USA: Construction industry slows with the season

Construction industry slows with the season
Workers pour 6,000 yards of concrete for a new freight terminal in Casper on Nov. 5, 2015. Tim Monroe photo.

Construction industry slows with the season

On Thursday, 6,000 yards of concrete was poured by Redline Custom Concrete and Flatwork for the new freight terminal for Midwest Motor Express in Evansville.

The work started early in the morning and by mid-day the concrete was smoothed and had started curing. Redline owner Tim Ouimet said he’d hoped to make another large pour that afternoon but the first concrete had not cured enough to support the weight of a concrete mixing truck carrying 10 yards of product. The next pour will be Monday if the weather cooperates, Ouimet said.

Construction is slowing statewide not only because of the onset of winter weather but because the shrinking energy industry is causing a reduced need for new warehouses and shops.

Construction and all of its facets were discussion topics at the annual School Facilities Department education conference for construction and facilities professionals this week at Casper’s Ramkota Hotel. The conference had a sharp focus on trends and issues affecting the school construction industry. Partners in sponsoring the conference included the Wyoming Contractor’s Association and the Wyoming Construction Coalition Inc.

Many of the topics covered areas such as energy efficiency, school security, cost estimating and procurement, construction law and value engineering. A Thursday panel composed of school facilities managers, contractors and sub-contractors, a specialist in communication and an architect-designer focused on communication. The panel was moderated by Del McOmie, new director of the School Facilities Department in Cheyenne. He noted that the state has spent $3.5 billion over the last several years on school construction.

Tim Schenk, a partner in GSG Architecture, set the tone by noting that in his 46 years in the business he’s found that “relationships are important; all involved in a project need to start early and maintain relationships even after the project is completed.” He asked the attendees to think about how they can communicate better, especially on large projects.

“We can have a dozen or more consultants on a project. We need to start [talking] at the beginning with the design consultants and the contractors,” Schenk said. “Communication is so important, especially when the players are spaced around the country.”

His advice: Start early.

Natrona County School District’s facilities manager is Dennis Bay, a construction-management veteran of many decades. NCSD has a few hundred million dollars in current projects involving new schools and major remodeling of Kelly Walsh and Natrona County high schools.

“People catch me in the halls and ask what happened” on a phase of a project, Bay said. “With an owner’s staff of 300 or so communication is complex.”  Bay added that construction firm owners must not just design and construct their projects but should be involved in overall communication.


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