INTERVIEWEES: Ben Carter (Superintendent); Brandon Hennagan (Senior Project Manager)
PROJECT NAME: McMillan James Equipment Company Office and Warehouse
PROJECT START DATE: January 2020
PROJECT COMPLETION: November 2020
ARCHITECT: Merriman Anderson Architects
OWNER: McMillan James Equipment Company
PROJECT DELIVERY METHOD: GMP
MAJOR TRADE PARTNERS: Sundance Electrical, Air 817 Heating & AC, Redden Concrete, J&E Companies, GMS Steel, Exposed Floor Design Group, Armetco Systems, Royal Painting, Sterling Roofing Systems,
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: (Courtesy of Merriman Anderson Architects) The project, located in Grapevine, Texas, includes a new 32,000 SF office and warehouse for an HVAC equipment representative company. The building will allow the client to combine their currently separated office and warehouse components. The two-story tilt wall building includes office space for over 65 employees, covered roof terrace, covered parking, and a 9,000 SF warehouse. The building design also features multiple recreational opportunities for employees including a bar, game room, lounge, and outdoor patio. The office and warehouse will be connected by a showroom, which will demonstrate state of the art HVAC equipment.
“OUR USE OF PROCORE’S PROJECT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE… [ALLOWED US TO] MAINTAIN MOMENTUM WHILE SOCIAL DISTANCING.” – BEN CARTER
Q: THIS EDITION OF IN FOCUS IS FOCUSED ON TECHNOLOGY. WHAT PROACTIVE MEASURES DID THE TEAM EMPLOY TO MAINTAIN A LEVEL OF TECHNOLOGICAL INNOVATION DURING THE LIFE OF THE PROJECT?
A: (BH) The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic coincided with the initial stages of this project. Our team introduced new communication platforms that effectively enabled the team to maintain constant collaboration. Our response with the right technology helped us manage and protect our employees, clients, and trade partners.
(BC) The safety of everyone on the jobsite is always our top priority. We had to figure out an effective way to monitor temperature and restrict access to the site. Initially, we had temporary nurses stationed at the entrance of the jobsite, but this put more people at risk, and it also wasn’t cost-effective. We began using automated electronic temperature scanners that the tradesmen could walk up to and get scanned without coming into contact with any other personnel. The scanners are now placed at the entrance of all our jobsites.
Another proactive measure was our use of Procore’s project management software. At the start of our project, Talley Riggins had just purchased Procore, which allows all team members to access the right tools and information anywhere at any time without having to be in direct contact, so we could maintain momentum while social distancing. Drawings, submittals, RFIs, meeting minutes, and photos were all connected under one platform, which really helped us stay uniform across the project.
Q: WERE THERE ANY SPECIFIC TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS REQUESTED BY THE OWNER?
A: (BH) MJEC is a leading provider of high-tech control systems for multiple industries. This building is essentially their showroom, and they intend to showcase it as a working example of their cutting-edge mechanical equipment whenever they bring clients in. This made for a unique learning opportunity for our team as a whole.
On this project, all systems including HVAC, lighting, window shade control, audio visual, security, and access control are fully integrated into the BACnet system. The building utilizes the Carrier VRF system, one of the most energy-efficient systems on the market. It features maximum zone control in small, customizable environments and uses energy recovery to transfer heat from areas needing cooling to those needing heating. Carrier fan coil units are equipped with high-efficiency filters and bi-polar ionization to reduce risk of virus transmission. The Addison outside air system utilizes energy recovery from the exhaust air to reduce outside air energy up to 75%, while at same time automatically controlling building pressure. The window shades have roof-mounted monitors that track the sun and clouds to automatically minimize solar glare and maximize natural lighting.
Q: HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE ONSITE AT THE PEAK OF THE PROJECT?
A: (BC) At the peak – around July of 2020 – we had 90 workers, the majority from our fast-paced mechanical and electrical trade partners, Sundance Electric & AIR-817.
Q: WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE ON THIS PROJECT?
A: (BH) We had to adapt to using online meeting platforms for our owner and coordination meetings overnight. You forget how important face-to-face communication is until it’s put to the test. Our administrative staff got all of us set up with a practical solution within the first week of COVID restrictions, which let us maintain consistent communication and momentum for the remainder of the project.
