The universal principles of client experience 

This August, my wife and I welcomed our third son. After his arrival, I was charged with bringing our two oldest sons to the hospital to see their mom and meet their new brother. Little did I know that it would be a lesson in client experience.

Entering the hospital, I was nervous. It was hot. The boys were tired, and as excited as they were about their new brother, we were worried about how they would adjust to the change. It was a lot to process.

As we passed the reception area, I treated it like we were trying to slip past an old East German checkpoint—act like you belong, walk with a purpose, and don’t make eye contact. We were almost home free, when the receptionist shouted, “Wait, your boys need identification bracelets.” She left and returned with bracelets that said “Big Brother.”

The impact of this gesture was immediate. The boys were ecstatic, and seeing that, I was at ease. Undoubtedly, the hospital staff had seen thousands of weary dads in the exact same situation. They were taught to recognize it and empowered to engage with families to help alleviate stress.

What does this have to do with commercial construction? More than you might think.

Providing our clients an exceptional experience is at the heart of everything we do. By doing the little things, day by day, our employees strive to make the construction experience better and to provide value to our clients.

It doesn’t matter if you work at a hospital delivering babies, or if you’re a superintendent overseeing the construction and delivery of the hospital itself, the principles of a great client experience are the same. It’s as simple as every single employee paying attention to clients, empathizing with their situation, and taking actions to improve their experience.

Learn more about EMJ’s approach, designed to produce significant benefits for our clients and make the experience enjoyable.

 

Deron Smith leads the marketing and communications team in internal and external marketing and communication strategy. He has 20 years of experience as a consultant and in-house communications and marketing professional. Before joining EMJ in 2015, Deron served as the National Director of Communications for the Boy Scouts of America and held positions with notable public relations firms Edelman, Publicis Dialog and The Gooden Group.

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

Diverse career path leads Pfeiffer to EMJ

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.”

 

Related articles:

Employees honored for Outstanding Performance

Podcast: Wegmans delivered in only 33 weeks

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 five-part blog series, EMJ highlights our Outstanding Project recipients and why they were selected for these awards. Directors and Vice Presidents of the corporation nominate for Outstanding Project, which is given to a project team that delivered an exceptional client experience, added value, overcame challenges, demonstrated exemplary planning and execution, and built client relationships.

This year, EMJ recognized five projects with this award:

Signal Mill, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Tranquillity 8 Solar, Fresno County, Calif.
West Towne Marketplace, El Paso, Texas
Market City Center, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Wegmans Food Market, Medford, Mass.

In this final blog of the series, we’re featuring the team behind Wegmans Food Market in Medford, Mass., in a ten-minute Ground Up podcast.


 

Before beginning work on Wegmans, EMJ’s Boston team managed the demolition of Meadow Glen Mall, a 200,000-square-foot, 35-year-old shopping center, to make way for the 120,000-square-foot grocery store.

During preconstruction, the team created a comprehensive quality management plan which aligned each project team member from day one. They maintained a consistent open line of communication and made sure they understood the client’s goals to bring the project to a successful completion.

The project team faced challenges with the structural steel slab and poor soil conditions from the earliest phase of the project. In addition, the client requested several design changes throughout the project, which the team responded to quickly, positively, and efficiently.

The day of the grand opening, Colleen Wegman, President of Wegmans, thanked the team profusely and said this was the most successful outside vendor delivery in the history of their program, reflecting how the team delivered an exceptional client experience.

The project now holds the quickest start-to-finish execution, at 33 weeks, of any Wegmans project ever built, which has led to further negotiated work and current projects in N.Y., Va., and Mass.

Congratulations to all members of the project team:

Amy Angus, Assistant Project Manager
Neal Fontana, Senior Preconstruction Manager
Michael Fragassi, Lead Superintendent
Bruce Tassone, Senior Project Manager
Tania Nicholson, Project Accountant

 

Related articles

Boston celebrates opening of Wegmans at Meadow Glen

EMJ delivers fourth grocery construction project for Lidl

EMJ’s Chattanooga team recently celebrated the grand opening of its fourth Lidl grocery construction project, located in Florence, S.C.

