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The Wilhelm Blog

Indiana city does more with less after value engineering

Posted by Brooke Lock on May 28th, 2015


When the estimate for Huntington’s Rabbit Run combined sewer overflow (CSO) came in at $26 million, the city asked its project engineers to go back to the drawing board. With the city already looking at a significant increase to its ratepayers, the cost of the project had to come down.

The project engineers were able to get the cost of the project down to about $14.5 million when the city asked F.A. Wilhelm Construction to find additional savings- a real challenge considering the complexity of the project.

Wilhelm succeeded, and working with the project engineers and the city was able to provide initial value engineering options to reduce the cost of the project by another $750,000.

“$750,000 may not seem like a big number in this business. But it meant 1.8 percent savings on a rate increase,” Anthony Goodnight, Director of Public Works and Engineering Services for the City of Huntington, said.

Huntington-WWTP-webThe Rabbit Run Project involved the construction of a new cast-in-place concrete CSO tank with a diversion structure to direct storm water into the tank. Polluted water that used to flow directly to the river through the CSO now flows into the tank and is held there until after a storm event, when the city’s wastewater treatment plant can treat the extra water.

Goodnight said the tank is part of Huntington’s Long Term CSO Control Plan to reduce or eliminate overflows to the city’s surface waters in the next 7-8 years. The Rabbit Run project, along with a previously-installed interceptor, is an important part of that plan, eliminating one CSO and significantly reducing overflows at two other locations.

Goodnight also said the new tank will hold up to 2.25 million gallons of storm water, the equivalent of what might be expected in the biggest storm of a given year.

“This is going to allow us to hold and treat that first flush,” Goodnight said. “Before, storm water would flow into the river, full of grit and sewage and everything else that runs off of parking lots and streets. Now, we can treat that water fully to clean it up before it gets into the river.”

Goodnight is referring to the Little River that flows through the middle of Huntington, winding its way to the Wabash River to the west of the city. Before this project, storm sewers that drain most of the city’s south side would carry polluted storm water into Rabbit Run and into the Little River downstream. By capturing storm water, the city can now expect to see water quality improvements in both Rabbit Run and the Little River.

Goodnight said the project was originally going to be located across the river on property already owned by the city. One of the options Wilhelm developed was to build the tank at its existing sewage treatment plant instead, Goodnight said this was a good idea, “Now, everything will be handled at one location, which makes everything easier.”

Huntington-WWTP-3-webWhen asked about his experience with Wilhelm, Goodnight said that this project faced a lot of challenges right from the start. First, the project was threatened with delays due to severe winter weather of 2013 and then by escalating costs. Wilhelm handled both- getting and keeping the project on track with a tight timeline and saving the city the initial $75,000 and an additional $1,000,000 through the guaranteed savings process.

“We’re very happy,” Goodnight said, adding that Wilhelm’s value engineering helped to get better equipment for the upgrade, providing more value in the long term. “We initially thought we weren’t going to be able to afford all the equipment we wanted for this project. But Wilhelm was able to negotiate better prices for us and with its value engineering found enough savings to get us almost everything we wanted to begin with,” Goodnight said.

Goodnight said that some of these savings will go into improvements that are more visible to the public. “As our mayor says, we deal with the ‘humanness’ of society. No one wants to invest in sewer or water infrastructure. But, if you get those things done, you can begin to invest in the quality of life in the community, things like parks and trails that people want and enjoy.”




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Citizens Energy project helps pave the way for park refurbishment

Posted by Brooke Lock on May 28th, 2015

Citizens Energy Group (Citizens) had two important goals with its Collection Consolidation Sewer Project on the White River in Indianapolis. One was to improve water quality in the White River by reducing the overflow frequency of a major combined sewer overflow (CSO) by 95 percent. The other was to help set the stage for other quality-of-life improvements for people living in the area.

001-SA--032615-IMG_20140911_153640_051-webThe project is located at White River Parkway near Belmont Avenue and Reverend Mozel Sanders Park. Established in 1931, Mozel Park is one of the oldest neighborhood parks in Indianapolis and has been inactive for many years.

Because both Citizens and the City of Indianapolis are party to a Federal Consent Decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, there is a great deal of coordination and partnering that occurs. John Morgan with Citizens’ Special Projects Team explained that this project is part of Citizens’ and the City’s long term control plan, (LTCP) reducing the frequency of CSO events was an important step in improving the riverside environment. “We’re also working with Indy Parks on this. They’re trying to set things in motion to eventually open that park again.”

