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Construction Job Openings Hit 19-Year High, according to AGC of America

in Associations/News


No surprise to St. Louis construction industry employers, the AGC of America’s latest economic update July 16th reports the highest number of construction job openings, year over year, in nearly two decades.

AGC Chief Economist Ken Simonson’s report details an increase of 90,000 job openings – a 32 percent jump as of the end of May as compared to one year earlier, and the highest total for May since the AGC’s monthly Data DIGest began publishing in year 2000.

In addition, Simonson reported that the construction industry hired 526,000 individuals in May 2019 (no seasonal adjustment).

“Together, the record-high job openings at the end of May, a record-low construction unemployment rate in June and a nearly 50-year low for the total unemployment rate underscore the challenge that contractors face in finding acceptable workers to hire,” Simonson said.

AGC of Missouri President Leonard Toenjes said although St. Louis isn’t seeing the jump in construction job openings that the U.S. coasts are, the concern here is nonetheless palpable.

“These workforce-related conditions hit the coasts and the border states first and then eventually reach us,” said Toenjes. “It’s not here yet, but once construction of the NGA (National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s) new headquarters begins and all the development around that enormous project gets going, a more significant increase in construction job openings in our region is likely to occur.”

Other St. Louis mega-projects preparing to start that will also contribute to the need for more construction workers include the Interstate 270 highway bridge span replacement and lane widening of a 16-mile stretch from Lilac Avenue in Missouri to Illinois Route 111.

“Our (employment) activity in the St. Louis construction market is up,” added Toenjes, “but when we measure it in terms of work hours, the increase at this point is more indicative of an 8 percent to 11 percent jump rather than the 32 percent increase that’s recorded nationally.”

Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program Awards Scholarships To Two Local Students

in Associations/News

Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the Southern Illinois Construction Advancement Program’s Garland E. Whitworth Memorial Scholarships: Seth Moline, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and Mitchel Widman, Southwestern Illinois College. Eligibility requirements include: writing a short paper on construction safety and submission to the SIBA Safety and Crime Prevention Committee; maintain a minimum of 2.5/4.0 grade point average at time of application; have a full-time student status; and enrolled in a construction management program at SWIC, John A. Logan College, Kaskaskia College or SIU Edwardsville.

Students chosen for the scholarships are: eligible to attend monthly Safety and Crime Prevention Committee meetings; required to take part in a full day ride along with an SIBA member company’s safety manager to observe/mentor safety walk throughs, tool box talks, etc. and get exposure to the industry; maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average during the scholarship semester; maintain full-time student status; and prepare a short presentation on experiences and knowledge learned throughout the year at the end of the school year.

Pictured left to right: Safety Committee Chairman Zach Maggio, Keeley & Sons, Inc., Seth Moline, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville; Michel Widman, Southwestern Illinois College; and Safety Committee Co-Chairman, Brian McGuire, Geissler Roofing Co., Inc.

People On The Move In The Local Construction Industry

in Companies/News

The latest People in the News highlighting new hires, promotions, honors & recognition of the men and women in the St. Louis building community.

Kwame Building Group Hires Zhijing (Candice) Yang as Scheduler

Zhijing (Candice) Yang

Zhijing (Candice) Yang, of University City, MO, has joined Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) as scheduler. Yang’s responsibilities include creating and overseeing timetables for KWAME’s construction projects. She holds a master’s degree in Construction Management from Washington University in St. Louis. She also earned a certificate in Project Management.

Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) is one of the nation’s top pure construction management firms, dedicating 100 percent of its resources to project management services. KWAME is headquartered in St. Louis with division offices in Atlanta, Dallas and Seattle. For more information, visit or call (314) 862-5344.

July 12, 2019

Chris Donovan Joins Kwame Building Group as Project Engineer

Chris Donovan

Chris Donovan, AC has joined Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) as a project engineer. Donovan’s responsibilities include project budgeting and estimating, contractor and subcontractor communications, site management and responding to RFI’s and submittals for select projects in the Seattle, WA area.

Donovan holds a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Southern Illinois UniversityEdwardsville. He has previous industry experience as a carpentry subcontractor.

Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) is one of the nation’s top pure construction management firms, dedicating 100 percent of its resources to project management services. For more information, visit or call (314) 862-5344.

