Blog/News

Employee Spotlight: Andy Lowther

September 14, 2017, 8:22 am

Andy Lowther

Andrew has worn many hats at several other companies before joining the Shook family. Those experiences have equipped him to help expand our education market segment in Northeast Ohio.

What inspired you to get into this career?

My grandfather, who was a carpenter. I worked with him during the summers since middle school. Since I was good at school, he encouraged me to work with my brains and not my brawn. With the help of my high school counselor, I discovered the construction management program at The Ohio State University. The rest is history.

What is the most important thing you do each day when prepping for your workday?

Coffee… I drink coffee. Then I make an action plan for the day. I always carry a pocket notebook to write things down. It is easy to forget things. If I check my notebook, it reminds me of things I noted earlier. Then I will address those items before adding more notes.

What is a specific skill-set or attribute you possess that you believe adds value to your projects?

Determination and hard work. I grew up a wrestler and those attributes were developed over a lifetime of wrestling. Those same attributes seem to transfer over into everything I do.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in the last year?

Building relationships. Relationships ensure strong jobs and develop future/ongoing clients.

Who inspires you?

My son. I want to be the best person I can be for him. The more I develop and grow as a person, the better person I can shape my son to be.

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Diamond Wire Sawing Process of Twin 108″ Concrete Pipes

September 1, 2017, 7:23 am

As part of the Easterly treatment facility project on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio, our project team built six 110-foot diameter by 18-foot deep settling tanks. The discharge from these new tanks (as well as four existing tanks) were connected to a NEW concrete junction chamber via 2500 lineal feet of 36-inch through 84-inch diameter Flowtite® fiberglass underground pipe.

This new junction chamber was constructed around two temporarily supported 108-inch diameter concrete pipes. These pipes have carried the treated discharge from the existing plant to Lake Erie since 1931.

Once the new facilities were complete, the challenge was tying the new facilities to the old discharge. To accomplish this, the project team removed 11 feet of pipe from each of those two 108-inch diameter, 10.5-inch thick concrete pipes.  

NEORSD 108" Twin Pipes

To ensure this process did not interrupt the existing flow to the lake, the project team engaged DOT Diamond Core Drilling who suggested a diamond wire sawing system to make two cuts in each of the two pipes.

To accomplish this feat, the project team first installed temporary pipe supports and made preparations for hoisting and handling both pipes while the chamber was still dry. DOT then began the diamond wire sawing process, aided by external cooling water. When the first in-service pipe’s circumference was penetrated, the plant flow began to flood the chamber. The remaining sawing process was completed without any personnel having to enter the chamber. The resulting cuts totaled 1,620 lineal inches of reinforced concrete.

Diamond Saw Cutting Process

Once cut, General Crane Rental used a 130-ton capacity crane to hoist out the two 11-foot cut pieces, each weighing about 37,000 pounds.

Making this effort even more impressive is that the pipe removal and subsequent joining of the old and new flow systems were completed during 15-degree temperature and blustery winds in mid-December.

Despite the frigid weather and the difficulty of this task, the entire operation took only two 12-hour days to complete.

Project Overview

This process was part of the larger $74.3 million project which began in September 2013. The overall purpose was to increase the capacity of the Easterly Wastewater Treatment Plant from 140 million gallons per day to 400 million gallons per day, which will help the environment.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD) contracted the Shook Walbridge Joint Venture to complete these improvements, which were designed by MWH Global and Brown & Caldwell. The design called for the installation of 26 new pumps, piping, automated valves and meters, as well as adding chemical storage, distribution, metering, instrumentation and process equipment to more effectively enhance the treatment process. To accomplish this, the Shook Walbridge team selectively removed, rerouted and replaced interior and underground piping, existing structures, and equipment.

The multi-phase project took four years to complete.

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A Decade of Giving Back to Cleveland’s Children

August 22, 2017, 8:16 am

Fore the Kids Golf Outing

This month, the 10th Annual Fore! the Kids Golf Outing raised a record $45,000 for University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital. A client and community partner, University Hospitals is an anchor institution in Northeast Ohio and provides valuable services to its residents.

