Employees honored for Outstanding Performance

The Edgar M. Jolley Awards for Excellence recognize exceptional work within the EMJ family of companies. The “Jolleys,” named in memory of EMJ’s founder, are presented in three categories: Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Servant Leadership and Outstanding Project. This is the first in a seven-part blog series about the 2018 Jolley recipients. 


The peer-nominated Jolley for Outstanding Performance is awarded to employees who go above and beyond in their roles by expanding their range of responsibility, developing junior team members, demonstrating initiative and creativity in tackling challenges and building relationships with clients.

Congratulations to the following high-caliber employees who were honored with the Jolley for Outstanding Performance:

Kile was presented the award at the annual meeting by Jack Bowen, Executive Vice President of EMJ Construction Chattanooga.

As a Warranty Manager at EMJ Construction Chattanooga, Billy Kile’s work ethic, adaptability and dedication to mentoring put him in this year’s outstanding performance category.

Described as a “team player” and a “very valuable asset” by his nominator, Billy goes above and beyond to get any task done, regardless of whether it falls under his job responsibilities.

He serves those around him, building trusting relationships with architects and subcontractors, while guiding them to bring value to our clients. He guides subcontractors to ensure our finished products are strong representations of the corporation. He is diligent and efficient, following up with a variety of team members to ensure that everyone is accountable and any outstanding issues are resolved.

His nominator writes, “If anyone I have worked with this year deserves this award, it would definitely be Billy Kile. I was very fortunate to get to work with him and learned a lot.”


Totzke (right), shown with Jack Bowen, Executive Vice President of EMJ Construction Chattanooga.

Steve Totzke, Project Manager in EMJ Construction’s Chattanooga office, serves clients and those around him by continually going above and beyond on any task. He simultaneously worked on three Lidl stores last year, and is completely dedicated to his work—even taking work-related calls as late as midnight to instill trust with the client.

He puts forth continuous effort to represent EMJ positively through his work ethic and service-minded attitude. Steve’s nominator wrote, “The relationship that Steve has built with Lidl is a strong one, and I’ve seen firsthand how much they respect, trust, and like Steve. He is able to communicate with people in a way that specific to the individual, and is always very in-tune with the client’s wants and needs.”

Steve’s nominator also wrote about his dedication to growing his employees, saying he has “put forth more time and effort into my career development than anyone I’ve ever met. He consistently looks for learning opportunities for me and challenges me on a regular basis.”

Lastly, Steve dives head-first into challenges, learning new techniques and training others in valuable skills. He is “always there for his team, and will not shy away from any issue— regardless of how messy.”


Pfeiffer, shown with Jack Bowen, Executive Vice President of EMJ Construction Chattanooga.

Anita Pfeiffer, Project Manager, EMJ Construction Chattanooga, regularly goes beyond her role to ensure that her team is successful on every project. She moved from Tulsa to Chattanooga midway through 2017, and jumped into what her nominator called a “very complicated project,” but “she did not let these challenges get her down or impact her attitude.”

Anita took a strained relationship and turned it around by dedicating herself to the client and guiding her team to create an experience rich with unique value.

Her forward-thinking leadership helps her team plan ahead and she leverages various team members’ skills to ensure success. She inspires her team with her consistently positive attitude and encourages them to do their best work by example.


Praniuk (right), was presented the award at the annual meeting by Chas Torrence, Executive Vice President of EMJ Construction Special Projects.

Nestor Praniuk, Superintendent for EMJ Special Projects, managed the construction team on the Public Defenders of Tennessee offices last year. He received a request from the client to cut the construction schedule by 25%, took ownership of the task, and put the effort in with his team to get the job completely early.

Through this, he has served EMJ by “developing a relationship with the owner of his project like no one else has been able to in the past. The owner has given EMJ repeat business and will not accept any other superintendent to lead his jobs except for Nestor.”

Nestor always has a positive attitude and leads his team by example. His nominator writes, “Even on a hard project for the sub-contractors, the attitude and energy of the job site is always high and positive. Nestor rewards good work and makes the job site a place where people enjoy working.”

Lastly, Nestor has exceeded expectations of the client and his team and has become a better superintendent doing so. His recent performance has increased his value and the value of those he has led throughout the job.

Congratulations to all recipients of the Jolley for Outstanding Performance!