S. M. Wilson Promotes Maggie Farrell To Human Resources Manager

Maggie Farrell

S. M. Wilson & Co. has promoted Maggie Farrell to Human Resources Manager. As HR Manager, she will continue expanding her leadership role around the company’s recruitment and professional development efforts.

Farrell joined S. M. Wilson in 2018 and has demonstrated leadership initiatives including bringing CPR/First Aid training in-house, facilitating S. M. Wilson’s onboarding process, implementing an online learning management system system, developing trainings including intern and mentor orientations, taking on a larger role in facilitating the company’s Collegiate Development Committee and its college recruitment efforts and facilitating our charitable giving efforts.

Along with the Collegiate Development Committee, Farrell sits on S. M. Wilson’s Employee Engagement Committee, Charitable Giving Committee and Golf Committee which supports the company’s annual charity golf tournament, Swinging Fore Dreams. She is also actively involved in the community, serving as a Steering Committee member for Alive & Well Communities, Big Sister for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America as well as volunteering with Ready Readers. Farrell is First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor certified and has her Masters of Social Work (MSW) from Saint Louis University.

S. M. Wilson is a full-service construction management, design/build and general contracting firm with headquarters in St. Louis. For more information, visit

Lorraine Ward of H+C named one of the Most Influential Business Women in St. Louis

Lorraine Ward

Lorraine Ward, LEED AP BD+C, Senior Associate and Director of Professional Services at Hastings+Chivetta, has been named as one of St. Louis Business Journal’s Most Influential Business Women. Lorraine is one of 25 leaders chosen from nearly 240 nominations for the Class of 2019. Part of a group of professionals who have positively impacted their industries and communities, Lorraine will be honored with the Class of 2019 on August 9 at the Award Program and luncheon at America’s Center.


Heather Indelicato Promoted to Senior Vice President – Deposit Operations at Midwest BankCentre

Heather Indelicato

Heather Indelicato has been promoted to senior vice president-deposit operations at Midwest BankCentre. She was formerly assistant vice president-vendor management. She reports to Chief Operating Officer Marsha Benney.

Indelicato has successfully executed operational strategies and instilled service excellence within retail branches of the bank. While leading the bank’s vendor management function, she collaborated with leaders throughout the bank to define the optimal vendor management structure, set key priorities and manage critical vendor management initiatives. Indelicato is a 13-year veteran of the banking industry and previously led the bank’s South Grand branch.

“Heather has shown an immense capacity to drive optimal, customer-centric and innovative results in multiple roles at Midwest BankCentre. We look forward to her continued success,” said Midwest BankCentre CEO Orvin Kimbrough.

Indelicato has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in management from Missouri Baptist University and is currently pursuing a master of business administration degree at Missouri Baptist University. She serves on the board of the Carondelet Community Betterment Federation (CCBF).

Midwest BankCentre, a mainstay of St. Louis community banking since 1906, employs a staff of about 280 working at 18 bank locations in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties.

July 05, 2019

Kwame Building Group Hires Casey Patterson as Civil Inspector

Casey Patterson

Casey Patterson, of Maplewood, MO, has joined Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) as civil inspector. Patterson’s responsibilities include inspecting construction sites for KWAME’s infrastructure, transportation and commercial projects.

Patterson brings four years of engineering experience, including work on transportation and utility industry construction projects. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Tyler. He also has Engineer in Training (EIT) certification.

Kwame Building Group, Inc. (KWAME) is one of the nation’s top pure construction management firms, dedicating 100 percent of its resources to project management services. An employee-owned company, KWAME provides estimating, scheduling, project planning, value engineering and other project management services as an independent advocate for owners and developers. For more information, visit or call (314) 862-5344.

Brian Meade Joins FGM Architects as Design Principal

Brian Meade

Brian joins FGM Architects as the next step in a 25-year career where he has helped make communities stronger through thoughtful, efficient, and sustainable design solutions. As a Thought Leader with a passion for Civic and Public Safety architecture, Brian has led the design of many award-winning public projects. He is a frequently published author of articles that feature his public safety and resilient design expertise. Brian earned a bachelor’s (1993) and master’s (1995) degrees in architecture from the University of Illinois. FGM Architects looks forward to offering Brian’s design leadership to our staff, clients and the public good!

