April 17, 2019
April 9, 2019
At the 100th Annual AGC Convention in Denver earlier this month, Sundt received the Environmental Enhancement Project of The Year for our work on the Arizona Public Service (APS) Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington, New Mexico. The project included major upgrades that will reduce emissions by 80 percent, allowing the 1570-megawatt plant to meet environmental standards and continue operating.
Sundt performed over 2 million man-hours at Four Corners with a peak craft staff of over 400, making this our largest single project in company history.
Over the course of the project, Sundt completed:
- 56,000 linear feet of piping
- 8,000 tons of structural steel
- 6,800 tons of duct
- 130,000 linear feet of weld
- 6,000 cubic yards of concrete
- 10,000 linear feet of drilled caisson
Also, at 60 feet in diameter, the new selective catalytic reactors we installed are the tallest in North America and the second-largest air pre-heaters in the world. “This project had several highlights,” said Sundt Senior Project Manager Steve Roberts, “but I’m most proud of how we addressed safety. Performing work at elevation in harsh weather including high winds, much of which was on structural steel, it was a huge accomplishment to finish with a 0.7 TRIR.”
Sundt’s Industrial Group self-performed much of the work on site with its own skilled craft workforce. Specialized trades included precision millwrighting, boiler-making, structural ironworking, piping, concrete and electrical.
The project was also a win for the surrounding area, providing work for the local skilled workforce, helping maintain continued economic viability of the plant for years to come, and improving air quality in the region. With the plant located on Navajo Nation land, Sundt ensured that its project workforce was at least 80% Native American, and the upgrade work is expected to provide more than $6.3 billion in economic value to the region over the next 30 years. Sundt also supported local youth and community initiatives throughout the project.
To ensure adequate staffing of skilled craft professionals, Sundt partnered with the National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) to develop on-site craft training, as well as mentoring and an Apprenticeship and Development program to develop new workers’ skills.
APS Senior Project Manager Dewayne Keegel (third from left) joins Sundt employee-owners Ken Dean, Steve Roberts and Derek Neill in accepting the 2019 JLT Build America Award.
“We matured a lot over the course of this project, both on an individual and corporate level,” said Steve. “We even had a few people who started at Four Corners in craft roles, and by the time it was done they were working in management positions. For Sundt as a whole, the project is a huge achievement. It shows what we can do—the size and difficulty of projects we can take on.”
With over 20 AGC Build America awards spanning the past five decades, Sundt has won more Build Americas than any other contractor in history. These include projects across building, highway and transportation, utility infrastructure, and federal and heavy civil sectors. Alongside our partners and fellow AGC members, we are proud to build structures that benefit Americans every single day.
March 29, 2019
Constructech Magazine’s Women of the Year are an elite group of women who represent some of the industry’s largest, most innovative companies. Among them is Sundt’s own Cindy Van Marter, winner of the Heavy Equipment Operator Woman of the Year. We caught up with Cindy to discuss her career and recent award.
How long have you worked in construction, and how’d you get your start?
I operated heavy equipment for 26 years. When I started in the industry in 1983, there weren’t many women in the field. My dad, who worked for Sundt, told me, “If you like working outside, you can make some good money,” so I tried it and ended up loving it. I learned on the job—back then, they didn’t have the level of special training they do now. Working under experienced equipment operators, I learned the tricks and how to make the machine work for me. I worked on several different projects throughout Arizona. When Sundt asked me to be a recruiter in 2006, they knew I had extensive knowledge from the field and that I was a good people-person. So, I gave it a shot. I took over craft recruiting for the Transportation Group in 2008, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Sundt Craft Recruiter Cindy Van Marter, Constructech 2019 Heavy Equipment Operator Woman of the Year
During your career as a heavy equipment operator, what was your favorite equipment to work on?