EMJ ranks #69 on ENR’s list of Top 400 Contractors

ENR Top 400 Contractors


Last week, we received news that EMJ Corporation ranks #69 on Engineering News-Record’s 2017 list of the Top 400 Contractors in the U.S.

This is EMJ’s 25th year on ENR’s list. We started at #166 back in 1992. In 2014, we ranked #129, followed by #101 in 2015, and #82 in 2016.

Today, our ranking, and our progress and growth, is due to our family of companies, each of our outstanding employees and the exceptional experience they deliver to our clients on every completed project.

Among these companies, EMJ Construction’s offices in Boston, Dallas and Chattanooga continue to elevate our brand through exceptional project delivery in a variety of sectors. EMJ’s teams have diversified their scope of work and expanded into industrial, distribution, multi-unit housing, healthcare, hospitality and more.

EMJ Special Projects, formerly Accent Construction Services, continues to serve the needs of clients seeking quick turnaround, single-tenant builds. The company has carved out a niche in adaptive reuse and historic renovation that has opened the doors to unique and innovative opportunities.

And, RedStone Construction Services, a Native-owned company based in Tulsa, Okla., just completed the corporation’s largest project in history, River Spirit Casino Resort.

If you take a deeper dive into the ENR rankings, you will see that EMJ ranks #15 in the Power sector. This is because of Signal Energy, which provides engineering, procurement and construction for renewable energy and infrastructure projects throughout North America. Among Signal’s top projects in 2016 were the Amazon Solar Farm in Virginia and Tranquility Solar Project in California.

While this ranking is a great honor for EMJ’s family of companies, in many ways it represents the accomplishments and growth of our clients who have partnered with us for many years.


What’s next?

So where does EMJ go from here? How do we elevate our efforts to set new standards within the industry and serve our clients better than the competition? Our people and C2C.

We have an exceptionally talented group of people at EMJ. Our team is of high integrity and a strong moral compass. Our culture of servant leadership guides us in serving our clients, but also each other.

Our C2C approach is centered around our clients and drives our teams to deliver unique value to our clients, partners and colleagues. The result is an exceptional construction experience that builds trusted relationships and transforms the way people view our industry.

By practicing servant leadership and aiming to live up to our values—honest, selfless, passionate, smart, responsible and gritty—in everything that we do, we are set up for success for years to come.

Guiding teams into the future with construction technology

EMJ’s people are the building blocks of the company. Their personalities, skills and past experiences are large parts of what make the company great. We are proud of each member of the team and enjoy sharing their stories.

Jonathan uses a Matterport reality capture device to capture virtual walkthroughs of rooms at EMJ’s 728 Market Street project.


Jonathan Deming, EMJ’s Director of BIM and Construction Technology, began his construction career building U.S. Embassies internationally—most notably in Beijing, China, and Moscow, Russia. He worked in various roles from construction project manager to design engineer, gaining understanding of the complexities and challenges of many construction roles.

After several years of international construction, he changed his course to focus on BIM and technology.

“Building internationally expands your perspective and pushes you to look beyond the way things have always been done,” Jonathan says. “Exploring ways to increase efficiency and improve the overall construction process in other countries really launched my passion for construction technology.”

After shifting his career focus, Jonathan gained experience working on projects of all sizes, including the Defense Logistics Agency’s (DLA) $90 million Defense Distribution Center. He led a team that self-performed the design and fabrication of mechanical systems to include ductwork and piping, using 3D modeling technology. This effort resulted in over $500,000 in savings to the project and several accolades, including first place in the 2013 Sysque Model of the Year.

Jonathan also worked on DFW’s Automated People Mover and Terminal Expansion, a $1.2 billion program, where he served as a quality assurance engineer and scheduling manager.

A model of Shaw Industry Group’s Create Centre by EMJ’s Construction Technology team. The office building was designed by Gensler.


Today, Jonathan leads EMJ Corporation and its family of companies in the training and application of Building Information Modeling (BIM) and various other construction technologies, such as laser scanning, smart site, 4D scheduling and more. Some of the projects impacted by his team’s work include 728 Market Street, U.S. Xpress, Connection Park, Chattanooga Whiskey and Farmer Brothers.

“Applying technology to construction can be complex and disruptive, so it’s important that we compare methods and help clients understand what the best options are so that they can achieve their goals and cut risk,” says Jonathan.

