ne could characterize E&K as a people driven company. We have always focused on creating teams of smart, creative, and motivated people. Because it is our first priority to ensure Dave Chaffee, our teammates go home E & K President unharmed every day, we continually strive to enhance our safety program. Over recent years E&K has become a “technology driven” business as well. Technology has enabled our talented teammates to focus more on business critical, solutions oriented activities and less on administrative functions. It has opened lines of communication and accelerated the flow of information. E&K has become a sophisticated mix of highly motivated people, employing some seriously advanced technologies. As you read this publication, I think you will recognize the dominant theme of people using technology to achieve remarkable results. Please enjoy this publication with our compliments; we look forward to another great year in 2014.
People and Technology
Safety Is Everyone’s Business of Omaha
It All Begins With Estimating
of Kansas City of Phoenix
The Root of all Plans
The Mobile Generation 10 Marrying People and Technology
Seeing the Opportunity and Seizing the Day A marketplace initiative
We Find Solutions 22 Understanding the complexity of specialty work
Building Information Modeling 26 The forefront of high tech
Unseen, But Not Unheard 32 Supporting construction excellence
People & Technology | 2014 3
ast July E&K called a two day meeting of all of its top management, unit managers, production managers and safety directors in its CDM Service Group facility in Omaha, NE. The subject was safety. Although E&K has long been known for its safety efforts, upper management felt that it could be better. This, however, was not a top down initiative. They solicited and continue to solicit suggestions from every employee, no matter the job. CDM CEO Kent Vipond wants to make sure that this is done right, says Brad Sampson, CDM marketing officer. “When I joined CDM 10 years ago, they already were ahead of other subcontractors in safety,” says Sampson. “They had a safety director at every location. You’d go on site and the general contractor would have a safety director, not the subcontractors, but we did.” During the July meeting, participants brainstormed ideas for improving safety and communication everywhere – on the job site, as well as in the offices. They set up task forces that continue to meet, usually through conference calls or web based meetings. E&K President Dave Chaffee sits in on an average of two of these meetings a week. “My boss, Kent Vipond, challenged us to take it to the next level and we started to think about what we could do differently,” says Chaffee. The groups are divided by category, i.e. communication, train4
2014 | E & K
ing, on-boarding, safety program and culture, and includes field superintendents, production managers, safety directors and risk management specialists. Recommendations are brought to a management oversight council, which meets at least once a month. “Suggestions can come from anyone in the business,” says Sampson. They also look at what already is working in the different units. Committees then research them to see if they make sense before passing them along. The ideas are flowing. In fact, some are so good that E&K is implementing them already. There will be a push to make sure that workers wear high visibility vests or shirts on all projects. Each morning everyone will start with a series of stretches and a safety message. Everyone will wear steel toed boots on job sites and use cut resistant gloves and sleeves for specific tasks. Everyone will be required to use elevated cutting surfaces, as well as cordless screw guns. “We consider this the low hanging fruit,” says Chaffee. In fact, he has a list of recommendations that he expects to be more challenging, such as stand-downs if there is an accident; sharing safety success stories; getting office employees more involved; creating a more meaningful safety program and keeping safety in front of people at all times. “We want to make sure that safety is always on people’s minds.”
That, says E&K Field Superintendent Jesse Phillipps, is the key. When a new employee comes onto the job, he or she has to spend at least an hour with Phillipps going over safety policies, the safety program and what to look out for in the future. He is given a Job Hazard Analysis book that details 10 hazards for specific tasks and he signs a document affirming that he has been oriented and received the book. There are daily pre-task worksheets. Phillipps knows that this early emphasis on safety and his continued reminders are effective. In 2008 he had one incident on a job that he worked, but there have been no lost time incidents since then. “We have a zero tolerance policy for safety,” he says. He encourages workers to bring up concerns as they see them, even if the violation is from another trade. In fact, he has gone to other subcontractors on a job and told them about breaches his people have reported. “I say, we want to make sure that we all work together safely,” he says. “Ten years ago they would have ignored it, but it is getting to the point that other subcontractors are just as worried about safety as we are.” Other subcontractors take notice. “I am often complimented by customers, vendors, and new employees for our dedication to safety,” says Chaffee. “They mention that it is clearly a priority for all E&K employees. We know that we do a great job, but we owe it to our teammates to be better.”
In the last five or so years Phillipps has become stricter about the way he oversees safety policies. He used to confine his efforts to talking with a violator and showing him what he did wrong. Now, however, if the infraction is serious enough he may send the person home for a day or more without pay or even fire him. Lesser violations rate a formal warning, with the understanding that if it is repeated, the consequences will be more stringent. It works. Phillipps cites the example of a worker who broke two regulations in one day, one of which the general contractor saw and photographed. Sent home for two days without pay and written up, the man returned and had no more violations for the three or four years that he continued to work for E&K. Clear communication is a big issue. Sampson and his team are working on an internal marketing campaign, designed not only to inform employees about safety and remind them what steps to take on the job, but also to reward them for adhering to safety policies. All are mindful, however, that cultures differ in the various units throughout the country. What works well for one, might not for another. That’s why they are encouraging unit and safety managers to enforce policies, but find a way to build their own safety cultures. “We want every employee to go home to their families safely every night,” says Sampson. s
Safety is everyone’s business
People & Technology 2014
Denver It all begins with estimating... N ot long ago E&K
of Denver had a problem. Denver is a hot construction market. E&K of Denver, which already enjoys a solid reputation, wanted to maintain or improve its share of the burgeoning construction Bud Stratton boom. There was a large, complex job coming up on which the unit wanted to bid, but putting together the estimate was going to take time and effort. Given their current work load, time was something Bud Stratton was simply not able to give.
