EMJ Serves the North Texas Community

Employees from the EMJ Construction Dallas office spent the afternoon serving at the North Texas Food Bank, a Dallas nonprofit hunger relief organization that distributes donated, purchased and prepared foods. The food bank supports the nutritional needs of children, families and seniors through education, advocacy and strategic partnerships, providing access to more than 200,000 meals each day for hungry children, seniors and families across a 13-county service area.

The Dallas team rolled up their sleeves and dedicated their time there to packing boxes for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP), which works to improve the health of low-income persons at least 60 years of age by supplementing their diets with nutritious USDA Foods. By the end of the shift, the team filled nine pallets with 432 boxes that will provide 11,050 meals.

“I am grateful to work at a place like EMJ that truly values service and encourages us to spend time giving back to our community. It was both refreshing and energizing to get to serve alongside my fellow employees, knowing that we were making a positive impact on so many people in our community,” said Jacob Wadlington, Vice President of Business Development, EMJ Construction Dallas.

This is the third consecutive year that EMJ has partnered with the North Texas Food Bank in the ongoing pursuit of closing the gap on hunger in North Texas, allowing our employees to live out EMJ’s purpose to be people serving people. Visit North Texas Food Bank’s website to learn more about the organization and the work they are doing.

Founders’ Hall opens in Collegedale

Last week, EMJ joined the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation and others to celebrate completion of Founders’ Hall, an event venue for farmer’s markets, weddings, community events, and more.

Photo by Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation Inc.


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


For more information on the new space, visit TheCommonsTN.com.

Related stories:

Chattanooga celebrates grand opening of The Commons

Together we raised $46,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters

Photo by Big Brother Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga


For as long as anyone can remember, EMJ’s Chattanooga office has partnered with its local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter. EMJ Founder Ed Jolley was passionate about the cause, and today, we continue the partnership through an annual fundraiser and bowling event.

This year, EMJ’s Chattanooga office raised $46,895 for the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters through Bowl for Kids’ sake.

Bowl for Kids’ Sake is Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga’s largest annual fundraiser and has been ongoing for nearly 30 years. All funds raised through this event go directly toward volunteer recruitment, matching of mentors and youth, and big/little support.

The Chattanooga office divided into eight fundraising teams led by team captains, Joey Barbeauld, Billy Kile,  Jacob Mammen, Michelle Parker, Kurt Teasley, Joe Welch, Jonathon Woolsey, and  Joe Woolums.

Team 5, led by Senior Project Manager Joey Barbeauld, raised the largest amount at a whopping $19,240. Steve Totzke, Project Manager, was our top individual fundraiser for the entire competition, raising $15,000 for the cause.

“I could not have done it without the generous support of many of the subcontractors we’ve built relationships with over the past year, specifically on our Lidl stores,” said Totzke. “I am grateful that they were so willing to join in for this worthy cause.”

Bowling teams from local companies, community supporters and friends all rolled in to Spare Time Hixson to compete and show their team spirit. Many “Bigs” and “Littles” joined in the fun as well. In all, over 300 bowlers and many sponsors helped make this a record-breaking year, enabling BBBS to support 105 new matches.

“A special thanks to the employees of EMJ Corporation who were instrumental in making the event a huge success,” BBBS officials said.

Way to go, EMJ Chattanooga! You are changing lives in your local community, and thank you for representing the corporation as “people serving people.”

While the EMJ team was instrumental in the success of this fundraiser, we couldn’t have done it without the generous donations from our clients, partners and colleagues. Thank you to the following donors:

