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We are in somber times. For 10 months now, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused contraction unlike anything the U.S. construction industry has faced in recent times, hunkered down while attempting to ride this out, much like it did during The Great Recession of more than a decade ago. A March 2020 survey conducted by the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) showed 59 percent of respondents had not reduced staffing and didn’t expect to, although the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the industry lost a record-breaking 975,000 jobs in April – roughly 13 percent of the industry’s workforce according to the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). BLS reported that nearly 800,000 of those jobs had been recovered by October as companies relied on work already in their pipeline. Construction Dive reported the “ construction backlog has declined … in every industry classification, region and company size … [that] backlog has generally been seen as a ‘protective shield’ against recessionary forces.” Additionally, some projects have been delayed and others cancelled altogether. Though certainly not immune to the pandemic’s impact, industry heavyweights will survive, protected by their massive backlog. The brunt of carnage has been, and will continue to be, borne by smaller and medium sized outfits. Some will close up shop forever if they haven’t done so already; others will barely survive. As we publish this issue, our first in quite some time, the country continues to be gripped by COVID and its emerging variant strains. We at NACJ wish you and yours good health. Be vigilant and be well. Editor’s Note – Interviews conducted for the profiles in this issue were conducted before the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

NACJ


Table of Contents

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Performance Contractors, Inc.

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Miron Construction Co., Inc. 13 Heath Consultants, Inc. 35

45

35 57

David H. Martin Excavating 45 Jay Dee Contractors 57 Heavy Equipment Technology 67 Caretaker Landscape and Tree Management 77

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Power & Communications Contractors Assoc. 89 City of Lubbock Water Utilities 99 Hard Rock Directional Drilling 109

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Griffin Dewatering 121 D.H Griffin Wrecking 131

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Directional Services, Inc. 143 Push, Inc. 155

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Milwaukee School of Education 165 Vermeer (MultiOne America) 173

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Linde Hydraulics Corporation 181


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Performance Contractors, Inc.:

Consistency Equals Long-Term Success Performance Contractors, Inc. services clients from the US Gulf Coast to the Southeast US/Atlantic Coast and throughout the Midwest. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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f you were asked to pick a single word to describe Performance Contractors, Inc. of Baton Rouge, LA, consistency surely fits the bill. Established in 1979 by co-founders Art Favre and Ron White, the company has earned a sterling reputation as a trusted partner that delivers work of the highest quality. With expertise in nearly 20 construction disciplines, the company averages employing approximately 8,000 craftsmen and services clients in multiple industry segments from the US Gulf Coast to the Southeast US/Atlantic Coast and throughout the Midwest. Annual construction revenue is approximately $1.2bn and the company is licensed to perform construction in 31 states. It is a member of the Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) and the Engineering and Construction Contracting Association (ECC). “Actively participating with construction associations provides the ability to assist all of us in gathering and sharing the knowledge with our peers, which is critical to the continuing success of our construction industry,” says Vice President Willie Lefever. There is no secret to the company’s success. “It is our people. We have ‘known’ resources and a learning curve over

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40 years. We’ve grown from within, our people know the culture of the company and they understand the expectations of them and the company as a whole. When you can keep that core group of resources within the company and grow the company at the same time, it’s a win/ win for everybody,” Lefever says. He notes that while competitors have the resources to take on big projects, they lack workforce stability. Conversely, the average manager or supervisor for Performance Contractors has been with the company for 15 to 20 years. “Avoidance of constant turnover makes


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a difference in your delivery model. Our clients know when we bring a team to the job most of our site management and supervisors are going to have 1520 years of experience at the project level and at least five-plus years at the craft level. For us, it’s not about being the biggest. We want to be the best,� stresses Lefever, himself an industry veteran of more than 40 years who holds a degree in Civil Engineering and Construction Management and joined the company in 2005.

Key Projects Garyville Major Expansion Project: The expansion of the Marathon Oil Refinery in Garyville, LA was one of the

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North American Construction Journal first Mega Projects in the US in recent years, starting construction in 2008. This expansion of the existing Marathon Refinery utilized the latest design and materials to expand the refining capacity to handle many different grades of crude oil and made it one of the largest refineries in the country. Performance Contractors was the first contractor selected, and its scope of work included the Crude Unit, Coker Unit, Sat Gas Unit, Ground Flare System, multiple furnaces, OSBL pipe racks, and all existing plant tie-ins. Manpower peaked at just over 3,000 craft workers as Performance completed 13,900 tons of steel erection, installed 470 pieces of process equipment, and shop fabricated and erected 874,000 feet of

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process pipe. IHI – Elba Liquefaction Project: The approximately $2bn project in Savannah, GA consists of 10 movable modular liquefaction system (MMLS) trains using Shell’s proprietary technology. These new units connect to Kinder Morgan’s existing re-gasification terminal at Elba Island, which was modified to receive liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the new liquefaction facilities. Performance’s scope of work included 770 modules and 775,000 manhours over a 38-month duration. Phillips 66 – Lake Charles Gasoline Isomerization Project: Phillips 66’s new Gasoline Isomerization Unit in


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“Our people know the culture of the company and they understand the expectations of them and the company as a whole. When you can keep that core group of resources within the company and grow the company at the same time, it’s a win/win for everybody.” - Vice President Willie Lefever

Lake Charles, LA was constructed in modular fashion, with major components and structures fabricated offsite, then shipped to the facility, and installed and connected onsite. Performance’s scope of work included major civil and mechanical packages for the Isomerization Unit, a civil package and general contractor package for installation of a 200,000 lb/hr Boiler, and mechanical construction of OSBL piping and structural upgrades within the existing facility.

training before arriving onsite. We believe that a well-trained employee is more efficient and a safer employee,” Lefever says. The company’s Brother’s and Sister’s Keeper program encourages employees to watch out for one another and mandates job site audits by company managers and safety professionals, as well as employee safety observations.

Safety is a top priority around the clock and the company’s plan has three primary components. Placing personnel in the proper position based on training and experience is crucial.

“Observations are stored in our database and are accessible to each job site. We also have a Peer-to-Peer Program that is a ‘no blame, no name’ system that encourages correcting the issue immediately and not directing blame,” Lefever says. “Our Regional Safety Managers and our Corporate Directors are frequently visiting the sites and conducting corporate safety audits.”

“We use our hands-on assessment and training facilities that are located in four strategic areas of our company to ensure all employees have the right

Finally, an Employee Assistance Program provides assistance to employees outside of work with Mental Health, Home/Work Life and

Safety Culture

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THE LEADER IN ELECTRICAL & INSTRUMENTATION

SERVICES INSTRUMENT & TECHNICAL SERVICES

MAINTENANCE SERVICES

ELECTRICAL CONSTRUCTION

RENEWABLE ENERGY

TELECOMMUNICATIONS & SECURITY SYSTEMS

POWER DISTRIBUTION

PANEL & MODULAR CONTROL BUILDING SERVICES

POWER ENGINEERING & DESIGN SOLUTIONS

COMMISSIONING & START-UP ASSISTANCE

MISSION CRITICAL CONSTRUCTION

MMR appreciates its relationship with Performance Contractors which has led to a successful partnership on over 300 projects throughout the United States.

(800) 880-5090 | MMRGRP.COM

relationship issues to name a few.

Training and Retention While the company excels at retaining personnel, Lefever acknowledges the lack of skilled workers needed to meet workforce needs across the industry is due, at least in part, to the industry’s inadequate promotion of the number of well-paying opportunities that exist. That is clearly not the case at Performance Contractors. “Art Favre, our President and Owner is still here and there are quite a few people sitting on the floor I’m on with 38 years at Performance. When

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people come here, they don’t leave. Fifteen years is the average and the average for top management and site management is extremely high,” Lefever points out. The question is: Why? “Our company has maintained a consistent focus on delivering our core construction services while avoiding the external pressures seen across our industry to either merge or acquire additional companies or services outside of our wheelhouse,” Lefever says. “Our people are focused solely on executing projects.” Additionally, the company offers


North American Construction Journal comprehensive training programs covering all disciplines of work, especially at the Project Controls/ Services and Management levels, as well as craft specific skills training. The company also takes advantage of training provided by various industry associations and recruits Construction Management candidates from universities across the country, providing them with internal training across every phase of operations. “Performance will spare no expense to educate and train our employees. The company has provided huge investments in our professional and craft training facilities and will continue to advance our programs and facilities to support our project requirements,”

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Lefever points out. Finally, every employee reaps the rewards of the company’s performance. “If the company does well, our owner puts some of that money back in the employees’ pockets at the end of the year. So everybody understands that and it makes a difference how people come to work every day. We reward for performance,” Lefever says.

Day To Day Having been around his grandfather’s civil construction company, Lefever says he has always had a passion for planning and executing projects.

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North American Construction Journal “I love to take a project from an idea through completion and operation. I pursued my Engineering degree to understand the design basis and why things are the way they are when you see them on a drawing. I enjoy getting involved earlier in the project curve, getting some of our construction expertise into the Engineering office to perform constructability and value engineering in an effort to improve the final design. Everybody learns from issues on projects and it’s our job to learn from them, whether they are our mistake or somebody else’s,” he says. Lefever takes on many roles and responsibilities as Vice President, such as oversight responsibility for the Corporate Estimating and Corporate

sunbeltrentals.com

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Quality departments; development and execution of Engineer, Procure and Construct (EPC) projects including establishing the prime contract relationship and contracting partnering relationships with engineering firms; and as an Executive Sponsor for major project(s) execution, from the initial client pre-screening activities and contract negotiation/award through project completion. Lefever estimates that roughly 60 percent of the company’s work comes in the form of repeat business with long-standing clients. Performance has relationships spanning 25+ years with over two dozen of their clients, many of which they work for annually. Their relationship with ExxonMobil, for


“Over the last 15 years you could almost call it an alliance. They know when we plan the turnaround and ramp up to perform the work the same people are coming back to that unit that worked on the unit last time. It’s pretty rare that you get that, ”Lefever says.

For example, Performance has been working for Chevron for 20 years, handling continuing services agreements on Chevron’s small cap projects and turnarounds, and a large percentage of its large cap projects.

As a result of Performance’s consistency, Chevron asked the company to go to California to provide turnaround resources for work on the West Coast – a perfect example, Lefever says “of deliver and they’ll help you grow your business with opportunities inside their infrastructure.”

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“Our work history and long-term relationships with most of our subcontractors assists us with providing our clients with proven general contractor project delivery services.” - Vice President Willie Lefever

instance, hasn’t gone a calendar year since 1980 without at least one project between the two of them. “You ride the waves up and down with them but it’s up to us to satisfy them regardless of the job. Part of why we’re successful is because we have the wherewithal to do a five-man job or a 5,000-man job,” he notes.

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On the daily work front, no two days are alike. “Things come up daily. A lot of things come up that pull you into a meeting, pull you into a response to a questionnaire or survey, pull you into an issue that needs solving now, or pull you into an opportunity you didn’t even know about,” Lefever says. “I love the people and the challenges associated with building projects successfully. Our industry is constantly changing, so there is never a dull moment. The opportunity to see a project from its conceptual beginning through completion is what keeps me coming back every day,” he says.

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Regarding managing sub-contractors, the company maintains an extensive Master Subcontractor Database. Subcontractors go through a rigorous pre-qualifying process, including detailed annual analysis of safety and quality performance criteria. The company requires all qualified subcontractors to sign a Master Subcontract Agreement as a pre-requisite for bidding work. “Our work history and long-term relationships with most of our subcontractors assists us with providing our clients with proven general contractor project delivery services,” Lefever says. “Anyone in our database has met our company and client criteria. In our Baton Rouge area


North American Construction Journal everyone went to school together, or worked on projects together, so there is alot of history. Everyone knows there is a core group of companies. S uccess comes down to work history and people.”

Looking Forward In a November 2019 press release, Art Favre said: “We have always strived to be the best, not the biggest. We’re proud to be a multigenerational company; we take care of our people and the communities we serve. Our performance, safety standards and integrity are unmatched in the industry and that has allowed us to compete at the highest caliber for the last four decades, and for many more to come.”

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Lefever says the company is looking to expand judiciously within other industries. For example, though still not recognized. by many companies as a power contractor, Performance does have an alliance with a utility company that gives it the opportunity to be in about 40 different facilities. “We can’t rely solely on oil and gas but we also don’t want to spread ourselves too thin. We’ve chosen our sweet spot and we will stay in it,” Lefever concludes. Given its reputation and the valueadded experience it provides all of its client-partners, that shouldn’t be a problem.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Performance Contractors, Inc. Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1979 Premier Services: General Industrial Contractor Co-Founder/President:: Art Favre Website: www.performance-contractors.com

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Miron Construction Co., Inc.:

100 Years Young and Stronger Than Ever Miron Construction of Neenah, WI remains committed to family values, firm handshakes, hard work, unmatched quality, and integrity. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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quipment has evolved exponentially and has become almost unrecognizable compared to that used a century ago, and technology-driven innovation has changed the industry forever. Nevertheless, the constant that drives Miron Construction Co., Inc. in its 100th anniversary year remains unchanged—attention to family values, firm handshakes, hard work, unmatched quality, and integrity. Established in 1918, the family-owned company based in Neenah, WI draws on its past while continuing to look forward. Miron eclipsed $1 billion in annual revenue in 2017, employs 1,500, has completed projects in 39 states, and maintains four regional offices in Wisconsin (Eau Claire, Madison, Milwaukee and Wausau) and a fifth in Cedar Rapids, IA. “We recognize this is a milestone that very few companies ever pass and we are honored to enter the ranks of those who have. The growth we have experienced over the past few decades has been incredible and while 2018 is sure to be a phenomenal year, we’re concentrating on strategic initiatives for 2020 and beyond, focusing on how we can sustain growth and remain strong,” says President and CEO, David G. Voss, Jr., who joined the company as a laborer in 1973. “We never set out to be the biggest, but we do strive to be the best. Our

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hard working, dedicated, and talented employees continue to push us into new markets and drive innovation. Growing to 1,500 employees and $1 billion in revenue has simply been a progression of that goal to be the best,” he adds. Miron’s goal has always been straightforward and remains unchanged—to deliver, without exception, for each client the highest value at the best price while imagining what their project could be, not just


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what it’s expected to be. “We’ve developed strong relationships with our clients, partners and communities and it’s those relationships that propel us toward further growth,” Voss says. Recognized as one of the nation’s premier construction firms, Miron provides innovative pre-construction, construction management, designbuild, industrial, millwright, general construction, and green building

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services. The company is proficient in Building Information Modeling (BIM), virtual construction and virtual process integration while working across a wide array of market sectors with the preponderance of its work in the educational, industrial, and commercial markets. Among its more than 100 industry awards, the company has been recognized as an Engineering NewsRecord (ENR) Top 400 Contractor in the United States, earned an ENR

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North American Construction Journal National Best of the Best award, won countless Associated General Contractors (AGC) Build Wisconsin awards and been honored with an Associated General Contractors of America, Alliant Build America award, earned numerous Daily Reporter Top Projects awards, and garnered five ENR Midwest “Best of” Project awards.

High Profile Partnership Miron Construction has been the Official Provider of Construction Services for the National Football League’s legacy Green Bay Packers franchise and Lambeau Field since 2012. The company is currently working on the Titletown District, a 34-

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acre Packers’ venture that will include commercial, retail, and entertainment space. Miron’s work on the $145 million Lambeau Field Stadium Improvement Project in 2012 included the addition of approximately 6,700 new seats in the south end zone, a rooftop viewing platform in the north end zone, as well as two new HD video boards and a new sound system. The project earned an AGC Alliant Build America Award. Noteworthy Projects Memorial Union and Alumni Park – This redevelopment project near the University of Wisconsin-


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Fox Cities Exhibition Center – Located in Appleton, WI the center includes 30,000sf of indoor exhibition space as well as a 17,000sf pedestrian plaza that provides outdoor programming space and access to an adjacent park. The signature element is an 82-foot-tall LED-lit tower. The project also included construction of a skywalk connecting the center to the hotel and conference center across the street. Miron worked with Zimmerman Architectural Studios, Inc. on the 76,000sf project competed in January 2018. Community First Credit Union Corporate Headquarters – The 131,000sf two-story building in Neenah, WI has three wings, a grand main entrance, community space, corporate function space, and a branch credit union with drive-thru. Miron collaborated with architect Performa,

We never set out to be the

biggest, but we do strive to be the best. Our hard working, dedicated, and talented employees continue

Madison enhanced the experience of faculty and students by restoring significant spaces while preserving existing architecture. Work included mechanical upgrades and cosmetic upgrades and also addressed accessibility issues throughout the building. The Miron project team worked closely with the Wisconsin State Historical Society, student groups and Uihlein-Wilson Architects to ensure the integrity of the building remained. Completed in October 2017, the project is seeking LEED Silver Certification.