2014 | E & K
Stratton, who heads E&K of Denver, wasn’t worried, however. He contacted the E&K central estimating team at the CDM Service Group in Omaha. They provide, among other things, estimating for just such situations. “We’ve been using central estimating for 10 years or longer,” says Stratton. “It’s an advantage for all of the E & K units. They can take the overflow jobs that we want to bid on, but don’t have the time or people power to accomplish at the moment.” KYP — Know Your Personnel It helps that Mike Stimach, the Central Service
Group’s senior estimator, formerly worked in Denver and knows all the players. “He was the senior estimator here when I started,” says Stratton. So, eagerly anticipating the prospect of working on the Veterans Administration (VA) of Eastern Colorado Health Care System project, Stratton called Stimach. “A big job, like the VA Hospital, would take about six weeks to pull together an estimate and I wouldn’t want to tie up one estimator that long.” That’s not to say that Stratton’s estimator, Judy Nicholson, and project manager, Anthony Bruns, who also oversees estimating for E&K of Denver, were not involved — they were from the beginning. But it was Stimach, however, who was doing the heavy lifting.
Landing the whale The VA of Eastern Colorado Health Care System job, in which which E&K of Denver is involved, is massive, covering an entire city block. The unit has three full-time project managers on site, as well as a full-time BIM modeler, full-time safety supervisor and a full-time superintendent. The work covers 11 buildings and three parking structures. E&K of Denver has an individual foreman for each building. They expect to be on the project for two years. In all, the entire 1.1 million square foot project, dubbed “Project Eagle,” is expected to cost $800 million by the time it is complete in 2015. E&K of Denver’s role is huge and Stimach spent the better part of six weeks defining the scope of the work and providing estimates for dry wall, metal People & Technology 2014
2014 | E & K
ting the estimate together, I would have had to sacrifice every other job (during that time period).” While Stimach did most of the work on the VA of Eastern Colorado Health Care System project, Nicholson worked to get parts of the document together as well. Her colleague, Anthony Bruns, project manager, also was involved. “If there was something specific to our market, like scheduling or manpower, I’d answer the question,” he says. He remembers when E&K of Denver needed three full time estimators. “Now we are getting the same as face to face, because (Stimach) is used to working with everyone.” E&K of Denver adds such things as labor and production costs to Stimach’s numbers. Stratton also kept close tabs on the project, reviewing the documents and talking regularly with the general contractor, as well as central estimating. Neither Bruns, nor Nicholson, both of whom have good relationships with local vendors and contrac-
tors, have heard any complaints about the use of central estimating. “Using the technology is the key,” says Bruns. “A few years ago we wouldn’t have had the option of sharing the computer screen, but now we can share information by web conferencing.” Bruns is pleased with the arrangement. “Central Estimating gives the units lots of support,” he says. In fact, when E&K of Denver hires a new, young project manager or estimator, Stratton sends them to Stimach for some training. “He takes them through the thought process and methodology, so that all of the units are doing the same kind of work the same way,” says Stratton. “He’s a good teacher.” There are other big jobs on the horizon for which Stratton plans to use central estimating. For instance, “We’ve already been alerted about Block 162 Downtown Denver that will be built. It’s going to be a big job and I’ve already given Stimach a heads up.” s
stud framing, insulation, setting all door frames, as well as with some vendors; he already had relainstalling acoustic ceilings and mounting intricately tionships with most of them. designed specialty ceilings. Much of the work was facilitated by web based Stimach’s work freed up office staff in Denver to conference calls. “We have a 65 inch flat screen maintain a normal work flow TV in the conference room for all other clients. In fact, and we viewed everything Stimach started the project on that,” says Stratton. This “Using the technology allowed everyone, Stratton, while still working for E&K of Denver and finished it Stimach, the senior project is the key. after his transfer to the Sermanager, vendors, Turner vice Group in Omaha, NE. representatives and anyone Technology made it easy for A few years ago else involved to see the same him to work long distance. computer screen at the same Any time he had a question, time and even take control we wouldn’t have he could easily write an RFI of the mouse to illustrate a (request for information) point or proposed change. had the option and send it to Kiewit/Turner “It was a collaboration. We Joint Venture, the general could sit around the conof sharing contractor or pick up the ference table and review telephone and call anyone the job. We’re all seeing it the computer screen, he needed. “He might just together.” as well have been down the They also used electronic but now we can hall from me,” says Stratton. quoting software for materials’ pricing that vendors share information Enter the tech world could load onto their own With a few exceptions, so that it all was by web conferencing.” systems, most meetings were held done electronically. through video conferencing. “Even though (Stimach) During the process of definwas doing it from Omaha, ing the scope of the work, we still were in communicahowever, Stimach flew to Denver for some face-totion,” says Judy Nicholson, E&K of Denver’s senior face discussions. In addition, he spent several days estimator. “By using Central Estimating we can get working directly with people from the Denver unit, twice as many jobs out for the unit. Had I been put-
People & Technology 2014
The mobile generation “T he mobile generation is revolutionizing the way the construction industry works,” says Airtite’s president, Jeff Shelton. And more importantly, he is thrilled with how well this generation communicates and manages jobs. “We’re recruiting young construction professionals with strong technical backgrounds and they are pushing the technology into the hands of the field and office staff,” says Shelton. “They’re the mobile generation.” And that mobile generation Jeff Shelton increasingly is recruiting each other. Airtite often sends the graduates it has recruited and hired, back to the universities from which they came. Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN, has a robust construction professional program, says Shelton. These graduates use their established network of students, professors and classmates to recruit the cream of the crop to fill positions at the company.
