Project Manager Wes Hawkins, right, and the team take a flood victim to safety.
After Hurricane Harvey made a second landfall along the Texas coast this past Tuesday, three members of the Sundt team working on the State Highway 31 project in Corsicana, Texas knew it was time to take action.
“We were close to the storm but were only affected on the outside edge,” said Project Manager Josh Bunting. “We saw on the news that the local sheriffs were asking for help.”
Josh teamed with another Project Manager, Wes Hawkins, and Field Superintendent David Gallaway to represent the Corsicana team by making a nearly seven-hour drive to the Beaumont area to help those in need. They took Josh and David’s Ford trucks and David’s brother’s fishing boat.
The men were on their way to Houston but diverted farther northeast when they heard about flooding in Beaumont, near where the storm made landfall in Port Arthur.
“We tried to get in five different ways,” Josh said. “Every way we went there was water.”
Flood waters were running higher than 5 feet in some areas.
They ended up in the nearby community of Vidor, where they used the boat to rescue five people. They also saw devastation they could hardly imagine.
“You see it on TV and it doesn’t put it in perspective,” said Josh, who has worked in Texas for 7 years. “There was water halfway up the windows of houses, tons of flooded cars, churches and schools. People’s belongings were floating in the water.”
The water was so deep – Josh estimated 5 to 6 feet in many areas – that the three men drove the boat to the front door of the first person they helped.
“He had one plastic tub with his belongings in it,” Josh said. “The destruction was unbelievable. There’s just no fixing that.”
Everyone on our Corsicana crew wanted to go along but many had to stay behind to stay up to date on the project. The three who went were part of an armada of concerned people from across the region.
“There were a lot of people out there trying to get people out of their houses,” Josh said. “It was a big area. Even the couple of roads we went up and down was a small percentage of the people who needed help.”
One of the people the team rescued had a family member pick him up near Mauriceville, where the team dropped him off. The others went with volunteers to a church serving as a shelter in Buna. They all had one thing in common: gratitude for the Corsicana crew.
“They were pretty shocked,” Josh said. “One guy didn’t have a phone and didn’t know what had happened the past couple of days. He just knew his house was full of water. They were happy. They couldn’t believe it.”
There are many ways to help victims of the storm. Click here for a few suggestions.
Drones are being used more and more often on construction sites these days and Sundt’s projects are no exception. Much of our drone work is happening in California and Texas, including the CPS Energy Headquarters in San Antonio. In this video, Senior Virtual Construction Engineer Jonathan Ammon explains how the technology is being used to provide client value on the project.
A rendering of the future Comal County Jail in New Braunfels, Texas.
Sundt Preconstruction Manager Jon McKelvain isn’t afraid to go behind bars in the name of research and providing client value.
As we start preconstruction on the $62.3 million Comal County Jail in New Braunfels, Texas, Jon and his counterpart from our joint-venture partner recently toured the Smith County Jail in Tyler, Texas. Unlike most people there, he only stuck around for a few hours.
Sundt Preconstruction Manager Jon McKelvain.
The purpose was to explore the possibilities of replacing the current cell design with a prefabricated all-steel modular cell. Modular cells improve quality and schedule because they are a “plug-and-play” setup. All plumbing and fixtures are in the cell from the manufacturer and are stacked on top of each other to build the housing area for each pod. The only concrete masonry work that has to be done is the wall for the day room.
The Smith County visit included a walk-through of cell configuration, day room and recreation yard layouts and mechanical, electrical and plumbing requirements for the prefab cells.
“The tour assisted us in furthering our understanding of the requirements of the prefab cells, and we are conducting a cost and schedule impact analysis for the owner based on lessons learned,” Jon said.
The team is planning to tour the Lubbock County Jail in West Texas in July. Yates Construction, our JV partner on the Comal project, built the Lubbock facility. We’ve also met with a San Antonio manufacturer of locks and equipment.
“Being an expert in the detention market means being knowledgeable about all the latest design trends, detention equipment and security electronics hardware. This ensures we bring added value to our owner’s detention needs,” said Sundt Senior Vice President and Texas District Manager Eric Hedlund.
Sundt Senior Vice President and Texas District Manager Eric Hedlund has been named to the Arizona State University School of Sustainable Engineering and Built Environment Hall of Fame. He will be inducted Feb. 3.
Eric was selected by an awards committee based on his reputation in the construction industry, his leadership and support of the Del E. Webb School of Construction and his philanthropic efforts. Eric served as the Chair of the Executive Advisory Board for Del Webb School of Construction for eight years.
“All Phoenix-area industry stakeholders have worked hard to ensure the Del E. Webb School of Construction is a best-in-class experience for the students,” Eric said. “I am very honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by this outstanding program.”
In addition to heading up our offices in Fort Worth and San Antonio, Eric is responsible for the overall performance of the district’s building projects, including acquiring and executing work. He has been with Sundt for 30 years, and graduated with a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Arizona.
He is a past national chairperson of the Building Division and the Public Private Industry Advisory Council for the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Eric has also served on the national AGC Board of Directors. Additionally, he has served on the Board of Directors for local AGC chapters in Arizona and Texas.
Dustin Hicks is a senior marketing/proposal specialist who has been with the company for two and a half years. He has more than eight years of industry experience in mining surveying, energy sector development and construction marketing.
Dustin handles proposals across all our disciplines (building, industrial and transportation), specializing in the Texas market, as well as a variety of marketing projects.
He recently took a few minutes to answer questions about his life at and away from work.
What does your job involve?
As a senior marketing/proposal specialist I am responsible for the preparation, creation, and composition of marketing packages, proposals and presentations and coordinating efforts with business development teams to create winning pursuits. I enjoy the challenge of designing and presenting new ways to market our company for our clients and an external audience.
How much of a team effort is it putting together a winning work proposal?
With the help of very knowledgeable and talented business developers, virtual design and construction engineers, estimators, and sometimes even additional proposal specialists, we have all collaborated to produce some very impressive work. I could not respond to these complex proposals effectively on my own. It takes a huge, collaborative effort from our people to develop winning proposals.
What’s your favorite sport and why?
There aren’t many sports I don’t like. To make it easy, I’ll list my favorite team from each major sport and see how many rivals I can stir up. In no particular order: Hockey – Chicago Blackhawks; Basketball – San Antonio Spurs; Baseball – Detroit Tigers; Football – Oakland Raiders.
I also like playing and watching golf. I was fortunate to see Jordan Spieth and Phil Mickelson play at the Valero Texas Open a few years ago. I also enjoy running, cycling, swimming and especially hiking.
What are your favorite things to do away from work?
I work hard so I can play hard. I live for the next great adventure. My wife, Sarah, and I love going on road trips, camping, hiking with our dog, going to concerts, trying new restaurants and getting the most out of what this life has to offer.
We also volunteer for a local non-profit organization called Wildlife Rescue & Rehabilitation, Inc., whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and release native wildlife and to provide sanctuary, individualized care and a voice for other animals in need.
What’s the best trip you’ve taken?
Every road trip to far West Texas is unique. We’ve headed west from San Antonio in all four seasons and encountered something completely different each time. Whether it’s camping in Big Bend National Park or Big Bend Ranch State Park, there is more than a million acres of nature’s best playground. Dodging rattlesnakes, scorpions, tarantulas, roadrunners, jackrabbits, lizards, javelinas, bears and mountain lions is all par for the course. The scenery of deserts, mountains, rivers and big Texas skies day or night is pretty spectacular. My wife and I love it out there so much we got married at a historic ranch in the Chinati Mountains.