STI poised to see major growth; help bridge the skills gap

NewConstruction840x230A new facility at Southeast Technical Institute in Sioux Falls will provide much needed additional space and allow the school to expand access to its award-winning vocational programs.

The expansion couldn’t come at a better time. After the country hemorrhaged jobs in the 2000s, U.S. manufacturing is on the rebound.

According to government labor statistics, the manufacturing sector has created more than 730,000 jobs since the end of 2010. Add in the looming retirement of the Baby Boomers, and industry experts say they’ll need to fill as many as 3.5 million jobs over the next ten years.

A shortage of skilled workers, however, could cut this budding renaissance short.

A recent (2015) study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute found that American manufacturers can’t find enough qualified workers. The scarcity of potential workers, coupled with the public perception of manufacturing, makes recruiting (and retaining) the right candidates challenging for companies like Gage Brothers Concrete.

There is a dire need for skilled manufacturing workers in the coming years and technical colleges are essential to the manufacturing economy.

Enter Southeast Technical University, South Dakota’s leading technical institute and a 2015 WIX Filters/O’Reilly Auto Part Tomorrow’s Tech “Top 4” school in the nation.

Founded in 1968, STI adds nearly 1,000 graduates to the workforce each year.

STI is also spreading the message that careers in modern manufacturing are nothing like the ones you read about while studying the industrial revolution in history class. Today’s manufacturing careers are rewarding, take place in safe work environments, pay well, and require strong math, science and analytical skills.

STI’s auto-technician, diesel technician and auto body programs are at or beyond maximum capacity. All three are certified as Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) programs by the National Automotive Technicians Education Foundation (NATEF).

As the economy grows and the demand for goods increases, there will be a higher demand for manufacturing technology-capable employees to help facilitate the transportation of those goods to businesses and consumers.

To meet this growing need, STI is adding a new building to campus. The $20.7 million construction project will greatly increase the space for auto, diesel and collision technology students, while improving the teaching environment, school officials say.

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Capacity for STI’s automotive & diesel technology programs will double.

The new space would have academic wings dedicated to diesel and auto-tech classes. STI’s collision repair and refinish programs will receive updated facilities and take over the space vacated by the automotive program in the Ed Wood building.

“The new building will allow us to provide access of high quality automotive training to more people,” said Jason Merritt, an Automotive Technology Instructor for STI.

Merritt expects the new, 91,000-square-foot building to provide STI with the capacity to meet the growing demand of industrial companies.

He added, “This will help us provide more technicians to this high demand field which has had a technician shortage for some time now.”

According to the South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation, the worker levels in the Transportation Equipment Manufacturing subsector are projected to increase by 365 workers (13.3 percent) in South Dakota by the year 2022.

South Dakota has a very large and diverse need for transportation equipment, which includes agriculture and commercial engines and implements. Farming is the state’s number one industry.

What’s significant is that STI’s tech talent tends to stay in the Mount Rushmore State. Graduate survey results from the 2013-2014 graduating class show that 84% of all graduates are working in South Dakota and 64% are working in Sioux Falls.

The new auto-tech building at STI is slated for a site across Career Avenue from the Ed Wood Center, which currently houses the programs.

“These expansions also provide the opportunity to: update equipment and technology in all three programs, increase the number of students that Southeast Tech can accept in all three programs, and increase graduate numbers which provides additional prospective employees to regional employers,” said Lon Hird, STI’s Director of Academic Support.

Additional building plans include a food area and an auditorium.

AUTO_LAB_3D430x260Gage Brothers was awarded the contract to furnish the precast concrete façade for the new facility. The company will produce more than 36,000 square-feet of corefloor, architectural panels, insulated wall panels, and beams and columns for the building.

“Gage Brothers could not be more steadfast in our support of technical colleges like STI, which are essential to the success of our company,” said company president Tom Kelley. “I have been very pleased with the STI graduates we have hired over the years; they possess the necessary skills and knowledge and are ready to work.”

An engineer by trade and at the helm of Gage Brothers since 2001, Kelley also serves on Southeast Tech’s Foundation Board. He has been involved in many conversations about the misconceptions related to vocational training and plugging the skills gap.

It’s the same discussion that prompted GOP presidential hopeful Senator Marco Rubio of Florida to say that the country needs more welders and fewer philosophers during the fourth Republican debate.

Kelley stressed the importance of the new facility and STI’s state-of-the-art, work-and-learn models. An increase the number of workers with these in demand skills is needed for industrial companies like Gage Brothers to continue growing.

