News - Page 2

Missouri’s Passage of Gas Tax Increase Allows Fed Infrastructure Match

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

Passage of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act bill, signed into law Nov. 15 by President Joe Biden, is a win for Missouri, says a regional transportation engineer, thanks to the state’s swiftness in passing a gas tax increase to raise enough dollars for the required federal match demanded by the federal spending bill.

Frank Weatherford, principal at TranSystems, credits Missouri lawmakers for passing a gradual gas tax increase – the first in 29 years – to allow the state to generate more than $500 million annually. Without passage of an increase, Missouri Dept. of Transportation officials predicted that the state would face an estimated $745 million annual funding shortfall for roads and bridges.

“We were very fortunate in Missouri that the legislature passed the gas tax increase (from 17 cents per gallon to 29.5 cents per gallon over five years) in order that we could match these new federal funds,” said Weatherford, “otherwise Missouri would have lost out on a four-to-one match. In a matter of weeks, Missouri pulled this off and made it happen. For states like ours where federal dollars are more than 50 percent of the state spend, it’s critical.”

Two subprograms contained in the new federal infrastructure bill, according to Weatherford, did not exist in previous federal transportation bills. They are: 1) A $6.4 billion carbon reduction program to allow for bicycle and pedestrian trails, transit and more, and 2) The PROTECT (Promoting Resilient Operations for Transformative, Efficient and Cost Saving Transportation) program, which channels $7.3 billion formula funding plus $1.4 billion in competitive grand funding to shore up and improve resilience of the transportation network – including highways, public transport, rail, ports and natural barrier infrastructure.

Stephen Sandherr, CEO of the Associated General Contractors of America, said passage of the federal infrastructure bill also provides needed investments to make infrastructure more resilient to extreme weather events.

“Because of the bill’s passage, state and local officials will be able to invest in a more efficient supply chain network and improve roads and bridges to make them safer and more reliable,” Sandherr said.

Missouri AFL-CIO President Jake Hummel agreed, saying the investment will boost the construction, steelmaking and concrete/asphalt production industries.

“This is a shot in the arm to not just the construction industry but also to the manufacturing base in the state of Missouri,” said Hummel.

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Poettker Construction Breaks Ground on 725,000 sf Riverport Trade Center

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Poettker Construction, an award-winning family-owned construction company, recently broke ground on Riverport Trade Center in Maryland Heights, Mo. NorthPoint Development contracted Poettker Construction for the project, which includes three distribution warehouse buildings totaling over 725,000 square-feet.

The Class A warehouse complex will consist of three rear-loaded buildings that are 249,500 square-feet, 160,000 square-feet and 312,000 square-feet. All three facilities will feature 40-foot-tall concrete tilt-up walls with a capacity of nearly 100 loading docks and will be tailored to fit the needs of today’s industrial users.

“Our distribution warehouse team is thrilled to collaborate with NorthPoint Development to deliver this new campus to the city of Maryland Heights,” said Ryan Poettker, President of Poettker Construction Company. “The partnerships we have with local trade contractors will ensure the project is built with the highest quality industrial standards.”

Preparation of the nearly 50-acre development will entail demolition, site clearing, stabilization and drying of existing soil, construction of special foundations on aggregate piers, sanitary lift stations and bio-retention systems.

Tilt-up concrete and steel will make up the frame for all three warehouses. The complex will consist of over 300 tilt-up panels.

Established in 1980, Poettker Construction is a second-generation, family-owned business specializing in construction management, design/build, general contracting and self-perform services with an emphasis to exceed the client’s expectations.  Poettker Construction is dedicated to providing safe, quality, sustainable, and technology solutions to clients in the Education, Distribution, Government, Healthcare, Hospitality, Municipal, Recreation, and Retail industries.  For more information, visit www.poettkerconstruction.com.

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Cohen Architectural Woodworking Announces New Ownership/Leadership

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Ben Cohen To Serve as CEO and Nate Cohen CFO with Award Winning Company

Ben Cohen
Nate Cohen

Cohen Architectural Woodworking announces Ben Cohen and Nate Cohen have purchased the company from the previous ownership team and have assumed full operational responsibility for the business.

