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Rules of Engagement….How Competitors Collaborate

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Stephanie Woodcock
Stephanie Woodcock

By Stephanie Woodcock

The two largest wall and ceiling contractors in St. Louis, Niehaus Building Services and TJ Wies Contracting, team up on the BJC Campus Renewal Project, a 558,000-square-foot, 12-story expansion of Barnes-Jewish Hospital and 222,000-square-foot, 12-story expansion of St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

This complex project demanded new ways of working together from the start. ACW Alliance, comprised of general contractors, Alberici Corp., Clayco Corp., and S.M. Wilson Co, came together specifically for the purpose of capturing this project. In similar fashion, the wall and ceiling scope demanded a unique relationship between top specialty contractors.

TJ Wies and Niehaus Building Services took on the challenge, but not without a few ground rules first. While neither company leader goes as far as subscribing to the term “friendly competitors,” aspects of trust and cooperation are present.

President of Niehaus Building Services Kyle Lopez, said, “Tim Wies (CEO of TJ Wies) and I have a ‘trust but verify’ deal. We were open about the rules of engagement at the beginning of the project and have stuck to them. We share this project, but we both understand we are competing on everything else. We both take pride in our work and are proud of our company’s history. From the office to the field, wearing our brands is a badge synonymous with quality and that’s what makes us both successful and able to deliver for our clients and for this project.”

Though both company brands are worn on shirts in the field, the craftspeople operate as one team. This team approach was designed before the project bid as a prerequisite for collaboration. Each company designated a point person as PM leader, and TJ Wies took the lead as contractor with Niehaus Building Services as the subcontractor.

Wies said, “we felt that our customer (ACW) and their customer (BJC) would be best served with one strong project management team, one point of contact, and therefore one set of learning curves. This project is extremely complex, has a very demanding schedule, and has a very tight jobsite footprint. With the TJ Wies/Niehaus team, we are able to provide two of the largest and most sophisticated wall and ceiling contractors, who could handle the complexity, speed / manpower requirements, and the financial demands of this large of a project. Also, by teaming up with Niehaus, neither of us are stretching our capacity to compete for and complete other projects for our other customers.”

He added that a “teaming effort would have to make sense for both parties” and “for teaming to be successful, transparency and trust are essential.” Each company needs the other for different but significant reasons. While the partnership makes sense for business reasons, it goes beyond putting numbers in a bid for the sake of securing the project.

First and foremost, each company has to trust the other, as well as create a “checks and balances” approach.

Lopez said, “both companies have assigned project managers, who work closely together to keep things balanced,” and both companies “report monthly to each other and have open books for this deal.” He calls the deal “really simple,” because “we agreed at the onset on a profit and cost split and we manage to that… with a few ground rules of course.”

Wies said, “our history helps to reinforce the trust we have in each other,” because “both companies have roots in the industry that precede our current endeavors and our predecessors have always held each other in high regard.”

History, track record, trust, transparency, and communication are all necessary elements in the rules of engagement for a successful collaboration. Those elements must be in place even before the magic of teamwork and cooperation materializes.

While Lopez called the process “simple,” getting to that point of simplicity took some work. Getting systems in place, managing and determining expectations, setting parameters and trust dynamics all happened at the top first, before numbers or bids were submitted. The rules of engagement were in place before any actual “engagement” took place.

Wies explained, “We are working as one because it comes from the top down.  Both organizations feel that this teaming arrangement was the best option for our organizations as well as our customer. This spirit of teamwork is then promoted and reinforced on the craftsperson level. A successful project is a product of successful team work.”

When asked what struggles have occurred as a result of working with a competitor, each company head demurred, explaining that having an “agreement up front” to provide their top craftspeople and team to this project has helped keep the project on track.

