“We love the mission of the Kitchen, which is to meet the most basic needs of hungry, homeless and vulnerable people in our community, while offering a clear path to self-sufficiency,” said Tina Brogdon, who serves as EMJ’s liaison with the Kitchen.
This was the seventh consecutive year EMJ hosted a Christmas party for the clients and employees of the Kitchen. EMJ partners with the Kitchen because it allows employees to support a great cause through service.
EMJ employees tooks shifts decorating the Kitchen, cooking and serving meals, and making phone calls to ask for donations for the organization. The team prepared and served nearly 600 meals.
The kitchen offers a variety of services to its clients. Through all of the services, it seeks to satisfy the spiritual and physical hunger of people in Chattanooga. There are no fees or requirements for receiving the Kitchen’s services; instead, they are offered out of love and compassion.
“Those who have been given great gifts have greater responsibilities,” said Brogdon.” We appreciate the Kitchen and are humbled to help in a very small way.”
The Community Kitchen relies volunteer support to accomplish its mission. Groups and individual volunteers are needed year-round. You may sign up to volunteer here, or by emailing email@example.com.
Earlier this year, EMJ completed an expansion at Ruby Falls, a tourist attraction in Lookout Mountain, Tenn., that boasts the nation’s largest public underground waterfall. Our team constructed a new lobby, retail space, pedestrian mall, and more next to the original, historic castle that sits more than 1,000 feet above the underground waterfall.
The expansion required removal of a significant amount of rock to create a pad for the new construction. Considering the site’s location on a mountainside above an underground cavern, the team carefully drilled out the rock section by section, rather than blasting. As documented in a recent Ground Up podcast, the rock removal process required precision planning, logistics, and execution by all project team members. It also required careful consideration for how to prepare the resulting site to endure the elements for many years to come.
Among those considerations was waterproofing and the best method to ensure the exposed rock could withstand the elements. Of particular concern was a void between the new building and the rock wall. This gap was created when the team carved out the rock to create the building pad. The design team presented two options for EMJ to consider: apply a vinyl-waterproofing product or fill the space between the building and the mountain with concrete.
But, here was the catch. While the team could estimate the cost of the vinyl waterproofing, it was impossible to measure the gap and estimate the cost of the concrete.
The team called on Caleb Wickersham, EMJ Virtual Construction Engineer and licensed drone pilot, who had already flown the site and created a 3D model of the mountainside using photogrammetry.
Caleb layered the architect’s building model next to his mountainside model. Using his previous calculations, he was able to determine the volume of the space between the building and the mountain, which provided the amount of concrete needed to solve the waterproofing issue. From this, the team calculated the concrete cost, and in comparing it with the vinyl-waterproofing cost, the vinyl product was the more cost-effective and prudent option for Ruby Falls.
There is an old adage that applies to construction, “Measure twice and cut once.” In a figurative sense that means to plan and prepare in a careful, thorough manner before taking action. Using construction technology, that is exactly what the Ruby Falls team did, helping make sure its recommendation to the client was accurate.
Founders’ Hall served as phase II of EMJ’s ongoing work at The Commons, an eight-acre cultural and recreational space serving the Collegedale, Tenn., community.
Phase I, which opened in late 2017, included a clock tower, Redwood tree grove, and an open-air pavilion, and Phase III will include the addition of a sound stage for concerts. It is expected to be completed in 2019.
The Commons is the culmination of joint efforts by Collegedale leaders, the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation, and the public to bring this center to the community.
“We are honored to be a part of bringing this project to Collegedale,” said Matt Elliott, EMJ Project Manager. “The Foundation and community leaders have worked hard to make it possible, and we are glad to be a small part of giving this strong community something to enjoy for years to come. Thanks to all of our trade partners and colleagues for their hard work in getting us here.”
Congratulations to the EMJ team on this project:
Ryan Colbert, Project Engineer
Matt Elliott, Project Manager
Blake Johnson, Lead Superintendent
Joe Woolums, Senior Preconstruction Manager
Pictured (left to right): Matt Elliott, Project Manager; Alex Miller, Vice President of Preconstruction; Ryan Colbert, Project Engineer; and Blake Johnson, Lead Superintendent
Parkridge Health System is getting an upgrade, thanks to support from HCA’s FacilitiGroup. The hospital kicked off a $3.1 million chiller and cooling tower replacement project last month in partnership with the EMJ Construction team.
According to Parkridge, “This significant upgrade will improve the facility’s ability to manage its interior climate controls and overall utility efficiency.”
The new structure is being built within a mechanical “bull-pen” full of multiple utilities and services, leaving little to no room to spare. This complexity, combined with the need to continue operations at the hospital without disruption, required extensive planning and critical analysis before construction began.