Ben Cohen will serve as CEO and Nate Cohen will continue to serve as CFO. The two were part of the prior group of family owners under the leadership of founder and former CEO, Phillip Cohen, who has transitioned into retirement and will spend more time with his 16 grandkids and ministry work.

Cohen Architectural Woodworking has won many awards for its work including the AWI Award of Excellence for six separate projects.

Phillip Cohen started the company in 1982 making wooden porch swings in a neighbor’s barn as a way to recover from a life of violence and drug abuse. Over time the company has grown and won multiple awards for architectural design, business practices, and personal achievement. Ben Cohen and Nate Cohen grew up in the family business and have earned increased responsibilities as the company has grown.

“Our father, Phil, laid a tremendous foundation in building Cohen Architectural Woodworking from scratch into a highly successful business. We believe our best years for growth are ahead of us, and we are redesigning our operational practices to meet higher levels of revenue and profits in both the short and long-term,” said Ben Cohen.

To facilitate growth, Cohen Architectural Woodworking is changing its business practices to focus on large projects and a direct-to-client approach for repeatable business. “Our goal is to work more directly with decision makers and in-house design and facility teams,” Ben Cohen said. “Since millwork usually requires the longest lead time in a construction project we can avoid many steps in the process, and improve workflow and efficiencies. Thus far clients have found this to be a real win-win model, reducing both red tape and cost.”

Cohen’s overall new organizational model also includes realigning divisions and management responsibilities. The firm has brought in Tim Bornemann, a former business executive and consultant with Fortune 500 corporations as COO to assist with the company’s realignment.

Nate Cohen said, “Tim has helped companies double and triple in size and done so with as few growing pains as possible. He also is well versed in Lean manufacturing and Lean Construction practices, something we currently practice and emphasize at Cohen. We believe Cohen Architectural Woodworking is strongly positioned for next level success. I’ve never been more excited about Cohen’s future.”

Cohen Architectural Woodworking is an architectural design/build woodworking firm headquartered in St. James, Missouri. The firm has won multiple awards including the Small Giants recognition from Forbes magazine, Architectural Woodwork Institute’s Award of Excellence for six separate projects, and the 2016 Small Business of the Year award from the Rolla Chamber of Commerce. For more information visit https://cohenwoodworking.com

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goBRANDgo! Transforms Historic 150-Year-Old School into Nonprofit Incubator

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A historic school building celebrated its 150th birthday with plenty of new opportunities to learn without the antiquated chalkboards and pencil sharpeners.

Building owner goBRANDgo! recently opened the newly renovated Carondelet School for its nonprofit Conflux Co-Learning, the nation’s first co-learning space where manufacturers and distributors can actively collaborate to ensure their businesses’ success via shared innovations. 

Located at 8221 Minnesota Ave. in South St. Louis, the 26,000-square-foot former school underwent a $2 million expansion that includes a variety of options for Conflux members including interactive workspace, an innovation lab, recording studio and six state-of-the-art teleconferencing rooms. goBRANDgo! relocated its headquarters from 3301 Wisconsin Ave. to the new space and, according to goBRANDgo! president Derek Weber, at least 10 employees will be hired this year to accommodate the expansion across both companies.

goBRANDgo! – a marketing company that primarily works with manufacturing and industrial companies –

introduced Conflux in March 2020, shifting the community to a virtual setting prior to physically opening its doors. The new building will host public and members-only events to help supply chain leaders grow their businesses. Conflux features membership levels for individuals, small teams, and companies with access to leadership workshops, strategic speakers, round table discussions and collaboration opportunities.

The Carondelet School, which was designed by architect Frederick William Raeder, was built in 1871 to teach more than 400 children of local laborers and manufacturers. It operated for over 100 years before closing in 1976, later serving as a private Christian school before becoming vacant in the 2000s.