Morgan said this project is part of the White River Tunnel System described in the Citizens’ LTCP, which will require a number of deep shafts to be constructed near and adjacent to city parks. “That’s because most of the parks are located around streams, and that’s what we’re trying to clean up,” he said.

Morgan said, “One of the most important things about this project is that we got the work done way before the Indy Parks Department plans to fully develop and open this park to the public. This was an important goal for Citizens.”

Morgan said that from a logistical standpoint, the location of the project didn’t present too many challenges. Nate Crowell, F.A. Wilhelm Construction’s project manager agreed, “Being in an open area we had a lot more space than we normally have to work in. The real challenge was in the construction.”

001-SA--032615-IMG_20140911_153416_842-webWhen complete, the White River Tunnel System will capture and convey overflow resulting from heavy rains to Citizens’ Southport Advanced Wastewater Treatment facility instead of releasing combined sewage into the White River through CSOs.  At this site, Wilhelm Construction crews installed a diversion channel to direct flow through the sewer line down to a drop shaft and into the tunnel and built a second shaft to provide proper ventilation for the system. With these structures in place, they then cut into a 96” reinforced concrete pipe (RCP) sewer to intercept the flow before it reaches the CSO outfall.

Installing the casings for the shafts required drilling more than 200 feet deep and through more than 100 feet of rock.  Crowell said, “The drilling operation for the two shafts was very impressive and unique.” He said drilling such large shafts, 10 and 12.5 feet in diameter, that far down and through so much rock required a very involved drilling system and specialized equipment.

Crowell said another challenge was supporting the 96” RCP sewer while the diversion structure was constructed. “We had to build a massive steel support system in the hole to support the existing sewer pipe,” Crowell said. He explained that Wilhelm crews had to support the 96” RCP pipe in order to excavate down 25 feet below grade and build the cast-in-place structure. Once the walls were complete, they were able to cut and remove the sewer pipe.

According to Crowell, the project is on track to be finished on schedule.  Morgan said he is very happy with how this project went, “Wilhelm has proven better than we ever thought they would be. They stayed ahead of the game looking ahead to keep supplies ordered and to identify challenges before they were in front of us.” He added that when problems do occur, Wilhelm works as a team to resolve them.

Morgan said that for Citizens, that while cost control is crucial, the decision to go to Wilhelm was not only a price point decision. “Wilhelm’s proposal showed us that they get it. They get how Citizens operates, they get community involvement, and their reputation for concrete work is well known.”

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Citizens Energy Group brings new drinking water supplies online with award-winning construction

Posted by Brooke Lock on May 28th, 2015

Indianapolis is growing, and that growth is creating a higher-than-ever demand for high quality drinking water.

Morse-WTP-Const-005_G0020749-web To meet this demand, Citizens Energy Group (Citizens) looked to the past and found a new supply for the future at an old groundwater treatment plant near Morse Reservoir that was taken out of service in 2008.

“We’re always looking for new sources for water supplies, and we knew that  this aquifer existed,” said Ted Williams of Citizens. Using an existing aquifer with a known supply made a lot of sense he said. But, there was a lot of work to be done to bring this supply to Citizens’ customers.

While other contractors worked to tear down the old plant, and rehab existing wells on the site, F.A. Wilhelm Construction’s crew built a new 6,000 square-foot ground water treatment facility. This consisted of  three horizontal pressure filters, three high service pumps and a backwash pump. Wilhelm also  installed two aerators and constructed two welded steel detention tanks and a one million gallon finished water  concrete storage tank. A backwash holding tank was constructed in order to allow a controlled flow of the water used to back wash the filters to the Noblesville sewer system.

Morse-WTP-Const-023_IMG_2492.jpg-web Williams said this was a pretty fast-paced job, “We wanted to get it done before the high summer demand hit, and Wilhelm did that.” The new plant went online on April 7 and can treat up to six million gallons of drinking water per day.

Derek Carlson, Wilhelm Construction project manager, said that while the pace of the job was challenging, he enjoyed working with state-of-the-art construction techniques for this project.

Wilhelm used a post-tensioning method to build the concrete finished water and backwash storage tanks for the plant, an innovative technique that recently earned the project an award from the American Concrete Institute. Post-tensioning systems uses steel cables that run through the concrete in pairs. These cables are then pulled to create tension on the slabs, which keeps the concrete from cracking. With this technique, thinner slabs can do the same job as those built with traditional methods, resulting in lower concrete costs to build and fewer repairs down the road.

