Neighboring projects in Muncie, Indiana bring Wilhelm trades closer together
F.A. Wilhelm offers construction services as a trade contractor for Earthwork, concrete, masonry and steel in addition to its construction management services. As a result of this versatility, Wilhelm’s trade services teams work on all sorts of projects. But, it isn’t every day they all get to work together on the same project.
When Garmong Construction Services was contracted to build the Arc Innovations Training Institute and Teaching Hotel and a new city parking garage next door in downtown Muncie, Indiana, Wilhelm was hired to provide construction trade services on both, giving all four of Wilhelm’s trade teams an opportunity to work together.
The Arc Innovations Training Institute and Teaching Hotel is being developed by Arc of Indiana in partnership with several public and private partners, and the City of Muncie is funding the construction of the parking garage. The hotel is the first of its kind in the nation, providing employment and training in the hospitality and food service industries for people with developmental disabilities and training for human resource professionals in hiring people with disabilities. It will also offer people with disabilities an opportunity to own small businesses in the hotel. In addition to benefitting people with disabilities, these projects are an important part of Muncie’s continuing economic development in its downtown area.
Dustin Frye, Division Manager for Garmong Construction Services said that the proximity of the two projects – located just 60 feet away from each other – presented the opportunity for more logistical efficiency. “We felt there was really added value in using Wilhelm’s trade services on both of these projects,” Frye said. “Bringing on a company capable of doing multiple things was beneficial,” he said, noting how Wilhelm was able to share crews between the two jobs.
Wilhelm Project Manager Aaron Tague said that with these projects, Wilhelm’s trade services were able to coordinate in a way that is not typical – and it served Garmong’s needs well. Tague explained that normally, Wilhelm is in the driver’s seat, managing several subcontractors from different companies. Normally, these subcontractors work independently with limited consideration to other trade teams. “In this case,” Tague said, “Wilhelm teams were able to work together internally and optimize opportunities on the project.”
Wilhelm provided four spokes of the wheel that kept these projects rolling smoothly, including site work and structural steel for the hotel, masonry on both projects, and all the concrete for the parking garage.
Frye said both projects are going as planned and will be complete later in 2015. But he added that they haven’t been without their challenges. Frye said the work got off to an interesting start when during the excavation, the Wilhelm team found an old basement left over from a previous structure that had been backfilled and covered up. Not a problem for Wilhelm, he said, but certainly a surprise.
Tague said one of the challenging aspects of the garage was pouring the concrete in the winter. He explained that in cold weather, concrete becomes more costly due to the admixtures, heating, and blanketing necessary to cure it. Tague said, “Imagine having to heat the underside of each floor of a parking garage to keep it warm in below-zero temperatures.” He described “putting the decks to bed each night” by laying large blankets over 100,000 square feet of newly poured and heated concrete to keep it warm, adding that this kind of work requires an enormous amount of labor and cost.
Frye said that in addition to Wilhelm’s ability to provide expertise in several trade areas, the company is also able to bring a lot of manpower to get the job done. “They have a large labor force,” Frye said. “Working through the winter, there aren’t a whole lot of subcontractors that can bring together the people you need for projects of this size.”
Tague enjoyed getting to work more closely with his colleagues in the different trade groups within Wilhelm – a rare treat for the trade services teams that are usually working on different projects at any given time. “Wilhelm is a big company,” he said, “It’s nice that we have the resources to collaborate internally to help our client meet its needs.”