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Geotechnology Announces Leadership Team Changes

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Geotechnology, Inc., has promoted Pat Donovan, P.E. to Professional Services President and Jim Howe to Exploration President.

Geotechnology CEO, Ed Alizadeh, P.E., J.D., announced the changes, which became effective January 1, 2020.

Mr. Donovan has been serving as Geotechnology’s Vice President-Regional Manager of the South Region in Memphis. In his new role, he will provide strategic leadership, project oversight and management of the company’s professional services, which include geotechnical, geophysics, environmental, and construction materials testing departments, along with business development. Mr. Donovan joined Geotechnology in 2010 when the company acquired Hall, Blake and Associates, Inc. (HBA), a geotechnical engineering, construction materials testing and drilling firm based in Memphis, where he was Vice President of Operations.

Mr. Howe has been serving as Geotechnology’s Vice President of Exploration. In his new role, he will oversee all exploration services throughout the company to ensure personnel and resources are being utilized in ways that promote safety, and benefit clients and their projects. He has been a vital Geotechnology team member for more than 30 years, and integral in building the company’s drilling division into a renowned industry leader.

“These promotions are recognition of the great contributions that Pat and Jim have made to our company,” said Alizadeh. “The changes also present opportunities for new ideas and practices that will benefit our clients and lead Geotechnology to even greater heights in our safety, growth and operations successes.”

Established in 1984, Geotechnology, Inc. is a professional corporation offering a comprehensive range of consulting services in applied earth and environmental sciences, including geophysics, underground consulting services, 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 headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, and has ten offices in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. For more information, visit


Kwame Building Group Completes Work on Six Schools for Dallas Independent School District

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Construction is complete on major new construction and renovation projects at six schools in the Dallas Independent School District. As a member of the Dikita\\Vanir Joint Venture team, Kwame Building Group’s role is to augment the construction staff and provide project management services. This is the first time that this district has awarded program management services to a minority-led team.

In total, the Dikita\\Vanir Joint Venture team is responsible for more than $500 million in construction projects spanning 40 million square feet. They are one of three construction teams selected to manage major construction projects at more than 200 Dallas ISD schools, including renovation of more than 300 classrooms, construction of nine new schools and various facility improvements. The projects are funded by a $1.6 billion bond program approved by voters in 2015. Serving more than 157,000 students, Dallas ISD is the 14th-largest school district in the United States.

Kwame Building Group has completed their work at Solar Preparatory School for Girls, Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary School, San Jacinto Elementary School, A. Maceo Smith High School, Grady Spruce High School and Edna Row Elementary School. Work is ongoing by the Dikita\\Vanir Joint Venture team at nine additional Dallas ISD schools. The team completed construction at Nancy Moseley Elementary School in 2018.


Solar Preparatory School for Girls
A vacant building was repurposed as a new transformation school for pre-kindergarten through fifth-graders. A new wing was added to include 15 classrooms, administrative spaces, a storm shelter cafetorium and four music and art learning spaces. An outdoor learning area also was added. The $15.4 million school opened this fall. The architect was Boynton Williams & Associates.

Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy
Maceo Smith High School was renovated to become Barack Obama Male Leadership Academy, an academy school with an emphasis on technology and project-based learning for up to 400 students. The renovation included improvements to the auditorium, 31 classrooms, two computer labs, 10 conference rooms, gymnasiums, locker rooms and a student dining area.

Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary School
The renovation of Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary School included improvements to the roof, HVAC systems, plumbing and exterior facade.

San Jacinto Elementary School
Renovation of San Jacinto Elementary School included improvements to the library, roof, HVAC system, windows, exterior doors, plumbing and exterior facade.

Grady Spruce High School
A 13-classroom addition was constructed at Grady Spruce High School. Other renovations included an expanded career and technology education program, bus loop with fire lane as well as new HVAC units and roof.

Edna Row Elementary School
As part of the renovation project, 12 classrooms were added.

