. Today the company maintains work mainly in the Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin and Houston areas, and has worked in multiple cities throughout Texas. It has traveled to North Carolina, South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tallahassee Florida, Oklahoma, and Tucson, AZ and will be starting a job in Sacramento, CA the second quarter of 2020. FX Concrete has generated an average of $50 million in sales revenue and employs between 70 and 180 depending on the

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type and number of projects under way. “We have quite a few projects going on right now, about 20-30 total with fifteen in Dallas/Fort Worth,” Xavier says. The company has set itself apart from its competition in myriad ways, De La Rosa explains. “It is diversity, our culture, our quality of work and how we treat the client. For example, our warranty period might be up and we will get a call three years later from a client and we will go back and help them out. We want them to be happy. We specify that these fixes may cost up to $10,000 and we will take care of it, at no cost,” he says. The company belongs to the American Concrete Institute (ACI), the American Subcontractors Association (ASA), TEXO, HUB and MBE. “For us, the ASA is the big one and the TEXO is the heavy subcontractor presence in Texas. The networking events help you meet a large group of fresh subs and suppliers, people you’ve never met but who you have heard of,” De La Rosa points out.

Some Key Projects Craig Ranch V: The project is in its fifth phase and FX Concrete is grateful to Amicus Construction/Columbus


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Reality Partners for “putting their trust in me and my dad and giving us the opportunity to prove what FX Concrete can do and accomplish. They gave us our start and as of today we have completed 25 projects and we have three more that are currently in the progress. The projects have included structural concrete, slab on grade, paving, flatwork, and retaining

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walls,” De La Rosa says. “We have established a great working relationship with Amicus Construction/ Columbus Reality Partners and we’ve poured a lot of concrete for them, over 2 million square feet of work,” he notes. Grapevine Bluffs Apartments: This was FX’s biggest project with JLB

“It is diversity, our culture, our quality of work and how we treat the client. For example, our warranty period might be up and we will get a call three years later from a client and we will go back and help them out. We want them to be happy.” - Xavier De La Rosa, Vice President www.naconstructionjournal.com


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Partners. “Our superintendent’s work ethics, ability to coordinate the manpower where needed made this project a breeze for everyone involved. Not that we didn’t have any hiccups along the way, this project ramped up right in the middle of the Texas summer heat which made it challenging for everyone, but our employees, exceeded our expectations, resulting in the project being completed on schedule,” De La Rosa says.

required a lot of special attention with some of the best concrete finishes. We had to import special material from California just to get the type of finish Jerry required. It is a special sparkle grain finish that is placed on the concrete with an acid wash finish that once all is done the finished product looks like you are walking on ‘STARS’ when the light or sun hits the walkways. Nothing but the best for Jerry Jones and his Dallas Cowboys!” De La Rosa emphasizes.

The STARS, Twelve Cowboy Way: The project included paving and architectural decorative concrete for 12 Cowboy Way for Rogers-O’Brien, a very high profile job for Jerry Jones with the Dallas Cowboys. “This job

Safety Protocol

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The company’s full-time Safety Coordinator is up to date on all OSHA certifications and makes certain the right individuals are running the


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company’s job sites. “We make sure we’re following procedures and doing everything we should be doing,” De La Rosa says. “Working in Texas where you are getting triple digit temperatures in the summer, we’re giving the guys Gatorade for the extra electrolytes and as much water as they need. We’re also looking at how we’re scheduling guys – we’re doing pours starting at 2 a.m. and everyone is pretty much done by 1 p.m. It’s not your typical 7 to 5 day.” The company conducts daily safety meetings as well as toolbox talks. Additionally, it incentivizes projects with a goal of having no lost workdays.

“Our safety officer is tied into all of the associations and their safety training. Our EMR is well below 1.0 at 0.74. We self-perform a lot of our work and we want our guys going home the way they showed up. We apply good lessons learned and remind everyone about what they need to do to be safe. I really do believe we are proactive and on top of everything,” De La Rosa stresses.

Day to Day The company specializes in structural concrete, foundations, slab on grade, podiums, retaining walls, footings, piers, paving and flatwork. Xavier De La Rosa handles filing, payroll and

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North American Construction Journal taxes at the office, allowing Frank to spend most of his time in the field, which he prefers. “It’s the relationship me and him have – I was running my own jobs at 18 but my dad said go figure that other stuff out. When it came to estimating, I knew what it took to build it, but I didn’t know what a bid was. I pretty much jumped in, two feet without a rope but I was able to learn about it and talk to good people along the way. George Hull was a good mentor and Coy Cleveland has been a big part of me getting my feet inside the door,” Xavier recalls. “We’ve had a lot of good people behind us that helped make us very

