January 6, 2017
July 1, 2016
Sundt Lead Estimator Curtis Smith.
Curtis Smith is a Lead Estimator who has been with Sundt since 2015. He’s also been a member of the Army National Guard for the past 14 years, one of our company’s many citizen soldiers and veterans.
He is responsible for our company winning the Patriotic Employer Award, which recognizes businesses for their support of Guardsmen and Reservists. He nominated the company for the award, which is presented by the Department of Defense. We are proud to be given the honor and to be the employer of choice for several of our nation’s heroic servicemen and women.
Curtis recently took time to answer a few questions about his service and Sundt’s support of our country’s military.
How did the Patriotic Employer Award come about?
I have been in the Army National Guard for 14 years. I have been deployed twice in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). On both of my deployments, I had several briefings from the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve. In these briefings they told us they have awards that you can nominate your supervisor or employer for due to their support of citizen soldiers. I have worked for Sundt for over a year now and the company has been extremely flexible and supportive of my obligation to the National Guard, which has allowed me to be an effective National Guardsman. One of the most important reasons I nominated Sundt for the Patriotic Employer Award came about after I approached (Preconstruction Manager) Rich Gohl to attend a month-long Army Advanced Leadership Course. After explaining the importance of this course to Rich, he was immediately on board to support me. Rich got involved with our fellow employee-owners to find out how I could take off a month and maintain all of the benefits that Sundt affords its employees. Due to his diligent efforts and engagement, I wanted to present him and Sundt with this award as a thank you from myself and the National Guard community.
What does it say about Sundt that the company readily supports its service members?
The company is accommodating and supportive of the National Guard community. Sundt is the first employer I have worked for that will continue all of my benefits and pay while I am at my annual training events with the National Guard. It is also the first company I have worked for that looks at my training events as a benefit to the company and not a detriment because of my absence. Even though I am going to retire from the National Guard in six years, I am looking forward to working with Sundt through those years knowing that I am going to be supported 100 percent.
How did you get into the construction field?
After moving from Connecticut to Phoenix in 2002, I joined the Army National Guard in order to have the amazing opportunity to serve my country and get financial support to go to college. Though I had several choices on what I could be in the Army, I wanted the most likely civilian job opportunity, so I became a Heavy Equipment Operator. After a couple of years, I wanted to learn more about building vertically, which is why I pursued a degree in Construction Management at Arizona State University. After my sophomore year of college, I began an internship with a small general contractor where I started to become knowledgeable in building construction and began my career in the industry.
How has your service time made you a better employee-owner?
Being an Arizona Army National Guard Soldier provides a multitude of opportunities and challenges that have helped round me out as a person and an employee-owner. As a soldier, we live by Army Values, which are based on the acronym L-D-R-S-H-I-P: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless-Service, Honor, Integrity and Personal Courage. I have lived by these values since I joined and feel that all of them apply to my activities as an employee-owner. The Army value that I feel stands above the rest is Integrity. Sundt takes pride in having great integrity in all aspects of construction from the owner to the subcontractors we work with. Having this quality as a contractor has made a huge impression with me and allows me to go home proud every day after work.
June 17, 2016
Sundt is committed to hiring a diverse workforce and we are continually looking for chances to employ the industry’s best people and introduce others to exciting opportunities in construction. We are proud to feature a series on our blog that provides insights into accomplishments made by our company’s veterans, women and minorities while highlighting successful careers and opportunities. We’re proud of our diverse culture and thankful for each employee-owner’s contributions. Please follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter as we celebrate the things that make Sundt an employer of choice where people thrive in a culture of diversity.
Jodie Marsh is a US Army veteran who works for Sundt as an Area Quality Manager. He served his country from 1985 to 2007, enlisting after the job he had to pay for college working the wheat fields in Montana was eliminated after a drought killed the crops. In the Army, he was stationed across the United States as well as Germany, Kuwait, Iraq, Japan and the Ukraine. Jodie filled various roles, including Platoon Leader, Company Commander, Intelligence Officer at the Battalion and Brigade levels, Brigade Logistics Officer, Assistant Brigade Operations Officer and Forward Observer.
Jodie began working for Sundt in 1994 as a carpenter. Following that project, he was transferred to Phoenix and made it his home base. He has held several positions with the company, including Concrete Foreman, Recruiter, Project Engineer and Project Superintendent.
How does your military experience make you a better Sundt employee-owner?
The military expects soldiers to be leaders and to be accountable for their actions. Having a “can-do” attitude has made me successful in many of the positions I have held at Sundt.
