Wolgast Blog

Tips to Pass a School Bond Election

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Sep 04, 2019 @ 01:25 PM

VoteI have found that there’s not a single formula to passing a school bond vote.  Every community is different in regard to their support of their school district, so each campaign needs to be tweaked and managed.  However, Wolgast's School Facility Specialists have discovered a couple of tactics over the years as former School Superintendents on how to give every bond campaign a better chance for success and offer their expertise as part of our Pre-Bond Services.

First, the most important aspect of a success­ful millage election is staff and community involvement in the planning process. With that said, the likelihood of the passage of a millage proposal is determined days and even months prior to the election.  The devel­opment of the bond proposal, the inclusion of groups that will be af­fected by it, along with the marketing plan and execution are all key ingredients that will help lead to a successful election.

Another key is to focus on the “yes” voters rather than spending your budget or energy on converting the “no” voters.  Then help the “yes” voters by reminding them of registration deadlines, and when and where to vote.

Sometimes Districts can qualify for state and federal funding programs to help supplement building projects.  When qualifying for the additional funding, School Districts were able to ask voters to approve smaller bond amounts while securing enough budget to complete their construction needs.  Bond elections pass as voters recognize the savings to their District’s general fund to help maintain safety and educational programs.

To find out more about the funding programs or to have a free seminar with our School Facility Consultants regarding “Steps for Planning a School Construction Project”, please contact Rich Ramsey at rramsey@wolgast.com.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Financing Construction

Repurpose Your Commercial Office to Be More Modern

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Aug 22, 2019 @ 11:38 AM

What Ideas Will Work for You?

Repurpose-1Appearance is one of the triggers that leads to remodeling, but isn’t the only good reason to remodel.  Other reasons like efficiency, reorganizing unused space, right-sizing, and new technology can make a big difference in attracting or retaining talent, saving money and improving productivity.  Furthermore, modern designs that are created with goals of safety, appearance, efficiency, and increased focus or productivity can help you to make your space more useful for staff and enticing to clients.

I did an image search on Google for “Modern Office Design” and what I saw was a lot of glass walls, greys/brown/white shades combined with bright accent colors, short cubicles or no cubicles, wood floors, slat wood paneling, high ceilings, natural light, recreational areas, conference rooms and white boards.  What was missing was fluorescent lighting, storage, and surprisingly, privacy. 

Open floorplans with no offices and high ceilings have become popular for some businesses, especially for those in urban areas where real estate is costly and space is limited.  More staff members can be fitted with a desk when there are no walls involved, but the productivity results are mixed.  If you’ve been wondering, any operation that relies on phone calls or focus for creativity (to name two) doesn’t work well with open floorplans or high ceilings.  Also, the original goal of collaboration has fallen short among those using the open concept due to the introduction of texting and private messaging via social media.1  Instead of collaboration, employees are seeking more privacy and turning to messaging instead of open collaboration, according to researchers in “New Harvard Study: Your Open-Plan Office is Making Your Team Less Collaborative”.  They were able to determine that “Face-to-Face” collaboration decreased by 70% while email and messaging formats increased1

So, what can you do to address the current needs of your future work force and clients?  Whether you plan to have less employees or expand your staff, right-sizing your space to make it more comfortable or to accommodate new equipment can lead to increased productivity as better work flows are streamlined.  Extra space in your building can be repurposed to be a quiet area away from phones and computers, or additional meeting space for focused collaboration.  Additionally, this area can be automated so that lighting and heat controls are adjusted to actual use and to save money on energy costs.

In fact, incorporating the Internet of Things (IoT), or building automation of systems is good to incorporate during an office remodel.  Your office temperature, access control, lighting, and other systems can be controlled from your desktop, laptop, or even smartphone.  Incorporating natural light has also proven to improve morale and cut costs on lighting bills.

We know that the bottom-line is how much more revenue will a remodel bring to the business, or the return on investment.  We can’t tell you exactly how much, but considerations to make include the impact on attracting or retaining talent, the energy cost savings, increased productivity through well thought redesign based on work flows and repurposing unused space, peace of mind from access control, and attracting clients or prospects who are interested in seeing your newly remodeled space.

Wolgast can design your new floorplan and oversee the construction of your remodel, or new build if you prefer.  We will be the single-source of your project applying our building expertise, while you focus on the operation of your business.