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. KWAME is headquartered in St. Louis with division offices in Atlanta, Dallas, Seattle and Washington D.C. For more information, visit or call (314) 862-5344.

Brinkmann Constructors Chosen to Build New Leonardo DRS Warehouse in Bridgeton

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Brinkmann Constructors was chosen by Leonardo DRS to build a new 170,000 square foot engineering development and light manufacturing facility in Bridgeton, MO. Leonardo DRS is a U.S.-based defense contractor. Brinkmann is the general contactor and the architect on the project is TR,I Architects.

This Leonardo DRS facility will be home to the business unit headquarters, housing leadership, management and a centralized back office functionality. The space will give the organization the flexibility to expand with minimal impacts to the current workforce. Brinkmann was able to drive down costs and deliver value on this project with a front-end design schedule for both shell and tenant finish disciplines, an MEP process inventorying and coordinating all existing and new equipment as well as a thorough on-site subcontractor pre and post bid evaluation of existing equipment.

Brinkmann will also provide interior build-out for the warehouse, including a best-in-class engineering, research and development laboratory and office space. Construction is expected to be completed by early 2020.

Brinkmann Constructors is a national employee-owned construction company with a passion for finding innovative opportunities to save clients time and money. The firm was founded in St. Louis in 1984 and has offices in Denver, Colorado and Kansas City, Kansas. Connect at

Brinkmann Constructors Completes Work for Promise Christian Academy

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Brinkmann Constructors completed construction in December on a new school for Promise Christian Academy in Town and Country.

The academy, located at 13260 South Outer Forty Road, educates special needs students in grades K-12 by providing occupational therapy, speech and language services as well as training in the activities of daily living.

Brinkmann, whose offices are in St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver, served as general contractor for the project. Chesterfield-based ACI Boland Architects was the project designer.

Wes French, project manager with Brinkmann, said the16,000-square-foot facility is comprised of eight classrooms, an occupational therapy room, speech therapy room, gym, teacher workspace and offices and a commercial kitchen. The space can accommodate up to 64 students.

“The Brinkmann team used creative thinking to bring this project under budget so the build could move forward,” French said. “One of the biggest tactics we implemented was the use of tilt-up construction. This eliminated exterior steel, metal stud framing and sheathing and a high-dollar exterior façade, saving time and money.”

ACI Boland’s design enabled the buildout of a low-maintenance final product while retaining the desired curb appeal and exterior finishes, according to French.

“During redesign, the newly adopted International Building Code required the addition of a storm shelter,” said French. “Tilt-up construction allowed us to incorporate this into the design, mitigating the overall cost burden the shelter created. We’ve learned that this is the first storm shelter of its kind in Town and Country.”

Head of School Meredith Heintz said Brinkmann worked closely with Promise to help design and manage the project to stay within the fundraising budget. Through constant communication and collaboration, the design-build team delivered a quality building, on schedule and within budget.

“Brinkmann Constructors not only employs the best of the best, but they also employ personnel who took the time to understand the special needs community and embrace our mission,” said Heintz. “This created top-notch teamwork that made the project flow seamlessly. Brinkmann Constructors has left a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of the Promise community. We will forever embrace them as a part of our family and a part of our story.”

Pinnacle Contracting, Inc. Chosen Manager for $5.5M Renovation of Historic Lyon School

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Pinnacle Contracting, Inc. has been selected for an encore engagement by St. Louis-based Screaming Eagle Development as the latter transitions historic Lyon School, 7417 Vermont Ave. in St. Louis, into apartments.  In 2019, Pinnacle teamed with Screaming Eagle to complete the $7.3 million renovation of Nathaniel Hawthorne School Apartments in University City, Mo. Lyon School Named in honor of Civil War General Nathaniel Lyon, the school was designed by William B. Ittner and opened in 1910. It has been vacant since 2010.  The conversion will create 32 units and public amenity space in the 51,911-square-foot building which is located within The Patch neighborhood and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Pinnacle is targeting completion for summer 2020.