Why is it so important for a company like Sundt to hire veterans?
Leadership is not an easy thing to teach. The military does a great job providing people with the ability to lead others and to make effective decisions in a timely manner. There are hardly any decisions made where all the information needed to make the best decision is available at that point. The military decision-making process teaches soldiers the time value of a decision and how to make the best decision given limited information.
What qualities do veterans possess that make them good employees?
Most veterans come to Sundt already having instilled in them most of our company’s core values. The military is huge on Integrity, Personal Responsibility, Community Service and Safety. The military also instills in soldiers the ability to see things through to the end. Don’t quit until the fight is over and the objective has been attained.
How often do you run across fellow veterans with the company?
Almost on a daily basis. A lot of my closest friends are from a military background.
What would you say to veterans who want to work for Sundt?
Sundt is a place that understands the values they would bring to the company and the culture here supports those values.
June 9, 2016
Kira Bruun is a Project Engineer who has been with Sundt for 10 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Construction Management from Arizona State University.
She was raised in Salt Lake City before moving to Las Vegas to become a flight attendant. Kira stayed in the position for two years until the company where she worked went out of business. She moved to Phoenix, where a family member suggested she apply at Sundt. Kira did and she got the job, starting as a Project Administrator in 2006.
She still lives in the Phoenix area and has a 4-year-old son.
What was it about Sundt that made you want to work here?
Two simple reasons: growth and support. I would not be here today if it weren’t for the support and growth opportunities Sundt provides. In my first year, I knew I wanted to be a Construction Manager. Because of the Tuition Reimbursement Program, I was able to afford college. Because of the continuous meetings with the operations manager(s) after each semester I had the support that I needed. Because of the continuous growth I’ve received since graduating, I have purpose to continue to be a Sundt Employee-Owner until I retire. I enjoy watching my peers become strong leaders and great mentors. That is very motivating to me.
How important is the company’s employee ownership model?
It helps create an environment of accountability, financial responsibility and long-term sustainability. Knowing that business decisions are being made for the greater good of the company promotes a sense of job security, which in the cyclical construction industry is priceless.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?
You don’t need to be the typical, Type-A personality to succeed in construction. Your ability to build and maintain relationships is what creates success.
You live in Arizona. How ready are you for the hot summer temperatures?
Bring it on! Three months of hot summer days versus six months of cold winter days … I don’t mind the heat at all. And we get a bonus: Monsoons!
What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
I watched “Zootopia” with my son and shockingly enjoyed it. It covers some pretty tough topics and shows children how to overcome bullying, racism and defeat stereotypes by simply believing in yourself. As Judy (one of the movie characters) aptly sums up: “No matter what type of animal you are, change starts with you.”
Where is your dream trip and why?
Spain. It’s a large, culturally diverse country, has breathtaking architecture, friendly people, great food, fine wine and Mark Consuelos (from “All My Children”) is from there. Need I say more?
May 24, 2016
In Arizona, where one in 64 children is diagnosed with autism, early assistance is critical to helping those kids and their families live happy and productive lives.
The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center’s JumpStart program provides intervention and parent education and empowerment programs for families of children up to age 6 newly diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The organization, based in Phoenix, received a $3,000 grant from the Sundt Foundation.
“(Members of the grant committee) have become familiar with the services provided by SAARC through the direct experience of fellow employee owners, family and friends who are impacted by autism,” said Sundt Employee-Owner Andrew Apostolik. “SAARC provides an invaluable service to these families and we are proud to help support their mission.”
SARRC Corporate and Foundation Relations Manager Greg Boone emphasizes the importance of early, evidence-based intervention. “A typical family arrives to JumpStart unaware of what a diagnosis means for them and their child and have a great amount of uncertainty, misinformation and fear associated with the disorder. Many resort to searching the internet and/or listening to hearsay in order to find answers. JumpStart serves to educate, empower and ultimately ease the fear associated with a diagnosis.”
Developed in 2002, JumpStart provides early intervention therapies to children in a classroom setting and individually using Applied Behavior Analysis principles. Kids in the program go through 25 clinical hours before undergoing a follow-up assessment to gauge their progress.
Private support enables the center to keep costs low, no more than $500 per family. Greg says the organization spends more than $2,000 per family.
“Without fundraising, the program would not operate,” he said.
The program also educates parents on techniques to help their children develop language and communication skills, learn to interact with peers and reduce unwanted behaviors. The organization’s goal is to assist 60 children and their families each year.
