September 6, 2017
July 12, 2017
Our work at the Wichita Falls Independent School District’s Career and Technical Education Center was similar to three projects we performed in San Antonio.
When officials cut the ribbon to open the Wichita Falls Independent School District’s Career and Technical Education Center last month, it marked the end of nearly two years of challenges faced and successes gained by the Sundt joint-venture team.
The 123,000-square-foot facility houses programs that prepare high school students for college or careers by offering advanced skills, certification, college credits and the ability to explore their futures from the comfort of high school. The building opened in time for the new school year.
Our team’s experience constructing similar facilities in San Antonio helped pave the way for a successful project. We previously improved Brackenridge, Burbank and Lanier high schools in the city by adding career and technical education (CTE) centers while the campuses were in use, just like Wichita Falls.
“(Project Engineer) Tyler Persyn and I worked together on the CTE centers in San Antonio,” said Project Manager David Musch. “We have a great working relationship based on trust and respect. As a whole, our onsite team, including my Superintendent, Project Engineer, Field Superintendent and our local JV partner, Trinity Hughes, were invaluable to our success.”
Owner savings on the $30 million project began during preconstruction.
“At GMP, we value-engineered $3 million out of the project and did not impact any of the programs slated for the Career Education Center,” David said. “We also came up with an AV package redesign that gave the district an LED wall that will be the focal point in the main corridor of the building.”
Wichita’s notoriously fickle weather affected the tight schedule, made more difficult when the district adopted a school calendar that cut 10 days off the end of the construction schedule. The team lost two months because of extreme weather and rain delays at the beginning of the work in late 2015.
“We drilled all our piers for the foundation of the building off of crane mats and established a temporary lime-stabilized access road in order to get the foundation started,” David said. “Our team worked seven days a week for 12-plus hours a day, plus night shifts for months, to overcome the challenges we faced.”
July 6, 2017
Sundt’s GO 10 project involves improvements to Interstate 10 in El Paso.
A U.S. Census Study last year showed Texas is the fastest-growing state in the country, adding an average of 1,183 residents each day. The need to keep up with infrastructure demand has the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) managing and providing more than $7 billion a year in transportation projects.
Sundt is performing one of those projects, GO 10 on the west side of El Paso. It extends 5.75 miles of Interstate 10 and includes construction of collector-distributor lanes through the corridor, improvement of I-10’s direct connection with Paisano Drive/Border West Expressway, addition of lanes to the interstate in both directions and reconfiguration of ramps and overpasses at three exits.
The project team is working at the most complex portions of the job on the project’s critical path. This work is key to meeting the goal of completing the project in December 2018, six months ahead of schedule.
“Each of these critical locations represents all of our trades simultaneously erecting bridge interchanges, installing retaining walls, connecting underground utilities and performing roadway grading operations,” Project Director Jason Esparza said.
The project team plans on resuming concrete paving by the end of July in an effort to finish nearly 40,000 square yards of the new collector-distributor lanes. Work is also being installed by subcontractors, including electrical infrastructure, asphalt pavement and steel girders.
The team set the stage for success by performing value engineering during the construction phase on the concrete paving. Substituting 9-inch pavement and eliminating 12-inch pavement on the widening of the I-10 main lanes created significant savings for TxDOT and us. The team also helped prioritize right-of-way acquisitions to open more work earlier for our crews.
“This approach allowed us to work in areas ahead of schedule,” Jason said.
July 5, 2017
Jonathan Graham with his wife, Dana, and their 1-year-old daughter, Hadley, at a fireworks show in Heber, Arizona this week.
He’s known as “Unicorn” on Sundt’s University Square job site in Tempe, Arizona. The mythical name came about because Jonathan Graham’s safety badge features a photo of his 1-year-old daughter wearing a unicorn hat.
But the nickname could easily apply to Jonathan himself. Earlier this year, he made the unusual move of going from an office job, complete with air conditioning, to a construction site. He’s part of our concrete crew as a lead man form carpenter.
While he says he’s always been mechanically inclined, Jonathan’s career change was met with some skepticism. After all, it meant working outdoors in Tempe during the hottest time of year. Temperatures in June topped 120 degrees.
“The consensus was that I was crazy to do concrete work in the summer in Arizona,” said Jonathan, who has been married six years. “My family understood and they know the type of person I am.”
Jonathan’s path to Sundt started by working in sales for a social media and digital engagement company in Scottsdale. That’s where he met Jerrin Jaramillo, who’s now a Sundt recruiter. After leaving that company, Jerrin stayed in touch with Jonathan and encouraged him to apply at Sundt. Jonathan eventually did and started here this past February.
“(Jerrin) talked very highly about Sundt and the ESOP,” said Jonathan, who has a degree in business communications from Arizona State University. “I wanted to get back in the trades and use my degree in a different way.”
Jonathan’s father was a sheet metal worker in Michigan, so he grew up around the trades. When Jonathan moved to Arizona in 2007, he did facilities maintenance work for nine United Blood Systems buildings.
