Wolgast Blog

Key Elements that Help Our CM Division Achieve Team Cohesion

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jul 06, 2020 @ 01:16 PM

CMGears_Construction Management is the ideal delivery method for large, complex construction projects, such as those for School Districts.  School Boards and Superintendents rely on their Architect and Construction Manager (CM) to form dynamic teams to fulfill a project’s goals and seamlessly deliver their buildings on time and within budget.  Team cohesion is the goal on each of our projects.  Taking into consideration that we are possibly working with new and diverse players with each new School District, this takes effort and coordination to achieve.  An experienced CM typically will have vast resources and relationships with a wide variety of Prime Contractors, but when bidding projects, an unfamiliar contractor may be more suitable in achieving the schedule, budget, or meet proximity requirements of local contractor, therefore, we have tools that we use to initiate them onto the team as a cohesive member.

According to isixsigma.com, a communications company for process improvement professionals, the definition of cohesiveness is “the extent to which team members stick together and remain united in the pursuit of a common goal”.  In order to achieve our goal of team cohesion, Wolgast has tools and processes in our arsenal with checks and balances and those that provide quick corrective measures when a team member strays from our target. 

Wolgast is a systemized company and we have over 200 systems in place to consistently provide our work functions.  These systems include the means to vet a prime contractor prior to entering into a contract with them, and checks and balances such as forms and reports monitoring progress throughout construction, and evaluations of work.  Your CM is there to guide a team for high performance and work product, cohesion doesn’t just happen without a lot of leg work and checking that all moving parts are on track.

Additionally, we’re an Employee-Owned Company (ESOP), which means that our staff is personally vested in the success of each project. Another benefit of an ESOP is that employees tend to stay for the long haul.  We have staff members that have been with the company a long time who help us maintain our standards and pass down the leadership lessons learned by mentoring new staff.  So we’re able to pass along the key management paths to establishing a high functioning team committed to a project.

Finally, we’ve invested in state-of-the-art Construction Management software that helps keep communication open in real time.  By implementing it, each team member has accountability visible to everyone involved and the goals are openly shared.  We find that it helps guide us naturally to develop team cohesion in real time with notifications and updates pushed out to team members with alerts and bells and whistles.  We are a high end user of this software and have been asked to participate in future updates to make the software work even better for team cohesion and quality assurance.

Your CM wants each project to be successful and rewarding for the client, architect, and all the team players.  You should select one that has the knowledge and capabilities to be organized and committed to delivering just that.

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Tags: Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

Construction Training Program Offers Options for Rewarding Careers after High School

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, May 28, 2020 @ 11:28 AM

CarpentryStudentsAssociated Builders and Contractors (ABC) and their Greater Michigan Construction Academy (GMCA) further supports Michigan contractors with an additional training program for interested high school students.  First a little history, Wolgast was one of the founding contractors to bring the local ABC Chapter to the Saginaw Valley Area in 1977.  Six years later ABC started the Merit Shop Training Program, now known as the GMCA, to train construction workers on skilled trades. They started by provided training for a variety of construction workers.  Until recently, their traditional student has been the adult learner taking evening classes.  In 2011, ABC expanded from the Saginaw Valley Chapter to the Greater Michigan Chapter, and included a total of 23 Michigan counties.

In 2012 to prepare for a forecasted labor shortage, GMCA started their relationship with area high schools to target and develop students who weren’t interested in pursuing a college degree.  College preparatory courses had become more common in schools and little focus was made to promote the trades as an option.  GMCA leadership started in Midland County by meeting with local School Superintendents to develop inclusion of the curriculum for students more adept to construction.  With the approval of the School Superintendents, GMCA moved ahead with a beta daytime program to meet the needs of Junior and Senior level students.  The training is the same NCCER curriculum requirements as GMCA’s evening programs.  NCCER is a non-profit, accredited, internationally standardized education foundation founded by leading construction companies. They offer educational materials, accreditation, instructor certifications, and skills assessments.  GMCA took on Junior and Senior level students and developed a pathway for a four-year craft training education.

