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Environmental Survey Saves Project Owners from Costly Unknowns, Remediators Say

in Companies/News
Kerry Smith

By KERRY SMITH, St. Louis CNR

Doing the due diligence of getting an environmental survey, before budgeting and bidding a renovation project, is essential to minimize surprises and project schedule snags, environmental remediation companies assert.

Jeff Loebner, environmental project director at BluSky Restoration Contractors, said having an environmental consultant go in and take samples of all building materials that are going to be disturbed during remediation and performing an asbestos analysis is paramount.

“I consider an environmental consultant to be like an architect,” Loebner said. “They design the project and make sure it is done correctly. They tell us (remediation contractors) the scope and the quantities, and we bid it from there. This survey is a legal requirement. The results need to be shared with the city or county in which the building is located and with the state, too.”

Wiley Robb & Associates, LLC is an environmental consulting firm that performs inspections and surveys of small to large building renovations across St. Louis and beyond.

“We get called in on the front end of things to do asbestos building inspections, surveys and environmental site assessments,” President Tristen Wiley said. “We are the developer’s first line of defense. We come into play during the feasibility of the project process, poring over historical records, performing environmental sampling and testing, and making determinations on what if any hazardous materials or contamination may be on the site. We’ve even been involved in the lending phase when there’s a cost analysis being done concerning the environmental feasibility of purchasing the property.”

Examining existing site reports, making third-party reviews and discussing an owner’s risk tolerance are also part of Wiley Robb & Associates’ professional scope.

“Some owners are willing to take the risk (upon discovering conditions that need remediating), and some are not,” said Wiley. “We help property owners evaluate that risk and provide the data to assist them in making a determination. The earlier we’re able to step in, the better,” she added. “We can also provide third-party monitoring and project oversight services if the remediation work is being performed by others.”

A team approach is critical in mitigating owner environmental risk, according to Trey Coad, vice president at SCI Engineering, Inc. Coad said owners who engage a professional team that is versed in a wide variety of potential environmental risks as well as construction and site management experience can make all the difference.

“Understanding the true risks of environmental issues is extremely important, particularly as to how those risks will impact current and future site use,” said Coad. “Having a well-rounded professional/firm on board will prevent potential environmental ‘tunnel vision’ and can breed solutions that complement the other site activities rather than the anxiety and cost otherwise associated with remediation.”

Once risk strategy and tolerance have been discussed thoroughly with the project’s owner/developer, obtaining a permit from the state is a necessary early step.

In addition to the local municipality, the Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources, St. Louis County’s air pollution control division and St. Louis City’s air pollution control division are examples of parties that must be notified prior to any environmental work that is going to occur. According to Loebner, the next step for the remediation contractor is to get the bid approved by the owner and secure the contract.

“It all depends upon the type of material you’re removing,” said Loebner, who is leading a massive asbestos remediation effort in Nashville, TN as the city and region recovers from a series of large tornadoes that hit March 2-3. “You’ll then need to demarcate the area so licensed remediation workers can begin.”

Often the developer is the owner within the context of environmental remediations of existing historic buildings, according to Loebner. “Typically, the environmental remediation contract is with the owner/developer (rather than the general contractor),” he said. “We always advise that the owner has a turn-key project or contract with a subcontractor that performs both environmental remediation and demolition. That way if we uncover any unknown materials, the job doesn’t stop. We utilize the same crews for the demo and the environmental.”

Demolition/remediation contractors are usually the first contractors on the scene during any renovation project, Loebner said. Once the necessary permitting and surveying has concluded, the company is on the scene and the removal area has been identified, workers fitted in full personal protective equipment (PPE) gear will pre-clean the remediation area. Then they’ll erect the containment perimeters. “Depending on the work, it could be two layers of six-millimeter polyurethane,” he said.

Next, remediation contractors will bring in negative air machines to establish negative pressure inside a “cocoon,” filtering the air for any asbestos fibers or other contaminates while capturing and containing them.

“OSHA monitoring is occurring throughout this process,” said Loebner. “We sample the air on a daily basis, both inside and outside the building, to make sure nothing is escaping.”

Some 99 percent of the work being done is manual work, he added, noting that this is an area of the industry that arguably has changed little in terms of technological advances. “There is no mechanical system for scraping ceilings,” Loebner said. “It’s a lot of detailed work using plastic, razor blades and knives. An example of this is where you’ve got a corrugated deck and your I-beam butts up to it…we call them pigeon holes…you’ve got to get all the (asbestos) material out of every crack and surface, and that’s done by hand.”