Lopez said, “deciding what to expose about our business was a short-term concern, but our businesses don’t run the same way. We don’t try to be like TJ Wies, and I know they don’t try to be like Niehaus, so there really haven’t been many struggles.” He added, “When you have two very competitive companies with leaders that have Type A personalities, it always makes things more difficult, but we both understand who the lead is and what responsibilities each handle.  Both teams have great estimators and project managers, and each has a unique skillset.”

In fact, the two owners talk about how the differences between the companies has become a strength rather than a detriment, as the individual capabilities of each company is learned by the other. Niehaus brought technological expertise with PlanGrid and Ipads, as well overall experience on the BJC campus. TJ Wies brought a large craftsperson workforce, financial stability, and experience with a Total Station Robotic layout.

Yet, before each company gets warm and fuzzy with the other, they remind us and each other that they remain strong competitors on all other projects. Wies summed up the sentiment well: “I am handsomely paid to try to ‘beat your brains out’ from 7am until 5pm. After that, we can have a beer and have fun.”

When asked to interpret the term “friendly competitor,” Wies said, “A friendly competitor is an oxymoron. If you compete, you compete to win, period. You can be friends that compete, but in my mind, you can’t be ‘friendly competitors.’”

Lopez agreed that the term doesn’t work for him either, saying, “This is a business deal in the purest sense. When we first sat down to discuss the deal, the first question was about our customers and the advantage for them. When we both agreed and understood that answer, the next question was about us. The two answers aligned, and we went after it.”

While they both continue to “go after it” together and “go after each other” on other projects, they adhere to their rules of engagement. “We both know the implications if we go against what we agreed to,” Lopez said.

“The negotiation on the front end proves vital to the success of an extensive collaboration. Knowing the process and expectations going into the project ensures confidence among our teams. Leadership, at every level, makes this happen.” 

As President of Seal the Deal Too, Stephanie Woodcock works with companies in overall brand development and cultivating their digital identity through electronic newsletters, social media management and websites.

RSS Honored with Perfection Award from Carlisle SynTec Systems

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Local Roofing Contractor Acknowledged for Exceptional Installation Quality

Carlisle SynTec Systems, a leading manufacturer of single-ply roofing materials for more than 50 years, recently honored RSS Roofing Services & Solutions with its 2016 Perfection Award. Each year, Carlisle presents this award to a small percentage of its top contractors, which are selected based on a history of exceptional installation quality and warranty claim performance.

“We are honored to accept this great achievement for the second consecutive year, and look forward to many more,” said Joe Lauberth, General Manager of RSS Roofing Services & Solutions. “This award is Carlisle’s way to acknowledge and thank contractors for whom perfection is the highest priority. The RSS team demonstrates the importance of perfection on every job.”

The Perfection Award is a distinction that recognizes the top tier of Carlisle’s contractors annually. To qualify, contractors must complete a minimum amount of warranted work and number of jobs per year. Recipients are then selected based on installation quality and warranty claim performance.

“Carlisle appreciates contractors who are committed to providing top-quality workmanship and RSS Roofing Services & Solutions exemplifies this philosophy,” said Nick Shears, Carlisle’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. “Contractors who receive this award have consistently demonstrated high levels of skill and expertise, but what truly sets them apart is their commitment to perfection on every installation.”

For more information on this award, visit Carlisle SynTec Systems’ website here. RSS Roofing Services and Solutions is a nationally-recognized, design-build roofing contractor covering projects of all sizes for the commercial, industrial and institutional markets.

HOK Designs UWSP Chem-Biology Building

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Following a May 5, 2016, groundbreaking, the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point is targeting a 2018 completion for a new $75 million science building.

HOK in association with Madison, Wisconsin-based architectural firm Potter Lawson designed the 176,500-sq.-ft. chemistry biology building. The four-story academic and research facility will contain classrooms, lecture halls, research and teaching labs, faculty and staff offices, and a tropical conservatory. It will be the first major freestanding academic facility built on the UW-Stevens Point campus since 1971.