Hawthorne School Apartments

At Hawthorne, Pinnacle transformed a historic three-story, 54,849-square-foot building into 35 apartments with a clubroom and fitness center.  It also built 12 two-story townhomes totaling 13,824 square feet on a portion of the old playground and added a BBQ pavilion, four rain gardens and improved parking.  The project was completed in fall, 2019.

Project Manager Jake Saxton said: “Historic school renovations are both rewarding and challenging. Seeing how a new age of architects re-imagine space into living quarters is an adventure. Every corner at Hawthorne had its own uniqueness. No two units are the same.”

Both projects were designed by Ebersoldt + Associates Architecture of St. Louis. E+A is led by Vince Ebersoldt, who is also a partner in the project.

Screaming Eagle

Headed by Matthew Masiel, Screaming Eagle Development acquires and renovates historic buildings. It focuses on development opportunities that utilize public/private partnerships and creative financing.

Pinnacle Contracting

Founded in 1998 in St. Louis, Pinnacle is led by CEO Tom McLaughlin, President Nelson Grumney Jr., and Vice President Tim McLaughlin. Pinnacle generates over $20 million in annual revenue providing general contracting, construction management and design-build services.  In more than 20 years of business, Pinnacle has served diverse markets including historic renovation, office, educational, industrial, healthcare, hospitality, retail and multi-family.

Western Specialty Contractors Restores Historic Residential Garage in Minneapolis

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Modern commercial parking garages aren’t the only ones that require maintenance and repair; sometimes residential garages call for Western Specialty Contractor’s restoration expertise as well.

The Western Specialty Contractors – Minneapolis, MN Branch was recently contracted to repair the concrete slabs in a historic mansion’s two-car garage near Lowry Park in Minnesota. The garage, first constructed in 1931, consisted of two levels, one elevated at grade and one below grade. The original scope of work included a complete replacement of the 2”-3” topping slab (630 SF) and a localized full-depth repair of the 10”-12” structural slab (40 SF).

After further investigation into the integrity of the structural slab, the quantity of the structural slab replacement increased to 280 SF, with additional work recommended for a drain replacement, overhead concrete patching, urethane grout injection, and application of sealants and a traffic coating.

“During the construction phase of the project, shortly after being on site, we discovered that the integrity of the structural slab was more compromised than we had previously thought, regardless of the core samples that were collected,” said Western Project Manager David Grandbois. “The rebar in the slab had corroded away to nothing and the slab turned to dust as we hammered. The parking slab provided horizontal support to the foundation walls, so we could not continue to remove massive sections without supplemental support.”

Full-height shoring from floor to ceiling was installed to provide a working platform, and side bracing was installed to prevent the walls from collapsing inward. The slab replacement and pour back had to be sequenced in two phases so that the entire slab was not removed at one time. A new, heavier duty rebar design was also required.

Since the home’s boiler system sat below the main level parking slab, Western’s workers took extreme care to protect the boiler during all phases of the project from start to finish.

“Hammering into nearly 100-year-old concrete can vary from its strength, rebar size and placement, and aggregates present. It is important to take your time while performing the investigation, discovery and demolition on this type of project,” said Grandbois. “Working on a residential garage can be painstaking for all involved. Due to the noise and obstruction, keeping an open line of communication with the owner, contractor and design professional is paramount.”

Western started the concrete repairs in January 2019 and continued to work on the garage restoration throughout the rest of the year. Western crews returned in November 2019 to complete the sealant and traffic coating part of the project to protect the restored garage.

The engineer on the project was Meyer Borgman Johnson and the architect was James Dayton Design, LTD., both of Minneapolis.

For more information about Western’s concrete restoration services, contact the Western Specialty Contractors branch office nearest you –

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

SD State U. Students Move into New Housing Development Designed by KWK Architects

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South Dakota State University upperclassmen and graduate students have a new apartment-style housing development in a prime location adjacent to campus to call home.