Your best recruiter Project Manager Horace Sene, a Purdue graduate, had initially gone to work for another company, which he found wasn’t a good fit. Classmates at Airtite encouraged him to apply and he has been happily working there for several years. Once these young graduates began introducing mobile devices and techniques, Airtite eagerly embraced both hardware and software, equipping 10
2014 | E & K
its project managers, foremen and supervisors with iPads and forming an active technology committee, which Shelton heads, to review requests and suggestions to adopt something new. “Mobile devices have eliminated the paper exchange between the field and the office,” he says. In all, Airtite has about 17 iPads in the field. Using the iPads and appropriate software has facilitated problem solving, truncating communication time and allowing for nearly immediate response from all involved. Case in point— The Dump, a high end retail furniture overstock chain store, entering the Chicago area market. When Airtite was contracted to work on the new Chicago area location in suburban Lombard, the architect’s design called for unique hanging soffits in the building’s interior. They were, says Shelton, meant to be massive and there were aspects of the design that were of concern, so Airtite hired a third party engineer to take a look. He, in turn, found some constructability issues and made some recommendations. “Using mobile devices, we could take pictures and get the engineer’s response,” says Shelton. Airtite was able to share the photographs and information with everyone involved and suggest the needed alterations. When approved, confirming pictures and explanations were sent to all.
People & Technology 2014
Thinking differently those leading the charge, although in a practical and Among other innovations, Canvas software pragmatic way. “Technology facilitates more coordiallows Airtite to build forms that can be created, nation, client interaction and field involvement,” he shared, modified and completed using mobile says. “It makes the work easier and faster.” Sene redevices. Shelton is pleased that “these forms almembers when the iPads were first issued to superlow us to easily track a project.” In the past, hard visors, foremen and project managers: “They were copy forms were scanned and ecstatic, because they saw faxed to anyone who needed it as something that would one or needed the information make their jobs easier. They “Technology contained in one. picked it up pretty quickly The software also allows and loved it.” users to publish electronic facilitates more versions of their forms as Shared information = applications (apps), making shared success coordination, finding and accessing them Airtite is also using via the iPad or other tablet file sharing software, like quick and easy. client interaction Dropbox and Bluebeam Airtite started slowly, usStudio. “I’m working on ing smart phones, but within three jobs right now, with and field involvement. a few years, they had graduthree superintendents and I ated to tablets, specifically the have folders (in Dropbox) Apple iPad, adopted in 2010. It just makes set up for each,” says Sene. “We were a PC environment; Every drawing is uploaded switching to Apple was a big to the files and, as changes the work cultural change,” says Shelcome out, he uploads those. ton. The final push happened “There is no waiting for me when a few younger employeasier and faster.” to print them out and take ees brought their own tablets. them to the job site. Now it “Once they showed the rest is instantaneous.” of us what could be done, the More than that, if the sucommittee, actually everybody, got on board and it perintendent sees a problem, he either can immediately spread like wildfire.” reference it on the drawing or snap a picture and send it to Sene with a question. Working smarter “Between payroll and software like Bluebeam All you need to do is have a brief chat with Sene Studio, there is less paperwork,” says Sene. “It bento understand the difference the mobile environment efits all of us. We can have it right away.” has made. Only four years out of Purdue, he is one of 12
2014 | E & K
People & Technology 2014
No going back While the licenses were good only for the duration of the project, Sene hopes that they can find a similar software or work with another GC, who will be open to using this or something comparable. Shelton points to quality assurance as another area that has benefited from the use of mobile technology. Airtite foremen are able to inspect and share information on the quality of the work, including pictures and a report. “It is very powerful for us,” he says. In May 2009 when Sene graduated from Purdue, much of the software and hardware now used was available, but had not yet become efficient and cost effective to use. With the advent of more and more apps to access software on mobile devices and with the increased sophistication of these tools, they have become more accessible to those involved. Now every foreman has a tablet or smartphone set up to enter payroll, which is auto-synched with Airtite’s servers. Most forms used for daily reports and other required information are on the iPads, as are time and material tickets and other field documents. It’s clear to see the impact the mobile generation has had on Airtite’s operation. s
For instance, during the recent multi-million dollar University of Chicago Medical Center project, Gilbane/W.E. O’Neil, the general contractor (GC), bought limited Latista licenses for all the subcontractors. Everyone in the field had an iPad. Using Latista they were able to reference any issues, fix them, take a photograph of the solution, include an explanation of what was done and save it to Latista for the GC to review later. On the other hand, if GC representatives found a deficiency, they were able to snap a photograph of it, include an explanation, and, at the end of the day email a list of concerns, along with the photos and descriptions, to the subcontractors. “There was no paperwork involved,” says Sene. It also eliminated going through an Excel spreadsheet and trying to match a description with a problem. Although it was the first time Sene or any of the Airtite people had used the software, they found it easy to learn and helpful. In fact, two of the Airtite people on the job never had used an iPad before. “It took one hour of us going over Latista and everyone knew how to use it,” he says.