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to push us into new markets and drive innovation.

- David G. Voss, Jr., President & CEO

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Congratulations on 100 years of success, Miron Construction Co., Inc. Proud to be your partner.

Real People. Real Conversations.

NICOLETBANK.COM 800.369.0226

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North American Construction Journal Inc. on the project, completed in September 2017. One Menasha Center – The eight-story, 118,200sf office tower for Menasha Downtown Development, LLC was built on the site of the former Hotel Menasha and former First National Bank in Menasha, WI. Occupants include Faith Technologies, Community First Credit Union, and RLJ Dental. This was another collaboration with Performa, Inc., completed in May 2016. tru Shrimp Co. Balaton Bay Reef – This employee training center in Balaton, MN also houses the largest shrimp production facility in the Midwest. The 12,000sf building addition will be home to a 150-foot long reef and eight tidal basins, bringing the company closer to it mission of sustaining a growing, healthy shrimp population. Anticipated project completion is late September 2018. Oshkosh Corporation Headquarters – Miron is the general contractor and Performa, Inc., the architect, on this new build in Oshkosh, WI. Anticipated completion is Fall 2019.

People and Operations Voss followed in the footsteps of his dad, David Voss, Sr., one of the company’s five stockholders when it was incorporated in 1949. Now his children have done the same—David III, Daniel, Michael, and Katie all

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currently work for the company. “Honestly, I’ve been here my entire life. I am very involved with the business on a day-to-day basis. I monitor activities associated with all of Miron’s conceptual and hard-bid estimating processes,” Voss said. “I also know that as a leader, it’s my job to serve as a cheerleader. I want everyone on the team to succeed at their jobs, so they go home happy and fulfilled and better serve in the roles of spouse, parent, grandparent, neighbor, and community member,” he adds. Safety is always top of mind as part of the company’s integrated “SQP: Safety, Quality, Production” integrated approach to the building process that guides decisions and ensures projectwide accountability. “A safe work environment correlates to a better quality of life and happier

We work every day to be an

employer of choice and we are always

looking at new and innovative ways to recruit and retain employees.

- David G. Voss, Jr., President & CEO

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North American Construction Journal employees,” Voss points out. “Our employees are given the tools and education to prepare them mentally and physically for the work day, beginning with our pre-shift stretching and pre-task planning program. Safety considerations and potential risks involved with the project/task are identified and understood, including investigating construction options to create safety solutions.” The company’s Dream Project Program, implemented in 2013 after leadership team members read the book The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly, provides a holistic approach to

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personal development. The company’s Dream Coach works with employees to help them fulfill short- and longterm goals. The program is completely confidential. “We realized we needed to take our commitment to building the dreams of our clients a step further by helping to build the dreams of our employees,” Voss notes. “More than attracting and retaining talent, the Dream Project reinforces the family culture at Miron. This is an investment in people, providing a unique resource to help employees become happy and fulfilled in their personal lives.”

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The company is equally committed to the health and wellness of its employees and a full-time Wellness Coordinator is available to discuss issues such as nutrition, exercise plans, and stress management.

and provide educational opportunities for our employees. There is always value in getting together with peers to learn about best practices and ways we can come together to solve problems,” Voss says.

Miron belongs to numerous industry associations, including the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the International Facility Management Association (IFMA), the Plant & Facilities Management Association (PFMA), the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), and the Wisconsin Healthcare Engineering Association (WHEA).

The set criterion used to preselect subcontractors includes safety performance, local labor force availability, local office, past performance on similar projects, relevant experience and financial stability.As an active community partner, the company supports the Fox Cities Marathon, United Way, and Boys & Girls Clubs. In addition, Miron’s annual “Build Like A Girl” event introduces a new demographic to the industry and its available job opportunities.

“Our association memberships allow us to connect with industry professionals

Solutions Powered by People Since 1947.

Our People ARE OUR POWER www.naconstructionjournal.com


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FOUNDING PRINCIPLE

SAFETY

PARTNERSHIP

As a full-service electrical, mechanical and automation contractor, our people are what enable us to stand out. They are the reason for our success.

Safety is our moral obligation and number one priority – and at Pieper Electric, one incident is one too many. We believe that all injuries are preventable and that OSHA standards are minimum standards.

We are proud to partner with Miron Construction on exciting projects like the recently completed renovations and expansion at Ho-Chunk Wisconsin Dells Casino & Hotel and the new Oshkosh Corporation Headquarters.

We work tirelessly to keep our people safe, enlighten and stimulate their minds, and encourage them to be good stewards of the community. By putting our people first, we are able to consistently deliver to the highest quality standards in the industry and develop lasting relationships with valued clients like Miron Construction.

We go above and beyond to create and adopt best practices through a continuous improvement methodology to achieve zero incidents. Our safety culture is evident in our 0.66 EMR, 0.71 incident rate and 0.0 frequency rate.

Congratulations on 100 years of success and best wishes for many more!

LOCATIONS Corporate Headquarters 5477 S. Westridge Court New Berlin, WI 53151 Phone: (414) 462-7700

Janesville Office 1060 US Highway 14, Ste F Janesville, WI 53546 Phone: (608) 563-5049

Madison Office 8491 Murphy Drive Middleton, WI 53562 Phone: (608) 836-7072

Neenah Office 2400 Industrial Drive Neenah, WI 54956 Phone: (920) 886-6800

Green Bay Office 825 Ontario Road Green Bay, WI 54311 Phone: (920) 465-4600

Kenosha & Northern IL Office 4210 43rd Avenue Kenosha, WI 53144 Phone: (262) 658-1888

Merrill Office W4618 County Rd. G Merrill, WI 54452 Phone: (715) 539-2877

Park Falls Office 1050 4th Avenue North Park Falls, WI 54552 Phone: (715) 762-2659

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No matter how big we get,

Looking Forward

we always strive to maintain the

family culture. We really are one

As is the case across every segment of the industry, a shrinking labor force presents a constant challenge. As veteran employees age out, fewer young people are entering the field.

big family and every single person contributes to building the Miron

experience for our clients. - David G. Voss, Jr., President & CEO

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“We work every day to be an employer of choice and we are always looking at new and innovative ways to recruit and retain employees,” Voss says. “Our goal is to educate people that a career in the trades is not only fulfilling, but lucrative.” As it embarks on its second century, expect Miron to stay the course that brought it this far.


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“No matter how big we get, we always strive to maintain the family culture. We really are one big family and every single person contributes to building the Miron experience for our clients,” Voss says. “I love that every time we build for a client, I learn about their particular industry and I strive to gain more insight into what makes that company successful. Being able to make a difference in the lives of our clients and of our employees is what makes me jump out of bed each morning. I have the opportunity to not only work with some of the most passionate and talented individuals within the industry, but to help bring dreams to life,” he concludes.

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COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Miron Construction Co., Inc. Country: U.S. Industry: Construction Est: 1918 Premier Service: Pre-construction, construction management,design-build, industrial, and general construction services provider. President &CEO: David G. Voss, Jr. Website: www.miron-construction.com

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Heath Consultants Incorporated:

A Leader In Many Ways Woman-owned Heath Consultants Incorporated of Houston, Texas is an innovative industry provider of natural gas leak survey and underground utility locating services and product development and manufacturing of the same. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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W

North American Construction Journal ith a focus on the oil, natural gas and electric utility markets, Heath Consultants Incorporated has grown to become a leader in utility protection and damage prevention, providing its clients with innovative products for nearly 90 years. Established in 1933 by Milton Heath Sr. to provide line-clearing services for New England utilities, the Houston, TX-based company today is a thirdgeneration family- and woman-owned enterprise under the direction of Chairwoman and President Carolyn Heath Haag. The company is certified by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the U.S. “We have a well-known reputation in the utility space of providing natural gas leak survey, underground utility locating and meter services as well as unique leak detection and locating products,” says Paul Wehnert, the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer. “There are 200-250 things people use in everyday life that comes from what’s underneath the ground, from oil or gas.” The company, which employs 1,700 individuals stands apart from its competitors in a couple of ways. First, in an industry rife with mergers and acquisitions, Heath remains family-

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owned with the sole goal of providing the best possible service for a familiar roster of clients. Secondly, it also provides leak detection field services and builds and sells its detection equipment to utility companies. “We are largest on the leak survey side but also sell our equipment. Utility companies can either hire us and we provide the work or they can buy the equipment from us and we’ll provide training to their internal people. There are also our service competitors and we’ll sell them our equipment,” Wehnert says. Operating as both a services provider and manufacturer can guard against downturns in a notoriously cyclical industry. “If service work is down because they decide to pull it all back in house we still have a products manufacturing business so we can sell those products. When service work is booming and equipment sales are booming we have a fantastic year. As a company we have always been able to withstand the downturns by doing both. We build the equipment, provide the service

“We have a well-known repu providing natural gas leak s locating and meter servic detection and loc - Paul Wehnert, Exec


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President: Carolyn Heath Haag

and sell to others. It’s a unique model,” Wehnert explains.

Day To Day Wehnert describes the company’s employees as “problem-solvers” and sees their role as similar to that of first responders. Heath provides utility locates via the 811 Call Before You Dig program and is the largest national gas leak survey company in the country. It belongs to numerous international,

utation in the utility space of survey, underground utility ces as well as unique leak cating products.” cutive Vice President

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EVP/CMO: Paul Wehnert

national, regional and local Trade Associations such as the International Gas Union (IGU), the American Gas Association (AGA), the Southern Gas Association (SGA) and the Houston Pipeliners Association (HPA). “Our people are out there with gas detectors finding leaks and there’s a sense of pride that they’re saving lives. When an 811 ticket comes in our people lay the paint, the stakes and the flags on the ground and they better be accurate. If there marks are not correct someone could get hurt,” Wehnert stresses. “There is liability in what we do. We use locators that we build and also sell to other contractors. The receiver picks up the signal from the transmitter in

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North American Construction Journal order to locate where the signal is on the pipe or line and that is where we put the flag or paint. We do millions of tickets a year, it’s risky business and you’re only as good as your last locate,” says Wehnert, adding the company also trains and qualifies employees on equipment usage.

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the regulatory environment is. They’re very open in all of that and also open about what our issues are such as time of delivery, inventory. We have to have open dialogue between industry and suppliers,” he says.

Wehnert considers AGA’s networking group, the OESA, to be especially beneficial.

“Our manufacturing is done right in Houston. We are a proud U.S. based company and try to source as many components from the U.S. as possible,” Wehnert says.

“Engineering companies, construction companies, contractors and pipe suppliers meet regularly. Executives of various utility companies come in and talk about the industry – what’s happening, what’s changing, where

Heath has an extensive fleet of leased vehicles for its field services division. In regards to safety, all of the company’s vehicles are monitored for safe driving habits by the EMKAY Driver 360 app. Heath utilizes third parties like Smith

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North American Construction Journal Driving to train its drivers and employs a number of outside agencies for require Operator Qualification. Additionally, the company has an allencompassing GREET (Guidance, Recognition and Employee Evaluation Tools) program in place, provides internal training, offers safety incentive initiatives, holds regular tailgate meetings and visits with field personnel, and provides conflict resolution training.

Vibrant Workplace Maintaining a positive company culture has been central to the company’s long-term success. “We’re visible. It’s a close-knit executive

Mace Meeks 713-350-6339 mmeeks@insgroup.net

5151 San Felipe, 24th Floor Houston, TX 77056 www.insgroup.net

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team and Carolyn is always accessible. We’re out meeting with customers or attending trade shows. We stop by our project offices to meet with the teams. Some of the executive team came up through the field. We started right out of college and worked our way up and always highlight that ‘We are one of you’,” notes Wehnert, recruited by Heath in 1980 out of the University of Syracuse. He has served multiple roles in the company, travelled the world and is in his second tour in Houston. Wehnert represents the AGA on the IGU and spends the majority of his time in new product development, looking at research groups to identify technology, ideas and solutions that can be commercialized and brought into the industry.


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“There might be something in the space program or something in the military that we think could apply to the utility business,” says. Contrary to many companies across the construction sector in general, Heath has excelled at staff development and retention. While Wehnert acknowledges the industry’s experience drain, aging infrastructure and limiting budgets, he points out “We have a lot of people who have been at Heath for 18-20 years. People don’t leave.”

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Why is that? For one thing, Heath is fully invested in its employees from the day they are hired, whether they want to spend their career in the field or move up the corporate ladder into management. “We offer them a career path and teach them a marketable skill and Carolyn has an open door policy, she cares about the staff,” Wehnert says. Entry-level employees without industry experience are hired at a tech level.

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“I love the industry and the people. I feel blessed to have worked for a third generation family company and continue each and every day protecting life and property.” - Paul Wehnert, Executive Vice President

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Looking Ahead This is a smart company with a cohesive approach to both its present and long-term future. It has embraced technology and implemented change into the utility industry for almost 90 years. “I love the industry and the people. I feel blessed to have worked for a third generation family company and continue each and every day protecting life and property while at the same time contributing to the reduction of emissions into the environment,” Wehnert concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

“We teach them the business, how it is done, and those that show promise are given the chance to attend internal and external classes for supervisory training. Once we find the high flyers, we put them on a path and explain to them what we want, where we think they might fit, and how their career might look. You have to show and prove you can do the task at hand but we spend a lot of time helping with that,” Wehnert explains. The company offers a 401k program and competitive Medical, Dental and Vision insurance.

Your Safety...Our Commitment

Company Name: Heath Consultants Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1933 Premier Services: Gas leak investigation and inspections, underground utility damage prevention. President: Carolyn Heath Haag EVP/CMO: Paul Wehnert Website: www.heathus.com

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David H. Martin Excavating:

Leaders In Many Ways DHM has provided top-shelf excavation and utility services for commercial, residential, and agricultural clients for more than 50 years. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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E

North American Construction Journal stablished in 1968, David H. Martin Excavating sought from the outset to forge a reputation for excellence throughout the mid-Atlantic states of Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia. Mission accomplished. “People know we are good for what we say and that we will stand behind our work. Customers take notice of this integrity and they trust us. Our field staff works with the clients. Our field staff are the face of our company and I would count them among the best in the industry,” says President Kirk Martin, whose grandfather started the Chambersburg, PA company with two pieces of essential equipment – a dump truck and a backhoe. The company now employs approximately 220 individuals, provides excavation and utility services for commercial, residential, and agricultural clients, owns five slate quarries in Pennsylvania and generates $50 million AVR. While commercial projects account for 75 percent of the company’s work, DHM cut its teeth in the residential and agriculture sectors and offers those services as well. The company belongs to both the American Building Contractors (ABC) and American Subcontractors Association (ASA). In addition to its stellar work, DHM

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stands out as a faith-based company. “We are Christian-based and we are not your typical construction company. We do our best to be consistent in our work and to provide the best leadership for our clients through our staff. Our company leaders and subcontractors are held to the highest moral standards. We want to set the bar when it comes to this,” Martin stresses.

Safety Measures The company has taken numerous steps to drive safety throughout the organization from the top down. Its Safety Committee constantly reviews procedures to maximize effectiveness. “We have invested heavily in our Safety Department over the last five years. We have begun sending our safety staff to instructor training so they can train our own people. We have implemented new safety checkpoints and we have daily job visits with our safety teams to correct things we see in the field. Overall, our safety program has grown substantially in the previous five years,” Martin asserts. The company’s Safety Site Manager visits each major project site to ensure protocols are followed. All employees receive OSHA 10-hour or 30-hour training and certification and the company provides a wide range of additional training such as


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Kirk Martin

Danley Shank

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North American Construction Journal fall protection, safe trenching and excavation practices, and respirator protection. All supervisors are certified in First Aid and CPR. Toolbox Talks are a mandatory element of the company’s safety initiatives. Supervisors are provided a weekly update by the Safety Committee pinpointing topics to be discussed.

Premier Projects A. Duie Pyle Trucking Terminal: If

you have taken I-81 through the Greencastle area at all in the past few months, you have probably noticed the large construction site from the interstate and seen the progress that is being made. The site will soon be the Lance Norton

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home of a new trucking terminal for logistics provider A. Duie Pyle. DHM has been on site since the beginning and is continuing to move the massive amount of material that is required to complete the job. The paving is nearly complete and he project is starting to take shape! Holiday Inn Express: It seems like hotels popping up all over the area where DHM operates. Much of the time, DHM is the company doing the site work. The newly built Holiday Inn Express in Carlisle, PA. is just one example of the hotel projects that DHM is working on. In this case, DHM has been at work since the summer of 2019 grading and laying pipe. This city and the surrounding areas are growing


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Terry Armstrong

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North American Construction Journal rapidly and David H. Martin Excavating is happy to be a part of the progress.

