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Turner Grads Help Fill Void in Construction Labor Shortage

With all the construction in Huntsville and the surrounding counties, the construction industry’s well-publicized skilled labor shortage got a boost from Turner Construction Company’s School of Construction Management.

The company recently graduated 17 students in its first class in Huntsville to help fill that void.

Designed to train students from disadvantaged and minority-owned businesses in a variety of good-paying, construction-related jobs, Turner’s eight-week training program covers everything from construction management and administration, to site safety, bidding, estimating and procurement. It also teaches students how to develop technical skills, learn about field operations, and lean building processes.

The students also learn how to build strategic relationships and partnerships within the wide-ranging building industry.

Turner has built partnerships with businesses across North Alabama to help improve the economic viability of these graduates who might not otherwise have been exposed to these opportunities.

The class of 2019 members are Verrick Green, Project Teamwork & Development; Brenda Perryman, Transit Management Oversite & Solutions; Tamisha Atkins, Atkins Lawn Care; Ben Freeman, Thomas Electric; Leah Taylor, Taylor’s Victory Garden Center; Arthur Terrell Vaughn, MMI Inc.; Jimmy Morris Jr., Morris Builders; Fredrika Atkins, Atkins and Goolsby Inc.; Angela Dunn and Dale Jones, Ultimate Roofing; John Carroll, International Construction Project Management; Marsau Scott, Scholt Industries; Deborah Holt and Barbara Gillum, Always Available Services; Terrence Rudolph and Tamika Randolph, Trinity Construction Group; and Esteban Guadarrama, an Alabama A&M student.

Turner has been offering skills-based training in more than 30 Turner Construction offices nationwide since 1969.

‘Career Signing Day’ Helps Aim Students Toward Building Sciences

National Signing Day is a big event in the lives of high school student-athletes and their families.

The kids announce where they plan to continue their education and take their athletic talents to the next level.

Well, in Huntsville, there is another kind of “signing day.”

For the second time, Huntsville City Schools is hosting a “Career Signing Day,” when students are recognized for continuing their career paths within the fields of building science.

Just look around and you’ll see the demand for builders and tradesmen.

Construction zones and caution tape continue to speckle the city, as developers race to keep up with the demands required to complete projects.

Developments designed to enhance the growing infrastructure of Madison County seem to be popping up everywhere, and with no signs of a slow-down, the need for skilled workers and tradesmen is greater than ever.

“We are partnering with people to create more opportunity for internships and practical experience,” said Todd Watkins, director of Career Tech Education for Huntsville City Schools. “We are going to have interviews prior to the event. We are really excited because it gives our students a chance to do interview sessions.

“Then they can actually graduate high school and go straight to work.”

Turner Construction’s Director of Business Development Tyce Hudson said his company is working closely with area schools to ensure that upcoming graduates are aware of their options, whether they choose to pursue a four-year degree or opt for going directly into the workforce from high school.

“We are trying to get the message out that there are very bright careers in the trade industry right now,” he said. “We see shortages in mechanical, electrical, and plumbing so the demand for those is probably the highest.”

Through the efforts of companies such as Turner Construction, Huntsville City Schools students enrolled in the Career Tech Education Department are able to get practical work experience outside of the classroom by working on actual workplace projects.

Watkins also lauds the district’s newest career tech center at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

The initial program will allow students to work in the hospitality and culinary industries shadowing staff, giving them the opportunity to leave the school campus and report directly to Space & Rocket Center CEO Dr. Deborah Barnhart.

Watkins said the increased employment opportunities coupled with the area’s demand for progress equals many more options in the building science arena, whether individuals choose to seek a 4 year degree or not.

“What kids are seeing,” he said, “is that they can be employable right out of school or they can also go to (a four-year college) or a junior college.

“Kids are starting to realize that career tech is not a one-way path.”

