Wolgast Blog

The History of Wolgast’s Construction Management Division

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Feb 13, 2019 @ 08:05 AM

AtlantaExperts claim that a form of Construction Management (CM) construction delivery was used in ancient times as far back as the pyramids.  However, according to Construction Management Association of America, CM became known as a distinctive construction delivery option in the 1960s1.  The need for a new construction delivery method at that time was due to more “sophisticated” systems being designed for large, complicated buildings and stricter regulations.  It was a growth time for the HVAC industry with the introduction of air conditioning and computerized control systems2.  More complex applications increased the role of the contractor to be more involved with the “specification of equipment and parts”.  There eventually was a shortage of HVAC installers and with the increased desire for air conditioning, shoddy applications led to many problems.  A problem which was well suited for CM advocacy between the Designer and the Contractor.

Wolgast Corporation originated in 1948 as G. H. Wolgast Masonry by Gerald Wolgast, a Masonry Contractor, and then expanded to a General Contractor (GC) soon after.  The company remained a GC for twenty years until Gerald and his sons were the first to add Design/Build services as an option to deliver complicated projects more efficiently.  This method was great for buildings with a smaller square footage and shorter durations to build and worked well in many applications for another twenty-five years.  At that time, ever the progressive contractor, Wolgast added CM Services to enter the education sector, officially.  The new service groomed Wolgast to quickly become a top advocate for our school clients who had complicated systems, a long construction duration, and lots of construction activities to plan simultaneously.  A team of Owners Representative, Architect and Construction Manager created the strong leadership necessary for large, complex projects guaranteeing that critical elements of design, cost, time, and quality would come together to deliver a project that the owner wanted and needed.

Since 1996, Wolgast’s CM Division has completed more than $2 billion of in-place construction just for school clients.  We now have three offices dedicated to CM Services and have worked with almost 150 of the 450 school districts within Michigan, plus a few in Ohio.  Our staff is top-notch and our field managers are on our work sites 100% of the time.  He or she is there to monitor the day-to-day activity and to help school officials arrange schedules, so that school activities can carry-on uninterrupted.  This is only part of the reason why 80% of our clients are repeat customers.

1https://www.healthdesign.org/sites/default/files/an_owners_guide_to_construction_management.pdf, preface, page 1, reprinted with the permission of Construction Management Association of America, Inc.

2 https://www.contractingbusiness.com/archive/1960s-incredible-growth-amid-chaos, 3/10/09

CM Services the Wolgast Way!

Tags: Schools, Construction Management, the Wolgast Way

The Benefit of Design/Build Phase I Drawings

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Feb 11, 2019 @ 08:00 AM

plans and rolled plansPreliminary plans, such as those provided in a Phase I of the Design/Build process, are the most efficient and economical means to determine the budget for your construction project.

While there has been a shift in the numbers1, there are still many business owners out there who are skeptical of the Design/Build method of construction.  They are more familiar with the traditional Design/Bid/Build method where they hire an architect, then have general contractors competitively bid the project, and the contractor with the best price/value builds the project. 

Early on, when we’re discussing the benefits of Design/Build with those who are skeptical, they have a difficult time accepting that they need to pay the nominal fee for the preliminary drawings (Phase I Design) so we can estimate the construction budget.  Those who are accepting of it realize that they would be paying that and more at an independent architecture firm. 

In the Design/Build process, the Phase I fee is nominal to cover the team’s time to complete a needs analysis, make necessary regulatory investigations, create a preliminary design and seek bidding resources for a preliminary budget.  Having a pretty accurate, yet ball park, estimate early in the process helps an owner obtain funding earlier.  The information gained during the Phase I is accurate and sufficient to take to a bank to secure financing.  Clients never get a separate bill for the Phase I cost unless the project doesn’t come to fruition, then the fees are billed to cover the team’s time at a fraction of the cost of a full set of plans.  Furthermore, if obstacles arise while a customer is planning to build a building that cause them to change their mind, it’s less risky to commit to a portion of the cost of the design while working through the initial process.

Additionally, having the flexibility to “tweak” the preliminary design so it fits within your budget is much more economical because you don’t have the engineering elements involved, yet.  Those get explicitly defined in the Phase II drawings.