Brandon Dempsey, partner at goBRANDgo!, said the building’s renovation focused on repurposed and reclaimed materials. Conflux recovered over 50 tables and chairs from the Missouri Botanical Gardens’ Ridgway Visitor Center demolition, and the company constructed more tables with reclaimed building materials from the demolition. More than 2,000 square feet of wood flooring was built by hand to match the building’s original wood floors.

Pictured from left to right: Valerie Patton, Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer, Greater St. Louis, Inc.; Emily Breedlove, Executive Director, TechSTL; Kevin Cahill, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, St. Louis Economic Development Partnership; Sarah Martin Wood, Alderwoman, 11th Ward, City of St. Louis; Tishaura Jones, Mayor, City of St. Louis; Derek Weber, President, goBRANDgo!; Brandon Dempsey, Partner, goBRANDgo!; Matt Menietti, Executive Director, Conflux Co-Learning; and Jaymes Dearing, President, Carondelet Business Association.

For more information about Conflux Co-Learning, call (314) 754-8712 or visit its website

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Electrical Connection Members Spruce Up Ferguson

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IBEW Electrical Workers Minority Caucus Mobilizes Members to Pick up Trash

In advance of Thanksgiving and the holiday season, the IBEW Electrical Workers Minority Caucus’ (EWMC) performed a service day to give a little thanks themselves to the city of Ferguson, Mo.  The EWMC mobilized about 30 Electrical Connection members to pick up trash in Ferguson on Saturday morning, Nov. 20, 2021.  On Dec. 14, 2021, the Electrical Connection will return to Ferguson for its annual support of the community’s “Shop with Cop” holiday giving program

Sylvester Taylor, director of diversity, equity and inclusion for the Electrical Connection and EWMC founder and president orchestrated the day of service.  It included IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs, business representatives and IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center Director Shawn Levin.

“We have had the privilege of serving Ferguson’s electrical and communication needs and many of our member live in and around the community,” noted Taylor.  “So as part of our annual service day, we wanted to spruce up Ferguson for Thanksgiving and the upcoming holidays.” 

Members fanned out and picked up trash along West Florissant Road, Pershall Road and nearby streets. The effort yielded more than 40 bags of trash.

The Electrical Connection is a partnership of IBEW Local 1 and the St. Louis Chapter of the National Electrical Contractor Association (NECA).  The partnership provides safe and reliable commercial, industrial and residential electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world. It is an important resource for business and civic leadership for new technology, including disruptive technologies, advancing electrical and communication infrastructure.  Learn more at www.electricalconnection.org.

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October Employment Lags Pre-Pandemic High In 33 States; Construction Starts Measures Diverge

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Submitted by the AGC

Seasonally adjusted construction employment in October trailed the February 2020 level in 33 states, exceeded it in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in Hawaii, according to AGC’s analysis of Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data posted today. (February 2020 was the month in which employment peaked nationally before plunging during widespread shutdowns in March and April 2020.) Texas lost the most construction jobs over 20 months (-46,400 jobs or -5.9%), followed by New York (-42,800. -10%), and California (-21,300, -2.3%). Wyoming had the largest percentage loss (-14%, -32,600 jobs), followed by New York. Utah added the most jobs (8,200, 7.2%), followed by North Carolina (7,700, 3.3%), Washington (4,900, 2.2%) and Idaho (4,900, 8.9%). South Dakota added the highest percentage (10%, 2,500 jobs), followed by Idaho and Utah. For the month, construction employment increased in 34 states and D.C., declined in 14 states, and was flat in Alabama and Virginia. Louisiana had the biggest one-month numerical and percentage gain (8,200 jobs, 7.1%). California had the second-largest numerical gain (7,5000 jobs, 0.8%), while West Virginia had the second-largest percentage increase (2.3%, 700). South Carolina lost the most construction jobs for the month (-1,900 jobs, -1.7%), followed by Missouri (-1,500, -1.2%). New Hampshire had the largest one-month percentage loss (-2.2%, -600 jobs), followed by Vermont (-2.1%, -300). (BLS reports combined totals for mining, logging, and construction in D.C., Delaware, and Hawaii. Because there are few, if any, mining or logging jobs in these locations, AGC treats the levels and changes as solely construction employment.)