 

Career-prep: Madison Construction Academy, Turner Construction Prepare Students for Skills-based Trades

MADISON — To discover local construction career opportunities, students from James Clemons and Bob Jones high schools took a walking tour of the new Rocket City Trash Pandas stadium at Town Madison.

The tour was part of a workforce development effort by Turner Construction Co., which is building the stadium.

Turner Construction officials give the students an up-close look at the work on the new Rocket City Trash Pandas baseball stadium. (Photo/Steve Babin)

Students dressed in full site safety gear including bright yellow vests, hardhats and goggles got an up-close look at the entire construction site followed by lunch and a 15-minute presentation about career opportunities in the construction industry and its many related skills-based trades.

Students in their schools’ Construction Academy are taking classes in planning, design and construction. They were selected for the trip by their building sciences instructors for showing the most interest in, or curiosity about a career in building engineering and the many skills-based careers related to the construction industry. These can be carpentry, welding, electrical, heating and air conditioning (HVAC), plumbing, cabinetry, and the like.

“We are recognizing industrywide that the construction industry can’t build at the pace of growth due to a shortage in skilled labor,” said Dani Latham, human resources generalist for Turner Construction. “This skills gap means we are not replacing the aging workforce with young workers, a problem that seems to stem from the old stigma attached to the business as being dangerous and abrasive.

“That is no longer so today where safety is a top priority. Workers themselves are skilled craftsmen making very good money, and we are seeing more women in the business, often in supervisory positions that has helped to change the culture.”

Latham is implementing a workforce development strategy for Turner Construction designed to bring together educators and partners such as North Alabama Works!; Associated Builders and Contractors; and the North Alabama Craft Training Foundation. The goal is to help kids develop the skills needed for a career in construction while introducing them to the many advantages of the construction industry.

“We find that many high school juniors and seniors are just not college-ready,” said Latham. “They aren’t yet sure what they want to do, some have no interest in going to college, while others can’t afford it, but that shouldn’t take them out of the workforce or leave them without opportunities.

“Our goal is to get them career-ready, rather than college-ready by introducing them to a skills-based trade where they can learn a skill that will stay with them forever, even if they pursue other professions.”

After the tour, the students were shown a presentation about career opportunities in the construction industry. (Photo/Steve Babin)

She said a job in construction doesn’t have to lead to a career in construction, but it can provide a living wage while they are going to school or deciding what they want to do. Latham said some people find their calling, while others branch off into other areas such as carpentry or welding.

“The great thing about it is that many of them can make a good living working construction while pursuing something else altogether; and it can help pay for a higher education like law school or medical school,” she said.

Similar to the Federation for Advanced Manufacturing Education program for manufacturing, Madison Construction Academy offers a four-year apprenticeship program where students go to school a couple of nights a week, but work full or part-time in the same field they are studying. This allows them to apply what they learn at night in a real-world setting.

This connection between a classroom curriculum and tangible careers in the workforce exposes students to a variety of career opportunities that will ultimately meet the future needs of business and industry.

“In many ways, the construction industry is behind manufacturing in implementing a recruitment strategy for skills-based training,” Latham said. “We found that the old model of holding career fairs with a lot of written literature and an industry recruiter behind a table no longer works.

“There is very little engagement from young people in that process, so we are getting more targeted by going into classrooms and getting in front of students who are taking construction and building trades classes. We make sure they understand their options and, by bringing them out to the stadium site, they can experience it firsthand.”

Turner Completes $3.12M Renovation of Thigpen Hall at Alabama A&M

Turner Construction has completed the management of a $3.12 million renovation of Alabama A&M’s Thigpen Hall.

Thigpen Hall, a three-story women’s residence hall built in 1955, typically houses more than 200 first-year freshman female students. The renovations included Thigpen’s 101 double-occupancy bedrooms, bathrooms, study lounges, laundry facilities and a computer lab.

Turner collaborated on the project of the 30,000 square-foot building with Nola Van Peursem Architects, Moody Nolan, Lee Builders, Mims Engineering and EE Group.