When you add a Design/Builder to your team before you purchase property, they can assess the property and available utilities to provide the best use of space.  Also, prior to purchase, a Design/Build team can help coach an owner on contingencies in the purchase agreement as a buffer or a “get out of jail free card” if there are undesirable obstacles to using the property the way intended.

Those are the main benefits to committing to Phase I Drawings, but the Design/Build process has other benefits like completing construction faster, fewer change orders, open communication, and one entity having all the low bids.  Read more about the benefits of this method at in our White Paper, "Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should".

 

Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should

 

1 According to “Design-Build Project Delivery Market Share and Market Size Report” by Reed Construction Data and RS Means Intelligence, Design/Build construction delivery method has taken an additional 9% of the construction market since 2005 and General Construction has lost 10% of the market share in that same time.

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Financing Construction, Design, Dental Office Construction, Good for Business

What Makes a Design/Builder a Dental Construction Expert?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Fri, Feb 01, 2019 @ 02:50 PM

Dr Copus, DDSI’d like to address a question that has been posed to me about what makes a contractor specialized in Dental Construction. We’ve claimed for a couple of decades now to be an expert at dental office construction, but what does that mean? There are many people out there that think a building is a building, but most Dentists will recognize that a design/builder that’s versed in dental operations will make a big difference in the final building design, quality of construction and completion date.

Dental Building Design

When an architect is familiar with dental operations, they create floor plans that help a Dentist, staff members and patients flow seamlessly. The elements that they consider include efficient means for staff to complete tasks, organized patient flow, space and regulations for special equipment, time-saving communication, and aesthetics to make everyone comfortable. An architect that understands how to design a Dental Office that incorporates all the efficiencies listed above will create a layout that allows for less wasted time to move throughout the building, enabling the Dentist to spend more quality time with patients and less time moving around the office to communicate with staff or find tools. When dealing with specialty equipment to take x-rays, distribute med gases, or recover mercury, an architect has to consider spatial issues, electrical needs and regulation. Without an understanding of how this equipment fits into an operation or the regulations involved, a mistake on the plans could trip up the construction phase schedule.

Construction of a Dental Office

For the construction phase, you’ll need a project manager and supervisor that are familiar with the goals and operation of the Dentist. They’re there to oversee the proper installation of the various trades and maintain the schedule and budget. On the same notion as the architect, the Project Supervisor should have experience with x-ray shielding, mercury recovery, and med gases. A project supervisor with dental experience is also important to the schedule if a Dentist is renovating an occupied building and needs to continue seeing patients during construction. Your project supervisor can create temporary areas to keep chairs open. Regardless if it’s an occupied or new/unoccupied building, the supervisor and manager will be monitoring the schedule so that areas are ready in time for equipment delivery.

The Wolgast Way

Wolgast is specialized in the design and construction of Dental Offices. Dentists that we work with feel comfortable knowing that their chair side traps and amalgam separators will be installed without a problem and that their staff and patients will be comfortable in the new space as it’s completed on time and their scheduled move-in date is uninterrupted.

 

DentalOverview
Click the image above for an Overview of
Wolgast's Dental Construction Services
 

Tags: Design/Build, the Wolgast Way, Scheduling, Dental Office Construction

The Story of Wolgast’s Speed

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Dec 19, 2018 @ 10:37 AM

MerrillToolSpeed is one of the most coveted aspects when it comes to commercial construction and nothing improves speed like doing a project right the first time.  You could argue that cutting corners can sometimes make it faster, and that’s true until it causes rework, back tracking, or failures down the road.  Our founder, Jerry Wolgast, had the philosophy of “do it right the first time” and that is still instilled in us today.  However, we have implemented programs to help us consistently meet or exceed our deadlines rather than just hope that everything falls into place.

Jerry’s sons would help their dad even as boys and they would tell you that he didn’t let them stop just because the sun had set, no, he would keep them going until their work was done.  That work ethic is what helped us to secure our relationship with McDonald’s Corporation almost 40 years ago.  And that relationship was and is very important to us as you can imagine.  Through that work, we were able to systemize our processes and determine how to be more efficient and then apply it to future McDonald’s projects.  We had even broken the regional record for fastest construction of a new store by completing it within 33 days.

Soon, we were systemizing all of our processes so that each area of the company could uniformly be completed by any employee with the same job title.  Our unmatched work ethic and consistency lead to efficiency, which resulted in fast, quality construction.