Morse-WTP-Const-021_IMG_2417-webWilliams said there were some challenges in building the plant near a residential neighborhood. He said the work hours were limited, and it was important to keep noise levels and construction traffic to a minimum – nothing Wilhelm’s crew couldn’t handle. “It can also be a challenge to keep the streets clean. Wilhelm did a very nice job with that.”

With the project now complete, Citizens invited the neighborhood to tour the new facility and learn more about its operation.

Williams said he considers the project a success and was pleased with how Wilhelm handled the job. “Wilhelm communicated well with its sub-contractors, Citizens Energy Group and the design engineer resulting in a successful project. There are other construction companies with some of the same qualities that they have, but there aren’t a lot of them out there. Wilhelm is part an elite group of companies.”

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Wilhelm completes integral lift station installation

Posted by Brooke Lock on May 28th, 2015

Citizens Energy Lift StationF.A. Wilhelm will soon complete an integral lift station installation for Citizens Energy Group (Citizens).

For this project, Wilhelm installed a new wet-well at an existing lift station, used the existing wet-well to create a diversion structure, and removed the old dry well.

Adding to the complexity of the project, the existing wet-well had to remain active while Wilhelm crews excavated 27 feet into the ground in the adjacent area.  Due to the size and location of the site, special care was taken to ensure a safe and successful project.

“Getting the large equipment needed to do the excavation and drilling into the site was a challenge because we were working in a relatively small area,” said Derek Carlson, Wilhelm’s project manager. “The site is triangular with a road on one side, utility lines on another and the wet-well on the other.”

As is often the case when working on existing infrastructure, the Wilhelm crew discovered an undocumented sewer connection to the wet well and the force main in an unexpected location.

Sandy Shafer,  construction manager with Citizens, says this is not uncommon when dealing with older systems. “It’s not that problems and unforeseen conditions don’t occur, it is how they are handled that is important.” She said Wilhelm was very patient while Citizens worked to find the force main and decided where to relocate the sewer connection. According to Shafer, it only took about a month to get these issues resolved. Wilhelm never missed a beat and kept the project on track.

Shafer said the way a construction crew works together can make a big difference on a project like this.  It can take time for a crew to figure out how to work together – time that projects like this don’t have. “Wilhelm has seasoned crews. Their crews have worked together for a long time, and the relationships are there. They know how to work together productively,” she said.

Shafer could tell Wilhelm did its homework. “They come into a project looking 2-3 weeks ahead,” she said, adding that this preparation really helps when unexpected challenges present themselves.

“We’re very happy with our experience with Wilhelm,” said Shafer. “Citizens’ decision to hire Wilhelm was about more than the price. They know how to communicate, and they have the resources they need to get the job done.”

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RSQ Fire Protection announces affliation with F.A. Wilhelm Construction Company

Posted by Brooke Lock on May 22nd, 2015

May 22, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS – RSQ Fire Protection announces its expansion and progression by affiliating with F.A. Wilhelm Construction Company.

Poised for growth, this proactive approach for the future allows RSQ to build upon its already established reputation.

“This is really about looking long term for both companies and securing our future,” said RSQ President Eric Noe.

Established in 2010, RSQ has more than 100 years of fire protection experience at the executive level alone. It is supported by a well-seasoned and experienced staff to facilitate large-scale projects.

RSQ approaches new and long-term clients, like large local healthcare institutions and real estate developers, alike with the same customer service approach. Noe says “it’s about establishing and maintaining relationships.”

“This change enhances the positive growth the employees of RSQ have created since we started. We are excited by the possibilities,” said Noe.

Along with RSQ’s announcement of expansion, it also named Eric Noe as its new president. Noe started working in the construction industry during high school and has never left. His experience spans fire protection, construction management, preconstruction, estimating, and business development.

Phil Kenney, president of F.A. Wilhelm Construction is confident with Noe’s leadership, RSQ Fire Protection will continue to grow. “Eric has a great opportunity before him, and I know he has what it takes to lead.”

By sharing resources and being affiliated with a highly reputable – long lasting construction company like F.A. Wilhelm Construction, this is an opportunity to be progressive.

RSQ Fire Protection is located on the southeast side of Indianapolis and has a new address:

1445 Brookville Way, Suite R
Indianapolis, IN 46239

RSQ Fire Protection is a full-service fire protection company providing design, installation, testing and maintenance of all types of fire suppression systems including water-based, foam-based, clean-agent, carbon dioxide, and water mist.  

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Dedication and ribbon cutting at Joint Force Headquarters at Stout Field

Posted by Brooke Lock on April 14th, 2015


Among the distinguished guests were Indiana National Guard leaders, Maj. Gen. Cliff Tooley, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Gov. Mike Pence, and Brig. Gen. John McGoff.

