February 15, 2019
December 29, 2017
Senior Virtual Design & Construction (VDC) Manager Mark Epstein was recently named among ENR Texas & Louisiana’s 2019 Top Young Professionals. After completing two concurrent master’s degrees in architecture and construction management at Washington University in St. Louis in 2010, Mark accepted his first position as a project engineer with a construction management firm. He later moved into an architecture role with Gensler in Austin, Texas, where he spent three years learning to produce high-quality construction documents and eventually became a project manager. Soon after, a friend introduced Mark to Sundt Construction in San Antonio, where he now leads our BIM and VDC strategies. Mark is advancing Sundt’s technology capabilities with a full immersion of the Texas Building Group into BIM and VDC processes. Part of his goal is to strengthen communication between the office and field, and better transform concept into reality. But there’s a lot more to Mark and to his work than meets the eye.
With your unique background in both construction and architecture, what drew you to Sundt, and how is it being back in construction?
The transition back to construction has been really refreshing. It’s been good to get on the jobsite and touch and feel the work—not just in the digital form or detail form on paper, but to be out around the work, the people performing it, and then to learn from their expertise. Some of these guys have been doing this longer than I’ve been alive. I have a huge amount to learn, and I appreciate that. On the contractor side, there’s that ability to learn and people’s willingness to teach and take you under their wing, and in architecture I’d say it’s just much more limited in that regard. So, yeah, it’s been a great transition.
Speaking of that dynamic, how has the team in San Antonio taken you in and supported you in your role?
The leadership down here is incredible. Eric Hedlund and Todd Calder have really high aspirations for what they want us to do, but at the same time they provide us with the resources that we need to do it. That, to me, shows that they’re serious about accomplishing these goals. When I came to San Antonio, they knew I had an architecture background; I was working with “backbone” technologies like Revit and Navisworks, which are cross-disciplinary for the architecture and contractor side. So, they’re leveraging that experience to build upon what they want to achieve with technology here, and they’ve been extremely supportive.
What are some innovative things you’ve been working on recently, things that you get excited about?
Well, I give credit again to the leadership and resources that Sundt has provided. Dominic Daughtrey with the Continuous Improvement Department has gotten me up and running with a drone fleet here, so that’s been a great way to explore technology and implementation. You’ve got the hardware aspect, but then you also have the data and deliverables to manage and distribute. That’s been a real game-changer to experience how that data can affect how we do work on site, you know, bridging that gap from computer to the field. That’s not necessarily the most innovative thing in the world, but it’s just been eye-opening to see where else it can go, for example, taking that jump from basic drone flights to importing footage into augmented reality applications and 4D scheduling.
But, you know, the innovation isn’t the tech itself; the innovation is how we’re deploying the hardware and software packages with our project teams. It’s helping project engineers, managers, and superintendents understand how technology can help them do their job, to be safer and more efficient, to have less rework. I mean, you can hire a “tech person” or a few “tech people” in this role. But that’s not what we’re doing here; we’re infiltrating the jobsite with this tech, having superintendents and project engineers know it, and having people at the project level buy into technology as a comprehensive approach. We’ve actually got a guy here, age 60, who’s really excited about using 4D scheduling—not to sound ageist, but across the industry, you have a lot of construction veterans who typically don’t want to learn that stuff. But when we have people here buying in, that’s a big deal. To me, that’s innovation. That’s success.
December 27, 2017
Sundt Field Superintendent Andres Herrera.
Andres and his wife, Silvia, moved to Tucson in 2011 from Phoenix. He worked in Sierra Vista, Arizona on the Fort Huachuca Barracks shortly before joining the team in Tucson and briefly working on the Las Cruces High School project overseeing demolition work to prepare for the second phase.
He earned his bachelor’s degree in construction management from the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University with a minor in business from the W.P. Carey School of Business. Andres and Sylvia have three children.
What does a Field Superintendent do?
A Field Superintendent assists the Project Superintendent with managing the field activities associated with the construction of the project, developing and maintaining the project schedule and coordinating inspections to assure the execution of a safe and quality project that is delivered on time and on budget.
What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on while with the company?
My favorite would have to be construction of the 13-acre Northwest Fire Training Facility campus for several reasons. One being it was the project that relocated me from Phoenix to Tucson and although I bleed maroon and gold, I enjoy living in Tucson more than Phoenix. Also, like many kids, when I was younger, I wanted to become a firefighter and this project allowed me the opportunity to not only drive a fire truck and go through the training obstacle course while wearing the full turnout gear but also enter the live fire burn building we constructed. It was an experience I will never forget. I developed a greater respect for the men and women who fight fires, especially during the hot summer months.
Who has had the biggest positive impact on your career?
My close friend and mentor Josh Geis whom I worked with at the Northwest Fire Training Facility gave me the inspiration to become a superintendent.
Have any hobbies?
