The Wilhelm Blog
In a matter of days, Cummins will celebrate the grand opening of its new global distribution headquarters in Indianapolis. A marriage of innovative architectural and landscape design, Cummins has transformed an entire city block from a parking lot to a sustainable building and public greenspace where the former Market Square Arena once stood. The project is a testament to the creativity of an exceptional owner, designer and construction team working together towards a shared vision – creating a space that inspires.
The nine-story office building and public greenspace was designed by Deborah Berke Partners and RATIO architects. F.A. Wilhelm Construction was hired to provide construction management for the project, including construction of the building, the parking garage and to build out the green spaces that now cover more than an acre of the site.
From the transparent façade seamlessly integrating into the skyline to the welcoming plaza beckoning visitors, the entire campus is built to connect – to its environment, to its neighbors, and to the fabric of the Circle City. Both inside and out, warm and inviting spaces showcase innovation, creativity and community – fully reflecting Cummins’ mission of “everything we do leads to a cleaner, healthier (and) safer environment.”
Michael Greven, Senior Project Manager at Wilhelm, explained that the success of the project was a direct result of how well everyone worked together throughout the process; especially as continual design changes occurred throughout construction.
Doug May, Wilhelm’s Project Superintendent, on the project explained that the design and coordination of the highly integrated electrical, AV, lighting and data systems required extensive coordination and several meetings.
Preconstruction efforts required detailed estimates allowing the project team to constantly keep the owner abreast of their overall budget status. With the design coordination additions that took place after the contracts were awarded it would have been very difficult for the project team to assure the owner the project would be on budget if it were not for the detailed preconstruction estimate.
Both Greven and May are extremely proud of how the project turned out. “It’s a beautiful piece of architecture – one that can set the tone for what future office space should look like,” Greven said.
On January 5, Cummins will celebrate the grand opening of its downtown Indianapolis Distribution Headquarters – a building and campus whose innovative design combined with the creative approach to their construction has changed the landscape and will usher in a new era of sustainability in downtown Indianapolis.posted in
When most people think of a career in construction, they envision well-worn tool belts, steel-toed boots, and extended tape measures. While these images do readily align with construction activities, construction itself begins long before workers arrive on site and heavy equipment rolls up. There’s many other sides to the construction industry that most don’t see – sides filled with tremendous opportunity for people with a variety of skills and interests.
April Parsley, Vice President of Corporate Marketing for F.A. Wilhelm Construction, said that one of the largest drivers adding new roles to the construction industry is technology. “As a result of new automation, programs and methodologies evolving the way buildings come together, new skills sets are needed to meet rising demands,” Parsley said. “In addition, the need for ever more sustainable buildings and building practices is generating great demand for creative innovation.
The building industry is well known for employing trade-skilled laborers. What is lesser known is that it also employs graphic designers, software developers, modelers, artisans, engineers, productivity experts, and marketers. There are many opportunities for people in professional and managerial roles in areas such as construction management, operations, accounting and business development. Parsley noted that companies are always looking for people interested in quality assurance and safety management, as well as LEAN and productivity improvement management which involves evaluating processes and building better efficiencies into them.
Today’s construction environment has something to offer everyone. From team collaboration, to skill building, to good pay, to travel opportunities, to longevity of work, building buildings is akin to building a career. Whether individuals are recent graduates, still in college, or looking to change direction, this “learn as you go” industry is a good place to start, and there are many avenues in including internships, entry-level positions, apprenticeships, traineeships, higher education programs and work experience.
In addition to being professionally rewarding, construction careers can be personally rewarding as well. When individuals connect with the purpose of what is being built and how lives are positively impacted by the project, it promotes a true sense of accomplishment. Parsley described the feeling this way: “It’s kind of like the joy you feel when you drive by the old house where your best memories were made. When you drive by a new hospital or research facility that you helped build – a place where the community gathers to heal and care for each other – it fills your heart.”
Parsley wants to encourage more people to explore careers in the construction industry. She, like other leaders in her industry, knows that with a rapidly aging workforce, with the skills the industry needs is going to become much more difficult over the next ten years.
Wilhelm is already working to fill this need with proactive recruiting and partnering with high schools, colleges, and other organizations to help students learn about and become more engaged in the construction industry in conjunction with their academic pursuits.
Phil Kenney, Wilhelm’s President said that it’s not enough to just get new people into the industry – it’s also important to keep them. “We need to think about retention and what we can do to help them succeed,” Kenney said. He emphasized the need for executive-level professionals in the industry to work with people in the early stages of their careers to provide mentoring, “showing them the ropes.”
People entering the construction industry can expect longevity in their career. According to Parsley, “There’s never going to be an end to people needing spaces to do what they do. While construction will evolve the way work is done, there will always be work to do.”
Indianapolis is now home to SAM – one of the newest automation technology drivers for the construction industry. F.A. Wilhelm is the first construction manager in the world to own SAM, otherwise known as a semi-automated mason. Currently hard at work on the Pacers Training Facility project in Downtown Indy, SAM averages more than 2,000 bricks laid per day – greatly increasing efficiency on each project.