Over the past 8 years, GMCA has developed their formal skilled trades training program with an emphasis on safety through 14 high schools and trains at 22 locations.  They are currently expanding their Lansing academy to add carpentry training at that location, hopefully this fall.  Furthermore, they offer 11 trade specialties to study, and it’s no cost for high school Juniors and Seniors.  Better yet, students are able to transfer to any of NCCER’s 325 training facilities and their accreditation is recognized in all 50 states.  The Academy is giving students the ability to prosper in a worth-while career without the high financial debt of colleges or universities and do it anywhere they want to live.

The program starts in the student’s Junior year and by the time they graduate high school, they’ll have completed 2 years of the 4-year curriculum, again, for free.  GMCA also provides job placement and résumé assistance, so the student can achieve their hands on training hours with a company specialized in their field of study.  The remaining 2 years of class levels or modules do require a paid tuition, but there are scholarships available, and there have been many students hired before the program is complete and their employer has paid their tuition.


Program Statistics:

Total Graduates: 2,000

Number of Trades Offered: 11

Placement Rate: 100%

Partnerships with School Districts: 14 High Schools

Current Enrollment: 600 apprentices


Contractors throughout Michigan, Wolgast included, are appreciative that ABC and GMCA is helping to prepare inclined people with the right skills and safety education for construction employment during a labor shortage.  It has been a big undertaking to develop the new program’s logistics and get the school districts on board, but now they have momentum and are adding more schools and more students ready to make a start toward their careers. They still maintain their original program for non-high school students, too.

Programs offered include carpentry, electrical, HVAC, industrial maintenance mechanic, instrumentation, insulating, ironworking, pipefitting, plumbing, sheet metal and welding.  More information can be found at www.gmcami.org.

Tags: Professional General Contractor

The Right Mix for Pre-Bond School Election Services

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Mar 02, 2020 @ 10:48 AM

Community-CenterXPreparing for a Bond Election is critical to school construction projects because if the election isn’t successful, there is nothing to construct. Therefore, Wolgast has developed Pre-Bond Election Services to set up School Districts for building success.  While we haven’t won them all on the first try, we have maintained a 92% success rate for schools we’ve helped over the past 5 years.

Our pre-bond election services are comprehensive and can be tailored to what the District needs in an a la carte fashion.  Outlined below are the full options for this first phase of school construction. Led by our staff of School Facility Experts, they help guide you through the pre-bond process.  Each Expert is a retired School Superintendent who has successfully carried out bond construction projects of their own and they have a lot of knowledge to contribute to the success of each project. 

Districts have the option to start with a facility study conducted by our Construction Management experts in conjunction with the Team Architect to identify the biggest needs in the District’s school buildings.  This evaluation provides technical data to back up the request you may be making from constituents.  A report of the findings will be presented to the board with the level of updates needed for building systems, infrastructure, materials, or spaces.

From there, we can help organize community forums to discuss the study’s findings or assist in getting public input on what would be supported in an election.  Once general consensus of the Board is identified, our School Facility Experts present funding options available, meaning qualified bond application, unqualified bond application, sinking fund, etc.  Wolgast then provides cost estimates for construction and a realistic milestone schedule.  These are used to fill in a bond treasury application if needed for funding. 

Next, the School Facility Experts can help organize a bond campaign committee, meet with the group to guide them in the right direction, and provide steps that have been successful in the past.  One of which is communicating with supporters.  Wolgast offers graphic design services to create printed materials and also underwrites the cost to print them.  Our marketing team takes the information that you deem useful and important to design and produce either brochures, postcards or posters for your communication use.  The focus of these materials is to get your supporters to the polls.

Whichever level of services you need, everything listed above is provided free of charge.  We consider it our role to help make the project happen, so we can apply our knowledge, skill, and expertise for clients to improve their schools.