June 28, 2019

IFMA St. Louis Honors Members at National Day Celebration 

Members of the St. Louis Chapter of IFMA (International Facility Management Association) gathered to recognize two industry members. Held on Wednesday, June 19, at Dave & Buster’s in suburban St. Louis, the awards were presented during the chapter’s celebration of National FM Day. Started in 2008, FM Day underscores the value and contributions of facility managers in St. Louis and around the nation who ensure that commercial buildings provide a safe, healthy and productive environment.

Award recipients were:

Professional Member of the Year: Dan Rayhawk, Senior Regional Facility Manager at Centene Corp.

Rayhawk earned his credentials as a Certified Facility Manager, considered the most prestigious and sought-after credential in facility management. He uses his experience to mentor other members who are working to gain the industry’s professional designations. Additionally, he serves on the organization’s education committee. Rayhawk oversees regional facilities for Centene, a multinational healthcare insurance and services provider.

Associate of the Year: Gary Wood, President and CEO, Stryker Construction

A member since 2011, Wood played a critical role as membership chair, increasing the ranks of IFMA St. Louis. He now chairs the programs committee, one of the chapter’s most important and time-consuming tasks. Wood also provides financial support as a sponsor for these programs. He launched his construction business in 2011. Today, Stryker Construction is one of region’s top firms in fast-paced interior renovations for a growing list of clients.

IFMA St. Louis offers its members a learning and networking environment among its diverse membership and supplies its members with the tools to achieve their professional goals. Started in 1985, IFMA St. Louis has more than 250 members representing small and Fortune 500 companies throughout the region. For more information, visit

Andrew Ahlers, CM-BIM,A.C. Named St. Louis business Journal’s 30 Under 30

Andrew Ahlers

S. M. Wilson Project Manager, Andrew Ahlers, CM-BIM, A.C. has been named to the St. Louis Business Journal’s 30 Under 30 list.

The award recognizes future leaders of the region and local business community. This year’s class contains a diverse group of individuals representing a variety of industries, careers and ethnicities who have made an impact in their profession and the community. Honorees were selected by previous 30 Under 30 recipients as well as the Business Journal editorial board.

Ahlers joined S. M. Wilson in 2014 as a Project Engineer before being promoted to Project Manager in February 2019. He has worked on several highly-critical healthcare projects for Blessing Hospital, BJC HealthCare and Illini Community Health totaling more than $120 M in projects.

He holds his CM – BIM Certificate of Management in Building Information Modeling from the AGC of Missouri and has his AC (Associate Constructor) certification from the American Institute of Constructors and his ASHE – HCC (Health Care Construction Certificate). Ahlers has been instrumental in implementing S. M. Wilson’s latest healthcare construction technology on his projects which produce 3D virtual visualization for the Owner, end users and construction team to view the project and 4D schedule tie-in allowing the team to virtually build the project and monitor the schedule.

Ahlers is also a member of S. M. Wilson’s Collegiate Development Committee which is responsible for setting the company’s internship curriculum, going to career fairs and selecting candidates. As part of this program, he has mentored interns for the past three summers, all of which were hired full time by S. M. Wilson.

Ahlers is OSHA 30 Hour Construction Safety and Health for Construction Industry certified and earned his B.S. in Construction Management from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

30 Under 30 Honorees will be highlighted in the July 12 issue of the St. Louis Business Journal. For a complete list, visit:

S. M. Wilson is a full-service construction management, design/build and general contracting firm with headquarters in St. Louis. For more information, visit

Winthrop B. Reed III Joins Midwest BankCentre’s Legal Board of Directors

Win Reed

Winthrop B. “Win” Reed, an attorney and management committee member at Lewis Rice LLC, has been elected to the Midwest BankCentre legal board of directors.

Reed’s primary practice areas including health care, information technology, technology licensing, cybersecurity and data privacy, antitrust, class action and commercial litigation. He serves on the e-discovery committee at Lewis Rice.

While earning his bachelor’s degree in history at Tufts University, Reed participated in Army ROTC, served as soccer team captain and was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon. He graduated from the Saint Louis University School of Law. He served for eight years as an infantry officer in the Illinois Army National Guard and Reserves.

Reed’s extensive community involvement includes serving on the board of directors and quality committee for Mercy Health East Region. He chairs the board of directors at Mercy South (formerly St. Anthony’s Medical Center) and serves on its bylaws, executive, facilities, and finance and audit committees. He also is president and chairman of the board of the Boniface Foundation, which supports charitable and educational activities promoting individual and community health in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis County.