Construction Robotics (CR) in New York is the founder and creator of SAM100 and introduced the robot to its first jobsite in 2014. After visiting CR’s New York headquarters, Wilhelm Masonry Operations Manager, Mike Berrisford instantly envisioned its potential. A short time later, SAM is hard at work at Wilhelm.
“SAM is a good addition to the Wilhelm team,” said Berrisford. “We have the right work in the pipeline to maximize its productivity.”
The average mason lays 350-400 modular bricks in a work day; SAM is averaging more than 2,000 bricks per day making the jobsite two and a half times more efficient than using manual labor alone. SAM’s main brick conveyor holds around 22 modular bricks and can place up to a 12-pound utility brick. Two smaller conveyors simultaneously hold cut brick and/or smaller end pieces to be placed intermittently.
According to Berrisford, Wilhelm’s team broke the record for the amount of bricks the robot could lay. The original record held was 2,770 bricks placed in an 11-hour work day. Friday, November 18th, SAM laid 3,000 bricks in a nine and one-half hour work day on the job for Wilhelm.
Two SAM Certified Masons, Doug Padrick and Nick Smith, operate the automated mason, initially with the assistance of a CR field technician and engineer. “My 23 years of experience as a bricklayer helped me ask the right questions to the [Construction Robotics] technician while he was here,” Smith said. “We bounced ideas off of each other to help the process run smoother.”
Padrick and Smith traveled to CR’s headquarters for three days to train with SAM. During instruction, they learned how to use the mapping software telling SAM where to lay each individual brick on the wall. Part of Padrick’s and Smith’s responsibilities are drawing the map and importing it into their build tool used by the tablet PC running the machine. Wireless tablet technology allows Padrick and Smith to troubleshoot on the spot and keep a real-time view of each brick laid. Working with CR’s field technician and engineer on site gaining additional hands-on experience eventually allows CR employees to completely turn over the process to the masons.
“The hands-on training one-on-one with SAM really helped me understand and learn how to use it,” said Padrick. “There’s a new challenge every day.”
SAM is a self-contained system with air and electricity on board to run the machine. Vaporized propane fuels the machine’s generator which produces electricity to run the robot. An air conditioner housed in the cabinet of SAM cools the motherboard while in operation. A laser, in conjunction with the mapping software, designate the placement for each brick adjusting for field measurements taken by the team. Each numbered brick in the software Padrick and Smith use accounts for any windows and any other design considerations on the wall. Digital designs are realized with robotic placement of bricks.
“The laser is like using a mason line, it’s the guide for SAM laying the brick,” said Smith. “We are still learning the ins and outs of it, and there is constant communication between our team and Construction Robotics to keep SAM running efficiently. Their IT is great.”
With the help of our in-house steel fabrication shop and Poynter’s (a Wilhelm affiliated company) sheet metal fabrication shop, Wilhelm was able to fabricate the track system needed and begin the project one month ahead of the original schedule. CR originally designed SAM and the track it operates on, for use with a Hydo-Mobile scaffolding system. Construction Robotics completely redesigned the track to fit our Pro-Series scaffold. Poynter fabricated the track for the robot to move along as an extension to the scaffolding, and Wilhelm’s Steel Division fabricated the structural support of the track.
With the help of the robot, our in-house fabrication capabilities and Poynter (a Wilhelm affiliated company), our team began the Pacer’s project one month ahead of the original schedule. Poynter fabricated the track for the robot to move along as an extension to the scaffolding, and Wilhelm’s Steel Division fabricated the structural support for the track. CR originally designed SAM and the track it operates on for use with a Hydro-Mobile scaffolding system. They completely redesigned the track to fit Wilhelm’s Pro-Series scaffold. Creating a track to work with our Pro-Series scaffolding system allowed Wilhelm to gauge SAM’s operation as we would use it.
Real-time productivity tracking helps to keep SAM on schedule. Software from Construction Robotics comes with SAM that allows anyone with access the ability to track the robot’s progress throughout the day. This includes any stops the robot makes prompting the user to log a reason for its delay each time it stops. It also tracks usage over time to deliver productivity reports.
“So far, Wilhelm holds the record for SAM production,” said Construction Robotics co-founder and President, Scott Peters. “It was great to see them get the record after just a few weeks of running SAM; it showed their ability to learn and implement the machine successfully.”
“We’re tracking SAM’s productivity using separate cost codes on the jobsite,” Berrisford said. “Using the CR software, I can check the live feed at any time, print reports and find out what bricks were laid by date and time.”
Using SAM on site not only enhances productivity, it also reduces health and safety risks to the labor force. According to Peters, masonry injury rates are the highest of any trade. Using SAM drives down the potential for injury to the workers.
