2015 Highlights

With 2015 almost in the books, we asked a few employees to share a highlight from the year. At Alberici, we’re thankful for a successful 2015, and we are looking forward to a great 2016!

Demon Parker, Senior Project Manager

May 15thIMG_6503 of 2015 was a very big day for me. It was commencement for the Brown School of Social Work at Washington University. We spent over two years constructing Hillman Hall, a new LEED Platinum facility for the Brown School. Seeing the building occupied for the first time and being used as intended, both inside and out, gave me a big sense of accomplishment personally and for Alberici.  The utilization of Hillman Hall at Commencement was the culmination of a lot of hard work and dedication of over 1000 people.

 

Kristin Kalous, Senior Project Manager 

IMG_0515My work related highlight from 2015 was getting the receiving a Certificate of Need on Hospital Sister’s Health System’s St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. We received the Certificate of Need in April 2015 after having working on the project since October 2013.  It was exciting to finally be able to start construction after almost 18 months of preparation.

 

Fred Biermann, Preconstruction Director

IMG_4812I had the opportunity to be part of the team that was awarded the US Army Corps of Engineer’s Lock and Dam 25 project.  It was the first successful pursuit I have participated in at Alberici, and it was the first marine project that I have worked on in my career.  I appreciate the many colleagues who were all incredible sources of knowledge (and patience) during the pursuit, and the St. Louis Army Corps of Engineers District is happy to be working with Alberici again.  It has been a great project so far. 

Anniversary Spotlight–Vladimir Maslev

Vladimir Maslev, Senior Project Manager, is celebrating 15 years at Alberici this month. In honor of this milestone, we asked him to share some thoughts about his time at Alberici.

Maslev_VladimirIn your time at Alberici, which project was your favorite and why?

Actually, it is my current project, a brewery expansion in Mexico. The size and complexity of the project along with the interaction of talented US and international professionals who come from different backgrounds brings many challenges but also many rewards. Seeing our team’s commitment to the success of the project and giving the client the opportunity to meet market demand is fantastic.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

Every day brings new challenges. I have had great mentors at Alberici who have taught me not to leave today’s work for tomorrow. I enjoy ensuring we perform to the client’s satisfaction and bring new business to Alberici. In the end, you make lots of friends who enrich your life.

What are you most proud of in your time at Alberici and why?

To see the continuous growth of Alberici along with my personal satisfaction that I have made my contribution. It is rewarding to drive by a building and share with your kid that you were part of team that built it. Also, prioritization of safety has made a great leap nationwide, and Alberici’s safety policy and our commitment to executing the work in the safest means possible to achieve Zero Incidents has made us a leader in safety.

What do you like most about working at Alberici?

I enjoy the culture. Our core values enshrine the idea of “providing opportunities for exceptionally fulfilling work”. I find working at Alberici incredibly fulfilling.

How has the construction industry changed since you started?

The schedules are shorter while the clients are more sophisticated. On the other hand, the widespread computerization has taken some of the everyday technical burden off of our shoulders. For example, the scheduling and project management software that we use now streamline our processes on a job site.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting in the construction industry?

Be humble and respectful, yet be persistent in reaching your goals and chasing your dreams. And always ask for help when you need it.

You’ve worked in a variety of markets, but mainly building/healthcare and industrial process. How are those two markets similar and how are they different? What do you like about working with each market?

The markets and clients are different but the end goal is the same – we have to meet or exceed client expectations. Each market has influenced me in a different way with respect to skills and thinking. For instance, in the building/healthcare market, I learned the steps to close a building and complete the interior finishes. That experience helps me in the current project now and in the industrial process market in general.

You have an engineering degree, but you also have a master of management and an MBA. How have your business degrees been helpful to you?

I would encourage anyone to pursue a graduate degree because graduate education provides the opportunity to see business from a different perspective. For me personally, managerial and financial accounting, operations management, and legal and ethical studies significantly influenced my professional development. My graduate education also provided the foundations I needed to obtain project and quality management professional certifications.

If you were a piece of construction equipment, what would you be and why?

I guess I would be an excavator. It’s a machine that works slowly, but it unavoidably completes its task.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your time so far at Alberici?

Working at Alberici has been a great journey so far for me, and I am looking forward to future fulfilling challenges.

Careers in Construction: Scheduling

To conclude Careers in Construction Month, we’ll learn about a team that is essential in ushering a project from preconstruction through execution in the field – the scheduling department.

What do Schedulers do?