In addition, Reed chairs the St. Louis Zoological Park Subdistrict Commission and serves on the board of directors and as co-chair of the membership committee at Old Warson Country Club. He is a member of the board of directors and the corporate sponsorship and governance committees for Opera Theatre of St. Louis. Reed also is an advisory board member for Saint Louis University School of Law.

Midwest BankCentre, a mainstay of St. Louis community banking since 1906, employs a staff of about 280 working at 18 bank locations in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties. The bank works to empower people, enable business and energize neighborhoods through the strength of its financial services, including personalized consumer and business banking, business cash management, mortgage lending, home equity loans, financial planning and investments, insurance and digital banking. It ranks among St. Louis’ largest locally owned banks with assets exceeding $1.9 billion and deposits of $1.4 billion.

The bank is a local leader in the St. Louis Regional Unbanked Task Force and its Bank-On Save-Up St. Louis initiative. Since 2001, Midwest BankCentre has consecutively achieved the Bauer Financial 5-Star Superior financial rating each quarter. It was the national winner of the 2018 National Community Bank Service Awards by the Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) for its success in bringing mainstream financial services to unbanked and underbanked citizens in the region.

Eric Giering

Giering Joins Cass Commercial Bank As Executive Vice President, Director of Commercial Banking

Eric Giering has joined Cass Commercial Bank as executive vice president and director of commercial banking. In that capacity, he will work to forge comprehensive financial relationships with existing and prospective clients and lead the commercial lending group in the conception and implementation of new growth strategies.

Consistently ranked among the top-performing banks in the U.S., Cass Commercial Bank is a subsidiary of Cass Information Systems, Inc., (NASDAQ: CASS), a leading national provider of transportation, energy, telecom and waste invoice payment and information services.

Giering brings more than 30 years of banking experience to Cass. Previously, he played a leadership role in various lending capacities including commercial, credit underwriting and management. Most recently, he spearheaded national business development and lending strategies in the franchise restaurant and gas/convenience store industries.

Locally, the St. Louis resident is active as co-chair of the Persons with Disabilities Allocation Panel and as a member of the Regional Investment Committee of the United Way of Greater St. Louis.

Giering earned his bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and master’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University.

Founded in 1906 in St. Louis, Cass Commercial Bank is a member of the Federal Reserve. It focuses on fulfilling the financial needs of privately held businesses, faith-based institutions and other nonprofits. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cass Information Systems (NASDAQ: CASS), a public company with $1.6 billion in assets.

Cass Information Systems, Inc. is a leading provider of integrated information and payment management solutions. Cass enables enterprises to achieve visibility, control and efficiency in their supply chains, communications networks, facilities and other operations. Disbursing over $60 billion annually on behalf of clients, and with total assets of $1.6 billion, Cass is uniquely supported by Cass Commercial Bank. Founded in 1906 and a wholly owned subsidiary, Cass Bank provides sophisticated financial exchange services to the parent organization and its clients. Cass is part of the Russell 2000®. 

Melissa Finley Joins Geotechnology as Human Resources Coordinator

Melissa Finley

Geotechnology, Inc., has hired Melissa Finley as its Human Resources Coordinator. She will be based in Geotechnology’s St. Louis office.

Finley, who came to Geotechnology after most recently working with Post Holdings, has more than five years of benefit and payroll administration experience.

A graduate of Southeast Missouri State University with a BSBA in Human Resources Management, she holds a Fundamental Payroll (FPC) certification and recently received her Society of Human Resource Management, Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) certification.

“Melissa is committed to helping employees engage and succeed professionally and personally,” said Geotechnology Human Resources Manager Dan Drago. “She is an excellent addition to our team.”

Established more than 30 years ago, Geotechnology, Inc. is a professional corporation offering a comprehensive range of consulting services in applied earth and environmental sciences, including geophysics, water resource management, geotechnical and environmental engineering, materials testing and drilling. Geotechnology has provided expertise on thousands of major construction projects in the Midwest and Mid-South regions, and is ranked in ENR’s Top 500 Design Firms. The company is based in St. Louis, Mo., and has 10 offices in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. For more information,

EPIC Delivers Modular Process Systems in New St. Louis Area Food Processing Plant

in Companies/News

EPIC Systems, Inc. recently installed a liquid processing system at International Food Products’ new $20 million facility in St. Louis, MO.  The pre-engineered sanitary blending skids are equipped with multiple batch mixing systems and will be integrated by EPIC Systems with seven liquid and powder packaging lines.