I was known for my skill as a production operator, using an excavator or loader to load trucks. I loved doing this; the work is fun and moves fast, and you have to use the right technique to load the trucks properly. But I also did a lot of underground work digging basements and trenches to lay pipe, grading, working on canals, dams, and crushers, and even drilling and blasting throughout the years. Working with Concrete, Industrial and Transportation, you name it. I’ve worked on most of the freeways in Phoenix in some capacity.
Were there any obstacles you had to overcome as a woman working in the field?
I’ve always been very competitive, so I was always trying harder to show the guys that, even as a woman, I could do my job just as well or better than some of the men. Things got more comfortable as time went by. I built some great friendships and had a lot of fun along the way. I have stories to last me a lifetime, and I miss it sometimes. Today, things are changing. There’s a lot more acceptance of women working in this field. We have many more women working as welders, pipe fitters, truck drivers, etc. I’m trying to get more women interested in working as heavy equipment operators. The ones I have seen are very good, dependable and hard-working. They take pride in their work.
Who was your biggest mentor in this business, and what did they teach you?
Many people I’ve worked with here—Sundt is like my second family. But I would have to say my dad was always the one I looked up to. What he taught me still applies to this day: Never have the attitude that you know everything. You’re always learning, and the world is always changing. I’ve told young people who go through our apprenticeship program: You’re working alongside operators who have been doing this for 10, 15, 20 years, and you have to earn your way. Even if you’re good, you have to be willing to learn from people who have been doing this a while.
“Now that I look back on my career, and I look around the valley and all the projects I’ve worked on, it’s really rewarding to have been a part of all this. I just loved building stuff,” Cindy said.
Now that you’re later in your career and working on the administrative side, how has your role changed?
I’d say now I’m really helpful in making connections between the field and the office. I realize where breakdowns in communications are because I’ve been there and done that. I know the demands placed on people in the field, and I’m a little more flexible and better able to solve problems. Also, I’ve built up connections in the industry; I’ve earned people’s trust. The longer you work in this business, the more you realize how small of a world construction is.
What does it mean to win this award?
I’m really humbled. Now that I look back on my career, and I look around the valley and all the projects I’ve worked on, it’s really rewarding to have been a part of all this. I just loved building stuff. I talk to a lot of young people, and I say this is a great field to work in. The pay has gotten much better, and the demand for workers is here. There are so many ways you can use your mind and your skills, and you can have fun!
March 18, 2019
Training magazine’s Training Top 125 has served as the premier learning industry award program for the past two decades. As a 2019 winner, Sundt is among the top organizations in the world with the most successful learning and development programs, including such companies as Keller Williams, Verizon, Farmers Insurance, and IBM. The award’s criteria include a thorough evaluation of our training program, including factors such as scope, budget, reimbursement, training delivery, and human resources.
Sundt’s Crystal Award for the 2019 Training Top 125
Sundt Corporate Training and Development Manager Melissa Moreno said, “Winning the Training Top 125 demonstrates Sundt’s ongoing commitment to developing our employee-owners’ skills while building a culture that supports our front lines.” Sundt’s mission is to be the most skilled builder in America, and we continue exploring new ways to better develop and deliver training that meets the needs of our people within a rapidly changing industry.
March 13, 2019
Selected as one of the top 20 under 40 construction professionals by Engineering News Record (ENR) Southwest, Sundt Project Executive Garren Echols is certainly not new to the field. Garren started his career early, working for his father’s construction company 22 years ago. After serving as a combat engineer in the U.S. Army, he founded and operated two small construction companies and also traveled the globe for nearly a decade working for Parsons (technology-focused defense, security, and infrastructure firm). Not one for seeking the spotlight, Garren said he was surprised and honored to win the award, and he was glad to share some of his story.
With such a broad background in construction, what led you to your current role at Sundt?