Additionally, through our Design/Build Construction Delivery, we are able to shave months off the completion date by having the architect on our team.  The open lines of communication with the architect and client launches our pre-construction planning and estimating earlier than it does in traditional General Construction Delivery because we have the information that we need to pull permits, order materials, and line up our team before the plans are complete.  We will be ready to start construction as soon as the plans and budget are finalized.

Finally, Wolgast became an employee-owned company in 2000, which means that every staff member became part owner of the company and benefits from the company’s success.  Therefore, the importance of meeting deadlines and doing the job right is everyone’s concern from the laborer to the project manager and everyone in between.

We’ve been known to put up a building in half the time a contractor down the street puts up a similar one.  We’ve also landed a few projects because no other contractor can do it within the allotted time.  This is all due to the importance we put on speed and we’ve managed to do it without sacrificing quality.  Count on us when you want it done right the first time!  Solid foundations…Solid results…the Wolgast Way!

Tags: the Wolgast Way

Pardon Our Dust - Under Construction

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 @ 09:58 AM

Three Options to Keep Your Clients Happy During Your Remodel Project

Pardon.jpgDuring a commercial remodel, there is more you can do than just posting a good looking “Pardon Our Dust” sign when it comes to your customers and your staff.  We know all too well how it is when you’re trying to run a business, but need to update or reconfigure your working space.  The thought of disrupting business as usual is just too much, and losing out on customer traffic is out of the question.  But never fear, Wolgast has solutions to help you get through a remodel with only a little interruption to staff or customers.

  • We can schedule your project in phases, so that operations can be temporarily shifted or moved, but you’re still functioning as an office, manufacturer, school or shop. We’ll help you plan prior to the start of the remodel.  This applies to doctor’s offices as much as it does restaurants or schools, mostly all business types.  Open communication with your contractor will help minimize stress as you serve your customers.

  • We’re able to accommodate after hours remodeling in many instances and clean-up for your operational use in the morning. We do this when Phasing just won’t work and it may take a little longer, but it’s an option if needed.
  • Build next to or around your existing space. It has been more economical for some of our customers to build new rather than renovate, but they didn’t want to lose their current location.  As a design/build construction firm, we were able to configure how to build on their site, right next to their office.  We were able to reuse most of their existing parking lot and help them benefit from cost savings with utilities already onsite.  In many instances, once the team has moved into the new space, the old one can be demolished and cleared in a day or two.

 
We have found that there are many understanding consumers, as long as they’re able to safely enter your establishment; they will still come to you while you remodel.  For restaurants, many times we can keep your kitchen open as long as possible while working on your dining room, so a drive-thru or take out is still available.  Schools luckily have the summer to schedule their work with less interruption to their full staff.  Medical and Dental offices need special accommodations for keeping clean spaces, so we plan ahead to ensure dust doesn’t get where it will cause serious problems.

For staff, we know that demolition, nail guns and electric screw drivers can be loud.  We remodeled our own office last winter and know the excitement we felt to see the progress and also having a completion date made most noises tolerable.  Additionally, some of the noisy parts were held off until after office hours, so it all worked out with little disruption.  And if you put out a friendly “Pardon Our Dust” sign, you’ll probably get customers excited to come back and see the changes – updates on Facebook are good means to reach out as well, with a steady flow of messages to share.

We’re happy to answer any of your remodeling, or even new build questions, any time! 800-WOLGAST.

Inquire Here

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

How Employee-Owned (ESOP) Companies Deliver More Efficient and Reliable Results

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 @ 09:10 AM

Employee-Owners.jpg

Companies that offer an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) for their staff members provide an opportunity for their workforce to have a vested interest in their success.  By virtue this creates a long-term incentive for employees to stay with the company and an eagerness to make the company even more successful.

According to the National Center for Employee Ownership (NCEO) article, “Research on Employee Ownership, Corporate Performance and Employee Compensation” there are typically lower turnover rates at ESOP companies, therefore, an ESOP employer is more likely to keep the best employees on their roster.  For clients, this means that they will benefit from experienced, skilled employee-owners working on their project.  Long-term staff members should have a deeper understanding of what the company stands for and will pass along traditions and higher standards of quality as newer staff members join the organization.  Relationships and repeat business become a goal for every staff member on every level, not just the management or sales teams.