The building’s footprint did not change in the renovation including elements of its historical exterior. Thigpen Hall was unoccupied throughout the renovation process, which began in July 2018.

“Alabama A&M is proud of the partnership that we have with Turner Construction,” said Alabama A&M President Dr. Andrew Hugine Jr. “Turner has not only worked to restore and modernize Thigpen Hall, one of the historic structures on the campus, thus demonstrating the university’s commitment to historic preservation, but they also continue to invest in the future of Alabama A&M by providing our students with practical experience.”

Thigpen Hall was completed on time and under budget. Turner is continuing to support and manage upcoming projects at Alabama A&M University.

“This has been another excellent project delivered by the team,” said Tyce Hudson, account executive for Turner Construction. “We are excited to see the campus continue to improve. The future is very bright for Alabama A&M University.”

Turner Construction Completes Work on Torch Technologies Integration and Prototyping Center

Turner Construction has completed work on Torch Technologies’ Technology Integration and Prototyping Center.

The $10 million facility at 4050 Chris Drive in Huntsville is part of Torch Technologies’ growing campus in South Huntsville and consists of a 35,000-square-foot, two-story office space with an attached 10,000-square-foot high-bay facility. It incorporates offices, labs and open vertical spaces where large pieces of equipment can be installed and tested.

Torch Technologies continues to invest in its South Huntsville campus, supporting the City of Huntsville’s efforts to redevelop South Huntsville, a once vibrant area of town that is seeing an increase in development.

The new Technology Integration and Prototyping Center is located across the street from the Freedom Center, a project Turner completed in 2017 that included the renovation of a 40,000-square-foot, four-story building at 4090 South Memorial Parkway to create Torch Technologies’ current headquarters.

“Our previous experience building defense and aerospace facilities in Huntsville and elsewhere made us ideally suited for this project,” said project executive Lee Holland of Turner’s Huntsville office. “We’re very pleased to continue our partnership with Freedom Real Estate & Capital and Torch Technologies and to help in the continued revival of South Huntsville.”

Collaborating with Turner on the project were Matheny Goldmon Architects AIA; 4Site (civil engineering and landscape architecture); SSOE (mechanical and electrical engineers); and PEC Structural Engineering.

“Having worked with Turner in the past on the construction of the Freedom Center, we knew the outstanding quality of work that the company is capable of delivering,” said Bill Roark of Torch Technologies and Freedom Real Estate. “Our Technology Integration and Prototyping Center will enable Torch to take on more complex projects than before, including developing instruments to advance warhead testing.”

Turner Construction Renovating TMDE Lab

Turner Construction recently began renovating the Army’s TMDE Activity’s Primary Standards Lab at Redstone Arsenal. The 76,000 square-foot facility is used for primary-level calibration and repair of Test, Measurement and Diagnostic Equipment (TMDE) that the Army uses for its vehicles, weapons and equipment.

“As the agency responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the Army and its military systems, this renovation is crucial for us,” said George Condoyiannis, chief of construction for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Mobile District. “The renovation includes updating laboratory spaces to keep up with state-of-the-art, high-tech army equipment that have significant calibration needs.”

The $27,223,895 renovation takes place while the building remains occupied. Completion is slated for January 2021.

“This project is an extension of an incredibly valued partnership between the U.S. Army Corps and Turner, and we are proud to play a part in the incredible work they do for our community and our country,” said Turner’s Southeast Federal Account Manager Tyce Hudson.

Turner celebrates topping out at Aerojet Rocketdyne plant

Turner Construction’s Lee Holland signs the I-beam during the topping-out ceremony. (Photo by Nathan Bivens)

Turner Construction recently celebrated the topping-out for Aerojet Rocketdyne’s Advanced Manufacturing Facility in Huntsville. The facility began construction in March and is set for completion in December.