My 1-year-old son keeps me busy chasing him around! I definitely enjoy spending time with my family and running/hiking with my wife.
Dog person or cat person?
Growing up as a child, I had a German Shepherd as well as a Rottweiler. Now with a family of my own and being outnumbered by my wife and two daughters, we have a poodle. I would definitely say I am a dog person.
December 22, 2017
Our work on the Comal County Jail in Texas will take place over three phases.
The ceremonial groundbreaking shovels have been put away and construction has started on the $62 million Comal County Jail in New Braunfels, Texas. The project, on which we are serving as construction manager, will take place over three phases.
- Phase 1: The 155,000-square-foot county jail will be constructed, containing 589 beds, a booking area with temporary holding cells, a detention administration area and visitation spaces for attorneys and families.
- Phase 2: After completion of the jail and relocation of inmates, the interior of the existing jail will be demolished and renovated into new space for the Sheriff’s Office.
- Phase 3: After relocation of the Sheriff’s Offices, the existing office will be demolished and renovated into approximately 68,000 square feet of administrative space.
The facility will accommodate 408 men and 124 women, with options including a range of custody levels — separate, single, double occupancy, quad cells and open dorms. Supervision will include a second-level control room overlooking housing pods and exercise yards.
Housing units will have natural light, outdoor recreation and on-unit treatment and programs. The facility also will have a medical and mental-health infirmary with inpatient and mental-health crisis beds, administration space, magistrate functions, visitation areas, a commissary, kitchen and laundry support.
Our team is on site and is beginning installation of storm-water controls, earthwork and utilities. We’re still in the preconstruction phase developing the remainder of the packages for the second Guaranteed Maximum Price that includes major trades including concrete, steel, mechanical, electrical and plumbing.
December 20, 2017
Sundt Safety Representative Karrissa Rogers.
Sundt Safety Representative Karrissa Rogers joined the company in August 2016. She has worked in the construction industry since 1991 and has an associate’s degree in Environmental Safety and Health and a bachelor’s in Occupational Safety and Health. Karrissa also is an authorized Occupational Safety and Health Administration trainer.
Her husband, Andrew, works for us as a Virtual Designer. Karrissa was working in Southern California before getting an opportunity to move back to Phoenix and join our team.
What made you want to work for Sundt?
When you’re an outsider, you hear a lot of good things about working with Sundt. Other construction companies view working with Sundt as a high achievement. My husband also had a little bit to do with me changing jobs. He works for Sundt and said I would really like it here. I’m glad I made the change and moved back home with my family.
What unique things does Sundt do to encourage safety?
I love the safety culture. The unique thing with Sundt and safety is that it really does start at the top. There are a lot of companies that say this, but very rarely does this happen. Sundt cares about its working family.
Where are your favorite places to travel?
I really enjoy going to the beach. Virginia Beach and Manhattan Beach, California are my favorites. A few years ago people said we would be able to buy oceanfront property in Arizona. I am patiently waiting.
What’s your personal motto?
Be honest, helpful and kind.
Who has been your best mentor?
Although he retired from Sundt in January 2017, Joe Hall was a very good mentor. He was laid-back and helpful. If you had an idea, you could present it and he was able to ask questions to work out the kinks.
Part of our work on the University of Arizona Student Success District is a new entry to the Main Library.
Our 60th project for the University of Arizona will be among our most impactful.
Next year, we are breaking ground on the Student Success District in Tucson. The intent of creating the district is to improve student success through direct connections among student services, academic support and amenities in the heart of campus. The district will bring together student counseling, tutoring, course selection, assistance with their majors, aligning internships, coaching and facilitating job interviews and health and wellness.
“The Student Success District is a big push by the University to engage every student on campus,” said Sundt Project Director David Ollanik. “It’s an effort to engage them and provide resources they need to be successful in their time at the University and prepare them to enter the workforce.”
The work includes:
- renovations to Bear Down Gym;
- a new Student Success Building adjacent to Bear Down;
- renovations and entry addition to the Main Library;
- renovations to the Science-Engineering Library;
- redevelopment of adjacent exterior areas into student-focused outdoor environments;
- new links among the buildings.
The project includes two phases. Phase One will be the new Student Success Building and an addition to and remodeling portions of the Main Library. The Student Success Building will be located on the south side of Bear Down Gym and will house student support services. Phase Two will include renovations to Bear Down as well as improvements to the Science Library and open space between Bear Down and the library buildings.
The Student Success District is all about the future and helping young leaders earn their degrees. Our history with the UA is strong dating back to 1936 when we built the ROTC stables on campus.
“The University of Arizona is our University,” said Sundt Vice President and Regional Director Ian McDowell. “It has been since we moved our company to Tucson in 1929. The people who live and work at Sundt in Tucson have educated their families for nearly a century at this institution, so we are very grateful to be a part of future success on campus.”