“After reviewing the drawings, Lee Company and EMJ Superintendent David Taylor had concerns that the new chiller equipment wouldn’t fit into the roll-up door considering the adjacent air-cooled chiller located only a few feet away,” said Lance Truett, EMJ Project Manager.
If the equipment could not fit through the roll-up door, the team would need to identify an alternative method for installing the new equipment. To test the installation scenario, the project team enlisted the help of EMJ’s Construction Technology Department, which specializes in building information modeling (BIM) and other virtual imaging techniques.
“Employing laser scanning for existing conditions was the perfect solution for the Parkridge project since we were dealing with a high degree of complexity and congestion,” said Jonathan Deming, EMJ Director of Construction Technology. “This process has enabled our team to move forward with complete confidence and certainty.”
A “scan” is a powerful laser recording that captures a site’s shape and appearance and converts those conditions into 3D models and structural drawings at sub-millimeter accuracy.
“Roger Aasheim and Will Callery laser scanned the existing conditions and overlaid the new construction along with a 3D model of the chiller equipment provided by the chiller manufacturer to see how it was all going to go together,” said Truett. “With their help we were able to demonstrate that moving the building 18” east would eliminate all concerns and site constraints. Moving the structure also makes the installation safer and the future maintenance possible.”
With a modified construction plan approved and in place, the team and its trade partners kicked off the Parkridge renovation in late August. Demolition of the existing cooling tower is complete, and temporary towers are fully operational.
Working in conjunction with the technology team at HVAC company Lee Company, the EMJ team is currently modeling the pumps, piping, and control panels of the new space to fully understand the structure and ensure smooth and efficient construction continues throughout the project’s duration.
The Parkridge project is on track for early 2019 completion. Congrats to the EMJ Construction Healthcare team on a job well done!
Roger Aasheim, Virtual Construction Engineer II
Will Callery, Virtual Construction Manager
Zach Klassen, Project Engineer
Lance Truett, Project Manager
Sam Marks, Preconstruction Manager
Cody Stubblefield, Project Engineer
David Taylor, Superintendent
When tasked with building a school in time for the new academic year, while knowing the project was already behind, what did EMJ Superintendent Nestor Praniuk do? He was honest.
“This is where we are; this is where we need to be. We’re a team. Together, we’re going to do this,” Praniuk said referring to his conversation with the owner. And, together, they did. Through collaboration and Nestor’s leadership, the team delivered a new lower school addition at Chattanooga Christian School (CCS) just in time for the school year.
“As a parent, I know the importance of starting the new year off right,” said Praniuk. “I didn’t want our work to impact the parents and teachers. To me, there was only one option and that was to open on time.”
On paper, getting the school completed by the August 13, 2018, deadline did not look feasible as various setbacks had already placed it 10 days behind. Through diligent efforts and consistent communication, Praniuk and his team, including Senior Preconstruction Manager Kyle Tippens and Project Engineer Devin Munczenski, aligned all trade partners with their goal and empowered them to make it happen.
Praniuk recalls challenging his trade partners and workers on site to understand the progress CCS is trying to make and the experience the school is aiming to deliver its clients. “I told them, ‘Think like a parent and what their needs are. What happens with their day if construction doesn’t come through on time?’”
Communicating an end goal is one thing. Getting all stakeholders to follow through on their commitment is another feat, one that requires thoughtful leadership and influence.
“It’s all about trust,” said Praniuk. “The key is creating healthy relationships with all involved. Get to know the other person and what’s important to them and why. Determine what you need to do to please them and then do it. You do what you say you’ll do, and you solidify that mutual trust.”
“In my many years of organizational leadership, [Nestor] is in a small group of unique leaders who I believe are critical to the ability of an organization to meet its goals and execute its mission,” writes Chad Dirkse, President of CCS, about Praniuk in a letter to EMJ.
“The core values EMJ espouses are embodied well in Nestor’s leadership. I know he cares deeply for CCS and for EMJ,” Dirkse continued. “He is not afraid to tell me no or challenge something he doesn’t agree with but works hard to meet my needs and expectations. He is also extraordinary at building healthy sub relationships.”
Praniuk’s approach to building great relationships with the trade partners, or subcontractors, on his construction jobs is simple: “Be a leader your subs want to follow, and treat them like you would like to be treated. We are only as good as our subs are. If they succeed, we succeed.”
At EMJ, we talk a lot about our project teams and how they extend far beyond our own employees to include the owner, designers, engineers, and all of the subcontractors that deliver a piece of the intricate puzzle that results in a building. Praniuk lives this. He manages each partner on the site as he does members of the EMJ team, with respect and as a valuable contributor.