Jonathan’s department is also responsible for selecting and implementing the cloud-based project collaboration system Procore, currently being rolled out across EMJ.

With nearly 20 years of experience, Jonathan is committed to sharing his knowledge with others in the industry. In 2016, he founded Grassroots BIM to serve his Chattanooga community. This group of like-minded professionals who are passionate about construction technology holds quarterly meetings to foster community and collaboration within the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) industries.

“The group’s tech-focus aligns perfectly with Chattanooga’s emphasis on innovation, and it has the potential to really enhance the AEC community,” says Jonathan. “We are building great momentum and are excited to see the results.”

He has also served as the speaker for Autodesk University and a guest lecturer for Carnegie Mellon University Graduate School of Civil Engineering, The University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, and The University of Tennessee School of Engineering Technology. This August, Jonathan will be one of the main speakers at the Advancing Field Technology 2017 conference, where he will address topics ranging from data analytics to ROI case studies.

For those trying to find their way in the construction industry or life in general, Jonathan says,  “Find your passion. It won’t necessarily be instant or easy, but when you find it, you will have a whole new outlook on your job and your purpose in life.”

Learn more about EMJ’s Construction Technology offerings here, and learn more about our EMJ team and how to become a part of it here.

“Muddy” geotechnical report leads to creative solutions

WoodSprings Suites - Madison

After heavy rain at the WoodSprings Suites project in Madison, Tenn., the testing agency analyzed the site and delivered a report that recommended undercutting a foot and a half of soil and replacing with structural infill. The proposed change would cost the owner nearly $100,000 and “waiting it out” was not an option, as the soil would take nearly a month to dry.

EMJ Project Manager Brandon Stewart, Superintendent Roberto Almiron, and Level II Superintendent Ryan Blaylock were not comfortable with this solution and questioned the report to gain a better understanding of the situation. They then consulted with the geotechnical engineer and others to formulate a more prudent alternative. After the testing agency gave the all clear on the new plan, the team went to work.

The plumber excavated two- to five-foot trenches throughout the site and backfilled them with gravel from the original scope, which served as a French drain to dry the site. By the time the plumbing, concrete and additional site work was completed, only 30% of the pad was original dirt and “hard as a rock” when the testing agency returned to proof-roll it.

Rather than following the testing agency’s suggestion to bring in unnecessary soil, which brought a hefty cost and no real value to the client, Brandon, Roberto and Ryan thought outside the box and worked collaboratively to produce a solution that saved the client significant capital.

“The team turned a potentially unpleasant and expensive situation into a no-cost issue for the owner by collaborating and asking questions,” said Jonathan Horne, Director of Quality Assurance.

Congratulations to Brandon Stewart, Roberto Almiron and Ryan Blaylock, who are recipients of EMJ’s C2C Spotlight award for delivering unique value through creative solutions on this project.

The four-story, 123-room hotel is expected to be completed later this year.

FedEx, TNACI win Chattanooga construction, design awards

Two EMJ Construction projects received accolades at the 2017 Building Recognition in Chattanooga (BRIC) Awards on Tuesday, April 18th. Hosted by AIA Chattanooga, green|spaces and Sustainability Professionals of Greater Chattanooga, the BRIC Awards highlight projects completed by Chattanooga-based firms that represent the best-of-the-best in construction innovation, engineering and design.

The Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, or TNACI, was the big winner of the evening, taking home four awards—the People’s Choice for Sustainable Project of the Year, both the People’s Choice and Judge’s Choice in Best Commercial Design, and the People’s Choice for Collaborative Building Team of the Year.

FedEx Ground Distribution Center took home the Judge’s Choice for Collaborative Building Team of the Year. This is EMJ’s second consecutive year to receive the Collaborative Building Team award, after last year’s recognition of our Cabela’s project team.


TNACI - aerial

TNACI is a 14,000-square-foot freshwater research center on the banks of the Tennessee River. Anticipated to be LEED-Gold certified, the facility provides a central location for researchers across the Southeast to bolster the mission of restoring the region’s natural ecosystems and educating the public on conservation. The entire site serves as a living classroom, showcasing how sustainable design can protect ecosystem health while creating connections between people and the natural environment.