Fowler’s Mill Golf Course hosted the event in Chesterland, Ohio on August 1st. The first-class outing featured more than 60 companies participating as sponsors, volunteers, or members of foursomes, as well as a full course of 128 golfers participating in the fun.

Now in its 10th year, Fore! the Kids has experienced tremendous growth. From its humble beginnings in 2008 when the net proceeds totaled $1500, the event has grown each year–this year yielding a record $45,000. Cumulatively, the outing now has raised more than $200,000 for the hospital.

Vice President Matthew Danis again chaired the event, supported by a stellar team of volunteers from the local industry. Thank you to the support and participation of so many industry partners. You make us proud to provide the necessary leadership for this event.

Mark your calendar for July 31, 2018 when Fore! the Kids will be back and better than ever!

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Employee Spotlight: Andrew Knapke

August 10, 2017, 8:00 am

Andrew Knapke

With a degree from The Ohio State University, Andrew has served in a variety of positions, including project superintendent, assistant project manager and project engineer.  He joined the Shook Construction family in 2015 as a project engineer within our education business segment.

What inspired you to get into this career?

Since I was young, I enjoyed building/construction things. What better way to continue that passion than to become a construction manager?

What is a specific skill-set or attribute you possess that you believe adds value to your projects?

I have excellent memory retention.

Do you have a specific approach or philosophy you use to tackle challenges as they arise on site?

I take it one day at a time. It’s important to think logically to determine a resolution and then move forward with the project.

What are the most important qualities of a leader?

The ability to effectively guide team members, as well as keep items moving on track.

What does safety mean to you?

Safety is one of the most important items to be practiced on a daily basis.

What piece of technology helps you most with your job and why?

My computer. It allows me to do my job efficiently. Although, I am excited to try out our new Clevertouch Interactive touch screen, which we will use to display the drawings electronically in our trailer.

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New Cleveland Office: Same Company, New Vibe

August 3, 2017, 9:20 am

New Cleveland Office Foyer/ Reception Area

Shook has been a staple in Northeast Ohio for more than 30 years. Over that period, we have evolved. In the beginning, we were strictly a hard bid, self-perform contractor almost exclusively performing public work. Now, we are a multi-faceted construction service provider working with both public and private clients. As our operations have matured and diversified, it became necessary to upgrade our office environment to reflect the heightened brand of our organization.

When selecting a new office space, it also was important to consider other aspects vital to our overall success, including: geography, collaboration areas, employee recruitment/retention, natural lighting and technology.

Geography

Brecksville, a suburb of Cleveland, has been our home for many years. While we considered relocating to several areas throughout the region, it didn’t make sense for us for many reasons. Located in Cuyahoga County, Brecksville continues to provide us efficient service to all of Northeast Ohio with easy access to several major roadways. In addition, it is central to all of our current employees’ homes.

Overall, this move provided an opportunity to redefine our perception within the community and to create a work environment that would improve the employee’s experience.

Office Layout

Given the nomadic nature of our staff’s schedules as they move from one job site to the next, we incorporated flexible spaces that adapt to the frequent moving around of our teammates.

We wanted to better support collaboration among our team. The new office houses one large executive conference room, a smaller more private conference room, a break room, a collaboration space with high top tables and a TV, and a lounge space with comfortable seating. These areas encourage employees to work together outside of their office spaces, which also sparks creativity.

New Cleveland Office Break Room

To brighten up the entire space, the office includes large windows along the perimeter which allows extensive natural light into the space.

Décor

Our overarching goal was to celebrate our people, our work, our vision/mission, and our core values. As such, you will find pictures of our past projects sprinkled throughout the office, as well pictures of our craftspeople performing their tasks. In addition, we have included a mural of a Shook crane in one of our collaboration spaces.