“Major investments like this help to erase the stigma that is sometimes still associated with a technical education,” he added.

“I’m excited to see the final product next year.”

Construction is expected to finish in summer 2016, and the three automotive programs would be able to serve more students by 2017. Click here to view the construction progress photo gallery.

Gage Brothers extends 59-year relationship with Howard Wood Field; wins contract for new fieldhouse

School officials recently approved a $4.7 million contract for renovations at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

Gage Brothers Concrete has been awarded the precast contract for the new fieldhouse.

Construction is slated to begin this summer.

“We are proud to have won this contract and thrilled to continue our relationship with Howard Wood Field,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “The facility is an integral part of the city’s fabric.”

He added, “Hundreds of former and current Gage Brothers employees have competed at Howard Wood or watched a football game from the stands, and I think that emotional investment goes a long way at our plant.”

Nearly a century in age, Howard Wood Field looms as one of the region’s best-known track and field venues. The birth of track and field at Howard Wood dates back to 1923. Marking its 90th running last year, the Howard Wood Dakota Relays regularly attracts more than 3,000 student athletes from the middle school, high school and college ranks.

For many years, all of the local high schools and both colleges (Augustana University and the University of Sioux Falls) played football there. Lincoln, Washington and Roosevelt high schools still claim Howard Wood as their home turf.

Named for a longtime coach at Washington, Howard Wood Field also served as the finish line for the 2015 Sioux Falls Marathon and Half Marathon.

There’s a lot of tradition, a lot of history, and a lot of memories at Howard Wood—and Gage Brothers has been part of the venue’s foundation for more than a half-century. The stadium (current seating capacity: 10,000) has undergone significant improvements over the years, and Gage Brothers has been involved nearly every step of the way.

As it happens, Howard Wood Field was the company’s first significant foray into sports facility construction.

Built in 1957, the original Howard Wood stadium was designed by TSP founder Harold Spitznagel. There still exists footage of Albert and William Gage, Jr., sons of company founder William Gage, pouring concrete for the tread and risers.

In the decades that followed, Gage Brothers began to churn out precast for dozens of high school gymnasiums, pro arenas and college athletic facilities throughout the Midwest.

Howard Wood Field is owned and operated by the school district, which has continued to update the classic facility.

Gage Brothers also manufactured corefloor planks for Howard Wood’s 1980s remodel.

Howard Wood_2In 2012, Howard Wood underwent a major overhaul that included a new running track, grandstand seating and an upgraded press box. Gage Brothers poured more than 94,000 square-feet of double tees, beams and tread & risers for the $7 million renovation.

But expectations of what sports venues should be have increased lockstep with the needs of both athletes and spectators.

Sports facilities are built not only to be a place where athletes come to test their limits but to also contribute to the vitality of the broader community.

Howard Wood is no different and about to undergo more changes thanks to the approval of school officials.

The renovation will modernize the locker rooms and restrooms and also expand the athletic training areas. But the biggest part of the renovation project involves the fieldhouse, which has not changed since Albert and William Gage, Jr. provided materials for the original structure in 1957.

Fifty-nine years later and with a bolstered résumé that includes Target Field, TCF Bank Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome, Gage Brothers will fabricate almost 10,000 square-feet of wall panels and more than 100 precast pieces for the new fieldhouse.

“The fieldhouse renovations will do a great deal to enhance the historic site,” added Kelley. “And the fact that Gage Brothers has won four contracts for Howard Wood over the past sixty years is a testament to our corporate endurance and ability to innovate our products to meet changing market demands.”

Founded in 1915, Gage Brothers has manufactured concrete products for several athletic venues in recent years, including South Dakota State’s Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium, Kirkeby-Over Stadium, Dakota Wesleyan University/Avera Sports and Wellness Complex and the University of South Dakota Sports Performance Enhancement Facility.

Sioux Falls-based Beck & Hofer Construction submitted the lowest of seven bids and was named the project’s general contractor. Beck & Hofer will contribute its vast building experience from previous athletic facilities, including GreatLIFE Malaska Golf & Fitness Club at Bakker Crossing, Thunder Road and the Tomar Park tennis courts.

This will be the 30th building project that Gage Brothers has worked on with Beck & Hofer since 1988. Previous collaborations include the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Sioux Empire, Elmen Park and Big Sioux Power Sports.