“The building design links the university’s science programs to create a community of science and research,” said Joseph Ostafi, IV, AIA, LEED AP, Science + Technology practice leader for HOK in St. Louis. “The university also wanted to celebrate science by integrating the building into campus life.”

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point’s student-centered education prepares students for their future science careers while encouraging community outreach and ecological stewardship. The new Chemistry Biology Building is located along a major pathway connecting student housing with the university’s’ social amenity spaces.

The design also puts science on display throughout the building with electronic kiosks and high visibility into biology labs and the tropical conservatory, which will be open to all students and visitors. The first floor will also feature artwork inspired by the natural environment. Inside the building, teaching spaces will be clearly visible to students and campus visitors.

To integrate academic and research functions, the design purposefully places research, instructional and prep spaces close to each other to enable equipment sharing. Flexible classroom configurations include movable furniture that accommodates collaboration among teams of varying sizes. State-of-the-art technology will facilitate hands-on learning and research.

The team incorporated several sustainable design strategies. Large windows optimize daylighting, while mechanical and electrical systems are highly efficient. The facility is projected to use 40 percent less energy and 26 percent less water compared to a conventional design. In addition to the conservatory, green space around the building includes bioswales and rain gardens. The third floor has an outdoor patio with a rooftop garden and space for casual gatherings.

Wisconsin-based Miron Construction Co. will be the general contractor.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm.

New Wentzville Hotel Hampton Inn to be Completed by March, 2017

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MC Hotel Construction, a general contractor specializing in new hotel construction and renovations, recently broke ground on the new Hampton Inn by Hilton.  Sister company Midas Hospitality, a premier hotel management group, will manage the property, which is scheduled to be completed by March, 2017.

The $12 million hotel will be located at 150 Wentzville Bluffs Dr. in Wentzville, Mo. in a new development called Wentzville Bluffs.  The 64,000-square-foot hotel will have 109 rooms and suites.  The property will feature a state-of-the-art fitness center, indoor pool, meeting rooms, and backyard seating areas with a grill and gazebo.

“The Wentzville Bluffs development provides numerous amenities within walking distance of the Hampton Inn for our guests,” said Midas Hospitality’s Managing Member and CEO David Robert.  “A new state-of-the-art B & B Movie Theatre, Planet Fitness, Stone Summit Steak House, and Hot Shots Sports Bar surround the hotel.”

 

 

Washington University School of Medicine Insulation Upgrade

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Insulation Services & Solutions Upgrades at Washington University School of Medicine – Department of Radiation Oncology 

WU Sch Med 3The Department of Radiation Oncology at the Washington University School of Medicine is one of the leading developers of new and innovative treatments for cancer patients. The headquarters, located near the Washington University Medical Center campus in St. Louis, has undergone a renovation to update the facility with the latest amenities.

A necessary requirement of this renovation was replacing the outdated and severely damaged insulation on the indoor and outdoor HVAC ducts and water pipes. The ductwork and piping systems on the roof had been badly damaged over time by weather, corrosion and foot traffic, and the interior insulation was worn and outdated.

The Washington University School of Medicine staff trusted ISS Insulation Services & Solutions to provide a completely new insulation system for these infrastructure components. ISS installed 9,000 sq. ft. of exterior ductwork wrapped with 2” polyisocyanyrate insulation board. This insulation was covered with a poly guard jacket for increased thermal efficiency and sloped for improved water drainage. ISS also insulated the exterior water piping with fiberglass insulation covered with an aluminum jacket and PVC Fitting Covers to prevent damage. The piping was equipped with heat trace cables to prevent freezing in cold weather. The valves on the piping system were insulated with rubber and coated with a weather-resistant paint. Additionally, ISS re-insulated the chilled water piping in the rooftop air handling unit penthouse and the lower-level mechanical room.