Sam is operated by Masons, and the masons still do all the ties, insulation and flashings etc, as well as tooling all the mortor joints for the Brick Sam lays. This work however is less physically taxing, therefore reducing the potential of injury.
As experts in automation, CR continues to evolve SAM’s capabilities with new software enhancements. Features are continually being added. CR is also working on the capability to lay brick standing up (soldier course). Continual monitoring of SAM’s productivity gives Peters insight into what to implement next.
“The data for SAM is constantly uploaded to the website allowing CR to keep an eye on the machine’s production and operation,” said Peters. “We continue to analyze the data to understand what features are necessary in future software updates to help customers improve and be more successful with SAM.”
The value SAM brings to the jobsite is measured, improved and achieved. Peters said this piece of equipment forces a different way of thinking; labor force is flexible where with SAM, pre-planning is essential. Integrating SAM’s capabilities with architects and designers will continue to make brick design easier.
“They have the potential for adding huge value to their customer now that [Wilhelm] has a robot in their arsenal,” Peters said. “We give a lot of praise to Wilhelm. Mike and his team have done an excellent job of implementing SAM on this project and getting successful results. They have a great understanding of what this technology can help them achieve, which is very exciting to see.”
The Pacers Training Facility is the seventeenth project to benefit from SAM technology. There are currently five SAM robots in operation with a sixth just built, and more on their way. As this technology continues to evolve, Wilhelm expects to continue meeting the demands of tighter schedules and more challenging work environments.
Happy New Year! With 2016 behind us, I wanted to take this opportunity to extend a sincere “Congratulations” and “Thank you” to all involved in making this past year a record setting time of growth, innovation, and learning. This year was a year of firsts. Wilhelm was selected for its first international contract, won the largest contract to date in company history, employs a record 1,700 employees, and became the first Construction Manager in the world to own a Semi-Automated Mason (SAM). All of these milestones mark an unwavering dedication to clients, employees, safety, and innovation.
In 2016 Wilhelm wrapped up numerous iconic Indianapolis projects including: Cummins New Indy Office Headquarters, the Indianapolis Firefighters Credit Union and Union Hall on Massachusetts Ave., and The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis Space Object Theater. These along with our other significant projects promote community and create spaces for learning, healing, teaching, playing and discovering.
Wilhelm strives to be industry leaders in innovative techniques and practices. This year, Wilhelm became the first Construction Manager in the world to own a Semi-Automated Mason (SAM). SAM can lay over 2,000 bricks in a day in comparison to the average 400 laid per mason. Continuing to adopt innovative technological practices like SAM will bring a heightened advantage to Wilhelm’s clients in regard to productivity. Additionally, Wilhelm implemented company-wide technological updates to increase efficiency of day-to-day operations. In the coming year, we will continue to pursue opportunities to invest in innovative practices to best serve clients and remain an industry leader.
Each of our 1,700 employees are the cornerstone of Wilhelm. Attracting and retaining the best workforce in the industry allows Wilhelm to continue to pave the way for industry innovation and safety. Each employee’s passion for their work is displayed in the quality of their craftsmanship. Without everyone’s hard work and commitment to our mission we would not be where we are today.
Safety continues to remain priority one and a critical pillar of Wilhelm’s functionality. Active involvement from all levels is needed. Through our company’s safety program, written communications, training, meetings and helping with inspections we ensure the company is backing up ALL safety policies and procedures. In 2016, we focused heavily on daily safety huddles. This provided ample opportunity to share and distribute information ensuring all employees on the jobsite were of the same mindset.
We will continue our successful push to reduce safety incidents, increase efficiency, and reduce rework into 2017. Strides were made in 2016 on each of these endeavors and we will progress even further this year.
As we look forward to 2017, it will again be an opportunity to be at our best. To provide industry leading client experience. To excel in safety, employee experience, and safety practices to lead by example and to continue our push to strengthen our community. .
With exciting projects kicking off like IU Health Bloomington, two new Pharmaceutical Warehouses, the new Sun King Distillery & Tap Room in Carmel and many more, we look forward to exceeding the client experience, challenging conventional processes, fostering employee growth and continuing to maintain safe jobsites.
Thank you for your efforts in 2016. I look forward to the many more exciting endeavors that 2017 will bring.posted in
In 2015, Citizens Energy Group launched its Partnership for Excellence in Research and Learning (PERL) initiative – an effort to encourage students that graduate from universities in Indiana to stay and grow their career in Indiana.
Sarah Holsapple, Citizens spokesperson, said that PERL is designed to retain talent. “After graduating from college, Citizens wants students to seek jobs in Indiana rather than going out of state or even out of the country,” said Holsapple. “Like many companies, Citizens will likely experience a high number of retirements over the next decade. So, as a crucial part of our future planning, we are continuously looking for talented individuals who could fill positions on our team.”
The PERL initiative was born as a way to introduce students to the type of employment opportunities available to them at Citizens now and when they graduate. To do this, Citizens is partnering with universities and a few of its industry partners, including F.A. Wilhelm Construction, to foster greater student engagement through collaboration on real-world design or construction projects to allow them exposure to project lifecycles.
