October 10, 2018
April 27, 2018
It was a fall morning on the calendar last month, but outside it felt like the dead of summer. Sundt employee-owners walked from their field office and joined the crowd beneath a white-canopied event tent, dwarfed by neighboring high-rises and tower cranes. Guests started taking off their suit jackets, picking up the SWAG pocket fans, and hydrating as if a coach somewhere had called a timeout. Even with the heat, however, there was a feeling of anticipation that couldn’t be sapped. It was time to celebrate.
Attendees from Sundt Construction, Allen + Philp Architects, the Opus Group, Driftwood Acquisitions & Development (DAD), Hilton, and the City of Tempe all came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Canopy by Hilton in downtown Tempe.
Carlos J. Rodriguez Sr., CEO of Driftwood Acquisitions & Development (DAD), kicked off the festivities with a dad joke; he praised his son and COO Carlos Jr. for treating this project as his baby, so in business terms “[Carlos Sr. is] a grandfather now.” Family humor aside, it was clear that this project means a great deal to many stakeholders, especially the city of Tempe, and it will take a village to complete something this size on such a tight lot and timeline.
The 14-story, 198-room boutique hotel is scheduled to open January 2020. It will feature various amenities, including a café, gym, over 3,000 square feet of meeting space, and a rooftop pool with a terrace bar, cabanas and a fire pit. As part of the Canopy by Hilton lifestyle brand, the new hotel will focus on local design, food and drink, and culture. “Everything about this is going to scream Tempe,” said Gary Steffen, Global Head of Canopy by Hilton. Steffen also noted the “breakneck speed” of Sundt’s progress, among other speakers who pointed out the irony of holding a groundbreaking ceremony with the first floor of concrete columns already in place.
Tempe Vice Mayor Lauren Kuby commented on downtown’s need for quality hotel and conference space, for business and leisure travelers as well as visitors to ASU. Also, she said, “This project will create over 620 jobs in Tempe for the short term, and then hundreds more in the long term to staff and run the hotel.”
Sundt Senior Project Manager Jim Drago, among the “vested” crowd in the back wearing their PPE, said, “The most challenging part is it’s an extremely small site—less than a half-acre, including our entire laydown area—to build a 14-story building. And it’s less than 100 feet from the high-rise apartments we just finished. It’s all about logistics.” Sundt’s Building Group, Southwest District recently finished the Union Tempe mixed-use project in June, just in time for move-in of its current 500 residents who include ASU students and faculty, young professionals and families.
According to Jim Drago, collaboration has been a key ingredient in the project’s development: “It’s not very common for two different developers to work together hand-in-hand, but that’s what Opus and Driftwood had to do to make the Canopy happen, and they continue to work together.”
Several things stand out about this project, from both a development and a construction standpoint. “It’s unique to have finished Union Tempe for one client and then transform right into the next project, a similar one but for a different client on the same piece of land,” Jim said. Both he and Project Superintendent Justin Gillies pointed out that having the same team on Canopy is a unique advantage. “It’s great to be able to leverage our shared learning experience,” Justin said. “And we’re going to need that to meet our goal of completing a floor a week.”
“The team all know each other, and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and styles. The chemistry is already built, and it shows in the teamwork that goes on every day,” said Jim Drago.
While the Building Group, Southwest District looks to put Sundt’s signature on yet another piece of Tempe’s rising skyline, fellow employee-owners in Texas are doing the same on the Canopy by Hilton San Antonio. As we expand our presence in the hospitality and entertainment market, Sundt continues to deliver for our clients and for the communities where we work and live.
April 10, 2018
Sundt Project Engineer Dinesh Reddy Allam.
Project Engineer Dinesh Reddy Allam has been with Sundt for two years after spending a year as an intern with another concrete contractor in Phoenix. A native of Hyderabad, India, Dinesh has a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering and a master’s in Infrastructure Management from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in his native country. He also has a master’s in Construction Engineering from Arizona State University.
His brother, a Project Engineer named Dilip, also works for us. Both are in our Concrete Division.
How did you get your job at Sundt?
The company reached out after finding me on LinkedIn.
What does a Project Engineer do?
A Project Engineer acts as a liaison between the project team and subcontractors, vendors and anyone external on a project. The cool thing about being on the self-perform side is the Project Engineer gets to analyze and act on labor production rates and commodity curves on a daily basis.
How important is the role technology plays in preconstruction?
We have seen massive gains in efficiencies in the way we set up estimates. With an upward trend in the industry using building information models during the design phase of a project, we leverage the information in those models to perform quantity takeoffs much faster and more accurately. It gives us more time to do constructability reviews and analyze the structure on how it needs to get built.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
The power to clone myself. That way, I can multiply my efficiency.
What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite has to be “Baahubali: The Beginning,” which is a Tollywood movie from my hometown.
What’s one thing someone should do or visit when in the Phoenix area?
You should definitely try mountain biking. My favorite is the South Mountain National Trail.
February 8, 2018
Dinesh Allam (left) and Tim Gattie talk with a construction management class at Arizona State University.
One of our core values was on display during the spring semester at Arizona State University. Nine of our employee-owners served the community and industry by teaching their specialties to graduate students.
“I knew professors at ASU from when I graduated in 2015,” Project Engineer Dinesh Allam said. “We stayed in contact and that led to this opportunity.”