As an employee-owned company, all Wolgast employee-owners are entrusted to find ways to be more efficient in their work, suggest ways to perform better, be active with problem solving with the company or for clients, share employee-owner mentality, and lead by example.  Our folks do this to keep costs down for the company which enables us to be more competitive with our pricing and create a positive experience for our project owners.  Also, featured in the NCEO article, were results that showed ESOP companies have more longevity than their counterparts which shows that customer service and satisfaction mixed with a well-managed business results in long-term success of this type of organization. 

If you’re interested in a fair, competitive price by a skilled contractor that is focused on your satisfaction and that will be around for a long time, please contact us to build your commercial or industrial building.  We can also design it or if unfortunate mayhem strikes, we can restore it after the storm, flood, or fire.

Tags: Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way

Construction Broker Service Comes up Short in Professional Construction Services

Posted by Cory Sursely on Mon, Nov 28, 2016 @ 10:00 AM

worker-figuring-edt.jpgAs construction broker companies continue to pop up, they’re coming up short compared to a Design/ Build – General Construction (DB-GC) Firm in many important areas for project success.  DB-GCs provide much more control over the schedule and the budget on your project versus a construction services broker.

A DB-GC will typically have their own self-performed trades working on the project site.  Additionally, for us, a full-time, skilled, project supervisor will be onsite 100% of the time for the duration of a project.  Having these company representatives onsite helps set the pace of the work, keeps the jobsite and scheduling organized and as a result incites progress on the project which in turn controls the budget.  With a DB-GC, you’ll also be supported by administrative staff dedicated to keeping record of insurance, invoices, sworn statements, waivers, etc. which are easily tangled if not managed properly and in real time, causing issues with financing and liability.

Additionally, a brokerage company doesn’t have “skin in the game”.  They have very little committed, i.e. no office, no staff, no equipment, and typically no ties to the community.  It’s very easy for them to walk away if things don’t go well.  Some building owners may think that should result in lower fees because the broker doesn’t have the overhead, but they also don’t have much incentive to stick through complications or hold subs accountable to their contracts and warranty work if there’s an issue after the project is done.    

Across the industry, we’re facing a labor shortage.  A broker has to rely on finding an outside contractor for every single trade because they don’t self-perform any work nor have the staff to do so.  Going forward, this shortage could result in additional time to the schedule throughout the industry; however a DB-GC is able to self-perform several trades, so this will more likely help minimize the gaps the shortage could cause with the schedule.  For instance, a DB/GC can begin site work while the other skilled trades are scheduled in the meantime.  Additionally, as the project progresses, the DB-GC can start rough carpentry if other remaining subs are needed to be scheduled.  Again, this will result in better control over the budget and schedule. 

Finally, lower price is the possible competitive benefit a broker can offer, which can make them attractive in the beginning.  In other words, a broker needs to shop around to get the lowest priced services to be competitive in the market.  Therefore, to get to that price point, they may have to select lesser quality subcontractors, which means that the quality of the work may be poorer, the schedule delayed, and warranties difficult to honor within a timely manner.  Often times, brokers are not local to the area and are blindly seeking their outside contractors in a market about which they know very little.  They don’t have relationships or the knowledge of subcontractor work history, which is a risk a building owner faces for the future of their building quality and warranties.

The leverage that a broker has over a full team of outside contractors pales in comparison to a professional DB-GC to maintain quality, protect the building owner, and deliver a project on schedule.  Our industry is going to be facing difficult times until we’re able to beef up the training programs for skilled labor, but by having our own team of craftsmen and subcontractor relationships throughout Michigan and reaching further into the Great Lakes Region, we’re able to deliver the quality and reliable construction services for which we’ve come to be known.

Inquire Here

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

Medical Office Design and Construction for Savvy Docs

Posted by Cory Sursely on Wed, Sep 07, 2016 @ 09:07 AM

MedicalExpertsVid.jpg

For over 65 years, Wolgast has developed specialty design and construction services for Medical Practitioners and efficient use of their space.  We keep in mind the patient flow, staff flow, regulatory requirements, and design elements for comfort for all.  Please view the short video linked above that displays our experience and abilities to make your space great for everyone who uses it.  If you have plans for a new office or remodeling/adding onto your existing space, please contact me to discuss your plans at no obligation to you.  Build with Wolgast to Be in Business Faster!

