EMJ’s IT Department Rises to the Occasion

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



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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


An Easter to Remember

Many of our EMJ families created their own special memories (in quarantine) by continuing some old traditions and even creating some new ones.


Our EMJ team, in previous years, has celebrated the Easter season by hosting the Chambliss Center for Children  for a day of Easter-themed fun in our Chattanooga office.

Although we were sad to miss hosting this year, many of our EMJ families, from both the Chattanooga and Dallas offices, created their own special memories (in quarantine) by continuing some old traditions and even creating some new ones.

Here’s a glimpse into some of the fun our families enjoyed this past weekend.


“The Gaiser family started the day with watching our church service online.  In the afternoon, Landry (9) and Hadley (7) hunted Easter eggs and made an Easter cake with their favorite Easter candy – Peeps!” – Nicole Gaiser, Vice President – People Department


“We spent Easter weekend outside on the farm; hosting my immediate family for a COVID-19 compliant social distancing Easter picnic, egg hunt, and fishing at the pond.  My son is thoroughly enjoying these days at home, as it means more time outdoors and with Mommy.” – Megan Duman, Divisional Controller


“As a family, we played the role of the Easter bunny and hid eggs for friends in their yard.  It was a great excuse for us to get out of the house and feel a little normalcy. After Easter lunch, we painted yummy egg cookies.” – Lauren Purdy, Recruiting Coordinator


“The Wadlingtons celebrated Easter at home by enjoying an early morning Easter Egg hunt followed by an at-home bible class and singing that my wife, Sara, led for my boys Clark (4), Peter (1), and me.  Our church, Riverside Church of Christ, graciously dropped off communion and materials/toys to help our boys celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus.  It was different, but an Easter that I will never forget!” – Jacob Wadlington, Vice President of Business Development

In this season of uncertainty, we are mindful of, and thankful for, the front line professionals who are working and away from their families. We hope everyone has a few moments each day to stop and find simple moments of joy.

Collegedale Church expansion makes headway

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.

church expansion

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.

church expansion

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.

3 ways Quality Planning Meetings benefit your construction project

EMJ’s Dallas team is preparing to begin work on a new Cinemark project in Frisco, Texas.  The project team recently held a Quality Planning Meeting to ensure that all team members are aligned with the client’s goals for the project’s design and execution.

George Heath, Vice President of Retail- Single Tenant, Phillip Crissman, Senior Superintendent, and Matt Connors, Project Manager, shared three key reasons why a Quality Planning Meeting is beneficial to any project:

1. Client values
Before each Quality Planning Meeting, EMJ’s Quality Department prepares an agenda that outlines topics and questions that assist construction teams in defining what quality issues are most important to a client. These concerns or challenges may relate to aesthetics, functionality, or maintainability, and knowledge of these enables the team to proactively tackle issues and prepare for execution.

“The client was very experienced working with other contractors on these types of projects, so he came in knowing exactly what he didn’t want,” George says. “He had prior issues with fire sprinkler layout, cleanliness of units, damage to floor finish and leaks. My team is keeping these issues in mind as we plan to ensure that his experience with EMJ is a positive one.”

2. Team buy-in
Before breaking ground, the meeting brings the project manager, preconstruction manager, project engineer, superintendent, quality manager, environmental and safety team members together, jump-starting relationship building and accountability.

“The meeting gets buy-in and puts everyone on the same page with the same goals,” Phillip says. “It engages all team members, strengthens relationships, and it doesn’t take a whole lot of time, but the value is considerable.”

3. Perspective

Each meeting participant reviews the project drawings based on their expertise and previous experience. Bringing these project participants together in a safe space to explore ideas and be transparent about concerns for the project gives all team members a deeper understanding of the project as they analyze variables.

“Each team member has their own experience and lessons learned that they bring to the project. We all view the documents with the filter of, ‘What can we do to give this client a really high-quality project and experience?’ and these are the ways we can improve,” says Matt. “It’s extremely valuable.”

George and the team are set to begin construction of Cinemark on December 1, with completion of the new facility scheduled for September 2018.

Interested in hosting a Quality Planning Meeting on your next project? Contact Jonathan Horne, Director of Quality Assurance, for details at jonathan.horne@emjcorp.com.