Through the design and construction process, the team not only minimized TNACI’s impact, but produced a restorative entity for the ecosystem. By avoiding culverts, controlling erosion, removing invasive species then restoring natives, and carefully considering alternatives, the project will positively impact on the environment for years to come.

“I’d always heard that construction was the worst experience, but for me, it was the best year of my life,” said Dr. Anna George, Director of TNACI, during her acceptance speech for Sustainable Project.

Pictured, from left to right, are architect Matt Brown of Franklin Architects, Lead Superintendent John Rudez, Senior Vice President of Construction Jack Bowen, Senior Vice President of Preconstruction James Tyson, and Dr. Anna George of TNACI.


Thank you to all of our subcontractors and partners on this project and to TNACI for allowing us to be a part of bringing this amazing facility to the Southeast.

In addition to TNACI, the project team included Franklin Architects, WM Whitaker & Associates, IC Thomasson Associates Inc., Miller McCoy, Bennett & Pless, and Compass Commissioning and Design, LLC.

The EMJ team included Executive Vice President Clint Dean, Senior Vice President of Construction Jack Bowen, Project Manager Steve Totzke, Lead Superintendent John Rudez, Senior Vice President of Preconstruction James Tyson, Project Engineer Chad Marler, Project Engineer Matt Holder, and Accountant Michele Cheresnick.

EMJ completed FedEx Ground’s 235,000-square-foot distribution facility in just over eight months. The automated, build-to-suit station consists of a pre-engineered metal structure set on continuous concrete stem wall. Over 300,000 cubic yards of earth were shifted across the site during the development of the 63-acre site. In addition to the on-site work, EMJ oversaw the installation of a new pump station and traffic signals along with the widening of a nearby interstate exit ramp to accommodate the anticipated increase in freight traffic.

“There are so many people that play a part in how these jobs get done. We just go everyday and execute the delivery part,” said Jack Bowen in accepting the Collaborative Building Award for FedEx. “Collaboration is really a testimony to everyone involved. We appreciate what everyone in this room does for us.”

Thank you to our partners on this project: owner Saad Development Corporation, Castles Design Group, Anchor Engineering Associates, and all of the subcontractors. We’d also like to thank the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, EPB, Norfolk Southern, the Summit community, Waste Water Treatment Authority, Tennessee Department of Transportation and more for their work in bringing FedEx Ground to Chattanooga.

Our EMJ team included Clint Dean, Jack Bowen, James Tyson, Director of Construction James Williams, Project Manager Chris Webb, Superintendent Rich Gliddon, Superintendent Richard Stone, Director of Preconstruction Alex Miller, Preconstruction Manager David McCallen, and Accountant Mindie Ogle.

Congratulations are also in order for our colleague Hugh Morrow of Ruby Falls, who received the Sustainability Professional of the Year Award for his continued efforts to preserve the historic Ruby Falls, and to Chattanooga Whiskey Co., who received the People’s Choice Award for Sustainable Business of the Year.  EMJ is currently working on an expansion at Ruby Falls and recently completed Chattanooga Whiskey’s new distillery. Read more about those projects below, and click here to read more about all of the BRIC honorees.

EMJ to begin construction on Ruby Falls expansion



Bass Pro Shops team receives Jolley for Outstanding Project

In 2016, EMJ launched the Edgar M. Jolley Awards for Excellence to recognize exceptional work within the family of companies. The “Jolleys,” named in memory of EMJ’s founder, are presented in three categories: Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Servant Leadership and Outstanding Project. In this four-part blog series, EMJ highlights our Jolley recipients, and why they were selected for these awards.


photo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

Bass Pro Shops is an 80,000-square-foot retail development that sits on more than 100 acres of conservation land and is the anchor tenant of Celebration Pointe, a large mixed-use residential, office, entertainment and retail development in Gainesville, Fla.

The tilt-wall structure includes unique finishes such as polished concrete floors, hand-painted murals reflecting Florida wildlife and a 12,000-gallon indoor aquarium. EMJ’s Chattanooga team completed the Bass Pro facility in just ten months—despite impact to the schedule due to Hurricane Matthew.

photo courtesy of Celebration Pointe

EMJ worked with the project team to deliver value through collaboration and creative thinking in several ways. During preconstruction, our team analyzed the plans and noticed aggregate was included in the initial site work. Our team knew that aggregate is unnecessary in Florida due to the sandy soil type, so we worked to see that it was removed from the project scope.

