I was recently invited to meet with a prospect who is looking for a build-out of commercial space in Northeast Wisconsin. When I arrived, the owner was meeting with another contractor who had also been invited to do a walk-through and to discuss the impending project. I soon found out another contractor would be walking in my same footsteps just a couple of hours later. The owner was doing what he thought was best—getting three bids. This has been a standard practice for decades among owners who feel that, in order to get the best deal on their construction project, they should create competition among contractors. They believe this will allow them to leverage the three bids to their advantage. Here is why getting three bids is the worst thing you could do:
When students returned to classes at the St. John/St. James Lutheran School in Reedsville, Wisconsin in January 2018, excitement was in the air. Students, staff and parents lauded the new facilities, made possible by the demolition of an outdated building originally constructed in 1903 and the construction of a 16,500-square-foot addition to the church. The project was funded by a $2 million commitment from the church community that owns and operates the school. St. John–St. James provides quality education to students in kindergarten through 8th grade. Now students can enjoy the new amenities, including a new gymnasium with main and practice courts for basketball and volleyball, a commons area, a kitchen, private offices, locker rooms, and renovated bathroom facilities. The addition also created something the church school community had long wanted: a physical link between the church and school that eliminates the need to exit a building to move between either space. The expansion also creates the necessary space to expand its early childhood program. The school, located at 223 Manitowoc Street in Reedsville, drew a lot of attention in this small, tight-knit community. There was an audience for the demolition work that removed the original structure, making room for new construction. The school's prominence in the community meant that construction also garnered much attention.
Founded in Brazil in 1911, Tramontina brought its business to the U.S. in 1986. The company has been manufacturing cookware at the Wisconsin facility since 2005. The plant is one of the facilities made available when the former Mirro Co. cookware plant shuttered its operations in 2003. “At a time when cookware manufacturers were moving operations abroad, Tramontina revived a cookware factory in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, reemploying local laborers and bringing its aluminum production to the U.S.,” notes Tramontina’s corporate website. “Reviving this plant allowed a skilled local workforce to keep their jobs and allowed the town of Manitowoc to retain its long-established identity of craftsmanship in aluminum cookware manufacturing.” Today, Tramontina manufactures more than 25 million pieces of cookware each year in the United States. In early 2017, Tramontina US Cookware invited the A.C.E. Team to make improvements and help expand the company’s Manitowoc manufacturing facility.
Our recent work for Skana Aluminum Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin was tons of fun – literally. More than six tons, in fact. In 2017, A.C.E. Building Service was tasked with a casthouse expansion project for a new 21,500-square-foot facility. The expansion is part of a multi-phase project at Skana Aluminum initiated to replace its 1960s-era melting furnaces. The additional square footage made way for a new, state-of-the-art furnace and expanded raw material storage area. It is designed to accommodate a new furnace as one of the future stages in the overall project. Eventually, a total of three 50,000-pound capacity melt/hold/tilt furnaces and a new casting pit will replace the existing furnaces and casting pit. A Business and a Building Steeped in Tradition Skana is in a business — and a building — steeped in tradition. By the 1890s, aluminum was widely used in jewelry, everyday items, eyeglass frames, and optical instruments. Aluminum tableware was produced by the late 19th century and gradually supplanted copper and cast-iron tableware in the first decades of the 20th century. It wasn’t long before aluminum foil was invented, a mainstay of modern kitchens. Aluminum is soft and light, making an ideal material for a multitude of uses. It was soon discovered, however, that alloying it with other metals could increase its hardness while preserving the low density — a factor which led to even more uses for aluminum.