Junior, senior and graduate students moved into a new $20 million, multi-building apartment/townhouse development this fall as part of the university’s Southeast University Neighborhood Redevelopment. The new apartment-style housing and adjacent Starbucks were designed by residential housing experts KWK Architects and architect-of-record Architecture Incorporated of Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

The new housing facilities are designed to look residential in appearance, but distinctive as apartments, making them aesthetically distinguishable from the residence halls in the same quadrant of the campus.

“The newly constructed apartment building and townhouses are truly set apart from the traditional residence halls on campus in terms of their appearance, amenities and floor plans,” said KWK Architects Principal Javier Esteban. “We worked closely with university administrators to create welcoming, modern living for upperclassmen that met their everyday needs, but also conveyed a neighborhood vibe where students could enjoy their independence, yet still have opportunities to socialize with other students.”

Douglas Wermedal, South Dakota State University Associate Vice President for Student Affairs, said the students’ response to the new housing has been overwhelmingly positive and he appreciates the expertise and attention to detail that KWK Principals Paul Wuennenberg and Javier Esteban brought to the project.

“What I thought Paul and Javier and the KWK team was most effective at was simply listening. I was appreciative of how they blended our vision with their expertise and in the end, we got a project that fits well with the rest of our housing stock, but is also distinctive and will draw students to campus,” said Wermedal.

The Southeast University Neighborhood houses a total of 200 students and is located on a two-block parcel on the southeast corner of the campus – on the former site of the State Court Apartments built in 1959. The facility is at the top price point of the university’s 4,400-bed system and it opened to 96% occupancy.

“This is our first housing devoted exclusively to non-required students, (juniors, seniors and grads) and it is nice to provide this demographic with a way to stay on campus if they so choose,” said Wermedal. “We were after something that clearly said ‘apartment’ and not ‘residence hall’. We also wanted the townhouses to be a transition type of facility from private residences to something residential but was not massive in terms of building footprint. The apartment and townhouses and surrounding greenspace accomplish these program goals nicely.”

The redevelopment includes a new, three-story apartment building featuring 45 units with a mix of one- to four-bedroom floor plans, one or two bathrooms, ADA accessible units and on-site parking. Each fully furnished unit also has a kitchen, in-unit laundry and interior access to the new attached Starbucks.

A new Townhouse Row on the site features five fully furnished, two-story townhouses with double beds in all bedrooms, outdoor porches and swings, kitchen, in-unit laundry, living room and off-street parking. The craftsman-style townhouses also feature one- to four-bedroom plans and ADA accessible units.

Kaitlyn K., a resident of the new apartments, says, “I love having the Starbucks downstairs, the security of ID access, being close to campus and having a washer and dryer in my apartment!”

Founded in 2013 by five architects with a combined 120 years of higher education knowledge and experience, KWK Architects partners with colleges and universities across the United States to create innovative and inspiring places that enhance campus life. For more information about KWK Architects, visit or contact Director of Marketing Cindy Hausler at

Kwame Building Group selected as Owner’s Rep. & Program Mgr. for St. Louis’ Major League Soccer stadium

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Kwame Building Group (KWAME) has been selected as the MLS4THELOU Ownership Group’s representative and program manager for St. Louis’ new Major League Soccer (MLS) stadium. Located in St. Louis’ Downtown West area, the new St. Louis MLS stadium is scheduled to open ahead of the 2022 MLS season. KWAME is serving an integral role in the pre-construction phase, including project planning and scheduling; value engineering and budgeting; selecting project partners and maximizing MBE/WBE participation; coordinating with the city and utility companies; and other project management. The Mortenson | Alberici | L. Keeley Joint Venture has been selected as the pre-construction general contractor. The architects include a partnership of St. Louis-based architecture firm HOK and Julie Snow co-founder of Snow Kreilich Architects.

One of the nation’s top pure construction management firms, St. Louis-based KWAME has an extensive track record of large, complex projects in a range of industries including sports complexes, major airports, light-rail systems, hospitals, education facilities, community centers and government facilities. KWAME previously partnered on the joint venture construction management team for the St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium, which opened in 2006.