Dr. Michael Shepard, Building Expert for Physicians, can answer your questions at:


800-WOLGAST  |  mshepard@wolgast.com  |  #godesignbuild  #theWolgastWay
855-WOLGAST  |   www.wolgastrestoration.com  |  Insurance Restoration – Fire/Flood/Wind

Tags: Medical Office Construction, Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way

How Much Will a Phase I Save Me on Architectural Costs?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, May 10, 2016 @ 09:50 AM

designbuild5.jpgShort answer is roughly 20% or more.  Through a number of cost saving opportunities, the Design/Build Phased Approach to construction can be the most economical cost- and time-wise, not only saving on Architectural services, but also on the overall construction budget.

For Wolgast’s Design/Build program, we estimate that you can save 20% or more on your architectural costs by using this Phased Approach.  Phase I Preliminary Drawings are the first step in our Phased Approach (A.K.A Design/Build Process).  The Phase I offers many benefits including a nominal fee, an earlier budget and it can be tweaked before the more expensive Phase II Construction Documents begin.  With Phase I Drawings, you’ll know your budget before investing in a final design.  Additionally, estimators and our construction team have an opportunity to provide review and value engineering input early in the process.

Further evidence of savings includes the opportunity for more competitive bids.  With Design/ Build Delivery, estimators have more time to line up a wider number of bidders making it a more competitive scenario.  We know that Building Owners like competition in anticipation of a lower budget.  The best news is that when one entity, the Design/Builder, is collecting all the bids then they will have all the low bids from which to choose.  Alternatively, when a project goes Design/Bid/Build (A.K.A. General Construction Delivery), then multiple GCs are obtaining bids from a smaller pool of contractors (due to the quicker deadline for bidding) and they will hit or miss the lowest estimates from each trade.  Building Owners can’t be sure that they have the lowest price by the most qualified sub-contractors.

Additionally, through continual prompt payment to our vendors and suppliers, Wolgast secures discounts that we pass along to our clients.  This is a policy we have adopted because it’s an easy way to keep our costs down and save money for our clients.

With the Architect and Contractor on the same team, there’s little opportunity for discrepancy between the plans and the application, nor down time due to issues that stop construction.  Our team will be motivated to openly communicate and quickly resolve any challenges so that the project stays on track and within budget.

Also important to note, our Architects are licensed and have had the same training as those in an Architectural Firm, so you will get the same caliber of drawings at a discount.  Rick Keith, our on-staff Architect graduated from Lawrence Tech with a BS in Architecture, is registered in both Michigan and Wisconsin and has over 30-years experience.  We also work with independent, registered Architects from outside firms when capacity requires it.

Finally, the Design/Build Delivery Process provides significant information early, so that the construction team is able to start site work and possibly foundations prior to the Phase II Construction Drawings being complete.  When it’s important to be in the building quickly, a Building Owner will benefit most from the Fast-Track, Design/Build Process to be in business faster.

In our White Paper, Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should we discuss all the benefits of this construction process and how it can save money for business owners.  Download by clicking on the image below.

Why Some Business Owners Don't Do Design/Build, but Should

 

Tags: Design/Build, Professional General Contractor, the Wolgast Way, Design

Why is Wolgast Thankful?

Posted by Cory Sursely on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 @ 09:16 AM

 This still applies after 2 years!thanksgiving

Counting our blessings this Thanksgiving Holiday Season

First and foremost, our faithful customers—new and those who have repeatedly come back to us for each of their building projects.  We appreciate each and every one of you!!

We are thankful for our community within Saginaw, the Great Lakes Bay Region and Michigan as a whole.  We have been in Saginaw County for over 65 years and have built many of the area businesses that surround us as well as many throughout Michigan.  We couldn’t be more proud to drive around our community and be able to say “built it!”.

Our employee-owners who are dedicated to making our business and service run efficiently and who also help us achieve excellent customer service.  We are grateful for their professionalism and dedication.

And those employee-owners who work in the fields, braving the hot heat of summer and the frigid cold of winter to meet deadlines promised, we are very thankful for their service.

Additionally, the network of tradesmen or women we’ve worked with this year who have been right alongside us in the heat and cold.  Thank you for helping us achieve our commitments.

We are also thankful for the mild fall we had, which allowed us to complete more site work before the deep freeze set in.

And finally, our association with Associated Builders & Contractors and the support they offer their member businesses to network and seek additional opportunities.

Top 10 Advantages

 

Tags: the Wolgast Way