Founded in 1890 by a Norwegian ship carpenter who immigrated to the United States, Sundt Construction has grown to be a successful general contractor with 1500 employees. The company provides services in general contracting, construction management, and design/build for private and public sector clients with budgets ranging from $50,000 to more than $200 million. In addition to the construction business, Sundt has a nonprofit division called Sundt Foundation that gives back to the communities in Phoenix, Tucson, Ariz., San Diego, Sacramento, Calif., Dallas, and Novato, Calif. Greg Moore, divisional manager, John Ylinen, preconstruction manager, and Ron Eldridge, operations manager, talk about how Sundt has remained a competitor for more than a century, and what the future holds for its continued success.
What have you done to stay successful in today's market?
Moore: I'd say diversity is the biggest thing. We do work with our heavy highway group, mining and industrial group, federal group, we have three building divisions, and we do just about every type of work you can imagine. Staying diverse like that—working all kinds of markets—helps us when there is a downturn like there is now. It makes us successful overall.
What is your view of the current market place?
Moore: It's slowing down somewhat, but there is still a market out there for construction. The federal part of our business is good right now. Our federal group goes all over the country and works on different Department of Defense bases.
What new technology is Sundt incorporating into its business?
Moore: We do a lot of business information modeling, where we model our projects in 3-D. It's an upcoming technology that is incorporated in every one of our projects.
Ylinen: We have on-screen takeoff (OST). We're not working with blueprints in estimating. Most of our information is computerized now, rather than having piles of papers creating large amounts of waste. OST gives a better accuracy to our quantity surveys. Within our own company, we're all working on it. I think it's becoming rare that we don't find general contractors not working with those kinds of capabilities now. You'll find that more contractors are going in that direction.
What's new today won't be new tomorrow. I think we've stayed at the top of that curb, we want to be in the top 1% of ‘best in class.'
Moore: We also use lean construction; we're a big proponent of that. It's a way to measure productivity in the field, not just our own, but productivity of our subcontractors. We're also green; we have our own green council in-house as it relates to LEED projects. We currently have 80 to 85 people who are LEED certified.
What are your main areas of expertise?
Moore: I'd say everything. The only thing we're not real heavy into, but we do it for the military, is housing. We currently are working in both public and private markets such as military housing and operational building, civil projects, mining facilities, water and waste water, universities, K-12 schools, decorative hardscape, power plants, medical facilities, and commercial high-rise.
Ylinen: We try to stay current with new technologies and innovations in concrete such as self-consolidating concrete.
Eldridge: We've been very active with ACI with as-built drawings and heavily involved with the 117 committee.