“KWAME and the ownership group share a commitment to quality and local community engagement for this monumental project,” said Anthony Thompson, CEO of Kwame Building Group, Inc. “KWAME is honored to contribute its nearly 30 years of experience representing owners on large scale projects in the areas of complex design management and construction program management.”

The KWAME project team will be led by Vice President Nonyameko Waddell and Program Manager John Lloyd of Unlimited Partners. Lloyd brings 30 years of experience, including work on the St. Louis Cardinals Busch Stadium and seven other major stadium projects.

The MLS project team has been working closely with public officials to expand the footprint of the proposed stadium site to approximately 31 acres. The open-air stadium will have a seating capacity of 22,500 with the ability to expand to 25,000. The project also includes construction of the team’s headquarters, a practice facility and the Downtown West District of mixed-use retail, restaurants and gathering spaces to be used year-round. For more information, visit

KWAME is concurrently working on major construction projects in St. Louis and nationwide, including the $1.7 billion addition to the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle; numerous new construction and renovation projects under the Dallas Independent School District’s $1.6 billion bond program; and projects at the Seattle Sea-Tac Airport, Maryville University, St. Louis University Hospital and St. Louis Lambert International Airport.

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.

People On The Move In The Local Construction Industry

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

Carly Tribout Joins Geotechnology as Human Resources Coordinator

Carly Tribout

Geotechnology, Inc., has hired Carly Tribout as its Human Resources Coordinator. She will be based in the company’s St. Louis office.

A member of the Society of Human Resource Management, Ms. Tribout comes to Geotechnology after having previously worked in campus recruitment, selection and development for a national insurance company.          

She is a graduate of Missouri State University where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Human Resource Management with a minor in Leadership.

“Carly is an excellent addition to our team,” said Geotechnology Human Resources Manager, Erica O’Connor. “Her knowledge and background will help us to continue to recruit and hire dedicated, resourceful professionals who are committed to the success of both Geotechnology and our clients.”

Tim Kiepe Joins Murphy Company

Tim Kiepe

Tim Kiepe has joined Murphy Company, the area’s largest mechanical contractor, as piping designer. The announcement was made by Brandon Welch, BIM piping supervisor.

Kiepe has more than 18 years’ experience in architectural construction engineering, with design experience in heating, ventilation and air-conditioning; piping and plumbing as well as several years’ experience as a BIM/CADD manager. He has designed piping, HVAC and plumbing systems for multiple markets, including central utility plants (CUPs), medical facilities, higher education, commercial and industrial projects. As an assistant mechanical designer for a large engineering firm, he helped design CUPs, combined heat and power plants (CHPs), reciprocating engine power plants, boiler plants, federal, commercial and industrial projects.

Kiepe holds both a bachelor’s degree and associate’s degree in drafting technology (computer aided industrial design) from the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg.

December 20, 2019

Lawrence Group Announces 2019 Promotions

Lawrence Group is pleased to announce the following promotions: Todd Bundren, Riza Encarnacion, Matt Lundgren, Lisa Morrison, Greg Trost and Galen Vassar have been promoted to associate principal.

Todd Bundren

Todd Bundren, NCARB, LEED AP® BD+C leads multiple teams that focus on national accounts in the retail, hospitality and senior living markets. He also heads up Lawrence Group’s sustainable design and LEED Certification efforts for the built environment. He is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council and sits on the Planning and Zoning Commission for the town of Crestwood, MO. Bundren joined Lawrence Group in 2006 and has more than 15 years of experience.

Rita Encarnacion

Riza Encarnacion, RA, NCARB, specializes in managing large, complex projects for healthcare clients. She is currently managing the design team for the $550 million SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and served as project manager for the award-winning SSM Health St. Mary’s Replacement Hospital in Jefferson City. She joined Lawrence Group in 2001 and has 29 years of experience.

Matt Lundgren

Matt Lundgren, AIA, LEED AP® provides management and operational oversight for Lawrence Group’s New York office. He specializes in experiential retail design and hospitality solutions for national clients such as Warby Parker, Blue Bottle Coffee, Adore Me and Tend. Lundgren joined Lawrence Group in 2012 and has 17 years of experience.

