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Western Specialty Contractors Plans for Its Future Through Robust College Recruitment, Hands-On Internship Program

in Companies/News

 College students with a background in construction management are in high demand by contractors.

To expose college students to careers in specialty contracting and begin developing qualified employees to fill its management positions long-term, Western Specialty Contractors, the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and roofing, recruits candidates from leading construction management colleges and universities across the country for its comprehensive, hands-on internship program.

“We believe the growth of our workforce depends on a strong internship program. If the intern enjoys their internship experience, then there is a good chance they will be receptive to long-term career opportunities within Western,” said Maria Traina, Director of Human Resources at Western Specialty Contractors.

Visits to colleges and universities are typically made by a combination of senior human resources staff and Western’s branch managers who offer students a first-hand perspective into the specialty field of restoration construction and preventative waterproofing. Those students who take part in Western’s internship program have the opportunity to gain much more than traditional work experience.

“With various levels of opportunities and an individual approach, our interns are exposed to everything from sales and project management to work in the field,” said Tom Brooks, Western Senior Vice President of Operations. “Those who become part of the Western team can look forward to great promotion opportunities. Of the 64% we hire from the program, the average number of years they spend with Western before getting promoted to a management position is just five.”

Over 85% of Western’s managers have been promoted from within the company. Initiative and hard work are rewarded with competitive salaries, excellent benefits including a 401K match, and tuition reimbursement, as well as advancement opportunities.

“With 100 years of experience, and in a constant state of growth, Western hasn’t lost sight of its roots as a hard-working, family-operated business striving to exceed expectations,” said Western Specialty Contractors President Jeff Kelley. “That is why we have been able to attract, hire and most importantly keep some of the best talent in the industry. You come aboard with Western, I can tell you we have a very good training program and a good career pathing process where you start at this level and you want to be at a higher level, here are the things you have to do to get there. We know what it takes to be successful and to be profitable, all you have to do is be willing to do it.”

Josh Woolard, a former intern at Western’s Chicago Branch, was hired by Western and is currently working as a Project Manager at Western’s Springfield, IL Branch. For Woolard, the hands-on experience he received while an intern was the most beneficial.

“I didn’t want to be with a general contractor. I liked the specialized contracting. I got to look at a set of plans and figure out exactly what was going to need to happen and the best way to get it done, pleasing the customer and also helping Western. I got to go on-site. It was really interesting,” said Woolard.

For Teddy Williams, gaining a well-rounded perspective of the construction business through his internship at Western helped him to determine his career path. Williams currently works in Western’s Dallas, TX Branch as an Assistant Business Development Manager.

“They really teach you the ins and the outs of the business,” said Williams. “Western is going to make sure you learn everything you want to in all aspects of the business.”

For more information about Western’s college recruiting and internship programs and current job openings, visit www.westernspecialtycontractors.com/careers/.

Family-owned and operated for more than 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. 

Western Specialty Contractors Receives ICRI-Chicago Chapter Award of Excellence for Outstanding Concrete Repair Project

in Companies/News

Unforeseen sub-structure work and continued operation of garage posed challenges

Western Specialty Contractors – Chicago Concrete Restoration Branch was recently honored with a “2016 Award of Excellence” for Outstanding Concrete Repair Project from the International Concrete Restoration Institute (ICRI) Chicago Chapter for restoration of the aging Hilton Orrington Evanston Hotel parking garage.

Constructed in the mid-1920s, the Hilton Orrington Parking Garage is a stand-alone parking structure located adjacent to the Hilton Orrington Hotel in Evanston, IL. Its interior concrete had degraded due to the corrosive action of chlorides, such as salt, and natural life-cycle deterioration to the point where falling concrete was posing a safety hazard to visitors.

The original scope of work included renovating the interior of the four-deck garage; demolition and replacement of deteriorated concrete ramps, columns and beams; as well as ancillary HVAC, electrical and fire alarm work necessary to bring the facility up to current codes.

James McHugh Construction Co. acted as the general contractor on the $3.3 million project, in tandem with design engineer CTL Group and key repair contractor Western Specialty Contractors – Chicago Concrete Restoration branch.

The restoration team faced several unforeseen challenges on the project due to the garage’s advanced age and deterioration. Further complicating the project, the hotel owner also requested that the garage not be shut down for extended periods of time during the restoration, plus the garage’s first floor was occupied by several small businesses, so construction noise, dust and disruption also had to be kept to a minimum.

“Despite the need for repairs, the continued operation of this parking garage was determined to be key to the successful operation of the adjacent hotel. Therefore, the garage could not be shut down for extended periods of time, and could not go off-line for materials to be removed and replaced,” said Steve Genovese, Western Chicago Concrete Branch Manager. “Occupant safety was also a top consideration since construction activities could dislodge concrete spalls above the ceilings in the occupied spaces. Plus, the owner only allowed ‘noisy’ repairs to be performed three days a week.”

As a result of multiple generations of previous, un-engineered repairs to the structure, additional un-foreseen restoration of the steel sub-structure was required, further complicating the project.

Excavated openings revealed unattached amalgams of various types, sizes and arrangements of reinforcing steel in each opening. This required repair excavations to grow significantly in order to uncover sound reinforcement and concrete, said Genovese.

Western Specialty Contractors worked closely with the general contractor and engineer to coordinate excavations with repair evaluations since each opening required custom engineering to address the uncovered conditions.

“The repair locations were quite large, resulting in on average close to 20 yards of concrete material, or two truckloads, for each patch,” said Genovese. “On average, eight workers were onsite for the duration of the project, mainly because only certain sections of the garage were allowed to be repaired at a time. The deck is four levels, with the first two levels still needing availability for parking, and where most of the repairs were found.”

The restoration team was able to devise some creative solutions to keep the project running smoothly, such as eliminating a portion of the topside and underside repairs to a true full-depth repair, along with phasing. The aging, cast-in-place 8″ to 10″ concrete slabs circumvented doubling the project schedule even though the repair quantities doubled.

Despite the challenges, only three months were added to the original six-month schedule due to collaboration by the entire project team.

“The project posed substantial obstacles including technical, emission control and personnel safety. Changes to concrete and steel conditions drove quantity increases during the work, requiring close and timely coordination with the design engineer,” said Steve Bush, Superintendent, James McHugh Construction Co. “The stacked configuration of the parking ramp mandated stringent safety precautions during demolition and repair. Work was completed without injury to staff or reportable emissions from the garage.”

Family-owned and operated for 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing. 

Employees at Western Specialty Contractors Raise $33,319.80 for the United Way

in Companies

western-specialty-logo western-specialty-united-wayEmployees at Western Specialty Contractors raised $33,319.80 for the United Way of Greater St. Louis through its annual fundraising campaign held Oct. 10-14, 2016. Employees participated in a variety of work-based activities to raise money for the organization dedicated to making communities stronger, healthier and better places for everyone. Over the past 20 years, Western Specialty Contractors has donated more than $500,000.00 to the organization.

Western employees pictured from left: Melondi Brown, Carol Rheinheimer and Jessica Gitto.

Family-owned and operated for 100 years, Western Specialty Contractors is the nation’s largest specialty contractor in masonry and concrete restoration, waterproofing and specialty roofing.

 

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