February 20, 2019
January 25, 2019
Since 1951, National Engineers Week has been educating and inspiring young people on the importance of engineering within society. This week, we spoke with employee-owner Eden Roth about her journey to become a Field Engineer with Sundt’s Concrete Division. Eden graduated in 2017 from Arizona State University with a degree in Construction Management. While attending ASU, she was involved in various activities including Advancing Women in Construction, Design-Build Institute of America, and the Associated Schools of Construction. Eden started with Sundt in April of 2018 and has worked both in the office and out in the field.
What attracted you to become an engineer? Was this something you always knew you wanted to pursue?
The funny thing is I actually didn’t know I wanted to become an engineer. I saw the students around me getting jobs as engineers, both project and field engineers, and actually applying what they learned in school to their job, and I just thought that was great.
There are a lot of different paths a person can take with a Construction Management degree; how did you decide on becoming a Field Engineer in the Concrete Division?
So, when I started going to school for construction, I didn’t know that I wanted to go into concrete; I just knew I wanted to build things. I met my mentor Chandra in Advancing Women in Construction at ASU, and she started talking about how important concrete is and how it’s the foundation of the structure. So, I started looking into it, and I realized how much I could learn from it, and here we are today. I can honestly say I love concrete!
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve overcome?
The biggest challenge I’ve faced while being an engineer, I’d have to say, is changing groups or project teams that I’m working with. Everyone works together and communicates differently, so you really have to take the time up front to get to know one another if you’re going to be successful. But once you do take the time, it’s worth it.
What’s your favorite part about being an engineer? Least favorite?
My favorite part about being an engineer is probably that you have to be collaborative and you have to work as a team. I enjoy being around other people, and there’s no other way to succeed except to work with your team and your coworkers. My least favorite part about being an engineer is probably that you work day or night, rain or shine; it might be midnight, maybe the middle of a hot day, but you’re out there. I guess that makes it the most fun too.
Knowing what you know now, and being where you are in the industry, what advice would you give your younger self just starting to find your way in the construction world?
Knowing what I know now, I would say not to be scared, and to go for it. I think it’s really easy to limit yourself and let fear dictate where you’re going, but this is the most supportive industry I think I could have found myself in. If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in construction, do it.
How does it feel being a woman in a predominantly male industry? Is it different when you’re in the field compared to in an office setting?
For the most part, it’s a lot different than what I thought it was going to be. The men all seem to be really supportive, and I haven’t had any issues with clashing or not feeling accepted. I’ve learned that if I ask questions, then I get support, because this is the most supportive industry that I’ve ever come across. There are actually a lot of women out in the field, and in the office. I find it fun to come to big events with the whole company, because even though I might be the only woman in my jobsite trailer, I get together with the Sundt family and I realize that there’s a lot of us and that I’m not just one.
January 15, 2019
Project Engineer II Dinesh Allam has been selected as one of the top 20 under 40 construction professionals by Engineering News Record (ENR) Southwest. Dinesh leads efforts to automate preconstruction processes for Sundt’s Concrete Division, and his work has resulted in substantial time savings and added value for the company. Starting as an intern with various design and construction firms on civil projects, he went on to earn a master’s in construction engineering from Arizona State University. Dinesh joined Sundt in 2016 as an Estimator, and now as a Project Engineer he is developing cost management dashboards with the company’s project management group. This week, Dinesh took some time amid his busy schedule to share about his recent award.
At 26, how does it feel to be the youngest (and the only twenty-something) selected in ENR Southwest’s Top Young Professionals?
I just thought “Wow!” I expected there to be more [people in their 20s]! (Laughing). But it’s a huge honor for me. When I heard the news, I knew I’d get some stick from everyone, like, “Oh, here comes that top-rated guy!” It’s been nice though; at the different jobsites, people have been recognizing me. So yeah, it’s been a good ride.
Your ENR profile describes you as an innovator. What’s the most innovative thing you’ve done with Sundt?
Innovation, for me, is more about our culture. But one specific thing I did was take apart 2-D take-offs and turn them into 3-D take-offs. This resulted in time savings across the board, which led to a big culture change in our division: how we hire, how we estimate, everything. I give credit to my group too because they adopted that. It’s hard sometimes to change the way people do things. I was 23 when I joined Sundt and brought up this idea, and they said, “Do it.” They trusted me, and that was a huge deal. Based on our survey, we were able to achieve 82% time savings across all major [precon] processes. And, from last year to this year, we have the same amount of people and twice the amount of revenue. That’s something I really take pride in.