3H Group Hotels
Adman Electric, Inc.
Air Conditioning Specialist, Inc.
Anatole Exteriors
Anderson Group Company, Inc.
Apel Steel
ARC Document Solutions
Asa Carlton Services, Inc.
B&W Granite and Tile
BB&T Huffaker Insurance
BE-CI, Inc.
BRK Services
Brock Insurance
Callahan Mechanical
CBL Properties
Ceramic Technics
Coates Electric of Wilmington, Inc.
Construction Systems
CORE Safety
Covenant Transport
Crowe Horwath
Doug Martin & Family
Duggan Contracting Corporation
Eldeco, Inc.
Evergreen Landscaping, LLC
First Tennessee
Front Runner
Fulmer Concrete
G. Ware Construction
G&P Masonry
George McKenna
H&H Brown, Inc./JBH Steel, LLC
Hayward Baker
Horizon Stone
Ideal Building Solutions
Industrial Air & Mechanical, LLC
Jenkins Masonry
Lawson Electric Co., Inc.
Lee Company
Lookout Pest Control
Lyndon Steel Company, LLC
Office Furniture Warehouse
Philip Augustino & Family
Pierre Construction
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
Presley Electric
R. Chatfield Company
Ralph White Electric
Reliance Interiors, Inc.
Ron Jobe
Schaal Glass Co.
SECO Architectural Systems
Silvers Plumbing
Southeast Painters, Inc.
Vision Hospitality Group
Wesnic, Inc.
World Travel


Related stories:

Bowlers Pack Lanes To Bowl For Kids’ Sake

People Serving People: Thank you to our generous team

Our EMJ purpose to be people serving people extends beyond our office doors. In addition to clients, colleagues and partners, our teams are dedicated to serving the communities in which we work, and we do so throughout the year, by participating in charitable events, fundraising initiatives, volunteer construction, and more.

Knowing the holiday season can be an especially challenging time for those in need, our teams make an extra effort to give back during the month of December.

Our Boston and Dallas offices collected boxes of playthings for Toys for Tots, and company-wide our employees are collecting donations for the Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer.

And, for the sixth year in a row, the Chattanooga office hosted a Christmas party for visitors to the Chattanooga Community Kitchen.

Fundraising for the Community Kitchen event began in November with Chattanooga employees pitching in more than $1,500 by early December. Those funds were then utilized to buy food, supplies and decorations.

Employees cooked at home the night before and then prepared and served 520 plates to the city’s homeless population on Friday, December 15th.

“You came. You cooked. You served. You cleaned. And, you touched many hearts along the way,” said Tina Brogdon, Senior Administrative Assistant, who led the Community Kitchen effort. “You all did a wonderful job in helping to make this event a success.”

Chattanooga Community Kitchen

Thank you to our generous employees who donated their time, money and talents to help so many this holiday season. We are thankful that you are a part of the EMJ team!

To learn more about the organizations EMJ supported this year and to get involved, visit the links below.

Chattanooga Community Kitchen
Toys for Tots
Austin Hatcher Foundation for Pediatric Cancer

Related story:

Join us in supporting Austin Hatcher Foundation


Chattanooga celebrates grand opening of The Commons

chattanooga, commons, collegedale, open air pavilion
Photo: Erin O. Smith, Chattanooga Times Free Press


EMJ Chattanooga joined the community of Collegedale, Tenn., to celebrate the grand opening of Phase I of The Commons on Sunday, November 5.

The Grand Opening Festivities and Town Christmas Tree Lighting was sponsored by the City of Collegedale and the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation and featured live music, a Christmas tree lighting, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

chattanooga, commons, collegedale, open air pavilion, phase I
Photo: Chattanooga Times Free Press


The Commons, a three-phase project on an eight-acre site, will serve as a cultural and recreational center for the Collegedale community. Phase 1 contains four acres of infrastructure work, a clock tower, a 30,000-square-foot area planted with 32 Redwood trees, and a 2,000-square-foot open-air entry pavilion with restrooms. A Japanese cedar will be planted at the back of the shade pavilion to serve as a permanent Christmas tree.

Construction will begin on Phase II, an 11,000-square-foot covered pavilion, this month. While the entry pavilion will serve small gatherings, the second pavilion will be large enough to serve as an event venue for farmer’s markets, weddings and more.

chattanooga, commons, collegedale, open air pavilion, phase 1
Photo: Tim Barber, Chattanooga Times Free Press


Phase III, which is estimated to be completed at the end of 2019, will be the addition of a sound stage for concerts.

“EMJ Corporation has done a great job building The Commons for all of us to enjoy,” said David Barto, Executive Director of the Collegedale Tomorrow Foundation. “A special thank you to Mr. Jay Jolley  [EMJ Chairman of the Board] for taking on this project and a big thank you for our team of project leads from Clint Dean to Matt Elliott and Joe Woolums to our ‘boots on the ground’ site superintendent, Matt Uebler. We have a good team.”