On May 24, the EMJ team, Lidl representatives, local officials, and eager residents attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony before the store opened its doors for the first time.

lidl grocery construction

The international grocery retailer built and opened 47 stores last year, with lofty goals for additional stores in 2018 and beyond. EMJ Construction is currently building two additional stores in Georgia.

Lidl’s key selling points are its “easy-to-shop” layout, wine selection, freshly-baked goods, healthy, sustainable choices, and top-quality products. According to an announcement, about 90 percent of the grocery brands at Lidl will be exclusive to the chain.

lidl grocery construction

“Our team has gotten into a groove with Lidl,” said Gary Gibson, Director of Construction. “They truly understand the client’s goals and have used lessons learned from prior projects to deliver a truly-customized product.”

Congratulations to the team:

Ben Caulder, Level 1 Superintendent
Gary Gibson, Director of Construction
Priscilla Harrell, Administrative Assistant
Steve Jensen, Superintendent
Jacob Mammen, Project Accountant
Brad Primus, Preconstruction Project Manager
Steve Totzke, Project Manager
Jonathon Woolsey, Project Engineer

Related stories:

Lidl grocery stores in Virginia and North Carolina open

EMJ’s first Lidl grocery store opens in Winston-Salem

Team dives in to complete Dick’s Sporting Goods construction in record time

When a long-time client was in a crunch to get their Dick’s Sporting Goods construction project in West Long Branch, N.J., completed within a reduced timeframe, they turned to EMJ Construction.

Having a previous relationship with our Boston team, they asked us to provide expedited pricing and an accelerated construction schedule.

EMJ Construction Boston was formally awarded the Dick’s Sporting Goods project on December 21, 2018 and challenged with a nearly impossible completion deadline. It was critical to the client’s financial goals that the store be open for business by the third week of May.

Senior Project Manager Bruce Tassone and Superintendent Darryl Moore immediately visited the snowy site over the winter holidays, performing scope reviews and submitting building and demolition permit requests.

Once approved to work, Lead Superintendent Mike Fragassi and the field team immediately jumped into the project, performing a full survey and highlighting many differences from the drawings.

The entire team collaborated to compare the existing conditions to the design drawings and provide creative solutions to various issues that were uncovered—from a 6-inch difference in the slab elevation at the front of the store to conflicts with the basis of design gas service pressure. In addition, the team discovered the site was built on a former landfill, adding levels of approval and environmental consultant oversight to an already-tight schedule.

“There were numerous challenges in the existing conditions and the team worked with the owner and design team to solve these problems within the first 30 days of being involved,” said Fragassi.

They were able to begin selective demolition on January 8, less than three weeks after the client awarded them the project. In the past, EMJ teams have efficiently performed start-to-finish Dick’s Sporting Goods in 16-18 weeks, but with the building permit unavailable until February 16th, 2018, the Boston team was able to complete the project in just over two months. The project was turned over to Dick’s Sporting Goods Operations Team on April 27th.

“The client(s) can’t speak highly enough about the team that pulled this out for them,” said Tassone. “Very early on, it looked like it wouldn’t happen, and our team truly rose to the challenge and did whatever it took to make sure this project ended up positively.”

As a result, both clients are now discussing additional projects with the Boston team.

“This team exhibits true grit— they’ll do whatever is necessary to get the job done,” said Neil Pratt, Executive Vice President of EMJ Boston. “Everyone on the team continually exemplified that behavior, and both clients couldn’t be happier.”

Congratulations to the team:

Alex Colwell, Co-Op
Mike Fragassi, Lead Superintendent
Peter Gilson, Project Engineer
Darryl Moore, Superintendent
Steve Rice, Vice President of Construction
Bruce Tassone, Senior Project Manager
Frank Miller, Preconstruction Manager
Joan Madden, Project Accountant
Katie Slowe, Administrative Assistant

 

Special Projects celebrates grand opening of Starbucks

EMJ Construction Special Projects celebrated the grand opening of its first Starbucks in Port St. Lucie, Fla., last month.