New Cleveland Office Hallway

In addition, we wanted to celebrate our connection with the local region. We selected artwork from a local artist, which highlight notable local sites.

These images combined help portray our corporate message in a subtle and tactful way.

New Cleveland Office Lounge Area

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Employee Spotlight: Jerry Roark

July 13, 2017, 8:00 am

Employee Spotlight: Jerry Roark

With 33 years of construction experience under his belt, Jerry has truly worked his way up through the ranks. He began his career as a pre-apprentice, moving to a journeyman carpenter position, then served as a foreman. Now, Jerry is a project superintendent and can tout a 27-year history with Shook Construction.

What inspired you to get into this career?

I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps, who was a carpenter. Beyond that, I enjoy taking my kids and grandkids around town, pointing out the building projects on which I have worked.

What is the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

The Dayton Metro Library buildings. The project involves several buildings, all of which are unique.

What is a specific skill-set or attribute you possess that you believe adds value to your projects?

Dedication, hands-on experience, common sense, planning the work, as well as communicating with the owners, architects and workforce.

What is the most important thing you do each day when prepping for your workday?

There is no ONE important thing I do. To be successful, I have to have a holistic view of the day. This includes safety planning, planning for the equipment needed that day, ensuring employees have the material needed to the do the job, using the right people for the job, and consulting with the foremen.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in the last year?

How to manage multiple job sites at different locations.

What piece of technology helps you most with your job and why?

My smart phone allows me access to my email while away from the office. In addition, my tablet allows me to pull up current/updated drawings in the field and mark them for as-builts so all crews have updated drawings in the field.

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Employee Spotlight: Mike Behnken

June 15, 2017, 8:00 am

Employee Spotlight: Mike Behnken

Mike’s journey to the construction safety field wasn’t a direct one. He first worked as a carpenter, starting as an apprentice, then moved up through the ranks with various contractors. As his career progressed, he observed the increasing requirements for project safety personnel and decided that role could extend the longevity of his career. Now with 35 years in the construction industry under his belt, Mike uses his in-the-field experience to guide and strengthen improve Shook Construction’s safety program.

What inspired you to get into this career?

I reached a point where I realized that I would not physically be able to work with my tools as a result of the work philosophies that I was taught growing up. As a result, it was a natural fit for me to move into safety in an effort to help find ways that work tasks can be performed to reduce the physical impact on the workers’ body.

Do you have a specific approach or philosophy you use to tackle challenges as they arise on site?

First I try to understand why a task is being performed a certain way and then look for methods that will help produce a quality project by using safe production methods.

What is a specific skill-set or attribute you possess that you believe adds value to your projects?

Because of my background in construction, I can help find better ways to accomplish a task that meets and/or surpasses OSHA compliance requirements.

What are the most important qualities of a leader?

Lead by example, ask and respect input from those working under you, and take responsibility for the decisions that are made.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in the last year?

Replacing personal contact with e-mails, texts, and other social medium can quickly become counter-productive, even though they can be easier and quicker.

What does safety mean to you?

Safety means that everybody gets to go home in at least the same condition in which they came to work, if not better!

 

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Employee Spotlight: Steve Seal

May 11, 2017, 8:00 am

Employee Spotlight: Steve Seal

Steve Seal has seen and built a lot of things in his 33 years in the industry. After starting in the field as a carpenter and then field superintendent, Steve went to University of Akron to earn his degree in construction technology. While attending college, Steve served as a co-op at Shook Construction. His technical expertise and laid back personality are a great fit with our team. We hired him upon graduation and have appreciated his contributions to our team ever since. He is currently working as a project manager within our healthcare business segment.

What inspired you to get into this career?

I love working with wood, tearing things apart and then putting them back together.

 Do you have a specific approach or philosophy you use to tackle challenges as they arise on site?

If I don’t have the answer, I reach out to my network to help find solutions.

What is a specific skill-set or attribute you possess that you believe adds value to your projects?

Since I started working in the field first, it helped me learn how everything goes together on a construction project. This helps me today with planning, scheduling, knowledge of all the work/disciplines, troubleshooting problems and finding solutions.

What is the most important thing you do each day when prepping for your workday?

Having a plan a day or two ahead of time and then continually prioritizing the items as things change.

What are the most important qualities of a leader?

A leader takes ownership of the processes, delegates clear responsibilities, follows up with the team, and treats team members like they bring value to the project.

 

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Our Core Values: Safety

April 28, 2017, 8:00 am

Safety: Our Core Values (safety_value)

We operate by a core set of nine values. This month, we focus on safety.

Safety is our most important core value as our people are our most important assets. Without them, our business would not run. It is vital that our people remain healthy and safe, returning home in the evenings in the same condition they arrived to work in the mornings. The same goes for our clients and subcontractors.

How do we keep safety at the forefront of our team’s minds? Here are just a few ways:

It Starts at the Top

Our commitment to safety begins with active senior management involvement, beginning with the chief executive officer/president (who chairs our safety and health committee) and continues throughout all levels of our organization.

It’s a Part of Operations

Our preconstruction department analyzes potential hazards associated with a project and determines whether or not to pursue if a project cannot meet certain risk standards.  Safety continues into the bid process. Subcontractor selection criteria includes an evaluation of their safety statistics and OSHA history.  Once our team mobilizes on site, a site-specific safety plan is developed and any worker that enters the site must go through a formal orientation before beginning work.

Daily Pre-Task Safety Planning Meetings

Every morning before work begins on a project site, we hold a Toolbox Talk. The agenda reviews the day’s goals… What needs to get done? What is the plan? What are the hazards associated with performing the work? How will we eliminate or control the hazard?

Corporate Safety Audits

Shook maintains a team of safety professionals within our safety and risk management department. These team members provide regular, unscheduled safety audits on every Shook project, every month. Survey results are distributed to both project and company leadership. In addition to providing inspections, our safety professionals are a proactive resource to help our project teams plan how to safely go about their work.

Communication is Key

A key element to our program’s success is communication. Safety audits, incident reports and any OSHA activity is communicated within 24 hours to: CEO/president, executive vice president, market channel leader, project manager and project superintendent.  On a weekly basis, all employees receive information regarding safety audit findings from the previous week, OSHA activity, work-related incidents and a summary of the current OSHA recordable incidents.  When warranted, we will cease work and hold a “safety-stand-down-meeting” to address major issues. 

We always will stand by our safety motto: “Safely, the only way to work!” Our award-winning safety program simply validates that.

 

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Employee Spotlight: Sam Myers

April 13, 2017, 8:00 am

Employee Spotlight: Sam Myers

Sam serves as a project engineer in our Water Resource Mid-Atlantic Region, working out of our Raleigh, NC office. A graduate of Tennessee Technological University, he has been a part of the Shook family for nearly three years.

What inspired you to get into this career?

I grew up around the industry. As a child, I remember sitting in the truck while at “poop” plants while my father worked… It’s a smell that’s impregnated in my mind forever and I suppose that’s why I grew to love the business.

What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?

Gastonia Two Rivers Water Treatment Plant has a unique GE membrane treatment system that I have never experienced. I like to learn how different treatment processes work, and this is a new one to me.

Do you have a specific approach or philosophy you use to tackle challenges as they arise on site?

I struggle with the confrontation portion of the business, as it is something that none of us look forward to; but, it is something I am working on. I tend to put myself in others shoes to understand fully where they are coming from and feel that it helps the negotiations greatly.

What does safety mean to you?

Completing the task at hand productively and with no injuries or near misses. Our goal is to exceed Shook’s and OSHA’s requirements so that there are no questions for any task that we are performing.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in the last year?

The ability to prioritize tasks.

What piece of technology helps you most with your job and why?

Phone calls. Although everything now-a-days needs to be documented through email, I would much rather call an individual up and go through the details as I can learn much easier this way.

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