WU Sch Med 1This project presented a number of challenges for ISS, from the cold weather during the winter months to the tight proximity of the ductwork on the roof. ISS built their own scaffolding system to properly install insulation in hard-to-reach areas and used their expertise to overcome the difficult spacing issues between the ductwork.

At the conclusion of the project, ISS had installed a state-of-the-art mechanical insulation system throughout the entire facility of this growing medical research center. With its protective coatings and strategically placed weather-resistant features, the insulation system will benefit the facility for years to come.

Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures Celebrates 75th Anniversary

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Lawrence FMS Past

Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures is celebrating their 75th anniversary in 2916 with the following goals: provide a safe work environment for employees to master their skills, foster an environment that promotes continual improvement, and produce a quality product that meets or exceeds our customer’s expectations.

 

Lawrence Canvas Products Company opened their doors on May 16, 1941, manufacturing and selling tarpaulins, truck and trailer covers. In 1984, the company grew to a full service company, manufacturing and installing awnings and tents. In 1996, the name of the company changed to Lawrence Fabric Structures to better describe the wide range of fabric products that anchored the core business as they moved into a 68,000-square-foot plant in West St. Louis County.

 

As the company continued to grow into the 21st Century with the addition of exhibit and architectural elements, metal products became an essential part of the business. As metal components and metal awnings became a mainstay part of the business, “Metal” was added to the name, thus becoming Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures in January 2010.

 

On December 5, 2012, Lawrence earned ISO 9001 certification from Alliance International Registrar, LLC, for successfully implementing a management system. They re-certified onDecember 4, 2015, which is good through December 3, 2018.

 

As of October 21, 2015, Lawrence is employee-owned. The newly implemented employee stock ownership plan will promote continued success and customer satisfaction.

 

To learn more about Lawrence Fabric & Metal Structures, Inc. visit their website:

www.lawrencefabric.com.

HOK Trivia Night Raises More Than $13,000 For Arts & Education Council of St. Louis

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HOK Trivia Night Winners

HOK hosted nearly 100 employees and guests at their 10 S. Broadway office community space for its first ever Questions & Cocktails charity event to raise donations and awareness for the Arts & Education Council of St. Louis. The trivia night included raffles, prizes and eight rounds of trivia questions. Attendees enjoyed delicious food and drink and, in combination with a week-long donation campaign, helping raise more than $13,000.

HOK partnered with multiple local product vendors to make the evening a success. Trivia round sponsors included: Brad Randazzo, Facilitec; Lynn Menzel, Teknion; Sondra Carlson, Koroseal; Larry Richie, Working Spaces/Kimball; Amanda Rieffer, Tiles of Distinction and Boardwalk Hardwood; Tiffany Auer, Tandus Centiva; Kim Caldwell, KDR; Michael Moore, Armstrong; Matthew Hutchison, Coalesse; Sue Harken-Houser, Steelcase, and Karey Brown, Knoll.

HOK has been a proud supporter of the Arts & Education Council since 1992. Each year, HOK employees work together to create unique events to raise funds for this worthy cause.

“It has been more than a pleasure for us to support a thriving arts and cultural community that we believe enriches the quality of life for all,” said Nora Akerberg, vice president and interiors practice leader, and Arts and Education Council board member. “It’s an amazing group that energizes life in many different ways for St. Louis.”

The Arts and Education Council (A&E), is the St. Louis region’s United Arts Fund providing financial, technical and educational support for arts organizations.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm.

Holland Construction Services On Target To Top $160M In Revenue In 2016

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Five years leading up to 30th anniversary prove to be a time of remarkable growth as revenue doubles

It took Swansea, Ill.-based Holland Construction Services (Holland) 25 years to grow to $80 million in annual revenue, a milestone it reached in 2011, but in the five short years since then, Holland has undergone a period of rapid growth that has the firm projecting revenues of double that amount for 2016.  With annual revenues on target to top $160 million, and its workforce up by 37 percent since 2011 to 80 office and field staff, the company’s 30th year in operation is expected to be its best ever.