Addressing Issues To a certain extent, the company has mitigated the problem of replacing an aging workforce that plagues the construction industry in general. “We have been blessed with a highquality staff,” Martin notes. “We try to train and promote from within as much as we can. With hard work, it is not unusual for an equipment operator to be promoted to a superintendent. Regarding new technology, the company relies on our field staff to offer insights into how things can

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be done better. If an employee sees something they like, the company nurtures that initiative. A company that cares is a great draw when it comes to recruiting and we have the professionals who are able to nurture the curiosity and initiative that new hires often have. With the advent of GPS, the company has become proficient in locating buried utilities rather than hiring another company to do the work, thereby saving money while speeding up project schedules. “Our guys do a great job in locating utilities. We invested in line locators and trained our guys how to find and locate unmarked utilities. Line location


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“People know we are good for what we say and that we will stand behind our work . . . Our field staff works with the clients . . . and I would put them up against the best in the industry.” - Kirk Martin, President

is not an overly complicated thing, but when you are dealing with lines from the 1950s it is an easy way to mitigate unnecessary risk. We are trying to be more exact in how we lay pipe – you have to be smart and you have to be safe,” Martin points out.

Day To Day Martin’s day typically starts at 5 a.m.

While his primary responsibilities include estimating, managing divisions, and working directly with department heads, no two days are alike. Martin grew up in the company and his exuberance and drive to succeed trickles down, enabling the company to consistently put its best foot forward when providing prospective clients with the most complete and cost-effective bids. “Civil plans are not what they were 15 years ago because time frames are shortened. We have to be specific when we are bidding,” Martin explains. “It starts with a good estimating team. We work out the schedule and execute. We have the ability to be aggressive with a schedule if need be. Ultimately, the foundation of a successful project is getting that estimate as clear and concise as possible.” The company’s longstanding relationships with vendors and subcontractors date back 50 years in some instances.

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CUSTOMER SERVICE When you need dependable service in the middle of the night, the eye of the storm or the center of town, you can rely on the the waterworks experts at Core & Main.

The Leading Distributor of Water, Sewer and Storm Drain Products and Services. coreandmain.com

“We are able to determine which subcontractors are the best at what they do, and we are super careful with new subs. We have a core group we have worked with for years. We are usually the last [trade] to leave the site on any job and we are responsible for what everyone sees in the end. We have the best subs and we work as a team,” Martin says.

Local Experience, Nationwide

and graders and instantly make a rookie, or even a pro, a better operator. Grade control makes us more efficient and more accurate, ultimately allowing us to remain competitive in pricing and save our clients money,” Martin says. The ability to mine and shape product from its own quarries also keeps DHM ahead of the game when it comes to cost reduction.

The company has embraced the technology that is moving the construction industry into the 21st century.

Martin says he learned a valuable lesson from his father and uncles, who bought the company in 1988.

“One of the biggest changes of the past few years is the GPS technology that we have put on our machines. We can load CAD data into our dozers

“They never thought a job was too big or too small. If a job is too massive, we hire more staff and buy more equipment like they did,” Martin observes

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North American Construction Journal Looking Forward

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With a clear set of standard operating procedures, the ability to adjust as needed, and an abundance of ongoing cyclical work along the U.S I-81 corridor that runs through the heart of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland, DHM seems well-positioned for the foreseeable future. “Working for the company was something I always wanted to do. This is what I love doing. If you do what you love, you will never work a day and that applies to me. I love working with the staff and helping them be the best they can be. I enjoy helping them play to their strengths, and watching them grow is one of the best things for me,� Martin concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: David H. Martin Excavating Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1968 Premier Services: Excavation and utility services for commercial, residential, and agricultural sectors President: Kirk Martin Website: www.dhmexc.com

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Jay Dee Contractors:

They Can Really Dig It Jay Dee Contractors has carved out a rock-solid reputation as a go-to heavy underground construction specialist, spending the last 55 years building projects that improve sustainability of lakes and waterways. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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t seems no tunneling project is too large or too complex for Jay Dee Contractors of Livonia, MI to tackle. Look no further than its current involvement with the massive 10.5-kilometer Coxwell Bypass Tunnel Project in Toronto, ON. Incorporated by founder John DiPonio in 1965, the company has forged a rock-solid reputation over the past 55 years as a go-to heavy underground construction specialist with the wherewithal to deliver efficient, innovative solutions on projects of all sizes and scope. “I truly believe the Jay Dee approach to understand and recognize the specific challenges of each project and working to resolve these challenges; and the owners being on the front line directly involved with the work, brings a lot to the table. A lot of hard work goes into these projects on a daily basis and it’s a lead by example approach more than expectations. That sets a high level where everyone tries to excel every day at what they do,” explains A.G. Mekkaoui, Jay Dee’s Vice President of Operations. The company’s second-generation owners are brothers Thomas, John and Michael DiPonio. It employs on average 250 individuals, a total that fluctuates depending on the number and size of projects in progress, and averages $100 million in average project volume.

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“I would say Jay Dee’s success is mostly due to maintaining a family style culture. We take a lot of pride in a collaborative and open-door philosophy for managingthe company and, ultimately, I think that’s the major part of our global success,”Mekkaoui emphasizes.

The Coxwell Project This 10.5-kilometer bypass tunnel is the first piece of Toronto’s Don River and Central Waterfront Wet Weather Flow Master Plan, the most ambitious storm water management program in the city’s history. Jay Dee has been on site for two years and the $397.3 million


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“The best thing that can be done is to identify as early as possible the challenges . . . and to work as a team to manage and resolve those issues. We need all sides to understand the issue and why a certain approach is being followed.” A.G. Mekkaoui, Vice President of Operations

project – in the middle of one of the busiest parts of the city – is due for completion in 2023.

other project but we’re dealing with them and things aremoving forward,” Mekkaoui says.

“It was a new market for Jay Dee, so it has taken the bulk of my time being in Toronto for the last two years and getting the project moving forward. We have challenges just like any

The company maintains a remote Project Management facility to oversee five active work shafts with a finished diameter of 20-22 meters and 11 connections (Drop shaft/vent shaft/

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deareation chamber/adit connection) for future connections of existing interceptors to the main tunnel. The tunnel is being excavated in shale and lined with precast concrete segments.

assembled from China to the Port of Toronto, transported on a weekend from the port to the job site, and moved down shaft to its launch location through a 116m starter tunnel.

“Each piece of the work requires substantial equipment, much of it specialized and with some of these components coming from outside the country. I find all of that to be exciting and challenging and it really consumes quite a bit of my attention on a daily basis,” Mekkaoui says.

“Trade issues between the different countries impacted the manufacturing timeline and then it took two months to ship the TBM from port to port. The set-up took about three months but we are finally mining at this point,” Mekkaoui says.

That equipment includes a massive Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) nicknamed Donnie that was purchased and engineered in Toronto, fabricated and shipped fully

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Among the company’s other notable projects are the Thornton Transitional Reservoir in Thornton, IL; the Little Calumet Leg of the Calumet Tunnel System in South Holland, IL; the Big Water Augmentation/Rickenbacker


North American Construction Journal Interceptor in Columbus, OH; Brightwater Tunnel Sections 3 and 4, the University Link and Northgate Link Light Rail Contract U230 in Seattle, WA; the Westerly Storage Tunnel in Cleveland, OH; and the I-75 Modernization project in Detroit, MI.

The Day To Day With the exception of his first year out of college, Mekkaoui has been with the company for nearly his entire career, working his way up the ladder to his current role., and is eminently qualified to speak to the company’s strengths. “I believe I understand the different roles required for a team to be effective and successful in managing

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a project. A typical day really changes from project toproject depending on the size and what is needed to develop the team on the project,” he says. From project concept to completion, Mekkaoui stresses that advance preparation, planning and cohesive teamwork with the owner/client is crucial to the success of every project. “You have to have enough time up front to study the documents and understand what the owner requires and, as the contractor, identify the high-risk components of the project and how to address them. We try to ask the questions and communicate the concerns so we can allocate enough resources during the

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“I would say Jay Dee’s success is mostly due to maintaining a family style culture. We take a lot of pride in a collaborative and open-door philosophy for managing the company.” - A.G. Mekkaoui, Vice President of Operations www.naconstructionjournal.com


North American Construction Journal estimating or the bid phase to develop a designated construction team and reasonable estimates and schedule for the work,” he says. Once on site, Jay Dee strives to maintain an open line of communication in a collaborative process designed to avoid an adverse relationship. “There are always difficulties and challenges in the construction phase so thebest thing that can be done is to identify as early as possible the challenges as they come up and to work as a team to manage those challenges and resolve those issues. We need all sides to understand the issue and why a certain approach is

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being followed,” Mekkaoui offers. With components and equipment on any given job coming from Germany, Japan, China, Finland, South Korea, strict adherence to the project schedule and budget is a must. The company does its homework in regards to vendors and subcontractors, especially when entering a new market such as it did in Toronto. “We identify vendors bidding on the work, or providing pricing, to see if we have experience on similar projects. Many of them we have prior experience with from other tunnel projects since with all the major components, typically the contractor and vendor have substantial previous experience,

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North American Construction Journal which is very helpful in selecting those vendors and subcontractors,” Mekkaoui says. In regards to safety, the company is endeavoring to make it part of its culture rather than another element that workers must stop and think about. Daily toolbox talks keep everyone informed of specific site hazards crews should recognize and avoid.

Some Challenges The company has not been immune to the workforce development issues that plague the construction industry across all sectors. Being a union contractor helps. “Most of our workforce, at least in the field, is union so we work closely with the unions to train and develop skilled workers for our specialized work and the unions have been doing a pretty good job in providing that training,” Mekkaoui points out. “We’re partnering with the unions to increase the number of apprentices and develop skilled workers.” Additionally, the company has also developed a structured internship program and partnered with different universities to identify resources for its Engineering and Management teams. Ongoing trade wars have resulted in international market fluctuations, coupled with the global COVID-19

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pandemic, have created a new set of challenges. “We are dealing with challenges that are unprecedented, at least in my lifetime, and so far the government, to a large extent, has left the construction contractors without acknowledging the financial impact to these projects and to these companies. The closest they’ve come is a time extension, potentially acknowledging these challenges. However they have not acknowledged any of the costs, at least as of yet,” Mekkaoui asserts.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Jay Dee Contractors Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1965 Premier Services: Heavy underground construction President: Mike DiPonio Website: www.jaydee.us

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Heavy Equipment Technology: Then, Now, and on the Horizon Submitted by: Hunter Martin

T

o tell the story of construction in America is to tell the story of the innovative methods and technology that has allowed for its rapid growth. Man has been building things since the beginning of time, constantly striving for ways to alleviate the often backbreaking labor that is required to build our cities and infrastructure. Perhaps more than any single invention in the modern era, it is the advent of heavy equipment that has most propelled the construction industry forward. Heavy equipment has allowed engineers, architects, and builders to realize their wildest designs in a way that could previously only have been dreamed of. Consider this, for thousands of years humankind understood the mathematical and physical principles of the cosmos enough to design the skyscrapers of today. They truly did! The designers of old were limited by only two constraints: lack of adequate materials and lack of means by which to construct with those materials. It is for this reason that the heavy equipment of the industrial age and its derivatives are likely the single most

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influential reason for the increasing rate at which buildings and infrastructure can be built. This paper is meant to offer a reasonable summary of the past, present, and future of heavy equipment in the construction industry. This analysis is not meant to be comprehensive. Instead, special care will be taken to highlight a few of the technological initiatives from the various eras of heavy equipment. The highlighted technologies could each be considered great boons for the field of heavy equipment and earthwork construction in the times that they were implemented. It is the hope of the author that the reader will find the paper informative, enjoyable, and practical in its use. A degree of care has been taken to underscore technologies that have indeed pushed construction further than the field could ever have previously gone without it. The purpose of this paper is to consider the implications of heavy equipment technology only. For this reason, time will not be given to the discussion of other inventions such as drone


North American Construction Journal mapping and human enhancements such as exoskeleton suits – interesting though they may be. Instead, we will consider innovations of what might be called the “traditional” image of heavy equipment: big iron, large metal tracks, and (of course) huge buckets of dirt. It is my hope that by the end of the paper, the reader will readily be able to consider the significance of heavy equipment in the past, the importance of it today, and the tantalizing thoughts of what the future may hold for these amazing machines. A Brief History of Heavy Equipment Technology In his renowned book, A Brief History of Time, the famed physicist Stephen Hawking often discusses the merits of the scientific method for those who are willing to utilize it correctly. The systematic use of observation to study the physical universe, or “science,” has allowed humans to do everything from advancing our understanding of the cosmos to enabling us to catalog new languages. Science has made the world a more technologically advanced place to live. It is all about improving upon existing ideas to better the world around us. Consequently, this is the story of heavy construction equipment as well! Before we begin to discuss the story of heavy equipment, it is important to recognize that heavy equipment itself is an improvement upon other methods that were used for thousands of years. In fact, the

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powerful machines of today are really only just larger versions of tools that were used since the beginning of time. What are trackhoe buckets and dozer blades but larger versions of shovels and rakes? The advancement of construction technology need not be revolutionary – all that is required are small steps in the right direction. Turning little shovels into big shovels might be all the innovation that is needed to catapult the world into a new era of heavy equipment power. Unlike A Brief History of Time, I will indeed be doing my best to keep the history of our main subject matter...quite brief. After all, the most exciting and applicable portion of this paper’s content are the inventions of today. Regardless, there is merit in considering the still lingering effects of the heavy equipment pioneers. Consider the very first hydraulic digging machine, the Kilgore Steam Shovel of the early 1900’s. Were you to look up a picture of this machine, you would quickly note that the great-grandfather of the modern hydraulic excavator does not look all that different from the generations that came after it (Barry, 2014). The basic functions of the machine still exist today. The primary difference between the two is only a matter of how they are powered, with older models using the power of steam and newer models using diesel fuel and hydraulics.

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North American Construction Journal Heavy Equipment Technology in the Modern Era GPS Grade Control In the modern era, I cannot think of a single technological development that has had a greater influence on the sitework community than GPS enabled grade control units. These units would have been considered fringe technology just fifteen years ago, and now sitework and excavation companies are considered out-ofdate if they do not have GPS enabled equipment. Grade control (or GPS grade control) allows heavy equipment operators to achieve hyper- accurate grading results in far fewer passes than normally required. GPS units are attached to the “moveable” parts of the equipment (whatever they may be). After this, the operator needs only to press a button inside the cab to bring their blade or bucket to their final grade. This is achieved through the use of CAD models that are “loaded” directly into the equipment itself. The ability to completely eliminate the operator error from grading operators is huge. Rework is significantly lessened, and the amount of time it takes to bring a site to grade is severely diminished. Grade control offers even more benefits than just time savings. This technology has helped construction companies to eliminate entire positions in one fell

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swoop. Without the need for a job stakeout…and re-stakeout…and re-restakeout, there is no longer need for surveying teams (at least not on large jobsites). While the surveying position has by no means been eliminated from most sitework contractor’s teams, the role has slightly diminished in the past few years. On large sites that have CAD models that can be used for grade control, potentially thousands of work hours can be instantly eliminated

Payload Weighing Systems Now, as far as the actual hardware in equipment is concerned, we have made some significant advancements since the days of the Kilgore Steam Shovel. One of the ways that equipment manufacturers have improved upon the designs of their equipment is by designing features in accordance with the wants and needs of the equipment operator. Consider for example the problem of knowing how much material to load onto a triaxle dump truck or articulated hauler. Loading too heavy can result in expensive fines for the offending company. Conversely, loading too light results in a less than satisfactory productivity rate. As someone who has loaded triaxle dump trucks with track loaders, wheel loaders, and excavators, I will be the first to say that it is not easy determining the correct amount of material to load. Variables like swell and moisture make it difficult to gauge the right quantity of material.


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North American Construction Journal Onboard payload weighing systems were developed by OEM’s to meet this need. Payload weighing systems allow the operator to know precisely how much material they have loaded thanks to a built-in scale that resides in the bucket of the machine. Payload weighing systems are typically accurate to within 1-2% of the actual weight – more than enough accuracy for the equipment operator. Other “built-in” technology in modern heavy equipment would include features like automatic geofencing, which can be used to stop excavator booms from reaching beyond a certain height or width when obstacles are in the way. Small developments like these are slowly but surely improving heavy equipment.