“We see thank you cards from parents who said they saw no hope, no light at the end of the tunnel before their children entered the program,” Greg said.
Sundt Senior Vice President and Southwest District Manager Ryan Abbott.
Sundt Senior Vice President and Southwest District Manager Ryan Abbott recently sat down to talk with GlobeSt.com, an industry-leading website dedicated to providing original and timely commercial real estate news. During the interview, Ryan discussed the economy, construction best practices, major university construction projects and other exciting Sundt work going on throughout the Southwest.
GlobeSt.com: Where do you see the most potential growth in Phoenix’s construction economy?
Ryan Abbott: We’re following the demographics toward a greater healthcare infrastructure, biosciences research, diagnostic laboratories, technical education centers, digital record storing and retention. Phoenix has a diverse manufacturing base with emphasis on aerospace and electronics, supported by a growing higher education sector.
GlobeSt.com: You are a firm believer in a multi-disciplinary, collaborative approach in solving society’s biggest challenges. In your experience, have you seen more organizations/cities/schools in Phoenix adopt this approach in construction?
Abbott: Having just stepped beyond the threshold of what has been dubbed The Great Recession, I can tell you that I am truly amazed at the fragmentation that has occurred in the construction marketplace. Just like economic markets tend to travel with inertia – in a self-reinforcing trajectory until something overheats or overcools, then rapidly changes direction – we’re finding the same occurs with our client base, building owners. Given too much predictability, contract terms seem to revert from those that support collaboration to what I’ll call bunker-building or risk-coercing.
The inverse applies, as well. We’ve got some fantastic customers who have said, ‘You know I want long-lasting value, I want a predictable outcome, I want an experience that mimics the culture of my company,’ and throughout the last several years we have created unbelievable value with these customers.
GlobeSt.com: When does collaboration work best?
Abbott: It works best when all parties can put the endeavor first. It takes a customer who has the courage to tell their design and construction professionals what they want and where they’re headed. Collaboration works best when the stakes are high, the challenge grand and the objective transformational.
GlobeSt.com: Sundt has completed and is working on several major university construction projects in Arizona. Is there a trend you’re seeing in university construction?
Abbott: Threaded urban context where each building is supported by and reinforces the next. University construction requires teams to engage in, understand and dynamically respond to the ecology of the project. They have to be durable and long-lasting, and they have to take significant abuse yet remain completely flexible. They have to be easily maintained and industrial, yet be inspirational and inviting. They have to be inviting, yet safe and secure. They have to be adaptive, quickly reacting to large changes in occupants, yet elegantly simple.
A university is often a collection of independent fiefdoms tied together with a chilled water system. They are a decentralized model that requires a centralized vision. Getting to the best project requires diplomacy, understanding, transparency and communication, through every single medium possible. When we work with schools and universities, we work with some of the world’s greatest scientific minds that might be ill-equipped to translate two-dimensional discussions into three-dimensional spaces. We are working with pedagogical advancement that might likely change more quickly than we can build the space to house it. In fact, in some cases the curriculum to be taught in some of our projects hasn’t even been determined when we put the first shovel in the ground.
A modern campus bookstore doesn’t just contain books … it contains tablets and 3D printers and a coffee bar. Some modern classrooms don’t have a front or a back. They are designed to have team modules, where learning occurs side-by-side. It’s not rare to have a classroom technologically linked to another one somewhere else and the students of each collaborating on a project.
We are currently working on several public-private partnership projects where the university provides the land, a private developer provides the funding and then the university pays the developer over time for the use and ultimate ownership of the result. In some cases our team is even operating and maintaining the educational facility, leaving the school to do what it does best: teach. On the construction side of the equation, the buildings we are providing today are more cost-effective to own and operate than ever. We focus on the total cost of ownership in decision-making across the board.
Today it’s about proximity, about attracting creative people and creating the universities that keep them there. It’s no longer good enough to simply have spaces that support pedagogical advancement; modern universities need a world-class fitness center to play in, exceptional multi-family buildings to live in and state-of-the-art facilities to work in. Modern universities are landlords to fantastic restaurants, creators of walkways that connect and amenities that inspire.
GlobeSt.com: What other projects is Sundt working on throughout Arizona and the rest of the Southwest region?
Abbott: We’re building a laboratory and classroom building for what has been coined the ‘Harvard of the Sky,’ a hospital for an organization that is transforming sick-care into health-care, a 10-story biomedical science research building poised to turn first-generation doctors into disease curers, a 57,000-seat football stadium, an international airport, a 911-call center, a skilled nursing center, a cleanroom and an office tower.