Congratulations to the EMJ team on this project:

Matt Uebler, Superintendent
Matt Elliott, Project Manager
Ryan Colbert, Project Engineer
Joe Woolums, Senior Preconstruction Manager
James Williams, Director of Construction
Clint Dean, Executive Vice President

Related stories:

Collegedale Commons Planned On 8 Acres Next To Current City Hall

City of Collegedale Looking to Create Their Own History


EMJ sponsors Make-a-Wish child’s trip of a lifetime

This spring, EMJ’s Dallas office was honored to help grant the wish of seven-year-old Daisy Perez, a Dallas resident, through Make-a-Wish.

Employees divided into teams and competed to raise funds. The two-month competition was led by team captains Ray Catlin, Executive Vice President, Ben Milner, Senior Vice President of Preconstruction, and Kevin Gass, Vice President of Construction.

“Team Ben” got a head-start by hosting a building-wide bake sale in the office lobby. Members of the team made various baked goods and raised nearly $800 by the end of the work day.

“Team Kevin” hosted a breakfast taco sale with tacos donated by Fuzzy’s Taco Shop, which raised nearly $400. Meanwhile, members of each team reached out to clients, partners and colleagues to see if they would donate to help grant Daisy’s wish.

A few weeks later, members of the office were invited to participate in Good Morning Texas to surprise Anthony, another local child, with his wish.

“Seeing a child’s wish granted really brought our fundraising efforts to life,” said Madison Latimer, Operations Accountant, who attended the televised event. “We saw how much joy it would bring to a child who has gone through so much.”


By the April 1 deadline, EMJ had far exceeded its $10,000 goal, reaching nearly $17,000 in donations.

On April 14, Daisy and her family flew to Orlando for a fun-filled week during which she visited Disney World, Universal Studios and Legoland— and of course, fulfilled her dream of meeting Belle from Beauty & the Beast.

“@EMJCorp This once-in-a-lifetime trip would not have been possible without you,” tweeted Daisy’s aunt, Patricia. “Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!”


Daisy was featured on several outlets including E! News, Huffington Post and Good Housekeeping with photos from her emotional trip.

She was also interviewed on Fox 4 News about her overnight fame.

“My favorite part of going to Disney was getting to meet Belle,” Daisy said. “I also got to have ice cream for breakfast and eat lunch with all of my favorite characters!”

Finally, last Friday, Daisy and her family visited the Dallas office to share stories and pictures from their trip and show their gratitude. Daisy was greeted with signs, balloons and even a princess-themed photo booth.

Daisy and EVP Ray Catlin smile for the photo booth in EMJ’s Dallas office.

“It was so rewarding to have Daisy and her family in our office,” said Ray Catlin. “Working together for this cause has been a great experience for the team, and I believe EMJ’s partnership with Make-a-Wish is just beginning.”

It has evidently been a whirlwind two months for Daisy, and EMJ is appreciative to have been a part of it. A sincere thanks to our partners, colleagues and friends who donated to this worthy cause—we could not have done it without you.

To see more pictures from Daisy’s visit, visit our Flickr page, and to get your company involved with Make-a-Wish, visit wish.org.

EMJ Chattanooga celebrates spring through service

Spring brings warmer weather, blooming flowers, allergy pills, and—for EMJ, great opportunities for community service!

This week, EMJ’s Chattanooga team celebrated the season by hosting the Chambliss Center for Children for a day of Easter-themed fun. Since 1872, the non-profit organization has supported local children and strengthened families through childcare, adoptions and other services, and now cares for more than 650 kids each day.

EMJ’s team welcomed 35 four- and five-year-old children for an Easter egg hunt, pizza “picnic,” activity stations and a photo booth with the bunny.

“We partner with local organizations because we are passionate about improving our community and using our resources to positively impact the city’s future leaders,” said Clint Dean, Executive Vice President. “We enjoy it, and it’s very rewarding.”

This fun event arrived on the heels of EMJ’s recent participation in Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Greater Chattanooga’s Bowl for Kids’ Sake, a bowling and fundraising competition that goes toward the nonprofit’s local one-on-one mentoring program.

