November 14, 2018
October 18, 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.
September 28, 2018
“I’ll support anything that supports our people,” says Dominic Daughtrey, Continuous Improvement (CI) Program Manager at Sundt. Dominic spoke at the Bluebeam Extreme Conference (XCON) in Austin, Texas last month, where he shared about Sundt’s use of drone technology and our pilot program with the Raken Daily Reporting App. Dominic has over 17 years of experience in the field, going back to his start as a concrete laborer when he was just 18. In other words, he understands the issues faced on a jobsite every day: “You need to have proximity to people’s problems to have empathy with them.” These problems were the focus of Sundt’s pilot program using the Raken app, which is becoming a success story of new technology simplifying—not further complicating—people’s day-to-day jobs.
Dominic Daughtrey presenting at the Bluebeam Extreme Conference in Austin, TX
Some issues our CI team identified across projects were: a) a lack of value from daily reports and b) an increasing number of tasks placed on the superintendent position. “I call the superintendent ‘the forgotten man (or woman)’” says Dominic. “They’re asked to do a lot more than they were 10, 15, 20 years ago, but they’re given the same old tools.” One area in need of improvement across jobsites is the daily reporting process, which includes lots of paper-based forms and manual data entry. The reports are not that important per se—that is, until there’s a delay, or dispute, or a claim that requires a paper trail. “So, you have these highly trained and well-paid professionals spending a good chunk of their day checking boxes, instead of being present on site.” Or, when daily reports aren’t done right (or done at all), small ambiguities can morph into bigger conflicts, which can become slowdowns or even legal disputes.
Project Superintendent Dave Storvis, a third-generation 35-year construction veteran, who uses the Raken app
Using the Raken app, however, our pilot sites are seeing value from their daily reports, less miscommunications, and more capacity at various levels. “We have multiple roles out in the field feeding notes and photos into an automated system, and we’re seeing people freed up to do their jobs better,” Dominic says. Another benefit is the app’s dashboard: “Here I am at this conference, and I can pull up a jobsite on my phone or laptop and see all of these insights. And I’m 400 miles away.” Still, the cool factor isn’t the rationale; on top of streamlining daily reports, the app offers better coordination with subcontractors, more detailed reports to executives and owners, and a host of other practical improvements. “One of our goals in the CI program is ‘Disciplined Innovation,’” Dominic explains. “Getting a ‘thumbs-up’ on some fancy new technology doesn’t really give us anything. We’re looking for data that can drive business decisions.” With that end in mind, Sundt looks to keep investing in tech and best practices that let our people do what we do best: being builders.
May 30, 2018
Public parks play a huge role in shaping the social fabric of a community. The new Eastside Regional Park in El Paso, Texas is a case in point, and Sundt is proud to partner with the city to create public space that will enhance El Pasoans’ quality of life. Last month, Sundt broke ground on Phase 1 of the park amid much fanfare from the city and local community, who eagerly await the project’s completion in early 2020.
Phase 1′s natatorium will house a 50-Meter competition-ready pool with all the required amenities to host regional meets at this facility, including seating for up to 800 spectators and pool deck space for 400 competitors.
Much of the buzz surrounding this project comes from its sheer scope and the number of amenities offered to the public. The three-part complex will include an indoor natatorium with an Olympic-size, competition-ready pool and diving well; a multi-generational community center with a gymnasium and multipurpose classrooms; and an outdoor neighborhood waterpark with waterslides, cabana-style shade areas, a lazy river, a water play lot, a climbing wall pool, and El Paso’s first wave simulator. All of these facilities will be surrounded by a landscaped walking path and public art.
Main entry lobby and mezzanine level with access to natatorium spectator seating and the fitness center/running track on the gym side. Both the natatorium and community center have goals of LEED Silver certification.
Describing how much this project means to the community, Senior Estimator Rudy Barba explained how El Paso is divided into three distinct areas: the Franklin Mountains separate West El Paso and Downtown, and Fort Bliss divides Downtown from East El Paso. “There’s just nothing like this on the east side of town,” Rudy said. The city’s center has undergone several improvements, but historically the east side has been an under-served area and hasn’t received as much attention. “But things are changing. This new park is going to attract people from all over town,” Rudy said. “It’s not just a new space for the swimming community, it’s going to be a gathering place for families and people of all ages.”
An aerial view rendering showing the main entry and waterpark.
From the start of the bid process to the first phase of construction, Sundt has maintained a high degree of collaboration and attention to detail. “We take pride in our thoroughness, especially when it comes to delivering that ‘wow factor’ the owner wants while also staying within budget,” said Project Director Joe Riccillo. “As a trusted partner and advisor, we’re working hard to cultivate our relationship with the City of El Paso and other key clients in the region.”
January 17, 2018
The University of North Texas project will add 26,000 gross square feet to the existing building on the UNT Discovery Park campus.
The University of North Texas (UNT) needs a larger facility to expand its Biomedical Engineering program. We have a strong resume working with colleges and universities on similar projects. It’s a pairing with purpose.
We are just getting under way, with a 12-month construction timeline. The project will add 26,000 gross square feet to the existing building at the UNT Discovery Park campus.
“Sundt’s resume in higher education, with emphasis on the health and sciences projects, made this connection perfect,” Project Manager Holly Horsak said.
One of the nation’s largest public research universities, UNT has an enrollment of more than 38,000. The university grew from a private college to a large public research university. It’s the fourth-largest university in North Texas and the biggest in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“UNT is 128 years old with 10 colleges and two schools and are experiencing record-breaking enrollment growth,” Holly said. “We want to grow with them.”
Coincidentally, our company was also founded in 1890. This project, which expands our university work in Texas, could create a match both sides find beneficial for many years.
“We are really excited to have been chosen for this project and are looking forward to building a long-lasting relationship with UNT,” Holly said.
Despite wet conditions, we completed our work on US 175 in Texas seven months ahead of schedule.
US 175 in Henderson County, Texas is bigger, safer and open well ahead of schedule despite conditions that often worked against our crew, which numbered as many as 50 craft professionals at a time.
The county, located 35 miles west of Tyler, Texas, saw 115 inches of rain in 2016. Seventy of those inches came during the spring, when our team was working on critical portions of the job, including constructing several large cast-in-place box culverts and four bridges and excavating 800,000 cubic yards of dirt.
“The soil is sandy and prone to washing out,” said Area Manager Abel Ortiz. “It was just a messy job site. Lots of water. The crew did a good job of managing all that.”
Construction of the drainage box culverts was a challenge under the conditions and the earthwork operations suffered significant delays. We had an answer that kept the Texas Department of Transportation project on track.
“The team made up for most of the lost time by double-shifting the dirt work operations during the summer,” Abel said. “We had five dirt crews going around the clock. At one point, crews were moving 20,000 cubic yards of dirt per day.”
The work turned US 175 into a four-lane divided highway that bypasses the small town of Poynor. The old roadway had two lanes with no shoulders in a rolling hill area, making it extremely dangerous.
Work started in October 2015 and was completed in January 2018, seven months ahead of schedule.
“The crew was able to manage the adverse weather very well,” Abel said. “That kept the owner happy.”