A Letter to Our Superintendents

Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation, encourages us to stay in touch with each other and to be strong and not give up.

 

The following is a note from Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation, to our Superintendents.

 

Supers,

When 2020 started I sure didn’t expect a global pandemic. I imagine it will be some time before we realize its true impact and how it has improved us. But, I can tell you this, it has made me more steadfast in my appreciation for you.

Every organization has a core group of people that make it run – the business end of the company. In the medical industry it’s nurses and technicians. In the military it’s the enlisted men and women. And, in construction it’s you, often referred to as “the field,” which is an inadequate term because it doesn’t fully describe what you do or the importance of your role.

You are the ones away from your families, you are the ones who face the weather to move dirt and rocks, pour concrete, erect steel, hang drywall, bring power to buildings, and give life to our clients’ visions.

During this pandemic you have met trials of various kinds and you have risen to the occasion. I realize how insufficient it sounds, but I want to once again say thank you. I’m proud of you for your grit and determination. You are the spirit of EMJ Construction.

Because of you and your steadfastness, I know that we’re going to emerge from this faster, stronger, and better.

With Admiration,

Burt

 

EMJ’s IT Department Rises to the Occasion

Gabe Thompson, Director of Construction, leads a Microsoft Teams call.

 

 

On March 9, 2020, Heather Collins, SVP of People and the IT Department, sent two emails to Sarah Kirby. The first asked how many employees were using Microsoft Teams and what it would take to get everyone fully operational in the event that everyone needed to work from home. Two hours later, the second email asked how fast the team could get it in place.

By Friday, March 13, all EMJ Corporation employees had access to Microsoft Teams and plans were set into motion to allow all of EMJ’s workforce to work remotely. While our field-based staff have worked remotely for many years, the IT team quickly equipped EMJ’s office-based employees with the tools, resources, and support they needed to be able to function effectively away from the office.

“From the very beginning, our IT staff was attentive and extremely responsive to what they were being asked to do in such a short time period,” said Heather.

It might seem like this was implemented overnight, but the quick reaction was made possible because several years ago the IT Department embraced cloud technology, first with Box, then Salesforce, Office 365 and finally Procore. It was all part of addressing the challenge Burt Odom, President and CEO, gave the IT Department to be “Smart and cutting-edge.”

As is the case with most IT solutions, the need didn’t stop with giving everyone access to Microsoft Teams. The IT Department then provided around-the-clock support for field and home-based employees, ensuring employees could remain productive by supporting our clients and our field employees. The group has even continued to onboard new employees to EMJ during this time period.

Chuck Hall, Director of IT, participates in a call with a little help from his son.

 

“I think it’s worth noting how well our systems and infrastructure have held up in a very different usage scenario,” said Chuck Hall, Director of IT. “The remote capabilities we had in place for our field employees are now in use by nearly everyone. Thanks to our preparation and infrastructure, the most challenging part of working remotely might be that many of us have kids that aren’t in school right now.”

The IT Department has risen to the occasion, putting in long hours and addressing issues quickly.

“None of this would have been possible without the groundwork they laid years ago with embracing the cloud, ” said Heather. “Without this important groundwork, there would have been no Microsoft Teams. While it may make us all feel like we’re in the opening credits of the Brady Bunch, it has allowed everyone to work from home relatively seamlessly. This was a great job by the entire group. Their work has been an embodiment of EMJ’s values, selflessness, trustworthiness, and grit.”

 

A special thank you and recognition to the entire department: (Top L to R) Chuck Hall, Sarah Kirby, Jay Ross, (Bottom L to R) Justin North, Ryan Van Dolson, Brent Page, and Chris Murphy.

 

Servant Leadership in Action

On Sunday, April 10, a deadly tornado with winds as high as 145 mph slammed into eastern Chattanooga, damaging many homes and leaving a wide swath of destruction.

The storm hit the homes of several EMJ Construction employees and family members, including the neighborhood of Nestor Praniuk, Superintendent, EMJ Construction.

Nestor quietly took a couple days off work, borrowed a tractor from a friend and, together, they went around the neighborhood cleaning up trees and debris for people who needed help.

“This wasn’t something Nestor broadcast, or even discussed, but others noticed,” said Chas Torrence, EVP, EMJ Construction. “Our purpose is to be people serving people, but we don’t always see it in action. For Nestor and his friends to do this amid the Coronavirus pandemic is a perfect example of what we mean.”

A few weeks ago we shared this blog about Mr. Rogers, who famously said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’”

We are thankful for people like Nestor and all the other helpers out there who see a need and step forward.

EMJ Leaders Discuss Construction During COVID-19 Crisis

River Rock, Chattanooga, TN.

 

Recently, Mike Pare with The Chattanooga Times Free Press took a look at the state of Construction amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The paper spoke with the Associated General Contractors of East Tennessee and other leaders in the industry.