A development by Equitas Management Group, the project was completed on time and within the requested budget, despite challenges with municipality regulations. In addition, the team proactively tackled a clay cap within a retention pond on-site to turn the project over to a highly-satisfied client.

“Any time we had any kind of blip on the radar, our entire team went after it head-on,” said Ray Alamo, EMJ Superintendent, who led the project. “The project wasn’t easy, but all of us worked hand-in-hand from the beginning and exceeded the client’s expectations in the end.”

 

The Starbucks representative wrote, “This project has been nice for me to manage because I know I am in good hands. I have built and managed projects in 30-35 states, so when it comes to talent, I can see it a mile away. I hope to have more projects with Ray as the superintendent.”

The project also received a Sunshine Safety Award during construction for the team’s consistent dedication to safe practices on site.

Congratulations to the team:

Ray Alamo, Superintendent
Stephen Anderson, Project Engineer
Jerry Campbell, Preconstruction Manager
Sam Marks, Project Engineer
Devin Munczenski, Project Engineer
Brian Pemberton, Preconstruction Manager
Tom Zylstra, Project Engineer

Related stories:

Port St. Lucie Starbucks team awarded Sunshine Safety Award

Market City Center named 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 five-part blog series, EMJ highlights our Outstanding Project recipients and why they were selected for these awards. Directors and Vice Presidents of the corporation nominate for Outstanding Project, which is given to a project team that delivered an exceptional client experience, added value, overcame challenges, demonstrated exemplary planning and execution, and built client relationships.

This year, EMJ recognized five projects with this award:

Signal Mill, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Tranquillity 8 Solar, Fresno County, Calif.
West Towne Marketplace, El Paso, Texas
Market City Center, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Wegmans, Medford, Mass.

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 Market City Center in Chattanooga, Tenn.

Market City Center is the highest structure built in Chattanooga since 1972 and is located between three downtown buildings on bustling Market Street.

The team generated very detailed delivery and staging plans to ensure that materials and manpower could easily access the site with minimal impact to the downtown area. When faced with schedule challenges, they worked collaboratively to tackle these issues with minimal impact to the owner.

By proactively utilizing construction technology, such as BIM Modeling, the team was able to identify clashes within the building system and inform the subcontractors prior to installation. This fostered collaboration, mitigated numerous changes, and helped maintain the overall schedule.

The team also fostered a trusting relationship with the local municipalities to ensure that inspections were timely and the work was ready when inspectors arrived on site. This helped maintain the project schedule while ensuring that it was code compliant.

“The scope and pressure of Market City Center was extremely unique because of the downtown location, and this team went above and beyond to serve not only the client, but the city and its residents, as well,” said Jack Bowen, Executive Vice President of EMJ Construction Chattanooga.

This project started out as a select build project with no past relationship with the owner. Through the team’s efforts and the project’s success, the team is discussing future projects with the owner.

Congratulations to all members of the project team:

Taylor Copeland, Project Engineer
Neil Forell, Level II Superintendent
Gary Gibson, Director of Construction
Chris Grannan, VP of Preconstruction
Billy Kile, Warranty Manager
Lance Lindsey, Lead Superintdent
Robert Mazza, Project Engineer
Alex Miller, VP of Preconstruction
Zane Rice, Level I Superintendent
James Williams, Director of Construction
Jonathon Woolsey, Project Engineer

Related articles:

Market City Center opens in Chattanooga

Technology’s impact on an urban mixed-use project 

Chattanooga leaders tour job site at 728 Market

West Towne Marketplace named 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 five-part blog series, EMJ highlights our Outstanding Project recipients and why they were selected for these awards. Directors and Vice Presidents of the corporation nominate for Outstanding Project, which is given to a project team that delivered an exceptional client experience, added value, overcame challenges, demonstrated exemplary planning and execution, and built client relationships.