Telematics Telematics is an interdisciplinary field that encompasses telecommunications, vehicular technologies, electrical engineering, and computer science (Wikipedia, 2020). In common tongue, telematics allows fleet managers to get data about their equipment and trucks from long distances away using the internet. The data that telematics can retrieve can be as simple, or as complex, as the engineer who designs the telematics system wants it to be. GPS tracking of mobile units? That could be considered a type of telematics system. Built

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in computer diagnostics of heavy equipment? That is also a telematics system. The use of telematics has begun to fundamentally change longstanding construction processes. For instance, today mechanics can diagnose a problem with a piece of heavy machinery without even having to visit the jobsite! The parts that the mechanic needs to fix the problem can be purchased and brought to the jobsite without ever requiring an initial visit. The driving force behind telematics is data. Data is truly what is defining the contractors who will prosper through the modern era of construction. Heavy equipment emits literal terabytes of data every single day, and telematics systems allow users to harness that data in an easy to read format. There was once a time where this kind of data access would have been considered too hard or two expensive for both small and large construction firms. There was a time when telematics systems were considered too far off in the future to consider investing in. These days are no longer!

What is on the Horizon? The Heavy Equipment Robots are Coming As we turn our attention to the future of heavy equipment, perhaps the most exciting development in recent months is the prospect of automated equipment. Companies like Built Robotics have created mountable GPS


North American Construction Journal units that can attach to skid loaders, excavators, and dozers. These GPS units can fit onto any major brand of heavy equipment and essentially turn the machine into a robot that can be instructed to complete simple, repeatable tasks (Built Robotics, 2020). It comes with built-in features like triple safety redundancy (workers should be very secure around these robots, even as they are actively working). Built Robotics’ system has been developed to consider many of the most important facets of equipment operation, and the company is finding increased interest in their product (Built Robotics, 2020). I believe that we are on the cusp of a total restructuring of the heavy equipment operation process once this technology begins to get off of its feet. Already, equipment manufactures like Caterpillar and Volvo are trying to get a piece of the action for themselves.

Remote Equipment Operation The coming storm of heavy equipment robots does not mean that the traditional equipment operator will be total eliminated from the construction environment. As cool as robotics and information technology is, it is simply not yet advanced enough to replicate the thousands of decisions that an experienced equipment operator makes on a daily basis. The input variables on a construction site are extensive. There are simply far too many variables that an onboard

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computer would have to consider to be an effective alternative to an equipment operator, at least on a jobsite with any degree of complexity. For the foreseeable future (even with construction leaders like Built Robotics pushing the industry forward) contractors are still going to require the experienced hand of the traditional equipment operator. Does this mean that innovation is stifled? Of course not! Other solutions besides heavy equipment robots are coming into the fray to enable the equipment operator rather than eliminate their job entirely. Enter remote equipment operation. Still awaiting its wide adoption phase, remote equipment operation refers to any means by which an equipment operator is able to pilot his machine (or machines…more on that later) without being physically inside it. Today, there are several methods by which this can happen. The first, and currently most popular, method of remote operation is through the use of a large heavy equipment “remote” that an operator typically wears around their neck. The controls on the remote are meant to simulate the controls of the given machine. In this case, operators are given the option to remove themselves from their equipment in the event that they could get a better vantage point of their work from another area.

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North American Construction Journal In other cases, the work area may not be overtly safe, and removing the operator from the dangerous conditions while still allowing them to view their work is another reason for adoption. The contracting companies that have already chosen to adopt this kind of remote operation generally do not require its use (Bennick 2020). Instead, the remote is meant to be used as another tool in the operator’s arsenal should a unique situation present itself – no different than a tape measure or a lock level. Far more on the fringe of remote equipment operation is the use of off-site operator stations to run equipment. These stations are sold by vendors like Caterpillar and can be used to operate variety of different equipment types from thousands of miles away in real-time. As demonstrated by Caterpillar at ConExpo 2020, these stations can not only remove the operator from a potentially hazardous jobsite, but also allow the operator to quickly switch between multiple machines during a given work session (Cat Command, 2020). Imagine the applications of an operator being able to work efficiently in multiple locations at the same time!

The Future Equipment Operator Where does this new technology leave our beloved friend, the traditional

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equipment operator? Is he doomed to be replaced by machines that will one day outpace his computational reaction time and his operating efficiency? How can a human possibly compete against the productivity and morale gains of a robot that never needs a lunch break, never complains about its job, and doesn’t need to be paid an hourly wage? One starts to get the image of John Henry the steel driver using all of his might and strength to beat the new steam drill machine – a battle that he cannot win in the long term. Has the era of the equipment operator come to its end so quickly, and without us even noticing it? I must admit, I believe the answer to this question is yes, and no. I speak from the perspective of the equipment operator. I understand who equipment operators are as people and as workers. They are good people. They are often highly skilled at what they do. In the future, I believe that their services will still be used, but perhaps to a lesser extent. As much as I respect the profession, to suggest that it will live on forever would be to look forward into history through rose colored glasses. There is a famous scene in the 1991 film Other People’s Money that illustrates this concept perfectly. In the film, Danny DeVito plays a “corporate raider” named Lawrence Garfield who goes about purchasing businesses, liquidating all of their assets, and pocketing a hefty profit

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North American Construction Journal for himself. These actions earn him the moniker of “Larry the Liquidator.” In a stockholder’s meeting of a failing company who he intends to purchase, he persuades the shareholders to allow him to buy the company with the following speech. “This company is dead. I didn’t kill it. Don’t blame me. It was dead when I got here. It’s too late for prayers. For even if the prayers were answered, and a miracle occurred, and the yen did this, and the dollar did that, and the infrastructure did the other thing, we would still be dead. You know why? Fiber optics. New technologies. Obsolescence. We’re dead alright. We’re just not broke. And you know the surest way to go broke? Keep getting an increasing share of a shrinking market. Down the tubes. Slow but sure. You know, at one time there must’ve been dozens of companies makin’ buggy whips. And I’ll bet the last company around was the one that made the best ******* buggy whip you ever saw.”

In this analogy, the buggy whip is the equipment operator, and the last company that makes buggy whips are the contractors who refuse to acknowledge that “The Times, They Are A Changin’.” Not today, and perhaps not 10 years from now, but someday there will come a time when the manual equipment operator becomes a remnant of the past, a

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specter of a simpler time. Let’s not give up hope though! You might have perceived from my verbiage that I believe the equipment operator position to be completely superfluous. This is far from the truth. I do not believe that the equipment operator position will ever be completely dead, even years from now. I do foresee, however, the role and responsibilities of the equipment operator changing from their current state. Let’s take the example of the heavy equipment robots that we previously discussed. We have already noted that these machines currently exist with fairly simple programming and are only capable of handling repetitive tasks. What if a person existed who understood earthwork operations enough to “tell” the automated equipment which operations to undertake, and when to switch to new tasks? What better person for this role than an already experienced equipment operator? When I picture the “future equipment operator” I foresee a person with a fair amount of field experience and reasonable amount of computer interfacing skills who will actively manage several pieces of automated equipment at once! I see a person instructing the equipment to do tasks (and switch to new tasks) throughout the day. What an interesting prospect! How cool would it be to see a few people controlling entire fleets of earthmoving equipment with a few


North American Construction Journal computers? It is certainly a position that I would be interested in. This prediction is just one possible avenue that the equipment operator position will take. We don’t know exactly how things will change. We only know that they will, and this is not a bad thing! After all, the goal of technological innovation is to make our lives easier and safer. You would be hard-pressed to find someone who is complaining about the fact that we no longer use milk men – why should the equipment operator position be exempt from the same rules? The point is that jobs change so that people don’t have to kill themselves with hard, laborious work all day long. The equipment operator position will survive by adapting to the world around it, and just like in the legend of John Henry, the stories of the skill and grit of the master equipment operators of yesteryear will be told long after they have passed on.

References

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technologies-increase-safetyand-productivity Berry, T. (2014, December 1). The First Hydraulic Excavators. Retrieved from https://www.oemoffhighway.com/ fluid-power/article/12022256/the-firsthydraulic excavators Built Robotics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.builtrobotics.com/ Cat® Command for Dozing Offers Efficient and Safe Remote Operation of D8T Dozer: Cat: Caterpillar. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.cat.com/ en_US/news/machine-press releases/ cat-command-for-dozing-offersefficient-and-safe-remote-operationof-d8t dozer.html Eidenmuller, M. (n.d.). American Rhetoric: Movie Speech, Other People’s Money. Retrieved October 07, 2020, from https://www.americanrhetoric. com/MovieSpeeches/moviespeech otherpeoplesmoneydevo.html Wikipedia.org. 2020. Telematics. [online] Available at: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Telematics>

Bennink, C. (2020, June 11). Remote and Autonomous Construction Equipment Technologies Increase Safety and Productivity. Retrieved from https://www.forconstructionpros. com/construction-technology/ machine-grade-control gps-laserother/article/21134012/remote-andautonomous-construction-equipment

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Caretaker Landscape and Tree Management:

The Cutting Edge Of Beautification Caretaker Landscape and Tree Management of Gilbert, AZ works exclusively in the commercial realm with five locations in Arizona and Colorado. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal As it turns out, Susan White wasn’t quite ready to retire when she moved with her husband W.L. (Bud) Stephenson Jr. from Oklahoma to Arizona. Instead she founded Caretaker Landscape and Tree Management, established in Gilbert, AZ in 1988. Company Owner and CEO Matt White started with the company in 1988, including continuously following his graduation from the University of Arizona. He purchased 50 percent of the company in 2006 and became sole owner five years later. “I had the pleasure of meeting [Mrs. White] before she passed away and she was an amazing woman. She built the company up. Matt is the sole owner and is building on the legacy that goes back to Susan,” says Todd Schneider, the company’s VP of Landscape Construction. The company works exclusively in the commercial realm with five locations in Arizona and Colorado. It manages $18 million per year in construction work and $15 million annually in maintenance, trees, water and enhancements. It employs in the range of 270 to 370 workers, has five ISA Certified Arborists on staff, utilizes the H2B visa program to bolster its seasonal work force and is a member of the Arizona Landscape Contractors Association.

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“Our primary construction focus is on landscape development of common areas in master planned communities and large commercial complexes. We work with clients to educate and help them understand best management practices in maintenance techniques and water management and offer value engineering ideas that promote conservation,” explains Schneider. The company ranked No. 50 in both Landscape Management magazine’s Top 150 Landscapers of 2018; and Lawn & Landscape’s Top 100 issue for 2018.

Staying Safe Every worker is outfitted in jobspecific protective gear while new employees receive onsite orientation, attend required weekly tailgate safety meetings, and are eligible to compete for the company’s Annual Safety Award. “Specialized training for traffic control, cold and hot weather conditions, first aid/CPR, excavation safety, OSHA 10 hour, equipment operator, utility location, SDS and hazard analysis is offered periodically throughout the year. Team members that complete specialized training are offered hardhat stickers or certification cards. We require each foreman to submit safety suggestions that are reviewed and acted upon through our safety committee,” Schneider notes.


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Matt White - Owner and CEO

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Mark Wordley - President and COO

“We work with clients to educate and help them understand best management practices in maintenance techniques and water management and offer value engineering ideas that promote conservation.” - VP of Landscape Construction Todd Schneider

Pre-construction meetings identify potential risk factors for every job site. Project managers oversee the process and all tradesmen must adhere to established protocol. “We work in an environment that can be challenging and there are pinch points. We train our people to understand and identify those possible

situations they’re putting themselves into and they’re putting their team into. If you’re mentoring a new guy, walking him through what the safety steps are for a particular piece of equipment that he’s using is crucial. We make sure the guys understand excavation, the placement of the ladders, shoring, the trench boxes – we really analyze those jobs,” Schneider elaborates.

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The company celebrates its workforce at its Safety Awards event each November, held before seasonal workers return to Mexico and Central America. Different awards represent the different divisions critical to the company’s success and, Schneider says, “creates a dynamic atmosphere.”

and career growth,” he adds.

Daily Operations

“When you get to the end of a project, landscaping happens to be that last trade and we’re picking up the pieces of the schedules. If everyone is on time, you’re not stressing the guy in front of you and you’re not stressing the guy behind you. We’re the last piece and most visually stimulating part of the project but the outdoor spaces we create often have to be done on a compressed schedule,”

Whether in the field or at the office, Schneider has a hand in every aspect of the company, from financials and forecasting to performance on specific jobs. “What’s driving our business and what can we do to improve? Where are we spending our money – does it track against the budget? A number of direct reports come through me. We also have (two-day) Sales and Ops meetings once a month that are critical to our business,” says Schneider, an industry veteran of 35 years who studied Aeronautical Engineering Technology at Arizona State University and graduated from the U.S. Marine Corps’ Officer Candidate School at Quantico. “I facilitate my team by providing an atmosphere that includes state of the art technology never before used in the landscape industry, a drama free workplace, the best equipment available, competitive wages with bonus potential, and an interest in my team’s personal

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The company is adept at utilizing its resources to the fullest and focuses on partnering with like-minded companies to devise innovative solutions to compress schedules while delivering the highest quality work.

Todd Schneider - VP of Construction


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People. Knowledge. Relationships. Keeping our promises since 1963.

Offering the industry’s most comprehensive selection of landscape and irrigation supplies, Horizon is the one stop shop for over 27,000 green industry professionals. We carry professional-grade products in irrigation & drainage, landscape and safety, lighting and outdoor living, and outdoor power equipment, parts & service. Visit us online or stop in to your local Horizon store. Anthem 623.551.6868

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Liz Miller - Construction Operations

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Schneider notes. “I have been in land development pretty much my whole life and have relationships with companies that have great integrity and the ability to complete their jobs at a fair value and on time. Having relationships and understanding how to work within those relationships so that there is a benefit for both parties is absolutely critical,” he elaborates. When working with subcontractors, the company pre-negotiates terms that benefit both parties, pays on time and takes payment discounts when offered, and is transparent in regards to delays and project progress. “We value our partners as part of our team. We also expect our partners to reflect our same values, our safety protocol and our on-time delivery philosophy,” Schneider says.

conserve water, promote plant health and reduce maintenance costs. Weathermatics also provides water to underdeveloped countries in a gallonfor-gallon match program.

The company is an exclusive vendor for Weathermatics, which offers cost-saving technologies that

Caretaker prefers to purchase its equipment but will rent specialized equipment as needed. It recently

“Guys are looking for somewhere they can call home, where they can build their families. As a family-owned company I’ve never seen a management staff, including the owner, that really cares about their people this much.” - VP of Landscape Management Todd Schneider www.naconstructionjournal.com


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bought a $380,000 granite shooter that has increased productivity while reducing labor. The company has updated its fleet of trucks and equipment to reduce carbon emission and conserve fuel, is installing solar powered lighting, and has used solar powered controllers for some time. “Our equipment is unbelievable and in great shape. I really believe that we are on the cutting edge of technology and on the cutting edge of providing service that, in most cases, has been antiquated,” Schneider points out.

Staff Training And Retention While the company relies on unskilled laborers, it strives to provide

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workersthe opportunity to build their careers while setting down roots. “I believe this is actually a talent rich marketplace. Caretaker, first and foremost, believes in developing the great talent we already have. We believe that the team members we have are a valuable resource and the investment we make in their careers pays back tenfold,” Schneider asserts. When it comes to promotions, the company employs the DiSC (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness) methodology to identify and coach future leaders. Schneider notes “we have a lot of ‘D’s’ in this office.”

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While the company pays at the top of the scale, Schneider says: “It’s not always about paying them more.” The company offers health insurance and retirement plans, provides educational assistance, caters quarterly brunches at the office and promotes Safety Awards. “We’ve been able to attract really good foremen, superintendents and assistant superintendents, guys that have been with us a long time,” Schneider says. “Guys are looking for somewhere they can call home, where they can build their families. As a family-owned company I’ve never seen a management staff, including the owner, that really

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He thinks back to when he arrived at Caretaker nine years ago – offered a job by CEO Matt White after he had terminated his previous company’s contract with Caretaker for not meeting its commitments. “Where I’m at, I’m perfectly content to lead my team and be successful and proud of what they do. I don’t know that another company could offer me that. I really enjoy what I do and I really enjoy the people that I work with. When we can work through issues as a team and pursue this as a team, it’s going to be successful,” he concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Caretaker Land & Tree Management Country: United States

cares about their people this much.”

Industry: Construction

Forward Looking

Est: 1988

With its stature as Arizona’s premier landscaper and its reputation for delivering superb work on time and on budget, Caretaker is positioned for continued success. Schneider anticipates the company will surpass $50 million in revenue within the next 18 months.

