November 14, 2018
May 16, 2018
Sundt Construction’s Jon McKelvain presented at Texan by Nature‘s (TxN’s) first annual Conservation Wrangler Summit and Celebration last month in Dallas, Texas at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The summit brought together more than 200 Texas leaders to discuss the beneficial connections between business and conservation, and to highlight the best Texan-led conservation projects in the state. Topics ranged from addressing light pollution, to oil drilling with a smaller footprint, to using man-made wetlands to treat reclaimed water while serving as a habitat for wildlife. With all of the ideas presented, it was evident that Texans, by nature, are creative and community-minded people, and when they come together amazing things can happen.
Jon McKelvain, Vice President and Preconstruction Manager for Sundt’s Building Group, Texas District, spoke on engaging employees and the community, covering a broad range of Sundt projects and initiatives that exemplified industry best practices. “As a company, we empower our people to get out in the community and work with causes they believe in,” Jon said. “Also, we try to select projects that will have wide-reaching positive impacts on the surrounding area. There’s a lot of work out there to be won, but we’re passionate about pursuing the right projects.” Among many such projects, Jon covered a few high-profile examples.
Jon speaking on the Ocotillo Water Reclamation Facility, where technological innovation allows for smaller footprint and reduced sludge production. Sundt’s work increased service capacity to allow for community growth, and the water was made available for aquifer recharge, industrial use and irrigation.
In San Antonio, Texas, Sundt created a world-class linear park and public gathering space for an underserved community at San Pedro Creek, which became the focal point of the city’s 300-year anniversary celebration. “Think about it,” Jon said. “Before, that was basically just a concrete drainage ditch. Now, it’s a new park that’s improving flood control and serving as wildlife habitat and recreational space, with an anticipated $1-billion impact on the area.” Additionally, Sundt’s work on APS Four Corners in Farmington, New Mexico allowed for significant reduction in the power plant’s emission of greenhouse gasses, while also providing jobs and long-term economic benefits for the local Navajo Nation.
Other key projects were discussed, as well as the impact of the Sundt Foundation, which has given more than $8.6 million in grants to local charities and nonprofits since 1999, nearly half of which has come directly from Sundt employee-owners. Speaking on Sundt’s behalf about who we are and who we want to be as a company, Jon shared several instances of best practices with a focus on community and sustainability.
TxN founder, former first lady Laura W. Bush, addresses the crowd. The nonprofit brings conservation and business together, supporting efforts that are Texan-led, community-organized and data-based.
TxN’s goal is to amplify conservation projects and to activate new investment in research and conservation, which returns real benefits for people, prosperity and natural resources. “The whole premise behind Texan by Nature is that conservation is just good business, and it improves everyone’s quality of life,” Jon said. And true prosperity, as Jon pointed out, goes well beyond material wealth. For Sundt, a company whose purpose centers around creating prosperity for the communities where we live and work, this is an effort in which we’re proud to take part.
May 10, 2018
A crane puts the 145,000-pound auger cast pile drill rig into place at the Canopy Hilton River Walk site.
We will use every bit of our skill to successfully build the Canopy Hilton River Walk, a 22-story hotel in downtown San Antonio on a zero lot line. We crossed one of our first big milestones May 6 when we placed the drill rig into the 20-foot-deep excavation hole.
Our team arrived by 5:30 a.m. and started the process of placing traffic barricades that closed Commerce and St. Mary’s streets. The 500-ton crane and its eight supporting semis carrying rigging and counterweights arrived at 6:30 a.m. and were positioned. An hour later, the auger cast pile drill rig, which weighs 145,000 pounds, arrived and parked at its lift position. It took three hours to position the crane in the intersection, place the outrigger dunning mats and set counterweights.
The operation took weeks of coordination, especially given the tight surroundings. Tall buildings, including a 24-story hotel across the street, fill the area, and the process of coordinating the closure of two busy downtown intersections took planning and constant updates to all stakeholders in the immediate area. Stakeholders included several hotels, businesses, and a church one block to the north.
“The team put a great deal of time and effort into this operation,” said Project Engineer Anthony Pallini. “We spent months planning the logistics with numerous entities in order to make sure that we were not missing key components of the undertaking. It was truly a Sundt team effort as the Texas Building District and Concrete Division relied on each other’s strengths to develop and execute the critical lift.”
Pedestrians are always around, but during the lift, foot traffic was kept away from the jobsite.
“When you shut streets down and put a crane in the middle of a busy intersection it’s going to attract people,” Senior Project Manager Fred Galvan said. “Also on a Sunday morning, we had to consider there’s a church one block down and the worship service occurred during our operation.”
The drill rig will be removed in June and the same process to install will be reversed using lessons learned from this first phase. In July, the project tower crane will arrive and take three days to put together. The hook height of the tower crane will be 306 feet, giving us two cranes in the San Antonio skyline. The second is located at the CPS Energy Headquarters project.
Click here to watch the project’s progress.
April 13, 2018
One of our vendors shows the CPS Energy crew why an extinguisher with just water is bad for a propane fire.
Putting out fires at work or home requires the proper equipment. Being prepared can make the difference between life and death or, at the very least, help avoid property damage.
Our team at the CPS Energy Headquarters project in San Antonio got a firsthand look when AmPro, one of our safety equipment suppliers, put on an extinguisher demonstration earlier this week. AmPro is one of several Sundt partners who have shared their expertise during National Safety Week. This is our fourth consecutive year we have been an event sponsor.
In the demonstration of what not to do, the AmPro representative used a Type A extinguisher, filled with water, to douse a propane fire. No luck. It was a prime example of using the wrong equipment for the task.