Two privately collected measures of construction starts showed contrasting results for October. Total construction starts rose 16% from September to October at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, data firm Dodge Construction Network reported on Wednesday. Over the first 10 months of 2021 combined, starts increased 13% compared to January-October 2020. Nonresidential building starts soared 29% for the month and 11% year-to-date. “The catalyst for the increase was a large gain in the manufacturing sector as two very large projects kicked off. If not for these projects, total nonresidential building starts would have been down 3% over the month.” Commercial starts increased 9% year-to-date; manufacturing starts, 94% “(39% without the large projects this month)”; and institutional starts, 3%. Nonbuilding starts jumped 52% for the month. “This increase was solely due to the start of an $8.5 billion LNG export facility, which lifted the utility/gas plant category significantly.” Nonbuilding starts rose 2% year-to-date: environmental public works, 22%; highway and bridge starts, -7; miscellaneous nonbuilding, -7%; and utility/gas plant starts, -10%. Residential starts fell 8% from September to October but rose 21% year-to-date, with single-family starts up 22% and multifamily starts up 10%.

Construction starts, not seasonally adjusted, tumbled 14%, not seasonally adjusted, from September to October but rose 5.8% year-to-date, data firm ConstructConnect reported on Tuesday. Nonresidential starts plunged 26% for the month and slipped 2.2% year-to-date. Nonresidential building starts decreased 36% for the month and 4.5% year-to-date, with commercial starts down 7.6% year-to-date, institutional starts down 9.8%, and industrial [manufacturing] starts up 34%. Heavy engineering (civil) starts slipped 0.8% for the month but increased 1.5% year-to-date (including road/highway, 7.3%; water/sewage, 8.1%; power and other miscellaneous, 4.8%; bridges, -19%; dams/marine, -14%; and airports, -9.7%). Residential starts climbed 2.1% for the month and 17% year-to-date (single-family, 21%, and apartments, 5.2%).

Housing starts (units) dipped 0.7% at a seasonally adjusted annual rate from September to October but inched up 0.4% year-over-year from the October 2020 level, the Census Bureau reported on Wednesday. Year-to-date starts for January-October 2021 rose 17% from the same months in 2020. Single-family starts slipped 3.9% for the month but climbed 17% year-to-date. Multifamily (five or more units) starts increased 6.8% for the month and 18% year-to-date. Residential permits rose 4.0% from September and 20% year-to-date, as single-family permits increased 2.7 % and 17%, respectively, while multifamily permits increased 6.5% and 27%. The number of authorized multifamily units that have not started—an indicator of potential near-term starts–jumped 49% year-over-year.

The Architecture Billings Index (ABI) slipped from 56.6 in September to 54.3 in October but remained above the breakeven mark of 50 for a ninth consecutive month, the American Institute of Architects reported on Wednesday. The ABI is derived from the share of responding architecture firms that report a gain in billings over the previous month less the share reporting a decline in billings, presented on a 0-to-100 scale. Any score above 50 means that firms with increased billings outnumbered firms with decreased billings. AIA commented, “although the pace of growth decreased modestly from that of the last few months[, the ABI} score of 54.3 means that business conditions remain generally strong, and that most architecture firms are still seeing billings growth. In addition, inquiries and the value of new design contracts, both indicators of future work at firms, strengthened in October, meaning that clients are continuing to both start conversations about new projects and are signing contracts to begin those projects in the coming months….The ABI serves as a leading economic indicator that leads nonresidential construction activity by approximately 9-12 months.” Scores by practice specialty (based on three-month moving averages) topped 50 for the ninth time in a row: mixed practice, 58.7 (up from 58.0 in September); commercial/industrial, 57.4 (up from 56.3); multifamily residential, 55.8 (up from 55.0); and institutional, 51.4 (down from 52.8). The design contracts index climbed to 58.0 from 54.7. The inquiries index rose for to 62.9 from 61.8.