Lockton Companies congratulates E&K Companies on its continued success and best-in-class interior and exterior construction services. Like E&K Companies, Lockton Companies provides the same 24/7/360 commitment to our clients. Lockton is proud to have enjoyed a very successful long-term risk management and insurance partnership with E&K Companies.
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2014 | E & K
People & Technology 2014
Kansas City Seeing the Opportunity an d Seizing the Day E arl Washam saw an opportunity and he jumped on it. Washam, who heads E&K of Kansas City, and his team noticed an increase in commercial projects specifying spray foam insulation. Together, they decided that subcontracting that piece of the work was no longer going to cut it. Although E&K of Kansas City is used to supplying the whole package, spray foam insulation was one area in which, until recently, they had to rely on others. Washam says, “We saw it as something that could really add Earl Washam value.”
It’s not new, but... Spray foam insulation has been used for years in residential construction, but only in the last several years has it entered the commercial market. “It’s light weight, flexible, wind resistant, effective and seals nooks and crannies to keep air out,” he says. It also is resistant to mold, provides the ability to get a higher R value for the building, and its flexibility allows it to accommodate seasonal shifting. It is, however, more expensive upfront than traditional insulation, but provides long term cost savings. Operations Manager Jim Sanford admits that it is not yet the norm on most jobs, but “we were seeing it specified more and more.” In fact, E&K of Kansas City’s lead estimator, Kip Young, has been 16
2014 | E & K
seeing it in the market for the last five years. Since the trend is there, the team decided it was worth what turned out to be a considerable investment in equipment, training, time and effort. “We are trying to get out ahead of the curve,” says Sanford.
Kansas City was test pilot Washam envisioned that E&K of Kansas City could blaze the trail for the other E&K/Airtite units, learning about the techniques and ins and outs of the spray foam insulation application, so that they could act as consultants for others who want to add this to their repertoire. Meanwhile, they could provide the service for other units’ projects. Just the idea of the product has generated interest, says the E & K of Kansas City Estimating Department. “People get excited about its properties.” The owners, however, usually have to be educated about its advantages, as well as the products available, especially with the higher initial price tag. It is especially appropriate for large projects with stringent air quality requirements. The learning curve The E&K of Kansas City team thought it would be an easy service to add. After all, they already were spraying fire proofing and acoustic components. As it usually happens, spray foam turned out to be a bit more complex, but that did not deter them. “It was a different animal,” says Washam. “We were dealing with hazardous chemicals and
we needed a lot of up-front training.” In simple terms, the spray foam team had to become part weather man, part chemist and part HVAC technician to apply the foam correctly. Installation required a sophisticated trailer equipped with computerized temperature and humidity regulators. The trailer is a self-contained unit with a diesel generator. It is heated and air conditioned and completely climate controlled in order to keep the chemicals at the right temperature and humidity, no matter the weather outdoors. Even the hoses had to be heated and cooled. “We chose to go with a trailer, because it can be moved by a variety of trucks in the fleet. We aren’t out of business if a truck breaks down,” says Washam. “We bought all the bells and whistles,” says Sanford. It is a 20-foot box trailer, equipped with an E30i reactor integrated system, featuring pre-programmable temperature fittings. “If anything goes wrong, it shuts itself down and we have
to make the correction before we can continue.” It even provides on screen directions for correcting the problem. Sanford says he believes, this was the best and safest way to get into the spray foam insulation business. Washam sent Sanford and one of his key foremen, Eric Horn, for factory training. They have, in turn, trained the others. “The training was more than we expected,” says Sanford, who notes that in addition to classes, there is an annual certification which must be maintained to operate the equipement. Initially, Sanford and Horn traveled to North Carolina for the week of training, provided by the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA). This included both classroom and hands-on training. Specific levels of competency must be achieved. A Level One certified installer must be on each job. Sanford is a trained installer and also acts as a quality assurance chief. Horn was trained as an installer. People & Technology 2014
Kansas City Certification is crucial If a job is not ABAA certified, manufacturers of high quality ABAA certified materials will not sell the necessary raw materials to a contractor, says Sanford. Technically, although they have completed the required coursework and passed the exam, they must log 1,000 hours of actual spray time to complete the process. So, they are working to get the experience on non-ABAA certified jobs.
