Quarantine Cookbook Is A Recipe to Stay Connected

Quarantine cookbook is an example of resiliency and determination to remain human, and in contact, while we transition to a digital work environment.

The Dallas preconstruction team conducts its daily meeting.

 

These past few months have been interesting, to say the least. While EMJ Construction was deemed an essential business, and our field teams continued to work on projects, in mid-March the office-based teams started working from home.

While the work transition was seamless, thanks to Microsoft Teams meetings, it took some time to adjust to not seeing teammates in the office. To help feel better connected, the Dallas Preconstruction team had daily touch point meetings with a special theme every Wednesday.

The first Wednesday each member of the team wore a hat and explained its meaning. That’s when Drew Halsey, Vice President of Preconstruction, had an idea – a cookbook. “I was looking for something different to talk about. We wanted something to get people involved and interacting in a personal way,” said Halsey. “We’re all spending time at home and I thought it’d be great to see what everyone is cooking during the quarantine.”

Martin Briggs, Dallas preconstruction.

 

That led to a call for entries sent to Martin Briggs, Assistant Preconstruction Manager, who assembled “Cooking in the Time of Crisis,” EMJ’s own version of a “Better Homes & Gardens New Cook Book.” Some of the recipes are serious and others tongue-in-cheek with little golden nuggets of humor sprinkled throughout. Here are some highlights:

321 Rib Method, submitted by Drew Halsey

I firmly believe that you should cook food the way you like it, and ribs are no different! You like your ribs saucy? Put some extra sauce on them (I like using my Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce)! You like your ribs falling off the bone? Follow this 3 2 1 Rib Method. These are your ribs after all. Don’t you let the man get you down. Just don’t.

A Starkes Family Lunch, submitted by Keith Starkes

1. Middle child yells at you during conference call because “they are starving.”
2. Commence with making lunch.
3. Assemble ingredients. Oldest child: make ham sandwich with ham, cheese, ranch, pickles.
4. Yell at kids to get out of pantry: “Can’t you see that I am making you lunch?”
5. Resume step 3.

Quick 1 Minute Oats, submitted by Suzanna Trent

1. Boil water or milk and salt.
2. Stir in oats.
3. Cook about 1 minute over medium heat; stir occasionally.

World Famous Homemade Buttermilk Ranch, submitted by Chris Ross

What You Need:

½ cup whole fat buttermilk
1 teaspoon of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing BUTTERMILK mix
Can always add more if needed
1 cup mayonnaise
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
Paprika (to taste)
1/8 cup of celery salt

Steps
1. Mix All together. Eat with anything because ranch goes with everything.

While the cookbook will not be featured on any of your favorite cooking shows, and we can’t vouch for any of the recipes, it did accomplish its mission – to bring levity and camaraderie to a heavy and potentially isolating situation.

“I have been so proud of my team and how they’ve responded to this unbelievably challenging time,” said Keith Starkes, Vice President of Preconstruction, Dallas. “They didn’t miss a beat. This is just one of many examples of resiliency and determination to remain human, and in contact, while we transition to a digital work environment.”

The cookbook is not available on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore, but you can download here.

 

People on the Move: Tina Brogdon

Tina Brogdon has been promoted to Project Coordinator. She works in the EMJ Construction office in Chattanooga.

This upcoming September will mark Tina’s 15th year with EMJ and in the construction world.

“Tina has always been a key part of the success of the Chattanooga Admin Department and I know she is ready to take on the challenge of her new role as Project Coordinator,” said Andrea Boatman, Office Manager of the Chattanooga office. She has a passion to help those around her and will do whatever she can to make EMJ successful.  Tina will use the vast knowledge she has acquired during her 15 years at EMJ to help make the Project Coordinator a vital part of the Project Team.

“My favorite part of construction is getting to see the pieces come together as something is built. I love to watch that process,” says Tina.

When Tina isn’t working, she loves to sew, read, participate in community theater and be a ‘Volunteer Cuddler’ in the NICU at Hamilton Medical Center. However, her favorite pastime is playing with her grandkids.

Congratulations, Tina!

People on the Move: Priscilla Harrell

Priscilla Harrell has been promoted to Project Coordinator. She works in the EMJ Construction office in Chattanooga.

Priscilla has been with EMJ for over six years. Prior to working at EMJ and in the construction world, she worked for the Marine Corps and Air Force in Georgia, Florida, and Ohio as a Department of Defense civilian, holding many different positions.