A move back to an office environment wasn’t what he wanted in the long run.
“When I got back in the office, I realized it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle and be attached to a phone.”
Getting back in the field has had its health advantages. Freed from cubicle life, Jonathan is feeling healthier than ever after “getting away from sodas and doughnuts.”
“Physically, it’s been kind of crazy,” he said. “I’ve lost 45 pounds. It’s good for me.”
He’s seen University Square, a residential and mixed-use development, go from the ground up. In late June, the crew was setting concrete on the sixth floor.
“Every day I come to work, something’s different, the site has changed, the building is growing,” Jonathan said.
Part of the draw of returning to craft work was a good change of pace: No sales calls, no boring meetings and plenty of pride in his work.
He also hopes to work his way up in the organization and there’s plenty of history of that at Sundt. Our two most recent President/CEOs started their careers as craft workers.
“I want to climb the ranks and become a foreman and supervisor,” he said. “I’m a totally different person than I was when I started.”
This blog is part of our series of posts about career-related subjects. For more information about opportunities with Sundt, please follow us on Twitter or visit our website.
June 28, 2017
The Sundt-Yates joint-venture team presents Matthew Sabetta with a miniature concrete truck at the Ak-Chin Casino site.
Many people just want construction projects to end. Whether the work is transportation, industrial, building or concrete, some part of the nearby community is ready to see heavy equipment pull away for the last time.
That’s not true at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort and Casino Expansion near Maricopa, Arizona. Matthew Sabetta, 14, and his grandmother, Melanie Warthman, will be a little disappointed when our joint venture project with Yates Construction is complete.
Melanie, who takes care of Matthew during the week, lives 10 minutes from the resort. The two come to the site most days and have formed a bond with the on-site team. Matthew is one of the friendliest people around, waving to crew members and striking up conversations.
“Matthew has a social piece to his personality,” Melanie said. “He wants to greet everybody. From the first day we hit the job site, he was waving to people. It was the concrete guys who connected with him first.”
Matthew has a rare genetic condition called Williams Syndrome, which is characterized by medical problems including cardiovascular disease, developmental delays, and learning challenges. These often occur in concert with striking verbal abilities and highly social personalities.
Team members treat Matthew like an honorary crew member. They gave him the gear necessary for being around the site: a hard hat, safety glasses, a vest, gloves, and a security badge. They sometimes take Matthew and Melanie inside the fence for tours and conversation about concrete work.
“It shows a whole different side of construction,” Melanie said. “It speaks volumes about the kind of employees you have.”
To show their appreciation for the crew’s welcoming attitude, Matthew and Melanie brought sandwiches and chips to the crew one day in June.
“He was so excited to meet these people who are so kind to him,” Melanie said. “He said, ‘Grandma, I need to go celebrate my friends.’ ”
In acknowledgment, the crew wanted to give Matthew a surprise. Transportation Superintendent Chris Shea’s idea was to present Matthew with something to remember the project and team. Chris and Project Superintendent Todd Gantter knew Project Controls Manager Jesse McDonald kept a few trophies – miniature concrete trucks – from the annual Associated Schools of Construction Student Competition in Nevada. Jesse told them he had one left.
Concrete Area Manager Danny Gumm enthusiastically played the role of go-between, picking up the trophy from Jesse and driving it to the Ak-Chin site. When lunch was delivered, the crew created a diversion so the mini-truck and a long-sleeved concrete team T-shirt would be a surprise.
“It was totally unexpected,” Melanie said. “When someone told him there was a concrete truck coming, he was looking out the window. They put it at his place at the table. He was thrilled and talked about it for hours. It made Matthew’s day.”
Chris said: “We had the ultimate gift to present to our project’s biggest fan. Just getting to see the smile on his face when presented with the Sundt concrete truck made this project one of the best I have been on.”
Concrete arches and beams were build offsite and transported to the bridge.
A documentary about Sundt’s work on an award-winning bridge in Texas is getting national air time.
“Arc of Innovation,” a short film that provides an inside look at construction on the West 7th Street Bridge in Fort Worth, is showing in select PBS markets from Alaska to Michigan to Texas. The documentary showcases the transition between the demolition of the old bridge and opening of the new bridge. Built on the same spot, the transportation project had to be finished in a short timeframe to minimize impact to traffic. We completed the 980-foot-long bridge for the Texas Department of Transportation a month ahead of schedule and it opened to traffic October 2013, in time for the holidays.
The bridge is the first of its kind, built with precast, post-tensioned arches and floor beams. Each arch measures 24 feet tall by approximately 160 feet long and weighs more than 640,000 pounds. The 12 concrete arches were built off site by our crews and installed in pairs along either side of the bridge.
Interested in seeing the documentary on your local station? Please contact your PBS affiliate and ask for it to be added to the program schedule.
The official opening of the bridge was a real cattle call.