The next step was to actually do a job and the team did not have to wait long. In fact, they now have three under their belts and are bidding more. 18
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Ramping up As demand for the product increases, E&K of Kansas City plans to train and certify even more employees. “Our first project (Donnelly College in Kansas City, KS) was probably a little larger than we would have wanted to start with,” says Young. It was a new building that was tied into an existing one. They learned that the general contractor had some issues with the spray foam insulation application on another job, so they went to great lengths to ensure that everything was done right. Ever conscious that they needed to establish a stellar reputation from the beginning, they called in a representative from the spray foam manufacturer to work with them on the first job. “It was both
The team is also sensitive to protections that need to be in place when spraying exterior surfaces, especially on a windy day. The spray foam insulation begins to cure the moment it contacts something and it is not particular about its host. Unless the team ensures that the area is protected, wind can carry the material to cars, sidewalks and anything else in the general area. Temperature control in storage, as well as during implementation, is critical. The manufacturer provides a temperature range to which the team must adhere and which is different for each product. “Just a few degrees can make a significant differinterior and exterior application,” says Sanford. “The inside was easier, but the exterior was a challenge.” In addition, they paid particular attention to safety, mandating that everyone wear proper safety equipment and that the trades working around them were protected. “Safety is number one,” says the team leader. In preparation, they built mock-ups, on which they practiced their spraying technique. The general contractor hired a third party inspector and the E&K team worked with him to make sure that it was a successfuly executed. Mastering details Closed cell spray foam insulation requires attention to detail, particularly matching the right product to the job. “We are thorough in our process,” says Sanford. During application, it is crucial to maintain a consistent depth during application. “You can’t spray thicker than two inches per pass,” says Sanford. There is a potential danger of fire from the heat generated in the drying process.
ence,” says Sanford. In addition to the heater and air conditioning, the team often has found itself opening and closing the trailer doors to help the process of regulating the temperature. “Once we turn on the equipment, it starts throwing off heat.” Even the 300 feet of hose is heated.
People & Technology 2014
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Kansas City insulation, but the general contractor believes that the cost is putting the project over budget, he works hard to find ways to keep the process. He may suggest alternate products or a different means or method that lowers the cost. As the E&K of Kansas City team becomes more proficient, costs will go down, Young says, and he believes, “It is here to stay.” s
There’s a future in foam In some markets Young has seen spray foam insulation mandated by various municipal building codes. For instance, “we see it pop up a lot in the Denver market,” he says. That has not been the case in the Kansas City area so far, but Washam expects it to happen in the future. In the meantime, it is Young’s job to make the numbers work. If an architect specifies spray foam
What goes hand-in-hand with best-in-class construction? A best-in-class bank. E&K understands the importance of delivering the highest quality products and services clients demand. As one of America’s Best Banks ranked by Forbes for the fourth year in a row, UMB does too. At UMB, we’ve built our reputation on the satisfaction of our customers, because we succeed when our partners succeed. UMB, partnering for your excellence since 1913.
2014 | E & K
People & Technology 2014
Omaha We find solutions S
pecialty projects often are complex, requiring creative problem solving, organization, highly skilled workers, communication, and lots of preparation. E&K of Omaha thrives in that environment. The TD Ameritrade headquarters building in Omaha, NE was unique and presented a professional challenge. But E&K of Omaha, already known for its work on specialty projects, jumped right in. The general contractor, Kiewit Brice Neiman Building Group, was familiar with E&K of Omaha’s abilities and expertise in specialty projects and asked for a bid on what not only was a complex job, but one with a tight time-line, as well. “We had worked with many of the products, but not to this magnitude,” says Brice Neiman, E&K of Omaha’s president. “Everything was custom. It took an immense amount of preparation and planning.” They used CAD, BIM and plain, old fashioned field measurements to ensure that everything was right. There was simply no room for error. “It was a partnership among the manufacturers, the general contractor (GC), the architect and us,” says Neiman. The $250 million dollar, 530,000 square foot headquarters was designed by HOK, an internation22
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al design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. The building has been submitted for LEED Platinum certification. TD Ameritrade is an online broker that is based in Omaha. E&K of Omaha can point to a number of special projects featuring custom materials on which it has worked, including the Holland Performing Arts Center and the CenturyLink Center of Omaha convention center and arena. “We take pride in managing the project and hitting the schedule,” says Neiman. “Going after the specialty market is one way we set ourselves apart from the competition.” He also is proud of the culture of problem solving on which the E&K unit is built. “We have a determined staff that prides itself in being proactive,” he says. “We train our people to be problem solvers, instead of problem identifiers. And as a result, we provide the best product possible.” The challenge of LEED Most of the products used in the TD Ameritrade headquarters’ construction were meant to give the building credits toward LEED certification. For instance, all the insulation was made of denim, as in ground up blue jeans. “It was unique and the first time we had seen that,” says Neiman. The drywall, however, was recycled gypsum, with which E&K of Omaha has had experience. “The walls and ceilings were high end specialty products,” says Neiman. “TD Ameritrade spared no
expense.” E&K of Omaha started organizing and preparing the work six to seven months out. The biggest challenge was coordinating with so many different products used on the job, each with different tolerances and lead time, all while working under what Jim Parker, E&K of Omaha’s vice president and the project manager on the job, politely called “An aggressive schedule. We had about four months less than what we would have liked to have had in doing this job.” A project Projects like this tend to have aggressive schedules that do not allow adequate time necessary for vendors to manufacture and ship custom components. Neiman, Parker and their crews understand this is where preparation and execution become critical. Holding the dimensions was crucial, not only because of the timetable, but because these high-end, custom materials are costly to manufacture. “We ordered
them and worked to build the walls to match,” says Parker. In other words, they did the field measurements and ordered materials based on them. Then they worked to maintain their accuracy. A daunting task. “There was not much room for adapting,” says Neiman. More than once the E&K of Omaha people were asked to move something or add more panels. “It makes a huge difference to us, in order to perform our job in the amount of time provided to us,” says Parker. Some of the panels in the TD Ameritrade job ran from one end of the building to the other, butting edge to edge with no reveal. “And all of the lines had to be perfect,” says Parker. “I was measuring a 660 foot long building.” While some of the ceilings were composed of more common acoustic tiles, others were accent ceilings; all made of high end specialty components. Ceilings, and column covers, all came from five different manufactures, some with as little as People & Technology 2014
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Omaha companies’ capabilities.” Good relationships helped E&K work through challenges. In one case a vendor flew some people out from California to help them address one concern. Others were willing to go to great lengths. For instance, Accent Acoustical Ceilings LLC maxed out its production capabilities and subcontracted the painting, just to get everything done and shipped on time. Parker estimates that ninety percent of the finish work that they did on the project was done in the entry way — meaning that anyone who passes through the portals and admires the finished product will be, knowingly or unknowingly appreciating E&K of Omaha’s work. “I get a good feeling to know that we were part of that,” says Parker. Neiman says, “There are those who work inside a box and then those who understand the plans and use tools to execute the job in the best way possible. We try never to say no. If it can be done, we can figure it out. We can find solutions.”