1https://www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/new-harvard-study-you-open-plan-office-is-making-your-team-less-collaborative.html

Tags: Design/Build, Energy Savings, Good for Business, Remodel

Four Steps for School Boards to Plan a Construction Project

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Aug 15, 2019 @ 08:00 AM

School Board MeetingSo, you’ve been elected to your District’s School Board and have four years (or so) to help make the best decisions for the students and staff. You likely anticipate facing many issues that’ll require research plus your life experience to decide what’s best for your School District. One of those issues could be the maintenance, remodel, rebuild or relocation of school buildings. Do you know where to start? Below, we explain the steps you should take to have a successful construction project.

Step One – Facility Study

You start with a Facility Study to gain information on what your District needs to repair or improve. More specifically, a Facility Study conducted by a team of a qualified Architect and Construction Manager who’ll help you identify and organize what is necessary to maintain or improve the quality of education you’re currently providing. The Architect and Construction Manager should have experience conducting Facility Studies, so ask for their resume. 

A Facility Study will provide you with information regarding maintenance issues, instructional enhancements, future space needs, safety issues, and technology requirements, to name a few. Future decisions will be made easier by acquiring information from the Facility Study that assists you in prioritizing the District's needs.

Step Two – Funding

Once your board determines which buildings need construction services, the Superintendent and School Board have to find a way to pay for the projects. Currently, there are a variety of federal and state programs to supplement your general fund. The state’s treasury website can offer a lot of information, but so can a meeting with Wolgast’s School Facility Consultants, who can guide you through the process and find the best option for your District.

Step Three – Bond Campaign

As we stated in our blog, “Tips for Passing a School Bond Election” there’s not one way to pass a bond election because each School District is different. There are, however, things that a school board and bond committee can do to help every bond campaign, such as getting staff and the community involved early in the campaign. Please see the referenced blog for more information.

Step Four – Construction

Typically, when you work with a Construction Manager on the pre-construction services listed in steps 1-3, you have an agreement to use them to oversee the construction of the project. They’re your advocate throughout the project from pre-construction through completion. Through weekly meetings and open communication, you, the Architect and the Construction Manager are a team that ensures the project gets done on-time and within budget.

We would be more than happy to present to your School Board our seminar on “Steps for Planning a School Construction Project”, please contact an Education Facility Consultant, Rich Ramsey, Michael Pung or Joe Powers at 800-956-4278 for more information.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Financing Construction

Michigan Businesses Rely on Wolgast for Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Jul 08, 2019 @ 08:05 AM

For our 100th blog, I wanted to do a special feature about our romap of michigan projects-2ots and coverage of the great State of Michigan.  We have ties to resources and communities coast-to-coast.  Even though we continue to add to our registrations and expertise within other states, we love the nuances of working within the regulations of Michigan, scheduling to accommodate anticipated weather patterns, and familiar earth types of the Mitten State. 

Wolgast started in Mid-Michigan over 70 years ago, but since then has expanded to be a state-wide commercial contractor.  So if you're a business that has an office, store, manufacturing operation, restaurant, or school in Michigan, Wolgast provides construction services in your area

Over the past 7 decades, we've developed relationships and resources of qualified contractors from the coast of Lake Michigan to the coast of Lake Huron through to the Upper Peninsula.  Our clients benefit from close proximity to one of our five locations in Saginaw, Freeland, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and Alpena, plus our ability to mobilize our equipment and staff to any part of Michigan.

We presently have 55 projects in 30 Michigan Counties at various stages of design, planning, or construction.  These current projects reach from Mackinac to Monroe Counties.  Hence, your community is in our coverage area and we'd like to help you build, remodel, expand, or restore your commercial facility. 

Plus, you can rely on Wolgast to give you excellent construction services, expert building direction, and efficient/quality designs and craftsmanship.  Furthermore, we’re a full-service, Professional Commercial Contractor with expertise in General Construction, Construction Management, Design/Build, and Insurance Restoration Services suited to our clients’ specific needs.  Our Design/Build services include design and construction and get you budgetary information quicker, so you can make an educated decision about your building earlier and be under construction sooner with more guidance throughout the project.  General Construction is best for more simple projects or companies that have their own construction managing staff.  Construction Management services work best for large, complicated projects that span more than a year.  Finally, we offer Insurance Restoration services for residential and commercial buildings that have suffered a loss from fire, storm/wind, or flooding.  Mixed with our design and construction abilities, we’ll restore property to a pre-loss condition seamlessly.

Wolgast sets the standard for quality and efficiency no matter where we are building and we will do the same for your project.  Call us to receive expert guidance, service and quality on your next building project – 800-WOLGAST, or in a restoration emergency – 855-WOLGAST.

You may also like to read about The Story of Our Speed.

