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Starts Sag in January, Construct Connect Finds; Openings Slide in December

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Submitted by the AGC

Construction data provider ConstructConnect reported today that the value of construction starts, not adjusted for inflation or seasonal variation, declined 6.6% year-over-year (y/y) from January 2019 to last month. The value of residential starts was flat, with single-family starts jumping 15% y/y and apartment starts plunging 32%. The value of nonresidential building starts tumbled 22% y/y, with commercial starts up 1.9%, institutional starts down 26%, and the volatile industrial category down 81%. The value of engineering (civil) starts rose 14% y/y. Chief economist Alex Carrick noted, “Since large project groundbreakings can often introduce notable volatility in the monthly ‘starts’ numbers and their period-to-period percentage changes, it is informative to also study ‘smoothed’ series. On a 12-month moving average basis, January 2020’s total nonresidential starts were +9.7% versus the previous 12 months (i.e., February-2019-to-January-2020 vs. February-2018-to-January-2019)[, with] commercial, +3.1%; industrial, +31.4%; institutional, -0.2%; and engineering, +18.3%. The ‘smoothed’ grand total of starts, which includes residential, was +5.2% in January. As for residential activity, it was -2.0% on a 12-month moving average basis,” with multifamily down 5.2% and single-family down 0.5%.

For the second month in a row, job openings in construction declined y/y, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported on Tuesday. Openings in December 2019 totaled 239,000, not seasonally adjusted, down 60,000 (20%) from December 2018 but the second-highest December total in the 20-year history of the series. Contractors hired 278,000 employees in December, up 57,000 (26%) y/y and the most for December since 2005. Layoffs and discharges totaled 329,000, up 115,000 (54%) y/y and the highest December figure since 2016. Quits totaled 138,000, down 19,000 (-12%) y/y. (Not-seasonally-adjusted data is not comparable across months in a year, and widespread harsh or mild weather can distort December-December comparisons.)

“U.S. companies are paying more for insurance, a reversal after years of flat or declining rates for property and liability policies,” the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. “Insurers have raised prices aggressively in the past year for companies of all sizes across the country. And they have warned that price hikes are likely to continue….Prices on nearly every type of insurance are rising, according to insurers and brokers. An exception is workers’ compensation, which is highly regulated by states. Excluding workers’ compensation, rates for property-casualty insurance sold to businesses rose 6.7% from a year earlier on average in the first three quarters of 2019, on track for the highest annual increase since 2003, according to brokerage Willis Towers Watson….On an earnings call last week, Chubb Ltd. Chief Executive Evan Greenberg listed rate increases ranging from 3% to 33% across its various products globally. Increases averaged 8% for U.S. commercial buyers. Some of Chubb’s biggest hikes were for property, excess-casualty and management-liability insurance for large U.S. corporations….The current price increases are partly due to hurricanes, wildfires and other catastrophes in 2017 and 2018 that cost the global industry more than $2000 billion…Insurers say they are also paying more for noncatastrophe claims. Property losses from building fires and mechanical breakdowns have mounted, said Joseph Peiser, global head of brokering at Willis Towers Watson. Some insurers have responded by reducing the maximum coverage in a policy, he said.” A presentation on January 28 at AGC’s Surety Bonding & Construction Risk Management 2020 Conference included this observation: “At present auto, property (especially vulnerable locations), [directors and officers] and professional are hard, [general liability] is in flux, and workers’ comp remains soft in most areas. Excess Liability is the most impacted in recent months of this cycle.”

The coronavirus does not appear to have had any measurable impact on U.S. construction so far but there are several ways it could potentially affect the industry, even if it does not become a widespread health threat in the U.S. Although construction is less dependent than other industries on China as the sole or major source of essential materials or components, a prolonged disruption to production in China or shipment of goods to the U.S. could cause delays in delivery of machinery, repair parts or projects. There is also some risk to specific construction projects. Transportation and distribution firms, hotels, resorts, retailers, colleges and other entities that rely on Chinese goods, visitors and spending might defer or cancel projects, either because of immediate cash-flow constraints or longer-term loss of business. As Wells Fargo Economics noted on Wednesday in an analysis of “Potential Regional Impacts of the Coronavirus,” states’ China-related share vary widely by type of activity. Readers are invited to email reports to regarding any coronavirus impacts relevant to construction.