Premier Services: Commercial Landscape Management Owner/CEO: Matt White Website: www.caretakerlandscape.com

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Power & Communications Contractors Association:

The Powerful Voice Of An Industry The Power & Communications Contractors Association (PCCA) has kept pace with the technology evolution and encompasses companies constructing electric power facilities. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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stablished in 1945 to assist the Rural Electrification Administration (REA), the Power & Communications Contractors Association (PCCA) has evolved into the voice of companies constructing electric power facilities The association – headquartered in Alexandria, VA – was born of necessity and is rooted in rural post-World War Two America. “The REA was part of The New Deal. Only 10 percent of rural Americans had electricity back in 1935 and REA provided loans to electric co-ops all across rural America. There was no one to do that kind of work at the time, except the farmers. A lot of our member companies have roots in the farming industry. They also formed small power companies and went out and put up power poles and worked with the electric farming co-ops across America,” explains association President and CEO Tim Wagner. PCCA has kept pace with the technology evolution and encompasses companies constructing electric power facilities, including transmission and distribution lines and substations and telephone, fiber optic, and cable television systems as well as those engaged in directional drilling, local area and premises wiring, water and sewer utilities, gas and oil pipelines. “They’ve always sort of adapted to

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the times to do the work that was out there. A lot of our guys have the skill set to do a lot of different things,” Wagner notes. The association today numbers approximately 220 members in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in two membership groups – contractor (companies) and associate manufacturers and suppliers. Wagner says contractor members’ size range from $50 million to $5 billion in annual volume and from 200 to 10,000+ staff. “It’s a fantastic group. I have been here for 20 years and it is an interesting organization because of how we got our start. Most of our members


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started out small even though they are now, for the most part, mega contractors. Most of them started out as family businesses and there is a sense of family values and a tight-knit community I haven’t experienced at other organizations,” notes Wagner, an association industry veteran of 30 years who has been with PCCA for the past 20. The association has successfully negotiated its way through tough times, including the telecom crash of the early 2000s and The Great Recession of 2008. “The early 2000s nearly put this association out of business but the

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group banded together and had a common goal to make sure the industry and this association survived. The core group of contractors figured out how to do other things and expanded their businesses in a bunch of different directions. We got creative here in how we did our jobs with less. And then we made it through the 2008 recession. It hit us pretty hard but we survived,” Wagner says. “I’m proud to have been a part of 20 of the 75 years and proud to have been with the group as we made it through those two big-time recessions,” he adds. Lessons learned from those two experiences should help PCCA manage during the current

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It’s a fantastic group. I have been here for 20 years and . . . there is a sense of family values and a tight-knit community I haven’t experienced at other organizations.

- President and CEO Tim Wagner

COVID-related downturn.

most pressing industry needs.

Re-Shaping PCCA

PCCA now partners with colleges in five states – Missouri, Wisconsin, Ohio, Kentucky and Michigan – that teach a PCCA-approved Utilities Technology curriculum. Students work paid apprenticeships at PCCA member companies in the summer.

Wagner’s arrival coincided with a conscious effort by the Board of Directors to transform the association into a true advocacy group. PCCA is now well regarded in Washington, DC with robust Government and Industry Affairs Committees that meet at least quarterly with federal regulators. “They decided to provide more to their members,” Wagner recalls, noting the association is now frequently quoted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). “Our Past President Steve Sellenrick is on the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee and Past President Tom Myers has the farming expertise. All the machines are now being driven by computers and mapping is highly technical and requires big-time band width to accomplish.” Workforce replenishment has been a challenge for some time. To that end, PCCA developed its “Who Will Do The Work?” initiative five years ago after its Education Committee identified the

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“We wanted to know what were the kinds of things we could do to generate interest in our industry and


North American Construction Journal ‘Who Will Do The Work’ is one of our biggest accomplishments. We have about 45 graduates a year,” Wagner says. Additionally, PCCA partnered with the Wireless Infrastructure Association and has been awarded a $6 million Department of Labor grant that is being matched by an additional $14 million from the PCCA Education Foundation, Ditch Witch and FS3. “It’s for developing our future workforce specifically geared to 5G. A study showed we are going to be short 10,000 to 20,000 workers in installing America’s 5G network. Wireless really isn’t wireless, so every tower has fiber optic and every tower requires

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wiring,” Wagner explains. In the legislative arena, PCCA negotiated the increase from $250,000 to $1 million for the cap on miscellaneous work and maintenance services that companies can include under RUS 773 contracts without having to go through the bidding process. The increase allows companies to pay individuals hourly rates commensurate with the jobs being performed. PCCA also won approval for a clarified exemption that allows its utility service vehicles to exceed the maximum hours driven mandate originally designed by the DOL for long-haul truckers. Wagner says the letter explains “that

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our trucks are toolboxes and that our workers drive them to a site and use them all day. They are parked at a site and not on the road.”

Addressing Issues Aside from maintaining its workforce, unfulfilled locating requests have become an enormous problem in recent years, exceeding 10,000 in a number of states. Wagner says a boom economy coupled with the fact that a single company dominates the locating industry has created an overwhelming backlog. “There is more work than we can get

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done but we can’t get the work done we have the ability to do because locates are not being done. So we are trying to unravel and figure out how to improve the locate industry,” Wagner says. Fining locate companies for unmet requests hasn’t worked because the nominal fines are generally less than the cost of pulling the permit needed to do the work. “They’re looking at it as a low-risk proposition and they are making the decision to take the penalty. The contractor gets left holding the bag if they hit something. It is a mess for us,”


North American Construction Journal Wagner asserts. PCCA is heavily involved with the Common Grounds Alliance (CGA) and developed a three-pronged approach for excavation safety: • Calling for membership to be mandatory for all companies • Demanding location accuracy • Utilizing potholing, or digging up a site and physically identifying the utility “Our current chairman John Fluharty is the excavator rep on the CGA Board and we are also encouraging all of our members to become members of the Common Ground Alliance,” Wagner notes. PCCA encourages member input at its two annual roundtables – one at its convention and one at its mid-year meeting. Many of the association’s programs and services had their genesis at a roundtable. “Right now, we’ve broken it into an education segment, a government and industry affairs segment, and an

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economic condition segment. Our members and the PCCA like to work like they are a small company. They can change directions and do things very rapidly. They like to operate like entrepreneurs and we are fortunate to have a Board of Directors that is okay with us trying and failing and trying something else,” says Wagner.

Benefits of Membership PCCA is proficient at developing programs in time of need. In conjunction with FMI, it developed a Project Managers Academy that trained 30 PMs each year. Eventually as member companies grew and needed additional PMs, they contracted with FMI to conduct training at the individual company. The association’s Young Construction Professionals group morphed into the Leadership Development Program several years ago and, Wagner says, “has been very successful [and] has led to a lot of younger blood on our Board of Directors.” The youngest is

Our members and the PCCA like to work like they are a small company. They can change directions and do things very rapidly. They like to operate like entrepreneurs and we are fortunate to have a Board of Directors that is okay with us trying and failing and trying something else. - President and CEO Tim Wagner www.naconstructionjournal.com


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Forward Thinking Given its track record of adaptability, its legislative reputation, and its willingness to embrace its members and address industry needs, PCCA seems well equipped to emerge from the current slowdown in better shape than most. “Economists we brought in are warning our members to be careful because when things are great is when mistakes are made, some of the smaller details can absolutely crush you. We have been here before and this group has weathered two pretty significant storms that taught this group lessons that are invaluable,” Wagner concludes. 26-year-old Sam Stevens of Tjader & Highstrom. The PCCA Hall of Fame features those who have given a lifetime of service to the industry, such as DitchWitch founder Edwin Malzon, Vermeer founder Gary Vermeer and his daughter Mary Vermeer. The latest member is Ron Tagliepietra, who was on Michels’ first cable plow crew in 1965 and remained with the company for his entire career, retiring as an EVP. “He was also on our Board and was instrumental in helping us through the downturn, He also adopted our annual auction and donated our first-ever auction item,” Wagner says.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: PCCA Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1945 Premier Services: National Trade Association for companies constructing power facilities. President/CEO: Timothy Wagner Website: www.pccaweb.org

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City of Lubbock Water Utilities:

Designing A Sustainable System Lubbockâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Water Utilities Department has an annual operating budget of $85 million and services more than 90,000 individual water connections throughout its system. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal urn on your faucet and out it gushes. Flush your toilet and away it goes. However, as a consumer, have you ever truly thought about the system that meets your everyday water needs? Odds are not until you are affected in some way and system maintenance is necessary at its most granular level, your residence. Director of Water Utilities Aubrey Spear has overseen a highly integrated, complex system for the city of Lubbock, TX (pop. 270,000) for the past 13 years. Incorporated in 1909, the city was initially serviced by a handful of wells that were disinfected by simple chlorination methods..

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North Water Treatment Plant have the capacity to treat a combined 90 million gallons per day. On the Wastewater side, the collection system consists of 1,212 miles of sanitary sewer lines, 36 lift stations and 18,606 manholes. Approximately 6.70 billion gallons of wastewater was treated and either reused or disposed of during 2019. Potable water is distributed throughout the region via 1,780 miles of lines, 14 pump stations, 25,941 valves and 6,670 fire hydrants. The city also has contract with four municipalities, two educational facilities and one criminal justice unit to provide treated water.

Today the mid-size municipality’s Water Utilities Department has an annual operating budget of $85 million and services over 90,000 individual water connections throughout its system. According to its mission statement, it is committed to developing, protecting, and preserving valuable water resources while providing high quality utility services and exceptional customer service.

That’s a lot of potential for troubleshooting but, as Spear points out, the city’s comprehensive 350page Strategic Water Supply Plan, Water Distribution System Master Plan, and Wastewater Collection System Master Plan for upgrades “provides a road map for the development of a cost effective and sustainable water supply and infrastructure improvements over the next 100 years.”

In FY2019, the City obtained water from its Bailey County Well Field (2.1 billion gallons) and Lake Alan Henry (2.3 billion gallons) as well as the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority (7.3 billion gallons). The city’s South Water Treatment Plant and

“It sends a signal that we’re open for business and we’re going to be for many years to come because we’ve taken care of our water business. We have access to enough water to grow this city for the next 100 years,” proclaims Spear. “And the utility has

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“There is great satisfaction in knowing we’re making a difference in people’s lives because we’re providing something that is vital.” - Director of Water Utilities Aubrey Spear

really been proactive in educating the community about conservation of our resources over the past decade.”

Some Key Initiatives Automated Metering Infrastructure Project: This landmark joint venture with the city’s electric utility will be substantially completed by January 2021. Over 90,000 of the Water Department’s connection’s meters were swapped out or retrofitted over a

two-year period. “We have a lot of data now and we’re hoping to build portals so customers can look at their water consumption data every day so they can manage their own usage since it’s connected with our billing system. It’s exciting to see it come to fruition,” Spear notes. North Water Treatment Plant: The plant, built in the 1960s, treats both ground water and surface

Aubrey Spear

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North American Construction Journal water coming from the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority and is undergoing four phases of improvements. “We’re in phase three now and we’re six or seven years into this project. It’s going to take about 10 years to complete and in a couple years during the final phase the terminal reservoir will be dredged. Right now we’re working on refurbishing the backwash system and have replaced many of the mechanisms. It’s quite a comprehensive project,” Spear says. New Elevated Storage Tanks: Three aging elevated storage facilities are being decommissioned and will be replaced by five new elevated storage

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tanks built in optimal locations to accommodate the growth throughout the city. “The city has grown significantly in the past 50 years or so. This project will result in significant energy savings. Right now we have to keep our distribution system pressurized with pump stations. Once the elevated storage tanks are up and running, the pump stations won’t be used all the time. The final three will be built over next five years, so there are opportunities for contractors,” Spear observes. Diversification: Spear explains the city’s goal in dealing with the region’s climate conditions and weaknesses


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BEHIND EVERY UTILITY THERE IS A PERSON.

Technology is not a solution, it is a tool. Meaningful water management is provided by people. And the right technology makes peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lives easier. Master Meterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s next generation of products simplify analytics by focusing on the information that is most useful, and by providing an intuitive interactive experience for both utilities and their customers. At Master Meter we drive innovation, and we create technology for people. www.mastermeter.com

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associated with the water system is to DIVERSIFY its sources of water. “We have two lakes and two groundwater well fields. We’re beginning to re-use our water and trying to avoid relying on one source or one type of water and we’re emphasizing conservation to delay expensive projects. If we conserve, we can push back new supply projects by close to 20 years. That’s an important number because it usually takes 20 years to pay off one of these projects,” he elaborates.

Day To Day Prior to coming to the City of Lubbock, Spear worked in the private sector as an Engineering and Business consultant dealing with water, wastewater and environmental issues. “I’ve worked with a variety of different industries, including with municipalities. In fact, prior to becoming employed by the City, I had worked with the City of Lubbock in a business consulting role, helping them optimize some of the utility,” he says with a laugh. “After 20 years in the private sector it was very intriguing to me to switch into the public sector and see what the difference is and how I could make an impact.” Spear, an industry veteran of 33 years, views himself as a communicator, negotiator, problem solver, and

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facilitator and says no two days are alike. “You start off thinking this week I will take care of X-Y-Z and it winds up being A-B-C,” he says. “Making life easier for my employees by helping them get the resources that they need is crucial. Working on the big picture issues, connecting with our 220+ employees and providing a good work environment for them, talking to them and seeing how they are doing are all parts of the job.” Ensuring the safety of the public, city workers and contractors is of


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technology helps the city stay ahead of the curve. Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software gathers and analyzes data in real time. Meanwhile, Bid Sync provides contractors and suppliers information about upcoming projects. “I think the most important thing is letting contractors know the opportunities that are out there. The more contractors we have show interest, the more likely we are to get a better product. Better communication and information creates better project performance,” Spear says.

paramount importance and starts at the top. “Our City manager is earnest about employee safety. He makes sure everyone has the personal protective equipment that is needed to stay safe. All of our groups hold safety meetings. City safety personnel often drop in and audit job sites to make sure the working conditions are safe and people are adhering to the protocols, so I feel like we a really good on safety,” Spear says. Understanding and optimal use of

The City almost always asks for a Request for Proposal, rather than a Request for Bid. The process includes a point system for price, safety, qualifications and schedule, allowing it to identify and select the most qualified contractors. Large General Contractors oversee most jobs, hiring local, subcontractors that are familiar with working on city owned facilities. These specialists include concrete and electrical firms with long-term demonstrated skill sets. “They know us, we work well with them and we’re not going to be punitive if they make a few mistakes and take the appropriate corrective action,” Spear notes.

Meeting Challenges As is the case with every sector of the

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North American Construction Journal Construction industry in total, Lubbock faces an aging workforce on the verge of retirement and is scouring every source for replacements, including high school and college graduates, those looking to change careers and military veterans looking for opportunities in the civilian workforce. “Getting people interested in working at a utility is a challenge. A lot of people don’t know that it can be a great career and that cuts across all groups. When we go to the schools, we want to connect with anyone interested in working for us. We’re also collaborating with other utilities across the country because there are some great ideas being brought to the surface,” Spear says.

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Spear points out that the City continues to improve in balancing revenue stability, affordability and conservation in the region’s more arid areas that don’t have as much water. Finally, he says dealing with the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the need to be prepared for all manner of uncertainties.

Looking Ahead Everyone needs water every day. With its comprehensive Master Plan in place


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“We’re open for business and we’re going to be for many years to come because we’ve taken care of our water business. We have access to enough water to grow this city for the next 100 years.” - Director of Water Utilities Aubrey Spear

and an eye on conservation, the City of Lubbock seems able to deliver that basic commodity well into the next century. “Our role is to develop, protect, and preserve our water resources and

provide a high level of customer service. I think in the last 20 years, the changes that you see are that we’ve realized it’s not a commodity to be sold but a very important resource that we need to conserve,” Spear concludes. “There is great satisfaction in knowing we’re making a difference in people’s lives because we’re providing something that is vital.”

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: City of Lubbock, TX Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1909 Premier Services: Water supply, treatment, and distribution. Wastewater collection, treatment, and reuse Director of Water Utilities: Aubrey Spear Website: www.mylubbock.us/water

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Hard Rock Directional Drilling:

Robust Solutions For Your Horizontal Directional Drilling Needs With more than 5,000 jobs executed, Hard Rock Directional Drilling (HDD) of San Antonio, TX is a respected and comprehensive provider of an array of services.

Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal ounded in 2003 by Robert Myers, Hard Rock Directional Drilling (HDD) of San Antonio, TX has established itself as a comprehensive provider of directional drilling services such as pre-bore profiling, bore design and guidance systems, utility/Oil & Gas infrastructure installation and pipe extraction. The Company’s executive team draws upon more than 100 years or combined industry experience. HDD has completed more than 5,000 projects for national, state and local clients; currently employs 200 individuals; averages $100 million in annual sales; and has installed a staggering 4,151,294 linear feet of pipe. It owns 34 rigs ranging from 24,000 pounds to one million pounds, giving it one-stop shop capability. “This helps us take on any project of any size. We have experienced Project Managers on site coordinating work and we try our best to be fully involved with the industry. The biggest thing is we want to be good stewards to our industry, to be a leader and set the standard,” says General Manager Cory Baker. “We work hard to get out and talk about designs and geodes and drill plans to make sure that we have a constructible design. There’s a fine line between the owner’s cost and a constructible design for the contractor. We don’t want to overburden the

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owner with cost but we also don’t want to see a contractor struggle to get a drill done because the design isn’t constructible. We feel part of our footprint is sharing information,” he elaborates. HDD is a non-union shop and belongs to the American Pipeline Contractors Association (APCA), the Houston Pipeliners Association and the San Antonio Pipeliners Association. “The biggest thing, especially with APCA, is it keeps us informed on different laws and regulations that could come into play and allows us to speak to lobbyists about our concerns in the market and what we’re seeing. They really do a great job of guiding and of protecting the industry. It brings us together with our partners so that we can keep moving the industry forward and that we’re strong with the same goals,” says Baker, an industry veteran of 25 years.

Safety Initiatives Given the complex and dangerous nature of horizontal directional drilling, the company’s four-person Safety Department preaches the safety gospel from the top down. “We don’t just talk about it; we are about it. Safety is Number One and we want every one of our employees to go home safe and well every night,” Baker stresses. “We’ve started using a


North American Construction Journal safety app and every Project Manager and team leader we have is required to do a number of safety audits each month.” PMs walk their specific job site and answer a checklist of approximately 40 yes or no questions. “What has been so great about this is that it’s turned every person we have

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into a safety guy. When these guys are walking the site they are automatically correcting things on the site to help things be safer. Everybody has a safety mentality and it really has been amazing. The technology has been a game-changer,” Baker says. When a crew scores 100 percent on an audit, each member receives a gift card. Additionally, the company

“I think our experience and our resume is second to none. We have accomplished some of the longest crossings, and some of the most difficult crossings … and our guys in the field have backed up everything with their work.” - General Manager Cory Baker www.naconstructionjournal.com


North American Construction Journal presents Driller of the Year safety awards for each of its rigs.

High-Profile Projects Midland, TX 8,400-foot bore: Recommended to General Contractor Fasken Oil and Ranch by Brad Kingsley of Kingsley Construction, HDD quickly learned what initially projected as a 300-foot drill paralleling Highway 191 and crossing Loop 250 in Odessa became a much more complicated project since the initial site plans did not account for a fence to a retirement community that did not leave enough space to lay out pipe. Fasken next opted for a 1,900-foot

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diagonal drill across Loop 250 and Highway 191 that the Texas DOT rejected because it prefers such crossings be done at 90-degree angles. Another plan to drill down the south side of 191 was shelved because it required relocation of multiple utility lines servicing a grocery store and auto dealership. “So, long story short it turned into an 8,400-foot drill. Retaining walls were involved, so we had to make sure we drilled deep enough and make sure there was no inadvertent pressure return into the retaining walls because that would have been disastrous,” Baker explains. “Additionally sandstone was very abrasive to our drills but,


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overall, the job was a huge success and we’re proud to be a part of it. It was our first job with Fasken.” Corpus Christi, TX/NuStar 15,000foot span of 30-inch steel pipe: In this phased crossing of Nueces Bay, HDD extended 7,000 feet of pipe from each shoreline, leaving a 1,000-foot gap in the middle. “When we designed it, we found that pull calculations (tensile load applied to the pull string) would exceed what our rigs would pull if we were to complete the drill in one 15,000 foot string), so we looked at other options. We decided to break these 15,000 feet into two drills with about a 1000-foot separation at the exit points. Once the holes were ready for installation,

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we pulled them back one at a time. After we got both sections pulled back the tie in was made above the water surface, then we used both rigs to pull the section back down into the already dredged ditch line below the water surface. It was a really exciting project. We actually found a bed of petrified wood that was very tough to get through,” says Baker, who kept two pieces of that wood for use as paperweights.

The Nuts And Bolts In his capacity as GM, Baker oversees the entire scope of daily operations, continuing to promote and expand “a company that is healthy for all of our employees to continue to grow.” “What has made us so strong and

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North American Construction Journal brought us this far is our people. I would hope when I retire that there is someone that believes in Hard Rock and loves Hard Rock like I do to hand my job to, someone that loves the company and the industry as much as I do and every other employee in this company does,” Baker elaborates. He explains that Myers’ ability to surround himself with highly qualified individuals has been crucial to the company’s continuing success. “That has always been his goal and it’s what he pushes on us every day, to make sure we have the right people in the right spots. They have to have the drive and everybody has to have the same goal to grow and be the best. That’s the culture we have at Hard Rock – we want to be that company people are looking at, “ Baker says. Obtaining proper permitting and right of way variances are ongoing issues that disrupt project flow. “There is so much growth going on and so many pipelines going in that the governmental agencies are kind of overwhelmed with that amount of permitting that’s coming in. It is hard to manage when you’ve got a schedule. It messes up the whole job moving forward,” Baker observes. Since the company is willing to tackle projects of all sizes, precise advance planning is central to every HDD job.

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That includes developing contingency plans and solutions to address worstcase scenarios. “Putting that in place before the job starts is so important to the success of the job because whatever happens, if you have a plan, the crew knows that plan and can automatically go to that plan. It saves so much down time because you’re already prepared for it, you know what you have to do and it’s put into place. We make sure everything is covered, which is very important on big, complex projects,” Baker says. The company owns its equipment and, as Baker notes, has enough backlog to keep its rigs working every day.


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“What has made us so strong and brought us this far is our people. I would hope when I retire that there is someone that believes in Hard Rock and loves Hard Rock like I do to hand my job to.” - General Manager Cory Baker

While HDD self-performs most of its work, it regularly operates alongside a number of trusted partners. The company’s Industry Partner Division manager ensures industry partners are thoroughly vetted, adhere to HDD’s safety protocol, follow the site plan and are financially stable.

Recruiting, Training and Retention As is the case across the entire construction industry, securing qualified people is a continuing challenge. “We struggle with finding those people that can learn and move up. We like to promote from within but finding that person who is loyal and shows up and wants to work and learn and stay here is tough,” Baker admits. “Will these people do the quality job Hard Rock is known for and still put out a quality product? That’s where the struggle is.” The company actively recruits college and technical school graduates seeking to build a career. HDD attends conventions and job fairs and works actively to keep its name at the forefront of the industry by hosting webinars and engaging with prospective candidates on social media. The company also overstaffs rigs to

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North American Construction Journal allow new operators the proper time to train and take over their own rig when the time comes. Finally, it offers a profit-sharing program based on the performance of each individual rig and crew. “The biggest thing is that young guys come on and know we are providing a foundation to build a career off of. We hope all of that attracts the right people. While we love when experienced people join us, it is always rewarding to watch a guy come in at entry level and work his way up to division manager. It’s a good feeling to know that you helped,” Baker says. Baker holds up his own career as a case study. He got into the business right out of high school, calling the opportunity a blessing. “I started at the bottom and worked hard. You need to find a place that is willing to grow. The loyalty will pay off in the long run. You never really learn anything if you’re jumping from job to job to job. You need to learn the business aspect and move to managing multiple rigs at a time. If people don’t see that loyalty, they are never going to give you that chance,” he says.

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attractive place to work. “I think our experience and our resume is second to none. We have accomplished some of the longest crossings, and some of the most difficult crossings. We designed them and completed them and our guys in the field have backed up everything with their work,” says Baker. “Our hope is that people are ready to take our places when we retire. Robert started with one rig and as he says ‘a pocket full of credit cards.’ He’s almost lived the American Dreams and he doesn’t want a company that closes the doors when he retires. He wants to see it still going strong,” he concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Hard Rock Directional Drilling Country: United States Industry: Construction/Oil and Energy Est: 2003

Drilling Down

Premier Services: Horizontal

Having established itself as a respected industry leader in fewer than 20 years, HDD’s future seems rock solid. The company’s nurturing culture and embrace of technology make it an

directional drilling (HDD) services Owner/Founder: Robert Myers Website: www.hardrockhdd.com

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Griffin Dewatering:

Groundwater Control Specialist

Established in 1934 in New York City at a time when construction in the nationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest city was going vertical, Griffin Dewatering of Houston, TX now operates across the United States. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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riffin Dewatering of Houston, TX – established in 1934 in New York City at a time when construction was going vertical at a rapid pace – today spans the United States from coast to coast. As NYC’s buildings climbed to the clouds and required deeper foundations to support them, challenges arose as well. Then, as now, Griffin provided the solutions. “There was a tremendous amount of work being done in and around New York City at the time. That is where the need for groundwater control services associated with underground construction became more necessary. That’s where it all began, really how it got rolling,” says company President and CEO Dave Singleton.

“we’re doing several hundred projects a year.”

The company has grown into the largest dedicated contract dewatering company in the U.S. It manufactures equipment and installs dewatering systems for the industry’s most complex groundwater challenges, setting the standard for expertise when it comes to engineering design, system installation, and the filtration and treatment of discharge water.

Demonstrating its geographic reach and end market diversity, the company is currently involved in dewatering and water treatment as part of a fuel infrastructure project at San Diego International Airport; is beginning work on a dry dock remediation project in Virginia; and is involved in a high-end residential project in Colorado.

The company maintains 11 field and sales locations, employs 150, generates annual revenue in the range of $40 to $50 million, has executed in excess of 20,000 projects throughout its nearly 80-year history and, Singleton says,

“We work on large, complex construction projects all across the country. We do public and private construction, commercial high-rises, lots of public infrastructure, dams, levees, bridges, underground utility,

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“We are working on dozens of sites every single day that are geographically dispersed, so [safety] really does come down to the guys in the field. They have to take ownership for themselves and their crew.” - President/CEO Dave Singleton

water and wastewater; basically we work in all construction end markets. There is a lot of work being built right now and, for us, it’s all fun and exciting,” Singleton says. The company belongs to numerous national associations, including the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the Associated

Builders and Contractors (ABC), the U.S. Society on Dams (USSD), the National Ground Water Association (NGWA), the Deep Foundations Institute (DFI) and the American Coal Ash Association (ACAA). “The primary benefit for us is having the ability to work on issues we, our clients, our trade association partners,

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North American Construction Journal or our industry are facing. It is good to share solutions and to constantly be trying to professionalize the construction industry. We get a great deal of benefit,” Singleton says.

Focused On Safety Safety training begins the day a new employee comes on board. The company stresses that safety is a shared responsibility and that every employee is authorized to stop work in the event that a situation feels unsafe. “It’s an incredibly important part of what we think about all of the time. We are doing safety training from the moment someone is hired, so before they are put into the field we do safety

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training and orientation type training,” Singleton says. The company’s Safety Director is charged with driving best practices throughout the company via daily tailgate talks, monthly safety meetings and unannounced site visits. “We are working on dozens of sites every single day that are geographically dispersed, so it really does come down to the guys in the field. They have to take ownership for themselves and their crew. At any point if any employee feels that something is unsafe they have the authority to stop work and for us to evaluate and correct what the unsafe condition might be,” Singleton stresses. Near-miss incidents are dissected and, Singleton notes, “if we have an incident, we will carefully review that to determine and eliminate the root cause and do everything we can to push the information out to all of our locations and all of our leaders and have every employee get acquainted with what took place. We recently completed more than one year without a recordable incident. ”

Daily Operations The company’s success has been forged by the expertise of its work force and its willingness to take on jobs of all sizes.

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North American Construction Journal “It really starts with our people, who are honestly trying to be client and safety focused. In our 85-year history we haven’t veered very far from our first love. I think the final thing is kind of this national footprint that no job is too large and no job is too small. We are all over the USA,” Singleton points out. “We have kept our focus on helping clients control the risks associated with groundwater control and have not veered off into other areas. Additionally, we have worked to build strong relationships with our clients and we are constantly striving to be a more service-oriented business,” he continues. Singleton joined the company five years ago and touches all parts of the organization. “From a broad picture – driving growth for our business and doing that strategically – a big part of my role is strategy and the culture of the organization. Those are things we’ve worked on since I’ve been here,” he notes.

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day issues. My job is to give them the tools and support they need to be effective in serving the needs of our clients,” he says. The company’s site-specific solutions handle soil specifications that vary from one job to the next. While sub-surface hydrogeology can be infinitely complex, the fundamental challenge at each job site is keeping the foundation hole dry and stable. The company’s engineers analyze soil type and the height and flow of the water table to design the most efficient dewatering systems. “An overwhelming amount of our revenue generates from construction dewatering and water treatment.

“We have partnered with MMA for years and ultimately we see the differentiators being the level of service and rapid response whether that be for claims handling or policy issuance. The construction industry moves fast and MMA is always up to the challenge to do what it takes to reduce our risk and help us manage our way through claims issues.” – Alon Najer, VP of Risk Management

Griffin Dewatering

“From a culture standpoint, it’s working to be a more responsive, more professional, and more accountable organization. We think of the organization as sort of flipped upside down where my job is to support all of the other employees. Our field crews touch many more of our clients and they face many more of the day-to-

MarshMMA.com BUSINESS INSURANCE EMPLOYEE HEALTH & BENEFITS PRIVATE CLIENT SERVICES RETIREMENT SERVICES SURETY EXECUTIVE BENEFITS RISK MANAGEMENT Copyright © 2020 Marsh & McLennan Company. All rights reserved.

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North American Construction Journal What does that look like? Someone is doing something underground. They’re building a deep foundation, installing a pipeline, building a water treatment plant, or removing ash from a coal ash disposal pond. We’re helping them control groundwater by installing an active dewatering system,” Singleton says. “At some point we’re removing water and in many instances we’re treating the water to meet discharge regulations. People ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ once the structure starts coming out of the ground but there’s a ton of really, really important work that goes on underground. It’s amazing the amount of time that’s spent underground before a structure starts to emerge,” he continues.

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often rents or leases commoditized equipment that is readily available such as specialty rolling stock and forklifts.

Meeting Challenges The company faces the same industrywide problem of replenishing a skilled workforce that is ageing out and leaving a shortage behind them. “The first and most critical thing is to maintain and retain staff that we have; those people are critical,” Singleton says with great emphasis. “We spend as much time as we possibly can training them and supporting them and working on everything associated with being an employee here, meaning compensation, benefits and just

In its drive to be a high-value partner, Griffin holds, clients, suppliers and subcontractors alike to exacting standards. “We try to find companies that share our values and think and act like we do. You can walk on a job and understand if the client is valuing safety or if the sub values safety. Is it production at all cost or are they being safely productive,” Singleton says. “If we run through our core values and our mission statement and people say ‘That makes sense to us,’ then we want to work with you.” The company owns and manufacturers its own proprietary tools but most

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North American Construction Journal having a professional and engaging workplace. These items are crucial to make sure we retain those that we have.” Satisfied employees are much more likely to recommend the company as a desirable place to work. Additionally, the company recruits military veterans as well as trade school graduates. “We will train them. They can start as laborers but if they are willing to work hard and work accountably, we will teach them the skills so they can grow in this company. We will teach them what they need to know to be successful,” Singleton says.

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“It is rewarding to see folks end up with the trappings of middle class America, with a new pick-up truck in the driveway and their own home. It’s not unique to Griffin but we love that. Most of our people have been green and that’s OK. It’s worked really well for us,” he adds. The company prefers to promote from within whenever possible. “We want to develop our own champions. This business is a specialty trade. The only way to succeed is to allow people to grow and develop and take on additional responsibility. We work hard utilizing internal mentors


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“People ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ once the structure starts coming out of the ground but there’s a ton of really, really important work that goes on underground. It’s amazing the amount of time that’s spent underground before a structure starts to emerge.” - President/CEO Dave Singleton

and established procedures that allow our people to learn how to meet our high standards. We identify the best role for as many employees as possible and then help them see and attain the next level in their career,” Singleton explains.