Tags: Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way

How to Promote Your Business Move

Posted by Emily Landry on Tue, Jun 18, 2019 @ 08:52 AM

RibbonCutting1Businesses move for many reasons - for example to accommodate growth, save money, get closer to consumers, or possibly secure a better value of a new building. Additional perks can also happen when relocating including improving your service and also advancing new growth. It’s all about using the move as a promotional opportunity. Encouraging your existing clients to move with you is a must, but you also want to attract new ones, so here are a few tips that will help anyone take advantage of their new business location:

  • Be sure to communicate Pre-Move and Post-Move- Utilize all the touch points you can to communicate with existing consumers about your move early. With social networks, email and traditional media, you can generate a message connecting not only with your existing consumers, but potential ones as well. A few examples to keep in mind during this message could contain uploading progress pictures of your new site coming along, a RibbonCutting2countdown to when your new location will open, as well as directions to the new location. Overtime, these gestures will motivate healthy growth in your new location. There is also the traditional Ground Breaking or Project Kick-off Ceremony to host at the start of construction or renovation.

  • Provide an Incentive to visit your new location- Your existing consumers are a key part of your business, so celebrate them. Offer incentives for them to stop by your new location. The incentive could be a raffle giveaway, or simply a discount of your choice. This will target not only your active customer base, but those who may not have purchased from you or visited in a while. Make sure the offer is time sensitive so they have a reason to check out your new spot!

  • Take advantage of the fresh start by hosting a Grand Opening Event- Give your consumers and new community the opportunity to enjoy your new location. This allows you to show off all your hard work you put into the project. This also provides a great networking opportunity to give a demonstration of your product or services. See also our blog, Planning a Grand Opening Ceremony to Promote Your Business.

Even with careful planning relocating can be stressful and filled with unknown variables. However, when promotion is included, it can translate into a great marketing tool, a fresh start, and increased business. If it’s time for your business to move, contact our Development Team at 800-965-4278 to get started.

 

 

Tags: Good for Business

Knowing Long Lead Items Early Speeds up Construction Schedules

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, May 28, 2019 @ 02:01 PM

FPHorakhelicopterCertain building materials or products that have to be ordered, imported, and/or manufactured specifically for a building can take longer than the natural progression of a construction schedule.  These are considered Long Lead Items (LLIs).  They commonly occur with pre-engineered buildings, elevators, generators, mechanical equipment that is heavy enough to need a helicopter lift, electrical switch gear, fancy finishes, or imported products to name a few.

Knowing these LLIs as early as possible will help your contractor manage the construction schedule better.  Can you guess what the best construction method is to identify LLIs the earliest and in turn gets them ordered quicker?  It’s Design/Build Construction, where the architect and contractor are on the same team working together to identify the client’s schematic, budget, and schedule on a fast-track.

Since the Design/Builder is under contract to complete the construction while design is being created, they can order LLIs as soon as the items are decided and or specified. If the contractor has to wait for plans to be completed, and then go through the bid process, as they do in a General Construction or Design/Bid/Build scenario, the purchasing and ordering process could be delayed by weeks or months.  Then if a LLI requires 2 months or more to arrive, your start date could be pushed back months to help manage the flow of the construction schedule.  For instance, a pre-engineered building can take 12 - 16 weeks to build and then needs to be shipped to your site.  Site work and foundations can start prior to the delivery of the building, but the rest of the project will be held up until the building arrives.

Delays caused by LLIs can be mitigated by using substitutions or by paying incentive fees to manufacturers, but in our experience, substitutions can sometimes impact several other systems adversely and paying more to meet timelines doesn’t always guarantee results.  So the best and quickest case scenario is to work with your Architect and Design/Builder to determine LLIs as soon as possible, make your selections, and get them ordered right away.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROJECT

Tags: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, Scheduling, Good for Business

A Guide to Relocating Your Business When the Time Is Right

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, May 15, 2019 @ 07:59 AM

relocatingIn “Five of the Best Reasons for a Commercial Renovation”, I discussed why you should remodel now if you plan to stay at your current location.  In this blog, I offer tips on relocating your business/practice because your current location or building is no longer feasible to use.  Note:  if you own your existing space, it’s best to consult with your real estate agent to discuss the options regarding selling/renting your building.

Top Reasons to Relocate Your Business:

  • Traffic patterns change over time.  Perhaps you’re no longer in an active area and therefore, you aren’t readily drawing traffic to your business/practice.  Seeking space in an area that’s busier could help your bottom line; however you likely will pay higher rent than you're paying now. 
  • Your building needs a major update either to the structure/ infrastructure/energy efficiencies that exceed the cost of building a new building.
  • You need to expand your building to accommodate new equipment or additional staff, but you’ve run out of room or can't meet parking and zoning requirements.
  • You originally started your business in a house and now the maintenance costs have become too much and/or you can’t alter the space for efficient use.

