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 $129,169 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.
While she’s much more concerned with critical paths than a path towards critical acclaim, Hannah Schumacher earned some well-deserved industry fame earlier this month when she was named a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Cost Engineering (AACE).
Hannah visits multiple jobsites each week, such as the Canopy by Hilton Tempe (pictured here), to meet with project teams and review their schedule and status.
Hannah is a Planning and Scheduling Professional (PSP), meaning she plans, schedules and monitors construction projects. Essentially, her behind-the-scenes work plays a huge part in delivering projects on time and on budget. Also, Hannah’s status as an AACE Fellow is one of the most prestigious and selective honors in the industry. It involves nomination from at least five AACE peers, recommendation from the Fellow Admissions Committee, and approval from AACE International’s Board of Directors.
AACE Fellows are sought-after thought leaders and industry influencers. More importantly, as Hannah pointed out, the title isn’t just about being an expert: “It’s a recognition that you have this experience, but also that you’re sharing that with others.” Hannah has given presentations, authored papers and pioneered best practices, as well as conducted group and one-on-one trainings with Sundt employee-owners. “She’s helped elevate the skills we have across our staff, for both the Southwest District and the larger Building Group,” said Sundt Senior VP and Building Group Southwest District Manager, Ryan Abbott. “It’s incredible how much Hannah brings to our team; she’s a fantastic coach focused on enhancing the individual, not just the plan.”
Hannah on site meeting with fellow employee-owners Mike McGee, Adrianne Coffinger and Kelly Wyllie.
Since 2017, Hannah has served as Scheduling Manager for Sundt’s Building Group and has loved it. “What I love about Sundt is the people,” she said. “Other than the people, what I love about my job is providing frontline support, training and mentoring to the project teams, helping them build effective schedules that they can use to manage their projects. Every day is something different; each project is unique with its own challenges and issues. There’s nothing like seeing a project from start to finish.”
True to her nature to share, Hannah was quick to share the credit for her fellowship, starting with thanking her husband. “My industry involvement has demanded a lot from me, and my husband has been so supportive throughout the process,” said Hannah. “It was an unexpected surprise to be named as an AACE Fellow. I’m honored and grateful to be recognized by an organization whose volunteer members do so much to give back to the industry.”
The Canopy by Hilton Tempe’s south elevation panel installation is now complete, with windows installed up through level 10 and remaining windows on Levels 11 to 13 scheduled to complete next week.
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!
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.
Union Tempe was named Mixed-Use Project of the Year at the 2019 Real Estate and Development (RED) Awards this week, hosted by AZRE Magazine and AZ Big Media. Sundt Construction and Opus Development Group were proud to receive the award together, paying tribute to what was truly a collaborative effort from beginning to end.
(From left to right) Rich Gohl, Jim Drago, Kelly Wyllie, Larry Pobuda (Opus), Garren Echols, Brett Hopper (Opus) and Ryan Abbott accept the award for Mixed-Use Project of the Year for Union Tempe
“The reason these projects work,” said Ryan Abbott upon accepting the award, “is because of fantastic clients and partners. This team worked around the clock to make something amazing happen, and we’re very proud of them.” Representing our partner, Opus Development Group—who also won the Developer of the Year Award, Executive Vice President Larry Pobuda said, “I’d like to give a special thanks to Sundt Construction, for being an outstanding partner, and kudos to SmithGroup for their amazing design.”
Sundt Senior VP and Building Group Southwest District Manager Ryan Abbott addresses the crowd at the 2019 RED Awards
For the Union Tempe project, Sundt transformed a surface parking lot into a 407-unit residential and retail mixed-use development, covering an entire city block just north of Arizona State University’s campus. “Our work is embedded in the community. For a long time, Tempe has been a university town,” said Ryan Abbott, “and Union Tempe is one of those developments that allows the city to be more diverse, in that young professionals and families can now live, work, and play all within the very vibrant and walkable downtown of Tempe.”
Out of several award-winning projects, Union Tempe was selected as the cover for AZRE Magazine’s latest issue.
“We couldn’t have done this without our trade partners, including Wilson Electric and Walters and Wolf,” said Southwest Preconstruction Manager Rich Gohl. Rich, Ryan, and several fellow Sundt employee-owners and partners were on hand to celebrate this year’s event, joining a packed crowd of attendees from across the commercial real estate industry. The RED Awards highlight impressive projects completed in the past year, as well as the companies and people that make each project possible.
Other Sundt projects honored at the RED Awards included our work on Grandview Terrace, an independent living Sun Health Life Care community, as well as Harrah’s Ak-Chin Resort and Casino, which were named respectively as finalists for Healthcare and Hospitality.