Company principals attribute the accelerated growth in recent years to a combination of factors. While the commitment to integrity and quality work that have been key to Holland’s solid reputation since it launched in May of 1986 remain at the core, the firm’s ability to take on larger projects in targeted market sectors has helped to catapult Holland into a spot among the largest general contractors in the St. Louis region.
This past year, the company broke ground on HSHS St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in O’Fallon, Ill., a $140 million joint venture that is the largest single project in Holland’s history; and it comes on the heels of the recently completed $80 million Memorial Hospital-East in Shiloh, Ill., also a joint venture. Another notable project was Cortona at Forest Park, Holland’s first luxury multi-family project in St. Louis, completed in 2014. Today, Holland is under construction on three additional large-scale multi-family projects in Missouri, including Evo Luxury Apartments in Richmond Heights, Alinea—Town & Country, and The Encore at Forest Park, with several more projects in pre-construction.

Other large projects completed in the past five years include more than $20 million in recreation facilities for Missouri Baptist University and the City of Bridgeton, Mo., (both in 2015); the new Liberal Arts Building for Southwestern Illinois College (2013) and Memorial Hospital’s Orthopedic & Neurosciences Center (2011), both in Belleville, Ill., and two multi-family complexes in southwestern Illinois– Parkway Lakeside Homes in O’Fallon, and the Villas at Crystal Lake in Swansea (2011). Holland also has completed more than $150 million in K-12 school projects in Illinois since 2011, including new schools for the West Washington, Wesclin, Lebanon, Flora, and Wayne City School Districts, as well as the new Father McGivney High School.

In its early days, the company was known for its work in the retail arena in southwestern Illinois, building projects such as the Market Place Shopping Center in Fairview Heights, the Swansea Schnucks Plaza and St. Clair Auto Mall in O’Fallon. Other landmark projects over the years include the Gateway Grizzlies Stadium in Sauget, Ill., and the Southern Illinois Miners Stadium in Marion; several projects in the education market, including the O’Fallon (IL) Township High School Milburn Campus and Auditorium and the Southern Illinois University Carbondale “Saluki Way” football stadium and basketball arena renovation projects; as well as multiple area YMCAs.

Holland’s ability to continue to grow during multiple economic downturns is, in part, due to a commitment to attracting the best talent, and staying on top of the dramatic changes in technology over the years in order to leverage them for enhanced efficiency. The company also has maintained a strong focus on safety, serving as a resource in this area for others in the industry.

As company founder and current Chief Executive Officer Bruce Holland reflects on the company’s rich history and three decades of success, he says it’s all about the people. “I am most proud of the opportunities we have provided over the 30 years for people to grow and expand in their careers,” said Holland. “The special culture we have created here has allowed for the planned growth of our people and our company, year by year, and has enabled us to assemble the right leadership team to manage the company now and into the future.”

Mike Marchal, who became president of Holland in 2011 after working his way up through the ranks, believes all the important ingredients are in place for continued growth. “With a foundation of integrity and our culture for taking care of others, we have created opportunities for growth throughout the organization that has prepared our leaders to take the company to another level,” said Marchal.  “Our clients will continue to benefit from the expertise we have gained in a variety of market sectors, paired with the intense focus we apply to surpassing their needs and objectives.”

Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer Dave Birk noted several other changes in the construction industry over the past 30 years, such as designing and building sustainable facilities,  the introduction of modular (pre-fabricated) construction, the appropriate use of technology during design/pre-construction and construction, and the vital importance of the pre-construction phase to properly design, budget and schedule projects. “Ultimately it’s about adding value to the development team and ensuring satisfied clients,” states Birk.

Repeat work from existing clients has played an important role in Holland’s growth, and those relationships are now paving the way for the company to expand its workload in the St. Louis part of the region, while referrals also are leading to projects outside of the region.