IMG_1393Schedulers are involved in the entire lifecycle of a project. In the proposal phase, they create an initial schedule for the project. Once the job is awarded, they develop, monitor and analyze the schedule from preconstruction through the completion of the project. Schedulers also prepare accurate and flexible project planning documents which highlight critical areas and risks.

Creating and maintaining a schedule is both science and art. The “how” – using the scheduling tool - is the simplest part of schedule creation and maintenance. The “why” - setting up the schedule to maximize usage and flexibility - requires experience to make appropriate determinations and is a more challenging skill to develop. Understanding the “what” – construction means and methods – is a skill that is honed throughout an entire career.

In order to be most effective, schedulers need exceptional interpersonal skills in addition to technical expertise. When project team members are busy gearing up to start a job, schedulers need to build excitement and urgency in order to get the project team to think and talk through the plan before work in the field begins. Schedulers interview key project team members to develop and shape the plan, and they also facilitate discussion and analysis of the plan to integrate the thoughts and concerns of stakeholders into the schedule. Throughout the project, the scheduler works with the project manager to analyze the schedule and make adjustments as needed to maximize success in the field. Knowledge of how to build a project is essential to a scheduler’s success, yet strong communication skills are required to extract maximize efficacy from the schedule.

Building a Career in Scheduling 

Schedulers come to the role with different backgrounds, IMG_1384but most schedulers have a degree in Civil Engineering, Construction Management or a related field. Experience with different construction markets, exposure to construction logistics, techniques, materials and equipment, and an understanding of scheduling software (particularly Primavera P6) are essential to working in this field.

Beyond formal training, there are many other skills that are important for this role. Project managers and superintendents often balance a large workload, so it’s up to the scheduler to find a way to get their input and buy-in on the schedule, even if it’s not at the top of their priority list.

Schedulers also need to have strong analytical abilities and a technical background, allowing them to understand drawings and learn on the fly. It’s also important that schedulers maintain a big-picture view of the project while simultaneously focusing on the thousands of little details that form the schedule. A big-picture view is essential for understanding the relationships between various portions of the project, and the scheduler must relate that big-picture view to the details that make up the itty bitty building blocks of the schedule. They also need to be able to visualize the project in different stages in order to forecast potential risks and opportunities.

IMG_1405While working as a scheduler demands a varied skill set, there are many benefits to choosing this challenging career path. Life as a scheduler is never boring because schedulers get to participate in a variety of different projects in numerous market segments, allowing them to constantly switch gears to address a variety of challenges. Due to the variety of projects schedulers work on and the ever-changing nature of construction, schedulers are constantly learning about unique situations and new means and methods. They are also constantly teaching and honing their own skills in scheduling analysis and communication through their interactions with project teams. There are opportunities for schedulers in the field and in the office, appealing to different personalities. Finally, because of a scheduler’s involvement with a project from start to finish, they are in the unique position to help build the plan on paper and see it all the way through completion in the field.

Careers in Construction: Safety

Continuing with our Careers in Construction series, this week we’re taking a look at the professionals who ensure construction on Alberici’s jobsites is completed safely.

What do Safety Professionals do?

Seabrook_0495Alberici’s goal for safety is simple: execute our work in the safest means possible to achieve Zero Incidents on all of our projects. Our team of safety professionals leads Alberici in meeting our safety goals.

Before work begins on a project site, Alberici’s safety professionals develop a site-specific safety plan incorporating Alberici’s SafeRing program, Owner requirements and the specific needs and challenges of the project. Once a project begins, safety professionals take an active role in the field by conducting site safety orientations and safety audits and by observing work in the field to determine if it is being executed according to the safety plan. Construction sites are always changing; work progress may create a hazard in an area that was safe the day before. Safety professionals must adapt to this dynamic environment, constantly evaluating the jobsite for potential hazards.

Safety professionals work with project managers, superintendents, field workers and subcontractors to address safety concerns and to develop best practices to keep everyone on the project site safe. Building relationships is an important part of a safety professional’s job, as conducting effective training and coaching is essential to success in this role.

Building a Career in Safety

Many safety professionals enter the field with a degree in Health & Safety, Engineering or Construction Management. Some also come to the role with experience in the field. Specialized training including Construction Health Safety Technician (CHST), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and First Aid/CPR certification are important for a safety professional as well.Asbury_Louis_Mitchell_0087

Beyond formal training, safety professionals need to think critically, communicate effectively and have passion for safety. Critical thinking is required to creatively and constructively address safety concerns as well as to analyze and interpret data. Effective communication is essential when developing site-specific safety plans and when communicating with project team members in the field. Passion for safety is vital because safety professionals need to stay on top of constantly evolving procedures, regulations and best practices. Most importantly, this role requires unwavering commitment to the highest safety standards.