EMJ competed in teams to raise more than $35,000 through local sponsorships, then bowled in the event on April 1st. Chattanooga’s third year to participate, they topped last year’s efforts of over $33,000.

Read more about the Chambliss egg hunt in the Chattanoogan: http://www.chattanoogan.com/2017/4/13/346058/EMJ-Hosts-Easter-Egg-Hunt-For-Chambliss.aspx

EMJ supports Make-a-Wish on WFAA’s “Good Morning Texas”


EMJ has partnered with Make-a-Wish to grant the wish of a local child, and on Wednesday, the team was invited to attend WFAA’s “Good Morning Texas” with other local participating companies.

Since 1982, Make-a-Wish has granted wishes of more than 270,000 children with life-threatening illnesses in the United States, providing hope, strength and joy to them and their families.


The feature primarily promoted the North Texas Walk for Wishes, a multi-city 5k fundraiser on Saturday, April 1st. But there was more than the walk to celebrate.

EMJers set up at American Airlines Plaza in grass skirts and leis to surprise 11-year-old Anthony, a local Make-a-Wish sponsor child, with his wish: a trip to Hawaii to learn how to surf. Anthony has a cardiac condition, and two Dallas residents, Dennis Baird and Conner Samuels, made his trip a reality.

“As a parent, when your child goes through something traumatic, you never know the outcome,” said Rebecca, Anthony’s mother. “It’s a great thing to see how far he’s come.”

Next month, EMJ will present its sponsor child, Daisy, with her wish, a trip to Walt Disney World to meet Belle— a direct result of their fundraising efforts.

To donate to EMJ’s team and help fulfill more wishes, visit our fundraising page, and see more photos from the event here.



Leading through Listening: Enhancing the Client Experience

In October, EMJ announced Jay Jolley’s transition into the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors. His footsteps to this position include various leadership roles at EMJ.

Jay started his EMJ journey as a Project Manager shortly after his 1982 graduation from Tennessee Technological University. In the following years, he assumed the roles of Vice President, President, and then Chief Executive Officer.

While these roles hold several responsibilities in common, one shared duty stands out as foremost: listening. Jay feels his greatest responsibility as a leader has been to listen, and with that, the responsibility to teach his team the value of listening.

In a 1996 EMJ newsletter, Jay wrote an article simply entitled, “Listen to This,” where he advised readers to become better listeners by doing the following:

Don’t interrupt or interject unless you don’t understand something.
Ask questions, but only after you hear everything being said.
Don’t rehearse a response. Be patient.
Paraphrase or mirror. Repeat back the speaker’s key words.
Don’t daydream or let your mind wander while someone is talking.

“Listening is one of the hardest parts of good communication, because we all have a tendency to offer opinions, interrupt or even daydream while others are speaking,” Jay added.

Jay also honed in on the need for people to wait their turn to speak. “I try to remember that the person speaking feels as strongly about his/her points as you feel about yours.”

Today, Jay’s advice is just as relevant as it was over 20 years ago, and teaching the value of listening is still a cornerstone of the corporation’s work. It is listed as one of the four key steps in EMJ’s Concept-to-Completion (C2C) approach to client experience, which is used when working with clients, partners and colleagues. EMJ team members are encouraged to follow the steps to gain a thorough understanding of the task at hand.

“Clients will tell you what’s valuable to them, and our job is to pay attention to what they are telling us,” said Burt Odom, President and CEO of EMJ Corporation. “And, not just what they are saying, but what they really mean.”

EMJ’s team is reminded daily to listen thoroughly to understand clients’ needs and motivators, project goals (including budget, time and quality), as well as questions and concerns. While listening is fundamentally sitting down with a client to ask questions and receive information as Jay outlines in his article, listening should continue from the earliest stage of the project through the grand opening and beyond.

Understanding the client’s goals, vision, concerns and expectations ultimately transforms into tangible value for clients and a better project experience for all parties.

Read more about the value of listening in these project case studies:
Shaw Create Center
Fountains of Farrah
Palm Beach Outlets
Walmart-Sam’s Club Combo

Building a bridge for on-site training

Superintendent Monroe Landell (left) and Level II Superintendent Chase Hirth (second from right) are paired in EMJ’s Builder’s Academy.


