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Hicor Group Moves Into New Grand Center Headquarters After Completing $1.1 Million Renovation Of Historic Washington Avenue Residence

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The Hicor Group, a minority certified (MBE) Contractor based in St. Louis, has moved its headquarters into the former Bronson Residence, a 132-year-old Late Victorian home listed on the National Historic Register at 3201 Washington Avenue, after completing an extensive $1.1 million historic renovation.  The renovation began in April 2016 after the building had been left in a state of disrepair for many years and included significant interior and exterior upgrades.

The focus of the project centered around the interior finishes of the building. Special attention was paid to repairing the original plaster moldings on the ceilings and walls along with meticulously preserving and restoring the vast amount of original millwork and casework throughout the building. Utilizing their recently acquired millwork reproduction capabilities, the Hicor Group was able to recreate a considerable amount of historically accurate wood windows for the project.

“The biggest challenge was creating an updated commercial office space while maintaining the historical accuracy of the building,” said Andrew Stafford, President of the Hicor Group.  New mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems were also an important aspect of the project to convert the former residential building into a functional commercial space.

“We do have a vast amount of experience throughout our organization when it comes to historic restoration work. This project created the opportunity for us to showcase our capabilities while at the same time meeting our need for growth and giving us a distinct facility to house our corporate offices,” said Stafford. “The uniqueness of this space has created an energetic and creative environment for us to work in and enjoy.”

Three levels of the interior have been converted into commercial offices. The back yard of the house, once a historically significant Japanese garden, has been converted into an outdoor meeting and event space with lighting, décor and amenities suitable for small to medium size gatherings.

The Washington Avenue property was redeveloped by Acree-Kelley LLC, which bought the house in 2014.  The property is located next to the former Central States Life Insurance Building, now known as the Barnett on Washington, at 3207 Washington.  Drew Acree and Jeff Kelley of Acree-Kelley LLC are also co-founders of Chameleon Integrated Services and managing partners of The Hicor Group.  Chameleon provides Information Technology support services to agencies and organizations worldwide.

The Hicor Group provides carpentry, concrete, and general contracting services to multiple facets of the construction market here in St Louis and throughout Missouri. Founded in 2014, the company is a MBE and an SBA-certified Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB).  Stafford, a ten-year veteran construction industry, is President. For more information on The Hicor Group, visit

Founded in 2003, Chameleon is a minority and SBA-certified Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB).  

Missouri’s Prevailing Wage Debate and Its Impact on Businesses and Workers Clarified

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In the wake of the recent enactment of right to work legislation, Missouri lawmakers are proposing additional changes to the state’s business environment. Of note, a bill which would eliminate Missouri’s prevailing wage law, HB 104. Currently being revised by the Missouri House, if passed, the bill’s proposed effective date is August 28. 2017.

Shareholder Brad Kafka is vice chair of Polsinelli’s national Labor and Employment practice group and leads the firm’s St. Louis Labor and Employment practice group. Kafka is experienced in all aspects of labor and employment law including: federal and state court litigation, collective bargaining negotiations, defense of union organizing campaigns, and other areas. He is a frequent lecturer on labor, employment and ERISA topics before business groups and trade associations.

The prevailing wage issue can be confusing for employers, workers and business owners. Kafka can clarify the issue by explaining its significance in plain language and demystifying both sides of the issue. Kafka is an excellent source to answer complicated questions such as:

  • What is prevailing wage? How is it calculated?
  • Does it differ from county to county?
  • What industries would be affected by this change?
  • How could union trades be impacted by a change to prevailing wage?
  • How will businesses be impacted?
  • How will employees be impacted?
  • What has been the result in states that have eliminated prevailing wage?
  • How can businesses and employers prepare for this potential change?

Kafka is available for interviews in person, in studio, by phone and by email. He is also available for panel discussions on the topic.

Polsinelli is an Am Law 100 firm with approximately 800 attorneys in 20 offices, serving corporations, institutions, and entrepreneurs nationally.

Electrical Connection Sponsors Saint Louis FC’s Third Season in St. Louis

in Associations/News

Saint Louis Football Club (Saint Louis FC) kicks off its third season with a new look and a continuing prominent sponsorship by the Electrical Connection.  Saint Louis FC made significant roster changes in the off season, including naming Preki Radosavljevic its new head coach, and unveilednew jerseys emblazoned with the Electrical Connection logo. The Electrical Connection is a partnership of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA).

