The news never sleeps, especially when you’re doing in-depth reporting for a construction company’s monthly newsletter. For two years, I developed story ideas, researched, wrote, and occasionally designed the internal newsletter for Balfour Beatty Construction’s Southeast Division (that would be the Charlotte, Raleigh and Georgia offices). These 4-page newsletters went out to upwards of 100 people and featured stories that updated everyone on recent projects, trends, employee successes and general company news.
Read the articles here:
[su_spoiler title=”Building Strong Foundations” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-square-1″]As spring turns to summer and graduation draws near, students across the nation are facing one of the most daunting job markets in years. Now, more than ever, a diploma is a necessity—one that can help open doors and give individuals an edge when they need it most. To help motivate students to reach the milestone of graduation, RT Dooley has joined forces with Access Services as part of the Communities in Schools (CIS) program.
CIS is the nation’s largest dropout prevention organization with a focus on ensuring that students graduate with marketable skills that will help them make the transition from school to successful, meaningful employment. Since January, RT Dooley and Access Services have held five sessions to give students from Garinger High School invaluable exposure to a multitude of career paths in the construction industry.
Covering topics ranging from construction labor, architecture, design, and project management, these extremely interactive sessions provided valuable one-on-one time. Students learned about the lifecycle of a project from concept, budgeting, and planning all the way through to a finished product. Emily Scofield, RT Dooley safety environmental and MWBE director, was instrumental in coordinating sessions with the students and RT Dooley representatives. “Our goal was to show the students that there are job opportunities in construction right here in Charlotte, and that they range from a skilled carpenter all the way – to an architect.”
In April, the students toured RT Dooley headquarters and viewed actual mockups of some of RT Dooley’s current projects, including office suites designed for the Duke Energy Center and room designs that will be in the Ritz-Carlton in uptown Charlotte. The students then saw some of the designs in person with a tour of the Ritz-Carlton followed by lunch and a Q&A session with representatives. This month, students put the lessons they’ve learned to the test at their own school by building new benches and refreshing a footbridge on the campus.
Sophia Davis, CIS site coordinator at Garinger, said sessions like these are imperative to the underserved high school juniors and seniors who participate in the program. One student has already been accepted at NC A&T State University and plans to study architecture there. “This interaction has affirmed his decision, and he also has some contacts that could help him land an internship – and eventually a job, “ said Davis.
According to Emily, the experience was just as profound for RT Dooley and Access Services, “It’s encouraging to see what could be the future of your community—to see potential future business leaders and coworkers. Over the course of the sessions, we saw the students become truly interested in the industry and get accepted into college. Hopefully, we’ve made a lasting impact on them.”[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Subcontractor Spotlight” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-square-1″]At 84 years old, Irvin Angel is an unusual presence at the jobsite. It’s partly because, at his age, you might think he would be relaxing by a pool somewhere enjoying retirement, and partly because he’s the kind of mechanical contractor you meet once in a lifetime–if you’re lucky.
As the principal and president of the Greensboro-based Benner & Fields, Irvin brings the kind of positive work ethic, impeccable scheduling and consistent follow-through that make working with his team an experience that stays with you long after the project is over.
Benner & Fields serves as the mechanical contractor, providing the infrastructure associated with mechanical and plumbing, for the Ritz-Carlton, Bank of America Tower and urban garden project. Paul Spear is effusive in his praise, “Irvin’s employees, from the top down, are more respectful, helpful, talented and driven, than any other individual group that I have worked with before.”
This month, Benner & Fields again proved themselves worthy of their reputation as they installed all of the mechanical equipment at the Bank of America tower during a single weekend. Starting at 6:00am on a Saturday their team worked around the clock to complete the project by the 6am Monday-morning deadline. Prior to installation, Irvin and his team spent more than a year carefully preparing for the project — and it showed.
His team did the prefabrication and mock-up in their shop in advance and then invited the team to come inspect it so he could gather comments, and make necessary changes and invite everyone back to ensure that the finished product met expectations.
During the installation, his team flawlessly assembled and installed the equipment on site with no changes or problems, and cleared the area so that construction could begin again on Monday without interruption.
For Paul Spear, the importance of having a mechanical contractor like Benner & Fields can’t be understated. Says Paul, “Their planning, performance and team commitment still exceeds anything I have ever experienced before. I may sound biased, but my fear is that I will never run across another Irvin in my lifetime.”[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Going for the Gold” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-square-1″]It all started, like so many inspired ideas do, over a plate of barbeque chicken. Every year, the Johnston County chapter of the Civitan International community service club holds a barbeque to raise funds for the county’s Special Olympics and youth sports programs. Balfour Beatty Construction buys meals at the annual event, and over time, North Carolina Museum of Art Project Manager, Mike Bedell had gotten to know the President of the Johnston County Civitan pretty well. So, it was only natural that they’d get to talking during this year’s barbeque.
The president told Mike about the house the Civitan had recently purchased and envisioned as the main office space for the Johnston County Special Olympics. It was old and something of a safety hazard, and with the economy putting a strain on nearly everyone, the Civitan was having a difficult time finding people who could help them transform the house into their office.