In addition, our team discovered that a concrete slab for the store’s loading dock was not included in the scope. Using the cost-savings from the aggregate, the EMJ team provided Bass Pro with the loading dock slab at no extra cost. In total, at completion the EMJ project team returned over $430,000 in savings to the owner.

The project team received the Sunshine State Safety Recognition Award from the University of South Florida’s Safety Consultation Program in recognition of its dedication to safe practices on the project and was applauded by stakeholders for maintaining project schedule despite the area’s impact from Hurricane Matthew. 

“The Bass Pro team built strong relationships with all project participants based on trust and transparency,” said Clint Dean, Executive Vice President of EMJ’s Chattanooga office. “Their commitment to serving our customer, as well as quality and schedule, delivered an excellent construction experience that has opened the door for further opportunities with Bass Pro.”  

photo courtesy of Celebration Pointe

The team’s work on this project earned the respect and trust of Bass Pro Shops, and made possible the award of a second store in Daytona Beach, Fla.

Congratulations to all Bass Pro Shops team members:

Ken Boyd, Lead Superintendent
Neil Forell, Level II Superintendent
John Scanlon, Superintendent
Caleb Hammontree, Project Manager
Brad Primus, Preconstruction Manager
Jonathon Woolsey, Project Engineer
Mindie Ogle, Accountant
Michelle Parker, Shop Drawing Expeditor
Cissy Scott, Contract Expeditor
Emma Dixon, Co-Op


Read about the other Jolley for Outstanding Project recipients:

Shaw T1 team receives Jolley for Outstanding Project

Farmer Brothers team receives Jolley for Outstanding Project

River Spirit Casino Resort team receives Jolley for Outstanding Project


Shaw T1 team receives Jolley for Outstanding Project

In 2016, EMJ launched the Edgar M. Jolley Awards for Excellence to recognize exceptional work within the family of companies. The “Jolleys,” named in memory of EMJ’s founder, are presented in three categories: Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Servant Leadership and Outstanding Project. In this four-part blog series, EMJ highlights our Jolley recipients, and why they were selected for these awards.


Shaw Industries Group’s T1 Plant is a 686,668-square-foot facility with 566,662 square-feet of carpet tile manufacturing space, a 107,506-square-foot warehouse and a 12,500-square-foot administrative building. Additionally, the scope included 27 loading docks, eight 88-foot tall storage silos, and a rail spur for material distribution. The project is slated to be LEED-Silver certified.

At the time of engagement, the T1 project was well underway with mass site grading nearly complete. Having worked with EMJ on a previous project, Shaw partnered with our team to carry the facility to completion.

Despite facing challenges due to late entry into the project, the team hit the ground running and worked with Shaw to execute the project brilliantly. They built relationships with the designers, engineers and subcontractors who were already involved in the project and collaborated with all parties to ensure a unified focus on the client’s vision for the plant.

“All project participants came together as a team to ensure that Shaw’s vision for the project was delivered,” said Clint Dean, Executive Vice President of EMJ’s Chattanooga office. “The client’s experience with us further solidified a trusting relationship that has since led to two additional projects.”

Chattanooga’s team is currently building Shaw’s Create Centre, a 67,000 square-foot, three-story “think tank” for the company’s creative, marketing and innovation teams, and was recently awarded an additional large-scale project in Andalusia, Ala.

Shaw T1 team members include:

Paul Wells, Superintendent
John Scanlon, Superintendent
Richard Stone, Assistant Superintendent
Chris Fisher, Senior Project Manager
Gary Gibson, Director of Construction
Chris Grannan, Vice President of Preconstruction
Mindie Ogle, Accountant
Matt Holder, Project Engineer
Michelle Parker, Shop Drawing Expeditor
Cissy Scott, Contract Expeditor
Zack Panczer, Co-Op
Jake Smithers, Co-Op

Congratulations to this outstanding team who went above and beyond to bring the client an exceptional construction experience and unique value. See more photos of Shaw T1 on our projects page.


Farmer Brothers team receives Jolley for Outstanding Project

In 2016, EMJ launched the Edgar M. Jolley Awards for Excellence to recognize exceptional work within the family of companies. The “Jolleys,” named in memory of EMJ’s founder, are presented in three categories: Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Servant Leadership and Outstanding Project. In this three-part blog series, EMJ highlights our Jolley recipients, and why they were selected for these awards.


