In 2016, Alaska’s construction industry built highways, bridges and schools; renovated hospitals and the Alaska Capitol; improved marine docks and ferry terminals; and constructed airport runways and hangars, often in remote locations and inhospitable weather. The Associated General Contractors of Alaska gathered in November at its annual conference at the Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage to celebrate these and other accomplishments and to honor the best among them.
During the dinner dance gala that caps nearly a week of seminars, award luncheons and the sharing of ideas, AGC executive director John MacKinnon presented the Hard Hat Award to Dave Cruz. The award, AGC’s highest honor, recognizes the person who has demonstrated a lifetime of contributions and commitment to the construction industry in Alaska.
Cruz, who has more than 35 years of construction experience in remote sites in Alaska, has worked on the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and helped build the oilfields at Prudhoe Bay. In 1981, he started Cruz Construction, which, under the umbrella of Cruz Companies, has grown to one of the largest in Alaska.
“It’s very humbling to be included with that group of folks preceding me who have given so much to the Alaska construction industry,” Cruz said. “It was very much a surprise and was the highlight of my career.”
Cruz is also an AGC board member and past AGC president.
“For the younger generation, you get into the construction industry when you’re young, and it’s a lifetime occupation that you can carry for a lifetime,” Cruz said. “I’m going at it for 41 years now. It’s not something that’s a short-term deal; you can provide for you and your family and can make a difference.”
He has been active in a number of charities and events throughout his community and the state. He is chairman of the Alaska Gas Development Board and has served on the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Port Commission.
Jack Grieco of Alaska USA Insurance Brokers received the Stan Smith Volunteer of the Year Award. Grieco is chair of the AGC Golf Committee and an Associates Council member who is always available to help when asked.
SENCO Alaska Inc. was recognized as Associate of the Year for its outstanding donation of time and energy to support AGC’s efforts.
Accepting the award for SENCO, Teri Gunter said, “I am thrilled to receive this award. It’s a pleasure to work with some amazing people who strive to make this association great!”
AGC also honored Darl Schaaff for his 25 years of emceeing and being the creative force behind the annual dinner dance, with MacKinnon presenting Schaaff with his own award at the event.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Over $15 million Vertical Construction Award: UNIT COMPANY for construction of a new K-12 school in remote Koliganek. The project included a new 17,900-square-foot school, boiler building, water tank and supporting site work and utilities, plus demolition of the existing school.
UNIT faced transportation con-straints because of record low water in the Nushagak River and renovation of the existing airport. With innovative thinking, UNIT guaranteed that the project would be completed on time and within budget. UNIT used 90 percent of local residents in its workforce and consistently involved local village leaders to ensure the community’s concerns were addressed.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Between $5 million and $15 mil-lion Vertical Construction Award: Cornerstone General Contractors Inc. for the West High School/Romig Middle School CTE renovation and addition.
Cornerstone performed preconstruction services and completed follow-on construction for renovations/additions of Career and Technical Education spaces at West High School and Romig Middle School. Work included demolition, renovation and new construction.
At West, the existing “Cove” structure was demolished to construct a 28,000-square-foot, two-story addition with 12 classrooms for digital media, health sciences and process technologies. At Romig, an existing corridor used to access the West/Romig library was repurposed, with an 8,000-square-foot, one-story addition of three classrooms for shop, business management and consumer sciences. Both schools remained open throughout the construction period.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Under $5 million Vertical Construction Award: Ahtna Environmental Inc. for the Cordova housing siding and interior renovations project.
The 5-year-old U.S. Coast Guard family housing units in Cordova experienced significant water leaks that ruined floors and walls. Ahtna Environmental performed work to restore and improve all 13 family housing duplex units. Phase 1 of the project revealed that over 25 percent of the duplex superstructure was rotted through to the sheetrock with significant damage to structural components. In collaboration with the Coast Guard, design improvements were made to the siding system to protect housing in an area that experiences an average of 206 days of precipitation a year against future water intrusion.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Over $15 million Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earthmoving Award: Turnagain Marine Construction for the Hoonah Berthing Facility project.
Turnagain Marine was selected via a best-value proposal to design, manage and construct the Hoonah Berthing Facility. This design-build project for Icy Strait Point and Huna Totem Corp. required Turnagain to provide a cruise ship berth to accommodate a large array of vessels including the 1,067-foot Breakaway class. In partnership with Transpac Marinas, Moffatt & Nichol and the remainder of the project team, Turnagain Marine Construction delivered this first-class facility on time and on budget. The facility construction included a floating pontoon; eight dolphin structures; 700 feet of pile-supported, vehicle-rated trestle and transfer span; and associated appurtenances.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Between $5 million and $15 million Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earth-moving Award: Granite Construction Co. for Seward Highway MP 99-100 improvements.