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quarter inch tolerances. We took all of the different systems and tried to meld them together. This is where our expertise came into play as we figured out how to make it all work. Specialty products are always a challenge, but usually there are one or two different providers. Five different ones, all of which needed to line up with each other, made this job even more demanding. “It made us think outside of the box,” says Parker. “With all the different parts that have to be managed on a project, it’s difficult for the construction team to focus on what it takes to put all these specialty items together. That’s where we come in.” Neiman and Parker are particularly proud of the high quality people that they have in the field. “The people we hire are highly skilled and intelligent,” says Parker. “It takes a lot of teamwork to do a job like this right.” It also takes good relationships with the vendors involved. “Relationships are huge,” says Parker. “We know the people and we know the
FA S T E R . E A S I E R . B E T T E R . armstrong.com/commceilingsna 1 877 ARMSTRONG
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C E I L I N G & W A L L P A N E L S / S U S P E N S I O N S Y S T E M S / T R I M S & T R A N S I T I O N S / S P E C I A LT Y C E I L I N G S / K I T T E D C L O U D S & C A N O P I E S / S E I S M I C C O M P L I A N C E
Phoenix The Problem Solvers
echnically, E&K of Phoenix’s relationship with building information modeling (BIM) began in a truck on the way to talk with a general contractor, who wanted to use it on a large medical center project. Doug Stegemoller the President of E&K Phoenix, was heading to the meeting accompanied by Dan Pignatari, a recent hire out of college. Pignatari had learned about BIM in college and, in fact, competed on a team while in school. “This is one of my best clients,” Doug Stegemoller Stegemoller told him. No pressure, of course. Moments later Stegemoller told the GC, McCarthy Building Companies, Inc., that he could handle the BIM aspects of the job. With that promise E&K of Phoenix entered the 3D digital age in a big way. “We were confident that our people could do it,” he says. That was crucial, says Chris Jacobson, vice president at McCarthy. “We would not even have considered E&K of Phoenix if they had not had the facility with BIM,” says Jacobson. “We require it on a project like that.” BIM in theory and practice Hired by E&K of Phoenix as an estimator and project manager, Pignatari had learned to use BIM while at school, but the Banner Estrella Medical 26
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Center job for which Stegemoller counted on his knowledge, was not a school project. “I looked at it and said, ‘I can do that,’” he recalls. During the process he refined his technique and learned more about the method, building on what he had picked up in school. The project E&K of Phoenix has continued to work on the enormous Banner Estrella Medical Center project, which is due to open in February 2014. Located in west Phoenix, the first portion of the hospital opened in 2005 as a full service, acute care facility and a five story medical office building on a 50 acre campus. In 2008 it opened a sixth patient floor. The project for which E&K of Phoenix entered the BIM world is part of a $161 million second expansion that will add another patient tower, totaling 178 beds and increasing surgical, obstetrical, imaging and emergency department capabilities. Entering the BIM world meant a significant investment in hardware, software and training for E&K of Phoenix, but Stegemoller and his crew think that it has been worth it. “If we use the modeling to show where there is going to be a problem, we can move it on the drawing,” he says, as opposed to waiting until they find it in the field. For that and other reasons he is seeing BIM requirements now on most major projects. They are asking for dry wall contractors to be able to provide level one, two or three BIM models.
McCarthy has used BIM on large, complex projects, like hospitals, for at least the last five years, says Jacobson, who handles a territory that includes Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. Of these, Arizona is one of the top states in terms of contractors and subcontractors adopting and using BIM. Jumping right in Pignatari’s first job was to model the exterior skin of one of the medical center’s new garages. He dove right in: “I opened the modeling program and figured out how to use it.” Made by Strucsoft Solutions, the software interfaces metal and wood framing models in Revit®, a popular BIM software. Pignatari and Stegemoller decided to use Strucsoft after researching the issue. “We found some white papers that talked about Strucsoft,” says Stegemoller.