The home opener is April 1, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. in a match against the Ottawa Fury FC at Toyota Stadium in World Wide Technology Soccer Park.  On March 17, 2017, Saint Louis FC celebrated the start of the 2017 campaign at Hollywood Casino, unveiling its new jersey and saluting its fans. Reflecting the growing interest in Saint Louis FC, 10 games will be televised on KPLR-TV.  As it did last year, the Electrical Connection is offering a free jersey giveaway for every home game at

“If you have attended any of the home games, you know that St. Louis has embraced Saint Louis FC with great enthusiasm,” said Jim Curran, executive vice president, Electrical Connection. “We are proud to support the team and leverage our partnership to advance other beneficial community initiatives supported by IBEW/NECA.”

Last year, the Electrical Connection sponsored Saint Louis FC’s “Christmas in July” fundraiser at its July 30, 2016 soccer game to raise money for the Saint Francois County “Shop with a Cop” program and reenergize the “Shop with a Cop” program in Ferguson, Mo.  In addition, Saint Louis FC hosted a “going green game” presented by the Electrical Connection to raise awareness of energy conservation and a cleaner environment.  Planning is underway to renew both initiatives this year.

“The Electrical Connection has been a great partner of Saint Louis FC since its inception, said Jim Kavanaugh, CEO, Saint Louis FC.  “It not only helped bring outdoor professional soccer back to St. Louis, but it has helped Saint Louis FC broaden its outreach in the community.”

Saint Louis FC is playing 32 games this year, including 16 home games at Toyota Stadium in World Wide Technology Soccer Park. The park features a Biergarten, Corner Flag Hospitality Patios, a Fan Zone, space for tailgate parties, a Craft Beer Corner, and great food options. For game tickets,

Saint Louis FC plays in 30-team United Soccer League (USL).

St. Louis Design & Construction Industry Help with Autism Awareness

in Associations/Homepage Primary/News

April kicks off World Autism Awareness Month with the St. Louis design and construction industry lending a hand in giving St. Louis a distinct “blue hue.”  On April 2, 2017, St. Louis will join Autism Speaks’ worldwide “Light it up Blue” awareness campaign by lighting numerous structures and landmarks blue.  Companies and organizations participating in the effort by either lighting their office or assisting in lighting structures include HOK, Illuminating Engineering Society St. Louis; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1; Lighting Associates, Inc., and St. Louis Lighting Group.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism is diagnosed in one out of 68 children.

To date, local structures and landmarks that will be lit blue on April 2nd include:

  • James S. McDonnell Planetarium in Forest Park
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 1 union hall in South St. Louis
  • Express Scripts in North St. Louis County
  • The Magic House, Kirkwood
  • Mungenast Lexus of St. Louis, 13,700 Manchester Rd.
  • HOK, Downtown St. Louis
  • Four Seasons Hotel, Downtown St. Louis
  • Saint Louis Zoo in Forest Park
  • MilliporeSigma, South St. Louis


Businesses and civic organizations interested in lighting their structures blue can visit the Autism Speaks web site for information on blue filters at

In addition to lighting St. Louis blue, many in the community will be wearing blue clothing or showcasing the color blue in some way. To learn more on how to participate, visit or call the St. Louis Chapter of Autism Speaks at 314-989-1003.

Autism Speaks will kick off Autism Awareness Month on Saturday April 1, 2016 with a family fun event at Mungenast Lexus of St. Louis at 13,700 Manchester Road.  The 10 a.m. to noon event will include local resource vendors, sensory friendly activities, food, and more.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. The CDC has called autism a national public health crisis whose cause and cure remain unknown. For more information, visit

Construction Underway to Transform Former Hospice Home in Edwardsville into Memory Care Community

in Companies/News

IMPACT Strategies is underway with a renovation project that will transform the former Relais Bonne Eau Hospice Home in Edwardsville into a new memory care community for Cedarhurst Assisted Living. The 20,600 square foot building located on Marine Rd. has sat vacant since closing in December 2015. The memory care community, named Ruth’s House in honor of the grandmother of Cedarhurst founder and owner Joshua Jennings, to set to open early summer after a $1 million renovation.

As part of the renovation project, IMPACT Strategies will increase the resident capacity of the building to 17 units by repurposing storage areas that are no longer needed. Additionally, construction crews will remove doors, windows, and walls around the central corridor to create an inviting open area for residents and guests.