The Seward Highway MP 99-100 improvements project was a technical, high-risk job that demonstrates Granite’s commitment to delivering quality projects. From start to finish, Granite’s crews met the challenge of a difficult job. Lane shifts were used to keep traffic flowing throughout the project. Sound drilling and blasting techniques produced a safe and stable 90-foot-high wall. Twelve culvert crossings were replaced during the night shift to reduce impacts to traffic. The project paving achieved the maximum gradation, joint density and smoothness bonus.
Meeting the Challenge of a Job, Under $5 million Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earthmoving Award: QAP for Arctic Boulevard Improvements Phase III.
Arctic Boulevard improvements from 36th Avenue to Tudor Road consisted of removing all curbs/gutters and sidewalks, existing illumination system, signalization at three major intersections (Tudor, 40th and 36th) and storm drain structures. Installation items included all new storm drain structures, storm drain leads, Cured in Place Pipe (CIPP) lining of storm mains, new illuminations system, traffic signalization, seven new transit stops, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, driveways, approaches, traffic medians, curb ramps to meet Americans With Disabilities Act criteria, fencing and landscaping. Final con-struction included complete road planning, hot mix asphalt paving, pavement markings and street signage.
Excellence in Construction for a Specialty Contractor — Vertical Construction Award: Rain Proof Roofing for the Shemya Hangar 6 project.
The project site lies 1,500 miles west of Anchorage on the Aleutian island of Shemya. The contract included removing 43,500 square feet of roofing and rotted structural steel decking and installing new substrate, vapor barrier, insulation, sheathing, underlayment and Standing Seam Curved Metal Roof System.
One difficulty was coordinating with suppliers to procure and deliver material to the Seattle docks by May 2 for the annual barge that ships material and equipment to the island. Beyond the complex logistics, the main concern was the North Pacific weather. An average daily wind speed of 17 to 25 mph and rainy weather 60 percent of the time created challenges for maintaining a work schedule, hoisting materials, operating safely and productively on a roof 60 feet above the ground at its peak and working on pitches with inclines up to 70 degrees.
Through the successful use of safety equipment, aerial lifts, a Telehandler forklift and crane, plus and a skilled crew and foreman, Rain Proof Roofing completed the scope of work in 15 days.
“Rain Proof Roofing is really proud of this project,” project manager Chris Reilly said. “We had a great group of guys working long, hard hours, which resulted in a large and difficult project completed on time and under budget.
“As a Specialty contractor, we share our success with Brice Environmental. The collaborative efforts and their support out in Shemya this summer assured the success of this project.”
Excellence in Construction for a Specialty Contractor — Transportation, Marine, Heavy, Earthmoving Award: DAMA Industrial LLC for the village of Wainwright emergency tank foundation repair project.
DAMA Industrial completed repairs to the undermined tank foundation. This is the raw water storage tank for the village of Wainwright, which is designed to hold 1 million gallons of water, allowing village residents to have sufficient water for the long winter.
“It was basically an emergency repair,” said Mike Andersen, DAMA president. “The project involved lots of logistics,” he said. “We had to fly everything into Barrow.”
This project had an exceptionally short working period and was equally technically challenging and critical. DAMA provided an innovative solution in product recommendation, logistics and installation methods to complete all work on time and within budget.
“(The damage) didn’t happen until the end of August, and the water source starts freezing up at the end of September, so we had to be done by the end of September,” Andersen said. “It was a good job. It was totally unexpected that we would win an award for it.”
Sustainability in Construction Award: Davis Constructors & Engineers Inc. for the Kings Landing at Ship Creek Phase 2 in Anchorage.
Ship Creek is a favorite local fishing spot near downtown Anchorage. With the city skyline as a backdrop, the area supports salmon runs and provides habitat for many types of shorebirds. This project enhanced access to the fishery and turned a previously grubby access point into an appealing park with sitting areas.
It also included a rain-fed pond that acts as a filter while treating runoff from the parking lot; a water bottle-filling and pet-watering station to decrease the need for plastic one-time use containers; and one of the nicest public restrooms in the state.
