Tom Case was promoted to Executive Vice President and COO, Civil Group Manager on Oct. 1. His new duties include responsibility for Heavy Civil, Mining & Industrial and Concrete Operations.
With nearly 30 years in the industry, Tom has significant experience in large complex heavy civil construction and transportation projects, business processes and administration. He has industry-wide board-level experience, both locally and nationally, including Chairman of the Associated General Contractors of America Highway & Transportation Division.
He recently took questions about his vast industry experience, his influences and few of the reasons why customers choose Sundt.
What inspired you to choose the construction field for your career?
Both my father and grandfather were in the construction industry. They owned their own businesses in the deep foundation drilling area of the industry and I grew up working for my father.
What are the things you’re most excited about as you assume new duties?
I enjoy the challenges of building teams of highly motivated and successful individuals who collectively solve difficult problems and build very interesting projects.
How vital is it for the federal government to address our nation’s transportation infrastructure needs?
It is extremely important to our nation’s economy that we have a healthy transportation network to move people, goods and services through our country. We are the wealthiest economy in the world yet we have a weakening infrastructure that gets worse every day we neglect to invest in much needed improvements.
What expertise do we offer customers to help them solve their transportation needs?
Sundt is a leader in a variety of alternative contract methods such as CMAR/CMGC, design-build and conventional design-bid-build construction. We provide collaboration and innovation with our clients, partners and subcontractors/suppliers. We have strong values including a culture of safety and quality.
Our company has tackled several heavy civil challenges, including reconstruction of the Sellwood Bridge in Portland. What’s the importance of having inquisitive minds and flexibility out in the field?
It is essential that our mindset constantly evolve to identify and solve problems for our clients that create value where we all can prosper. We must listen to learn and be open to change if we are going to meet the growing challenges in the future.
What has been the most significant change in the industry in your nearly 30 year career?
The use of alternative forms of contracting. When I started in this industry, the majority of contracts were design-bid-build. Low bid does not necessarily mean best value. Today, the majority of Sundt’s contracts are either design-build or CMAR. When owners have a choice in who they trust and want to deliver value, they choose Sundt. That was one of the reasons I came to Sundt.
How would you describe your management style?
I have high expectations for myself and for the teams I work with. People want to be successful and my goal is to help them achieve success for themselves individually and for their teams. I believe my style is to build high-performing teams in a high-performing culture.
Where do you like to travel?
My wife and I have been to Europe twice and we are returning to Africa later this month. We also have been to Australia and New Zealand. We would love to return to New Zealand.
What books have you read that impacted your life or career?
Professionally, my favorite book is “Drive” by Daniel Pink, who writes about what motivates us. I also like Jim Collins’ “Good to Great” and John Kotter’s books on change. Personally, I have been influenced by author Max Lucado, who has written several wonderful books about spirituality, and Malcom Gladwell, who writes about life’s details and challenges.
Who was your most influential mentor?
Both of my parents influenced me most early in my life and my wife Lisa now has the most influence as we recently celebrated 30 years of marriage.
What are some of your favorite activities in your free time?
I like to golf, hike, mountain bike and read in my spare time.
Slayen/Sundt poured 1,420 cubic yards of concrete at pier 5 – a key milestone in the 47-month project.
The Sellwood Bridge project in Portland, Oregon achieved two important milestones last month when Sundt and joint venture partner Slayden Construction placed nearly 3,000 cubic yards of concrete at the foundations of piers 4 and 5, located in the Willamette River. The concrete pours represent significant achievements in the 47-month, $216 million project to replace the aging bridge with a new structure that is wider, safer and seismically sound.
Discharge water cascades from the cooling system the team developed to control the temperature of the concrete as it cured.
The concrete milestones also represent impressive accomplishments in value engineering and ingenuity. Piers 4 and 5 are massive concrete structures comprised of reinforcing steel and 6000 psi concrete. Slayden/Sundt’s own workforce used specialized concrete placement techniques to control the excessive – and potentially damaging – heat that was created during the curing process.
An up-close look at the cooling system’s water tubes, manifold and valves
“As fresh concrete hardens, or ‘cures,’ heat is generated as a byproduct of the chemical reaction,” explains Sundt Project Engineer Matt Fisher. “Due to the very large mass of concrete at piers 4 and 5, this ‘heat of hydration’ is generated faster than it can naturally dissipate, which could result in excessive internal temperatures and possible damage to the concrete.”
As a solution to this problem, the team designed an internal water-cooling system to remove the excess heat from the concrete. Water pumps, manifolds, intake screens, valves, flow meters and thousands of feet of flexible plastic water tubing were carefully placed throughout the concrete formwork. After the concrete was placed at the piers, cool water was continuously pumped through the plastic tubes, which in turn carried away the excess heat from the concrete. Remote temperature sensors were also placed throughout the fresh concrete to collect temperature data. As the concrete cured, and the internal temperatures climbed, this data was constantly monitored to confirm the performance of the cooling system and to ensure a quality product.
Artist’s rendering of Sellwood Bridge as it will look when it’s complete in 2016
Sundt recently presented its Lifetime Achievement Award to Mike Mahoney, a general superintendent who worked on the company’s federal government construction projects before retiring earlier this month.
Mike, who started with M.M. Sundt as a concrete finisher, worked on a wide range of projects across the United States for more than 40 years. His contributions to Sundt were acknowledged during the company’s Annual Leadership Conference, where 100 of the top senior management gathered.
This is only the third time in Sundt’s 123-year history that the Lifetime Achievement award was presented.
An aerial view of the reconstructed Cordes Junction Traffic Interchange
Sundt and joint venture partner Vastco, Inc., have nearly completed reconstructing the Cordes Junction traffic interchange, located about 65 miles north of downtown Phoenix at Interstate 17 (I-17) and State Route 69. Traffic has been placed into its ultimate configuration to prepare for the final lift of rubberized asphaltic concrete pavement. Crews are currently scheduled to pave the project during the month of June followed by final striping and signage. The project is expected to be complete in July.
The Construction Manager at Risk project included the construction of seven new bridges, including a post-tensioned, cast-in-place concrete structure that was built over live traffic on I-17. The Heavy Civil team also built two separate interchanges – one for through traffic and one for local – and realigned, widened and paved several streets. The 50-year-old interchange is used by approximately 40,000 vehicles per day.
Practice missions can be analyzed from one of DAGIR’s observation towers, like the one pictured above.
Sundt has completed the U.S. military’s first fully computerized target practice range at Fort Bliss Army Post, Texas: a high-profile project called DAGIR, which stands for Digital Air-Ground Integration Range. The facility will be used to train U.S. soldiers and the armies of several U.S. allies for combat missions on the ground and from the air.
What makes the range unique is the fact that the targets are controlled digitally, which allows for the creation of unlimited combat scenarios. Sensors in the targets and the vehicles gather information that then becomes part of the review and feedback process. After soldiers complete a simulated mission on the range, they return to the After Action Review (AAR) building to view a recording and debrief with their superiors.
The $32 million heavy civil construction project included construction of 23 miles of tank trails, installation of 200 pre-cast concrete targets, and construction of six support buildings. The targets required approximately 11,000 concrete blocks, all of which were made by Sundt’s Concrete Division using an efficient assembly line approach that boosted productivity rates by more than 30 percent over what was originally projected.