EPIC utilized a modular process approach to manufacture the systems during site civil construction.  Onsite layout, utilities and a mechanical room was designed and completed by EPIC during construction. “Through parallel construction, we were able to improve effiency and shorten the project timeline,” says John Schott,” President of EPIC Systems, Inc.

The automated batching systems are designed to increase capacity and efficency on International Food Products’ liquid process lines.  “This facility is a perfect fit for EPIC’s unique modular process and packaging line capabilities, Schott explained. The greenfield facility is being installed at the location of the former Ford Motor Co. plant in Hazelwood, MO.

The next step in the project development is the integration of the packaging lines.  Four of the seven semi-automated packaging lines will be new. The other two lines will be relocated and retrofitted. EPIC will perform FAT on site and will fully test the modular process systems before operation.

The new 227,500 square foot industrial plant combines a distribution center with R&D operations for International Food Products.  The company is family owned and employs 150 employees in the St. Louis region. Financing is provided by J.P. Morgan and is a joint venture between Prudential and Panattoni Development Company.  International Food Products is the first business to move into Aviator Business Park.  The development is a mixed-use business development.

EPIC Systems, Inc. is a complete design, build and integration company that fabricates modular process systems and provides packaging line automation.   Founded in 1995, EPIC Systems, Inc. is located in St. Louis, MO USA, with experience in multi-disciplined engineering and fabrication. For more information on EPIC’s modular process systems and/or packaging lines, visit and see how you can Do It Better.

IMPACT Strategies to Give Crossroads Centre a Facelift

in Companies/News

IMPACT Strategies is giving a popular Fairview Heights shopping center an all new exterior façade. Crossroads Centre is home to Dollar Tree, Big Lots, T.J. Maxx, Sky Zone Trampoline Park, Plato’s Closet, Ruler Foods, and several other retailers who will be receiving a fresh look. IMPACT will also be making numerous other exterior renovations including repairs to the parking lot, sidewalks, and enhanced site lighting.

New landscaping islands, an updated pylon sign, and new fabric canopies will refresh the space and bring new life to this busy shopping center. IMPACT will also be installing a water feature to be incorporated into the retention pond along Lincoln Trail. Renovations will take place without interfering in the shopping center’s day-to-day business. Once these renovations are complete, Crossroads Centre will be one of the newest and most attractive shopping centers in Fairview Heights. IMPACT is working with Northeast Capital Group, and Phase Zero Design on this project which is scheduled to be completed in August 2019. 

IMPACT Strategies provides client-focused construction management, design/build, and general contracting services. The firm offers a full continuum of innovative design/build service capabilities including proven construction management processes and site development. IMPACT Strategies serves a regional and national client base in the Healthcare, Senior Living, Multifamily, Office, Retail, and Warehouse/Distribution markets. To learn more visit or call 618-394-8400 or 314-646-8400.

Guarantee Electrical Company Named As Finalist on Two AGC of Missouri Construction Keystone Awards

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For the eighth straight year, Guarantee Electrical Company (Guarantee) has been named as a finalist on multiple projects for the AGC Missouri Construction Keystone Awards.  With 18 Keystone wins including several project and Subcontractor of Year (SCOTY) awards in the last seven years, Guarantee is hoping to continue the streak for its performances on the following construction projects; Ameren Process and Wastewater Treatment Labadie & Rush Island (Specialty/Subcontractor Building Construction Projects $4 million or more), and The Last Hotel (Specialty/Subcontractor Projects $1 million – $4 Million).  Both projects represent best-in-class electrical construction and modernization in terms of technology upgrades and long term energy efficiency and sustainability.

Working with General Contractor, Plocher Construction, Guarantee Electrical Company provided electrical construction of an advanced water treatment process for Ameren’s coal-fired generation facilities located in Labadie and Rush Island.  The first-of-its-kind sustainability process has proven to completely demineralize wastewater and remove toxics present in water suspended coal-ash.

The Last Hotel is an historic urban renovation project converting International Shoe Company’s “Last Factory”, hence “The Last Hotel”.   Beyond typical gut and rehab beautification, the 10-floor building represented a uniquely challenging infrastructure conversion.  In addition to the renovation, Guarantee partnered with Paric Corporation and Ameren to upgrade the antiquated early 20th century power supply for a manufacturing facility to a state-of-the-art 21st century power upgrade worthy of any upscale hospitality destination.