“The number of people working at small companies essentially didn’t budge last year, even as larger businesses continued to expand their payrolls for a record 10th-straight year,…according to an analysis of ADP payroll data by Moody’s Analytics,” the Journal reported on February 6. “Hiring at the smallest firms was especially weak in the manufacturing, natural-resources, transportation, construction and retail sectors,” said Moody’s chief economist, Mark Zandi. “[A]ccording to a survey conducted by the Journal and Vistage Worldwide Inc., an executive-coaching organization[, j]ust over 60% of 711 respondents said they expect the total number of people employed by their firm to increase during the next 12 months.” The 956 respondents to the AGC-Sage 2020 Hiring and Business Outlook Survey, which AGC released on December 18, were more optimistic: 75% reported they expect to increase headcount in 2020. Among respondents with $50 million or less in revenue, 71% expect an increase, vs. 81% each among respondents with revenue of $50.1-500 million and those with revenue exceeding $500 million.


The UP Companies Hosting March 12 Career Expo With Recording Artist and St. Louis Native, Chingy

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On the heels of releasing its “Old Construction Road” song and music video that encourages younger generations to consider careers in construction, minority-owned The UP Companies (UPCO) has planned a  Career Expo in March to recruit the next generation of workers and guide them on the “road” to success.

The UPCO Career Expo is scheduled for 4-6 p.m., Thursday, March 12 at UPCO’s offices, 2060 Craigshire Road, St. Louis, MO 63146. Representatives from UPCO’s distinct business units – Power UP electrical contractors, Square UP builders and Hustle UP general laborers, will be in attendance, as well as a representative from the STL Construction Career Center, a branch of the Associated General Contractors of Missouri’s (AGCMO) Education Initiative for those who may have a general interest in the industry but aren’t sure which direction to take.

Participants are encouraged to bring their resume if they have one, or they can pre-apply online at

Career Expo participants will also get to meet the stars of the “Old Construction Road” video, UPCO owner Michael Kennedy, Jr. and hip-hop artist Howard “Chingy” Bailey, Jr. 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 In” featuring Ludacris and Snoop Dogg. 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 “Millennium 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 vocal 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 by St. Louis-based video production company Unbridled Media and released to the public on Dec. 20, 2019. To date, the video has received over 17,000 views on YouTube.


YouTube –

UPCO Website –

The current state of the construction industry was one of the key motivators behind UPCO releasing a parody song and music video of “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X. 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.

UPCO has felt the effects of the workforce shortage on its own projects and wanted to find a unique way to reach the next generation of workers through its video and song. Hosting a Career Expo and educating this generation is the next step in that process.

“We 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,” said Kennedy. “The construction industry offers tremendous career opportunities and benefits to anyone who likes to see the fruits of their labor and is willing to put in the effort to succeed. We have the jobs available.”

For more information about the Career Expo and a career in construction, visit The UP Companies at, AGCMO at, and Build Your Future – Build Missouri 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 more information, go to or call 314.865.3888.

The Staenberg Group Completes Purchase of Chesterfield Mall

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The Staenberg Group (TSG), headquartered in St. Louis, Mo completed the purchase of Chesterfield Mall on February 14, 2020.  The mall is located at the intersection of I-64/40 and Clarkson Road in Chesterfield, Missouri. This transaction follows TSG’s previous acquisition of the Sears building at the mall in April of 2018 and positions the company to control and lead the impending development.