Here at A.C.E. Building Service, we appreciate every new client who comes to us. But the backbone of our company has been built from turning new clients into repeat customers. Our team loves it when we get to know your team so well that we understand your business and your goals — and can quickly jump in to get new construction projects or renovation jobs handled quickly and cost efficiently. One of our longstanding relationships is with Country Visions Cooperative, a cooperative with a unique blend of operations headquartered in Reedsville, Wisconsin. Founded in 1923, today the cooperative has multiple locations throughout eastern Wisconsin to the UP of Michigan. Country Visions offers a unique blend of retail, fuel and agriculture related products and services including agronomy, propane, refined fuels, and grain divisions, with convenience stores, country stores and quick food restaurants. Our previous work for Country Visions Cooperative’s retail division has included store construction and rehabilitation projects in Manitowoc, Mishicot, and Valders. Each had its own goals and challenges running the gamut from budget and scheduling to disruption-minimizing logistics. Reedsville Gets a Re-do The Country Visions Cooperative convenience store at 525 Main Street in Reedsville had not been updated since 1998. The store is a go-to destination and valuable resource in that rural community. Our client wanted upgrades to both the store interior and the exterior. This design-build project was fast-tracked to complete the work as expeditiously as possible and to minimize disruption for store customers and staff. The work, which began on September 14, 2017 was finished in nine months.
Our recent work for the University of Wisconsin-Manitowoc (UW-M) was both exhilarating and challenging. Not unlike, we imagine, the work that students perform there every semester in the laboratories, classrooms, and libraries at Founders Hall. While we weren’t racing cars, it did seem like the construction version of “The Fast and the Furious.” Getting to the finish line in the transformation of Founders Hall was important and required rigorous attention to scheduling, materials delivery — and successful navigation of several challenges. The First Renovations in Half a Century The two-story UW-M Founders Hall, located at 705 Viebahn Street in Manitowoc, had not been significantly updated since its construction in 1962. While the scope of work required $4.4 million in general contracting services, the entire project encompassed $7 million in renovations, materials, and fixtures. The project included major work: moving the library to the first floor of Founders Hall, replacing windows that were long since boarded up, and updating facilities from the art studios to the science labs. Manitowoc County contributed $5 million to the project, the State of Wisconsin contributed $1.5 million, and private donations picked up the rest of the tab.
There are many factors that influence the cost of construction. Some are obvious: land acquisition, permits and construction costs. Then there are the future costs or life-cycle costs to consider: maintenance, repair, replacement—the cost of keeping the facility and its systems up and running. However, one of the most effective ways to control construction costs is to establish early involvement on behalf of the owner AND the contractor. This may seem obvious, but under the traditional method of construction delivery, the owner commissions an architect or engineer to prepare drawings and specifications, then separately selects a contractor by negotiation or competitive bidding at a later stage in the project’s development.
The A.C.E. Building Service design-build team recently completed the construction of 36 single occupancy units connected to the Shady Lane Assisted Living facility in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. These apartments are part of Shady Lane’s master plan which will include as least two additional senior living facility expansions in the coming years. A shift in the elder care industry has seen more seniors remaining independent as they age. These new units, designed to feel more like residential apartments than a full-service nursing home, will better meet the growing demand of the Lakeshore's aging seniors.
Some of the most impressive and distinct construction projects for 2017 were recognized at the 25th Annual Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) of Wisconsin Projects of Distinction Awards Program held February 15, 2018 at the Glacier Canyon Lodge Conference Center in The Wisconsin Dells. The Projects of Distinction Awards Program is designed to recognize the most distinct construction projects in Wisconsin, and to elevate the awareness of the quality construction performed by ABC member firms and their employees. Projects are judged annually on safety, craftsmanship, execution and coordination, budgeting, scheduling, unusual challenges, owner and architect satisfaction and overall distinctiveness.
We all need mentors and others to look up to. Fortunately, for A.C.E. Building Service, we have an entire network of mentors. Last week, a couple of our team members attended the Construction Leadership Network (CLN) conference in Tampa, Florida to practice win-win sharing. The CLN membership is comprised of a diverse group of entrepreneurs, commercial contractors and construction industry providers from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Our membership in the CLN enables us to exchange information, share both successes and lessons learned, and form life-long relationships with like-minded construction professionals. The CLN was formed on the principal of bringing together top construction entrepreneurs to exchange ideas and share best practices to improve the construction industry and companies like ours. The mission is simple: Share…Learn…Build.