 

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management

How the Condition of Your Facility Could Attract the Best Successor

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Feb 24, 2020 @ 11:54 AM

successionMost of us want to retire as soon as we’re ready and able, but business owners have a unique situation of preparing for a successor to take over their operation.  Ideally, they’d have started planning for successorship early so the transition can happen during high times when business and the economy are strong.  This way the owner was able to choose the best candidate and get the anticipated value of the company.  The best successor is one that will take care of employees and clients as well or better than the predecessor did. And the best way to find them is to remove all obstacles to entice a successor who’ll continue the business legacy.

As part of your planning, consider the condition of your building (being a lesser known limitation) when seeking the right candidate.  Think about it, how valuable is it to your clientele how your building looks, or what do you think when you visit a business establishment if their building is outdated, dirty, or run down?  The condition, cleanliness and design say a lot about the capabilities of who is providing the goods or service.  Furthermore, whether or not there’s a family member to take over, there’s a lot involved in preparing to make the transition.  They won’t want to start their new leadership focused on remodeling rather than on improving the business.  Having a building in good condition could set you apart from other potential businesses by a successor.  The most common advice offered to owners is to start looking early.  In addition, we advise to maintain an attractive building kept in good repair.  We know that there is a lot more involved with succession planning, but since we’re building contractors we will focus on our area of expertise.

A well located and good looking building can attract traffic and result in a higher valuation, as well as be more enticing to a potential successor.  Of course the successor will want to research the company’s books, systems, earning potential, and corporate culture to make a decision about buying a business.  However, if they have to do a lot to the building to make it suitable, or relocate due to a building’s poor status, the anticipated expense could kill the deal. 

Small aesthetic changes due to the successor’s design tastes is one thing, but a major overhaul like repairing the building envelope, code violations, and outdated systems or infrastructure ought to be addressed by the predecessor well before the succession happens, so that they can recoup some of their cost.  Building updates and repairs as part of the succession plan can be timed right so the owner gets the most value for the company.  There is a balance to achieve when an owner can have a couple years to generate sales and cover some of the expense, but also still be up-to-date so the successor will be proud to take ownership.  Working with a contractor, like Wolgast, to update the commercial building will bring the most value to the predecessor.  We will help guide the owner to make cost effective decisions while supplying great quality construction.  Call Wolgast today to get your building improvements started.

 

Tags: Good for Business

What Should a Business Owner Know before Hiring an Architect or Contractor?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Jan 21, 2020 @ 10:23 AM

Calculator2-1The Jack Miller Group was a former industry network for General Contractors across the United States.  In 1988, Mr. Miller had published a paper called, “Rules You Should Know before You Build Your Important Project”.   He started by stating that there are a few basic questions that business owners should ask themselves as they start to plan a construction project1:

  • Why expand?
  • Why own…why not lease?
  • What do I need?
  • What can I afford?
  • Where is the best place to build?
  • Where can I get financing?
  • When should I start?
  • When should I occupy the new facility?
  • What is the best way to build?
  • How can I be sure I get maximum value for my investment?

These questions are still a good place to start planning prior to contacting a designer or building team.  However, I asked our project team what they thought was most important to see if there were any updates to Mr. Miller’s list.  Their response was 1) a budget and 2) who will do the financing.  This is because knowing the budget early will help a business owner to know if what he or she wants to do is reasonable and having the financier in place will help speed up the start date.

Next, our team thought that the business owner should know that their contractor and architect have good liability insurance and that they are capable of handling the entire project.  When making a contractor or architect selection, the business owner should inquire about insurance coverage, bonding ability, safety records, customer/ trade/bank references and financial proof that the project team can complete the building.  Additionally, it’s good for an owner to know that he or she has construction delivery optionsDesign/Build is a better option for certain types of buildings because the architect and contractor are on the same team under the same contract.  It provides time and cost savings and results in less disputes as to the responsible party when there is an issue during construction.  However, Design/Build isn’t suitable for all projects, so other options we offer are General Construction for simple projects or Construction Management for complicated projects that are long in duration.  Investigate which method will provide the best outcome for the type of building.

It’s good to know the area or type of property desired to build or renovate.  A business owner doesn’t need to settle on a property before meeting with a contractor.  The contractor may even be able to suggest a property that hadn’t been considered, but could meet the business’ needs while being more economical because the utilities already exist or the zoning has already taken place.