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BHMA Publishes Updates to Five ANSI/BHMA Standards

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Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association reinforces its commitment to public safety with revised industry standards.

The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA®) announced the publication of revisions to five product standards, all of which have been approved by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).

“BHMA reviews each ANSI/BHMA standard at least once every five years to ensure that our standards continue to meet the ever-changing needs of both the public and our industry,” said BHMA Standards Director Michael Tierney. “This work is essential for maintaining alignment with modern quality requirements in our industry.”

Changes to ANSI/BHMA A156.1: Butts and Hinges

• Added concealed hinge requirements, along with accompanying type numbers and drawings

• Added zinc to the type numbers and gave it the numeral 9

• Reorganized Tables 3.8 and 4.6

• Removed finish requirements (now consolidated in A156.18)

Changes to ANSI/BHMA A156.6: Architectural Door Trim

• Added new product types environmental test criteria to scope

• Removed finish requirements (now consolidated in A156.18)

• Reorganized definitions into common types/ families and added new definitions

• Modified 3.2 to add tolerance for temperature. • Modified stainless requirement in 3.4

• Modified material requirements from minimum material thickness to nominal thickness, added throughout.

• Added language to 4.3.3 to allow larger diameter and longer length screws

• Modified polishing language in 4.3.4, 5.3.3 and 6.3.4 and relocated in the appendix A-2

• Added new language to 4.3.4 for fasteners for latch protection plates and vertical rod covers

• Bevel Edge language in 4.3.5 relocated to appendix A-2

• Added new section to 4.4 for performance tests for adhesive mounted door protection plates • Added new types and illustrations to Figure 1 (door protection plates)

• Added new types to Figure 2 (door and wall edging)

• Added additional symbol and options to 6.3.7 and 7.3.10

• Updated 7.5 with new test and added criteria for push/pulls • Added new type to Figure 4 (door pulls)

• Updated Figure 6 and added a new Figure 7

Changes to ANSI/BHMA A156.20: Strap & Tee Hinges

• Removed finish requirements from section 7 (now consolidated in A156.18)

• Added new language to 1.2 to reference finish requirements in A156.18

• Added language to 4.1 and 5.2 to clarify measurement equipment and measurement method

• Cleaned up and added new Figure 1 illustration

Changes to ANSI/BHMA A156.22: Door Gasketing and Edge Seal Systems

• Removed acoustic properties from scope • Updated verbiage in 3.3: to change “listed” to “certified”

• Moved Tolerances and Measuring Criteria from 4.7 to 4.1 to align with other standards layouts

• Updated illustration in 4.6 • Added verbiage to 4.7 to clarify set up of adhesion test fixture and updated illustration.

• Added language to 5.2 and 7.1.3 to clarify 20 minute anodize

• Modified acoustic performance in 5.5 and moved to appendix A-5

• Combined 10.9 with language in 10.2 to align information on retainer material

• Combined 10.10 with language in 10.3 to clarify when to use the “Y” designation

• Updated numbering system examples in 10.7 and 10.8 and added titles

• Updated verbiage in appendix a-6

• Retitled appendix charts 1 and 2 to clarify intent that they are reference guides

Changes to ANSI/BHMA A156.26: Continuous Hinges

• Removed finish requirements from 3.3 and 6.10 (now consolidated in A156.18)

• Added reference to finish standard A156.18 to 1.2 • Added “also called full mortise” to definition 2.1.3

• Reorganized tables in section 7

• Removed A115 reference from appendix

• Updated Figure 1 with new illustration

Revisions to all standards also included edits, renumbering and updates to references.

Each ANSI/BHMA standard can be purchased on the BHMA website, and summaries of each standard can be accessed on the Hardware Highlights page. For more information on ANSI/BHMA standards, please contact Larry McClean, BHMA’s program manager, at lmcclean@kellencompany.com.

The Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA) is an industry leader in building safety and security. BHMA is the only organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop and maintain performance standards for locks, closers, exit devices and other builder’s hardware. The widely known ANSI/BHMA A156 series of standards describes and establishes the features and criteria for specific types of hardware products. In addition, BHMA sponsors third-party certification of hardware products, which is a requirement for a product to bear the “BHMA Certified” mark — ensuring that the product meets the ANSI/BHMA standard. For more information, visit www.buildershardware.com.

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AGC Survey Reveals Weaknesses in 811 Utility Locating Processes

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By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE

While 99 percent of professional excavators are familiar with their local 811 program requirements, three-fourths of respondents to a recent AGC of America survey identified the lack of accurate utility locating by facility owner/operators as the weakest element in the process.

The survey was completed by heavy water/wastewater, highway/bridge, telecom, gas transmission/distribution and energy infrastructure contractors.

In addition to the lack of accurate utility locating by facility owner/operators (78 percent of those responding), other weakest elements in the process, as identified by survey respondents, include utility owner/operator response time (56 percent) and wait time for facility owner/operator to clear a locate request (52 percent) as issues.

Forty-three percent of respondents indicated that abandoned facilities are seldomly marked by utility owner/operators and treated as live lines. A total of 53 percent who responded found unmarked or mismarked facilities in response to a locate request as the most frequent cause of damages or near-miss events.

According to the AGC, the estimated U.S. economic impact from breakdowns in the 811 process is $30 billion annually through direct costs such as facility repair and through indirect costs such as property damage and medical expenses.

While the AGC of America national survey didn’t indicate specific costs tied to Missouri and Illinois, it did report that over the past two years, breakdowns in the 811 locating process have included a failure to respond to tens of thousands of locate requests as required by law. For example, over the past two years Minnesota reported 78,000 late or no-show responses, 30,000 in Arizona and 20,000 in Michigan.

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Nick Ellis Promoted to BEX Project Manager

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Nick Ellis was recently promoted to project manager at BEX Construction Services. He joined BEX Construction in June 2020 as a project engineer assigned to several tilt-up warehouse projects.

At BEX, he works on a wide variety of commercial construction projects. Ellis began his career in transportation design after earning bachelor of science degrees in civil engineering and architectural engineering at Missouri University of Science & Technology in 2017.

“I learn something new every day by listening and paying attention to details in close communication with our team,” Ellis said. “Seeing our clients’ projects come together after months or years of hard work is rewarding for the owners as well as for me and the whole BEX team. We know we’ve succeeded when our clients are happy and want to work with us again.”

Founded in 2014, BEX Construction Services is among St. Louis’ fastest growing general contractors. It is a service-oriented firm that tackles projects ranging from interior buildouts and remodels to massive distribution centers. BEX is active in the commercial, educational/institutional, health care, industrial/process, restaurant, retail and warehouse markets throughout the St. Louis region.

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New Public Works Director for the City of Saint Charles

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The City of Saint Charles has announced that Nicholas Galla will serve as the new Director of Public Works. Galla has been employed with the City of Saint Charles since 2015 and has over 17 years of experience in civil engineering. Previously, he has served as the Assistant City Engineer for the City of Saint Charles as well as Interim Director of Public Works.

Prior to the City of Saint Charles, Galla was a Senior Transportation Engineer at Olsson Associates and a Squad Leader at HNTB, responsible for managing a team of engineers. A local of Missouri, Galla graduated with a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T) and has been a licensed professional engineer with the State of Missouri since 2009. He also grew up in the Saint Charles area and graduated from Francis Howell North High School.

“I am extremely proud of our Public Works department and their service to our community,” says Mayor Dan Borgmeyer. “I believe Galla’s knowledge and experience will help bring a fresh perspective to the Public Works department and ensure that Saint Charles remains a beautiful and safe place to live, work and play.”

The Department of Public Works has around 90 employees that help maintain the City’s streets, water mains, sewers, facilities, and other infrastructure, along with 460 miles of right-of-way.

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