Lisa Morrison

Lisa Morrison, WELL AP, NCIDQ specializes in the visioning and design of innovative workplace and hospitality environments. As a newly accredited WELL AP, she designed Missouri’s first WELL-certified project for Cushman & Wakefield and recently designed a new workplace strategy for OPAA Food Management. She has teamed with Lodging Hospitality Management for renovations at St. Louis Union Station. Lisa joined Lawrence Group in 2012 and will continue to help the firm grow its workplace and hospitality markets.

Greg Trost

Greg Trost, AIA, LEED AP®, specializes in adaptive reuse and historic renovation, educating clients on state and federal historic tax credit eligible buildings. His award-winning projects include The Core Apartment Residences, 4100 Lindell and Page 2 of 3 Cupples Building 9. He is a member of the American Institute of Architects and U.S. Green Building Council. Trost joined Lawrence Group in 2014 and has more than 20 years of experience.

Galen Vassar

Galen Vassar, NCIDQ, leads Lawrence Group’s hospitality practice, improving guest experiences for hotel, restaurant and entertainment clients. She is a St. Louis Business Journal 40 under 40 award winner, and her experience includes award-winning St. Louis landmarks such as Hotel Ignacio, Angad Arts Hotel, Park Pacific and Sun Theater. She joined the firm in 2005 and has more than 15 years of experience.

Jill Engel

Jill Engel has been promoted to director of real estate operations. Jill Engel joined Lawrence Group in 2017 has more than 20 years of experience. She specializes in real estate operations and asset management. Her projects include Park Pacific, Marquette, Southside Tower and Southside Station. Alicia Buehrle, Matt Huff, John Iffrig, Corey Pinkley have been promoted to senior associate.

Alicia Buehrle

Alicia Buehrle joined Lawrence Group in 2006 and has more than 14 years of experience. She specializes in senior living and healthcare design, and her projects include Cottages at Lake Saint Louis and Nazareth Living Center.

Matt Huff

Matt Huff, AIA, NCARB, joined Lawrence Group in 2016 and has 20 years of design experience. His diverse portfolio includes libraries, charter schools, universities, healthcare, commercial, residential, historic renovation and urban infill projects

John Iffrig

John Iffrig, PLA, ASLA, joined Lawrence Group in 2008 and has 13 years of landscape architecture experience, including commercial, institutional, healthcare and senior living. He is currently providing landscape architecture services for City Foundry STL and SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.

Corey Pinkley

Corey Pinkley joined Lawrence Group in 2006 and has 15 years of experience. He specializes in residential and commercial project types and most recently has designed multiple historic renovations in the Skinker Debaliviere historic district.

Lawrence Group is a building design, development, and project delivery firm with offices in Austin, New York and St. Louis. With more than 160 employees, the firm offers architecture, interior design, furniture procurement, landscape architecture, graphic design, master planning, construction and real estate development services to healthcare, academic, commercial, hospitality, corporate and housing clients. Visit us at or connect with us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook.

December 13, 2019

Oculus Inc. Grows Staff at St. Louis Headquarters

Oculus Inc., a full-service architecture and interior design firm, has hired Catherine Matthews and Charlene Masona to serve as an entry level intern architect and a marketing assistant, respectively. Both will work at Oculus’ headquarters in St. Louis.

“Catherine and Charlene both bring a variety of skills that will be essential to the growth of Oculus,” said Lisa Bell-Reim, Oculus Inc. president. “We look forward to seeing Catherine add to the talent of our architecture team and Charlene help market our award-winning work. Both are welcome additions to the firm.”

In Matthews’ role, she will work on a variety of projects with an emphasis in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries. This includes community-based outpatient clinics in Myrtle Beach, S.C. and Corpus Christi, Texas. Prior to joining Oculus, Matthews served as a student intern architect at Corgan and DHC Architects in Texas. She has a Master of Architecture from Kansas State University.