Jack Bowen, President, EMJ Construction, and Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation, took time to share their thoughts about the industry and the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. The following is an excerpt:

Burt Odom, CEO of Chattanooga-based builder EMJ Corp., said the company continues to work, including locally at the River Rock mixed-use development downtown that will be one of the biggest-ever new housing and commercial complexes in the riverfront area.

“Our top priority is the health and well-being of our people,” Odom said. “We’re following all national, state and local mandates.”

Jack Bowen, president of EMJ subsidiary EMJ Construction, said the company has taken a lot of new safety steps, such as suspending all mass transit travel, including on airlines. On the job sites, EMJ has implemented just one entry point per project, set up hand washing stations, prohibited meetings in trailers and upgraded cleaning requirements, he said.

The construction industry is key to the vitality of the economy and helps people “maintain a glimmer of hope that it’s not as terrible as it may seem,” Bowen said.

Odom said it’s hard to say what the future will hold.

“We’re living in a day-to-day world,” he said. “Is this something we see over in three months or six months? We’re not sure. We’ve got to honor what state and local mandates say.”

To read the full story, visit: Construction continues during COVID-19 pandemic in Chattanooga. 

Be Strong and Do Not Give Up

Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation, encourages us to stay in touch with each other and to be strong and not give up.

Burt Odom

These are strange times! Although we live in a world that’s more connected than ever, you may be feeling isolated and have some level of fear. Whether you’re working from home or working on a job site, it’s easy to feel alone and trapped. It has caused me to reflect on how much I appreciate and enjoy working with such a great group of people. I do miss seeing all of you!

During these times, like so many of you, I often rely on Biblical principles to shape my world view. Recently, I was reading 2 Chronicles 15:7. Contextually, this was a time of restoration for the people of Judah. A prophet tells the King, despite their troubling times, “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.” As I read that verse there were three things that stuck out to me about our current situation:

Our challenges are not unique to us. Isolation comes by believing that you are going through something no one has ever faced. While the details specific to the Coronavirus may have never happened before, every generation before us has faced major issues. We are not alone. “Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

Our challenges are relatively minor. I’m not dismissing our situation, or the severity of the illness. But, think about those who fought foreign wars, lived through The Great Depression, or even survived the Civil War. On balance, I’m thankful for the time and place in which we live. “Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

Our challenges will change the future. Not many of us like change because it moves us out of our comfort zone. We need to embrace that our life will be changed by this experience, but I’m willing to bet it will put a clear focus on what really matters in life. “Be strong and do not give up for your work will be rewarded.”

I want to thank each of you for your continued hard work during a difficult time. I especially want to thank our field staff that continues to be away from home, keeping our projects and company moving. I would encourage all of you to remember we are not alone in this and to stay in touch with each other. More than ever we all need to be “People Serving People”.

During these strange times, “Be strong and do no give up, for your work will be rewarded!” Onward!

Burt Odom is President and CEO of EMJ Corporation.

FEMA Coronavirus Rumor Control

During this unprecedented time, it is easy to receive and share rumors. It is important to do your part to the stop the spread of disinformation by doing 3 easy things; don’t believe the rumors, don’t pass them along, and go to trusted sources of information to get the facts about the federal (COVID-19) response. Check out this FEMA page, designed to distinguish between rumors and facts.

 

Navigating Uncharted Territory

Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation, shares some thoughts about navigating uncharted territory.

Burt Odom

I think it goes without saying, but we’re all feeling a little uneasy right now. That is understandable.

I want you to know that we are monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus and how it affects the health and safety of our people, and our projects. I’m thankful for the leadership I’m seeing as we adjust to the situation.

As we navigate this issue, I want to share some thoughts that are top of mind:

This too shall pass. The following days and weeks will be inconvenient, but a lot of smart people are taking measures to lessen the impact of this virus.

This is the time to serve people. To EMJ this includes our clients, but more broadly, your communities in general. Find some people around you in need and help them. And please, whatever you do, don’t stockpile toilet paper.

This is the time to be gritty. Being gritty means we are courageous and of strong character. Remember, challenges provide the fire which tempers the steel.

We are in uncharted territory and uncertain about what will happen in the coming days. But, I’m reminded of this quote from St. Joan of Arc, “Go forward bravely. Fear nothing. Trust in God, all will be well.” Onward!

Psalm 46, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”

Burt Odom is President and CEO of EMJ Corporation.

 

EMJ Construction Delivers New CarMax

Today, while practicing social distancing, the CarMax team opened its 7th store in  Bradenton, Florida.

Today, while practicing social distancing, the CarMax team opened its 7th store in Bradenton, Florida.

A special thanks to the project team including Mike Coyne, Chance Coyne, Jon Fair, Conner Kamps, and Elijah Hall.

We extend a virtual high five to this team and all the EMJ Construction teams. Great job!