“This is the start of Downtown Chesterfield, a high-end, urban, mixed-use development that includes multi-family residential, corporate office, upscale retail and restaurants, a theater, boutique fitness, supermarket and pocket parks,” says Tim Lowe, vice president of leasing and development for TSG.  “The entire development will be designed to create a vibrant, suburban city center where residents can live, work and play. Chesterfield is the ideal location is for this type of unique redevelopment.”

As the new owner, TSG plans to work with Macy’s and Dillard’s, the remaining two landowners at the mall, regarding their interest in participating in the proposed development program.

A project of this scale and significance will be transformational and will require strong support, partnership and assistance from the City of Chesterfield. The proposed development will enhance the quality of life for the community and offer residents and visitors the chance to connect in a new way.

“Endeavors of this magnitude take shape very methodically, and the process typically requires a number of years to complete,” Lowe continues.  “The initial phase will include re-zoning, entitlements, financing, master planning and design.”

TSG has a strong track record of successful developments within the City of Chesterfield, and the  company understands the significance of the Chesterfield Mall property to the City and community.

The Staenberg Group is a vertically integrated real estate development firm, which designs, develops and manages shopping centers throughout the United States. Beyond Development, TSG Properties engages in the communities in which they operate through pro-bono consulting, direct philanthropic gifts and volunteering technical expertise and determination to make neighborhoods stronger, healthier and more sustainable. For more information visit or call 314.513.1500.

Integrated Facility Services Completes $1.8 renovation at Masonic Complex of Missouri to Preserve Rare Artifacts

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Integrated Facility Services (IFS) has completed a $1.8 million renovation of the Masonic Complex of Missouri in Columbia, MO. The project remedied erratic temperature swings and humidity issues in order to protect and preserve rare and one-of-a-kind Masonic artifacts housed at the museum located within the facility. IFS served as the prime contractor for the 10-month project, which also included constructing a separate storage area, upgrading the lighting and lighting controls system, renovating and replacing HVAC systems, and installing a new HVAC controls system.

The IFS team determined that the excessive humidity at the Masonic Complex was caused by an inefficient mechanical system design. IFS designed a new HVAC solution to maintain tight humidity and temperature requirements. All of the mechanical systems throughout the 50,000-square-foot, two-story facility were renovated or replaced. IFS’ Building Automation team designed and installed a new, 35-zone controls system that allowed for remote monitoring and improved efficiency, comfort and control. A vapor barrier was added around the perimeter of the top floor to prevent moisture and unconditioned air from entering the building.

Specialized equipment was used to meet the strict environmental requirements of the 50,000-square-foot Masonic Museum. The museum houses a range of exhibits that document the critical role the Masons played in shaping Missouri’s early history.  Featured exhibits include Laura Ingalls Wilder’s gloves and a Harry S. Truman display.

Because the building was occupied 100 percent of the time, IFS used diligent project management and communication to complete the project on time and within budget.

Founded in 1889, the Masonic Home of Missouri is a non-profit charitable organization that provides assistance to members of the fraternity and children in need, statewide.

Integrated Facility Services (IFS) is a full-service HVAC, plumbing, piping, fire protection and building automation firm with more than 250 professional and trade employees. For more information, call (636) 680-2100 or (573) 442-6100 and visit

Holland Construction Nearing Completion on New Whispering Heights Project

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A ribbon cutting ceremony was recently held to mark the completion of the first phase of the

Whispering Heights development. The project, a new $34 million mixed-use community, located off Highway 157, is in the heart of Edwardsville, Illinois. The ceremony marked the completion of the South Building. The North Building is scheduled to be completed in May.

Holland Construction Services is working with Edwardsville developer Fireside Financial on the project which will eventually feature two six-story buildings with a total of 153 luxury apartments and 18,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. Holland Vice President Doug Weber said his team was honored to have been selected by Fireside to work on this project.

“It’s exciting when you get to the final phases of a project and get to see their vision for the property become a reality,” said Weber. “From the beginning, this project has been a true collaborative effort involving the ownership, design team, city officials and subcontractors. We’re looking forward to completing work on the North Building in a few short months and delivering a high-quality mixed-use project to the community of Edwardsville.”