Looking Forward Given the unique nature of its work and its standing as the nation’s largest dewatering concern, the company seems well positioned for years to come. Expansion is being considered. “We are evaluating how to effectively grow. Really the only way we do that is if we’re bringing value. We do have a few geographic holes we would like to expand to fill those gaps and a few other growth initiatives to add more skills and services around water management activities,” Singleton says. As he closes out his fourth decade in the business, Singleton welcomes the challenges each day brings. “The minute you think you know it

all, you’re done. Things are always changing in the world around you and every day is new and exciting. I love getting here and seeing different types of challenges and different types of projects every day holds,” he concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Griffin Dewatering Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1934 Premier Services: Construction dewatering, engineering President/CEO: Dave Singleton Website: www.griffindewatering.com/

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D.H Griffin Wrecking:

Shaping Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Skyline D.H. Griffin Wrecking of Greensboro, NC provides contract demolition, machinery installation, environmental and site development services throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal stablished in 1959, D.H. Griffin Wrecking Company, Inc. (DHG Wrecking) of Greensboro, NC is the cornerstone of the expansive network of D.H. Griffin Companies providing contract demolition, machinery installation, environmental and site development services throughout the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. “North Carolina is our home and we’re proud of the strong footprint here with several different offices in North Carolina. We’re also very fortunate and happy to have a long history of working in cities like Charleston, Atlanta, Birmingham, Houston and Louisiana. Our footprint is from the East Coast over to Texas and up to Ohio. That’s where the majority of our work is,” says John Cavanaugh, Corporate Project Manager. All told, the D. H. Griffin umbrella encompasses several companies servicing an array of markets in both the public and private sectors. The collective group employs more than 1,000 people, generates more than $400 million in annual revenue, and owns a fleet of more than 600 pieces of equipment. Impressively, D.H. Griffin Wrecking has been ranked in the Top Five industrial contractors in the country by Engineering News and Record magazine since 2007. In the last published rankings, DHG Wrecking

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ranked fourth with its singular revenue in excess of $170 million. As a preferred contractor, Cavanaugh says the company sets itself apart from the competition in a number of ways. “I’d say it’s our employees and our reputation, first and foremost – we’ve got a 60-year legacy in the industry and our clients have always had the confidence that our team has the experience required to complete complex projects safely, on budget and on schedule. That’s our deal.” Cavanaugh explains. “Beyond that, investing in education and technology the way we do year in and year out has always allowed us to stay competitive as our industry evolves. That’s kind of where I see it.”


North American Construction Journal 134 I-85 Bridge Collapse Emergency Some Notable Projects LG&E Cane Run Generating Station: DHG contracted by LG&E and KU Company for the abatement and demolition of the Cane Run Generating Station. Work includes Cane Run Power Station, Steam Units, Generating Units, Electrostatic Precipitators, stacks, tunnels and associated structures. Scope of work includes asbestos abatement, removal of regulated and special waste and demolition of all structures utilizing a combination of mechanical, selective and specialized demolition. Located in Louisville, KY, the Cane Run facility Units 1-6 had a generating capacity of 943 megawatts. The powerhouse and six associated stacks were successfully imploded on June 8, 2019.

Response Demolition: In March of 2017, D.H. Griffin Wrecking was subcontracted by C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. for the expedited demolition of a collapsed bridge on I-85 in Atlanta. Within 24 hours of the fire, the D.H. Griffin Emergency Demolition team mobilized and began coordination with the contractor and the Georgia Department of Transportation. Immediately following the arson investigation, D.H. Griffin began the demolition and removal of the damaged spans to make way for reconstruction. With a daily traffic count of more than 250,000 vehicles a day, it was imperative that the interstate be opened as soon as possible. Working two shifts 24/7, D.H. Griffin Wrecking completed the

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North American Construction Journal project safely and ahead of schedule. In total, DHGW removed five 140-foot spans of bridge and columns to make way for C.W. Matthews Contracting Co to rebuild this vital transportation corridor. Project Riverboat - Charlotte Observer Complex: Environmental abatement and demolition of the Charlotte Observer existing office and production buildings in downtown Charlotte. The Observer buildings totaling 450,000sf and includes a fivestory building, tunnels connecting the former printing presses in the main building with the newsprint storage under Church Street and underground packing and warehouse facilities. Fast track project including asbestos

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removal, universal waste removal and removal of some C&D waste as PCB contaminated due to contaminated grout/caulking in building. The location is a highly visible parcel of more than 9 acres adjacent to I-277 and Bank of America Stadium. Following the environmental and demolition and removal scope of work, DHG affiliate D. H. Griffin Infrastructure LLC was subcontracted under a separate contract for additional grading and site utility work for an additional $2,131,000. Challenges included shoring and underpinning related to adjacent streetâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;teamed with Hayward Baker and developed a plan to selectively demolish areas to allow shoring installation. Another challenge was busy, urban jobsite that required


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“We’ve got a 60-year legacy in the industry and our clients have always had the confidence that our team has the experience required to complete complex projects safely, on budget and on schedule. That’s our deal.” - Corporate Project Manager John Cavanaugh

coordination of street and right of way closures with the city, developing a “travel path” and enforcing the travel path. DHG also conducted more sensitive demolition after hours. Lifeway Campus Demolition: DHGW was contracted as prime contractor by the property owners to provide for the hazardous materials removal and demolition of the former 12-acre Lifeway Campus for the new Railroad Yard development. DHGW will provide the demolition and abatement of over 1,400,000 sf consisting of (9) structures, concrete and steel construction and implosion of one 12-story structure. The implosion of the 12-story was successfully performed on January 6, 2018. DHG imploded two additional multi-story buildings. These buildings were found to have a unique non-friable asbestos containing waterproofing behind exterior panels. DHG worked extensively with the local environmental representatives, running a variety of air monitoring tests to confirm the safety of the demolition techniques being used. All metals

were segregated and recycled on this project. Hammond Exchange Building: Working for Holder Construction, the 10-story, 200,000sf office building was imploded on March 4, 2017. Selective demo prep of the concrete structure with an exterior glass panels was accomplished with tenants still in the building. DHG removed all universal

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North American Construction Journal waste and refrigerants from the building and oversaw post-demolition cleanup. The job covered five months from January through May 2017. “Since we’re a family of companies, we all work together. We’ve had projects with an excess of 100 people just on the construction side. We’re wrapping up one now with 50-plus people on it and 30-plus machines. Anywhere from 50-100 people is a very large demolition job and we can go all the way down to the three-man job tearing down a two-story house,” says Cavanaugh.

Safety Measures Given the exceptionally dangerous\ nature of the industry, enhancing

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safety is always top of mind. Cavanaugh feels the industry as a whole gets a bad rap for being lax on safety. In fact, he says the opposite is true. “What we do is inherently dangerous, we have to be more cautious on the safety side than most industries. It all starts with education, training and mentoring in the field. We have daily safety meetings, we do pretask planning and safety audits, and everyone has stop-work authority. We go above and beyond industry standards,” says Cavanaugh. “We have tool box talks. We have


North American Construction Journal safety forums and manager’s meetings with all of our top-level managers where we bring in safety experts to talk about what’s trending in the industry. Every week we talk about our safety program, about how to keep it growing, about how can we make it better and how can we reach out to everyone of our workers, from the guy running the machine to the guy sweeping the road,” he continues. While some companies only focus on safety after an incident, DHGW uses a predictive, behavior-based system to identify near misses and potential hazards on our job sites.

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“Through collecting safety data across our platform, we can focus on learning from these near misses and other potential hazards. Taking it a step further, we also look to our trade partners and clients to share this information. Whether an incident happens at a DHG site or not, we focus on learning from what we do and from what others do. Right, wrong or indifferent we want to know about it. Near misses are hard to talk about when something went wrong that wasn’t supposed to go wrong. If it was me that had the near miss, I’d want to be talking about it to someone so they might not be in the same situation,” Cavanaugh says.

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North American Construction Journal 139 and Greensboro is more commercial The Day-To-Day While Cavanaugh says he’s “not big on titles,” he is involved with most phases of the overall D.H. Griffin operation. “I’m involved in all of the day-today operations of the D.H. Griffin Wrecking. While we have different division managers that cover a specific geographic region, I kind of manage the larger projects that require additional resources and coordination from the corporate level. I’m heavily involved in placing personnel and specialty equipment up and down the East Coast to help achieve the goals on any given project. I’m also involved on

with a lot of work being done in urban areas. There are street closures, noise, and dust that have an impact on the people who live, work and play adjacent to these massive projects we do in downtown areas,” he says.

However, much of the company’s work is with clients with heavy industrial and manufacturing needs that have moved outside of urban centers. “We work a lot with power generation plants, steel mills, manufacturing and large distribution facilities. Those markets require skill sets and have client concerns that are completely

“Not only is what we do extremely dangerous, we have to be more cautious on the safety side than most industries. It all starts with education, training and mentoring in the field. ” - Corporate Project Manager John Cavanaugh

the scrap side to make sure that when we sell scrap metals to the market we’re able to get trucks and fulfill our orders. So it’s kind of an overall operational standpoint that I look after,” he says. The company utilizes a site-specific approach for every job.

different,” Cavanaugh points out. “We’ve been fortunate to work for some of the largest companies in the world, many on the Fortune 500 list and some even higher than that. No matter what, taking the time to understand the client’s goals and objectives leads to a lot of work for repeat clients.”

“Our work is very dependent on the city. For example our work in Charlotte

The company performs approximately 95 percent of its work with its own

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North American Construction Journal vast fleet of equipment. Still it will rent on occasion. “It doesn’t make sense to bring something out of Greensboro if there is a rental place in Birmingham,” Cavanaugh points out. While it has its own recycling, trucking and crushing divisions, the company can’t do everything all of the time. “The more work you can keep inhouse, the better off you are as far as controlling it, managing it and keeping the culture the same … as much as we want to though, we can’t do everything on every job ourselves. When you get into some of these mega-jobs even as big as we are, we need help, so we will contract things like trucking and trash disposal,” Cavanaugh says. In those instances, the company seeks

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out like companies that share its values and align with its culture.

Recruitment And Retention Cavanaugh notes that 40 percent of the workforce has been with the company for 10 years or more. Nevertheless, as is the case throughout the industry, replacing workers who are aging out is an ongoing concern. “Without a doubt – and I think everybody would say it – it is the lack of skilled labor. Whether it’s a lack of education or a lack of interest, we’ve seen a large decrease in the amount of younger employees applying for positions,” Cavanaugh notes. “We certainly want to do everything we can to recruit new talent but for

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us the focus is on retention. When we get good people we want to welcome them, train them, and embrace them into the DH Griffin family. We want to make them part of our team so that we’re not searching every year to replace somebody,” he adds.

high-profile manufacturers who make our machines and hydraulics that are working behind the scenes with us to get ahead of that curve as well,” Cavanaugh says.

Cavanaugh cites the opportunities for adopting new technology at the field level in workload, management and training. The use of robotics, unmanned vehicles, laser imaging, and site imaging is growing.

Work is always going to be plentiful for companies with a reputation for excellence. Structures are always going to become obsolete and will need to be demolished.

“We’re working on some of that technology ourselves. We’re very fortunate to have some of the most

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Looking Forward

While staff replenishment can be an issue, Cavanaugh notes, “we’ve got generations of families working for us.” “I was at a meeting [recently] where


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one of our division managers was asking if he could bring his son who just graduated college on as an intern We’ve got several of those opportunities. Some retention is certainly due to personal and professional development through education but part of it is the culture of respect and the family atmosphere we have created at DH Griffin,” Cavanaugh concludes. *** (Editor’s Note: This article includes some interviews and information from prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. D.H. Griffin Companies have adapted to the resulting impacts on the industry, making adjustments to policies and procedures to ensure the safety and wellbeing of its employees.)

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COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: D.H. Griffin Wrecking Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1959 Premier Services: Contract demolition, machinery installation, environmental and site development Vice President Operations: John Cavanaugh Website: www.dhgriffin.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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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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PUSH, Inc.:

Raising The Bar With 21st Century Technology Industry PUSH, Inc. of Rice Lake, WI is a well-established and innovative leader in the power and communications sector. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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s it closes in on a half-century of service, PUSH, Inc. of Rice Lake, WI is a well-established and innovative leader in the power and communications sector, serving client-partners primarily throughout the Midwest, Southwest and Rocky Mountain regions of the country. Company President Jack Lapcinski co-founded the company in 1974, eventually buying out his partner in 1994. PUSH operates in the electric, communications (broadband), water and sewer markets servicing private, industrial, municipal, state, and federal customers. It is noted for delivering site-specific solutions on time and on budget. When discussing the company’s success, Senior Vice President Chase Lapcinski says: “I just bring it back to our core values and instilling the importance of our dedication, excellence, and integrity to our customers, team members, suppliers and communities. We talk about our employees, customers, suppliers and community as being part of the same team.” The company employs more than 300 team members with annual revenue increasing steadily. PUSH acquired JKL Associates of Billings, MT in 2018 and operates under its subsidiary’s name primarily in the Rocky Mountain and southwest regions.

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Chase Lapcinski establishes the vision and oversees strategic planning as well as the day-to-day operations. “For me it is about focusing on opportunities, strategic planning and seeing what’s on the horizon to increase our market share profitability. Everything in the organization is built on continuous improvement so identifying what’s working and not working is essential,” he says.

Key Differentiators When it comes to distinguishing itself


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from competitors, two components stand out – PUSH is selective about companies it chooses to partner with; and it fully embraces technology and the data it yields to further improve profitability. “Working directly with select customers allows PUSH to understand the customers real needs and goals for a specific project. Proper and timely communication is critical as the contract dictates the results; therefore we constantly work with our business partners to continually improve procedures and methods versus continually doing the

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same old thing,” Lapcinski says. “Understanding our customers needs and providing solutions with options have resulted in excellent experiences for our customers. Total project time and cost can be decreased when you look beyond the specs and understand what the customer needs,” Lapcinski adds. The company is becoming increasingly data driven. “There is tons of data in construction but construction people typically

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“There is tons of data in construction but construction people typically don’t think about data. Accurate data improves the decision making process.” - Senior VP Chase Lapcinski

don’t think about data. Accurate data improves the decision making process for items such as equipment costing, job costing and capital purchasing. We use GPS and ECU information on the equipment to save time because we need to work smarter not harder to gain efficiencies. In the current labor market we have to do more with less. The manufacturers have done a great job understanding this need and are currently developing labor saving equipment using various types of technology,” Lapcinski elaborates.

Safety Measures Safety is first and foremost at PUSH. The company exceeds all OSHA regulations and its in-house Safety Committee has developed a comprehensive safety policy that assures safe and efficient operations on all job sites. The company also partners with the National Safety Council and the Wisconsin Safety Council. The company holds company-wide safety meetings, field safety audits and weekly site-specific meetings to communicate a safety first culture. Subcontractors, inspectors, and site

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visitors are required to either attend or conduct safety meetings on site. “Due to our safety first culture we have encountered an excellent MOD rating. We work several schedules with varying hours, times and days making safety training and communication more difficult although safety is everyone’s responsibility from the laborer to the President of the company. We do various types of training throughout the year with different groups getting different types of training. For example, our linemen have an apprenticeship program that they attend at a local school. We provide continuous training for everyone regardless of schedules,” Lapcinski stresses.

Operations At one point, Lapcinski says 90 percent of the company’s work was on the communications side. Now it is generated more by diversification, specifically in renewables as more and more companies receive grants enabling them to shift to solar and wind power. The company self-performs a


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significant portion of its work. On those occasions where subs are needed, the company relies on a select core it has worked with in the past or that have good historical performances. “Some of our contracts, though not all, dictate we do 50 percent of the work ourselves and we do a lot of selfperforming anyway. That goes back to customers we’ve had for many years and with whom we negotiate the work. Our goal is and has always been to work with top tier third parties whether, subs, vendors, engineers, and customers that share our values. This has allowed us to get to where we are today,” Lapcinski notes. “When we partner with subcontractors

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its based on their reputation and project references. We talk to contractors that have used them in the past and we have a database that shows where they operate, what they do, and if they are preferred or not,” Lapcinski says. The company is fully invested in its commitment to being on time and on budget to meet or exceed customer expectations. Projects are tracked daily. “We’re looking at these projects live versus being reactive as it’s a more proactive approach and making sure you have the plan for success. Does it work? Is anything missing? We review on a daily basis and we’re putting the right people in the right places


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to manage this and ensure success,” Lapcinski says. PUSH has derived great benefit from its membership in the Power and Communications Contractors Association (PCCA) where Lapcinski serves on the Board along with other committees. Its association with the PCCA enabled the company to assist in developing a Utility Construction program at one school in conjunction with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College. “That would not be possible without the PCCA and Continuum Capital collaboration. There is also great value within the industry experts they attain to educate on forecasting and industry trends that a smaller company like ours

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doesn’t have access to. The way I look at it is that any good contractor is in PCCA or should be on their radar to join. They do a number of great things to assist members and the industry, including their legislative abilities,” Lapcinski notes.

Looking Forward As is the case across the entire construction industry, finding and retaining qualified personnel is an ongoing challenge. “We’re continually implementing different initiatives to attain, retain and train team members. It comes down to improving the employee experience. Onboarding a is a continuous process that never really stops and goes to

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“There is tons of opportunity in this field. You will get out of it what you put into it. If you want to be average, that’s great. But if you want to excel and be the preferred company of choice then you have to differentiate the business and work your tail off. ” - Senior VP Chase Lapcinski

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career pathing as well,” says Lapcinski, who grew up in the industry recalls running the control on a backhoe at avery young age.

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With its reputation for excellence, its focus on technology and the addition of renewables into the client mix, PUSH, Inc. seems well positioned for long-term success.