As a marketing assistant, Masona will support both marketing and business development efforts for the firm, specifically in the areas of digital marketing, print production and preparation of proposals, among other responsibilities. Previously, she worked as a social media strategist for the Brian Owens Soul musical brand. Masona possesses a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Oculus Inc. delivers comprehensive architecture, interior design, planning, and move management services with a driving aesthetic to Connect | Shape | Move people, experiences, sensibilities, and spaces. Oculus has offices in St. Louis, Dallas, and Portland, Ore., is WBE-certified and is regularly cited in top industry rankings for architecture and design.

 Spellman Brady & Company Hires Nicole Dutton, Artwork Consultant 

Nicole Dutton

Spellman Brady & Company, an award-winning interior design firm, is pleased to announce that Nicole Dutton has joined the firm as its Artwork Consultant & Project Manager.  She will oversee managing the firm’s artwork master planning services for corporate, healthcare, senior living and higher education clients while managing the budget, schedule and installation of the firm’s multiple artwork projects across the country.

Ms. Dutton brings more than 12 years of professional experience focused on arts administration and curation.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts from Greenville University and holds a Master of Fine Arts from Fontbonne University with a specialty in Painting.  Prior to joining Spellman Brady, she was the curator of the William and Florence Schmidt Art Center at Southwestern Illinois College and worked at Chesterfield Arts as the associate director overseeing the public art master plan and art education.

Spellman Brady & Company is an award-winning interior design firm specializing in senior living, healthcare, and higher education environments.  The firm maintains design excellence by delivering comprehensive interior design, furniture, artwork master planning, and procurement services. For more information about Spellman Brady & Company, please visit

December 6, 2019

S. M. Wilson Promotes Mike Ashley To Field Director

Mike Ashley

S.M. Wilson & Co. has promoted Mike Ashley to Field Director. His promotion comes with a recent restructuring of S. M. Wilson’s Field Operations department. The Field Director position will replace the Director of Field Operations to allow for more than one individual to provide direct support, oversight, and mentorship for the field aspects of projects from pre-construction to close-out including support of superintendents and tradespeople.

Ashley was brought into the Field Operations department to assist former Director of Operations, Mike Zick and Ashley has demonstrated great value in the field as well as the company.

Both Ashley and Zick will assume the title of Field Director. In their new roles, they will each be assigned to specific clients and project teams. This will allow every team the benefit of a dedicated Field Director with the resources available to provide guidance and support.

Ashley joined S. M. Wilson in 2004 and has worked on a variety of projects including Ladue Schools, Link in the Loop, City Foundry STL and Clarendale St. Peters. He is OSHA 30 certified and has more than 40 years of experience in the construction industry.

The UP Companies Teams UP with Hip Hop Recording Artist Chingy to Produce “Old Construction Road” Song, Music Video

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“Old Town Road” parody song highlights UPCO brand, promotes careers in construction 


While the construction industry may be booming and the need for new buildings and structures has increased, the workforce needed to complete those projects has decreased considerably. In fact, workforce shortages remain one of the single most significant threats to the construction industry today.

A significant part of the problem is the lack of interest from younger generations, such as Millennials and Gen Z, to work in construction despite the surplus of well-paying positions and low-cost or free education and training. In many high schools and colleges around the U.S., four-year degrees and white-collar jobs are emphasized over skilled labor training, with certain vocational programs being cut altogether. A staggering 80% of U.S. construction firms are having trouble hiring talent, and the trend is predicted to worsen.

The current state of the construction industry was one of the key motivators behind The UP Companies (UPCO) of St. Louis releasing a parody song and music video of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, appropriately named “Old Construction Road” featuring international hip hop artist Howard “Chingy” Bailey, Jr.

UPCO, one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facility management professionals, consists of Power UP Electrical Contractors, Square UP Builders and Hustle UP Laborers. These three distinct business units have each felt the effects of workforce shortages on their projects. In order to recruit new talent for job openings at its three divisions, UPCO decided that it needed a fun and innovative way to attract the next generation of worker.