This year, EMJ recognized five projects with this award:

Signal Mill, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Tranquillity 8 Solar, Fresno County, Calif.
West Towne Marketplace, El Paso, Texas
Market City Center, Chattanooga, Tenn.
Wegmans, Medford, Mass.

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 West Towne Marketplace in El Paso, Texas.

West Towne Marketplace is a 500,000-square-foot open-air retail development on 63 acres that EMJ Construction Dallas built for River Oaks Properties, Ltd.

The Dallas team performed all site work and constructed 320,837 square feet of retail space, including build-outs for TJ Maxx, PetSmart and Rack Room. Meanwhile the Chattanooga team of EMJ Construction built the Cabela’s store on the property.

Challenges on West Towne Marketplace could have led to setbacks, but instead, the Dallas team led all project stakeholders to develop creative solutions to save the owner time, money, and even open early.

The team built 16 buildings on a 68-acre site within only 5 months, allowing tenants to occupy buildings and bring in revenue well ahead of schedule.

 

The team started the project proactively by creating a quality management plan and holding meetings to define roles and responsibilities throughout the project. They worked cohesively together and actively participated through various plan reviews, all-team meetings, buyout meetings, and preconstruction meetings.

The original design called for cast-in-place culvert, and the team coached the design team to go pre-cast, which saved the owner time and money.

The client expressed satisfaction with the team’s coordination, passion, accountability, and delivery of their projects and has since awarded the team an additional office building project.

Congratulations to the team from West Towne Marketplace!

Scott Finney, Senior Superintendent
Cody Shulze, Project Manager
Heath Wilson, Director of Construction
Mike Williams, Level II Superintendent
Mike Crouse, Senior Superintendent
Matt Griser, Director of Preconstruction
Sheila Nazario-Thomas, Administrative Assistant
Suzanna Trent, Administrative Assistant
Valerie Santoy, Administrative Assistant

Related stories:

West Towne Marketplace opens in El Paso

Brookhaven Village team shines on Texas community

Tom Rue, Blake Kaylor and Tom Zylstra of EMJ Construction Special Projects are living examples of EMJ’s values as exhibited through their work at the start of the Brookhaven Village project earlier this year.

Brookhaven Village, a retail project in Addison, Texas, required demolition of five buildings prior to construction of the new development. One of these buildings was a daycare with approximately $50,000 worth of playground equipment. Rue, Superintendent on the project, spoke with Kaylor, Senior Project Manager, and Zylstra, Project Engineer, about opportunities for the equipment.

“My first thought was, ‘We need to find someone who can use this,’” said Rue. “I was not going to let something that could bring great joy be demolished in a landfill—if I could help it.”

Seeing an opportunity to serve, the team made it their mission to find a new home for the equipment. Rue called more than a dozen Addison churches before finally speaking with a local pastor, who gratefully volunteered his congregation to move the playground and reinstall it on their church grounds. By the end of the week, the playground equipment had been moved to its new home—saving the client time and money and providing great value to the church.

The team also reached out to the local police department and offered the soon-to-be demolished structures up for training. The Addison SWAT and Special Tactical Unit took him up on the offer.

Rue, Kaylor and Zylstra worked together to coordinate the demo schedule, allowing the SWAT team to use the facility for tactical training. The team used the facility to train on everything from blowing up doors with explosive charges to hostage negotiations.

The Addison SWAT team prepares for tactical training on the Brookhaven Village site.

 

“At EMJ, we promote core values of grit, trustworthiness and selflessness, and this team is a testament to these principles, serving not only the client, but going above and beyond for the residents of Addison,” said Doug Martin, President of EMJ Construction.

Sometimes, the project at hand is just the beginning. Thank you, Tom, Blake and Tom, for your selflessness on this project and for representing all that EMJ stands for!