When Choosing Your New Location:

We find that most of our clients already have a good idea of what type of space and possible location in which they want to move when they come to us to discuss design.  Our biggest advice is to establish your budget before you start your search and consult with your general contractor/design-builder as you start looking.  When considering an existing building, your contractor can tell you a lot about the quality of the structure, the infrastructure, the amount of work that needs to be done and the parking lot options.  If you’re looking to build a new building, your contractor/design-builder can help you investigate the utilities available and the size or layout recommended for the lot you’re considering.

How to Move with Minimal Downtime:

Once the building is constructed and you’re ready to move, the key is to test the phone and network systems before you begin your move.  Another good idea is to “hire” your staff to move their own items by having them use a work day to pack all their items from their personal office and other areas for which they’re responsible, have a moving company transport the boxes and furniture to the new location, and then have the staff member unpack his or her things.  All this is done while the IT staff is connecting computers and phones to the network.  On day three (or earlier) you’re up and running.  Those in the medical/dental industry can get more information from our blog “Moving Your Practice”.

Notifying All Necessary Parties

Making a move can be a huge deal in retaining your present customers/patients.  You have to consider the distance of their drive to the new location in order to make sure that they can still easily access you.  Then the good news is that you have a big message to communicate with them, probably multiple times.  Also, you have a benefit of the positive attributes of the move to promote, i.e. better location, easier access, more space, new equipment, or a more modern aesthetic.  It’s good to start promoting during construction to get extra buzz about your business/practice.  With email, social networks and traditional means of advertising, you should be able to establish a far reaching message to connect to existing and potential clients/patients.

Wolgast Corporation has provided construction services to many companies that have relocated their business.  From the initial building or site visit (free of cost for qualified projects), to designing the building through to providing construction, we can also provide these services to you and help your transition go as smoothly as possible.  Contact us at 800-965-4278 to get started

Tags: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, Good for Business

4 Reasons Why the Entire Pre-Construction Phase Is Key to Project Success

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Apr 16, 2019 @ 12:11 PM

Plans-&-HatFor both Design/Build and Construction Management delivery methods, the start of Pre-Construction Phase is Architectural Design and it’s a very exciting time for most building owners.  They love the ideas, options, and decorating aspects for their building.  And then, when drawings are done, the owner is eager to get to the other main event of Construction Phase.  But there is so much more happening during Design than they know and a lot more to be done before this Pre-Construction Phase, “Pre-Con”, is complete.  This is also when the contractor gets organized to save the most time and money during construction.   

So, what exactly happens during the entire Pre-Con that could make a difference to the cost or schedule? 

  1. When using Design/Build or Construction Management services, a contractor will work with the Architect at various stages of the Design, from conception through final design, to evaluate the drawings for constructability. Through their experience, project managers and estimators will review the plans to mentally walk through the construction methods and also to monitor that it’s being designed per the specified budget. There may be an instance when the project manager is able to see that something drawn doesn’t translate to the construction process.  By working with the architect or engineer, they can collaborate to work through the means and methods.  This saves time and money for the client, keeping the construction schedule on track.

  2. Speaking of the schedule and sequencing, there are a lot of moving parts that need to happen in a certain order. The ceiling can’t be installed before the lights, otherwise there will be a lot of rework. So the project manager charts through the schedule by working backward from the agreed upon completion date.  Also, long lead items (materials that take a longer time to arrive on site) can be factored in the calculations and ordered as early as possible.

  3. Meanwhile, estimators are lining up the pool of qualified subcontractors that will bid. The more bidders there are, the more competitive pricing can be achieved. We’re able to do this best through adequate bidding time for subs to submit their quotes and detailed scope of work descriptions

  4. Also during this phase, the Contractor orders materials, acquires permits, and prepares for safety measures so that the project can start on time and keep everyone on-site safe.

It’s important to note projects completed by General Construction delivery method typically don’t allow the ability for constructability review or the adequate time to line up as many competitive bidders. 

Final thought, Pre-Construction Phase is critical to project success, so construction can start without costly delays and building owners can get in the building sooner. Wolgast’s Pre-Construction tasks are systemized, so these key items are completed consistently and guided by our best practices developed over 70+ years.  We have offices in Saginaw, Alpena, Grand Rapids, and Kalamazoo to provide commercial construction services, quickly, efficiently, and with the most value.  Call 800-WOLGAST to meet about your construction plans.