Additionally, a business owner can benefit from knowing that bidding in the winter and building in the spring/summer, or even early fall, can save money on a construction budget.  In the winter contractors are less busy relatively to spring/summer, so they’re looking for projects in the off season to fill their calendars during the prime construction season.  Scheduling design to be completed in time for winter bidding will get the most value for the construction dollar.

A professional contractor will then handle the other critical items that need to be complete before construction on behalf of the business owner, such as conducting site inspections, determining zoning requirements, obtaining construction permits, conducting utility checks and calling Miss Dig among many other necessary activities to get construction complete efficiently and accurately for the most value.  Wolgast is a full service contractor and we will professionally deliver your building.  Call 800-WOLGAST to get started.

1Miller, Jack. 1988.  “Rules You Should Know before You Build Your Important Project.” Group Communications, Inc.

 

Tags: Professional General Contractor, Good for Business

Entering Retail Space as a Non-Retailer

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Dec 10, 2019 @ 10:49 AM

RetailBlogRetail space is becoming attractive to non-retailers as more of it becomes available.  Likely, Business Owners see a build-out as a quick, easy, low cost way to enter or expand in a market due to space already being established with a structure, vast parking, some foot traffic, and necessary amenities.  Just a little remodel and they can be open for business!

While much of the above is true in theory, there are cost savings associated with having a professional team with background knowledge to lower leasing and, in turn, operating costs.  This “leasing” team of Design/Builder, CPA, and Real Estate Attorney can help an owner negotiate their lease, get regulatory approvals quicker, a build-out estimate, and a distinguishing design for their storefront so it’s easily identifiable among a sea of retail shops, “medtail” offices (redi-med, chiropractic, veterinary, or other health services), restaurants, recreational businesses, salons, and whatever other operation may be nearby.

Mall and shopping center managers are seeking retailers, restaurants, mom and pop shops, and non-traditional businesses to fill their open spaces.  As a lessee, the business owner will have to pay rent as agreed upon in a lease, plus Common Area Maintenance (CAM) fees, possibly utilities and/or taxes, and build-out costs.  A professional leasing team can set up a business owner to have the best lease option, plan for their accounting, and designed store in less amount of time.  Additionally, there are nuances to getting an allowance for build-out costs that factor into your lease amount.  Also, negotiating how the taxes and utilities are covered could affect your monthly rent, too.  Furthermore, it’s a good idea to check out the HVAC equipment that is present to prepare an owner for what heating and cooling costs may be. 

Speaking on behalf of the Design/Builder, the art of the build-out is to identify issues with the space, make sure the utilities are (or will be) where you need them, architectural plans are created to meet municipal/code requirements, and the design helps with branding so a business can be easily found and attractive to customers. 

Wolgast Corporation, has completed retail build-outs for mall, shopping center, and stand-alone customers throughout Michigan.  We can help a business owner to get their design, utility access situated, and build-out completed to save on time and create a professional looking operation, so they can start making sales, seeing patients, or serving clients as efficiently as possible.  Our resources include technology, utilities, engineering, design, and construction.

Tags: Remodel, Retail

Preparing for Michigan Schools’ Safety in 2020

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Nov 19, 2019 @ 09:51 AM

MeridianElEntrance-2Over the last year, a lot of action has happened to make K-12 schools safer for students in Michigan.  While still in office, Gov. Snyder implemented legislation for a School Safety Task Force.  The Task Force has been meeting to oversee School Districts and their Safety Plans for each of their buildings.  Schools are required to have their plans in place by January 2020.  Also, as part of the Legislation, starting in 2020, new construction and renovation plans for schools have to be shared and consulted with their local law enforcement agency for their evaluation from a safety standpoint.