EMJ was awarded Farmer Brothers Co.‘s corporate headquarters when the coffee foodservice company relocated from Torrance, Calif. after 65 years.

Spanning 28 acres, the building, which is anticipated to be LEED-certified, includes a 258,338-square-foot distribution center, a 194,438-square-foot, state-of-the art coffee production facility, and 84,823 square-feet of office space for its nearly 400 corporate employees.

With minimal knowledge of construction or the DFW area, Farmer Brothers relied on a developer, Stream Realty, to help find an ideal location for their new property. Stream brought EMJ to the table as their general contractor for the project, and our team helped Farmer Brothers find a property and hire an experienced design team.

Before breaking ground, our team met with the project team weekly for six months to discuss goals for the project and guide the client through the preconstruction process. The client’s priority was maintaining an aggressive schedule, as four other facilities nationwide were consolidating into the new headquarters, and the new distribution center needed to begin operating while construction was still underway.


Our team used BIM technology to ensure that the distribution center could function while construction was ongoing and worked with consultants to highlight value-saving opportunities and ensure that the property would be efficient for many years to come.

Our early involvement with the entire project team allowed EMJ to be fully in-sync with the client to proactively deliver value, resulting in an exceptional and unique client experience, as well as more than $2 million in savings for the client.

“This project was an exceptional example of C2C’s approach because our team was involved early enough that we could help guide the client to understand its goals for the project,” said Ray Catlin, Executive Vice President.

“This was Farmer Brothers’ first construction project, and I believe this team provided an outstanding experience for them while delivering a project that will continue to bring them value and achieve their goals for many years.”


Last year, the project was recognized as Best Outside Relocation Real Estate Deal by the Dallas Business Journal and Best New Industrial Project by D CEO Magazine.

Farmer Brothers Headquarters team members include:
Glenard Ratcliff
Andy Munsch
Mike McVey
Andres Soriano
Rickey Palmer
John Scanlon
Jerry Soriano
Andy Soriano
James Norwine
Scott Reppond
Solina Bartnicki
Shaunese Farris
Sheila Nazario-Thomas

Congratulations to this outstanding team who went above and beyond to bring the client an exceptional construction experience and unique value. See more photos of Farmer Brothers’ corporate headquarters on our projects page.

River Spirit Casino Resort team receives Jolley for Outstanding Project

In 2016, EMJ launched the Edgar M. Jolley Awards for Excellence to recognize exceptional work within the family of companies. The “Jolleys,” named in memory of EMJ’s founder, are presented in three categories: Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Servant Leadership and Outstanding Project. In this three-part blog series, EMJ highlights our Jolley recipients, and why they were selected for these awards.


Directors and Vice Presidents of the corporation nominate for The Jolley for Outstanding Project, which recognizes a project team’s collaboration and unique value-creation. Outstanding teams exemplify innovation through C2C, demonstrate admirable planning and execution, overcome unusual challenges, and build relationships through an exceptional client experience. In this four-part blog series, we highlight EMJ’s outstanding project teams and the reasons behind their selections for these awards.

This year, EMJ recognized four projects with this award:

Shaw T1 Plant, Adairsville, Ga.
River Spirit Casino Resort, Tulsa, Okla.
Farmer Brothers Headquarters, Northlake, Texas
Bass Pro Shops, Gainesville, Fla.

In the coming weeks, we will highlight each project and the team that brought it to life on the blog. This week, we’re featuring RedStone’s River Spirit Casino and hotel expansion and the 24 members of the project team.


River Spirit Casino and hotel expansion is a two-phase project on which RedStone Construction partnered with Manhattan Construction Company. The project included the site work for and construction of the 29-story hotel tower, 2,500-seat Paradise Cove entertainment venue, six-level parking garage, grand ballroom, retail center, resort spa, outdoor pool and bar, and additional gaming space.

The resort also includes a Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 5 o’clock Somewhere Bar, Johnny Rockets, Scoreboard Sports Bar and a buffet and grill.

After the client expressed a desire to open 50% of the project earlier than the originally-stated completion date, the team “took a deadline that was nearly impossible,” and went above and beyond to deliver an exceptional project to the client “with grace and poise that we should strive to attain every day.”