“Priscilla loves to learn new things and has always shown interest in learning all she can about the construction business and how she can put her skills to work to help those she supports. The Project Coordinator role will be a perfect fit for her,” said Andrea Boatman, Office Manager of the Chattanooga office. “Priscilla is always ready to go above and beyond to help in any way she can. I am excited to see her get the opportunity to use her talent and skills in her new position.”

“I love being in Chattanooga, and I love that in construction there’s something new to learn every day,” says Priscilla.

In her spare time, Priscilla likes to read and listen to music.

Congratulations, Priscilla!

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.

EMJ Employees Serve Chattanooga Community Kitchen

For the eighth straight year, EMJ hosted a Christmas party for the clients and employees of the Chattanooga Community Kitchen .

The kitchen offers a variety of services to its clients. Through all of the assistance offered, 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.

EMJ partners with the Kitchen because it allows employees to support a great cause through service. This year EMJ employees raffled gift baskets to raise money to cover the cost.

On the day of the event, employees took shifts decorating the Kitchen, cooking and serving meals, and making phone calls to ask for donations for the organization. The team prepared and served more than 750 meals, which set a new record.

The Community Kitchen relies on volunteer support to accomplish its mission. Groups and individual volunteers are needed year-round. You may sign up to volunteer here, or by emailing volunteer@homelesschattanooga.org.

 

 

EMJ Construction Recognizes Outstanding Work

The Edgar M. Jolley Awards for Excellence recognize exceptional work. The Jolleys, named in memory of EMJ’s founder, Ed Jolley, Sr., are presented in three categories: Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Servant Leadership and Outstanding Project.

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, Ed Jolley, Sr., are presented in three categories: Outstanding Performance, Outstanding Servant Leadership and Outstanding Project.

“We are proud of our all our employees who work to fulfill our purpose, to serve our clients, partners, and colleagues,” said Jack Bowen, President, EMJ Construction. “It is important to stop and recognize extraordinary achievements and employees throughout the year and celebrate great work. Congratulations to all this year’s award recipients and thank you for continuing the legacy of EMJ Construction.”

Outstanding Performance

 

The award for Outstanding Performance is EMJ’s highest individual performance honor. This award is given to one employee each year. Employees are nominated for this award by office leadership, and a committee selects the recipient. Nominees are judged against the following criteria:

  • Exemplified strong work ethic, performance, and responsibility
  • Modeled servant leadership and developed additional team member
  • Demonstrated initiative and creativity in tackling difficult or unusual challenges

 

This year’s Jolley for Outstanding Performance is awarded to Jon Fair, Project Manager, EMJ Construction Dallas. Jon is the client relationship manager for the CarMax program.

Jon Fair, Project Manager, EMJ Construction Dallas

 

Jon provides an exceptional experience to the client and, along with the team, responsible for successful projects. Jon leads by example and is willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. For example, this year he led the way to create a weekend rotation program for the project team, providing relief for the field staff. Congratulations on the well-deserved honor.

Honorable mentions in this category include:

  • Shane Hurley, Lead Superintendent, Chattanooga
  • Rickey Palmer, Superintendent, Dallas
  • Sheree Quarles, Divisional Controller, Chattanooga

 

Servant Leadership

 

The award for Outstanding Servant Leadership is EMJ’s highest recognition of an individual who exemplifies servant leadership as defined by EMJ’s core values. This award is given to one employee each year. Employees are nominated for this award by office leadership, and a committee selects the recipient. Nominees are judged against the following criteria:

  • Lead by example
  • Inspired and served others
  • Exhibited EMJ’s core values

 

This year’s Jolley for Servant Leadership is awarded to Mike Coyne, Superintendent, EMJ Construction Dallas. Mike is the epitome of Superintendent.

Mike Coyne, Superintendent, EMJ Construction Dallas

 

Mike is willing to go wherever EMJ needs him and is relentless with it comes to meeting any commitments. He has moved offices and projects multiple times. Whatever his assignment, Mike is selfless and gritty. Leadership trust him he provides an exceptional experience to the client and, along with the team, responsible for successful projects. He lives out the EMJ purpose, to be people serving people.

Honorable mentions in this category include:

  • Charles Grothe, Project Engineer, EMJ Construction, Dallas
  • Matt Johnson, Accounting Manager, EMJ Corporation, Chattanooga
  • Jonathan Woolsey, Project Manager, EMJ Construction, Chattanooga

 

Outstanding Project

 

The award for Outstanding Project is EMJ’s highest recognition of a project team. This award is given to one project team each year. Projects are nominated for this award by office leadership, and a committee selects the recipient. The team receiving the Jolley for Outstanding Project will meet at least four of the following criteria:

  • Managed the team, schedule, and budget with precision
  • Demonstrated a commitment to safety
  • Delivered an exceptional client experience

 

This year’s Jolley for Outstanding Project is awarded to the Ruby Falls expansion in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, Tennessee.