The 136,000-square-foot industrial facility, sitting on 18.25 acres at the corner of Pulaski Pike and Prosperity Drive, will be used to produce subcomponents of the AR1 rocket engines, composite cases for rocket motors and 3D-printed rocket engine components.

The plant will also bring approximately 180 jobs.

Project executives and site leaders at the event included James Ramseier, senior manager at Aerojet Rocketdyne; Chip Cherry, CEO of Huntsville/Madison County Chamber of Commerce; Medora Gaddes, assistant project manager at Hoar Program Management; Justin Lanfair, Turner Construction project manager; and Denny Lulfs, Turner Construction superintendent.

Lulfs, along with the project team, raised the final beam during the celebration.

“Turner’s extensive background in aerospace and manufacturing work made them ideally suited for this project, and we’re excited to see the progress so far,” said Ramseier. “Their team’s high level of knowledge and experience gives us great confidence in their ability to complete this highly technical and complex project on schedule.”

Rendering shows the Aerojet Rocketdyne facility that is expected to be completed in December.

The building’s exterior is a conventional steel framing, with site-cast insulated load-bearing tilt-up wall panels. Inside, there will be several 5- and 10-ton cranes and process-driven utility systems. Turner is collaborating on the project with Fuqua & rtners Architects and engineers at LBYD, SSOE Group and S&ME.

“Having already built a number of large aerospace facilities across North Alabama and the nation, our team was well prepared to take on a project of this magnitude,” said Lee Holland, project executive at Turner Construction’s Huntsville office. “We’re proud to be a part of this high-profile facility, which will continue to build Huntsville’s reputation as an emerging aerospace and technology hub.”

Construction underway on Madison baseball stadium

MADISON – With the announcement of the new baseball team’s logo and nickname on the horizon, construction is underway on the new Madison baseball stadium.

The $46 million stadium will be located within the Town Madison development off of I-565, next to the new Zierdt Road Interchange.

With a capacity of about 7,000 people, the new stadium will host soccer, football, concerts and other events in addition to Minor League Baseball.

The club level and suite spaces can also be used for meetings, providing area businesses and private groups with meeting space for up to 400 people for a sit-down meal.

“This venue will make a major impact on the community of Madison and the surrounding area,” said Mayor Paul Finley. “In addition to bringing AA minor league baseball back to the Tennessee Valley, it will provide much needed community space and daily fun, family-type events.”

The venue design has multiple seating options including group celebration decks, corporate suites, intimate table tops, a party bar, and grass berm areas in addition to the normal general admission seating. Families will enjoy picnic tables for birthday parties located next to a large kid’s playground.

Turner Construction’s North Alabama office is the construction manager agent for the development.

“We have enjoyed working with the professionals from Turner as we bring baseball back to North Alabama,” said Ralph Nelson, managing partner/CEO of BallCorps, LLC. “Turner has been in the trenches with us since the beginning. They have worked well with the City of Madison, our lead designer, Populous, and BallCorps on making this a first class facility while maintaining budget consciousness.

“We are excited that the project is currently ahead of schedule and looking better every day.”

Turner has performed work on more than 450 sports facilities, including professional, collegiate and community ballparks, stadiums, arenas, training facilities and fitness centers as well as speedways, racetracks, and large high
school facilities. Its clients include teams in the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS.

“Our office employs many North Alabama natives and long-term residents, so we’re especially excited to be a part of this significant project that allows our employees to make a positive impact on the community,” said Lee Holland, project executive for Turner North Alabama.

Completion of the stadium is slated for December 2019.

Hoar Construction is the general contractor for the stadium and handling the actual construction of the stadium.

Turner, the construction manager agent for the entire development (the ballpark and surrounding residential, retail and commercial buildings), is working with architectural design firm Populous and engineers Mullins, LLC (civil engineer), Thornton Tomasetti (structural engineer) and Henderson Engineers (MEP, fire protection and audio visual engineer).