Thom Wellington, CEO and founder of Wellington Environmental, agrees that too many project owners neglect to determine in advance what they’re going to encounter.

“It’s a requirement under the federal NESHAP (National Emissions Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants) standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency,” said Wellington, referring to compliance monitoring and the stationary source standards for hazardous air pollutants or HAPs. HAPs are defined as those that are known or suspected to cause cancer or other serious health effects. “Where the surprise comes in and the mistakes happen in most renovation projects occurs when no one has really done a thorough pre-inspection for asbestos, and maybe lead, to determine what they’re going to run into.”

NESHAP standards require an asbestos survey is performed, prior to any property renovation, to determine what may be impacted by the renovation work. “All too often (without this survey), a contractor goes in, pulls up the carpet as part of the floor renovation, and the next thing you know they’ve got asbestos floor tile and asbestos in the mastic,” Wellington said. “The same thing can happen with pipe insulation. Pipes were commonly insulated with asbestos. Contractors need to remove asbestos from any spots where they made tie-ins. If we’re a subcontractor on the job and asbestos is discovered, we must make a notification to the state and/or county, and they require a waiting period of as long as 10 days before we can begin work. If the governing agency won’t allow an exception and a permit needs to be obtained, that waiting period can wreak havoc with the project schedule,” he added.

Crossroads Construction Services is an environmental remediation contractor and interior demolition firm. President Jeremy Rodriguez said developers need to realize that even if they have the property surveyed for potential environmental issues, additional hazardous materials may be discovered during the work itself. “Especially with older structures, unless they can do a super-intense sampling of everything, there may be hidden materials and situations that arise,” Rodriguez said. “Smart owners will include a budget for any potential surprises.”

Testing for hazardous materials for interior remodels is also critical, he said. “A lot of times when owners are doing interior demolition (only) and they’re not tearing down the structure, they may not opt to test,” Rodriguez said. “We see this a lot when there’s an insurance event such as a flood or fire. Testing must be done prior to removing the damaged materials to ensure that none of it contains asbestos. If these materials are disturbed before finding out during cleanup that they contain asbestos, the (remediation) job becomes exponentially bigger.”

Midwest Service Group has conducted environmental remediation and cleanup in many downtown St. Louis buildings and in schools across the region as well. Vice President Corey Elliott said his firm recently did the remediation in the former St. Louis Post-Dispatch building.

“We encounter asbestos in piping, floor tile and in spray-applied and acoustical fireproofing materials,” Elliott said. “We are the first one on the site. We’re the pacesetter. Often, we have two to three weeks to perform what could be a two- to three-month job. Because we’re at the beginning of the project, every trade follows us. And with the current social distancing requirements, we’re dealing with the dynamic of scheduling fewer workers at a time because we typically work in areas of limited space.”

“It’s amazing how many developers will buy a building, have the design done but not do an environmental survey,” said Loebner. “That survey may cost $5,000 but it could save the developer $1 million or more. I always urge my clients to let me at least walk through the building before they buy it so they know early on what they may be getting into.”

ACEC Names Ed Alizadeh as 2020-2022 Vice-Chair

in Associations/News
Ed Alizadeh

The American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)—the business association of the nation’s engineering industry—has appointed Ed Alizadeh, P.E., J.D.,  of Geotechnology, Inc., as a 2020-2022 Vice-Chair of its Board of Directors.

Alizadeh is CEO of Geotechnology, a 260-person engineering firm headquartered in St. Louis and with 10 offices in eight states. The firm provides consulting services in applied earth and environmental sciences; exploration; geotechnical engineering; underground consulting services; soils, rock, and construction materials testing; non-destructive testing; special inspections; geophysics and deep foundation testing.

“I’ve known Ed for many years, and we are very fortunate to have him in a leadership role with the Council,” said ACEC Board Chair Charles Gozdziewski, chairman emeritus of Hardesty & Hanover in New York. “Our industry plays an essential role in our economy and in improving our quality of life. I am pleased that Ed will be integral in communicating that to the public and to federal and state policymakers who will be making decisions on funding our critical infrastructure.”