After discussing it with others, viewing a webinar and evaluating the software using a trial version, they decided it would meet their needs. Pignatari immediately realized that he needed a next generation computer with more power and more memory to handle the software. Once he had that, he learned as he went. “I stopped and started over and over,” Pignatari says. “I sat through coordination meetings, picking up tips and tricks from other subcontractors.” The general contractor’s BIM group also proved helpful, providing short cuts that simplified the process. It was, he admits, a humbling experience, but exciting, too, as he gained more and more experience with the software. For the Banner Estrella project Pignatari modeled the exterior of the parking garage, then the interior, the exterior and interior of the main hosPeople & Technology 2014
Phoenix pital building and the exterior and interior of a second parking garage. By then he really knew what he was doing and appreciated what the software could do for those working on the project.
Sharing the wealth Stegemoller says he is proud of the fact that E&K of Phoenix was the first of the E&K/Airtite units to adopt BIM. He plans to share vital BIM knowledge and experience with the other units through his participation on the E&K Technology
Committee. “BIM definitely provides a competitive edge. Quite a few general contractors have taken note,” says Pignatari. Except in California, where it has been in use for several years, Stegemoller notes that BIM is in its infancy in the United States. “BIM is just getting to Division Nine contractors,” he says. The general contractor on the project, however, and some of the mechanical contractors had been working with BIM for several years. 28
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The future is now Since Pignatari led the charge with BIM, several other people in the office have begun to learn the software. In addition, E&K units in Denver, Omaha and Chicago are picking it up. “I foresee a time when all offices will have at least one person who is knowledgeable and can manipulate a BIM model,” he says. “It has the potential to change the way we do business.” In fact, Pignatari says he believes that if they can model every stud, they can build panels offsite and bring them in when they are ready for installation. People & Technology 2014
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“(With BIM) we can work out the conflicts before they become an issue in the field,” says Jacobson. “When you fix these things virtually, it doesn’t cost any money and by the time you start to build, everyone understands their role.” Moving forward E&K of Phoenix’s experience with BIM has enabled them to win an exterior framing job for which part of the requirements include having a full time BIM expert on site. “They want a full time coordinator who will work on problem solving,” Pignatari says. “If they want us to do the interior, too, we will give them the king stud models. There is a lot of value in modeling and coordinating the king studs.”
Already the models have become more detailed and Stegemoller anticipates using it for more projects. Particularly with the studs, it has become almost indispensable when coordinating with mechanical, electrical and plumbing contractors on the jobs. In fact, Morby, a 20 year veteran of the construction industry, cites the ability to allow the MEP contractors to stack their work on a 3D model, as one of its virtues. This is especially true for a hospital environment where the walls and ceilings hide infrastructure critical to the care of patients. “It allowed us to see how we were going to build our walls before any of that went in,” says Morby. Prior to using BIM, he spent a lot of time walking the project with the mechanical contractors and 2D drawings. “With the 3D model we could actually see the wall and their duct work.” He was able to see how the various components affected all of the trades. “It opens up avenues of communication for everyone.”
The final analysis For McCarthy and E&K of Phoenix, this was a win-win situation. “E&K is solution oriented,” says Jacobson. “They run into a challenge and by the time they talk with us they have a solution. We’re looking for a partner and we definitely have one in E&K.” That attitude has served E&K well, not only in investing in BIM software and the necessary hardware, but also with a collaborative and solution oriented culture. Stegemoller is excited about the possibilities with BIM going forward. “It’s been well worth the monetary investment,” he says. s
In the medical center and other projects since, Pignatari has found BIM to be particularly useful in laying out the all-important, full-height king studs. In a job at a university, for which coordination meetings already had been held, he was able to easily use BIM to put the studs into the model. This facilitated and accelerated work on the project. “I think BIM has a lot of useful tools,” says Sean Morby, superintendent on the Banner Estrella Medical Center job. “As people use it more and more, it will become a more efficient tool.” It does, however, require a learning curve for those who have never used it. Still, he finds that it can simplify communication between the office and the field, allowing both to have a better understanding of how everything fits together.