When asked about his role as Safety Manager, Kyle Pfundt explained, "there's no other position where communication is this important.  I can talk with a tradesperson about keeping his/her body out of the line of fire, then head to the client or project manager to talk about metrics or technical aspects on something very specific.  If I can't talk to all of the people up and down the chain effectively, I will struggle with the common goal:  working safely with zero Injures.  Safety is people oriented.  If I can’t effectively reach a large audience and be persuasive, the safety on a project can suffer."

Careers in Construction: Estimating

For our second installment for our Careers in Construction Month series, we’ll learn about the folks who determine the cost of our projects before they’re built – estimators.

What do estimators do?

Estimators help Alberici acquire work, and they assist our clients by providing accurate cost estimates before work begins. On hard bid projects, they put together Alberici’s bid for the work; typically, the lowest bidder is awarded the job. On design-build or construction management projects, estimators collaborate with designers to determine project costs and provide estimates to our clients.

Regardless of the type of project, estimators review drawings and specifications in order to quantify building components, and then they price those components accordingly. Sometimes estimators independently perform an estimate using cost data from previous similar projects. Other times, estimators collect quotes from subcontractors and suppliers. Estimators also work to develop and maintain essential relationships with subcontractors.

Estimators can specialize in different Alberici markets, geographic areas, or components of construction (such as concrete, mechanical/electrical/plumbing, or steel). At Alberici, our estimating teams are built to allow each estimator to play to his/her strengths in order to provide the greatest impact to the estimate.

Estimators play an essential role to the operation of the company, and work collaboratively with other departments in order to maximize their performance. For example, estimators work with Alberici’s warehouse to acquire rental rates and equipment availability. They work with the finance department on the allocation of money within an estimate. Estimators also work with legal to review contracts before bidding a job and risk management to review potential subcontractors and suppliers. They collaborate with operations personnel prior to the start of construction to assure a seamless handoff and transfer of knowledge from the estimate and preconstruction to construction activities in the field.

Building a Career in Estimating

IMG_1373Estimators come to the role with myriad backgrounds. Entry level estimators often have a degree in Construction Management, Civil Engineering, Architecture or a related field. Professionals with experience in the project management in the field can also successfully transition to a role as an estimator.

Beyond formal training, estimators need to be persistent and inquisitive. Persistence in essential because the statistical probability of losing is almost always greater than that of winning; in other words, you lose more jobs than you win. It takes a persistent person to bounce back after losing a bid, ready for the next pursuit. Being inquisitive is important because even when a bid is successful, estimators constantly try to replicate best practices and seek opportunities for improvement.

 

Anniversary Spotlight-Jessie Jiang

Jessie Jiang, Accounts Payable Specialist at Alberici’s office in Burlington, Ontario, is celebrating 10 years at Alberici this month. In honor of this milestone, we asked her to share some thoughts about her time at Alberici.

IMG_2429What do you enjoy most about your role as an A/P Specialist?

I enjoy processing payments for suppliers and employee expense reimbursements as quickly as I can to make them happy and satisfied. A satisfied vendor is important for Alberici’s reputation and to ensure we are able to make future purchases.  I also enjoy meeting deadlines to finish financial reports for month end, problem-solving, brain storming with my supervisor and negotiating with vendors.

Describe the path that brought you to your current role.

I started as a payroll clerk with Alberici as a co-op student when I studied at Mohawk College in 2004.  I was fortunate to have the opportunity to obtain a position as an Accounts Payable Clerk when I graduated in 2005.

What do you like most about working in the construction industry?

As we like to say around here, “We Build Ontario.”  A busy construction industry helps to keep the economy strong and Canadians working!  I like the variety of interesting work Alberici performs and appreciate the encouragement and opportunities we have to visit our jobsites.  I was so proud to visit the Toronto Airport site last month to observe part of the installation of the new luggage conveyor system.

What are you most proud of in your time at Alberici and why?

The company culture and family atmosphere have affected me in a very positive way.  I am most proud of working for a company that provides the opportunity to learn and grow.  Over the past ten years many changes have occurred, and I am proud of my confidence and ability to face new challenges and acquire the skills necessary to succeed.  It seems that I learn something new every day.

If you were an office supply, what would you be and why?

I would like to be a computer.  Computers are always changing and evolving to become better, faster and more efficient.  Plus, they are capable of storing and maintaining much more knowledge and information than the human brain ever can!