Kristie Bailey, Partner at Fireside Financial, said, “We are excited to be a part of Edwardsville’s growth, especially on the 157 corridor, with this mixed-use project connecting downtown to the Goshen trail to all of the other exciting things the city has to offer.”

Edwardsville Economic and Community Development Director Walt Williams said this type of mixed-use commercial and residential development meets the needs of the community.

“This development is in response to the lifestyle preferences of the most economically-active generations,” said Williams. “The force behind the popularity of this type of real estate development growth has been the Millennial generation; however, the “one-stop-shop,” instantly gratifying lifestyle is not only a claim by the youth. Baby Boomers have also gravitated toward real estate that offers expediency and walkability, which this project provides.”

Residents of Whispering Heights will enjoy a state-of-the-art fitness center, private entrances, private parking garage, business center, and a rooftop “amenity deck” with grilling stations, fire pits, an enclosed kitchenette, and bar area. The luxury apartments will range from studios to 2-bedroom suites of up to 1,100 square feet and feature stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and high-end finishes throughout. Whispering Heights is located at 1010 Enclave Blvd. in Edwardsville and is managed and leased by 2B Residential. For more information, visit or contact Ashley Schmidt at 618-515-5230.”

Holland Construction Services is a full-service construction management, general contracting, and design/build firm based in Swansea, Ill., guided by the principle of providing our clients the best possible building experience on every project. Holland has been providing quality construction services throughout Illinois and Missouri since 1986, when it was founded by company CEO Bruce Holland. For more information, visit Holland’s website at



Cutline: Holland Construction Nearing Completion on New Whispering Heights Project.


Knobbe Named New President of McGrath & Associates

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West County resident Nicholas Knobbe has been appointed president by the board of directors of McGrath & Associates, Inc., a full-service general contracting and construction management firm. Former company president, Kenneth Knobbe, will continue as CEO and board chairman of the St. Louis based company.

Knobbe joined McGrath in 2007, and since then has served in increasingly responsible positions, most recently as vice president, project development manager.  He is a graduate of the University of Missouri, Columbia, and received a Master’s Degree in construction management from Washington University in 2016.

Commenting on his new role, Knobbe said, “I look forward to working with our team to offer excellent in-house design/build resources and the construction expertise that have helped us grow our business and maintain a high level of service for our clients, many of whom are repeat customers.”

McGrath & Associates provides contracting and construction management services, as well as in-house design services for pharmaceutical, healthcare, commercial and energy/industrial projects.  Since its founding in 1983, the employee-owned company has been named “General Contractor of the Year” six times by the American Subcontractors Association Midwest Council, and nominated twenty times for that honor.

SparrowHawk Taps JLL to Manage 1.5 M s/f Industrial Space in St. Louis Market

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JLL, a global commercial real estate services firm, has been chosen to manage five St. Louis-area industrial developments totaling nearly 1.5 million square feet valued at approximately $61 million.

SparrowHawk Real Estate Strategists, a Houston-based company, currently uses JLL to manage its 502,500-square-foot cross-docked warehouse/distribution center at 1659 Sauget Business Boulevard in Sauget, Ill. The company recently moved the remainder of its industrial portfolio to JLL for management.

“My experience working with JLL has been nothing but positive,” said Gutierrez. “Their brokers helped us find and purchase these industrial properties, so they’re familiar with our assets and understand our needs from a management perspective. We have a lot invested in St. Louis and we want to make certain our properties and tenants are well maintained, and we’re confident JLL can do that.”

SparrowHawk’s St. Louis portfolio being managed by JLL includes:

  • 1619 Park 370 Court, Hazelwood, Mo., a 213,558-square-foot cross-docked development;
  • 4847 Park 370 Blvd., Hazelwood, an 84,500-square-foot Class A warehouse building;
  • 800 Jefferson St., Pacific, Mo., 204,361-square-foot warehouse building;
  • 1250-1280 Interstate Drive, Wentzville, Mo., a 420,000-square-foot Class A, rail-served distribution center.

