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.

The Keys to Operational Excellence in Construction

There are three universal tenants to ensure operational excellence on construction projects that must be executed and measured on a consistent basis.

General George S. Patton once said that “By perseverance, and study, and eternal desire, any man can become great.” These principles of perseverance, study, and desire are cornerstones of any individual, group, or organization desiring to obtain and sustain success. While some may argue that General Patton lacked the ability to empathize with people, most can agree that the man knew how to move an army in order to achieve operational excellence.

In the construction industry, a need for this same operational excellence becomes evident when reflecting on the final decades of the twentieth century, a time where stagnancy pervaded the industry. Construction companies were under-performing, the expected turnover left much to be desired, and clients often felt the pains of mismanaged projects. These issues revealed a glaring need for a a new model of operational excellence.

Operational excellence encourages companies to enhance the client experience, minimize cost, and cut wasteful processes in terms of managing resources and materials, allowing value to be restored and delivered to clients. Coming out of the Great Recession of the early twenty-first century, adopting this new practice in our industry became necessary in order to meet the demands of the market. In a time where clients had tighter margins and technological advances were happening at an ever increasing rate, it was imperative that construction companies become experts on this new model, have a great desire to learn its principles, and persevere through the slow, arduous process of applying it within all disciplines throughout their organizations.

There are many facets where operational excellence should be applied, but just as General Patton believed in the three principles of perseverance, study, and eternal desire, there are three universal tenants to ensure operational excellence on construction projects that must be executed and measured on a consistent basis. These universal tenants of operational excellence are:

  • Collaboration. In order to achieve and maintain excellence within any successful organization, there must be collaboration. Clients must know of pending changes and issues. Designers have to seek input from contractors in order to provide an exceptional finished product. Contractors must look beyond what they are doing today so they can positively impact the schedule and efficiencies on a given project.
  • Standardization. Far too often leaders are reactive, rather than proactive, when it comes to meeting the needs of those they serve. Processes and procedures found in countless operation manuals are typically the result of a problem that had to be solved, which is why it is critical for attention to be consistently given to improving quality through standardization. When processes/procedures and means/methods of operational excellence are all standard, the improved quality of construction is directly correlated. Standardized tasks become muscle-memory and are easily tracked/measured, saving time and reducing error.
  • Development. There is no doubt that real dollars are tied to the development of team members. However, the importance of investing in staff development cannot be overstated if our industry wants to achieve and maintain operational excellence. Our team members are our most critical resource – the one companies should be continually investing in to grow and retain. The quality of our team members are directly related to the predictable success of our projects. Therefore, providing training and committing to development opportunities quickly produces positive results across the construction spectrum.

 

More than ever, clients want things done right, and they deserve nothing less. Time has never been more expensive, and we can’t retrace steps. A steady focus on the importance of completing quality projects on time while creating strong, positive relationships with those in which we serve has never been more important.

Companies that are finding success today are the ones that made the decision to embrace their potential and move past the old status quo by collaborating, setting high standards, and developing their people. They embraced operational excellence, realizing how critical it was to their organization. They realized that it is the driving force that produces better results in terms of client experience, cost efficiency, productivity and innovation.

A desire for excellence is what separates the good from the great. My hope is that, just as General Patton did, our industry continues to pursue the principles of perseverance, study, and desire so that we can provide our clients the operational excellence and client experiences they deserve.

 

Jason Dunnam provides day-to-day leadership to the construction operations team in Dallas. He has nearly 20 years of experience, including as a senior superintendent. Jason lives in Dallas, but returns home to Seneca, Missouri, every chance he gets. He enjoys the outdoors, hunting, serving his church and community, and spending time with his three adult sons.

 

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

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

3 reasons to request mock-ups on your next project

A mock-up is a full-size structural model made with the exact construction techniques and materials that will be used on a project. Typically, materials for mock-ups are ordered in small portions, then, executed by the project team in advance of the rest of construction.

In preparation for Ruby Falls’ expansion, the EMJ Chattanooga team performed mock-ups of various sections of the project. John Rudez, EMJ Superintendent, and Matt Elliot, EMJ Project Manager, explain three benefits of these mock-ups and why you should request them on your next construction project.

1. Confirm (or clarify) your vision
Mock-ups give clients, contractors and project teams the opportunity to assess a three-dimensional representation of a design, so that functionality, aesthetics and quality can be evaluated down to the smallest detail.

They take proactive planning and additional time to implement, but allow the client to make revisions to the project’s design before moving forward into construction. Additionally, materials for mockups are ordered in small portions so there is minimal waste if the client decides to go in a different direction.