Other blog titles that may interest you:

Sharing Budget Streamlines Pre-Construction
Ample Estimating Time Can Lower Price of Construction
Safety on Site - What It Can Mean for Your Construction Project

Tags: Design/Build, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way, Construction Safety, Scheduling, Design, Good for Business

The Best Way to Speed up Your Building Restoration

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Apr 09, 2019 @ 10:45 AM
Having a Restoration Company and a General Contractor on the Same Team

The team of  Wolgast Corporation and Wolgast Restoration was created to be a high level provider of full-service restoration services to deal with all of your challenges when mayhem strikes your building.  Wolgast Restoration specializes in residential and commercial restoration when it comes to structural damage from water, fire, wind, or other mishaps.  And Wolgast Corporation is a commercial contractor who has specialized in buildings of all shapes and sizes since 1948.

So, what are the benefits of having your restoration company on the same team as a general contractor?  The communication and actions to start planning the reconstruction portion of your project (if it’s needed) flows fluidly through the company as the experts in charge of your building talk freely and regularly.  Also the strength and resources that Wolgast Corporation has developed over the past 70+ years provides a solid foundation for Wolgast Restoration to handle projects of any size. 

During the clean-up portion of a project, project technicians can assess the situation and keep the construction staff informed of what’s needed and the construction staff can be estimating budgets, planning for materials, obtaining permits and organizing team coverage.  All this is done without much effort on your part, because when you have endured mayhem, the last thing you want is to be burdened with is making phone calls and searching for an unknown company to preserve your building.

Wolgast Restoration is providing its services through the same systemized approach that Wolgast Corporation uses to provide its construction services.  We find that having this systemized approach allows us to provide the most uniform and quality service for each unique job.  It helps us move quickly to the next task rather than pause to determine what to do next, all to the benefit of our clients through time savings.

We have offices in Saginaw and Kalamazoo areas.  If mayhem strikes you, please don’t hesitate to strike back with Wolgast Restoration.  Call 855.965.4278 to take immediate action.  In the meantime, if you have questions, please visit www.wolgastrestoration.com or call 989-790-9120 when it isn't an emergency.

 

water damagefire damagewind damage

Tags: the Wolgast Way, Restoration

Construction of New Tech High Schools

Posted by Cory Sursely on Thu, Apr 04, 2019 @ 08:16 AM

Meridian-Schools_newtech.jpgThe New Tech Network is designed to target disinterested students, while still reaching those who are already college bound. And it is working because their new report, "The Power of Us: New Tech Network School and Student Success 2018", shows that New Tech High School students are 5% more likely to go onto college compared to the national average.  And students in their program have been evaluated to have 42% more critical thinking skills compared to private schools over a four-year average, as measured by CWRA+ (The College and Work Readiness Assessment).

The New Tech Curriculum is fairly new as it only started in the mid 90’s, but it already has proven results.  On their website, www.newtechnetwork.org, they state, “NTN schools consistently outperform national comparison groups on measures of higher order thinking skills, high school graduation rates and college enrollment rates”.  Each student is provided with a computer and the necessary tools to complete “project-based learning” as a group.  In this type of environment, students learn open collaboration and problem solving skills.  The program goal is “to enable students to gain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life, college and the careers of tomorrow”.

At the time of publishing this blog, only ten schools in Michigan had incorporated the New Tech curriculum.  Wolgast has gained experience with constructing New Tech High Schools over the past few years.  We have provided Construction Management services for remodeling Meridian New Tech High School in Sanford, Michigan.  They became one of the earliest schools in Michigan to adopt the New Tech High School curriculum for their freshman class in 2010. Then in 2016, they hired Wolgast again to complete the necessary renovations to the existing high school to allow for the extensive wiring, networking and group spaces required for the technically focused program. The curriculum stayed with those that started it as freshmen in 2010 and then extended to all following classes.  Since 2010, we have also completed more renovations to make room for the addition of students and their space and technological needs, including updates to science labs and media centers.  Meridian is focused on getting their students "Career Ready. College Bound" according to their website. They have also converted their Junior High and Elementary schools into the New Tech Network.

The difference with remodeling or constructing a New Tech school stems from each space needing to be adaptable for multiple group work stations for a variety of situations.  A higher level of coordination is the key for the Construction Manager to oversee a smooth project and account for the necessary flexibility plus technical and data accommodations.

If you’re considering adopting this curriculum for your school, you should contact the New Tech Network; however, if you need a Construction Manager to complete the renovation to your school, call Wolgast Corporation who can apply their best practices to your project.

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way