The two-level addition and remodel consolidates the operations and more than 900 civilian and military personnel.

umbarger-webAccording to an Indiana National Guard press release, other improvements to adjacent structures will accommodate 500 part-time drilling personnel, and routinely support the administrative and logistics requirements of 20 full-time personnel associated with four Indiana National Guard units.

Additionally, the 38th Infantry Division Band now has a home and remarkable auditorium for concerts.

Governor Pence said this new Joint Force Headquarters will make it possible for [the Indiana National Guard] to be more prepared to defend our nation and support our people.

The projected added 80,000 square feet to building 1, and renovated 76,000 square feet of existing space in buildings 1, 3, and 9. Also included were site development and utility upgrades.

F.A. Wilhelm President Phil Kenney said the newly renovated building is a “landmark”.

“This is a landmark. And it’s not because of the dollars it cost or the impressive interior. The men and women who work here and serve the citizens make this building a landmark,” Kenney said.

Upon the retirement of Umbarger, the second longest serving TAG, at the end of May 2015, Governor Pence announced on April 9th, the new Adjutant General will be Brig. Gen. Corey Carr.


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Congratulations to Bill Spitler, Mark Dodson, and Debbie Gee on reaching impressive milestones

Posted by Brooke Lock on April 12th, 2015

25  Years

Spitler, BillBill Spitler, Project Manager
Wow, 25 years. It seems like it was just a few days ago I came on board at F.A. Wilhelm Construction. Working here has been great. My colleagues and the opportunities Wilhelm afforded me have the best anyone could ask for. We should be proud of the variety of projects and the unique aspects of each that we are asked to tackle due to our expertise and abilities. Whether it was the grand opening at Union Station, pouring raker beams at the [Hoosier] Dome, watching the plant control board as we produced 245,000 gallons/day of bio-fuel at the refinery, listening to the incessant singing of 2200 slot machines at the Indiana Grand Casino or starting up the new Cummins Headquarters in downtown Indianapolis, Wilhelm is a leader in our field and I am already looking forward to the next big project.


Dodson,MarkMark Dodson, Senior Estimator
My career at F.A. Wilhelm construction has allowed me to work on several monumental projects. It is an honor to work here because there are no other contractors in the area that do what we do. It’s a blessing after all of these years to wake up every morning and still enjoy what I do, and that has a lot to do with all of the talented and gifted people I have had the opportunity to work with.


10 Years

Gee, DebbieDebbie Gee, HR Coordinator
Wow, has it been ten years? Time flies by when you really love your job and F.A. Wilhelm Construction. I have too many great memories and stories (that may or may not be true) to put on paper. I love working with my co-workers and management. The most rewarding project I have been a part of is Wilhelm ACTS (Actively Contributing Through Service) a veterans-focused home modification services program made possible by employees and their families. Our company is filled with generous employees and management who are always willing to help whether it’s a community cause, a colleague who has experienced a tragedy, or colleagues who may be going through a rough patch in their life. It seems as if I am giving my goodbye speech, but don’t worry I will be here a few years longer!

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French Lick opens event center six weeks ahead of schedule

Posted by Brooke Lock on April 10th, 2015

Hoosier_D6A2235-WEBAs if the French Lick Resort in southern Indiana didn’t offer enough amenities for the business and pleasure of attendees, it now offers a newly completed addition to its Meeting and Event Center.

F.A. Wilhelm Construction served as general contractor for $8 million of this $15.5 million project. Wilhelm was responsible for foundations, structural steel, the outside enclosure, interior drywall and finishes. The addition is 58,000 square feet and built between the existing parking garage and French Lick Event Center.

The best part of the entire project, according to project manager Kurt Schlebecker, was completing the project early. Wilhelm Construction managed to complete the project a solid six weeks ahead of schedule, allowing French Lick to begin using the event spaces early.

Considering the challenges the project team faced in this project, an early finish date is impressive.

“We experienced several unique challenges almost immediately,” Schlebecker said. One of these challenges was putting the addition in a very tight space, leaving virtually no laydown area. Workers were right up on the west property line of the resort, wedging the building onto the back end of an existing facility.

Eisenhower_D6A1594-WEBAnother challenge was executing construction next to an occupied resort that continued to hold conferences.

“Merging this building with a new one required expert coordination,” Schlebecker said. “We were careful to not distract them with our construction activity.”

Schlebecker credited Wilhelm’s extensive experience to the successful navigation around these problems.