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successful. They’ve put us in touch with the right people,” he adds. “I love being on the job site. Being on a pour and you’ve got that first truck up, everybody’s excited when you see a plan come together. It’s a gamble but at the same time you have confidence in the people you have in place. It’s pretty exciting.” “Surround yourself with great people and it’s almost impossible to fail. They’re always pushing forward and willing to do new and different things and try different stuff. They are there at 5 or 6 a.m. and are the last ones to leave. If you can find that one guy, you can find a crew of 25-30 for the job site,” says De La Rosa, adding he has had little luck with resumes and prefers to find and secure qualified workers via word of mouth. “We are family owned 100 percent. The culture here is hugs and kisses and we sell that – you don’t see that very much with other companies,” De La Rosa says. “We have a transparent bonus structure. Another thing is how fast you move up in the company. We don’t make you work 12 years before you run your own job. If you are a great team player, work hard and willing to learn the trade you move up – we like to lean towards the individual’s capacity of drive and knowledge.” The company strives to work only with top-shelf subcontractors. “When we are building a building, we

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need the best subs. We prequalify our subs and we go out of our way to try and meet the people so that we understand who the players are,” De La Rosa notes. “The company needs to be good all the way around, from the administration, to work experience, to cash flow and the ability to work at a very high level in the field. We hire based on the size of the project and the sub’s experience.”

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Forward Thinking As it closes its first decade of operation, it is easy to understand how and why FX Concrete has enjoyed such massive success. The company laid out a road map to success and has not deviated from it. “This is a diverse company and it is really fun being able to do all kinds of

“We self-perform a lot of our work and we want our guys going home the way they showed up. We apply good lessons learned and remind everyone about what they need to do to be safe. I really do believe we are proactive.” - Xavier De La Rosa, Vice President www.naconstructionjournal.com


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work. To keep coming back is easy because it is always changing and growing – in the next 25 years I hope to be in on billion dollar projects,” De La Rosa states. A word of advice to those considering construction as a career? “You have to work hard to earn whatever you get. If you work hard you will be recognized. Have confidence, work hard and listen more than you speak so you know where everyone is coming from. When you listen well you develop friendships. Never burn a bridge – it is always ok to agree to disagree. These things are the foundation; everything else is learned,” De La Rosa concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: FX Concrete Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 2010 Premier Services: Turnkey pour and finish concrete services for commercial, industrial and multi-family developments. President: Frank De La Rosa Website: www.fxconcrete.com

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WJ Groundwater Canada:

Tunnel Masters

WJGC self-performs 90 percent of its work and offers multiple services across an array of industry sectors. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal ormed in 2016 under the umbrella of London-based WJ Groundwater to execute the Eglinton Crosstown LRT Project in Toronto, WJ Groundwater Canada (WJ Canada) benefitted from its parent company’s more than 30 years involvement with some of the largest infrastructure projects in the UK, Europe and Qatar. Most notable among WJ Groundwater’s European projects is Crossrail in London, a 118-kilometre (73-mile) new tunnel through central London for Crosslinks of Toronto. WJ Canada worked on the Stations, Cross Passages, tunnels between the system’s drive tunnels that house control equipment, sumps and emergency evacuation access sites. “It was a challenging and gratifying project and it was exciting to be involved in this innovative phase of London’s transport history,” says Tony Tomory, WJ Canada’s Country Director. WJGC self-performs 90 percent of its work and offers dewatering and groundwater control, drilling and probing, ground source energy systems, monitoring, remediation and treatment, and testing services across an array of industry sectors. The company provides design, installation and maintenance programs to its clients and can draw upon the expertise of its parent company, which has more than 35 years’ experience

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working on projects globally. The company sets itself apart with its use of cutting-edge equipment, its technical and innovative approach to problem solving and, Tomory says, “a can-do attitude in working with the client.”

Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit WJ Canada’s performance on Crossrail led directly to its involvement as a subcontractor on the $40 million Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (ECLRT) scheme in Toronto. The


North American Construction Journal project has occupied most of WJ Canada’s time since its inception, working on nine underground stations and represented the largest and most challenging dewatering project in the country. WJ Canada has only just recently begun to work on projects outside this mega project. “We came out because we were invited by Crosslinx. They asked us to bid on the dewatering in Canada. We bid on four of the stations initially, and went on to win nine of them,” says Tomory. “A lot of our work is done with up-to-date modern technology that we developed working all over the world and we used those technologies

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in Canada with Crosslinx [that] we developed over the last 10 years.” The project consisted of 19.7 kilometres of light rail transit running along Eglinton Avenue through the heart of the city with half underground. It was imperative for the entire system to remain fully functional throughout construction. “All the Canada activity is my responsibility. It is my job to oversee all activities and managing the technical aspects of the job logistics and end product,” Tomory states. While challenges are always expected, several were especially challenging and