Alizadeh served as Chairman of ACEC Missouri in 2011-2012, concluding eight years on the state organization’s board of directors. He is also on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity St. Louis, Pedal the Cause, and the Kids In the Middle charity.

He holds a BS in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Tulsa and a JD from Saint Louis University.

“Engineering has always been an essential service,” said Alizadeh. “As the business association of our nation’s engineering firms, ACEC plays a critical role in supporting our nation’s economy and I am thrilled by this opportunity to help lead our organization forward.”

Established more than 35 years ago, 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 based in St. Louis, Missouri, and has offices in Missouri, Illinois, Kansas, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. For more information, visit www.geotechnology.com

Holland Construction Begins Work on New O’Fallon, MO Apartment Complex

in Companies/News

Holland Construction Services recently broke ground on a new $41.2 million apartment complex at 9200 Veterans Memorial Parkway in O’Fallon, Missouri for VITA Residential Property Management Group.

The Jewel Apartments, with convenient access off I-70 at Bryan Road (Exit 216) will comprise more than 248,000 square feet across 10 apartment buildings and a total of 240 one, two and three-bedroom apartment units. The project will offer eight different floor plans in addition to several amenities such as a clubhouse building and pool, a family room, fitness area, and dog park. The 16-acre complex will also include seven garage buildings with residential parking options.

Holland Construction’s Senior Project Manager Will Stajduhar said the project will be a unique development for the community. “Multi-family construction is an area where we have extensive experience so this project felt like a natural fit for us,” said Stajduhar. “We were able to work with the design team early on for this project and collaborate on several green initiative additions and design features which will make it a very attractive residential option for people wanting to live in the O’Fallon community.”

The exterior finish of the building will be stacked stone and Hardie Board fiber cement siding. The interior of the apartments will include tile and carpet flooring, 9-foot ceilings, and stainless-steel appliances. President and CEO of VITA Residential, Steve Sisson, said his company has developed several similar properties in Kentucky, Tennessee and Arkansas, but this was their first project in the St. Louis area.

“This was my first venture in Missouri and when searching for a general contractor everyone kept telling us about Holland,” said Sisson. “We didn’t know what kind of pricing to expect and were thrilled when they came in below budget. Since then, the greatest difference that I notice, aside from their professionalism, is the technology they bring to the table. I can literally see plan updates from my phone and get information as it changes in real time. I’ve never had that on a project before and it has saved me a tremendous amount of time.”

Sisson added that the Jewel Apartments is designed to offer people luxurious, resort-style amenities for an affordable price. In addition, all VITA Residential properties offer life skills opportunities for residents such as personal training and informational seminars. The Jewel Apartments is expected to be completed by September of 2021.

For more information about the Jewel Apartments, go to www.vitapmg.com.

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 clients the best possible building experience on every project. For more information, visit Holland’s website at www.hollandcs.com.

Ameren Missouri Announces Additional $3.5 Million to Help Customers Pay Off Utility Bill Balances

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First phase of program includes $3 million for COVID-19 Clean Slate program to assist customers in need throughout Missouri affected by the economic downturn Ameren Missouri also donates 1,000 air conditioners and 1,000 packs of LED light bulbs to Cooldownstlouis.org and Cooldownmissouri.org

Recognizing the ongoing financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Ameren Missouri will provide $3.5 million in additional energy assistance funds to customers across the state. The funding is on top of the $1 million of support announced in March and offers a fresh start for families in need.

The COVID-19 Clean Slate program, which starts today, will include $3 million to help thousands of Ameren Missouri’s most vulnerable customers pay off their past-due utility bills. Multiple community partners and agencies will participate in administering the program, which is designed to help income-eligible customers clear the remaining balance on their account after paying 25% of the current balance. For example, customers in a four-person household making up to $45,850 a year, or $3,821 per month, are eligible to apply. Details regarding an additional $500,000 for energy assistance will be announced later this year.

In addition, Ameren Missouri is partnering with Cooldownstlouis.org and Cooldownmissouri.org to help at-risk families and seniors stay cool and safe. Today Ameren Missouri donated 1,000 energy efficient air conditioners1,000 four-packs of LED light bulbs and $500,000 to Cooldownstlouis.org and Cooldownmissouri.org to support the most vulnerable customers in St. Louis and eastern Missouri. The air conditioners are ENERGY STAR®-certified units, and on average, cost less than a dollar a day to operate.