 

Members of the team include:

  • Tina Brogdon
  • Ryan Colbert
  • Taylor Copeland
  • Matt Elliott
  • Katie Haberberger
  • Lance Lindsey
  • John Rudez
  • Cissy Scott

 

Located over 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls boasts the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open to the public. The site has become one of the most popular attractions in the Southeast, welcoming thousands of visitors each year.

The project took 14 months of meticulous planning and diligent work. With the expansion, visitors enjoy a new entrance lobby and pedestrian mall, as well as updated parking, ticketing, retail and restrooms. Other additions include renovated office space and enhanced observation of the city.

Due to its location and landscape, the project provided some unique challenges including hammering out rock and installing rock drapes to mitigate the risk of falling rocks. Click here to read more about the Ruby Falls expansion.

Honorable mentions in this category include:

  • Graysville Elementary, Chattanooga, Tennessee
  • CarMax, Norman, Oklahoma

 

Congratulations to all the nominees, winners, and employees dedicated to delivering unique, relevant client experiences, and operational excellence every day.

EMJ Serves The Chattanooga Community Kitchen

EMJ’s Chattanooga employees took over the Chattanooga Community Kitchen  (CCK) to share the Christmas spirit.

“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 volunteer@homelesschattanooga.org.

Connors’ construction roots create path for career success

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.

Growing up in Albuquerque, Matthew Connors, Project Manager for EMJ Construction Dallas, was raised around construction. His grandfather was a stonemason, and his father had his electrical license, so he often assisted with renovation work when he was out of school for the summer.

Connors’ father introduced him and his four siblings to grit and independence from a young age, even managing them in expanding their one-bedroom residence into a spacious 2,800-square-foot house.

“My father is the most impactful mentor I’ve ever had,” he says. “He’s always taught us that if somebody has figured out how to do something in this world, we have the capacity to do that, too.”

The ambition and can-do attitude instilled by his father led Connors toward one of the most competitive and cutthroat industries: acting. He received a full scholarship to the University of New Mexico to pursue a degree in theatre. Once he graduated, he worked with an agent and auditioned for various roles throughout California and New Mexico, landing several professional acting jobs.

Though still pursuing performance, Connors’ passion for construction never left him. In 2005, his father expressed interest in having his own construction company, so Connors and his brother moved back to Albuquerque to make that dream a reality. He built his family’s first home with his own hands in 2008, which he defines as the project he’s most proud of.

“The artistic side of me has always loved construction because it’s very creative,” he says. “You get to literally create a structure out of nothing. I enjoy taking family and friends to a site that I was a part of building—something that didn’t exist before.”

For nine years, Connors, his brother and father managed their own successful construction business. Then, in 2014, Matthew’s wife, Michele, was offered a job opportunity in Dallas. His father was ready to retire, and after some soul-searching, Connors and his family uprooted their lives and moved to Texas.

Connors and Superintendent Denver Moody discuss plans for an upcoming HEB grocery project.

 

Soon after settling in, he heard about EMJ through one of his wife’s coworkers and decided to reach out. During the interview process, Connors fell in love with EMJ’s culture. “It mirrored so much of our family-owned business,” he says. Five years later, he still feels the culture of serving at EMJ is one of the company’s greatest distinctions.

“I think the biggest piece of serving is providing for everyone around you,” he says. “It’s about getting to know people on a personal level and understanding what their needs are so you can support them in a way they may not expect.”

Connors is a living example of that level of service. Last year, he was awarded EMJ’s highest honor, the peer-nominated “Jolley for Outstanding Performance,” for his work serving as Walmart’s client executive and building a strong relationship over the course of four projects.

Thank you, Matthew, for your hard work and exemplifying our EMJ purpose to be “people serving people.” We are glad you are a part of our family.

 

To learn more about EMJ’s work and career opportunities at EMJ, visit our Projects gallery and Careers page.

Werntz builds relationships from the field

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.

Misha Werntz, Level II Superintendent, didn’t have a traditional start in the construction industry.

After earning an International Business degree from John Brown University, Werntz joined EMJ as a Marketing Administrative Assistant in the Dallas office in 2012. After two years, then-President Burt Odom encouraged Misha to pursue work in construction operations. He accepted the challenge and transitioned into a role as a Project Engineer.