“I get to know the workers as people and try to tap into their potential. 99% of their life is work. They’re sharing it with you on this project. Show them you care,” said Praniuk. “My goal is for them to take ownership and pride in the project, just like me. It’s much more than a task to be completed that day.”
The team’s hard work and strength of character shone brightly on the site.
The lower school at CCS was phase III of ongoing work the EMJ Construction Special Projects team is completing for the school. Praniuk and his team are now constructing an outdoor pavilion on the campus.
“The most rewarding part of our team’s work is meeting the client’s expectations and needs and creating great impact on the life of subs and our clients,” said Praniuk. “It’s more than a project. It’s personal.”
Nestor Praniuk joined the EMJ team in 2015. He has more than 18 years of construction experience, working at all levels from trade partner to site supervision. Earlier this year, he was honored with the Edgar M. Jolley Award for Outstanding Performance.
In its annual business issue, CityScope Magazine featured two EMJ leaders, CEO and President Burt Odom and Chattanooga Executive Vice President Jack Bowen.
Burt Odom was featured in the magazine’s “Importance of Mentors” section, in which he shares how he first became interested in construction as a teenager and the significance of mentoring in his life.
“My interest in construction began at age 14 when a contractor building stairs in my parents’ home allowed me to work alongside him,” says Odom.
“I was inspired by his passion and love for his job, and his investment in me began my more than 40-year journey in the construction industry. Much like Mr. Wilhite, there have been countless people in my life who have guided me to grow, advance, and succeed both personally and professionally.”
CityScope also highlighted Executive Vice President Jack Bowen in its 2018 Gold Club for Leadership, an annual selection of 30 outstanding area business people who have been recognized by their peers or others within the community for their exceptional leadership skills.
Bowen, who has been with EMJ’s Chattanooga team for more than 13 years, has exhibited his ability to lead in various roles, from job site superintendent to vice president of construction. His more than 21 years of construction experience has led to long-standing relationships with nationwide clients and the completion of some of EMJ Corporation’s largest projects in company history.
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.
EMJ Construction Project Manager Anita Pfeiffer found success in many different arenas before finding a home at EMJ Corporation.
Born and raised in Allentown, Pa., Pfeiffer began exploring different career options while attending Cedar Crest College in her hometown.
She worked for Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., a manufacturer of industrial gases, and then as a paralegal at a law firm in New York. After a couple of years in the legal field, Pfeiffer decided to pursue a new challenge and enter the retail industry.
Pfeiffer worked as a district manager for a number of years, then transitioned to the restaurant business, where she worked with a private owner to manage numerous locations.
She began noticing that her responsibilities in the retail and restaurant industries aligned closely with the responsibilities associated with a career in construction.
“In both industries, I worked closely with the general contractor to ensure stores would be ready for timely turnover,” Pfeiffer said. “The responsibilities were extremely similar, which made the transition to construction a smooth one.”
With the help of her brother, EMJ Lead Superintendent Greg Pfeuffer, she dove into a construction career. After gaining nine years of experience as a superintendent, she joined EMJ as a Project Manager in November 2014. She says EMJ presented a perfect opportunity to utilize her combined skills that she’d gained from years in other industries.
“I enjoy the empowerment and autonomy that I am granted in order to get my job done,” Anita says. “I love having numerous balls in the air and at the end of the day or week feel success through the dedication and collaboration of the team.”
From a young age, Pfeiffer was inspired by her mother, Alice Pfeiffer, who instilled in her the values she carries with her today.
“She was always concerned about others, and she led by example,” Pfeiffer said. “She taught me to be dedicated, determined, responsible, trustworthy, and courageous in her own way.”
Pfeiffer has followed in her mother’s footsteps, leading by example to her colleagues at EMJ. She was recently awarded a Jolley for Outstanding Performance, the corporation’s highest honor for an individual employee, at EMJ’s 50th anniversary meeting.
Pfeiffer sees many great opportunities in her role, but specifically appreciates the chance to craft and mentor the next generation.
“Nothing is more rewarding than helping those around you achieve success,” Pfeiffer said. “All my success has stemmed from the tremendous people around me, so it’s nice to return the favor to future generations.”
Houston is nearing completion and has signed on a handful of national anchor tenants. A nearly 500,000-square-foot retail development in west Houston is nearing completion and has signed on a handful of national anchor tenants.
ENR annually ranks the Top 400 Contractors in the country according to their revenue in a calendar year. The Southeast rankings recognize work in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Puerto Rico and come a month after ENR’s overall rankings for the nation, in which EMJ ranks #86 in the U.S.
Building the Southeast
Founded in Chattanooga, Tenn., in 1968, EMJ has continually had a strong presence across the southeast, from hometown projects like Hamilton Place Mall and the Hunter Museum to repeat work for Shaw Industries Group, Inc., in Georgia and Alabama.