“The reason it didn’t go out is propane fires are continuously fueled,” said Senior Field Superintendent Shawn Werner.
There are extinguishers for all kinds of fires.
Type A: materials like cloth, wood and paper.
Type B: combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil and oil-based paints.
Type C: electrical equipment like appliances, tools or other equipment that is plugged in.
Type D: flammable metals.
Type K: vegetable oils, animal oils and fats in cooking appliances.
We use Type A-B-C extinguishers at our sites because they contain dry chemical powder that puts out most common fires. Home improvement stores carry multipurpose extinguishers that cover Class A through Class C.
Make sure your home and workplace are armed with the right equipment in case of a fire. For more information, please visit the U.S. Fire Administration’s website.
April 4, 2018
Sundt Regional Vice President Todd Calder.
Sundt Regional Vice President Todd Calder is a lifelong Texan who is based at our San Antonio office. The son of a builder, Todd has been in construction 24 years, including the past three and a half with Sundt.
The Texas A&M graduate has worked on projects that have reached values as high as $750 million.
How busy is our Building Group in San Antonio?
It’s no lie, we are a bit on the busy side, but we are always looking for our next challenge. Our Texas Building Group team is wrapping up the VIA – Stone Oak Park and Ride, in full demolition phase of the CPS Energy Headquarters Project, completing shoring, retention and excavation on the Canopy Hilton River Walk and just beginning foundations on the Comal County Jail and Sheriff’s Office.
What is it about Sundt that’s helping us win so much work in the Alamo City?
The answer is always hard work, grit and having the best people, right? But in addition, Sundt’s Texas team has been headquartered in San Antonio for approximately eight years, and you have to give credit to the team that laid the foundation. Our recent success is due to Sundt’s culture and specifically, this office. There is a great synergy and enthusiasm throughout all aspects of our business development, preconstruction, administrative and operations teams, and I think our clients can feel it, too. We like what we do and the challenges that come with it, and we enjoy doing it together as a team. And last but not least, the people and capabilities of our Sundt Concrete partners has proved to be a real value added to our clients.
Could you tell us a little about your family’s foundation?
I am the president of The Judy Calder Foundation, a charitable foundation with a primary focus on benefiting animals and equine-related causes. My aunt Judy loved animals, and at her peak, had a herd of about 50 Arabian Horses. She and my uncle left a good portion of their estate to the remaining horses, seven of which we still care for on our ranch north of San Antonio. We just gave our first wave of grants out this last year, which included an endowed veterinary scholarship at Texas A&M University, a grant to assist in emergency veterinary services for events like Hurricane Harvey, and many other, local animal-related charities. The foundation is a wonderful reflection of my aunt’s love of animals and allows us to actively enhance local causes that she would have been passionate about.
What are your favorite things to do away from work?
There was a time when I would have said golf but I hardly play anymore. Most of my focus over the last few years has been around my family, especially my very active younger kids, and renovating our family ranch house where we live. It was constructed in 1835, which actually pre-dates The Republic of Texas (yes to all of you non-Texans, we still reference our life before statehood), and has been a bear of a project, but a very satisfying one just the same.
Where do you most enjoy traveling?
I love the mountains, and any chance to take the family skiing. We have been to Colorado, New Mexico and Utah over the last few years, and my kids are as hooked as I was when I was their age.
Which book or movie inspires you?
I do not do nearly enough reading, but the last author I read with any commitment was Dan Brown. As for TV/movies, we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel that may allow us to give up animated features and start enjoying movies again.
Continuous Improvement Program Manager Dominic Daughtrey (center) shows Project Engineer Tyler Persyn (left) and Intern Meagan Garcia how to use the DJI Phantom Pro 4 Obsidian drone.
Members of our team working on the Canopy Hilton along San Antonio’s historic River Walk recently took to the skies to avoid problems on the ground.
Continuous Improvement Program Manager Dominic Daughtrey held a training session with newly licensed drone pilots Senior Virtual Construction Engineer Mark Epstein and Engineering Interns Meagan Garcia and Matt Huffine for about 90 minutes using our DJI Phantom Pro 4 Obsidian.
The Canopy Hilton River Walk will be 22 stories with 195 rooms and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace.
Flights will take place before concrete is poured for the post-tension decks. The drone will be used to spot-check slab penetrations and sleeve locations, ensuring utilities are in the correct places and slab box-outs are the proper size before concrete is poured. Each time a clash is found in a post-tension slab, it costs the project between $10,000 and $50,000 to repair or resolve.
“With an incredibly complex project, it is one of our major goals to discover these clashes before they are constructed in the field,” Mark said. “Flights will also be performed following the concrete pour to monitor project progress, inspection and quality control.”
The craft will capture dozens of photographs and combine them using a program called Pix4D to create a jobsite orthomosaic, an aerial photograph geometrically corrected so the scale is uniform. Think Google satellite image (plan view) with 4K resolution. These plan views can also be geo-located with the use of precise ground control points. Aerial photographs are used to create a point cloud of the existing conditions and surrounding structures. A point cloud is a three-dimensional image and model that is created from the photographs based on the distance of the existing element from the drone. The model can be imported into the architect’s model to verify existing conditions and locations.
“On the Canopy project, we have a neighboring structure with a wall that is about 150 years old,” Mark said. “We’ve fully documented the existing conditions of that wall for any future questions, claims or otherwise. We’ve also created a point cloud model of it which accurately illustrates the location and will be used to proactively investigate constructability concerns.”
The hotel is one of the most high-profile projects going on in San Antonio. The 22-story facility will feature more than 3,000 square feet of meeting space, 195 guest rooms and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace overlooking the River Walk.
The Master Plan Project Overlay shows the complexity and tight confines on site.