I worked for Parsons basically traveling nonstop for ten years. My family was living overseas, and I wanted my daughter to be able to attend high school in the U.S. So, in many ways, I was ready to come home. When Sundt was beginning a high-rise project, some people reached out to me since I’d been building several towers with my previous company. So, I came back to Phoenix and joined Sundt doing similar work as a project executive, and it’s been an awesome fit.
Of all the projects you’ve worked on in your career, which one is the most memorable?
The Union Tempe project has been my most enjoyable project in 20 years, just because it felt like a family; it was never an adversarial relationship with owner, architect, engineer, and contractor. I made a lot of lifetime relationships and friendships. The most unique project I’ve worked on, though, was a giant desalination plant in Iraq; it was extremely difficult. I had consultants and engineers across nine different countries. Language and the time schedule were tough—I was working 20-hour days sometimes just to be on nine different time zones. On top of that, the client was demanding, and the area was challenging. So, those two projects were the most notable for me.
On a similar note, what kind of work gives you the most pride?
Overall, I’d say the building projects, just for the image they leave behind. But I’ve also taken pride in the environmental clean-up projects I’ve done because those have had the most impact on the local community. Those aren’t as sexy—they’re very behind-the-scenes work, but they’re definitely fun and challenging. Buildings are kind of the opposite; they’re this cool thing you can drive past for decades and say, “I built that.” They signify the effort you put in, and they have an impact on the community as well.
What’s it like serving on the Sundt Ethics Committee, and how does that impact our operations?
I’m a member of the committee charged with making ethics more of a focal point for everyone, making it more than just an annual mandatory online class but really something that’s recognized in our day-to-day operations. This year, we’re rolling out monthly videos with “ethics shares”—like safety shares. Similar to our focus on safety, we want to keep ethics at the forefront of everything we do. I’m excited to be a part of it. Ethics are a big thing for me, coming from the Army and with my upbringing, and having worked internationally I’ve witnessed firsthand how important it is to have those standards in place. It’s kind of a fun fit; I’m able to leverage that past experience to educate people on things they might not consider.
One of Sundt’s core values is Community and Industry Service: what does it look like to live out that value?
In the Southwest District, we live and breathe our work, so we’re already very involved in the industry. But what impresses me about Sundt is how much our leadership supports us in our community efforts. As a Tempe Diablo with 40 other guys, we raise over $1 million a year for teachers, students and other community programs here in Tempe, and Sundt’s been a huge supporter. Anytime I put something on, they’ve been right behind us. And I like that—I think the people here are what really makes a difference, and what makes this feel like more than just a job.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
When the Brichta Early Learning Center needed a new playground, parents came together to help raise the necessary funds. They were able to purchase new equipment but didn’t have enough left in their budget to cover installation. Luckily, one of these parents was former employee-owner David Vasquez, who called Sundt’s Tucson office to ask for help.
“When David called, I told him we’d be more than happy to build the playground,” said Sundt Regional Director Ian McDowell. “At Sundt, when we talk about creating prosperity for communities, we mean it, whether that’s building structures that allow communities to flourish or volunteering our time for smaller projects that improve kids’ quality of life.”
Left to right: Wesley Skelley, Gary Thompson, Brian Pos, David Ollanik, Bonnie Demorotski, Courtney Hoyt, Andres Herrera, Edgar Maya, Max Hoyt
A group of 12 Sundt employee-owner volunteers, along with a few spouses, gave up their weekend to build the new playground. The work included drilling and filling 23 concrete footings to anchor the equipment to the ground. “They were just like worker ants,” said Brichta Center Director Bonnie Demorotski, describing Sundt’s volunteers. “It came together beautifully, and we’re so grateful that our kids now have a safe and age-appropriate space to play.”
Open since July 2014, the Brichta Early Learning Center provides infant care, early learning and childcare in newly remodeled and refurnished rooms in the former Brichta Elementary School located on Tucson’s west side. Owned and operated by Tucson Unified School District, the center offers family-friendly hours, affordable tuition, meals, and research-based curriculum.