You come across as someone who is very driven and invested in this industry. What motivates you?
When I see inefficiencies, I see opportunities. If I can make a difference in my circle—within ACI (American Concrete Institute) for example, then it can impact the whole industry. And if we can drive that innovation from within Sundt, it benefits us but also everyone else too. That’s one of our core values—industry and community service—and sometimes those commitments cost money and work hours. But Sundt realizes the benefits are real and gives me those opportunities, and for me that’s also motivating.
So you’re working on your MBA, guest lecturing at ASU, giving your time to different industry and community efforts—how do you keep everything balanced?
My number-one rule is that once I go home, I shut off my work phone. I also run every day, which helps me shed off all the stress. And I just do a bunch of active things like mountain biking. The other side is spending quality time with friends, having a social life.
Looking toward the future, what are some big-picture trends you see affecting the industry in the next few years? And where do you see yourself within that process?
Everyone is trying to cut costs for construction services, and we see this trend happening in every market; people are trying to pay builders less and less. I think if we can pursue certain niche markets and establish ourselves as a leader, and perform really innovative and skilled work, we can differentiate ourselves and rise above that trend.
January 11, 2019
Over 50 years ago, while working to put himself through his final year of college, Guy Weinzapfel was awarded a Sundt Scholarship. At the time, Sundt presented a one-year full-tuition scholarship to a fifth-year student at the University of Arizona CAPLA (College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture) who was self-supporting. For Guy, the scholarship made a huge impact. “It might have been around $250,” he said, “but back then that was a lot of money, and it let me concentrate on what was essentially my capstone.”
As a student, Guy was spending countless hours a week in a Safeway—not bagging groceries, but learning to plan, design and construct buildings. A lesser known fact of Tucson history is that from 1958 to 1965 the CAPLA’s design studios were located in a former Safeway grocery store on Park Avenue, a block southwest of the college’s current location.
Between the long hours, demanding coursework and close quarters of the repurposed building, students in the “Safeway Studios” became close friends and remained so, long after graduating.
The “Safeway Group” eventually came together as a tight-knit network of alumni. Having reaped many benefits from their careers in architecture, they wanted to pay it forward to future students. In 2010, the alumni came together under Guy’s leadership to create the Safeway Studios Alumni Scholarship—though Guy credits the idea to his wife, Jane, who herself is an architecture alumna of CAPLA and was part of the first class to graduate women in 1966. Modeled on the Sundt Scholarship of years past, the Alumni scholarship is awarded to a fifth-year student working to put him or herself through the most challenging year of an already very challenging program.
With their endowment close to reaching its target of $250,000, and the 2018 fall semester approaching, Guy reached out to Sundt Project Director Dave Ollanik for a donation. “When Guy approached me,” said Dave, “and I heard his story about the legacy of Sundt’s scholarship activities at the U of A and how it had impacted him over his 50-year career, we were excited to become the capstone of the newly formed Safeway Studios Alumni Scholarship.” Sundt contributed the last portion of the endowment, allowing the group to reach their goal and award a scholarship for the 2018-19 academic year.
The “Safeway Studios” Class of 1965, with Guy Weinzapfel on the far left.
The first recipient of the Alumni scholarship is CAPLA fifth-year student Ben Stewart, who just began his final semester in the program. “The scholarship has changed the course of my last year,” Ben said, “by increasing the time I have available to focus on my capstone, to more thoughtfully consider all that I learned during my internship this past summer and incorporate this into my final project, and time to mentor and support younger students, all without having to work an outside job. I’m extremely grateful to be the recipient of this scholarship.”
Reflecting on the team effort behind the scholarship, Guy was proud of his group: “To know the impact this will have on current and future students, it just really puffs up everyone’s chest. All of the Safeway Studios alumni gave, every single one of us. And it just further cements the bond that we’ve had since the beginning.” For Sundt’s part, we’re glad to contribute and continue the tradition of giving back to our industry and our community.
November 30, 2018
Companies and teams often brag about an “all-star recruit” who has committed to their side, but it’s not as common that we get to celebrate bringing on an “all-star recruiter.” Luckily for Sundt, that’s exactly who Madison Williams is. This week, Maddy joined Sundt as a full-time employee-owner after completing her internship with the Workforce Development Group.