“[The mock-ups] gave us a chance to look at the actual model and add those details in, in order to give the owner exactly what they wanted,” Elliott says. “There were many things that came out of this that helped the team put together the best possible product for the owner.”

Until you can see and feel the finished product, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect. Mock-ups remove any surprises and ensure owners fully understand various physical aspects of their project before it’s built.

2. Set expectations with your team
Mock-ups serve as a “trial run” for the project team to complete a task while learning what is important to the client. Superintendents can use this opportunity to set expectations, guide the team, and make changes to improve efficiency before construction begins.

mock-up, concrete slab, Ruby Falls, preconstruction, quality, superintendent

“By going through [a mock-up], our subcontractors learn the steps and understand their roles, and our owner understands and his expectations are set,” Rudez says.

“It’s a very heuristic approach to the building process, and allows the subcontractors involved to practice that they’re going to be doing, and allows them time to get prepared for that, so in the end they end up doing the project faster and more efficiently,” Elliott adds.

3. Pinpoint any potential problems
Even the most experienced construction professionals interact with new teams, materials, and processes on a daily basis. Mock-ups show pain points in the building process that otherwise may not be visible until construction—when any changes or errors would be costly and time-consuming.

“Mock-ups allow our team to pinpoint any and all issues well in advance of the construction phase,” Rudez says. “Knowing that we have several different types of finishes in different products, and some products that we are unfamiliar with on the job—I find it very helpful.”

Although creating a mock-up may seem like an additional expense during preconstruction, it could end up costing more to later repair unforeseen errors.

mock-up, concrete slab, Ruby Falls, preconstruction, quality, superintendent

“During the mock-up process, we found out several things: details that weren’t right or didn’t line up like the owner had anticipated,” Rudez continues. “Little things that they really hadn’t maybe thought about or detailed fully on their plans.”

You understand your project goals and vision better than anyone. But with the right leaders and valuable tools like mock-ups, your team should be in-sync with you to execute your project to achieve your goals.

Related articles:

EMJ to begin construction on Ruby Falls expansion

Ruby Falls team sets expectations through mock-ups

Photogrammetry offers easy, accurate solutions for owners and trade partners

Preparing for winter weather on your job site

Lidl construction site; Danville, Va.; early 2017

 
The first official day of winter is December 21, though many areas across the country are already experiencing its hazards in full force.

While many occupations need only to worry about dressing appropriately and tracking the changing forecast, winter brings unique hazards and challenges to construction job sites.

Here are some tips from the EMJ team on preparing job sites for wintry weather.

People

 
Every superintendent’s top priority is the safety of his or her people, and winter brings risks that can be less noticeable than heat-related conditions. For example, fingers and hands are less nimble in the cold, which leads to accidents, and warm layers can hide signs of dehydration and overheating.

“To avoid these conditions, site leaders should designate a heated space for teams to warm up throughout the workday when temperatures are especially low,” says Brian Tiehen, Quality Manager at EMJ Construction. In addition, remind employees to bring winter gear in case of unexpected conditions.

Schedule

 
The unknowns of winter months can lead to project delays and frustration for both contractors and clients. Teams should take advantage of good weather and perform site work as quickly and efficiently as possible when conditions are positive for construction. However, know when it’s time to stop work and remain off of the job site during unsuitable weather.

“When possible, stay off of the site during severe weather conditions. It makes more of a mess than the work your team will be able to accomplish,” says Shane Hurley, Lead Superintendent of EMJ Construction Chattanooga. “And, cover all site work as quickly and effectively as possible.”

Meadow Glen Marketplace; Medford, Mass.; January 2017

 

Budget

 
There are several unique tactics that should be considered and budgeted for in advance of building through the winter season.

“On occasion, we’ve tented the building to avoid weather delays. It is, of course, an added cost, but is well worth it when we complete the project on time and the client can begin bringing in revenue,” says Tom Rue, Superintendent of EMJ Special Projects.

“Make sure you budget for concrete blankets, heaters, etc. in advance of pouring in winter months. Those add up surprisingly quickly,” says James Busbin, Lead Superintendent for EMJ Construction Chattanooga.

“It’s better that you return some cash back to the client after closeout if you don’t end up needing to purchase them, rather than adding cost if you do.”

Meadow Glen Marketplace; Medford, Mass.; January 2017

 

Site

 
Though not all delays due to unfavorable weather can be avoided, tools such as screens, heaters and anti-freeze can assist teams in preventing them.

“Use screens on scaffolding to raise the temperature at the building surface to allow subcontractors to apply materials such as mortar, EIFS and paint,” says Rue.

“Natural gas heaters (salamanders) can raise interior temperatures to allow work to continue and maintain manufacturers requirements for storage of materials,” he continues. “They can also protect piping such as sprinkler lines that once tested are usually holding pressurized water.”