“There are a lot of Missouri families struggling right now and having to make some tough financial decisions in light of this pandemic—we get that and we want to help,” said Marty Lyons, chairman and president of Ameren Missouri. “Our COVID-19 Clean Slate program is similar to one we had following the economic crisis in 2009, which helped thousands of Missourians pay off their energy bills. With so many customers in need today, we felt it was important to bring back the program, which is why we worked closely with the Missouri Office of the Public Council to make this happen.”

Lyons added: “The summer heat in our region can be extremely dangerous for people without access to air conditioning, particularly for seniors and those with medical conditions. Our partnership with Cooldownstouis.org, Cooldownmissouri.org and community action agencies from across our service territory helps ensure our customers can stay safe and healthy as temperatures begin to rise.”

This year’s air conditioner donation marks the 15th anniversary of Ameren Missouri’s partnership with Cooldownstlouis.org and Cooldownmissouri.org, resulting in thousands of window air conditioning units delivered to qualified seniors and physically disabled customers across the region.

“We know the economic impact of the coronavirus is far-reaching and worrisome for so many families,” said Tara Oglesby, vice president of customer experience for Ameren Missouri. “In some cases, this has led to high customer bill balances, which is why we created the $3 million COVID-19 Clean Slate program to stabilize the situation and help these customers in need get a fresh start by helping with their utility bill balances.”

Funding through the COVID-19 Clean Slate program will be available starting today (June 3) and is expected to benefit approximately 9,000 households. Ameren Missouri has extended its suspension of service disconnections and late fees until at least July 1. Customers are encouraged to apply as soon as possible to see if they are eligible and before their outstanding balance becomes overwhelming.

Information about the COVID-19 Clean Slate program can be found at AmerenMissouri.com/CleanSlate, or by calling Ameren Missouri at 800-552-7583.Also starting this week (June 1), assistance dollars are available to eligible customers through the Missouri Family Support Division’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Ameren Missouri encourages customers to apply for funding assistance through LIHEAP. LIHEAP’s Energy Crisis Intervention Program (ECIP) helps pay up to $300 toward fuel bills when a household’s energy is shut off or at risk of disconnection. 

  • Customers who need help with their energy bills can apply for energy assistance through: COVID-19 Clean Slate Program – Apply online by visiting AmerenMissouri.com/CleanSlate, or by calling Ameren Missouri at 800-552-7583.
  • LIHEAP – Contact your local Community Action agency or call 855-FSD-INFO (855-373-4636) to request an application.
  • Cooldownmissouri.org – Funds are available for the elderly and physically disabled, and low-to-moderate income families.

Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company’s electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri’s mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 132,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. For more information, visit Ameren.com/Missouri or follow us on Twitter at @AmerenMissouri or Facebook.com/AmerenMissouri.  

Cooldownstlouis.org is a bi-state non-profit dedicated to providing education and resources to help the most vulnerable citizens, especially seniors, low-income families, and the physically disabled. The organization works with more than 34 agencies to make sure utility bills are paid and the community’s most vulnerable citizens have access to energy-efficient air conditioners they need to stay safe.

Design Firm Collaborates with Hospitals, Engineering ‘Old School’ Solution to Ventilation

in Companies/News

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

When COVID-19 hit, healthcare execs were thinking outside the box about how best to prepare their patient rooms and hallways with optimal ventilation to meet the looming pandemic.

BSA LifeStructures was right there with them.

BSA Compliance Officer Sam Reed says nearly three months ago, as hospital execs were prepping for anticipated patients with cases of coronavirus, they called upon the design firm for solutions.

“Our healthcare clients in the St. Louis region and beyond were seeking to engineer a simple yet effective solution,” said Reed. “Knowing that materials supply chains were already constricting (in early March), they called us with a strategy to purchase specialized box fans for the windows of their ICU rooms and hallways. Their goal was to keep these spaces safe from the potential spread of COVID-19.”

BSA received that initial phone call from hospital execs on a Wednesday afternoon. After a follow-up call the next day with a green light to proceed, BSA worked well into the night to research, engineer and test for a solution. By Saturday of that same week, BSA’s solution was implemented by a team of internal hospital staff aided by contractors.