University partners include schools such as Purdue, Indiana University, Ball State and Trine Universities. Citizens works with “university ambassadors.” Ambassadors are Citizens staff members who work individually with the faculty at a given school – often their alma maters – to identify areas of student focus that might mesh well with a current or planned construction or engineering project.
Once a project is identified, Citizens’ university ambassador will work with the faculty and staff to develop ways to get the students actively engaged, either through projects or through onsite tours.
Holsapple said Wilhelm is one of a few vendors that Citizens has reached out to for help in reaching students and providing them with real-world project experience. “We want to show students that when they graduate, there are a lot of places where they could work, not just Citizens,” she said. Citizens is hoping to build the program into a statewide initiative.
“Wilhelm is happy to assist,” said Wilhelm president Phil Kenney. PERL is a good fit with his company’s own workforce development initiatives. “We need to continually draw young people into the construction industry both on the management side and in the field. PERL engages students in administration and management and helps us to bring people into the industry from that side.”
Chris Stolte, Wilhelm’s Director of Human Resources, agreed, saying that PERL fits well with some of the ongoing outreach efforts the company already has in place with colleges and universities throughout the state. He said several Wilhelm employees serve as active members of advisory boards at universities and that the company’s participation in PERL provides additional opportunities to connect with students.
Stolte said PERL also supports Wilhelm’s recruiting efforts by providing students real-world opportunities that expand on those they receive through participation in the company’s internship program. “At Wilhelm, we give our interns real world experience, placing them in the actual roles they’ll be filling after college,” he said.
Kenney said Wilhelm is exploring the different ways the company might be able to assist Citizens’ PERL initiative in the future including possibly providing tours, teaching classes, and offering mentoring.
The PERL program is still evolving, and is open to different types of opportunities. One example is a recent collaboration between Citizens and Purdue University that benefitted both the students and Citizens. Holsapple said the senior class of engineering students toured the new Citizens Reservoir project at Geist and then researched ways to efficiently pump water from the future reservoir to the Citizens water treatment facilities. “Some of their research will be considered in the design for the facility,” she said, which has not only offered Citizens a fresh perspective on a difficult engineering problem, but also helped students “open their eyes to the opportunities for good work right here in Indiana.”
Holsapple said she hopes that as PERL becomes better known, developing curriculum to include PERL opportunities will become “second nature” to the professors at participating universities.
With opportunities for professional practice like the one that Citizens Reservoir provided for Purdue students, chances are pretty good the program will catch on.
Wilhelm’s mark on Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral Renovation still echoes through 30 years of holiday celebrations
This holiday season, as they have for the past 30, parishioners and visitors to the Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral in downtown Indianapolis can experience the wonder of the season gazing upon an intricate and magnificent display of an almost life-sized nativity in the sanctuary of the church.
It wasn’t always so easy to see, though. For decades, the crèche was displayed behind a large wooden rail along the altar in the church, obstructing its view. In 1986, that bar was removed as part of a significant renovation designed to bring parishioners closer to the altar, the focal point of their services and religious celebrations.
Pastoral Associate, Deacon Steve Hodges said the renovations were needed to support liturgical changes made by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s to foster greater connection between parishioners and their priests during Mass. He said, “Part of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council was to get the congregation to be more active and engaged in the celebration during the hour-long service. Hodges said the most noticeable change resulting from the renovation was that it brought the people physically closer to the priest during the service. “This makes you feel more connected and in touch with what is going on,” he said.
F.A. Wilhelm Construction managed the renovation, which Hodges described as extensive. The sanctuary, which is the main altar area of the building, was extended outward in the shape of a peninsula to bring it and the congregation closer together. Physical separations including the altar rail were also removed. Hodges said that prior to the renovation, the lighting was marginal and that even with all the lights on, the sanctuary was still fairly dark. He said the new lighting installed during the renovation improved the space dramatically making it more welcoming. The colors were also changed to make the space brighter with many of the religious paintings – canvases with deep, rich color — replaced with white statuary.
Hodges said there is a lot more room in the sanctuary than there used to be, noting that rows upon rows of dark wooden pews were replaced by chairs to offer more flexibility in the arrangement of seating for parishioners. The main cathedral can hold about 1,000 people as a result of the renovation, and the sanctuary can seat about 100 people during major celebrations without taking space away from the congregation. “We do this for ordinations,” he said, adding, “It’s really pretty impressive for the congregation, too, to see all the priests and the bishops up there at one time.” Hodges said in addition to several religious celebrations each year, the space is used for the ordinations of priests and deacons throughout the Diocese. The cathedral is also host to an average of 30 Confirmations each year – welcoming of hundreds of children from suburban parishes into full discipleship with Christ.