Gutierrez plans to double SparrowHawk’s holdings in the next two years, with deal sizes ranging from 200,000 to 500,000 square feet. “(St. Louis) sits nicely, it has all the infrastructure to be a phenomenal market, a market that can attract even further growth,” Gutierrez says. “Another significant advantage is its workforce, with access to employees with advanced education.”

The SparrowHawk properties bring JLL’s total commercial property management in the St. Louis market to 14.7 million square feet, said Henry Voges, property management leader for JLL.

“We’re excited to grow our relationship with Alfredo,” said Voges. “His company has a significant investment in St. Louis and we intend to keep these properties running smoothly so that he can focus on matters important to growing his business.”

For information about any of the properties listed, contact Voges at or 314-261-7372 or JLL Property Manager Emily Stahr at or 618-719-3002.


Team-Based Project Delivery, Leveraging Technologies Among 2020 St. Louis Building Trends

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St. Louis-based general contractors and construction managers say collaborative and transparent project delivery, mobile technologies and lean building are trends continuing to gain momentum in public and private project sectors here.

Patrick J. Kozeny, president and CEO of Kozeny-Wagner, says engaging construction firms as early as possible in design-build and construction management project delivery is essential.

“Technology continues to drive efficiencies in construction,” said Kozeny. “Building information modeling (BIM), robotic and remote equipment, modularization and tablet-driven construction management software have all made us a more efficient construction service provider.”

Construction-specific technologies being leveraged to keep projects humming along include customized, cloud-based smartphone apps that enable project managers to schedule, direct and track the delivery of jobsite materials to coordinate logistics to the minute – particularly on tight, urban sites such as Clayco’s luxury high-rise residential tower project across from Forest Park. With no lay-down area and a challenging vertical build along busy Kingshighway, apps like these make sure just-in-time materials deliveries are a reality.

Emerging technologies in the built environment are also enabling contractors to expand their service territories more readily, according to Leonard Toenjes, president of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Missouri. “Thanks to technology, more contractors are expanding their reach both regionally and nationally,” he said.

S.M. Wilson & Co. President Amy Berg says the use of lean building techniques to expedite projects, stay within budget and minimize waste continues to be a prevalent building trend.

Dirk Elsperman, EVP and COO of Tarlton Corp. and 2019-20 president of the Associated General Contractors of America, says finding ways to answer the question of an adequate workforce will dominate the construction discussion in 2020 and beyond. “We’re all looking for ways to satisfy the lack of resources,” Elsperman said. “Some will turn to pre-fabrication. Others will look to jobsite productivity techniques. Technology will offer some solutions. The bottom line is that we all will need to find collaborative ways to deliver our projects in ways that fairly distribute risks and rewards among the parties involved.”

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.

KWK Architects Hires Architectural Associate Heather Grove

Heather Grove

KWK Architects is proud to announce that it has expanded its staff with the recent hiring of Architectural Associate Heather Grove, LEED AP BD+C (Building Design + Construction), of St. Louis.

As Architectural Associate, Grove is responsible for design coordination, technical documentation and construction administration of KWK Architect’s higher education projects. She has more than 16 years of experience, having previously worked as a Project Manager for Dickinson Hussman Architects of Webster Groves, MO; as an Independent Contractor with Bozoian Group Architects of Brentwood, MO and as an Architectural Technician for Fletcher Architects of St. Louis.

Grove has an Associate of Applied Science, Architectural Technology from St. Louis Community College and a Master of Science and a Bachelor of Science in Meteorology from Saint Louis University. She is a member of the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter.

Her community involvement includes Secretary and Joint Business Manager for non-profit organization St. Louis Osuwa Taiko, Membership and Marketing Committee volunteer for U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter, and volunteer for the U.S. Green Building Council – Missouri Gateway Chapter LEED Community Project.