Excellence in Safety – Building Division Award: Davis Constructors & Engineers. The Anchorage contractor was honored for its safety record in delivering fast-track design-build projects throughout the state. Davis is committed to being a leader in safety and innovation in the Alaska construction industry. In 2016, Davis Constructors was recognized by the Associated General Contractors of America, placing third nationally in the Safety Excellence Building Division.
According to Davis, “Safety is our culture; it starts at the top, is carried through our organization with ‘leadership by example’ that is evident in every worker on site. Our pursuit of this goal is dynamic, innovative and ever-changing, but our focus remains the same: ‘Safety above all, nothing is more important.’ Our greatest asset is our employees.”
Excellence in Safety — Heavy Division Award: Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. Kiewit also won AGC’s grand prize for safety.
KIWC is committed to providing a safe workplace for its employees and takes its responsibility seriously to ensure its employees go home safe every day. A safety program usually revolves around rules and regulations that govern the job site. However, these rules and regulations have often been generated as a result of unsafe behaviors. KIWC developed its safety program with the realization that it needed to focus on behavior in conjunction with rules and regulations. KIWC encourages and promotes many competencies on all its job sites such as authority, accountability, professionalism and innovation. KIWC uses these competencies as the cornerstone of its safety program, tying each into its day-to-day operations and training.
Excellence in Safety — Highway Division Award: Brice Inc.
As a civil construction contractor that has been doing work in Alaska for 55 years, Brice Inc. knows the value of a trained, reliable and safe workforce. Emphasis is put on training at all levels of projects, administration and management. Daily tailgates, longer orientation and new-hire training, and relevant site-specific training have contributed to a safer workplace and a lower incident rate.
Excellence in Safety — Specialty Division Award: Alcan Electrical & Engineering.
Alcan Electrical’s commitment to safety begins with its new-hire orientation, where Alcan’s written hazard communication plan and the site-specific safety plan are explained to each employee.
Safety is a part of Alcan’s work ethic. All employees attend the weekly safety job site meeting, where continued safety education is taught. For everyone at Alcan, the goal is to work productively and arrive home safely at the end of each day.
“Alcan Electric is extremely proud to have received the AGC Specialty Contractor Safety Award,” said Scott Bringmann, Alcan president. “We certainly want to thank all of our employees and their diligent efforts to keep safety a top priority on all of our projects. The safety practices of our employees have become a large part of our company’s culture and success. We certainly look forward to keeping both going strong into the future.”
Excellence in Safety — Individual Award: Candidates for this award were so strong that our decision resulted in a tie honoring two individuals for their outstanding commitment to workplace safety: Sarah Dow of Colaska Inc. and Ken Parmenter of Davis Constructors & Engineers.
Sarah Dow, a project engineer for QAP (Colaska), demonstrates safety leadership every day, making others aware of the safety commitment QAP demands of all its employees by practicing what she preaches, from asking employees if the vehicle or piece of equipment they are operating has a fire extinguisher and first aid kit to installing new extinguishers in rental equipment. She carries Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in her truck to hand out to field workers, makes sure subcontractors know the PPE policy and isn’t afraid to tell them it’s mandatory, even at the expense of upsetting them. Her most effective tools to communicate QAP’s “safe production” goal are her actions and working closely with work crews to help keep them safe.
“I came from the field and transitioned to my position in the office after getting my construction management degree,” Dow said. “My responsibility is now as a manager or supervisor to bring everyone in the field along and make safety a habit in everything they do on the job. You can always do it safer and quicker. We make it inherent in everything they do, teach them to do it safer, demand they do it safer.”
Dow knew she was nominated but was surprised to receive the award. “I really felt what I did was nothing special, just important that we do it. The president of Colaska has done a lot to change the culture of safety, which is better for everybody.”
Ken Parmenter, a superintendent at Davis Constructors & Engineers, has been with the company since 1996, continually providing safety to crews in the field. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the ability to send crews home safe every day. His total project revenue of over $300 million shows that Davis trusts him to complete some of the most complex and challenging jobs.
“I’d like to thank Davis management and AGC for the nomination and selection of this award,” Parmenter said. “Davis Constructors has an excellent safety program that is acknowledge throughout the company. Safety on a job and especially a job like the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak is not accomplished by one person; it takes all the workers’ involvement. The crew on that project did an exceptional job in working safely as a team to make it successful.
“This award belongs to all the employees who have worked for me on Davis projects.”