Southwest Building Division employees Jonathan Randall, Curtis Smith and Garren Echols taught construction management students about early stage project planning and conceptual estimating using D-Profiler. Kristen Bejarano, also from Southwest Building, and Jesse McDonald from our Industrial Division presented a lecture on Project Controls, including delay analysis, cost control and schedule management. Two employees from our Concrete Division, Michael Fyffe and Jeremy Jafferis, taught estimating covering the quantity takeoff process using 3D models and developing pricing using production rates.
Tim Gattie from our Transportation Group and Dinesh, a Concrete Division employee, talked about an upcoming trend, data analytics in construction. The lesson won’t be forgotten. The department chair wants to incorporate the topic into course curriculum.
Dinesh said he and his Sundt co-workers would be returning to ASU classes. There’s still much more knowledge to pass along.
“Sundt’s ASU alumni are very involved with the program,” he said.
February 6, 2018
It didn’t take long for John Carlson to decide what he wanted to do for a living. It all happened around age 2.
That’s when John’s father, John Sr., took him to a construction site for the first time. The big equipment, huge piles of dirt and non-stop action fascinated the youngster. That love of construction has never waned.
Sundt Corporate Strategic Business Officer John Carlson.
“I was exposed early on. I remember building little dams in the stream at 3 or 4 years old,” said John, who’s now our Corporate Strategic Business Officer. “Dad worked on dams, and friends and relatives used to tell me, ‘you’re going to be just like your dad.’ It was in my blood.”
John’s father had a huge influence on his son’s life. John Sr. worked for Sundt for 40 years. John still has the three-page typed recruitment letter his dad received in 1956 from Thor Sundt, a member of the company’s founding family, while he was with the Army Corps of Engineers building dams. The two had met as West Point classmates and served in the Korean War together.
John Sr. held many roles during his decades with our company, including positions in the field, estimating, as a board member and executive, and a contract negotiator for projects we performed in Saudi Arabia in the 1970s and ’80s. He worked on our London Bridge relocation project in Arizona, served on the Associated General Contractors of America Board and did national lobbying for the industry for a number of years. He retired as Vice President for Special Projects and Public Affairs in 1997, and passed away in 2014.
The younger John has been with us for 35 years, starting as a Laborer. He has worked his way through the ranks as a Laborer, Foreman, Surveyor, Quality Control Technician, Mechanic’s Helper, Field and Project Engineer, Project Manager, Estimator, Business Development Manager and Division Manager.
John Carlson, Sr. spent 40 years working for Sundt.
John graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Construction Management. Tedd Jones, Sundt’s President at the time, told him he should leave Sundt upon graduation and get different experiences with another contractor. John took the advice and eventually worked his way back to Sundt, and has worked in eight states and on one overseas assignment.
John and his father never worked on a project together; John said the closest they came was when he turned down an opportunity to work on the U.S. Embassy project in Moscow. But his dad’s influence was always there.
“My dad was well-liked and respected nationally,” John said. “It opened a lot of doors.”
John still had to keep those doors open himself.
“As a “boss’ kid,“ some people would look at you as if you don’t work hard,” John said of having a well-known dad in the industry. “I always felt I had to prove myself.”
John once moved 11 times in 13 years with the company, going most anywhere we asked. He’s found a home in Texas, where he’s been for the past eight years. John finds strategic business opportunities for all our operating groups with an emphasis on alternative delivery methods.
He also works on industry advocacy to influence policy and help shape legislation, the same as his dad years ago.
“Sundt is like a family,” John said. “We all have to pull our own weight.”
Interested in pursuing a career with Sundt? Please click here for more information.
Attendees at the first Sundt Devils session listen to a panel of experts talk about women in construction.
We have a longstanding, valued partnership with Arizona State University. Along with our current work modernizing Sun Devil Stadium, we have performed numerous projects that are improving the campus experience.
Our “Sundt Devils” discussion series, which kicked off last week, is taking the commitment directly to ASU construction management and engineering students.
The first event on the Tempe campus focused on women in construction. Our employee-owners on the panel were experts, including Senior Vice President and Building Group Manager Teri Jones, Senior Vice President and Southwest Building Group Manager Ryan Abbott, Project Executive Chandra Reilly, Project Manager Janene Thomas and Project Engineer Ashleigh Eubank.
Arizona State University students chat with Sundt employee-owners.
“This event really engaged the students in our Construction Management program,” said Kristen Parrish, Assistant Professor at ASU’s School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment. “Multiple students approached me following the event to say they had learned something and were even more excited to pursue their own construction careers.”
Attendee questions included what advice the panelists would offer a woman entering the industry and how job seekers could stand out from the crowd. While the audience was mostly female, several male students came to learn more about the topic. After the panel discussion, attendees stayed around to network with their peers and our team.
“It’s exciting that our first Sundt Devils event was well received by the attendees and great conversation was sparked,” said Sundt Talent Acquisition Specialist Sarah Clapper. “I attribute the majority of our success to our five panelists. They took time out of their busy schedules to chat and network with the crowd. At the end of the event, I received positive feedback and excitement toward the next Sundt Devils event.”
Future Sundt Devils events will focus on other industry topics and trends. ASU students and faculty should follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for information as subjects and dates are announced. Students from any college or university can visit our website to learn more about internship and career opportunities.