In her spare time, Grove enjoys staying active and spending time outdoors, exploring area hiking trails. She also performs a style of Japanese drumming called taiko, is learning to play the shinobue, a type of bamboo flute, and enjoys photography.

Johnny S. Wang Joins Midwest BankCentre’s Legal Board of Directors

Johnny Wang

Johnny S. Wang, a partner at Stinson LLP, has been elected to the Midwest BankCentre legal board of directors.

An attorney since 2005, Wang’s legal practice focuses on employment and traditional labor issues. His experience as a litigator deepens his perspective of the opportunities and risks employers navigate to align human resources and business strategy as well as managing a unionized workforce. Wang’s clients range from startups to multinational corporations across diverse industries.

In 2013, Wang co-founded the St. Louis Asian American Chamber of Commerce (AACC), which now exceeds 250 members. He also founded and chaired the Missouri Minority Counsel Program from 2012-2016. He was Stinson’s 2016-2017 Fellow in the Leadership Council of Legal Diversity and a member of the FOCUS Leadership St. Louis Class 41.

Wang currently serves on the board for the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) and as its alternate regional governor for the central U.S. He also serves as an officer for the board of FOCUS St. Louis and is vice president of the St. Louis County Library board of trustees.

Wang has been recognized with the St. Louis Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Award in 2020, NAPABA’s 2019 Best under 40, the Missouri Asian-American Bar Association’s 2018 Torch Bearer Award, the Royal Vagabond Foundation’s 2018 Leadership Award, the St. Louis Diversity Job Fair’s 2014 Spirit of Diversity Award, Missouri Lawyers Weekly’s 2013 Up and Coming Lawyers designation and the St. Louis Business Journal’s 2012 Diverse Business Leaders Award.

Wang earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and philosophy at the University of Missouri-Columbia. He graduated from Washington University’s School of Law in 2005.

February 7, 2020

Grant Bergman joins Wiegmann Associates as Project Engineer 

Grant Bergman

Grant Bergman of Wildwood, MO has joined Wiegmann Associates as a project engineer. Bergman has a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri in Columbia. He is working towards his Engineer in Training Certification and will ultimately be responsible for designing and engineering heating, cooling and ventilation systems for various Wiegmann Associates projects.

Wiegmann Associates is a St. Louis-based mechanical contractor and a national leader in design/build HVAC projects. Since 1995, Wiegmann Associates has engineered and installed innovative, energy saving and cost-efficient HVAC solutions, refrigeration systems and automation controls for clients in a wide range of industries. For more information, visit or call (636) 940-1056.

Tim Brimer Joins Murphy Data Center Services

Tim Brimer

Tim Brimer has joined Murphy Data Center Services as data center services account manager. The announcement was made by Eric Gottschlich, director, Murphy DCS.

Since 2017, Brimer has served as data center manager for CBRE/Thomson Reuters and, from 2014-2017, held the same position for the facility for Thomson Reuters. From 2012 to 2014, he served as a critical systems engineer/critical facilities manager for Ascent Corporation L.L. C. Prior to that, he served as a project manager/information systems for BJC Healthcare. He began his career as a system technician /communication technician for Southwestern Bell.

Brimer holds an associate’s degree in electronic engineering from ITT Technical Institute. He also has completed numerous technical and management training courses and holds a BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Service International) Technician Level III certification. He also is ITIL-certified in fundamentals.

Murphy DCS is a turn-key data center services solution, providing strategic integration of all facility infrastructure components, from consulting, design and construction to operation and maintenance. For more information, visit

Quentin Gossen Joins Murphy Company

Quentin Gossen

Quentin Gossen has joined Murphy Company as service account manager. The announcement was made by Ryan Kramer, service sales manager for the mechanical contracting and engineering firm.

Gossen has more than 25 years’ experience in the mechanical industry within government, healthcare and higher education markets. Most recently, he he worked on several major chiller service projects.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering technology from Central Missouri State University and has completed advanced training in HVAC control systems, account management and sales.