The AGC St. Louis Construction Keystone Awards annually celebrates construction excellence and winners will be announced at the awards banquet in November 2019.

Founded in 1902, St. Louis based Guarantee Electrical is consistently ranked among the largest electrical contractors in the United States. Its operations include branch offices in Missouri, Illinois, Colorado and California.   The company provides full-scope electrical contracting, including preconstruction, construction, engineering and design, design-build, design-assist, value engineering, procurement, electrical and communications systems, service and preventive maintenance.  To learn more visit

Cohen Architectural Woodworking’s Phillip Cohen Named to Small Business Hall of Fame

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Cohen Architectural Woodworking announces Phillip Cohen, CEO and Founder, has been named to St. Louis Small Business Monthly’s Hall of Fame, recognizing a select group of area executives who have made lifetime contributions to St. Louis business.

Hall of Fame members are chosen by a panel of business experts, and rank among the most accomplished and respected St. Louis area business leaders of all time.

St. Louis Small Business Monthly said that each hall of fame member has developed an industry leading business that is poised to continue such leadership well into the future. Each has persisted through extreme business and economic challenges. Each is inspiring to colleagues and employees as well as to the next generation of business leaders and beyond.

Cohen is recognized from his beginnings as homeless and strung out on drugs, to building porch swings in a neighbor’s barn in 1975, to establishing a business in 1982, and growing the millwork and custom commercial cabinetry company to some 75 employees with clients nationwide.  He has helped create a strong leadership team, and a winning culture that pursues constant growth.

“I am humbled and surprised to receive this recognition but in reality, our clients, our employees, and the people who have trusted Cohen Architectural Woodworking for their custom commercial woodworking are the real heroes in our business success,” Cohen said.  “Our customers, vendors and employees are like family to us. We will continue to fulfill our mission of transforming every life our employees touch by the way they live, how they treat people and the beautiful work they produce.”

St. Louis Small Business Monthly is a monthly magazine with articles geared for entrepreneurs, executives and small business owners. The complete listing of Hall of Fame recipients is featured in the June, 2019 edition of the magazine.

Founded in 1982, Cohen Architectural Woodworking is a family-owned architectural design/build woodworking firm headquartered in St. James, Missouri. Recently, Phillip Cohen was presented with the 2017 SBA Small Business Person of the Year award for the State of Missouri. Additional accolades include qualifying for the Inc. 5000, named to the list of Best Places to Work by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and named a Top Family Owned Business by St. Louis Small Business Monthly. For more information visit

Improving Profits, Operations and Liquidity in Construction Projects

in Companies/News

Recently, RubinBrown leaders attended the Construction Financial Management Association Annual Conference in Las Vegas. At the conference, some key insights were discussed by experts in the profession around improving profits, operations and liquidity.

When it comes to improving profits, you should always conduct a post job review to better plan for future projects. Also, consider contractor and contract size when evaluating if your company would be a good fit to take on a project. If you come across a cost-plus contract, make sure to evaluate what your actual return will be once all the work is said and done. Automation and integration are also key to improving profits as they should help streamline operations.

In terms of improving your operations function, understand where your bottlenecks exist to better allocate resources effectively and efficiently. When a job is complete, make sure you understand the rationale behind unrecovered costs and investigate ways to incorporate changes in the estimating process for future jobs. Review internal job costing and billing approval processes to ensure costs incurred are billed in a timely manner. And, it goes without saying, but resist the temptation to increase a project size too quickly without evaluating your workload, potential return and the effect on your day to day operations.

Finally, if your goal is to improve liquidity, consider selling your idle fixed assets. Re‐negotiate debt obligations to push out due dates of payments past one year. And, it sounds simple, but gain control of your overhead expenses. Overhead as a percentage of revenue for general contractors is usually in the 2% – 4% range, and overhead for subcontractors should be less than 10% annually.


50 High School Skilled Trades Teachers Semifinalists For 2019 Harbor Freight Tools For Schools Prize For Teaching Excellence

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Flat lay, set of construction hardware tools building, repair, painting accessories on wooden board background

Fifty skilled trades teachers and teaching teams from across the country were named today as semifinalists for the 2019 Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence. They and their high school skilled trades programs are in the running for a share of $1 million in total cash awards.