Careers in Construction: BIM and VDC

Throughout the month of October, which is Careers in Construction Month, we’ll be exploring a number of different construction career paths at Alberici. To kick off the series, we’ll be taking a look at working in BIM and VDC.

Not all construction work occurs on the jobsite. Alberici’s BIM and VDC experts work to “build” the project virtually to prevent future issues in the field.

What are BIM and VDC?

BIM, or Building Information Modeling, is a process that involves the creation and management of a digital representation of a facility. BIM representations are 3D and can also incorporate time as a 4th dimension and cost as a 5th dimension. Creating a BIM representation is highly collaborative and requires involvement from multiple stakeholders including architects, engineers and specialty subcontractors. Once a BIM model is created, it can be used to view a project from different angles, to detect design clashes (for example pipes running into ductwork), to verify if work in the field has been installed as designed and as a communication tool for the construction team.

VDC, or Virtual Design and Construction, describes the work that can be done using the models created through BIM.

Hillman Hall BIM

What do Virtual Construction Professionals do?

ClashAt Alberici, Virtual Construction professionals combine BIM models created by architects, engineers and subcontractors to create a complete, fully coordinated BIM representation. Using the comprehensive model, Virtual Construction professionals are able to identify clashes in design as well as identify constructability issues. In the field, superintendents and Project Managers use the model to plan and discuss the work and to verify that work is installed as designed.

Alberici’s Virtual Construction professionals also work with the estimating and marketing teams. When Alberici is pursuing work, BIM can be used to show an owner what a new facility would look like. Estimators can pull quantities from a model, a quicker and sometimes more accurate approach to completing an estimate.

Building a Career in VDC

BIM PyramaxThere are many different pathways to a career in Virtual Design and Construction, including an increasing number of university programs. Many universities offer courses in the management and use of BIM; some even offer degrees specializing in Virtual Design and Construction within a Construction Management or Engineering program.

Many Virtual Design and Construction professionals come to the field from an architectural, engineering or construction management background, and further their knowledge with continuing education focused on BIM. The Associated General Contractors (AGC) offers a credential for BIM, and several Alberici employees have earned this CM-BIM credential.

Formalized training can lay a solid groundwork for a career in Virtual Design and Construction, but it cannot replace hands-on experience. Managing the process and understanding the intricacies with various software, ensuring all models are coordinated, and managing various competency levels of those working in the model can really only be mastered in the field.

In addition to formal training and hands-on experience, a focus on technology, attention to detail and management capabilities are all essential to success in this field.

As Alberici’s Director of Project Controls and Virtual Construction Brooks Williams explains, working in Virtual Construction is a satisfying because like construction, it “offers fresh challenges, and figuring out how to leverage technology allows us to build better projects.”

Anniversary Spotlight–John Olsen

Senior Estimator John Olsen is celebrating 20 years at Alberici this month. In honor of this milestone, we asked him to share some thoughts about his experiences at Alberici.

PhotoIn your time at Alberici, which project was your favorite and why?

My favorite project was the River 7000 Project - Selma Plant for Buzzi Unicem. This project was a wet to dry process conversion at an existing cement plant. It involved difficult excavation in rock, complex concrete placement, steel erection of multiple structures of which included a 400’-0 Preheater Tower, installation of 5 stage twin string pre-calcyner system, 2 prototype mills, an 18’-0 diameter x 212’-0 rotary kiln, clinker cooler and a myriad of other equipment and material handling systems. The new process line was commissioned just shy of 35 months from the start of construction. Being involved in the estimate/award process as well as being a part of the on-site management team was extremely fulfilling. Not only were we able to overcome a multitude of challenges but we also successfully juggled the many moving parts associated with the project- all on a relatively small footprint.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

I enjoy having the opportunity to take an Owner’s concept/design and assist in herding it through the entire project delivery process - from a request for proposal, through the design/estimate development process, to award negotiations, to subsequent procurement/contract issuance activities and finally to on-site management and commissioning. Seeing pages of paper come to life is the ultimate reward.

You’re a Certified Professional Constructor. Can you tell us about that certification and how it’s helped you in your career?