“Gage Brothers has developed a great relationship with Beck & Hofer over the past 20-plus years,” said Kelley. “We think of our relationship as more of a partnership.”

The renovations will not be complete in time for 91st edition of the Howard Wood Dakota Relays, but should be ready by the 92nd running in 2017.

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Get to Know: New safety manager Jason Aasand

Meet Jason Aasand, the new safety manager for Gage Brothers Concrete. Aasand brings a wealth of experience to Sioux Falls and will oversee the well-being of the company’s more than 250 employees.  

J_AasandQ. How did you get into this line of work?

A. I started off my safety career in the labor law sector for the state of North Dakota, but most of my experience comes from working almost 14 years in the oil gas sector. I broke out as a Roughneck and worked my way up to a Safety Consultant for Continental Resources.

Q. Did you study construction management?

A. No, I attended North Dakota State University for Human Development and Counseling.

Q. How does one specialize in construction safety?

A. I think you must have a passion for safety and the well-being of others to specialize in safety.

Q. What attracted you to the safety manager position with Gage Brothers?

A. I was attracted to Gage Brothers by the contact I have on LinkedIn; I saw the job opening and did a lot of research to see if Gage Brothers and my personal philosophy of safety would be a good fit. I was impressed with all the great feedback I received after talking to people around the Midwest that knew of or had worked with Gage Brothers, so I decided to go for it and try to become a team member of the Gage Brothers family.

Q. What are some of the challenges of a career in safety? 

A. One of the challenges I have faced is convincing people to invest in their own safety. I accomplish this by interacting with the people involved in the program on a day-to-day basis, which gives them ownership of their safety program. Without the people we are not a company. 

Another challenge is not to take away human element of safety, (we sometimes look at the bottom line before safety). Everyone I spoke to told me Gage Brothers is a company that cares and puts employees first. We cannot forget that people have loved ones at home and we must create a strong safety culture to ensure that they get home to them at the end of the day. I accomplish this by letting the people know I am here for them and also thank them for their commitment to both their safety and the well-being of their families.

Q. What do you like to do in your spare time? What are some of your hobbies?

72a1b33f-2782-4935-bff4-aca1b8412f9eIn my spare time I enjoy golfing, visiting Maple Lake (I tried to paddle board this summer, with much failure!) and North Dakota State Bison football. I’m also an avid hockey fan.

Q. Where did you grow up?

A. I grew up in Grafton, North Dakota. Grafton is a small town in the northeast corner of the state.

Q. What are you looking forward to the most at your new job?

A. I am looking forward to all the challenges, and thankful to be part of Gage Brothers.

Transforming lives, one pledge at a time

united-way-logoGage Brothers Concrete and its employees have made a significant donation pledge to the Sioux Empire United Way. The company’s pledge for the coming year is $34,967, which surpasses last year’s total by more than nine percent.

Employee participation also increased from 60 percent last year to 63 percent this year.

The simple fact is that one pledge to United Way makes a deep impact one life at a time and the LIVE UNITED message makes clear that all of us have a stake in each other’s success and a role to play in advancing the common good throughout our communities. The dollars raised will help a variety of programs, including “Ready to Start,” which is designed to help kids get ready for kindergarten.

The 2016 contribution will benefit more than 40 United Way agencies where Gage Brothers employees live and work. These agencies include Active Generations, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sioux Empire, DakotAbilities, Face It TOGETHER Sioux Falls and Girl Scouts-Dakota Horizons.

“One of the privileges of being a member of the Gage Brothers team is the opportunity to support United Way and other community betterment organizations,” said Gage Brothers president Tom Kelley. “We do that through our contributions as well as employee volunteerism, and it makes me especially proud to work with a group of employees that are so generous and supportive of helping others in the community.”

The money was raised through payroll deductions and the Heart Club, a group of individuals who contribute to Sioux Empire United Way at a level of $500 or more annually.

Gage Brothers employees have pledged $274,221 in total contributions since 2009 to help local people through the Sioux Empire United Way.

“Thank you to Gage Brothers and their employees for supporting our community and the 41 local agencies funded by your generous gifts to Sioux Empire United Way,” said Kacey McCarthy, Campaign Director of Sioux Empire United Way.

Gage Brothers has long been a leading contributor to the United Way campaign and is traditionally one of the area’s top companies in terms of the percentage of employees who give to United Way.

“For the past several years, our employees have given generously of their time and money to the Sioux Empire United Way,” added Kelley. “The Gage Brothers family has created a remarkable culture of service and giving, and I am extremely proud to be a part of it.”