The solution? Determining the static pressures on the fans, mitigating noise and ensuring negative air pressure in the targeted spaces. “We compared the air pressure in these patient rooms and hallways with that in the other rooms within the suites,” Reed said. “We calculated that we could simply cut off the return air on the floor and exhaust it directly out of these rooms with the box fans. The solution met hospitals’ immediate needs in a cost-effective way. Thankfully the (COVID-19) surge did not impact our clients as greatly as anticipated. But this solution remains as a viable alternative for any future scenarios like this one that our valued healthcare clients may face.”

Flooring Industry Council of Greater St. Louis Donates to St. Louis Community Foundation Covid-19 Response Relief

in Associations/News

The Flooring Industry Council of Greater St. Louis (FIC) donates to the St. Louis Community Foundation Covid-19 Regional Response Fund to support regional nonprofits that are serving local communities disproportionately affected by the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout.

Taking action, the FIC also sent PPE to company members to share with their employees in an effort to support safe work environments for employees and customers.

“FIC flooring contractors serve the Greater St. Louis Community. Therefore, in times of need we are eager to do what we can to help. Every little bit helps”, said Brian McGee, FIC President, Ambassador Floor Company and Mid-West Floor. 

The Flooring Industry Council (FIC) of greater St. Louis is a non-profit organization providing support to flooring companies which employ the INSTALL craftsmen of Floor Layers Local 1310. These craftsmen receive four to six years of classroom and on-the-job training in every aspect of flooring installation.

FIC companies serve residential, commercial, and industrial markets performing installations quickly, cost efficiently and with the highest degree of quality. For more information, visit www.ficstl.org or call the FIC office at 314-968-3522.

IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs Named to Economic Rescue Steering Committee

in Associations/News

IBEW Local 1 Business Manager Frank Jacobs has been appointed to serve with local business and civic leadership on a St. Louis County economic rescue steering committee.  Jacobs represents more than 5,000 highly skilled IBEW electricians and communication technicians who install and maintain critical power and communications infrastructure as well as rapidly evolving technology shaping the electrical industry.   The steering committee will advise the St. Louis County Economic Rescue Team, which was created by St. Louis County Executive Sam Page on March 23, 2020.

The St. Louis County Economic Rescue Team was created to “address economic issues that are specific to workers and businesses in St. Louis County impacted by COVID-19.”  It collaborates with St. Louis County’s economic development agencies and other civic entities.

“Frank Jacobs represents a highly skilled and safe workforce that has excelled at adapting to the needs of our communities, especially during the pandemic,” said St. Louis County Executive Sam Page.  “As we look to the future, IBEW and its signatory electrical contractors will play an essential role in advancing improvements to energy, technology and communications infrastructure to support a resilient recovery.”

Jacobs’ IBEW workforce partners with the more than 150 contractor members of the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA) to form the labor-management partnership Electrical Connection. Together, the partnership has rapidly adapted to serve critical needs during the pandemic.  That has included powering Covid-19 testing and triage tents at area hospitals and converting hotel rooms to serve coronavirus patients. Its communication technicians have also installed and maintain the backbone of connectivity that supports remote learning, planning, working and other engagements during the pandemic. In addition, its members have engineered and installed electrical and communications infrastructure in R&D facilities locally and nationally that are engaged in Covid-19 vaccine development.

Jacobs chairs the IBEW/NECA Joint Apprenticeship Trust Fund, which oversees workforce training at the IBEW/NECA Electrical Industry Training Center in St. Louis. For more than 75 years, the training center has produced more highly skilled and safe electricians and communication technicians than any program in Missouri.  The training center is sustained by a $3 million annual investment by IBEW/NECA. It offers high-tech training, free of charge, with no student loans and at no taxpayer expense.  Apprentices in the program earn a living with benefits as they are trained and can take advantage of continuing education programs that earn college credits.

Joining Jacobs on the steering committee are:

  • Rick Stevens, president of Christian Hospital;
  • Veta Jeffrey, executive director of Heartland St. Louis Black Chamber of Commerce;
  • Kellie McCoy, former chief of staff to the CEO of Starbucks; and
  • Jeff Pittman, chancellor of Louis Community College.

The IBEW/NECA Electrical Connection partnership provides safe and reliable electrical construction, maintenance, repair and replacement services across Missouri, the nation and the world.  Learn more at www.electricalconnection.org.

SoTel Systems Leases Space in River City Industrial Park

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Telecom equipment supplier is second tenant in park’s first building

JLL’s industrial brokerage team announced today that SoTel Systems has leased space in the River City Industrial Park in south St. Louis.

SoTel, a telecommunications equipment supplier, is leasing 50,083 square feet in Building 1 of the River City development, a business park located on the Mississippi River near the Carondolet neighborhood. JLL is the exclusive broker for the park.

JLL signed JGB Enterprises, a supplier of industrial hoses, to a lease for 50,000 square feet in the same building in December. The new lease with SoTel leaves 25,000 square feet available in that building, the first of four buildings planned for the River City development.

River City Industrial Park is situated on one of the largest pieces of vacant ground available in the city of St. Louis. Its developer, Green Street St. Louis, offers institutional scale development in an infill urban location, with access to rail and four major interstates – I-55, I-44, I-255/270 and I-70.

Like JGB, SoTel is moving from a suburban location to the city of St. Louis. The company currently has offices in Maryland Heights.

Pat Reilly with JLL’s industrial brokerage team said, “River City offers companies a great real estate option in the heart of the city with convenient access to all major highways in the St. Louis metropolitan area. As more companies begin to take notice of this development, the developers expect to fill Building 1 in the near future and break ground on the next building soon after.”

When the park is completed, it is expected to encompass four more buildings and a total of 725,000 square feet of space suitable for light industrial, warehouse, manufacturing, distribution and office/flex purposes.

River City Business Park is located on the site of the former Carondelet Coke facility and is a fully remediated “brownfield” site. Green Street is working to build a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design)-certified business park. That certification comes with assurances that the project was designed and built with a “green” footprint – including energy conservation, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction and indoor environmental quality.

People On The Move In The Local Construction Industry

in Companies/News

Cole & Associates Announces New Shareholder

Eric Morff

Cole & Associates, Inc. announced today that Eric Morff, PE is the newest shareholder of the firm. Morff graduated from University of Dayton with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering in 1997. Eric is a registered Professional Engineer and LEED AP BD+C. He started with Cole in 2012 and works on a wide range of projects with clients nationwide.

When asked about how he came to Cole Morff said, “A friend I used to work with kept telling me ‘You should come to Cole, it’s great here!’, and it turns out that he was right, I love working here.”

Kevin E. Riggs, President/CEO of the firm said, “Eric has been instrumental to the growth of the firm. His professionalism, ability to successfully complete projects of any size, and dedication to develop excellent client relationships has made him invaluable to Cole. We are excited to add Eric to our group of shareholders and we know he will contribute greatly to the continued success of the firm.”

Current shareholders include Riggs, Lisa Baker, CFO; Vice Presidents of Regional Operations ‐ John Harshbarger in St. Louis and St. Charles; Jim Roth in Phoenix; and Sandy Stephens in Dallas; Jeremy Roach, Director of Planning and Landscape Architecture; and Survey Managers ‐ Terry Westerman and Tom Reynolds.

Cole & Associates, Inc. is a Missouri Corporation d.b.a. Cole Design Group, Inc. in Texas & Arizona. Cole was founded in 1990 and is a multidiscipline design firm providing civil engineering, surveying, planning, landscape architecture, GIS, and ADA transition planning services nationwide. Headquartered in St. Louis, Mo., Cole has additional offices in St. Charles, Mo., Phoenix, Ariz., and Dallas, Texas.

Wiegmann Associates Promotes Kyle Boschert to Service Manager

Kyle Boschert

Kyle Boschert of St. Charles, has been promoted to service manager at Wiegmann Associates. Boschert will lead Wiegmann Associates’ HVAC service operations. His responsibilities include overseeing service contracts and equipment installations, developing and managing a high-performing team and creating repeat business opportunities. With more than 25 technicians, Wiegmann Associates is one of the largest commercial heating and cooling service providers in the St. Louis region.

Boschert joined Wiegmann Associates as an estimator in 2010 and became a service project manager in 2012. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Lindenwood University.

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 www.wiegmannassoc.com or call (636) 940-1056.

May 29, 2020

Feeler S. Architects Promotes Cody Henderson

Cody Henerson

FSA, LLC is excited to announce the promotion of Cody Henderson to Director of Science and Education. Since joining our team more than 10 years ago, Cody has developed a detailed talent for laboratory and higher education design, taking the lead on over 150 laboratories and higher education projects. In his new position he will oversee all laboratory and education projects within the firm. Cody will continue to pursue new clients in these sectors, while enhancing existing relationships by always listening first and pushing for sustainable laboratory and education design that exceeds client expectations.

Outside of the office Cody remains highly involved in the community. He is the 2020 American Institute of Architects St. Louis Chapter President, a member of Ranken Technical College’s Architectural Advisory Board, a Habitat for Humanity Construction Leader, and a St. Louis Startup Ambassadors Board Member. In his “free time” he enjoys playing softball, attending Cardinals games and traveling.

Lindenwood University President Dr. John Porter Joins Midwest BankCentre St. Charles Advisory Board

Dr. John R. Porter

Lindenwood University President Dr. John Porter has been elected to the Midwest BankCentre St. Charles Advisory Board. Lindenwood is a four-year institution founded in 1827 with its main residential campus in St. Charles and a network of extension centers offering evening classes and more than 35 online degree programs.

Porter, who earned his doctorate in education at Johns Hopkins University, worked at IBM for 33 years, the last 15 in senior management. Immediately prior to joining Lindenwood University in 2019, he was vice president of services for Gulf Business Machines, a premier IBM business partner, in Dubai. He has served as a member of the board of trustees at Evangel University in Springfield, Mo., where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He graduated with an MBA degree from Washington University in 2011.

Porter serves on the Mercy East and Missouri Colleges Fund board of directors. He is a member of the NCAA-Great Lakes Valley Conference Council of Presidents.

Midwest BankCentre is St. Louis’ second-largest locally owned bank with assets exceeding $2 billion and deposits of $1.4 billion. A mainstay of St. Louis community banking since 1906, the bank employs a staff of about 280 working at 17 bank locations in the City of St. Louis and St. Louis, Jefferson and St. Charles counties. It works to empower people, enable business and energize neighborhoods through the strength of its financial services, including personalized consumer and business banking, business cash management, mortgage lending, home equity loans, financial planning and investments, insurance and digital banking.

The bank is a local leader in the St. Louis Regional Financial Empowerment Coalition (formerly the St. Louis Regional Unbanked Task Force) and its Bank-On Save-Up St. Louis initiative. Since 2001, Midwest BankCentre has consecutively achieved the Bauer Financial 5-Star Superior financial rating each quarter. It has been recognized for its success in bringing mainstream financial services to unbanked and underbanked citizens in the region and other diversity and inclusion contributions with the 2019 Community Commitment Award from the American Bankers Association Foundation and the 2018 National Community Bank Service Award from the Independent Community Bankers of America.

Partney joins BELOMAN Team

Dennis Partney

Bel-O Sales and Service of Belleville is pleased to announce the hire of Dennis Partney as the newest Sheet Metal Manager to team BELOMAN.  As of May 18th, 2020 Partney will be managing the sheet metal division, including estimating HVAC and architectural sheet metal.  After receiving his B.S. in mechanical engineering, he has spent nearly 35 years in the design, estimating, sales and management of sheet metal projects of all types and sizes. Partney will be a great addition to an establish Metro East business.

BELOMAN is a second-generation family owned HVAC, plumbing, indoor air quality and sheet metal business providing quality sales and service to the Metro East for 60 years.  Founded in 1959 by Paul and Leo Lugge with only four employees – today BELOMAN has grown to over 50 employees with a combined 1,249 years of experience.

Bill Smothers Joins Kwame Building Group as Chief Estimator

Bill Smothers

Bill Smothers has joined Kwame Building Group, Inc. as Chief Estimator. His responsibilities include compiling project estimates in support of KWAME’s role as an owner’s representative.

Smothers brings 30 years of industry experience, including with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and The United States Department of Veterans Affairs. He completed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Construction Management Program and is a member of the American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE), Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) and the American Society of Cost Engineers (ASPCE). Smothers earned a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Tulane University.

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

May 22, 2020

Daniela Grushevska Named New Interior Design Director at Oculus Inc.’s Dallas Office

Daniela Grushevska

Oculus Inc., a full-service architecture and interior design firm, has hired Daniela Grushevska as the interior design director for its Dallas office. In her role, Grushevska will oversee interior design services for clients that are served by the Dallas location. She will also support business development for the interior design teams in the St. Louis headquarters and Portland, Ore., office.

Grushevska brings more than 20 years of interior design experience to Oculus with expertise in the hospitality, education and nonprofit sectors. She has a skillset that includes strategic planning, thoughtful design, creative problem solving and building client relationships, among other areas. Prior to joining Oculus Inc., Grushevska most recently served as interior design for a St. Louis-based architecture firm. She has also worked for additional architecture and interior design firms in St. Louis and Dallas, where she worked on projects, such as St. Louis Union Station Midway and Pointe 400 in St. Louis and the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Nashville and St. Louis. She has a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design from Maryville University in 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 creates high-performance design that supports change and promotes value for clients in the commercial, education, government, healthcare, hospitality, retail, restaurant and workplace industries. 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. Oculusinc.com.

Is it Time to Reopen Your Business? 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

in Companies/News

Submitted by: Schmersahl Treloar & Co

Businesses across America that have been shut down due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic may now (or soon) have the option to reopen. Since no two businesses are alike — even those in the same industry and location — what makes sense for one company could be a disaster for another. But many questions that business owners are asking could be applicable to all organizations. Here are 10 questions to keep in mind as you decide whether and how to open up.

  1. How will customers respond if you open your doors now? You can only make an educated guess, but this is perhaps the most crucial question of all. Let’s say you go to a lot of trouble and expense opening up, while assuming financial and health-related risks. If nobody seems to notice, that’s a big problem.
  2. Can you modify your business model to improve your chances of success when you reopen? As we all know, many restaurants have been able to reopen (or remain open) by going into the carryout business. How might you change your business to accommodate customers whose needs or behaviors are different today? For example, would adding a delivery service be productive? Could you bolster your web presence to increase merchandise sales?
  3. Should you offer new products and services? The pandemic is sure to change certain customer preferences and increase demand for products or services you could offer. What might they be?
  4. Will your supply chain be ready to accommodate your needs? If you’re in a retail or manufacturing industry, there’s little point in reopening if you won’t have enough inventory to meet demand.
  5. Will you need to do special promotions to lure customers back? Holding a “going back into business sale” might work for some enterprises. It may take an ambitious marketing effort to let former and prospective customers know you’re ready to serve them. How can you get through to your former customers?
  6. What physical changes will you need to make in your business to keep employees and customers safe? Clear Plexiglas barriers are sprouting up in businesses everywhere to impede the spread of COVID-19. So, too, are measures to enforce social distancing, as well as enhanced cleaning services. Are you able to make such workplace adaptations?
  7. Will your employees feel safe returning to your workplace? Already, some employees who have been asked to return to their former jobsites are balking due to fears of becoming infected. Some, including older workers and those with health conditions that put them at extra risk, may have legitimate concerns. Some of those employees may be forfeiting their jobs in taking that stance if they’re collecting unemployment benefits. And some employees may have legally protected rights to keep their jobs if you can make a “reasonable accommodation” (under the Americans with Disabilities Act) that makes them comfortable to return to work. If you are facing these issues, consult with your employment attorney.
  8. Are you prepared to accept the risk that employees may contract COVID-19 at work? In terms of legal liability, you might be protected by heeding the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and implementing their recommended safety measures, plus your own common sense. Be sure to document your efforts. If after returning to work, someone becomes seriously ill and it appears to be due to an exposure at your workplace, you may need to provide this documentation. Of course, even if you don’t face legal challenges, the predominant concern is the health and safety of your employees.
  9. What are other businesses, including competitors, doing in your area? If you’re on the fence about whether to reopen, but your competitors are doing just that, you need to consider the risk of a long-term or permanent loss of market share. This assumes that customers are ready to return to the marketplace for your products or services.
  10. What’s the cost of delay? If you have a lot of ongoing fixed expenses, such as rent, insurance, taxes and borrowing costs, every day you take in zero revenue puts you deeper in the hole. If instead your fixed costs are minimal, the current prospects of a rapid return to your pre-pandemic pace of business are slim, and competitors aren’t nipping at your heels, the cost of holding off on reopening may be small.

Final Thoughts

In the end, the choice you face may not be an all-or-nothing proposition. That is, you can begin to open the doors to your business a crack and wait to see what happens, before ramping up to your pre-pandemic operating capacity. That would certainly be a more prudent approach than staying closed or fully reopening.

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