In August 2019, the Michigan State Police (MSP) published their Expanded School Safety Summary List, which includes a breakdown of the legislation and their recommendations to improve the safety of school buildings.  Also, in March 2019, the MSP issued the largest number of safety grants to applying School Districts for safety improvements.  Since 2015 (as part of the same program), the MSP has distributed $56M to 556 recipient schools.  The majority of schools have used their grants to improve their secure entrance, install security cameras, apply shatterproof film on windows, and provide more training.  In addition to these improvements, law enforcement emphasizes that schools install solid classroom doors with commercial grade locks that can be secured from inside the classroom, the ability to communicate outside a locked classroom, wayfinding or labeled areas of the building to quickly narrow down an area within the building for police, and vehicle barriers at entrances.  We would add that an automated system can help staff monitor their camera feeds and control access within the building from an off site laptop.  Schools can benefit from peace of mind when being able to monitor or being notified of movement within a building when there shouldn’t be any.

Wolgast Corporation will continue to manage the construction of schools with safety of students and staff in mind while working along with team Architects to follow with Michigan State Police and the Safety Task Force consultations and recommendations.

 

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Tags: Schools, Construction Management

Your Building Envelope’s Role in Reducing Energy Costs

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Nov 12, 2019 @ 09:54 AM

BldgEnv-1Keeping your building’s protective barrier, a.k.a. its envelope, intact, leak free, and in good repair is a great way to avoid spending your hard earned profits on energy costs.  The envelope entails any part of your building structure that keeps outside elements from coming inside when closed.  Otherwise, your roof, EIFS, windows, doors, walls, and even floors can leak and make your HVAC work harder, or worse let water leaks damage equipment and causing microbial growth.

Michigan’s temperate climate brings its own stresses on building materials including the seasonal flux in temperature.  Expanding and contracting flashing can create holes in your roof where the nails have been used to keep sheeting in place or cracks in caulking around windows.  Additionally, rain and wind can cause erosion where different types of materials are connected and hail can poke holes in roofing or siding, as a few examples.  When these types of leaks happen, your AC has to work harder in the summer to cool your office and regulate the humidity, while in the winter the heater also works harder to warm up the space and add necessary moisture for comfort.  Furthermore, rain leaks can do major damage to your ceiling, your structure, or result in microbial growth which can create headaches, allergies, or asthma for occupants.  Mold that is hidden or has a moisture source that isn’t completely fixed is costly for a building owners in the long run.  The quality of air your staff breathes or the exposure from outside elements can affect their health and, in turn, their attendance.

In conclusion, it’s important to check the caulk around your building exterior annually for cracks.  Caulk may have a 5 year life cycle, but there are too many variables that can cause ware and tare.  Hire a reputable caulking company to fix any caulking leaks.  Also check your roof and roof flashings annually for any visual damage that could lead to leaks.  Or if you’re experiencing a leak, contact a reputable roofer who will ensure that leaks are fixed to find and eliminate microbial growth.  Should you have mold or be concerned about mold, or any structural issues, call Wolgast.  Our Restoration and Construction Teams will be able to help you get your office back to a leak free status to keep your energy costs down.

Tags: Energy Savings, Good for Business

Top 7 Guarantees of Using Design/Build Construction Delivery

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Oct 17, 2019 @ 08:45 AM

CopusDB

  1. Fast Track Construction
  2. Less Risk for the Owner
  3. Single Point of Responsibility
  4. Guaranteed Schedule & Budget
  5. Team Collaboration
  6. Quality Construction for Better Value
  7. More Bids Collected by One Entity to Narrow down the Lowest Price

As business owners become more aware of the benefits of Design/Build Construction, the delivery method continues to chisel a bigger piece of market share throughout the U.S. and is expected to reach 44% usage rate by 2021, according to FMI1.  In their Design-Build Utilization: Combined Market Study June 2018, they evaluated the United States Census Bureau, stakeholder surveys, industry reports, associations, and government agency databases, and determined the usage of delivery methods within the construction industry and found that the Midwest region will experience a 5.5% growth in Progressive Design-Build projects by 2021.  Also, manufacturing will take on the highest increase in adopting Design-Build project delivery. 