The renovation was challenging in a number of ways, especially in terms of the cathedral’s size and age. However, at that time, Wilhelm already had more than a decade of experience with historic renovation projects and cultural and religious facilities. Kenney said. “We understand the complexities of church projects. This is important because they’re all pretty unique. Not only was this building large and intricate in size, it also is the home church of the entire Archdiocese of Indianapolis. It is a sacred place to many, and people were eagerly awaiting the outcome of the renovations.”
Working on such an important building was a natural fit for Wilhelm. Kenney’s grandfather and company founder, F.A. Wilhelm, was a strong supporter of the Catholic Church in Indianapolis through both his financial gifts and the gift of his time. His commitment was also evident in the work of his company, past and present. To date, Wilhelm Construction has worked on more than 375 small and large construction projects at Catholic-related facilities throughout the Midwest since its founding in 1923.
When I drive around town,” Kenney said, “I can see my grandfather’s imprint on the community in so many buildings in a certain kind of stone or a type of feature he was known for. It’s very gratifying to see the impact the company and our family has had on these buildings that are a part of the faith of so many.”The cathedral is an important place for Catholics throughout Indiana and is known for its holy day celebrations and all the special events that take place there. Pastor, Father Pat Beidelman, and his congregation serve the local community through their many ministries.
Hodges said, “One of our major ministries here is that we have a soup kitchen in the building that used to be the grade school.” He said the ministry started in 1928 by handing out peanut butter sandwiches. “We’ve been feeding the needy ever since.”
The church provides 140-150 weekday meals and provides food through its pantry for more than 1,000 families every month. “They come from all over the neighborhood — people are coming from every direction because they depend on us,” said Hodges.
In reflecting on the past 30 years, it’s clear that the 1986 renovation by Wilhelm helped to bring the church’s parishioners closer to its faith while other, external changes continue bringing them closer to the local community.This Christmas season, as it has for so many, Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral will be there, continuing its longstanding tradition of nourishing both the body and soul of its parishioners and the surrounding community.
Wilhelm affiliates provide comprehensive services to complete significant upgrades to Citizens Energy’s Belmont Treatment Facility
In the construction industry, working with affiliated companies can offer significant advantages, particularly when it comes to highly complex projects involving several subcontractors. The fluid communication and shared interests between affiliated companies often translate to cost-effectiveness and fewer on-site issues, leading to more successful projects.
Recently the affiliated companies – F.A. Wilhelm, Freitag-Weinhardt, Poynter, and Industrial Electric (IEI) – completed construction on two highly complex projects that illustrate the advantages of working with companies sharing a common bond. Both projects led by General Contractor Freitag-Weinhardt involved improving the operational efficiency at the Belmont Sewage Treatment Plant in Indianapolis, Indiana, owned by Citizen’s Energy Group (CEG).
The first was the Multi-Hearth Incinerator Rehabilitation Project (MHI), which began in May 2014 and wrapped up October 2015. The MIH project involved rehabilitating the plant’s four incinerators and adding new equipment to make the sewage treatment process cleaner and more efficient. As the MHI project finished, the affiliates began work on the second project to upgrade the facility’s solid waste extraction unit.
In order to minimize remaining solid waste being incinerated after treatment, CEG again turned to the Wilhelm affiliated companies to replace the facility’s old belt filter presses with large centrifuges to more effectively separate the liquid from the solids in the treatment process. CEG also needed a new “cake bin” – a large hopper to hold the solid waste for incineration.
Because both projects revolved around the installation of new equipment and process piping, CEG hired Freitag-Weinhardt as general contractor and to manage the mechanical construction and Industrial Electric to manage the $9 million electrical contracts. Mike Perry, project manager for Industrial Electric said the affiliates approached the work as a collaborative effort from day one. “Each company was responsible for its own contract but we worked hand-in-hand to make the project a success,” he said.
In addition to providing design build services, Freitag-Weinhardt installed all the piping needed for both projects, in addition to installing the centrifuges, conveyors, and all equipment and startup assistance. For the MHI project, the company replaced all the gas piping in the building and installed new burners at each level of the incinerator. Poynter installed ductwork needed to connect all the components of the new exhaust system. And, Wilhelm provided all the structural steel necessary to support the new equipment to be installed and constructed new catwalks in the facility. Industrial Electric was responsible for providing the electrical infrastructure to power, automate, control and integrate all of the systems.
For the facility’s solid waste extraction unit upgrades, Wilhelm provided the demolition of the old belt filter press foundations, poured a new base mat for the cake bin, and installed structural steel to support it. Wilhelm crews also installed the support beams and foundation for the new centrifuges. Poynter fabricated and installed the chutes that drop the solid waste into the cake bin as well as the steps and handrails to allow plant operators to move safely around the new equipment.
Industrial Electric was responsible for the power, electrical systems, and the integration of equipment on site. IEI also remodeled the Incineration/Dewatering Building Control Room to allow for new equipment, PLCs and a localized control console for the Operations team.
