March 8, 2019
October 10, 2018
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.
April 27, 2018
It was a fall morning on the calendar last month, but outside it felt like the dead of summer. Sundt employee-owners walked from their field office and joined the crowd beneath a white-canopied event tent, dwarfed by neighboring high-rises and tower cranes. Guests started taking off their suit jackets, picking up the SWAG pocket fans, and hydrating as if a coach somewhere had called a timeout. Even with the heat, however, there was a feeling of anticipation that couldn’t be sapped. It was time to celebrate.
Attendees from Sundt Construction, Allen + Philp Architects, the Opus Group, Driftwood Acquisitions & Development (DAD), Hilton, and the City of Tempe all came together to celebrate the groundbreaking of the new Canopy by Hilton in downtown Tempe.
Carlos J. Rodriguez Sr., CEO of Driftwood Acquisitions & Development (DAD), kicked off the festivities with a dad joke; he praised his son and COO Carlos Jr. for treating this project as his baby, so in business terms “[Carlos Sr. is] a grandfather now.” Family humor aside, it was clear that this project means a great deal to many stakeholders, especially the city of Tempe, and it will take a village to complete something this size on such a tight lot and timeline.
The 14-story, 198-room boutique hotel is scheduled to open January 2020. It will feature various amenities, including a café, gym, over 3,000 square feet of meeting space, and a rooftop pool with a terrace bar, cabanas and a fire pit. As part of the Canopy by Hilton lifestyle brand, the new hotel will focus on local design, food and drink, and culture. “Everything about this is going to scream Tempe,” said Gary Steffen, Global Head of Canopy by Hilton. Steffen also noted the “breakneck speed” of Sundt’s progress, among other speakers who pointed out the irony of holding a groundbreaking ceremony with the first floor of concrete columns already in place.
Tempe Vice Mayor Lauren Kuby commented on downtown’s need for quality hotel and conference space, for business and leisure travelers as well as visitors to ASU. Also, she said, “This project will create over 620 jobs in Tempe for the short term, and then hundreds more in the long term to staff and run the hotel.”
Sundt Senior Project Manager Jim Drago, among the “vested” crowd in the back wearing their PPE, said, “The most challenging part is it’s an extremely small site—less than a half-acre, including our entire laydown area—to build a 14-story building. And it’s less than 100 feet from the high-rise apartments we just finished. It’s all about logistics.” Sundt’s Building Group, Southwest District recently finished the Union Tempe mixed-use project in June, just in time for move-in of its current 500 residents who include ASU students and faculty, young professionals and families.
According to Jim Drago, collaboration has been a key ingredient in the project’s development: “It’s not very common for two different developers to work together hand-in-hand, but that’s what Opus and Driftwood had to do to make the Canopy happen, and they continue to work together.”
Several things stand out about this project, from both a development and a construction standpoint. “It’s unique to have finished Union Tempe for one client and then transform right into the next project, a similar one but for a different client on the same piece of land,” Jim said. Both he and Project Superintendent Justin Gillies pointed out that having the same team on Canopy is a unique advantage. “It’s great to be able to leverage our shared learning experience,” Justin said. “And we’re going to need that to meet our goal of completing a floor a week.”
“The team all know each other, and know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and styles. The chemistry is already built, and it shows in the teamwork that goes on every day,” said Jim Drago.
While the Building Group, Southwest District looks to put Sundt’s signature on yet another piece of Tempe’s rising skyline, fellow employee-owners in Texas are doing the same on the Canopy by Hilton San Antonio. As we expand our presence in the hospitality and entertainment market, Sundt continues to deliver for our clients and for the communities where we work and live.
October 27, 2017
Sundt Project Engineer Dinesh Reddy Allam.
Project Engineer Dinesh Reddy Allam has been with Sundt for two years after spending a year as an intern with another concrete contractor in Phoenix. A native of Hyderabad, India, Dinesh has a bachelor’s in Civil Engineering and a master’s in Infrastructure Management from the University of Petroleum and Energy Studies in his native country. He also has a master’s in Construction Engineering from Arizona State University.
His brother, a Project Engineer named Dilip, also works for us. Both are in our Concrete Division.
How did you get your job at Sundt?
The company reached out after finding me on LinkedIn.
What does a Project Engineer do?
A Project Engineer acts as a liaison between the project team and subcontractors, vendors and anyone external on a project. The cool thing about being on the self-perform side is the Project Engineer gets to analyze and act on labor production rates and commodity curves on a daily basis.
How important is the role technology plays in preconstruction?