However, if using gas heaters, ensure positive airflow to maintain breathable air. “I use RV anti-freeze in the P-Traps because sanitary tends to hold water during the winter,” says Busbin.

RV anti-freeze does not contain glycol, is environmentally friendly, and is designed to be flushed into the sanitary systems.

Questions about how to prepare your site and team for winter weather? Contact Jonathan Horne, EMJ Director of Quality, at jhorne@emjcorp.com or 423.490.3280.

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.

“Muddy” geotechnical report leads to creative solutions

WoodSprings Suites - Madison

After heavy rain at the WoodSprings Suites project in Madison, Tenn., the testing agency analyzed the site and delivered a report that recommended undercutting a foot and a half of soil and replacing with structural infill. The proposed change would cost the owner nearly $100,000 and “waiting it out” was not an option, as the soil would take nearly a month to dry.

EMJ Project Manager Brandon Stewart, Superintendent Roberto Almiron, and Level II Superintendent Ryan Blaylock were not comfortable with this solution and questioned the report to gain a better understanding of the situation. They then consulted with the geotechnical engineer and others to formulate a more prudent alternative. After the testing agency gave the all clear on the new plan, the team went to work.

The plumber excavated two- to five-foot trenches throughout the site and backfilled them with gravel from the original scope, which served as a French drain to dry the site. By the time the plumbing, concrete and additional site work was completed, only 30% of the pad was original dirt and “hard as a rock” when the testing agency returned to proof-roll it.

Rather than following the testing agency’s suggestion to bring in unnecessary soil, which brought a hefty cost and no real value to the client, Brandon, Roberto and Ryan thought outside the box and worked collaboratively to produce a solution that saved the client significant capital.

“The team turned a potentially unpleasant and expensive situation into a no-cost issue for the owner by collaborating and asking questions,” said Jonathan Horne, Director of Quality Assurance.

Congratulations to Brandon Stewart, Roberto Almiron and Ryan Blaylock, who are recipients of EMJ’s C2C Spotlight award for delivering unique value through creative solutions on this project.

The four-story, 123-room hotel is expected to be completed later this year.

Ruby Falls team sets expectations through mock-ups

EMJ’s Chattanooga team recently performed a polished concrete mock-up for the Ruby Falls project, giving the client and the team and a better understanding of what’s to come during construction.

A mock-up is a full-size structural model made with the exact construction techniques and materials that will be used on a project.

mock-up, concrete slab, Ruby Falls, preconstruction, quality, superintendent

“Mock-ups serve two purposes: to extract expectations from the client and to communicate what your team will deliver,” said Jonathan Horne, EMJ’s Director of Quality Assurance. “Mock-ups allow us to get the client’s feedback on our work at the preconstruction stage rather than after the task is completed on the project.”

The mock-up gives clients, contractors and project teams the opportunity to assess a three-dimensional representation of a design, so that functionality, aesthetics and quality can be evaluated down to the smallest detail.

“We want to present the true expectation so our client understands what they’re going to get when we are finished,” said John Rudez, Superintendent of Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, who showcased the mock-up in a recent video.

mock-up, concrete slab, Ruby Falls, preconstruction, quality, superintendent, John Rudez

Although creating a mock-up may seem like an additional expense during preconstruction, it could end up costing more to skip this step and later repair unforeseen errors.

“Any time you have a specialty finish it’s a good idea to perform a mock-up,” said Matt Elliott, Project Manager at Ruby Falls. “It not only aligns expectations but also ensures that the finish matches the consistency and pattern the owner desires.”

Understanding the difficulty of translating polished concrete to the client, the Ruby Falls team determined that a concrete slab mock-up, among several others, would be beneficial during their quality management planning meeting. They then reached out to the learning team to document the process.

mock-up, concrete slab, Ruby Falls, preconstruction, quality, superintendent

“We wanted to take the client through the process and outcome, and then realized that documenting it also served as a learning opportunity for our other construction teams,” said Elliott. “We knew that mock-ups were the best way to ensure that what we intend to deliver will meet and hopefully exceed expectations.“

Still in the early construction phase of the Ruby Falls project, EMJ’s team is beginning to focus on the end product, but with proactive techniques like mock-ups at the forefront of construction, our client experience is sure to exceed expectations.

“There is great value in mock-ups for our team by building trust, expanding knowledge and improving the client experience,” Horne added. “We know the risk of an unhappy owner is far greater than the cost to do it.”


Above: The EMJ team mocked up a wall section of the building to convey building envelope details, aesthetics, and more for the client at Ruby Falls.

 

Related stories:

EMJ to begin construction on Ruby Falls expansion