“We selected IMPACT for this project because they understand our business model and know exactly what we need to achieve with this building,” said Josh Stevens, president of Cedarhurst. “We currently have more than 225,000 square feet of senior living space under construction with IMPACT in Illinois and Missouri.  We consider them to be a very reliable partner in senior housing construction.”

Upon completion, Ruth’s House will accommodate up to 36 residents with Alzheimer’s or dementia related illness. Inside the community, residents will enjoy a peaceful décor, an on-site chapel, a large great room perfect for gathering with friends and family as well as private bathrooms in every apartment.  Ruth’s House will offer resident-centered care and support by a highly trained and mission driven staff.

IMPACT Strategies, Inc. specializes in Retail, Commercial, Medical, Senior Housing and Education construction and offers comprehensive construction services including design-build, general contracting, construction management and pre-construction management.

Senior Lifestyle Corporation Launching $31 Million, 91-Unit The Sheridan in Chesterfield, Mo.

in Companies/News/Uncategorized

62 Assisted Living/29 Memory Care Residences to Open Late Summer 2017

Senior Lifestyle Corporation (SLC) has opened a Welcome Center at 16100 Chesterfield Parkway West, Suite 145, for The Sheridan at Chesterfield, the third senior living community it has under development in metro St. Louis.

The building, which will total 84,000 square feet of finished space and rank as SLC’s largest and most elaborate facility in the metro area, is taking shape on a 3.2-acre site in Chesterfield Village. It will host a combination of 62 assisted living apartments and 29 memory care units developed specifically to support those with dementia, including Alzheimer’s.  It is slated to open in late summer 2017.

“While The Sheridan in Chesterfield shares a core identity with its sister communities in Creve Coeur and near Laumeier Park – a nurturing environment supported by the latest technology and advances in senior living design – its amenities are unique,” noted Denise Niemann, executive director.  Distinguishing features of the Signature Collection service array found exclusively at Chesterfield include a 24-hour concierge, a movie theatre and a communal space that is a coffee bar by day and a bistro by night.

All told, residents will have access to approximately 30,000 square feet of elegantly finished common area that will include gathering rooms, two dining rooms, a fitness center and an art studio.  Additionally, integrated internet technology will make it easy for residents to stay in touch with family and staff.

Memory care residents will benefit from SLC’s highly regarded Embrace program that uses designated interior areas and outdoor gardens to directly address the symptoms of dementia via a curriculum of cooking, aromatherapy, literature appreciation, gardening and other activities.

The project is currently supporting  approximately 175 construction jobs and is forecast to create 120 full-time equivalent jobs (both full- and part-time permanent positions) when it opens.

Brinkmann Constructors is the general contractor; Wiegmann Associates the mechanical contractor.

Senior Lifestyle, a closely-held national owner, operator and developer of senior housing communities based in Chicago, Ill., has two other Sheridan properties underway locally. 

Poor Condition of U.S. Bridges Hits Close to Home: Missouri Ranks 4th in Nation in Structurally Deficient Bridges

in Associations/News

The length of the nation’s nearly 56,000 structurally deficient bridges if placed end-to-end would stretch 1,276 miles, or half the distance from New York to Los Angeles, a new examination of federal government data by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) shows.  There are 185 million daily crossings on nearly 56,000 structurally deficient U.S. bridges. About 1,900 of those bridges are on the Interstate Highway System.

It’s a problem that hits very close to home. More than 3,190 bridges in Missouri, or 13.1 percent of the state’s inventory, are “structurally deficient,” according to ARTBA’s fourth annual analysis of the latest U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) National Bridge Inventory database. Drivers in our state cross these bridges 5,068,727 times a day.

The 2016 figure of 3,190 bridges is down from 3,222 in 2015. Missouri ranks 4th in the nation in terms of the number of structurally deficient bridges and 11thwhen considering structurally deficient bridges as a percent of total inventory. Nationwide, an average of 9 percent are structurally deficient.

According to ARTBA Chief Economist Dr. Alison Premo Black, the report’s key takeaway—and the most important thing to focus on—is that 1,900 bridges on the National Highway Freight Network are structurally deficient. “That’s America’s Economic Expressway,” Black said. “Bridge failures or restrictions on that 66,000-mile network should not be an option. Those bridges and the freight network overall should be the focal point of any new federal infrastructure initiative that emerges. Improving its performance and minimizing the chance of any major disruptions on it would provide big and recurring economic returns.”