Our ranking this year is due to projects completed during fiscal year 2017, including stand-out projects such as Shaw Create Centre, Market City Center, Signal Mill, Lee Vista Promenade, FedEx Ground and programmatic work for Lidl, 7-Eleven, and more. Additionally, EMJ’s work on several hotels in Florida played a large part in the ranking.
Congratulations to our EMJ team on this ranking. Thanks for your continual hard work and dedication to service, and many thanks also to the clients and partners who helped us achieve this ranking!
EMJ’s Top Southeast Projects 2017
The Shaw Create Centre is a 67,000-square-foot office building in Cartersville, Ga., built to serve as home to Shaw Industries Group’s commercial marketing, design and innovation teams. Designed by architecture firm, Gensler, the EMJ team constructed the unique facility and performed all site work.
Market City Center is the highest structure built in Chattanooga since 1972 and is located between three downtown buildings on bustling Market Street. Designed by Stevens & Wilkinson and developed by The Simpson Organization with support from River City Company, Market City Center is playing a key role in the revitalization of downtown Chattanooga. The LEED® Certified™ Silver 10-story building offers 125 apartments with parking along with 21,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and restaurant space and 21,000 square feet of office space on the second floor.
Originally constructed in 1916 as a textile manufacturing facility, Signal Mill is a two-and-a-half-story, 34,560-square-foot structure in Chattanooga’s sought-after North Shore District. EMJ Construction Special Projects partnered with North Shore Project, LLC, the Woodbery Group and Hefferlin & Kronenberg Architects to renovate the building in 2016. In 2017, the high-end, mixed-use development opened to the public, featuring space for boutiques, specialty food shops and offices.
The 237,000-square-foot FedEx Ground distribution center in Chattanooga was built in partnership with Saad Development Corporation. EMJ’s team completed the project in just eight months, handing the facility to the developer more than two months early.
A leading publication in the construction industry, ENR provides engineering and construction news, analysis, commentary and data to nearly 48,000 paid subscribers and more than 196,000 unique visitors to its website each month.
EMJ Construction is making progress on the Collegedale Seventh-Day Adventist Church expansion in Collegedale, Tenn.
The original church was organized in 1917 using six temporary facilities before building the current structure in 1965. It is home to over 3,000 members and is the official campus church of Southern Adventist University.
EMJ’s work entails the construction of an additional three-story building, totaling more than 55,000 square feet. The addition includes space for the church’s daycare program, classrooms, a café and a catering kitchen.
This week, EMJ and its trade partners began installing pre-bricked, precast concrete wall panels using a 180 ft. crane. The project is on track and scheduled to open in early 2019.
EMJ team members include project manager Adam Ankers, assistant project manager Chad Marler, project engineer Katie Haberberger, superintendent Steve Jensen, senior administrative assistant Tina Brogdon, and project accountant Robin Phillips.
Keep up the great work, team!
Read more about EMJ’s experience with places of worship here.
While preparing for the Lakeview Middle School renovation in Rossville, Ga., EMJ’s Chattanooga team determined that the use of a Matterport scanner would greatly benefit the project.
A Matterport scanner is a device that captures 360-degree pictures and compiles them to create “virtual tours” of building areas. In recent years, Matterport composites have become mainstream through Google Map’s Street View and used in various industries from engineering to hospitality.
In construction, Matterport visuals display the existing conditions of a building space more effectively than through laser scanning or individual pictures. The scans take less than a minute to complete and can be performed by anyone with a tablet. With thorough documentation of every detail of a job site, construction teams are provided with valuable intel before a project begins.
Will Callery, EMJ Virtual Construction Manager, and the construction tech team have used Matterport on several previous projects including Shaw Create Centre, The Sheridan at Hobe Sound, and West Towne Marketplace. Based on this experience and after speaking with the team about their client’s goals, Callery felt the technology would be a good fit for the Lakeview renovation.
“It does a much better job of giving us a visual of a project than just a person with a camera,” said Callery. “It captures everything, documents more, and makes it much simpler for the entire project team to be on the same page.”
In this case, the team needed to ensure that after construction was complete, the school was in working order in time for the new school year. That meant using the technology to return every desk, bookcase, and smart board to its proper place by the time Lakeview’s faculty returned to prep.
“Projects never wait on you, so we had to be decisive and act quickly,” Callery said. “Ultimately, we decided that the benefit of the scanner outweighed the cost, so we decided to fit it into our schedule.”
As technology in the construction industry continues to grow, EMJ teams continue to show excellent adaptability and versatility. The implementation of this technology at Lakeview Middle School shows excellent forethought and demonstrates the team’s commitment to providing an exceptional client experience.