The electrical prime contract work included installation of a new motor control centers, integration of PLCs and control cabinets, a new CCTV network, and integration of the new equipment onto the new Solids Process Servers. Industrial Electric rehabilitated the existing motor control buckets, variable frequency drives, control stations for the equipment, and added an emergency power panel to handle all critical loads of the process. All of this was made possible by tying in the existing and new process to new network switches connected to the plant fiber optic backbone.
Each of the partners knew the work would be challenging. Not only did the plant have to remain operational throughout construction, but with an aggressive schedule and all the complexities involved in the project, its success depended on expert onsite coordination and good communication between everyone involved. Freitag-Weinhardt Project Manager, Jack McMullen, said working with affiliates made it easier to adopt a team approach. “We met daily as a team to incorporate everyone’s idea and thoughts,” he said, which helped to keep the project on schedule.
Perry said the projects were challenging, because “A lot of drawings were changed to improve the design which impacted each company. We truly adopted the motto – Plan of the Day.” But, he said, working with affiliated companies made it easier to navigate the design changes the project required, “We helped the owner improve the design to get through the hurdles and worked together to change each of our scopes of work where it made more sense.” Perry said affiliate companies can be more adaptable on the fly, which benefits both the client and the companies working on the construction. “IEI knows that what saves the owner money at the end of the day will make for a more successful project” said Perry.
Brian Neal, operations manager for Poynter, noted that working with affiliated companies also helps streamline communication. He said by hiring affiliate companies, the client gets a turn-key project with one point of contact instead of several. For example, “If the client needs to get a price on something that would normally involve several different contractors, one person can work with one contractor instead,” said Neal.
Perry said one of the biggest advantages for the client in using affiliated companies is that they already have a good working relationship. He explained, “When you work with a new subcontractor on a project, there’s often a feeling-out process that goes into figuring out what their motivations are and how it is to work with them. That doesn’t exist when you’re working with affiliates.”
Perry said affiliated companies also enjoy a wealth of expertise close at hand – having so many sister companies with such a wide range of expertise saves time and minimizes conflict when unexpected issues arise on a project. Perry said that when working with non-affiliated companies, “they may not look too kindly on you bringing in someone from a rival company to help solve a problem. With affiliates, you’re freer to reach out and get the help you need.”
Neal said the logistical benefits of working with affiliates can translate into cost savings for the client. He said on a typical project, each company would have its own management and infrastructure on site to support the project. On the Belmont Treatment Plant projects, he said, “You also don’t have to have as much management involved on site,” he said, noting that on the MHI and the Cake Bin projects, Freitag provided the trailers and handled the scheduling and most of the administrative work for all the project partners. “Working with affiliates makes it easier, more efficient and cost effective,” he said.
Clearly, partnering with the Wilhelm affiliated companies worked for CEG, resulting in much-needed improvements to the Belmont Sewage Treatment Plant. Mark Wild, CEG Project Manager, said Freitag-Weingardt and IEI’s affiliate relationships are one of the reasons they were selected for these projects. Wild said, “We chose Freitag-Weinhardt because of their piping expertise and their ability to bring experts in concrete, steel, and plate fabrications, they can pretty much do it all.”
Together, F.A. Wilhelm and its affiliates provide comprehensive expertise in nearly all aspects of the construction industry:
- F.A. Wilhelm, One of the largest employers of construction labor in the Midwest completing projects of all sizes and complexity. The family of companies in Wilhelm Construction Inc. employ experts in every major discipline of construction.
- Poynter , Full-service custom metal and sheet metal crafting providing the deep experience, solid expertise, and dependable performance you rely on for jobs well done.
- Industrial Electric , Full service electrical contractor focusing on industrial, advanced technology and commercial projects.
- Freitag-Weinhardt, Inc. , Mechanical contractors proving job after job quality is integral to performance. From fabrication to HVAC to serving as an industrial piping contractor or plumbing contractor providing the full scope of mechanical services.
- RSQ Fire Protection , Complete automatic sprinkler contractor providing you peace of mind when it comes to fire protection through the best trained mechanics in the industry.
- Midwest Associates , Providing commissioning and qualification answers for our clients’ facilities, systems, and processes. Heavily regulated life sciences industries navigating through complex regulatory environments rely on us for the knowledge and experience to deliver results. Staffed with TABB and NEBB-certified technicians who test and balance the air and water circulation within HVAC systems.
Bloomington’s Showers Building still a vibrant hub of activity 20 years after the “Miracle on Morton Street”
F.A. Wilhelm Construction has come a long way since Francis A. Wilhelm built his first concrete porch for a neighbor in 1923. Then and now, F.A. Wilhelm Construction builds structures – and client relationships – that last.
In this series, we’ll take a retrospective look at some of our favorite projects – projects that illustrate the values of hard work, innovation, and flexibility upon which the company was founded. These projects were built on client relationships that have stood the test of time and which have helped to make Wilhelm Construction the success it is today.
Enjoy this blast from the past with Project Rewind.