Gage Brothers United Way chair Amanda Painter expressed appreciation to employees for their incredible efforts. The company has about 250 people on its payroll in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

“It demonstrates the high value we place on citizenship and community partnership,” said Painter. “And United Way’s accountability model ensures that our contribution will be maximized and make a lasting difference in the lives of others.”

This year’s Sioux Empire United Way goal is $10.3 million dollars. The final results of the campaign are expected to be announced in early 2016 after all pledges are counted.

The kickoff to the Sioux Empire United Way’s 2016 campaign took place last August. The event featured iconic rock band Heart, who packed more than 8,000 fans into the Denny Sanford PREMIER Center for the “Start with Heart” concert.

Many Gage Brothers employees have a history of giving back to Sioux Falls through philanthropic and volunteer efforts. In September, a dozen employees volunteered at the Sioux Falls Marathon. Gage employees have also plunged into cold water to raise money for the Special Olympics, collected shoes and winter coats for community drives and participate in the American Heart Association Heart Walk every year.

Individuals may pledge a donation to the Sioux Empire United Way by clicking here.

Gage Brothers awarded hotel project in downtown Denver

Gage Brothers has been awarded the precast contract for a new, dual-branded hotel development in downtown Denver. The development features an AC Hotel by Marriott hotel as well as a Le Méridien Hotel, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The 18-story development is scheduled to open by late summer 2017.

The two hotels will add close to 500 rooms to the heart of the Mile High City’s business district, just one block from the Colorado Convention Center and within walking distance to Denver’s famed 16th Street entertainment district. Mile High Stadium (Denver Broncos), Coors Field (Colorado Rockies) and the Pepsi Center (Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche & Colorado Mammoth) are also nearby.

The hotels will be designed by HKS, an international architecture firm which specializes in resorts and sophisticated hospitality projects, while Swinerton Builders and AECOM-owned Hunt Construction have been selected as the joint general contractors.

Gage Brothers will fabricate more than 18,000 square-feet of architectural precast panels (121 in all) for the Le Meridien/AC Hotels. It will take approximately three weeks for the panels to be manufactured in Sioux Falls.

“This is an attractive, highly visible project for Gage Brothers in the Denver market,” said Joe Bunkers, Vice President of Preconstruction. “We are thrilled to provide the precast for a hotel development as unique as this in the heart of downtown Denver.”

Precast concrete can be adapted in many ways to meet a wide variety of hotel design challenges and the Le Meridien/AC Hotels are no exception. Each hotel will have its own distinct entry, lobby and bar led food and beverage outlets.

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The Le Meridien lobby will face California Street and the AC Hotel lobby will face 15th Street (Photo credit: White Lodging/HKS Architects)

Le Méridien will feature 272 luxurious rooms and a full-service restaurant as well as a 24-hour fitness facility, business center and meeting space. Other highlights of the design-led hotel include a 5,000-square foot ballroom and the Le Méridien Hub, a lobby with traditional elements cast aside in favor of a gathering place with heavy emphasis on social interaction and the growing demands of coffee lovers at every Le Méridien hotel worldwide.

Le Méridien Hotels & Resorts is a Paris-born hotel brand that was acquired by Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide in 2005. Le Méridien is currently represented by nearly 100 properties in more than 40 countries. Recent portfolio additions in the U.S. include new hotels in Atlanta, Charlotte, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Chicago and Tampa.

Newly introduced to the U.S., the AC Hotels Denver will be the lifestyle brand’s first property to open in Denver. The brand originated in Europe in 2011 as a joint venture with Spanish hotelier, Antonio Catalan and presently boasts a portfolio of 77 hotels in Spain, Italy, Portugal and France.  The AC Hotel Denver will have design elements that embody the city’s one-of-a-kind character.

The Le Meridien/AC Hotels will be managed by White Lodging Services Corporation of Merrillville, Ind. White Lodging’s current portfolio consists of more than 160 mid-to large-scale hotels in 20 states and encompasses representation of the following leading brands:  Marriott International, Inc., Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Global, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Preferred Hotel Group and InterContinental Hotel Group.

“Precast concrete was a critical aspect of White Lodging’s strategy to build a superior quality hotel that will serve the city of Denver for decades to come,” said Bunkers.

