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.
What once housed hundreds of baseball fans will now house thousands of students as Sundt breaks ground on a new 365,000-square-foot student housing complex. The $150 million Hornet Commons Complex will consist of six four-story buildings with a total of 284 apartments, a swimming pool, café, fitness center and community room.
The ceremonial groundbreaking earlier this month marked the start of Sundt’s second project on the Sacramento State campus, with the Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex finishing up within the next month. “We’re honored to be a part of this incredible project,” said Jim Larrieu, Vice President and Northern California Regional Director. “Our team is looking forward to creating a new and exciting place for students to relax and enjoy life on campus.”
This is not just another project for Sacramento State; it has been in the works for many years. Alexander Gonzalez, Sacramento State’s president for 11 years before retiring in 2015, always had a vision of turning the Dan McAuliffe Memorial Ballparks into a place to house students. Watching from the crowd as Sundt broke ground, he saw his vision come to life.
“The long-awaited Student Housing Project is transformative for the Sacramento State student community, and Sundt is thrilled to be part of the team making that happen,” said Teri Jones, Building Group President.
Sundt Preconstruction Manager Dave Downey, Sr. Project Manager Sean Falvey, Building Group President Teri Jones, Sacramento State Mascot Herky, Sundt Project Executive Mike Mielcarek, Sundt CEO Mike Hoover, and Sr. Project Superintendent Rob Petrakovitz
Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen and crowd put their “stingers up.”
Sean Falvey, project manager for the new housing development and for the Science Complex project, shared his thoughts on starting a second project on campus.
With the Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complexfinishing soon, what about that project do you think made us the builder of choice for Hornet Commons?
We are able to think outside the box when faced with challenges. We started off on the right foot with the preconstruction phase: our precon team was able to deliver more than the campus’s RFP requirements and really give them more for their budget. Secondly, we proved that we were not only a good contractor, but an innovative one. When we had to dig a trench that would stretch in front of the campus bookstore and impede foot traffic, our team came up with a unique solution: build a “drawbridge” to keep students and pedestrians safe while walking in and out of the bookstore. Our client appreciated us going beyond what was expected of us and keeping the students’ safety and campus operations in mind during construction.
Were there any lessons learned from the Science Complex that the team can apply to the housing project? On the Science Complex, the state fire marshal required significant changes during construction due to the many rating conditions (wall terminations, pipe penetrations, etc.). On the housing project, we’ll be constructing a mockup to demonstrate all our typical conditions, which will give us the opportunity to head off any concerns and avoid scheduling conflicts. With over 30,000 students, many of them commuters, the campus is very sensitive to traffic disturbances. Going into housing, we are paying close attention to how our work may impact traffic and have already accounted for “summer work.” The purpose of the new housing development is to, hopefully, eliminate the amount of travel students currently face.
The Science Complex is an incredible building with 27 teaching labs, research labs, a planetarium, and an observatory; will there be any similarities with the housing complex? The two buildings will be like night and day: not only is the building type different (wood vs. steel), but the client and delivery method are different as well. Even though they will be different structurally, the end goal is the same: to enrich the campus community with better facilities. The CSU students are the ones who will truly benefit from each of these projects.
Every year, Girls Inc., proud recipient of a Sundt Foundation grant, hosts the RockIt Into the Future Science Festival in San Antonio. The event celebrates and promotes careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It provides young girls, and their families, the opportunity to connect with experts within the different fields and participate in various STEM activities. “It’s not just technology. It’s not just computers. It’s not just engineering,” said Girls Inc., San Antonio president and CEO Leah Rosenhauer. “The scientific process of discovery, or disrupting things, of finding new solutions to things is all around us.”
This year, Sundt San Antonio women participated by hosting three “mind-on” activities: “Building Our Future” Lego table for children age 3-6 years old, a pulley system to teach how weight is distributed for children between 7 and 12 years old, and a video game, “Ant you Crazy about Safety,” to teach them about jobsite safety for ages 13 and up.
Sundt’s own Ryan Silbernagel built the pulley system, and Swapna Biju, one of Sundt’s virtual construction engineers, created the video game. Each participant within the video game would identify different jobsite hazards in order to become aware of the importance of jobsite safety.
Sundt’s Alexis Marshall, Traci Cadena, Swapna Biju, Terri Pasley, Meagan Garcia, and Amy Yount participate in the 13th Annual RockIt Into the Future STEM Festival.
Alexis Marshall and Amy Yount demonstrate the pulley system.
Sundt employee-owners install one of two granite pedestals.
Last November, thanks to the Sundt Foundation and Arizona veterans, a bronze medallion that had adorned the 6-foot tall granite marker was restored to the World War I Memorial at Wesley Bolin Plaza in Phoenix, Arizona. This month, Sundt employee-owners provided additional support to restore another piece of the memorial.
Two brass plaques, one telling the story of WWI and the other, a poem written by John McCrae near a Belgian Battlefield, had been neglected and forgotten, until now. Volunteers from Sundt’s Industrial Group installed two granite pedestals that will house the two brass plaques.
The unveiling ceremony on May 18 was nothing short of magical, with a beautiful rendition of the national anthem and a presentation of the colors of the flag.
The completed monument now stands tall as a remembrance of the great sacrifice many men and women made for our country.
What started as a $100 bet turned into a $130,000 fundraiser for the Sundt Foundation. Shave It or Save It was born when Sundt CEO Mike Hoover (half) jokingly told recently-promoted Concrete Operations Manager Danny Gumm that he’d donate $100 an inch for Danny to shave his beard. Others countered, saying, “No, save it!” And soon it became a full-on competition and GoFundMe campaign. In less than two weeks, 265 people had raised nearly $65,000 to either shave or save Danny’s famous beard.
Between the event and Facebook Live stream on Monday, hundreds gathered to show their support and learn the fate of Danny’s beard. With an Airstream barbershop in tow, Mike revealed the final results: the “shave it” side donated almost $10,000 more than the “save it” side, and Danny said goodbye to the most coveted (and expensive) beard in Sundt history. However, the big surprise was when Mike announced the company would not only match the winning side, but both sides, bringing the total to an incredible $129,196 donated to the Sundt Foundation.
Hats off to the employee-owners, family, friends, subcontractors, sponsors, vendors and everybody else who gave to Shave It or Save It and made this effort a success.
Phoenix-based barbershop Nippers Clippers came in style with their fully custom Airstream trailer.
Danny Gumm raised a toast to the crowd as the final look was revealed.
Sundt CEO Mike Hoover and Danny Gumm hold the final check addressed to the Sundt Foundation.