“We wanted to do a unique project that establishes The UP Companies as an industry leader who is not afraid to have fun and take risks to get the job done,” said UPCO President Michael B. Kennedy, Jr. “We also wanted to create awareness among potential employees, particularly minorities, that we are the premier destination for careers and to motivate them to consider working for us.”

Back in August while Kennedy was traveling on vacation, like much of the country, he could not get the hit song “Old Town Road” out of his head. During his flight, inspiration struck, and he found himself writing his own lyrics to the popular song with words related to construction and UPCO. Shortly thereafter, “Old Construction Road” was born.

Upon returning home to St. Louis, Kennedy enlisted close friend and well-known rapper Chingy to help produce the song. Chingy grew up in St. Louis and began writing music at age 7. His debut album “Jackpot” sold three million copies in 2003 and featured hit singles “Right Thurr”, “One Call Away” and “Holidae Inn”. Chingy would go on to record more albums throughout his career, making him an international recording artist with 50 million records sold worldwide. He is currently on the “Millenium Tour” and plans to release a new album in March 2020.

Chingy organized the recording session for “Old Construction Road” as well as lent his voice talents to a key verse in the song. Kennedy sings several verses, while the hook and chorus are sung by Square UP employee Cornelius Blanks. A music video featuring the trio and other UPCO employees was produced soon after through St. Louis-based video production company Unbridled Media and released to the public on Dec. 20. The video is featured on YouTube and at

Chingy, who started the Chingy For Change Foundation to educate inner-city children on how to become positive leaders in their communities, said he was happy to help Kennedy with his unique project that gives minorities and young people a life changing, positive career path.

“I got involved with the project to bring awareness to the opportunity that the construction industry is providing for everyday people who are looking for work. UPCO is providing job opportunities to folks in need who want to work and better themselves,” said Chingy. “With me, it’s always about helping and healing. I do things out of love and compassion, so I am excited to be a part of this project and touching lives one at a time.”

In an effort to provide workforce shortage solutions and address the immediate need for staffing, The UP Companies is working on plans for a job fair in March 2020 at its offices at 2060 Craigshire Road in Maryland Heights, Missouri. Representatives from each of the UPCO service lines, Associated General Contractors of Missouri (AGCMO) and various local labor unions will be available to discuss opportunities with interested jobseekers. Applicants will also get the chance to meet the stars of the “Old Construction Road” video, Chingy, Cornelius Blanks and, of course, UPCO President Michael B. Kennedy.

Leonard Toenjes, president of AGCMO, an association dedicated to serving the construction industry and providing solutions for the workforce shortage said, “AGC of Missouri has been working at every level to help everyone in our community. AGCMO has staff and volunteers working with high schools, career and technical education schools, community-based organizations, workforce boards, career days and project owners to get out the word.”

AGCMO recently created a website, Build Your Future – Build Missouri at, that provides specific entry information for construction careers 24/7, plus the organization has a very active scholarship program to help those who need financial support to be successful in construction.

“The construction industry offers great career opportunities for anyone who gains satisfaction from seeing the results of their work every day,” said Toenjes. “Construction industry careers have many personal and financial benefits for anyone willing to build their future.”

For more information about a career in construction, visit The UP Companies at; AGCMO at; Build Your Future – Build Missouri at; St. Louis – Kansas City Carpenters Regional Council at; Associated Electrical Contractors Local Union 57 – St. Louis at; Painters District Council 58 at; and Laborers Local 42 at

The UP Companies (UPCO) is one of the region’s largest full-service MBE-certified contracting companies offering all-inclusive and convenient solutions for general contractors, owners and facilities management professionals. For almost a decade, UPCO has focused on its mission of Building UP Communities Through Innovation, Diversity, and Integrity, providing superior design and contracting services through each of its distinct business units—Power UP, Square UP and Hustle UP. For more information, go to or call 314.865.3888.


YouTube –

UPCO Website –  


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