Today, Bloomington residents and the thousands of Indiana University students that flood into the city each year enjoy a wealth of options for dining, shopping and entertainment in its vibrant downtown. But ask longtime residents here what Bloomington was like 20 years ago, and they’ll tell you a very different story – one of urban blight that was beginning to infect the downtown area.
One of the most visible signs of the downward spiral was the old Showers Brothers Furniture factory located on Morton St between 7th and 10th street on the near northeast side of the courthouse square. What was once the home of Bloomington’s largest employer and celebrated benefactor of the city’s growth and development throughout the early 20th century had become just another old, abandoned factory when the company shut its doors in 1955. Indiana University purchased the building in 1959, and it sat largely unused for the next 30 years until the city and its business leaders began looking for ways to revitalize the downtown area. Bill Cook, a local developer – was among them.
Bill Cook was one of the founding members of CFC, Inc. – a property management and development company in Bloomington. Jim Murphy, President of CFC, said that Cook had become very interested in historic preservation in the mid-70s. After building a highly successful medical equipment manufacturing company in Bloomington, Cook wanted to use his success to help the community. He saw a lot of potential in the downtown area and believed historic preservation offered a path to a new kind of economic vitality.
Murphy explained that at that time, many of the businesses in downtown Bloomington were moving out to the new shopping mall on the east side of town leaving behind vacant buildings and few reasons for people to visit the area. “There were numerous empty buildings, some of them were historic and some were not, but they were architecturally interesting,” Murphy said.
The Showers Building was both. The factory was constructed with heavy timber beams to support the floors and roof and large, double-leaf doors to accommodate the movement of goods and equipment. One of the most striking features of the building was the sawtooth roofline. The Showers Building was one of the first in the world to incorporate this architectural feature, which combined with large six-over-six pane wood frame windows on all sides of the building, provided an abundance of natural light and ventilation for the factory before electricity was available.
Recognizing the historical significance of the Showers Building and seeing its potential for the revitalization of Bloomington’s downtown area, Steve Ferguson, then-president of CFC and involved in Cook Ventures, began working with the university, the city and Bloomington Advancement Corporation – a nonprofit organization dedicated to economic development – to explore options for its restoration.
Paving the way toward the Showers Building restoration was as complex as the renovation itself. Murphy, who was tasked with handling negotiations, making decisions, and participating in the management of the contracts for the project, said, “It was a very complicated project because you had involvement from four entities.” He said BAC first had to purchase the building from Indiana University and then arrange to lease part of it back to the school for a research park. Another part of the building would be leased to the Indiana University for its new offices. The group came together to get the area designated by the state as an Economic Development Target Area to provide key tax incentives to help the project move forward. “It took several years to pull it all together,” Murphy said.
Once the restoration work began, Murphy said, “The biggest challenge was working with so many partners to get the restoration right.” For example, he explained that it was important to retain as many of the original windows as possible to meet historic preservation requirements. Those they couldn’t restore had to be replaced, and they all had to match the originals. “We ended up paying a premium for the new windows we needed to make sure they looked the same on all four sides of the building.”
BAC hired F.A. Wilhelm Construction to manage the project. Having begun building its own expertise in historic preservation in the early 1970s, Wilhelm, with more than two decades of experience and a wealth of expertise, was well prepared to breathe new life into Bloomington’s oldest remaining industrial building.
The Showers Building renovation was Murphy’s first experience working with Wilhelm. “They had the resources and the necessary knowledge and skill sets to do the job.” Reflecting back on his work with James “Tippy” Wilhelm, son of company founder F.A. Wilhelm, Murphy said the project was probably a “big challenge” for Wilhelm. “They worked not only with private entities, but also government – three owners of one building – to make sure we all received what we each wanted.”
The $28 million Showers Building renovation soon became the centerpiece of Bloomington’s revitalization efforts fostering a new optimism for the city’s future and leading one BAC member to dub the project the “Miracle on Morton Street”. That name has endured along with the spirit of growth and change in Bloomington – the preservation of its past and the building of its future.
Today, the Showers Building is a hub of activity – home to Bloomington’s city-county offices and host to the community’s farmers’ market, which draws more than 8,000 people to the downtown area any given weekend.
Murphy said historical preservation retains the character of a community. “Not that we want to stay frozen in time forever. But there is an importance in maintaining the history and integrity of the community.” He said CFC continues to look for opportunities to restore new buildings. Murphy said his company has also branched out into new construction, noting the construction of the award-winning Kirkwood Apartments that Wilhelm completed for CFC in 2004.
Bloomington continues to grow and change. Murphy said, “Whenever I reflect back at this project working with Wilhelm and working with Tippy, I have the utmost respect for Wilhelm Construction. They are a company of quality with integrity and exceptional workmanship and craftsmanship. It will be interesting to see what the next 20 years in the Showers Building brings.”posted in
There’s no place like home. Fortunately, for students making their home at Wabash College this fall, Martindale Hall offers an all-new concept in student housing – a place that feels like home and at the same time, supports their educational needs with an environment that promotes higher learning, engagement and collaboration with their peers.