Maddy grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she lived in the same home her whole life, before moving to Tempe to attend Arizona State. She has held different jobs in the service sector, but working for Sundt is her first “real, adult job” she said. Maddy graduated in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Business with an emphasis in Spanish Language and Culture. Since joining Talent Acquisition in March of last year, Maddy has been a valuable asset in recruiting top talent and helping Sundt maintain its sustainable growth as a company. When asked to share a bit about herself, she gladly obliged.
How much did you know about Sundt before you started your internship?
Honestly, not much. I was researching HR-related internships back in March, and an offer at Sundt came up in my search. I applied without really knowing what Sundt does as a company, but once I started researching, I was intrigued by the large scope of projects that Sundt is a part of. I didn’t know much about the construction industry before starting my internship, but I’ve learned so much in the short time I’ve been here.
What’s the most interesting part about being involved in the construction industry on the Talent Acquisition/Recruiting side?
The most interesting part of being in college recruiting specifically is that I get to work with people from all four groups/divisions at Sundt. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay up-to-date on all the projects going on throughout the company as a whole, but it’s been interesting to work with people from all the various disciplines and markets.
What advice would you give college students who want to work for Sundt?
I would tell them not to pigeonhole themselves into one specific type of work. A lot of college students studying construction or engineering will have an idea about the type of project they want to be on, so they don’t open themselves up to other possibilities within construction. An internship is the perfect time to explore the many different aspects of work that construction, and Sundt specifically, has to offer.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Running a marathon in under 4 hours last February. I had trained for the race, but it was my first marathon, and I was not expecting to do very well. My one goal was to finish. Once I reached the 13-mile mark, my body almost went into auto-pilot until mile 20, and then it started to get tough. But I finished in 3 hours and 46 minutes, and I realized how insanely powerful the human body is—sometimes you just have to convince your mind that it’s okay!
For the second time, Sundt has been recognized by Vault.com for having one of the top internship programs in the nation. Based on responses from over 13,000 interns across the country, the 50 Best Internships were announced earlier this month, and Sundt was one of only two general contractors selected, and the only one from the Southwest. Other companies who made the list included AT&T, Capital One, Home Depot and KPMG. Vault’s rankings were based on independent surveys on compensation and benefits, quality of life, career development, the interview process and full-time prospects. To give a firsthand look at what our program is like, some of our 2018 intern class shared about their experiences.
José Gamez Garcia, Transportation Group
Growing as Professionals and as People
When asked about what he’s learned in the past year, intern José Gamez Garcia in the Transportation Group said, “I now see every project with the true purpose of why it’s being built as opposed to just the how. I think this mindset allows me to work hard while staying aware of the purpose of what I’m doing.” From the Industrial Group, intern Kate Kneip responded to the same question, saying, “The past few years, I’ve been able to grow as an individual and gain industry experience far beyond what I could’ve imagined. I was pushed outside of my comfort zone, and I was able to learn the importance of asking questions and paying attention to details.”
Dalton Holly, Concrete Division
Giving Credit to their Mentors
Emily Tucker, who interned with the Building Group on the University Square project, said, “I was fortunate enough to work closely with both a PE and Superintendent, Kelly Wyllie and Bryan Terry, which provided a diverse learning experience.” Intern Dalton Holly, who is with the Concrete Division, said “When it comes to my mentors working side-by-side with me every day, there’s been plenty. Anthony Pallini was my mentor for two summers now and has taught me more about the concrete industry than I could’ve ever imagined. Now I’m a part-time intern on [a project for a confidential client] where Neil Kerkhof is my mentor, and he continues to help my development as a field engineer in countless ways. I can’t thank them enough.”
Maddy Williams, Workforce Development
Getting Excited About Being Full-Time Employee-Owners
“Everyone here treats me as if I have an important voice and the ability to make important decisions, which has really driven me to be confident in what I do as a recruiter,” said Maddy Williams, who will join Sundt full-time in January. “I’ve learned a lot from every single person I’ve met at Sundt so far, and I’m excited to continue meeting our amazing people.” The difference with Sundt’s internship program is really the difference with the rest of the company; true leaders attract other leaders, and it shows in all aspects of our business. For more info, email email@example.com.
A special thanks to José Gamez Garcia, Kate Kneip, Emily Tucker, Dalton Holly, and Maddy Williams, as well as Mike Morales, Manager of Sundt’s College Recruiting Program, for contributing to this piece.