Mike knew that Balfour Beatty could lend a hand with the project, and offered to donate the services of his team from the NCMA project. And so, eight team members volunteered a day of their time at the house, tearing off an addition, adding siding, and demolishing several outlying structures on the property.
The team reached out to Janezic Building Group who donated dumpster services and Sunbelt Rentals who provided equipment at no cost. By the end of the day, the team had finished the job and the house was safe to use.
The Civitan was extremely appreciative, noting their pride at seeing a team made entirely of Johnston County residents give back to their community during difficult times.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Employee Spotlight style=”fancy” icon=”plus-square-1″]Hosting, entertaining and educating dozens of kids for an entire day is a monumental task, but for the Charlotte BBSpirit Committee, it was only half the story. A few months ago, the group decided it was high time for Balfour Beatty to participate in Bring Your Child to Work day.
The event would give kids a hands-on view of what their parents do at work while giving them a chance to learn about different careers. There was only one problem: Balfour Beatty had never done anything like this before. That meant the committee would need to design and implement every aspect of the day from scratch, in addition to getting approvals from a number of different sources and coordinating presenters prior to and during the big day. Fortunately, the team was more than up to the task.
The committee thoroughly researched what it would take to make the day successful and organized the event so that it would be fun for the kids without becoming disruptive for everyone else. Entertaining presentations taught the kids, who ranged in age from five to 14, about different professions, while a Lego building contest let them try their hand at construction. Special treats like the Balfour Beatty shirt all the kids wore along with breakfast and lunch with their parent helped put the final touches on the day and made it a rousing success. Many of the kids are already looking forward to next year, which gives the BBSpirit Committee just enough time to recover and regroup from such a whirlwind day.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”BBC to the Rescue!” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-square-1″]It was time to call in the big guns. The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS) knew if they were ever going to get their Cary High School project back on track they’d need some serious help. The WCPSS called in Balfour Beatty to step in for phase III and save the project after the original contractor had left the Cary High School Addition woefully behind schedule during a disastrous phase I.
The Balfour Beatty team sprang into action, assuming CM agent duties to help manage the other contractor, and providing extensive site utility work for the three-story, 46,728-square-foot addition. Phases II and III were designed to connect, so with construction still underway on phase II, Balfour Beatty expertly adapted to the project scope and found a way to seamlessly join phase II and III while avoiding scheduling and logistical conflicts.
The addition now offers the students of Cary High School a chance to flex their brain power with brand new classrooms, science labs, computer labs, and an advanced broadcasting studio that’s unique to high schools in the area. The studio features an enclosed control room with an “in-use” light to avoid disruptions during recording. Special acoustical panels and ceiling panels help to enhance the broadcast quality for programs aired on the campus’ closed-circuit station. Also included in the addition are lobby areas, and administrative spaces.
Balfour Beatty went beyond providing a positive experience and a quality product with no major set-backs (a welcome change for the WCPSS in its own right). The team completed the project nearly three months ahead of schedule and returned $1.1 million to the WCPSS. It was the first time Wake County had ever received money back from a contractor at the end of a project.
For a school system that’s expected to serve more than 20,000 students by the 2010-2011 school year, every penny counts, and with Balfour Beatty at the helm, the school got much more than they ever expected.[/su_spoiler]
[su_spoiler title=”Walking in the Footsteps of History” style=”fancy” icon=”plus-square-1″]In 1841, Charles Dickens visited West Point and said of the academy “It could not stand on more appropriate ground and any ground more beautiful can hardly be.” More than 150 years later, Balfour Beatty Construction is walking that same ground, providing new housing for the academy that has helped write American history since the days of the Revolutionary War.
Located on the Hudson River, 50 miles north of New York City, the West Point campus and central post area comprise just a small portion of the nearly 16,000-acre federal military reservation. As part of their effort to improve the communities at this important Army installation, West Point has begun a new housing development funded by a public-private partnership.
The $90 million project will include 158 new two-story duplex homes, totaling approximately 320,000 square feet. Each home features a double car attached garage, covered front and rear porch, upscale maple cabinets, wood and tile
flooring and a colonial exterior design. West Point asked Balfour Beatty Construction to take on design-build
responsibilities after it became clear that the initial project concept simply wasn’t feasible.
The team dealt with a site plan that required more than one million yards of earth moving and incorporated 750,000 cubic yards of imported materials. They addressed severe storm water issues and quickly devised a workable solution for solid rock obstacles that threatened the feasibility of the project from both a financial and construction standpoint.
Due to the lack of space for construction storage of materials and workability, the team decided upon a building method wherein the houses would be comprised of modules that were constructed off-site. Beginning in June, these modules will be transported to the field in five or six segments, where they will be erected, attached and finished. The team anticipates that this unique solution will allow them to construct the houses 25% faster than if the houses were built on site.
Dick Dorsch, Senior Project Manager, credits Balfour Beatty’s ability to contend with so many challenges to superior teamwork. “Without the total effort and true team concept, this project may never have been built.”
The project is scheduled to be completed November 2011.[/su_spoiler]