State-specific information from the analysis—including rankings and the locations of the 250 most heavily traveled structurally deficient bridges in the nation and top 25 most heavily traveled in each state—is available on ARTBA’s website.

It is imperative that members of the U.S. Congress turn their attention to rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, especially the National Highway Freight Network.  At the same time, Missouri legislators need to create long-term, sustainable funding for the state’s road and bridges.

One only needs to remember the Aug. 1, 2007, I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis to understand that the safety of drivers and passengers who transverse these structurally deficient bridges every day are at stake. MoDOT does an excellent job of monitoring and prioritizing repairs on Missouri’s bridges and roads, but their resources have been cut back dramatically.  At the same time, our roads and bridges are further deteriorating.

To learn more about the issue and how the U.S. funds its infrastructure click here.

Leonard Toenjes, CAE, is president of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri.  AGCMO is the Missouri affiliate of Washington, D.C.-based ARTBA.

City of Edwardsville Awards J.F. Electric as Business of the Year

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J.F. Electric Honored for Excellence and Innovation

J.F. Electric was named Edwardsville’s Business of the Year for 2016 in a recent ceremony held outside of the mayor’s office. The City of Edwardsville has annually honored businesses for their significant role in driving Edwardsville’s business community and economic growth. To be considered for a Business of the Year award, the organization must be setting the standards for excellence and innovation with their business practices and community involvement.

Previous award winners include World Wide Technology, Panttoni Development Company, Inc., and Tri-Star Properties.

At the ceremony, Jonathan Fowler of J.F. Electric stated, “We are honored to be recognized with this prestigious award by the city of Edwardsville. We’ve been a part of the Edwardsville community for over 50 years and are proud to call Edwardsville home.” The company’s history dates back five generations to 1904, originating in south St. Louis. J.F. Electric has been doing business in southern Illinois since 1924 when the business was moved to Centralia. In 1969, J.F. Electric moved its headquarters to Edwardsville and currently employs more than 700 employees, serving customers in four different states.

J.F. Electric is an electrical contractor that’s in the business of creating connections for over 100 years and is one of the region’s largest privately held businesses. 


Sideways Elevators Broaden The Design For Future Skyscrapers

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It only took 46 years. Gene Wilder’s character, Willy Wonka took the grand prize winner for a ride in the Great Glass Wonkavator – an elevator that moved more than just up and down. That was 1971 fiction. Today, ThyssenKrupp, a German elevator company, is working on an elevator without cables. Their new design will ultimately use magnetic levitation technology. This will allow the elevator to travel vertically and horizontally. In taller buildings this will allow several elevator cars per shaft. Wait times will be cut drastically by the possibilities.

ThyssenKrupp is past the research and development stage, already testing the new technology in their MULTI elevator design. The new vertical city structures of Dubai (the world’s tallest and largest buildings) will incorporate such technology.

Watch the new MULTI elevator being developed by ThyssenKrupp:

This new elevator design will impact construction. Architectural design of buildings will no longer be limited to straight vertical structures. As the first video shows the possibilities for building design will broaden. Buildings by design will now go even taller, taking on different shapes than historical vertical or cylindrical designs have required. For contactors this means larger projects with more capacity for all sorts of components. There will be more mega skyscrapers like those being constructed in Dubai, dubbed as “stand-alone cities”.

These super tall structures will feature commercial, retail, residential, and recreational centers in one building stretching a mile into the sky and hosting 25,000 inhabitants. This evolving elevator technology is definitely changing skyscraper construction as we have known it.

Additional Reading:

The world’s longest skyscraper is planned for New York, called Big Bend, is u-shaped and could not be engineered without the new elevator technology

NECA Technology – the Project for Applied and Disruptive Technology, explores the world of technology and keeps members informed of what’s happening today, and of what will be launched in the not too distant future. Dr. Joey Shorter has an extensive background in education and experience in translating the work of academics into understandable, practical ideas.

Mizzou MCAA Student Chapter Captures First Place in Final Four Competition

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Named Student Chapter of the Year at MCAA National Convention

The Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) student chapter from the University of Missouri-Columbia captured First Place in the Final Four Competition at the MCAA National Convention in San Diego. The award, which included a $10,000 prize, was presented March 8 at a session featuring former Dallas Cowboys football player and the NFL’s all-time rushing leader, Emmitt Smith, as the keynote speaker.  The UMC chapter, although only three years in the making, also was named MCAA Student Chapter of the Year from among a total of 52 student chapters nationwide, receiving an additional $3,000.