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Rendering from ground level (Photo credit: White Lodging/HKS Architects)

Gage Brothers has provided precast solutions for more than two dozen hotels and resorts over the years, including: the Holiday Inn Rapid City-Rushmore Plaza, Cadillac Jack’s Gaming Resort, Holiday Inn Resort Deadwood Mountain Grand Hotel and the Westin Edina Galleria Hotel.

This is not Gage Brothers’ initial foray into the Denver market. They were the precaster of note for the Fairmont Hotel (1978), Tamarac Plaza office complex (1981), Denver International Airport (1992, 2012), Pinnacle at City Park South (2005) and the renowned Ralph L. Carr Colorado Judicial Center (2012).

Gage Brothers is also producing extensive precast for SkyHouse Denver, a 25-story, 354-unit high-rise development with ground-floor retail that is situated at the corner of Broadway and East 18th Avenue.

“Over the years, Denver has provided Gage Brothers with many opportunities that have aligned well with what we do as a company,” added Bunkers. “We look forward to working on many more sizeable Denver projects in the future.”

Gage Brothers has secured job contracts in seven of the fifty largest cities in the U.S. in terms of population: Chicago, Colorado Springs, Denver, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Omaha and Tulsa.

Gage Brothers awarded hotel development contract in Wayzata

BohLand Development has awarded Gage Brothers Concrete the contract for a highly anticipated hotel development in Wayzata, Minn. The Landing, which is the final block to be constructed as part of the Promenade of Wayzata, will include condos, as well as a spa, restaurant, 89-room boutique hotel and 15,000 square-feet of retail space.

The scope of the project includes constructing a portion of the multi-million dollar structure over a pond. Gage Brothers is tasked with providing the floor system to make the semi-buoyant structure a reality.

Gage Brothers is manufacturing 1,030 linear feet of beams and 14,000 square-feet of solid slabs for the development. They will also produce 9,000 sq. ft. of 8” solid plank precast slabs for both the east and west side of Engel Street.

The Landing will be situated in the Promenade of Wayzata’s east block and marks the return of a hotel to Lake Minnetonka for the first time in 50 years. The city of Wayzata first approved the general plan for the Promenade of Wayzata in 2008 – the largest redevelopment project in the city’s 161-year history. The 14.5-acre Promenade demolished the old Bay Center Mall, a 1960s-vintage shopping center on swampland near Lake Minnetonka.

In the 1800s, upscale resorts and hotels dotted the shores of Lake Minnetonka, but the last of these closed/shuttered in 1964.

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A rendering of The Landing hotel building in Wayzata. (Photo credit: BohLand Development)

Architects from the Cunningham Group and city officials spent a great deal of time discussing how the Landing could harken back to Wayzata’s rich summer resort history. As a result of those conversations, the exterior of the Landing is designed as a throwback to an earlier era and pays homage to former resorts that were on the lakeside.

The Landing’s design elements include clapboard siding, stone, metal accents, two levels of verandas, dormers and fabric awnings.

Connecticut-based Hay Creek Hospitality will oversee operations of the hotel and restaurant. Many of their hotels are in quaint small town lakefront communities like: Kennebunkport, M.E.; Charleston, S.C.; Steamboat Landing, N.Y.; and Exeter & Wolfsboro, N.H.

The precast materials will be delivered by Gage Brothers by the end of January 2016. Construction is expected to begin by summer, with a soft opening anticipated for December 2016 and final completion in early 2017.

Tom Kelley named a Fellow of PCI  

pciGage Brothers President Tom Kelley has been named a fellow of the Precast/Prestressed Concrete Institute (PCI).

This action was taken at the 2015 Fall Committee Days Conference at the advice of the Fellows Nominating Committee to recognize Kelley’s outstanding contributions to the precast concrete structures industry and to the institute.

Among the most highly respected professionals across all lines of the precast concrete business, Kelley joined the Gage Brothers engineering department in 1980. He was promoted to Vice President of Operations in 1986 and has served as the company’s president since 2002.

Kelley has steered Gage Brothers to tremendous growth during his tenure, standing at the forefront of new technologies to enhance the quality of precast and establish market dominance for the century-old company based out of Sioux Falls, S.D.

Kelley rose through the ranks of PCI from Secretary/Treasurer (2011), to Vice Chair (2012) to Chairman of the Board in 2013.

In addition, Kelley’s work with fellow PCI board members has helped expand PCI’s presence on an international scale and to vastly improve the status of the PCI Journal.

Kelley will be presented the award at the 2016 PCI Convention, which will be held March 1-5, 2016 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee.