June 24, 2019
October 5, 2018
Earlier this month, Sundt welcomed Ken Kubacki as its new Vice President and Regional Manager of the Transportation Group’s Intermountain Region, including Utah and Colorado. He will oversee business development, preconstruction, operations and client management. For this week’s blog, Ken took some time to share a bit about himself.
How long have you been in construction, and what drew you to this industry? For 28 years, starting in college. What drew me to construction then and what draws me now is that it’s always changing; you’re never working on the same thing. Every day, it’s a new landscape and a new challenge. I also love the feeling you get when you finish a project, and you drive past it later and can say, “We built that.”
Ken arrives at Sundt with deep experience in large infrastructure projects and direct involvement in over $1.5 billion in Design-Build and CMGC contracts.
Is there a past project that stands out to you, one that you’re especially proud of? There are several. I’d say the US 60 Superstition Freeway Widening project, which my former company did as a JV with Sundt. It exposed me to Design-Build, and it was a large project at $196 million. We were fortunate enough to be involved with that project—to be responsible for its success, and to be part of a really fun and talented team.
What brought you to Sundt? Relationships. Including the US 60 job, I had prior experience working alongside Sundt, and I knew a lot about the firm and its people. My dad was a Teamster laborer here at one point too. I grew up in Tempe seeing Sundt around, and I knew they were a long-time, established firm. Overall, the longer I worked in the industry, whether chasing work together or through the AGC, the more I got to know some key people here. So, when the opportunity came up for me to lead the Intermountain Region, everything just came together.
What projects and opportunities in your region are you excited about? We’re excited for the opportunities that lie ahead in Utah’s strong economic market. There are several UDOT bid-build and Design-Build projects that fit our strengths, along with US Army Corps of Engineers and Union Pacific Railroad projects. In Portland, Oregon there’s the I-5 Rose Quarter CMGC project we’re pursuing which would capitalize on our previous experience in the area. We’re also looking forward to working with Sundt’s Industrial Group on a large infrastructure joint venture in Salt Lake City. This is a great chance to show Utah and the surrounding areas that Sundt is establishing a foothold in the Intermountain Region.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? Being outdoors—skiing, snowboarding, hiking, camping, mountain biking. I’ve actually coached mountain biking for high school teams for the past couple years. Watching the kids grow and develop is special. And they’ll kick your butt on the trails by the end of the season! You’re not on the sidelines watching; you’re out there riding with them. So, yeah, that’s something that I’ve loved doing.
Is there a book, movie, or quote that inspires you? One quote that has stuck with me is, “Never tell people what to do, tell them what you want, and you will be surprised by their ingenuity,” which is credited to General Patton. And I agree. You should let people come up with solutions on their own, while providing guidance and feedback. There are good ideas that come from the person who’s on the end of the shovel. Providing everyone the opportunity to be involved allows the team to become the best it can be; you just have to listen.
August 24, 2018
Like many innovators who came before them, Eric Cylwik and Ryan Haines were never seeking recognition. They just wanted to do their jobs better—and save people’s time and money in the process. The two saw a problem in the construction industry, and they set out to fix it. Eric and Ryan’s selection as finalists for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC) Autodesk Innovation Award was a nice bonus, but the real success is what the industry at large stands to gain from their new technology. Its name? The civil Construction Toolkit, or “CTK.”
Virtual Construction App Developer Ryan Haines (center) and Sr. Virtual Construction Engineer Eric Cylwik (right) accept the AGC Innovation 3rd-place Award
CTK technology began as a response to larger issues in the civil sector causing huge inefficiencies. A nationwide trend toward 3D modeling in the preconstruction process has generated loads of data. But by itself, this data isn’t actionable information. Also, most of it is siloed off between designers, contractors, and engineers, instead of flowing into a single stream of information for a project. Estimators in particular spend hours counting the “what” of a project (volumes, areas, lengths, counts, and weights)—6.4 million hours in the past year to be exact, the equivalent of 70 full-length careers. Instead of counting the “what,” Eric and Ryan thought, these professionals could spend more time on the “how” and, in the process, become more of an asset to their companies.
CTK user quickly quantifies the entire project model, by phase, in Autodesk Civil 3D
Enter: the CTK, a technology that supports parametric modeling. In the absence of a 3D design model, a CTK user can take lots of numbers from construction documents and convert them into 3D models, with a few mouse clicks. These models can then be quantified to cover all construction estimating needs, including sequencing and phasing of a project, and provide visualization for design all in a matter of hours instead of weeks. The same models can even be used for automated machine guidance (AMG) by heavy equipment operators in the field. “This technology shifts the focus from construction being a reactionary industry to an industry that proactively adds value,” Eric said. “Proper planning ensures efficient construction, and by removing mundane tasks from a construction service provider it enables them to focus on predictable services.”
Sundt uses the CTK on a daily basis and has seen immense added value across projects for both our employee-owners and our clients
In presenting the CTK to various industry groups, including the AGC, Eric and Ryan were often asked: How did you convince your company to invest in this? “The funny thing is,” Ryan said, “this was already part of our jobs and company culture. The return on investment had been established, just in the huge amounts of time we were saving in our own jobs, across multiple projects.” Eric pointed out that he and Ryan were also recognized for the CTK by Sundt a year ago, with the Going Beyond the Expected Award. “It’s just part of what we do at Sundt. We’re builders. And by virtue of that fact, we’re innovators.” Overall, CTK is a means of delivering better infrastructure. “When we design, estimate, and build from the same information,” Ryan said, “everyone wins with better quality and efficiency.” For a company whose mission is to be the most skilled builder in America, having innovative people on our team is a win indeed.
August 9, 2018
Starting nearly a decade ago, Sundt has been performing work at San Diego International Airport (SDIA), in joint ventures alongside Kiewit Construction and Austin Commercial. Both the Terminal 2 Landside Improvements and Rental Car Center were highly successful projects, winning industry acclaim and adding tremendous value to air travelers’ customer experience.
Now the Airport Authority has chosen Sundt again, to perform two more projects at SDIA that together will be worth approximately $200 million. The Airport Support Facilities project, an approximately $130 million design-build project, is currently in design with construction slated to begin by the end of this year. Shortly thereafter, Sundt will begin construction on the Air Cargo project, as a member of a public-private partnership selected to build a new facility for FedEx, UPS and DHL.
Describing our continued relationship with the Airport Authority, Sundt Project Director Brad Kirsch said, “It’s a reflection of the confidence we’ve built with SDIA from our past two projects. This time, however, Sundt is the sole contractor, and we are absolutely prepared to deliver.” Brad also mentioned his pride in the fact that Sundt is, above all else, a builder—and that we have unique capability to self-perform much of our work. “When we’re asked to take on challenges, like building a 3-million-gallon underground storm water capture and reuse facility, our concrete and transportation groups are up for the job.” Top Gun references aside, there’s a reason Sundt is consistently a builder that airports trust.
May 8, 2018
Last month, when an 18-wheeler crashed into a utility bridge on the I-10, damaging utilities and halting freeway traffic through downtown El Paso, the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) called upon the Sundt Go 10 project team for help. While the incident did not occur within our project limits, it was close enough for TXDOT to request Sundt’s assistance. Our crews mobilized within hours and worked from 4:00 pm on Thursday afternoon, July 12th, until 3:30 am on Saturday morning, July 14th, to re-open the I-10 and restore a critical part of the city’s infrastructure.
The semi-truck lost control and drove up the embankment, crashed into the bridge, and caught fire immediately.
“It was a great team effort,” said Senior Project Manager Rudy Elias. “When TXDOT called, we were in our weekly cost meeting, and within hours we had people at the crash site inspecting the damage.” Having secured a crane and other necessary equipment, Sundt crews set about cleaning up the accident, shoring the bridge and shifting traffic around the site until more permanent fixes were put in place. “We had crews working around the clock, some guys more than 20 hours in a row,” Rudy said. “There was even one, Thomas Edmonds, who canceled his flight to San Diego for the weekend and stayed to finish the job.”
Fortunately, the driver walked away from the accident only suffering burns to his feet and an injury to his shoulder, according to El Paso’s Channel 9 KTSM.
Staying true to Sundt’s core value of Customer Focus, the Go 10 project team worked tirelessly to exceed owner expectations. As our Transportation Group continues to grow its presence in Texas, their willingness to go the extra mile—to help in times of crisis and solve difficult challenges—is going a long way towards earning clients’ trust.
Sundt Chief Operating Officer Tom Case (second from left) and Corporate Director of Health, Safety and Environment Paul Levin (third from left) visit the Gilbert Light Rail Project.
Sundt has an excellent safety record, winning the AGC Grand Award twice. Our commitment to the cause was further proven this week when company leaders visited job sites as we celebrated National Safety Week.
Chief Operating Officer Tom Case and Corporate Director of Health, Safety & Environment Paul Levin stopped by four of our Phoenix-area projects to talk with the crews. While their focus was on the importance of task hazard analyses and open communication among craft and admin employee-owners, Tom and Paul also made the trip to show our company’s dedication to National Safety Week. This is the fourth consecutive year we have been a sponsor for the event, which lasts through Friday.
“We wanted to kick off the week with good conversation,” Tom said. “We wanted to be visible and spend time listening to our employees and sharing our goals for the week.”
Tom and Paul visited four sites: Gilbert Light Rail, Union Tempe, Ak-Chin Casino Expansion and a confidential client. They were joined along the way by Transportation Group Manager Jeff Williamson, Industrial Group Manager Rich Kiel and Industrial Sector Manager Greg Ayres. Their message was clear.
“Every day is a safety day and every week is a safety week,” he said. “People are working really hard under schedule pressure to finish jobs. We need to spend time making sure we get it right and we do it safely. Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t cut corners. Look out for each other.”