We have seen massive gains in efficiencies in the way we set up estimates. With an upward trend in the industry using building information models during the design phase of a project, we leverage the information in those models to perform quantity takeoffs much faster and more accurately. It gives us more time to do constructability reviews and analyze the structure on how it needs to get built.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
The power to clone myself. That way, I can multiply my efficiency.
What’s your favorite movie?
My favorite has to be “Baahubali: The Beginning,” which is a Tollywood movie from my hometown.
What’s one thing someone should do or visit when in the Phoenix area?
You should definitely try mountain biking. My favorite is the South Mountain National Trail.
July 6, 2017
Sundt Project Controls Manager Kristen Bejarano.
Project Controls Manager Kristen Bejarano started working for Sundt right after graduating from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Construction Management. She has worked as an Estimator and Project Engineer before entering Preconstruction and eventually taking on her current role.
Kristen works out of our Tempe office.
What made you want to work for Sundt?
I became interested in working for Sundt while in college. I knew I wanted to stay in the Southwest and work for a large company with a good reputation and great culture.
What does a Project Controls Manager do?
I will be assisting projects with the development of their Project Management Plans and helping teams get up to speed on Sundt policies and standard operating procedures. This includes identifying areas where they may need additional attention (e.g. change management and safety) and getting teams the support they need.
Any interesting stories to share from a job site?
It was really great to work with the Ak-Chin Community on the Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino and Hotel expansion and learn more about their culture. There are many thoughtful design elements incorporated into the job: the pattern of the tile, the type of woods used, the colors in the carpet that are representative of the Ak-Chin Tribe. It’s made me more appreciative of the area where we live.
Where are your favorite places to travel?
Central Coast of California – San Luis Obispo, Morrow Bay and Paso Robles. I love the vibe of downtown SLO, mixed with the agricultural outskirts. The food is amazing and wine tasting is aplenty. Kayaking in Morrow Bay among the seals and otters is always fun.
If you could only have one type of cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is a tough one. I’m going to say Mediterranean, I enjoy a good Greek Salad, Chicken Shawarma and hummus.
Jonathan Graham with his wife, Dana, and their 1-year-old daughter, Hadley, at a fireworks show in Heber, Arizona this week.
He’s known as “Unicorn” on Sundt’s University Square job site in Tempe, Arizona. The mythical name came about because Jonathan Graham’s safety badge features a photo of his 1-year-old daughter wearing a unicorn hat.
But the nickname could easily apply to Jonathan himself. Earlier this year, he made the unusual move of going from an office job, complete with air conditioning, to a construction site. He’s part of our concrete crew as a lead man form carpenter.
While he says he’s always been mechanically inclined, Jonathan’s career change was met with some skepticism. After all, it meant working outdoors in Tempe during the hottest time of year. Temperatures in June topped 120 degrees.
“The consensus was that I was crazy to do concrete work in the summer in Arizona,” said Jonathan, who has been married six years. “My family understood and they know the type of person I am.”
Jonathan’s path to Sundt started by working in sales for a social media and digital engagement company in Scottsdale. That’s where he met Jerrin Jaramillo, who’s now a Sundt recruiter. After leaving that company, Jerrin stayed in touch with Jonathan and encouraged him to apply at Sundt. Jonathan eventually did and started here this past February.
“(Jerrin) talked very highly about Sundt and the ESOP,” said Jonathan, who has a degree in business communications from Arizona State University. “I wanted to get back in the trades and use my degree in a different way.”
Jonathan’s father was a sheet metal worker in Michigan, so he grew up around the trades. When Jonathan moved to Arizona in 2007, he did facilities maintenance work for nine United Blood Systems buildings.
A move back to an office environment wasn’t what he wanted in the long run.
“When I got back in the office, I realized it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle and be attached to a phone.”
Getting back in the field has had its health advantages. Freed from cubicle life, Jonathan is feeling healthier than ever after “getting away from sodas and doughnuts.”
“Physically, it’s been kind of crazy,” he said. “I’ve lost 45 pounds. It’s good for me.”
He’s seen University Square, a residential and mixed-use development, go from the ground up. In late June, the crew was setting concrete on the sixth floor.
“Every day I come to work, something’s different, the site has changed, the building is growing,” Jonathan said.
Part of the draw of returning to craft work was a good change of pace: No sales calls, no boring meetings and plenty of pride in his work.
He also hopes to work his way up in the organization and there’s plenty of history of that at Sundt. Our two most recent President/CEOs started their careers as craft workers.
“I want to climb the ranks and become a foreman and supervisor,” he said. “I’m a totally different person than I was when I started.”
This blog is part of our series of posts about career-related subjects. For more information about opportunities with Sundt, please follow us on Twitter or visit our website.