The semifinalists hail from 26 states and specialize in trades including manufacturing, welding, construction, automotive and agriculture mechanics. The teachers—some competing as individuals and some as teams—were selected by an independent panel of judges from among a field of 749 applicants. The list of the 50 semifinalists is available here.

“We never cease to be amazed by the talent, creativity and resourcefulness of skilled trades educators,” said Danny Corwin, executive director of Harbor Freight Tools for Schools. “This year’s semifinalists teach more than a dozen trades and have spent a collective 800 years in the classroom, and we couldn’t be more excited to honor their work.”

The Harbor Freight Tools for Schools Prize for Teaching Excellence was started in 2017 by Eric Smidt, the founder of national tool retailer Harbor Freight Tools. The prize recognizes outstanding instruction in the skilled trades in U.S. public high schools and the teachers who inspire students to learn a trade that prepares them for life after graduation. Now, in the third year of the prize, more than 150 teachers have been recognized as winners or semifinalists. Winners are invited to attend an annual convening to share best practices for advancing excellence in skilled trades education.

“Skilled trades teachers help hundreds of thousands of students each year experience the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment that comes from learning a trade,” Smidt said. “These teachers, their students and skilled tradespeople everywhere, too often don’t receive the respect and gratitude they deserve. Without them, construction would halt, homes, cars and appliances would fall into disrepair, and our infrastructure would crumble. We are thrilled to be able to honor and elevate the importance of their work.”

The 2019 semifinalists now advance to a second round of competition, where they will be asked to respond to online expert-led video learning modules designed to solicit their insights and creative ideas about teaching practices. The contenders will be asked how ideas from the modules might be used to inspire students to achieve excellence in the skilled trades. Two rounds of judging, each by separate independent panels of reviewers, will narrow the field to the 18 finalists and, finally, name the three first-place winners and 15 second-place winners.

The 18 winners will split $1 million in prizes. First-place winners will each receive $100,000, with $70,000 going to their public high school skilled trades program and $30,000 to the individual skilled trades teacher or teacher team behind the winning program. Second-place winners will each be awarded $50,000, with $35,000 going to their public high school program and $15,000 to the teacher or team. Past winners have dedicated their winnings to modernizing their shops, investing in specialized tools, promoting their programs to families and purchasing equipment to prepare students for higher-level accreditations. Semifinalists whose school, district or state policy prohibits receipt of the individual portion of prize earnings were eligible to apply on behalf of their school’s skilled trades program. If they win, the entire prize will be awarded to the school.

Winners will be announced on Oct. 24.

Harbor Freight Tools for Schools is a program of The Smidt Foundation, established by Harbor Freight Tools Founder Eric Smidt, to advance excellent skilled trades education in public high schools across America. With a deep respect for the dignity of these fields and for the intelligence and creativity of people who work with their hands, Harbor Freight Tools for Schools aims to drive a greater understanding of and investment in skilled trades education, believing that access to quality skilled trades education gives high school students pathways to graduation, opportunity, good jobs and a workforce our country needs. Harbor Freight Tools is a major supporter of the Harbor Freight Tools for Schools program. For more information, visit us at and on FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

Halcyon Shades Expands Plant Capacity, Establishes New Headquarters

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Halcyon Shades, one of the country’s premier suppliers of solar and traditional shading products for commercial and residential applications, has expanded its plant capacity and moved to a larger facility.  The company is now headquartered at 6282 Olive Blvd in University City, a historic St. Louis neighborhood.

“Sustainable products are a top priority for architects and building professionals today,” says Chris Lozano, president of Halcyon Shades.  “Our growing line of programmable solar shade products can help meet green building requirements due to the unique heat-reflective, high performance material used in their design.  We’ve seen exceptional demand from retail, corporate, healthcare, government, museums and even the cruise industry.”

Halcyon demonstrated its commitment to sustainability by converting a former food pantry into usable plant space.  “The warehouse was basically vacant for three years,” says Lozano.  “We were able to convert the food shelving systems into storage for our shading components, and purchased additional fixtures from a retailer going out of business.”  The company also chose its new location for its immediate proximity to Winco Window Company, a major window manufacturer.  The two companies are joint venturing on various product development initiatives.

For more information, visit Halcyon Shades or call 800-234-2280.

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