Holland principals also are proud of the community and charitable support that has always been a priority for Holland. The firm’s charity golf tournament – The Klondike Klassic – has alone raised over $134,000 over 10 tournaments, while the company donated an additional $100,000 to other non-profits in 2015, continuing its generous history of giving. This past year, the Holland Employee Charitable Foundation (HECF) also was established with the mission of helping others in the community through donations and volunteering. The HECF is employee-run and driven and, among other initiatives, will make the Klondike Klassic an annual event, with funds raised going towards a local organization voted on annually by the Foundation.

Company leaders have also taken leadership roles in a diverse group of local organizations for the good of the region, including the Southern Illinois Builders Association, United Way, St. Louis Regional Chamber, The Regional Business Council, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters and many others. Team members also provide mentoring and internship opportunities for college students as they aim to both share their expertise and help to attract young workers into the industry.

SAK Construction and W.A. Rasic Construction Tackling $91.5 Million River Supply Conduit Improvement

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Team to Install 15,768 Linear Feet of 78-Inch Welded Steel Pipe

SAK 2 O’Fallon, Missouri-based SAK Construction can now consider itself water infrastructure purveyor to the stars as it teams with a joint venture partner to advance the River Supply Conduit Improvement Upper Reach (RSCIUR) Units 5 and 6 project in North Hollywood, California.

SAK and Long Beach, Calif.-based W.A. Rasic Construction Co. Inc. began work on the $91.5 million project for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) in spring of 2015.  Completion is scheduled for early 2018.

SAK 3The assignment requires the contractors to apply open trench and tunneling strategies to install 15,768 linear feet of 78-inch diameter welded steel pipe and appurtenances. The open trench approach is to be applied to 5,411 linear feet; tunneling to 10,357 feet.

Originally built in the 1940s using concrete pipe, the 30,000-linear-foot RSC is a major conduit for the transmission of water from LADWP’s North Hollywood Pump Station to the Headworks Spreading Ground in central Los Angeles.  After more than 70 years of service, the concrete pipe is showing wear.

SAK 4The new infrastructure will boost capacity and help the district meet updated state standards for water pressure, enhance system reliability, minimize air entrainment to improve water flow and widen operational flexibility within the distribution system. It will also help LADWP meet new, tougher federal and state water quality regulations by setting the stage for the city’s conversion to chloramines to disinfect drinking water.

“After a hiatus of several years, the SAK tunnel management team is thrilled to return to the West Coast to take on this technically challenging tunnel project,” said Brent Duncan, senior project manager at SAK Construction. “Excavating five separate tunnels in the middle of busy North Hollywood streets has required the project management team to solve problems with creative, unconventional methods to ensure successful completion. Our highly experienced SAK team is well suited to tackle the demands presented by this project. We look forward to a successful completion in 2017.”

Based in O’Fallon, Missouri, and with regional offices in Maryland, California and Tennessee, SAK has active projects across the U.S. The company solves the challenge of maintaining and restoring aging water and sanitary infrastructure for the municipal, energy and industrial markets.  With industry-leading experience and a commitment to service excellence, SAK is a trusted partner helping customers worldwide renew, protect and expand their pipeline infrastructure.

KWAME Completes Work On $1.1 Million Maryville University Athletic Center Expansion

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Maryville 1The $1.1 million expansion of Maryville University’s John E. and Adaline Simon Athletic Center was completed recently with Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) as construction project manager. ACI Boland provided architectural design.

The student fitness center was expanded to 3,100 square feet, with a new workout room and state-of-the art exercise equipment. The 4,260-square-foot athletic staff offices also were relocated within the athletic center and completely renovated. The offices feature a high-tech conference room for video viewing.

Kwame took steps to ensure the safety of students and staff during construction, which took place on an active campus.

Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) is one of the nation’s top 15 pure construction management firms, dedicating 100 percent of its resources to project management services.

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