Even with a month removed from the initial project schedule, the team remained focused and captured more than $37 million worth of savings during the course of the project by implementing creative solutions and design alterations.

“This team was dedicated to providing an outstanding construction experience for the client, even under tremendous pressure to complete the project early,” said Lance Gopffarth, Executive Vice President. “Each member of the Manhattan-RedStone partnership prioritized the client’s goals and held them above their own needs, and as a result, this project has been one of our greatest achievements in our company’s history.”


River Spirit team members include:

Bryan Adson, Lauren Boochie, Mike Coyne, Roy Cramer, Walter Darr, Money Dexter, Jason Dunnam, Donnie Foreman, Pat Freeman, Chris Hart, Allison Howison, Tammy Johnson, Jason Jones, Leta Lambert, Ted Lambert, Gordon Lingley, John Massetti, Hope Miller, Denver Moody, William Mosher, Anita Pfeiffer, Greg Pfeuffer, David Ramer, and Dave Sprague.

The official grand opening celebration for the resort will be held on April 15, 2017.

Eliminating punch lists to improve the client experience

Anyone in construction is familiar with the punch list process—walking the site, compiling a list and diligently working to complete all tasks before facility turnover.

It’s an industry standard. It’s simply how things always have been done, are currently done and will be done until the end of time. Right? Maybe there’s a better way.

While punch lists are still a practice at EMJ, we also drive our teams to prepare pre-punch lists. A pre-punch helps the team anticipate items that will be addressed during a punch list walkthrough and prepare for that process. Going through the pre-punch procedure in advance and tackling items prior to the walkthrough minimizes the number of items on the final list—and perhaps, will eventually eliminate traditional punch lists.

Why change the process?

A punch list is one of the final interactions a construction team has with a client and solidifies the client’s impression of a general contractor. If EMJ’s goal is to deliver unique client value, having a smooth punch list process, or eliminating the need altogether, places our client experience above industry standard.

“The punch list comes at a time when construction clients are trying to open the building, prepare staff or turnover to another tenant, and it can be a cumbersome process that they’d prefer not to have to deal with,” says Jonathan Horne, EMJ’s Director of Quality Assurance. “A client often views punch list items as the contractor’s failure to do their job.”

Punch list frustrations are not unique to the client; completion of punch list tasks can prevent both the general contractor and subcontractors from preparing for or starting work on their next project.

“It should be our goal to have zero punch list items to improve the construction experience for all participants,” says Jonathan.

Where do construction teams start?

The pre-punch and punch list processes are unique to every client and every project. It is important that construction teams understand the client’s expectations regarding the project, and EMJ’s C2C team approach and its steps of Ask, Listen, Think and Do can play a key role in preparing for and facilitating this process.

EMJ’s construction teams should have a clear understanding of the client’s vision and expectations for how the project should close out and work with subcontractors and other project participants to align to this goal.

“Since a smooth punch list process is extremely valuable to both the client and the contractor, it is important that construction teams take a proactive approach and not a reactive approach to this critical step,” says Jonathan.

“No matter how difficult it seems, pushing the pause button earlier in a project and compiling a pre-punch completion list will pay dividends if done correctly.”

Correctly administering a pre-punch completion list requires preparation and attention to detail. Construction teams should start by revisiting all documents associated with a project, from the plans and specifications to requests for information (RFI) and lease agreements, when applicable. Construction technology such as Procore, a cloud-based construction management software, can aid a construction team in gathering the required information and building the list.

With this information, the project team should walk the jobsite to ensure that the scope is not just completed, but done so to the highest quality standards. If any items are discovered to be incomplete or not of top-quality, they should be noted on the pre-punch list and then immediately assigned to the responsible party for completion.

“The next step is communication,” says Jonathan. “If anything is discovered to be not ready for turnover, then the responsible party needs to be made aware immediately and held accountable through documentation.”

The goal of the project team should be to have all items on the pre-punch completion list completed prior to the punch list walk through.

“A seamless punch list process or no punch list at all, assists in building client and subcontractor relationships, reducing expenses, and ultimately making a project more successful,” says Jonathan.

Photo courtesy of Bass Pro Shops

For more information about EMJ’s quality assurance and punch list approach, contact Jonathan Horne.