This certification is offered through the American Institute of Constructors and consists of passing an 8 hour comprehensive examination which tests candidates on their overall understanding of the project management and delivery process. Certification benefits all parties involved in the construction industry. The Owner receives assurance that their projects will be managed more effectively; they can use it as a means to pre-screen potential contractors; and Owners know that their contractor management team will maintain the highest level of professionalism. For an Employer, it serves as an independent assessment of an employee’s skills and knowledge; improves marketability to clients; and it provides assurance that employees will continue to hone their skills through the required Continuing Professional Development program (32 CPD hours in a 2 year cycle). For the Certified Constructor, it provides international recognition of construction management skills and knowledge; it is an analysis of individual strengths and weaknesses; enhances the Constructor image as a professional to their employer, their clients and the public; and it provides a marketable credential that sets you apart.

You’ve worked in a number of different markets in your time at Alberici (Energy, Industrial Process, Food & Beverage, Mining, Building). Have you enjoyed that diversity of experience? How has that breadth of experience influenced you?

I’ve very much enjoyed the diversity of experience. Exposure to multiple markets has offered a unique perspective into various processes and types of construction. Gaining insight into a broad array of means and methods has provided invaluable knowledge and experience to take forward to future projects.

What do you like most about working at Alberici?

The family atmosphere and corporate values/philosophies are aligned with my own ideologies. As an Alberici employee, I aspire to build trust and personify experience and maturity while being energetic and open to new ideas. I also try to display confidence and a can-do attitude while showing passion for our work. The family atmosphere and corporate values in tandem with the extremely talented individuals employed here set Alberici apart and places them on the highest bar.

What piece of advice would you give to someone just starting in the construction industry?

Have a positive attitude; display a quiet confidence in your abilities; acquire knowledge from experience and learn from mistakes (they will be made); be flexible in your approach; build relationships and foster them with honesty, integrity and reliability; seek a mentor and be a “sponge”; and last but not least, aspire to be great!

Top 5 Tips for Maximizing Career Fair Success

It’s career fair season, and our Employee Services team is sharing their top 5 tips to help you maximize your success at your college career fair.

IMG_0771

1. Come prepared. Prior to attending the career fair, review the list of employers who will be present, and invest time researching organizations that interest you. Doing so will allow you to ask focused and specific questions, which demonstrates a genuine interest in the organization. You will also want to bring many copies of your resume to submit to employers.

2. First impressions are everything. Approach company representatives and engage them in conversation. Extend your hand, say "hello" and welcome them to your school. Have your resume ready to give to the employer, and be prepared to talk about your career interests and your academic and extracurricular experiences.

3. Dress appropriately. We recommend students wear professional attire to career fairs.

4. Respect employers' materials and sample items. Some employers bring large quantities of print materials or "giveaways" clearly intended for students to take.  Other employers bring a few copies of print materials, sample products, etc. to use as displays at their tables.  Always check with employers before taking materials from their tables.

5. Be courteous. In addition to representing yourself, you also represent your department and your university. Employers are watching the way you behave at career fairs, which can help (or hurt) not only your personal potential employment opportunities, but also those of other members of your university community.

Good luck with your career fair experiences this fall, and we hope to meet you on campus. Check out our fall career fair schedule here.


National Payroll Week

This week is National Payroll Week, and to celebrate this occasion, we’re shining the spotlight on the payroll team that ensures paychecks are processed accurately and on-time, every time.

Payroll-Infographic_v2_thumb3

 Faces of Payroll

Going beyond the numbers, we talked to two of the women who work magic in the payroll department, Melissa Brickler and Theresa Hess. National-Payroll-Week_thumb4

What do you like best about working in payroll?  

Theresa - I like being a part of the team.  We are not on the project sites working side by side with the project staff; however, we are in constant contact with the project sites to make sure we get the employees accurate paychecks.

Melissa - There are two things I really enjoy about being in payroll - working closely with so many different amazing people and being able to help solve any payroll related problems that crop up on the jobsites. It’s our responsibility to get field guys paid as correctly and smoothly as possible so that Superintendents, Project Administrators and General Foreman aren’t tied up dealing with payroll issues when their time is better spent elsewhere.

What do you wish other departments knew about payroll? 

Melissa - I wish other departments realized just how much behind-the-scenes work went into “magically” processing one payroll check.

Theresa - There are a lot of moving parts to producing a single paycheck.  If even one of those parts stops it can make the process much more challenging.  We are constantly making updates to the system so the process appears seamless to the employee.

What do you like best about working with your department?         

Melissa - The best thing about our department is how well we work together as a team.  Any time we have an issue that needs to be handled quickly – everyone is willing to pitch in and help out.

Theresa - I work with a great group of people.  We have worked together for over 6 years, and all of us know what needs to be done and how to find a way to make it all happen.

Can you share a fun fact about yourselves?

Theresa - I like numbers.

Melissa – And ironically, I hate math.