July 5, 2017
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.”
June 23, 2017
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.
June 2, 2017
Sundt Craft Recruiter Jerrin Jaramillo.
Sundt Craft Recruiter Jerrin Jaramillo focuses on hiring craft and administrative workers for our Concrete Division, which performs work in the transportation, industrial and building markets.
A Phoenix native, Jerrin lives in the East Valley with his wife. The two are expecting their first child in October, a daughter.
What qualities do we look for in concrete employees?
The goal is to hire top talent and the best of the best. Obviously we look for people with a lot of skill and experience, and Sundt also does a great job in training and investing in new people who don’t have a ton of experience yet. I think, above all, we want individuals who are going to work hard, strive for excellence and come to work hungry to learn new things every day and improve their craft.
What are the best ways for craft workers to keep up with available jobs at Sundt?
Check our website regularly. We also advertise on indeed.com. Potential new hires can reach out to me and I’ll keep them in the loop with where we are in our need for people.
With craft workers in such demand, how does Sundt set itself apart from other companies?
There are a few things that make Sundt unique. The company provides our craft people with an immense opportunity for growth. We do a great job promoting from within and put effort into advancing deserving people who work hard and show growth. The second thing is the emphasis we put into training. Not only do they receive direction and guidance in the field, but we put an emphasis as a company on getting our people nationally certified through the National Center for Construction Education and Research curriculum. The person who oversees the program, (Craft Workforce Development Manager) Sean Ray, is a great guy and has a passion for people and teaching. Also, right now we are building relationships with high schools, community colleges and trade schools to help develop our future workforce.
Plus, our concrete workers get to build complex, award-winning projects like Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, West 7th Street Bridge in Fort Worth and the San Diego International Airport Rental Car Center, which is the largest concrete building in the city.
The benefits are excellent, too.
Yes. Since Sundt is employee-owned, our craft workers get to share in the company’s success. We were the fifth-largest employee-owned construction company in the U.S. last year. We offer a comprehensive suite of benefits for our craft, including medical, dental, vision, life, disability and 401(k). We also provide employees with access to a medical plan without a monthly premium.
Work must be incredibly busy these days. What are your favorite things to do away from the office?
I am a family man. I come from a very unique dynamic with five brothers and one sister. We get together regularly and I like to consider them my best friends. I like to coach, too. I coach my nephew’s flag football team. Go, Titans! I like to travel with my wife as well. In the last year, we have visited Denver, Portland, San Francisco and New York. Outside of that, you will find me at home fulfilling my honey-do list to get ready for the arrival of my daughter in October.
April 12, 2017
Concrete Foreman Alex Martinez is a second-generation Sundt employee.
Alex Martinez’s story is one of persistence. After honing his skills in the field for several years, he recently was promoted and is playing a key role as a Concrete Foreman in our work at University Square in Tempe, a mixed-use project near the Arizona State University campus.
His father was a Sundt employee in the 1970s, even keeping his original hard hat years after leaving the company. After a little more than three years as an employee-owner, Alex was promoted to his current position last month.
What’s the most enjoyable project you’ve worked on and why?
I’m working at University Square, where they have asked us to participate in an amazing mentorship program. When I was out working in the field as craft I was invited into morning safety meetings. They brought me in and I was able to ask a lot of questions and was given more direction. It’s building me as a team leader.
What is Sundt doing to make this a better workplace for craft employees?
Our leadership instills that safety always comes first. That makes our people feel secure to come in and work and return home as safe as they came in.
Anyone on the jobsite has the ability to stop work if he or she believes safety could be an issue, right?
That’s always promoted. They instill it from laborers up the chain. We assess the situation and create a different plan if we have to for everyone to be safe. We also use a buddy system where we work in pairs and watch out for one another, take water breaks and get into shade when it’s hot.
How much of a role did the Employee Stock Ownership Plan play in your decision to work at Sundt?
When I went through orientation and they talked about the ESOP, it was really attractive. A lot of people jump companies for money. Sundt considers us employee-owners and has created a whole different atmosphere. We take more pride in the work. When you retire you can do so comfortably. The ESOP inspires people to do better.
What are some of the things craft workers do on jobsites to encourage teamwork and camaraderie?
When you come out in the field, you see the camaraderie. It’s more of a brotherhood. We look out for each other. At the end of the day, you see a lot of handshakes. There are people who give each other hugs. We look forward to working together the next day.
The White Tanks project was once a massive area of dirt and mud.
Choosing a new project delivery method kept the Maricopa County Flood Control District from seeing its budget wash away during work on the White Tanks Flood Structure in Buckeye, Arizona.
In the past, the District constructed similar projects using Design-Bid-Build and sometimes faced change orders that nearly doubled initial bid values because of outside agency inspections during construction.
It’s now a flood control project that is coming in on time and on budget.
On White Tanks, the District decided to try Construction Manager at Risk and selected Sundt. Our Transportation Group partnered with agencies including the Arizona Department of Water Resources and the National Resources Conservation Service to write specifications exactly as the District expected, lowering the chances of costly change orders.
“It worked well,” said Preconstruction Manager Jeffrey Hamilton. “The only change order relating to additional cost was because of a flood event, and the District had a contingency to cover that.”
The joint venture with Rummel Construction consists of widening and extending an existing flood structure and adding upgrades, including an architecturally enhanced auxiliary spillway, drop inlet structures and principal outlet structures. While the initial contract value was $25.3 million, the team is looking to bring the cost down by about $1 million.
We’re delivering client value in many other ways, too, including using drone technology to provide required survey information to verify completed work for our payment purposes.
“This would be a difficult and costly task with a survey crew,” Project Manager Ryan Vlach said. “We found a drone company that was able to fly the site and provide the necessary information at a fraction of the time and cost.”
Preconstruction ended in January 2016 and construction began the next month. Even with a small change order extending the contract until August, the team intends to finish work by June.