Left to right: Graham Walter, John Beck, Tyler Culp, Shane Lowe, Zach Sifford and Nick Kniesche

Founded in 2014, the Mizzou student chapter is sponsored by the Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri (MCA-EMO), based in St. Louis. The award announcement was made by George D. Corey, C.P.E., MCA-EMO president.

The 15-member student chapter participated in a number of training sessions and programs to help prepare them for this year’s Final Four. During 2016 St. Louis-based mechanical contractors traveled to Columbia to facilitate seven training sessions on piping design, scheduling, commissioning, system trainings, etc.  Student chapter members also made several job site visits and attended an MCA-EMO chapter meeting, the 2016 MCAA National Convention in Orlando and the MCAA Student Chapter Summit in Denver, CO.  They also organized and held the first annual Mizzou MCAA Golf Classic and attended the MCA-EMO annual golf tournament, raising over $4,300 towards student chapter activities.  Students also participated in the UMC Engineering Career Fair with more than 175 companies participating. Several of the students also had summer internships with MCA-EMO members and some graduating seniors have accepted positions with area contractors.

Malcolm Sweet, general manager of Integrated Facility Services in St. Louis, chaired the MCA-EMO Committee that helped found the student chapter,  “Our student chapter went from learning the basics in year one, to placing 10th out of 30 in year two,  and ultimately taking First Place nationally in year three,” said Sweet.  “We knew they would do well and were ‘pleasantly stunned’ when we learned they were in the Final Four this year because they were competing against some highly experienced university teams.  As far as the St. Louis contractors were concerned, just being in the finals was a huge win, no matter where they eventually would place.   We are so proud of the fact they worked hard, learned, competed and won.  Their selection as Chapter of the Year was icing on the cake and a tremendous accolade and validation of everyone’s hard work.”

Sweet noted that two of his colleagues, Greg Harrop of Haberberger, Inc. and Jeff Rush, P.E. of icon Mechanical, Inc., spent countless hours helping the team during the past few years.  Also, he feels that former student chapter president, Austin Miller, laid a great infrastructure for this year’s chapter.

The students’ winning project involved presenting plans, bids, drawings, schedules and costs on a $3 million wastewater treatment plant upgrade to a panel of contractors from across the U.S.   Their fictitious company (for purposes of the competition) was named Arrow Mechanical, Inc.

According to Harrop, who serves as the committee chairman for the MCA-EMO 2017 Student Chapter, “Malcolm, Jeff and I were confident that the students had prepared well for the competition, but it cannot be overstated how much credit they all deserve for exceeding expectations and overcoming the stiff competition from the other schools.  It is amazing that they won the competition in such a short time frame and also secured the student Chapter of the Year award to boot,” added  Harrop.

“We are very proud of our student chapter for all they have accomplished,” said Kristy Stephens, executive director of MCA-EMO, who also attended the MCA National Convention in San Diego.  “I want to thank our member contractors who put a lot of effort and time into supporting our students.  They provided invaluable industry knowledge and training that gives students a ‘real-world’ look into mechanical contracting. Also, Lawrence Schilke, P.E., managing engineer, UMC, is a wonderful faculty advisor.  Together, they provided a great foundation for future careers in our industry.”

The Final Four student presenters included Nick Kniesche (Eureka MO), chapter president; Tyler Culp (Joplin, MO), chapter vice-president; Graham Walter (Prairie Village, KS), chapter treasurer; John Beck (Shawnee, KS), chapter media coordinator; Zach Sifford (St. Charles, MO); and Shane Lowe (Kearney, MO).

Photo Above –  MCAA Student Chapter Team w/advisors & Emmitt Smith – BACK ROW (left to right): George Corey, MCA-EMO  President, Mechanical Solutions, Inc.); Larry Schilke, Student Chapter Advisor; Graham Walter, Emmitt Smith, Nick Kniesche, John Beck, Mike Hurley, Rock Hill Mechanical Corporation; FRONT ROW (left to right):  Tyler Culp, Shane Lowe, Zach Sifford

MCA-EMO offers programs crucial to the ongoing success of contractors and vendors operating within the construction industry in Eastern Missouri. For over 70 years, the MCA has sponsored cost-effective educational opportunities taught by qualified and experienced professionals in the MCA Training Center.

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