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North American Construction Journal required timely remediation on the way to project completion. SCIENCE CENTRE STATION: Hydrogeological mapping of the Science Centre Station – at 800 metres in length, the longest excavation in the project – determined there should be no groundwater. However, Crosslinx workers encountered approximately one metre of resting water above a clay layer that required drainage, which WJGC crews accomplished by drilling inclined well points on the north and south sides of the excavation. OAKWOOD MAIN ENTRANCE: With a silt-laced zone sitting atop a lower clay layer, this was identified as the most challenging portion of the

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dewatering system was not equipped to handle removal of perched water on clay layers. WJ Canada installed a dewatering system designed to dewater all of the perched layers and diverted the water toward the base of the excavation, enabling CTS to complete excavation and begin the station construction.

Daily Ops As is the case across every facet of the industry, hiring and maintaining a skilled work force is a challenge. “It is tough finding enough talent and labor. The industry is very competitive at the moment,” Tomory says. Given the nature of its business,

“All the Canada activity is my responsibility. It is my job to oversee all activities and managing the technical aspects of the job logistics and end product.” - Tony Tomory, Country Director

project. WJGC utilized a number of techniques to dewater that portion of the tunnel and kept the CTS mining schedule on track. Oakwood was constructed using the New Austrian Tunneling Method, also known as the sequential excavation method that utilizes a sprayed concrete lining and takes advantage of the geological strength in the rock mass to stabilize the tunnel. Dewatering is critical to the excavation sequence CALEDONIA STATION: The CTS

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safety considerations are top of mind every day. “We have weekly safety meetings and we also do internal safety meetings so all of our project managers are on the same page and will be very efficient and effective on every project,” says Tomory. The company belongs to the Ontario Groundwater Association and the Tunnelling Association of Canada. Safe operation is a primary goal of each association. The number one


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North American Construction Journal priority listed under Mission and Goals on the TAC web site is “to promote and advance Canadian tunneling and underground excavation technologies, and safe design, construction and maintenance.” “Belonging to OGWA gives us solidarity with other folks working in the industry and the challenges we all face,” says Tomory. “They provide shared experiences networking in the industry. The Tunnelling Association helps keep an eye out on future projects and we are able to talk on issues and work together. They have provided us a platform to talk and to get our name out there.” While the company executes the vast majority of its work, it closely scrutinizes sub-contractors when they are needed. “We evaluate all of our subs, talk with them and look at the quality of their work,” Tomory says. “One of our challenges is that we have a different way of doing business.” To that end, the company works hard to recruit skilled and qualified workers familiar with Canadian culture and the dewatering industry. When asked about the company’s recruiting methods, Tomory says: “We show them the Crosslinx project, it’s a great seminal project for the city of Toronto that everyone would be eager to work on.” Tomory says the company has

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worked closely with Smartrek Technologies, a specialist in LPWAN wireless communication. ‘’We are using their sensors in order to monitor ground water levels and the key operational parameters of our dewatering systems. This is a crucial aspect for a project of this scale. The system is not only easy to set up but is also scalable and extremely cost efficient. The groundwater has to be lowered to provide a dry excavation and to prevent any water infiltration into the excavation, which could result in ground instability and potentially collapse,” he explains. “The sensors they have provided for this project are all Plug n’ Play and consist of Pressure, Temperature, Water level and Flow monitoring devices. The data is monitored and tracked using the Smartrek Plug n’ Play Monitoring System which uses their SpiderMesh network technology. With Smartrek, we use real-time monitoring, data collection and alarms to assure our clients that we have an effective and reliable dewatering system. The whole process has been seamless and easy.’’

Looking Forward As a new concern with top-notch workers that is recognized for its expertise and innovative solutions and is backed by a parent


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“We are working to get our name out there. The way we view it is that business development happens by building a good relationship with your customers and getting the project finished.” - Tony Tomory, Country Director

company with massive resources, WJ Groundwater-Canada seems positioned for a long and successful future.

COMPANY INFORMATION

As the Crosslinx projects wraps up, the company is poised for its next phase.

Company Name:

“We are working to get our name out there,” Tomory says. “The way we view it is that business development happens by building a good relationship with your customers and getting the project finished. At the end of the day, when all the Crosslinx staff go onto the next job, they will remember we delivered what we said we would and they will bring us back.”

Country: Canada

WJ Groundwater-Canada

Industry: Construction Est: 2016 Premiere Services: Groundwater control and management service Country Director: Tony Tomory Website: www.wjcanada.com

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North American Construction Journal

129

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Profile for Construction Feature Article

NACJ Winter Issue 2020  

NACJ Winter Issue 2020