Founded in 1907, Murphy Company is one of the nation’s top mechanical contracting firms delivering innovative solutions to the commercial, industrial and institutional markets. For more information, visit

S. M. Wilson Promotes Josh Weber to Project Manager

Josh Weber

S. M. Wilson & Co. has promoted Josh Weber to Project Manager. As Project Manager, he will be responsible for leadership and coordination for all aspects of the project(s) and is accountable for the project’s success, as well as the success of the project stakeholders.

Weber joined S. M. Wilson in 2017 working on Tallgrass Creek Residential Building 1.4 and 1.5. Weber then transitioned to a lead role in managing a new client for S. M. Wilson, Dry Goods, which is a high-end retail brand owned by long-time client, Von Maur.

Weber’s commitment to the success of his projects, attention to detail, strong communication skills and client-focused approach has elevated him to his new position. Weber is OSHA 30 Hour Construction Safety and Health for Construction Industry certified and earned his B.S. in Construction Management from Southeast Missouri State University.

S. M. Wilson is a full-service construction management, design/build and general contracting firm with headquarters in St. Louis. For nearly 100 years, S. M. Wilson has provided a complete range of services and has become one of the leading general construction and construction management firms in the St. Louis area. The employee-owned company is dedicated to going above and beyond expectations for their clients by putting people first. For more information, visit

January 31, 2020

Murphy Company Names Paige Theby as Engineer

Paige Theby

Paige Theby has joined Murphy Company as an engineer. The announcement was made by Mike Werdes, vice president, engineering for the mechanical contractor.

A 2019 graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, Theby holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and aerospace engineering.  While at UMC, she was active in the Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) student chapter where Theby and her fellow students competed in the final four of the Student Chapter Competition in Phoenix, Arizona, where their proposal was rated third in the nation among 28 student mock projects. She also was active in the UMC Society of Women Engineers student chapter, traveling to area middle schools twice a month to talk with students about math and science-related careers.

Prior to joining Murphy, Theby worked as a building engineering sales engineer intern in the St. Louis office of Johnson Controls International Earlier she worked as a demand planning intern for Novus International.

Brian Vaughan Promoted  to Engineering Manager

Brian Vaughan

Brian Vaughan has been promoted to engineering manager at Murphy Company. The announcement was made by Mike Werdes, vice-president, engineering for the mechanical contracting and engineering firm.

“Since joining Murphy Company after graduating from Mizzou in 2011, Brian has been a key contributor to our Design/Build offering, and he has demonstrated an exceptional ability to develop relationships with customers,” said Werdes. “His focus on quality designs and customer relationships has resulted in many successful projects. His experience will help us continue to win and successfully execute projects in the Industrial Group.”

Vaughan began his career as an engineering intern at Murphy, joining the company full-time as an engineer in July 2011. He was promoted to senior engineer in early 2019. He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering (cum laude) from the University of Missouri-Columbia where he was a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honor society, and Pi Tau Sigma, the mechanical engineering honor society.

Vaughan is on the Board of Governors for the St. Louis chapter of ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers) and is a member of the Young Professionals Committee of MCA-EMO (Mechanical Contractors Association of Eastern Missouri.)

Orvin T. Kimbrough Promoted to Chairman of Midwest BankCentre

Orvin T. Kimbrough

Orvin T. Kimbrough, who joined Midwest BankCentre as CEO in January 2019, has been elected chairman by the Midwest BankCentre board of directors.

He succeeds James A. “Jim” Watson, who continues as vice chairman of the board of Midwest BankCentre and the bank’s holding company, Midwest BankCentre, Inc. Philip Stupp remains chairman of Midwest BankCentre, Inc. Midwest BankCentre is St. Louis’ second largest locally owned community bank.

Kimbrough, 45, became CEO of Midwest BankCentre in January 2019 after leading entrepreneurial, community-focused nonprofit organizations for nearly 20 years. As president and CEO of United Way of Greater St. Louis from 2013-2019, it grew into the nation’s largest affiliate, raising nearly $80 million annually.