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“There is tons of opportunity in this field. You will get out of it what you put into it. If you want to be average, that’s great. But if you want to excel and be the preferred company of choice then you have to differentiate the business and work your tail off. There is so much that can be done to set you apart, it’s a mindset,” he concludes.

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Milwaukee School of Education:

Taking A Hands-On Education Approach

Its team teaching style helps Milwaukee School of Engineering stand apart from its competition. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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prepare students, regardless of degree, to be successful in the work place. That is our distinction and that is how we compete,” Walz asserts.

Dr. John Walz, the institution’s fifth president, explains.

“When you’re a small university, you wear multiple hats. I believe in hiring a great team, empowering them and letting them do their job. I believe we have a great leadership team,” Walz says.

North American Construction Journal hen German immigrant Oscar Werwath founded what was then known as the School of Engineering in 1903 to address a growing need for electrical engineers in greater Milwaukee, he implemented a teaching style that remains in place today.

“There was a huge need for electrical engineers at that time and he started by training them. He believed in a very, very hands-on approach to education. He taught the application first and to this day, we stick to this applicationoriented model,” says Walz, who came to the university in July 2016. Today Milwaukee School of Engineering’s campus covers 22 acres in the city’s East Town neighborhood. It has about 150 full-time faculty members and its enrollment of approximately 2,700 students includes around 180 master’s degree candidates. In addition to a wide range of Engineering programs, MSOE also offers degrees in Nursing, Business, Mathematics, Computer Science and UX. “Our hands-on approach is one of the things that distinguishes us from others like us. When you’re the only small private technically-focused university in the state of Wisconsin we feel it’s our approach of how we

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Team Approach

Walz brings an intriguing set of credentials to his position. After working in the oil industry for several years, he pursued his Ph.D. in chemical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and entered the world


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“(Founder Oscar Werwath) believed in a very, very hands-on approach to education. He taught the application first and to this day, we stick to this application-oriented model.” - President Dr. John Walz

of academia in 1992 as an assistant professor at his alma mater, Tulane University. Before arriving at MSOE, Walz also taught at Yale University and Virginia Tech and was most recently serving as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Kentucky. One of his first initiatives was the implementation of a five-year strategic plan designed to enhance campus life with multiple infrastructure improvements. “I make time to be strategic. The leadership team under me helped to set a direction, a strategy. I’m also involved with the daily grind of budgets and we have a great Board of Regents that I have a ton of involvement with,” Walz said. “We went through the strategic process and completed that about two years ago.”

Campus Construction Private donors funded MSOE’s approximately $90 million investment in recent capital investment projects, requiring no outlay of operating

funds. The chair of MSOE’s Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management Department and the president of a Milwaukee architectural firm with which the school has a long-standing relationship assisted in screening RFPs during a competitive bidding process, resulting in a different general contractor for each of the projects. “We have a lot of wonderful friends, alumni and donors here who have made a lot of great things possible that are important to us,” Walz says. The centerpiece is unquestionably the $34 million Dwight and Dian Diercks Computational Science Hall situated in the center of campus that opened in September 2019. Mortenson Construction oversaw the project. The philanthropic gift from alumni Dwight Diercks and his wife is one of 19 Milwaukee Business Journal Real Estate Award recipients for 2020. It also was named a 2019 Top Project by The Daily Reporter. Students were involved throughout the process, taking advantage of that

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hands-on teaching approach. “A lot of local construction management companies are populated by MSOE alums and we used students’ input as much as we could as to what they would want in the computational science building,” Walz states. “So it’s a very studentfriendly building with lots of study space. Getting their voice as to what type of amenities they’d like was very important and we’re doing the same through student focus groups on other projects .” The $37 million upgrade and expansion

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of the university’s largest residence hall, formerly Roy W. Johnson Hall, will be re-named the Hermann Viets Tower in honor of MSOE’s fourth president. It will add 48 rooms, increasing capacity in the 13-story building by about 100 students, and add a number of twostory collaborative academic hubs. Additionally, Walz says a $7 million project in the Campus Center Building “created a new dining experience for students. The dining area is truly seen as a campus-wide dining option, rather than a ‘dorm-only’ cafeteria.” The Viets Tower project is being led


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by VJS Construction Services, while the Robert Spitzer Dining Commons project was led by CG Schmidt.

The Attraction of MSOE Let’s start with location. The university is three blocks from the Fiserv Forum, home to the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks. And the city was due to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention until the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on those plans. “We’re in a growing, vibrant part of the city. It’s a safe area, we’re investing in our living spaces and it’s a very walk-

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“A lot of local construction management companies are populated by MSOE alums and we used students’ input as much as we could as to what they would want in the computational science building,.” - President Dr. John Walz

able campus, easily from one end to the other. Everybody knows each other,” Walz, adding that he lives “right in the middle of campus.” MSOE’s committed faculty and average class size of 20 students make for an ideal learning environment. “We attract faculty who want to focus on education and we have really bright, hard-working students. It’s a very close-knit community and people enjoy working here. Those are the benefits we have,” Walz says. He advises students to take full advantage of the opportunity before them. “College is a wonderful time of your life. You don’t want to waste it by just sitting in your room, watching TV or playing video games. Obviously you have to take care of your academics but it’s also a wonderful chance to expand your horizon and to make connections. You never know who you’re going to run into down the road,” he concludes.

*** Ed. Note: MSOE resumed oncampus classes for the Fall Quarter, offering hybrid instruction. Inperson activities are focused on laboratory and application-oriented experiences. Course content and material to complement in-person

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Milwaukee School of Education Country: United States Industry: Education Est: 1903 President: John Walz Website: www.msoe.edu

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Vermeer:

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Digging In As A MultiOne Partner MultiOne America, based in Springfield, MO, plays a key role in establishing North American Distribution network Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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North American Construction Journal o say that MultiOne America, established in 2015 as the U.S. distributor of international manufacturer MultiOne, has undergone a whirlwind existence would be understating the case. MultiOne, based in The Grumolo delle Abbadesse, Veneto region of Italy, invented the revolutionary multifunctional mini articulated loader in 1998. The company opened the Springfield, MO facility a little more than five years ago. The machines – manufactured in Italy with more than 170 job-specific attachments and distributed in 54 countries – have proven to be perfect for use in farming, landscaping and grounds care and with do-it-yourselfers. “It’s innovative. Headquarters in Italy definitely has a commitment to the US and North American market because it’s potentially a larger market than Europe. They have definitely made the investment,” says Doug Campbell, the company’s U.S. Operations and Business Development Manager and a 25-year veteran of manufacturing and distribution. Earlier this year the company announced it had entered into a distribution agreement with Vermeer Corporation of Pella, Iowa. Vermeer models will be manufactured at MultiOne’s facility in Vicenza, Italy and sold, serviced and supported

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exclusively through Vermeer dealers across North America and the Caribbean with MultiOne’s Springfield location serving as a key hub in the network. Founded in 1948 by Gary Vermeer, the company is a global concern still owned and operated by second- and third-generation family members. “To have reached the point where we are partnering with Vermeer to distribute the product kind of speaks for itself,” Campbell states. The companies released a joint statement in announcing the partnership in January 2020. “MultiOne has a strong, 20-year track record of supplying customers around the world with compact articulated loaders that are known for high quality, versatility and efficiency,” said MultiOne Technical Director Stefano Zanini at


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“It’s innovative. Headquarters in Italy HQ definitely has a commitment to the US and North American market because it’s potentially a larger market than Europe. They have definitely made the investment.” - Doug Campbell, Operations and Business Manager

the time. “We are excited to partner with Vermeer and its dealers to help equip their customers with the highperforming tools they need to more efficiently get work done.” “Across our landscape, tree care, rental and general construction markets, we are seeing a growing demand for

highly maneuverable material handling equipment capable of productive speeds and low turf disturbance, while helping to solve labor challenges on the jobsite,” added Doug Hundt, President of Vermeer Industrial Solutions. “By combining MultiOne’s proven loader line with the reach, service and support of the Vermeer

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North American Construction Journal dealer network, we can quickly expand our already robust line-up of compact equipment to meet this demand.” The company is scheduled to show at the EIMA (Feb. 3-7) and Samoter (March 3-7) trade shows, both in Italy, in 2021.

Meeting Challenges The use of skid steers and mini skid steers – rigid-frame machines with lift arms that attach to a wide variety of tools – has been the prevailing technology in North America for decades. MultiOne saw the opportunity to introduce a new option to a potentially massive market. “Introducing the mini-loader concept

Proud to Manufacture Quality Together with . MultiOne builds their machines with CEJN’s efficient hydraulic Multi-X multi-connectors to save their customers time and money. We’re glad to be a part of that.

MULTI-X

Connect under residual pressure Install in tight, confined spaces 2, 4, & 6 Ports 3/8" to 1" Sizes

www.cejn.com

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for landscape, tree work and this type of thing and explaining, educating and pioneering new concepts in machinery to the North American market was the biggest hurdle. Now it’s becoming very popular where a couple of other bigger names out there in the market place (John Deere for one) see the benefits of it and are starting to get in on it,” says Campbell. Campbell has direct oversight of the U.S. warehouse and distribution


North American Construction Journal facility and developing the North American dealer network. He typically spends his day talking to dealers and end users and coordinating with headquarters in Italy about market demands and the amount of inventory being shipped to North America. “It’s been fun, exciting and challenging to be part of the company that is bringing in a new line to the North American market. This type of

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equipment is very popular in Europe and it will be in this part of the world. Helping launch the business from the ground up you learn something new everyday,” Campbell notes.

The Product In contrast to the rigid frame skid steers, MultiOne/Vermeer machines are articulated with front and back halves connected by a juncture. This

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â&#x20AC;&#x153;With the product, once you educate potential distributors about the mini-loader concept and its benefits versus the skid steer, they can really see the advantages.â&#x20AC;? - Doug Campbell, Operations and Business Manager www.naconstructionjournal.com


North American Construction Journal provides the ability to work in confined spaces and ensures all four wheels are able to drive in varying conditions. Multi-functionality is the key to the company’s success. The machines are compact, comfortable, efficient, versatile and packed with the latest technological advances. “With the product, once you educate potential distributors about the miniloader concept and its benefits versus the skid steer, they can really see the advantages,” Campbell points out. The company offers 11 distinct series, 26 different configurations and more than 170 attachments, with an array of capabilities for use in agriculture (round balers, seed drills, irrigators), landscaping, and property maintenance and small construction projects. The machines feature an attractive telescopic boom feature and range from approximately 933 to 1590 pounds operating capacity. The 10 Series is regarded as the world’s most powerful mini-loader boasting impressive lift capacity, 2,700kg tipping load, and a 75hp engine that produces a top speed of 40kg per hour.

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integrated charger that can be used with any domestic power outlet. Additionally, the 12 Series is growing in popularity in the construction field because of its compact dimensions, all-wheel drive, high payload, superior maneuverability and low operating weight.

Looking Ahead You can expect this partnership to extend well into the future. The backing and commitment of MultiOne to its North American operation coupled with the sheer size of Vermeer’s work force (3400+ employees) and its reputation should make this a profitable operation for years to come.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: MultiOne America Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 2015 (US) Premier Services: International

The EZ Series is fully electric with zero emissions and is well-suited for indoor use where there are noise restrictions and limited or no ventilation. It is powered by two electric motors and equipped with a battery and

manufacturer and distributor of multifunctional mini articulated loader. Website: www.multione.com

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Linde Hydraulics Corporation:

Giving Machinery A Lift Linde Hydraulics Corp. of Canfield, OH celebrates its 50th year of incorporation in the United States this year. Written by Kevin Doyle Produced by Stephen Marino

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ormed initially in 1970 as a local, U.S. service entity within Linde Material Handling of German-based Linde AG, Linde Hydraulics Corp. of Canfield, OH celebrates its 50th year of incorporation in the United States this year. “Back in those days we were still part of the Linde Gas Group, a very, very small part of that whole industry group. Subsequent to that we expanded by going independent,” explains President John Kumler. “We’ve been independent now since 2013 and are no longer a part of the Linde Material Handling Group. They are an important customer, and key shareholder now.” Kumler adds that Linde Hydraulics is a high-pressure piston, pump and motor, Continuous Variable Transmission (CVT) and load-sensing valve manufacturer. “We started as a master distributor here in North America but began localization of production in the U.S. back in the fourth quarter of 2018. Also in that same time frame we opened a second facility in Rock Hill, S.C. and have the ability to expand that to 100,000sf. It’s essentially open space so that we can design the layout the way we want it. It will be a work in progress and we’ll expand that facility as we grow our sales here in North America,” Kumler notes.

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The company employs 60 and has experienced double-digit growth since 2015. However it has experienced the same COVID-19 driven financial slowdown as the rest of the global market and, Kumler says, is looking to clear this crater and resume its growth track. It has been steadily growing the company’s distribution and service network. As part of its current growth and selfimprovement strategy, the company has been ISO certified at both facilities this year, which Kumler calls “a long overdue milestone for us.”

Day To Day Operations The company is an industry-leading technology provider in high-pressure


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“I feel like we communicate well with our employees, I feel like we’re honest with our employees and I think my empathy toward our employees comes across.” - President John Kumler

hydraulics and its systems set the bar in fuel consumption reduction and CO2 emission. The company operates as the development partner and supplier of a number of manufacturers of mobile work machinery in the construction, mining, agricultural, forestry, municipal, and industrial sectors. “We’re engaged pretty much in every industry that uses heavy duty hydraulics. We do a bit more agricultural with our German group in

John Kumler

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Europe but we’re also engaged with people like CNH and John Deere here in the US,” Kumler adds. As part of its growth initiative, the company took a calculated risk by attending ConExpo 2020 in March only to find attendance at the event – held every three years – flattened by the financial downturn. Linde had doubled its booth size, increased its floor space and arranged its meeting space to display products with the applications it would fit into. “We were disappointed with the overall turnout but made the decision to continue and participated with a much smaller team than our big

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box competitors that decided not to come. Participation and visitation was way down where we were,” says Kumler, who nevertheless considers attendance as having been a beneficial exercise. “The people who were coming through were looking for specific solutions and we had some very good meetings with distributor/partners and potential customers from all over the Americas,” says Kumler, who oversees Latin America and South America as well and leans on a small team in Brazil that is directly responsible for South America. The company’s methodology of going


North American Construction Journal to market is multi-layered. “With large multi-nationals in construction and similar types of customers, sometimes we are the point of sale and sometimes we are the support element and the point of sale is in Europe. For local business we handle customers directly from our Sales and Engineering teams here in North America. The third level is through a network of distributors throughout North America that carry and promote our product and we support them,” Kumler explains. Most of the company’s dealers are set up within a specific territory although some occasionally operate outside a region but only, Kumler says, if a client

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would benefit from having nearby access to the same Linde dealer. The company’s main supplier is its German-based parent, Linde Hydraulics GmbH & Co KG, established in 1904. “We look for people in our supply base that are motivated to provide all that customers demand. We want partners that will support our customers and have a supplier vetting system that we go through,” Kumler says.

Empowered Workplace Kumler views himself as a benevolent leader and relishes his role as a cheerleader and communicator. It’s

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North American Construction Journal a skill set honed over the course of more than 40 years in the industry that includes time as a Designer with Caterpillar and includes a stretch in the railroad and maintenance-of-way industry. He joined Linde in Sales in 1988, held a variety of roles and has been President for the past nine years. “As a business leader, part of my job is to be a cheerleader. I feel like we communicate well with our employees, I feel like we’re honest with our employees and I think my empathy toward our employees comes across,” he points out. He says the workforce, without

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question, drives the company and is carrying it along its growth path. “Our people give us the strength and the people have the relationships both inside the company and outside the company to get the job done,” he stresses. “All the basic things are met – good pay, good benefits, it’s safe, warm and dry – and everybody has an open say-so with what they do. If they see something wrong they are encouraged to talk about it so we can drive continuous improvement.”

Looking Ahead The company was in good shape


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“Our people give us the strength and the people have the relationships both inside the company and outside the company to get the job done. ” - President John Kumler

prior to the onset of the economic problems. Given the sectors it operates in and the reputation for excellence it has forged, it should be able to re-start its engines in relatively smooth fashion. “We’re growing and I think it’s been beneficial for everyone that we’ve added on these last three years and that it’s created a growth

atmosphere. You can’t make everybody happy, even in a small organization. That’s a fact so you try to make decisions based on what’s good for the entire team,” Kumler concludes.

COMPANY INFORMATION

Company Name: Linde Hydraulics Corporation Country: United States Industry: Construction Est: 1970 Premier Services: Developer/supplier of modular drive systems & components President: John Kumler Website: www.linde-hydraulics.us

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Profile for Construction Feature Article

NACJ Winter Issue 2021  

NACJ Winter Issue 2021