Engineering News-Record  recently reported that 18% of construction supervisors will retire within the next five years. With the construction industry facing a labor shortage, EMJ launched a series of professional growth programs in 2016, under its Career-4-Life initiative to prepare the next generation of construction industry leaders.

Among these programs is career mapping, a formal mentoring program, and EMJ Builder’s Academy—a program developed to train and grow the individuals that oversee EMJ’s construction sites each and every day, our superintendents. Through the Builder’s Academy, less experienced on-site superintendents are paired with more experienced superintendents who share the wisdom and knowledge that only years of service can bring.

The superintendent teams, consisting of a Coach/Trainer (CT) and a Builder in Development (BID), utilize learning modules on Construct U, EMJ’s customized, online learning platform, while building a trusted, coaching relationship.

However, in the midst of a bustling construction site, there are obvious challenges to maintaining a program of this nature, such as time, organization and teamwork. Let’s be honest—mentoring doesn’t come naturally to everyone.

EMJ Superintendent Monroe Landell currently serves as a CT to Level II Superintendent Chase Hirth, and their relationship serves as an example of the value that Builder’s Academy can provide. They sat down with us to share advice for superintendents who are beginning the program.

Finding Time

The first step is to find time for development, which can be difficult.

“Finding time is honestly one of my biggest struggles,” says Chase. Not two that easily back down from a challenge, Chase and Monroe worked together to find time for Builder’s Academy. Below are some of their solutions.

Take 30 minutes. Take a lunch break, pull up a course, shut the door and watch a video. Break the longer two-hour courses into digestible chunks. “Understandably you’re going to have interruptions,” says Chase. “Do what you have to do. Pause the video and pick it back up when you get the chance. Whether it’s later that day or the next.”

Maximize the time you have. If you have down time on your current job or a break between one project completion and ground breaking on the next, use that time to make head way on the modules.

Make learning a habit. “Like daily reports and first work inspection, you make the time. Set a routine appointment, and stick with it,” says Monroe.


The second step is getting organized, which can be difficult if it’s something new and unfamiliar.

“The first time I looked at one of the Builder’s Academy modules and its 20 study courses and 17 execute courses, it was very overwhelming,” said Chase. “I instantly felt like I couldn’t do it.” Determined to succeed, Chase developed a system to help him get organized.

Print out a physical copy. “I take every execute course in a module and print the cover and follow up page,” said Chase. The cover page contains the tasks to be completed in the field and the follow up page holds the questions to verify the when, where and how of your tasks, which is signed off by the CT upon completion.

Get a folder or binder just for Builder’s Academy. This folder can become a place for notes, completed tasks and professional growth plans. According to Chase, having a central place to keep these things will make them more urgent and tangible.

Create a conversation. Having a central place where all completed tasks are recorded assists CTs in knowing what to go over with a BID and assists them in their coaching. “I take the time to fill out the execute task and then go over it with Monroe,” says Chase. “Sometimes he’ll look at it and say, ‘looks good, but did you remember to do turn downs’ or ‘have you tried looking at it like this?’” This conversation helps Chase prepare to log his work back into Construct U for records and reference later in the program.

Relationship Building

It’s not always easy to work with other people, much less take advice from them. So how do you form a healthy coaching relationship? What are the benefits of having a coach?

Research the other participant. Get to know the other person’s background, their work experience, and tap into that expertise. “Monroe was a Site Superintendent before this job,” said Chase. “So just from the ‘site’ aspect, he’s taught me about grading, rough grading and final grading.”

Coaching is a give and take. While Builder’s Academy is about teaching the BID, it doesn’t mean that the relationship is one-sided. Both the CT and BID are actively engaged in growing.

“Having someone I’m mentoring makes me want to step up and learn more so that I’ll have something to teach,” said Monroe.

Don’t be bull headed. It can be hard to take advice and suggestions from other people. “Being a Level II Superintendent, there can be a lot of criticism from more experienced Superintendents,” says Chase. “It’s not always easy to hear the truth. Still a lot of these people have gone through the same problems or situations that I’ve faced or will face. They understand the consequences of doing things wrong, because they’ve already done it.”


For more information on the EMJ Builder’s Academy, contact Jonathan Horne, and learn more about a career at EMJ here.