“Wilhelm has a history of working through these types of challenges” Schlebecker said. “We expanded the Indianapolis Museum of Art for three years while it was still in full use to the public. We have vast experience adding onto existing facilities, and these experiences help us exceed owners’ expectations.”

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Employee volunteers on her lunch break

Posted by Brooke Lock on April 9th, 2015

Most office employees might pack a sack lunch or head to a restaurant on their lunch break. One day a week, Proposal Coordinator Megan Young does something a little more unconventional on her lunch break: she volunteers.

Young, MeganYoung volunteers with a group called Girls Inc., a non-profit dedicated to inspiring all girls to be “strong, smart, and bold,” according to its website. Girls Inc. provides programs that give girls the tools they need to achieve goals and resist peer pressure. Once a week, Young drives to Beech Grove Middle School to work with a group of twelve 7th graders over the lunch hour.

Last summer she attended the Touchstone Awards banquet hosted by Girls Inc. because F.A. Wilhelm Construction sponsored a table. The banquet honors female leaders in the community while also showcasing exhibits hosted by Girls Inc. summer campers.

Young was intrigued by the girls’ projects and asked for more information on volunteering and decided to teach a Girls Inc. course. Young has been volunteering with Girls Inc. since January 2015.

The curriculum Young teaches is called “Redefining Beauty.” Using activities and conversation-starters provided by Girls Inc., Young and a co-facilitator teach the girls about the important of self-worth.

“This time gives female students the opportunity to share their stories and opinions or struggles with us,” Young said. “It’s the only time out of their school day that they get to talk about what they want to talk about.”

Young said each week the class has a different focus and provides the girls opportunities to think through real world issues affecting them. Examples of topics include eating disorders, what “real” women look like, and valuing their bodies.

Young also uses her position at Wilhelm to demonstrate female leadership to the girls.

“As a continued supporter of the organization, I feel empowered as a woman to show young girls what it’s like to be a leader in the workplace,” Young said. “This shows them that there are many other career paths available as they decide areas of interest.”

She says volunteering with Girls Inc. is an eight-week commitment with long-term rewards, and more volunteers are needed, particularly on the Southside of Indianapolis. If you or anyone you know is interested in reaching more girls, feel free to contact Hazel Owens at Girls Inc.

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Wilhelm wraps Florida healthcare facility

Posted by Brooke Lock on April 8th, 2015

Ketterman_150131_1104-webThe obstacle of distance didn’t keep F.A. Wilhelm Construction from successfully completing a state-of-the-art medical office building in Jacksonville, Florida, for Landmark Healthcare LLC, owner and developer of the project.

Wilhelm Construction took part in a joint venture with Perry-McCall Construction. The project was completed ahead of schedule in December 2014.

The six-story 210,000 square-foot medical office complex houses multiple services and physicians. The first two floors include an emergency department, urgent care, imaging services, women’s health services operating rooms suites, and interventional rooms. The top four floors house the University of Florida Health and community physicians.

To complete the project, Wilhelm Construction Project Manager Mitch Davison moved to Florida while other Wilhelm staff members traveled back and forth throughout the project.

Mike Kerr, operations manager, said the joint venture team was extremely beneficial in completing the project.

“The partnership with Perry-McCall went very well,” Kerr said. “We were working out of town in an unfamiliar area, and they had local knowledge of the area which made it a very successful project.”

UF Health North Jacksonville healthcare facilityBoth Wilhelm and Perry-McCall have completed successful healthcare projects with Landmark. Specifically, Wilhelm performed general contracting work for Landmark on IU Health’s Neuroscience Center in Indianapolis. This past experience made for a cooperative team that worked easily through challenges and ultimately completed the project ahead of schedule.

Despite a demanding schedule, Wayne McCall, president of Perry-McCall, credits the team with a job well done.

“It was a very collaborative project between our team, Landmark, the design team, and Wilhelm,” McCall said. “When challenges arose, we worked together to find solutions and the result was a high quality project delivered ahead of schedule to a very satisfied client.”

Ketterman_150131_1035webStuart Armstrong, Landmark’s senior project manager for construction development, said this project will allow Landmark, as well as the University of Florida Health, to enter into a new and growing market in north Florida.

“University of Florida Health is a pioneer in that market,” Armstrong said.  “There is not a hospital in that area and they will fulfill that need.”

Armstrong was extremely pleased with this project and raved about Wilhelm’s experience and work ethic.

“My experience working with Wilhelm was a great one,” Armstrong said. “They are very approachable on all levels. I am most proud of maintaining the project schedule, and that is compliments of Wilhelm.”

Photo credit: Ketterman Photography

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