His promotion sustains the bank’s long tradition of carefully planned leadership transitions since its founding in 1906. Watson recruited Kimbrough to the Midwest BankCentre board in 2015, and led efforts to attract Kimbrough as CEO of Midwest BankCentre. Kimbrough will continue to serve as bank CEO.

Jim Watson

Watson has devoted half of his 40-plus years in banking to serving middle-market businesses, institutions and nonprofits at Midwest BankCentre. He also has been deeply involved in many social service agencies and arts organizations as a director and board chair.

Sarah Geske Promoted to Purchasing Administrative Assistant

Sarah Geske

Murphy Company has promoted Sarah Geske to purchasing administrative assistant. She originally joined Murphy in 2015 as office clerk. In her new role she is providing administrative support to the mechanical contractor’s purchasing  team.

January 24, 2020

Staffing Changes at N.B. West Contracting 

New Hire – Kristen Westbrook-Tatum

Kristen Westbrook

Kristen Westbrook-Tatum has been hired as N.B. West Contracting’s HR Director, bringing over a decade of HR experience to the team.  Prior to joining West, she managed the Human Resources function in mid-size companies in the Digital Print Marketing and Sign Supply Industries.  Currently, Kristen is partnering with West’s Leadership Team, serving all levels of employees. Her areas of expertise include HR start-ups, process improvement, and organizational development. Kristen is a proud member of the Society of Human Resources Management and holds a BA in Organizational Leadership from Maryville University St. Louis.

Chris West

N.B. West Contracting Company has promoted Chris West to Vice President of the company. In his new role, he will assist in the management of daily operations for both construction and material supply. N.B. West Contracting has been an asphalt paving & concrete contractor, and asphalt supplier serving all of east central Missouri since 1956.

Midas Hospitality Closes Second Opportunity Zone

in Companies/News

St. Louis hotel developer continues to raise funds for future projects

Midas Hospitality—a leading hotel development, management and investment firm—recently closed its second opportunity zone that funded its first California property.

In addition to the Opportunity Zone Funds, the Midas Hotel Fund has called $25 million of capital with a $75 million additional goal.  Equity raised thus far was used to purchase the dual brand property of Residence Inn and Fairfield Inn located in Charlotte, N.C. during the spring of 2019, as well as the Aloft Milwaukee hotel in Nov. 2019.

While the Midas Hotel Fund remains open, the company successfully opened and closed two Opportunity Zone funds after reaching its goals:  The first for $35 million was for the development of the Aloft and Element hotels located in St. Louis, Mo. in and around the Cortex Innovation Community.  The second fund for $11 million was designated for its first California hotel—a new Residence Inn located at 857 W. Lancaster Blvd. in Lancaster, Calif.—that recently held its groundbreaking ceremony.

Midas Hospitality is co-developing the $25 million, 107-room Lancaster hotel along with Los Angeles-based InSite Development.  Midas Hospitality, which will manage the Residence Inn once it is completed in the first half of 2021.  Midas currently owns and manages 38 hotels with eight more hotels to be added to its portfolio in the near future.

“Our company continues to steadily acquire and develop properties like our newest California hotel thanks to the support of both local and national investors,” said Midas Hospitality’s Co-Founder and Managing Partner J.T. Norville.  “The Midas Hotel Fund is on its way to reaching its goal , which will enable us to maintain this rapid progress in the hospitality industry.”  Norville added that his company seeks investors who are “committed to transforming the marketplace with projects that make a difference in the communities they are in.”

Founded in 2006, Midas Hospitality specializes in the development, management and investment of award-winning hotel properties across the U.S.  The firm focuses on select-service and extended-stay experiences for global brands including Hilton, Marriott, and IHG.  Midas’ headquarters are located at 1804 Borman Circle Dr. in Maryland Heights, Mo.  For more information, call (314) 692-0100 or visit

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