It makes sense to partner with a combination of contractor and architect team at the inception of your project.  Additionally, the Progressive Design-Build approach has proven to help with efficiency in scheduling and budgeting when the contractor joins with the architect and project stakeholders during the planning and design phase.  The early meeting of the minds and knowledge of each role has shown to save on costs and schedule.  In this method, the Design/Builder takes on more risk to guarantee the outcomes desired.

Since there is one, single source of responsibility it condenses the effort of the building owner to coordinate their needs.  The owner can be as involved as they’d like to be or can be.  It’s the role of the Design/Builder to deliver a high quality building from design through completion that meets all the needs of the owner at an agreed upon price, and when they need it to be ready.  No surprises!

FMI, June 2018, Design-Build Utilization: Combined Market Study June 2018, viewed 4 October 2019, https://dbia.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Design-Build-Market-Research-FMI-2018.pdf

Tags: Design/Build, Good for Business, Risk Management

Set Your School to “Snow Day” with the Push of a Button

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Sep 23, 2019 @ 02:00 PM

phonepress3-1School Districts waste energy when building systems run while school isn’t in session, and face additional security threats, too.  The good news is that schools are estimated to be able to save considerable energy costs by adding building system controls and sensors for real-time control.  By automating school buildings with sensors and smart controls, the EPA says “schools and school districts can lower their operating costs by up to 30%.  Existing schools can save 25% of operating costs by implementing some basic efficiency measures, occupant education, and engagement programs.”1 Additionally, installing integrating security systems to ensure all doors are locked and surveillance or movement sensors are operating after hours provides peace of mind when no one is in the building.

Building automation can be integrated into new and existing buildings to control all systems from your laptop or a smartphone.  This is known as the Internet of Things (IoT), and allows for continual monitoring and alerts to be sent to facility managers if there’s a problem.  HVAC, lighting, CO2, water pressure, and access can all be monitored and adjusted or programmed as the usage of the building changes at varying times of day.

Besides the cost saving benefits of being automated and having the controls at your fingertips, per say, is that when schools have a Snow Day, those in charge of the building can press a “Snow Day” button on their phone or laptop and go into a mode that will lessen lighting, heat and even lock the access doors within the building from the comfort of their home, or where ever they are.  Additionally, sensors can notify you if there’s movement within the building for safety reasons.

Commercial Contractor, Wolgast Corporation, is able to work with School Districts throughout Michigan, where Snow Days and Freezing Days have been calling off school plenty the past few years.  This alone could save significantly on Schools’ energy costs.  Additionally, we are Consumers Energy and DTE Trade Allies, helping School Districts with electric and gas efficiency.  Consumers Energy offers incentives for those who reduce their usage and our Project Managers help their school clients to acquire those incentives through proper paper work.

Honeywell, an Energy Management Company, works with businesses and schools to measure their energy usage, configure alarms and notifications based on preset thresholds, incorporate the IoT, and provide access control and surveillance (among many other things).  In their news article, “Back to School : How School Buildings Can Positively Impact Student Achievement”, Honeywell features their work helping “schools enable more comfortable and productive environment through innovative energy solutions, which have resulted in approximately $270 Million of guaranteed savings for K-12 Schools in the U.S. and Canada since 2013,” a three year duration at the time of the article.Through their technology, Wolgast can integrate the functions necessary to control a building’s systems in real-time, and even create the “Snow Day” setting for your facility manager to easily maintain efficiency and safety when there’s no one in the building.  As well as stay on top of the controls year round from their computer.

Please contact us to find out more information about this opportunity – 800-WOLGAST.

1 United States Environmental Protection Agency. “Appendix A: Model Program for the State School Environmental Health Guidelines”.  https://www.epa.gov/schools/appendix-model-program-state-school-environmental-health-guidelines

2 Timmerman, Jessie. “Back to School: How School Buildings Can Positively Impact Student Achievement.” Honeywell, 29 Aug. 2016, https://www.honeywell.com/en-us/newsroom/news/2016/08/back-to-school-how-school-buildings-can-positively-impact-student-achievement

 

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Tags: Schools, Energy Savings