Martindale Hall – one of the largest buildings on campus — sits near the center of campus between the campus mall, the Fine Arts Center, which also houses the performance arts, and the stadium. Jay Williams Jr., Wabash College Board member, said the building is situated on the edge of a little valley with four stories visible from the front and five from the back, noting that a building like Martindale Hall couldn’t be built today because of the site restrictions. He said, “It was a perfectly sited building for its time, and we wanted to save it.”
Williams said two of the challenges with this project were HVAC and plumbing. He said while the first two floors had plenty of room for new systems, the upper floors had eight-foot ceilings which didn’t leave much room for the needed mechanical and electrical infrastructure.
Williams said that when the preliminary costs came back much higher than expected, Adriann Rhoades, Wilhelm’s preconstruction manager, brought everyone, including the architects, engineers, College staff, and the key vendors back to the table. He said Rhoades facilitated an all-day discussion in which the group went over every aspect of the building to figure out how to make the project more affordable for Wabash College. “She helped wrestle a lot of the costs out of the project,” Williams said.
F.A. Wilhelm Construction began renovations on the 50-year old building in December 2015 and finished in August, 2016, just in time to welcome new and returning students.
Wilhelm Project Manager Becky Henderson said the project went very well. “Working with the owner and the architect was a really positive experience for everybody,” she said. Williams said he was very impressed with Wilhelm’s work on Martindale Hall and that the project went much smoother than expected in spite of a last minute problem with asbestos abatement. “The difference in attention to detail, speed and focus on this project was dramatic,” he said.
Martindale Hall experienced an incredible transformation from an old, dated building to a new, state-of-the-art residence hall where students study and relax. Henderson is proud of the work and noted “The building has clean lines and is certainly very welcoming”.
To create a more open common area on the first floor, Wilhelm crews removed part of the concrete slab between the first and second floors to create a two-story atrium. The first level now serves as an open living room space with a large, limestone-framed fireplace. Henderson said the façade on the north side of the building opens up to an arboretum where students can “look out onto that space” from several study areas in the building.
Students enjoy a lot of new amenities in their living quarters, too. Instead of the double-rooms typically found in dormitories, many of the 80 students who moved into the all-new Martindale Hall now live in suites that include kitchenettes complete with a sink, refrigerator and microwave.
Wabash College added new student housing last year on the west side of the campus, and the Martindale Hall Revitalization completes the independent housing stock. Williams said until this year, many students were living off campus or in older houses on and off campus. With the new residences, the College is bringing these students closer into campus in first quality housing.
“Martindale Hall now offers students additional options with a building designed for more collaboration and social interaction,” said Henderson. “It’s really changed the student outlook on where they want to live.”
Williams said one of the president’s goals for the Martindale Hall renovation and the construction of the other residences on campus was to bring more students closer to the center of campus. “The energy level of Wabash is dramatically higher, now,” he said. “The kids are more engaged, and they’re enjoying each other.”
“The energy level of Wabash is dramatically higher, now,” he said. “The kids are there, and they’re enjoying each other.”posted in
F.A. Wilhelm Construction is working to bring the opportunities of the construction industry to students in the Indianapolis area. Employees dedicate time and resources to help develop the next generation through efforts with Junior Achievement’s Job Spark, College Mentors for Kids, and Girls Inc.
Building experiences for future talent is a long-standing company tradition. Throughout Wilhelm’s history of commitment to the community, a great emphasis has been placed on providing academic growth opportunities through a variety of organizations. Through their service to these organizations, employees donate time and share their experiences to help mentor and inspire future talent.
Junior Achievement hosts Job Spark, a two day hands-on career expo for 8th graders in Marion County. This event provides students with information about career opportunities and the necessary skills and training to be successful in these fields. Wilhelm, in conjunction with companies from a variety of industries, created a knowledge-sharing station focused on sharing innovation and opportunities in the construction industry.
College Mentors for Kids pairs college students with “high risk” students to help them transition throughout the schooling process. Wilhelm employees conduct a construction unit session which teaches schoolchildren construction skills as they simultaneously participate in a hands-on small building project. This one-on-one mentorship provides an opportunity to “experience” construction and discuss possibilities with actual builders.
Girls Inc., a local non-profit in Indianapolis, helps inspires girls to reach their full potential through mentorship and education. Their mission as outlined in their slogan, “strong, smart, and beautiful” conveys the organizations commitment to helping propel young girls forward in their journey towards a successful career. Wilhelm employees implement multi-week discussion sessions at area schools exploring a variety of topics. The program provides girls the tools they need to achieve their goals and resist peer pressure.
Wilhelm’s involvement with these and other local organizations in the community helps support early learners to have a positive outlook on career opportunities, and in turn, helps foster the growth of the next generation.posted in