Werntz was immediately sent to Northaven, Conn., where the team was building a Cinemark movie theater—a fast-paced, three-phase project. It was during that 11-month project that he learned the importance of client relationships, dependability and learning as you go.

Team members on the Cinemark job, including project managers and superintendents, helped guide Werntz into his new role, but it wasn’t always easy.

“The transition from marketing to the field was tough. I got through it, but I’ve learned a lot from that. It forced me to find new ways to learn, and I’ve since been able to think proactively to prevent issues with each job that comes along.”

After three years as a Project Engineer, Werntz was promoted to Level II Superintendent, giving him the responsibility to help manage the project site. Since then, he’s worked on a Cinepolis in Euless, Texas, and he is currently building another Cinemark in New Caney, Texas.

For the future, Werntz’s goal is to develop into a lead superintendent role. “I’m ready to step into those shoes and learn to succeed in new opportunities.”

Werntz’s ability to build relationships with the EMJ team, those on the job site and with clients led to his promotion and is what Werntz believes is key to his continued career growth. He offers five lessons he has learned about building strong relationships with clients and teams:

1. Be yourself.
Don’t put on a mask; let the client discover who you really are. “If people don’t feel you’re being authentic, they won’t let down their walls. Open up yourself to other people.”

2. Find a mentor who can help you through good and bad.
Surround yourself with people who have been successful and learn from them. “I’m a strong believer in learning from other people. You can read everything you want on paper, but unless you apply it to real life, it’s not effective.”

3.  Ask for guidance from your coworkers.
If you have a concern, somebody might have the same concern or life experience and be able to help you out. “They’ve most likely been through what you’re going through and can save you time and effort by sharing wisdom.”

4.  Really listen to the client.
Listen to what they have to say, reflect on what they really mean and what they’re looking for. Don’t just pass off the work to someone else. “You can’t achieve a good client experience without being a servant.”

5.  Think like your client.
That’s the best way you can deliver: think and know what the client wants. “Ask questions, be confident in what you do, listen, and seek out ways you can learn and improve.”

 

To learn more about EMJ’s work and career opportunities at EMJ, visit our Projects gallery and Careers page.

Eddington returns investment to preconstruction team

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.

Eddington preconstruction mentoring leadership

Clifton Eddington, Director of Preconstruction at EMJ’s Dallas office, had various mentors growing up. From his grandfather to his position coach while playing Cornerback at Texas Tech University, role models guided his path to a successful construction career. But until joining EMJ, Clifton had never experienced mentoring in a professional setting.

When Clifton began at EMJ as a Senior Preconstruction Manager in 2013, Ben Milner, Senior Vice President of Preconstruction, and Keith Starkes, Director of Construction, filled that void.

“[Ben and Keith] didn’t allow me to rest on my prior knowledge; they constantly challenged and probed me to grow in other areas,” Clifton recalls. “Whether they pushed me to dig deeper, think more intricately, or be more client-focused, they constantly invested in my growth.”

Their investment was soon repaid as Clifton began mentoring those around him and serving as a leader to his preconstruction team. This year, he was promoted to his current role, Director of Preconstruction, a position that he finds both rewarding and humbling.

“One of my main focuses when I was beginning in the industry was learning and growing, and now I’m able to take a larger role in ensuring that others develop as I did by taking what I’ve learned and passing it down,” Clifton says. “My responsibility is to provide my team with the tools they need to be successful.”

Some of these tools include independent development activities as well as team collaboration, which he makes an effort to do weekly with his team members, though he finds that teaching by doing is most effective in this industry.

In addition to his responsibilities at work, Clifton takes great pride in his family, citing it as his greatest accomplishment in life.

“Since marrying my wife as a junior in college, I’ve performed self-evaluations and five-year projections for myself and my family,” Clifton says. “That made me very aggressive in my professional career because I knew where we wanted to be, and personal responsibility is the only way to get there.”

His experience setting and tracking goals through his personal growth plans enables him to mentor his team daily and encourage them to do the same in their personal and professional lives.

Eddington preconstruction mentoring leadership

“EMJ promotes not just a professional mentorship, but personal, too,” Clifton says, reflecting on his time with the company. “When you have someone who believes in your growth, you can’t help but let it filter into your personal life.”

Clifton’s commitment to his personal and professional growth, along with the time he invests in mentoring his project team, reflect the values of the EMJ family of companies, and his unique journey through the construction industry makes him an invaluable member of our team.

Learn more about our EMJ team and how to become a part of it here