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Unseen, but not unheard
t is often said that “Children should be seen, but not heard.” For the CDM Service Group, the opposite is largely true. They may be unseen by clients, but they are rarely unheard. From technology to estimating to training, E&K has found ways to support its far flung units, enabling them to succeed in an increasingly competitive industry. Chief among these is the Omaha based CDM Service Group, which provides help in a myriad of ways, operating qui- Dave Loseke etly in the background. “We act as a partner to the units,” says Dave Loseke, who heads the CDM Service Group. “We provide the background support so that the units can offer an array of products without each office having mountains of overhead.” With 23 full time personnel, the group assists with human resources, accounting, risk management, training and employee development, technology and estimating, all designed to allow the units to concentrate on what they do best. The hidden benefits For instance, when E&K of Phoenix was faced with a project that required BIM (building information management) software, they turned to CDM Service Group to help with acquiring the licenses. “CDM Service Group’s network infrastructure easily allowed E&K of Phoenix to use a Structsoft network license, letting all E&K units access to 32
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the software,” says Doug Stegemoller, E&K of Phoenix’s president. “The way CDM Service Group continues to think big picture on how to best serve all units is critical to staying in front of the technology infrastructure that allows us to share technology among all business units.” And that, says Loseke is the theory behind CDM Service Group: “We provide centralized services and support.” Building relationships through technology A little more than eight years ago when Loseke took over at CDM Service Group, the individual units thought of it as “corporate,” in a not necessarily positive way. He has worked hard to change that perception to one of collaboration. “The E&K units are our customers and we are here to support them,” he says. “We are building relationships with them.” Technology has been one of the most significant transformations and one that particularly resonates with Loseke. Nearly nine years ago the Service Group was operating with a mainframe computer and custom programming in the old COBOL language. “The fact that we were programming it ourselves was slow and arduous; it limited the capabilities and efficiencies of all of our units,” Loseke says. As his first project, Loseke got rid of the mainframe and went to an ERP (enterprise wide) system from Penta Technologies. He also turned his attention to mobile technologies. “I felt this was a huge opportunity to get information into the hands of the people in the
field,” he says. “We went from having 43 physical servers to a virtual environment.” About seven years ago the Service Group rolled out BlackBerry® smartphones to some admittedly skeptical unit heads. “Now, if you tried to take smart phones out of their hands, they’d shoot you.” BlackBerries, of course, no longer are the smart phones of choice, either. Physically, the infrastructure has moved to a third party and much resides in the “Cloud.” “Today, we have a 100 percent virtual environment,” says Loseke. “It was a six year project to evolve from doing everything in-house to what we have now.” Open and ready to support CDM Service Group’s technology wing has become device agnostic, able to support whatever the units need. As younger people, who recognized the capabilities and were conversant with the technology, came into the industry, the units themselves began demanding more technology. Not long ago when many of them began asking for iPads, Loseke was able to answer, “Great. Let’s go.” It has become much more flexible and adaptable, more comfortable in terms of disaster recovery with numerous redundancies built in. “We’ve been able to make significant investments that, if
up to each individual unit, could be cost prohibitive,” says Loseke. Along the way the Service Group built an internal intranet, allowing easier information sharing, as well as providing an imaging system back up, permitting multiple people to access the system at one time. This includes a payroll capture system and cash management for all units. Training people is key Training is important, but expensive. Here is another place where CDM Service Group is helping the individual E&K/Airtite units. When Jeff Shelton at Chicago-based Airtite wanted to focus on soft skills training for management, he contacted John Hower at CDM Service Group. “We used to have trainers in our office, but now we can rely on the Service Group,” says Shelton. Among other things, Hower worked one-on-one with each member of Shelton’s management team, administering a predictive index test and explaining the results and their ramifications individually. He also performed a 360 degree analysis for each department head. This is an in depth review that allows managers to see how others perceive them and compare it with how they see themselves. “I requested this, because I thought it was imporPeople & Technology 2014
Great Minds, Great Team, Great Idea!
Great Minds, Great Team, Great Idea!
Knowing when to seek help But not all of the training comes from inside CDM Service Group. “Years ago we used to do it all ourselves,” says Loseke. “But we realized that sometimes it is better to go to an outside expert.” Now the group works with the unit to identify the most relevant training and make it easily available. CDM Service Group also delves into a diverse group of other services and projects. When E&K of Kansas City decided it would be advantageous to offer spray insulation services to its customers, the Service Group helped them explore the risks associated with it, as well as advised on ways to make sure that insurance policies covered them. Ask the units about CDM Service Group, however, and most immediately jump to Central Estimating. Designed to allow the units to provide estimates for large, complex jobs for which 34
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they may not otherwise have the time and people power to put together a quality estimate, Central Estimating has been involved in a number of high profile jobs around the country. “It frees up the guys at the local units to focus on marketing, while we handle the quantity take offs, getting the bids together,” says Mike Stimach, senior estimator. “It gives them time to actually go out and see the customers and build relationships.” In addition to the Veterans Administration of Eastern Colorado Health Care System project in Denver, Stimach has worked on such demanding and interesting projects as the University of Chicago renovation of its historic building at 5757 South University. Built in 1923-1927, the 66,486 square foot building will be renovated to house faculty and student offices, research and instruction facilities for the University’s economics department, as well as conference and research facilities for the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics. “It was complicated, because it is a historic building,” says Stimach. The University of Chicago planned to gut the building, modernizing the interior while keeping the existing features intact. “It was a tough job, one of the more difficult ones we’ve had.” In the end, however, it was successful for Airtite. That’s the goal, to help each unit be successful. “We strive to be in the role of the enabler, rather than the inhibitor,” says Loseke.
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tant for the management group,” says Shelton. “It’s beneficial for them to feel like someone cares about their professional development.” Hower plans to check back with them to assess how they are doing. Shelton also has relied on the CDM Service Group training resources for web training and e-learning. “It’s nice to have someone to create the training for us.” Shelton, who also has successfully used the Service Group’s estimating services, is pleased with the training the group provides. “John Hower is a great guy and a great trainer,” he says. “Everybody enjoys working with him.”
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Return address: CDM Service Group, Inc. 13324 Chandler Road Omaha, NE 68138
E&K of Omaha, Inc. 13864 L Street Omaha, NE 68137 E&K of Denver, Inc. 1401 East 69th Avenue Denver, CO 80229 www.e-kco.com
E&K of Kansas City, Inc. 4600 Martha Truman Road Grandview, MO 64030 E&K of Phoenix, Inc. 4010 North 27th Avenue Phoenix, AZ 85017
Airtite, Inc. 343 Carol Lane Elmhurst, IL 60126 CDM Service Group, Inc. 13324 Chandler Road Omaha, NE 68138