Our other challenge was ensuring adherence to the new ever-evolving health protocols because of the COVID-19 virus. We measured the effectiveness and utilization of the new protocols, such as wearing masks and social distancing, by incorporating these steps into our Lean Management process.
(BC) We utilize both the Lean process and the Last Planner System on all our projects, but they were especially important in addressing the effects of the pandemic. Due to material production delays, it was more critical than ever to effectively track procurement and communicate delays due to factory shutdowns. Despite the constant challenges, we were able to utilize our workforce while we waited for materials; we adjusted the entire team’s workflow and filled areas with the workable backlog, so we could continue a steady stream of work and minimize downtime.
Q: WHAT WAS MOST EXCITING ABOUT BUILDING THIS PROJECT?
A: (BC) Despite the overwhelming challenges we all faced in our industry, Talley Riggins was able to not only meet but exceed expectations to bring MJEC’s vision of their headquarters to life.
(BH) The scope of this high-quality project was an important milestone to reach for Talley Riggins, and it gave us a great opportunity to highlight our team and capabilities. We’re proud of what we achieved for our clients’ goals.
Q: WHAT OTHER ASPECTS SET APART THIS PROJECT?
A: (BH) The entire headquarters concept makes it a really cool place to work. Merriman Anderson Architects created a great design that we were excited to bring to life. The industrial feel of the office space and the full-size bar and game room make it a place that anyone would be excited to spend their time. The design atmosphere embodies the culture of today’s worker with a “work hard, play hard” mentality.
“YOU FORGET HOW IMPORTANT FACE-TO-FACE COMMUNICATION IS UNTIL IT’S PUT TO THE TEST.”
– BRANDON HENNAGAN
(BC) For example, stepping into the main entrance, you can’t help but notice the feature wall, which is a neolith stone that stretches from floor to roof line and beautifully transitions from the inside of the building to the outside. It’s a deep gray stone with white markings and was hand selected by one of the owners, Mark James. It was brought in from overseas, surprisingly with few delays, and it really sets the tone of this building.
Q: HOW DID YOU MAINTAIN A SPIRIT OF COLLABORATION THROUGHOUT THE LIFE OF THE PROJECT?
A: (BH) One of our core values at Talley Riggins is “Respect for People.” Part of our Lean process is based on establishing an environment that is rewarding for everyone involved. Each team member that walks away from this project should feel that they have contributed to its success. We recognize our people and the tradesmen at every level as our most valuable assets.
(BC)We have a slogan here at Talley Riggins that sets the tone of our Lean program, which is “One Team, One Goal.” We truly believe every individual has the capability to bring something spectacular to the table that saves time, money, and effort through innovation, ideas, and communication.
We know the Lean process really works and it pays huge dividends!
Q: WHAT DID YOU DO TO KEEP THINGS FUN ON THE JOBSITE?
A: (BC) Due to the restrictions put in place regarding large crowds during COVID-19, we decided against having a topping out party and instead provided breakfast every Friday morning during our daily Lean huddle with all the trade partner foremen and superintendents. We would analyze and measure our results from the week and then layout our next 3 weeks’ strategy based on the outcomes. Treats like donuts and breakfast tacos really helped fuel the group on these days and were always appreciated.
Q: WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SETS TALLEY RIGGINS APART FROM YOUR COMPETITION?
A: (BC) We believe the number one reason employees leave a company is that employers do not have the appropriate level of respect for the individual. A company’s success is reliant on the success and drive of the individual. When you treat every individual with respect, the company as a whole will reap the benefits. This level of respect for all individuals starts at the top of our company.
“WE RECOGNIZE OUR PEOPLE AND THE TRADESMEN AT EVERY LEVEL AS OUR MOST VALUABLE ASSETS.”
– BRANDON HENNAGAN
(BH) It all comes down to culture. Our founding partners, Doug Talley and John Riggins, communicate their expectations of quality and respect through our organization’s core values and their daily example. In turn, we hold each other accountable for excellence in all that we do. We understand there are a million different tools, technologies, and processes that can add value for a client, but these are all driven by people. Talley Riggins empowers our people to bring together the right application of technology to overcome challenges with a personal responsibility for stewardship of a project, which creates value for all stakeholders involved.