Project Update: University of Saint Mary is on the move!

The University of Saint Mary in Leavenworth, Kansas is on the move. Straub Construction is proud to have worked with the University on many of their recent renovations.

USMThanks to a generous donation by Charles J. Berkel, the University was able to build a state-of-the-art sports facility on their campus. Berkel, who died in November 2013, was the founder of Berkel & Co. Contractors Inc., a Bonner Springs-based firm that became a national leader in deep foundation construction.

The facility includes an artificial turf football field and full track including lighting for night events. A 10,000 sq. ft. building which includes locker rooms, concessions, press box and a presidential suite means the University has one of the top facilities in their conference.  A new softball field was also built as part of the project.

USMJames Mowdy and Rodney Pullen were the superintendents for Straub Construction, and Jason Riordan was the project manager. Daniel Cooper and John Southard, Hollis+Miller Architects served as project architects. Jarrod Mann and Ian Hartsig from Professional Engineering Consultants were the MEP engineers, Vance Rzepka from VSR Design was in charge of the athletic field design and landscaping. Brett Napier from Napier Engineering was the civil engineer.

Straub Construction was also involved in the renovation of the St. Joseph Dining Hall that finished in early March. These renovations brought state-of-the-art dining facilities to the University. Halbach and Associates was the architect, Lankford and Fendler was the MEP engineer and Bob D. Campbell was the structural engineer.

Straub Construction is proud to be partnered with the University of Saint Mary on these expansion projects!

Employee Spotlight : David Baalmann

David BaalmanDavid Baalmann has been with Straub Construction since December 2007 serving as a Superintendent. During this time, David has successfully completed schools, churches, a manufacturing facility, even a recreation center — eleven projects overall.

Never one to back away from challenges, he jumped off the high board at the pool and swam to the side at the age of 3! David was known for a long time that he wanted to be involved in construction, ever since he helped add on to his family home when he was growing up in Oakley, Kansas. He went on to complete his degree in Construction Science and Management from K-State in 2004.

David was nominated this spring for Superintendent of the Year by the Kansas City Chapter of the American Subcontractors Association. This follows a recognition last year by the ABC Heartland Chapter Award for Excellence in Construction for the Westmor Industries Expansion.

“I like to interact with the guys on the site, getting to see everything that can be done with a little teamwork. The Straub team is more of a family which is the best part about it.”

“I love to spend time with my friends and family. I also love to play golf, but with kids’ activities, my chances to play have gone down in the last couple of years.” David and his wife Julie have an eight year old daughter, and seven and five year old sons.

Recently David gave back to the Noble Prentis Elementary School participating in a career fair for 3rd to 5th graders. “Everyone had a lot of fun as we talked about different tools used on the job, safety, different types of projects, what classes are needed in the construction industry, and then let them do a little hands-on work of driving a nail or two into a board. They did great on it. Only two or three nails got bent over out of a hundred or so that were driven.”

David’s favorite quote: “It is what it is”.

In the right place at the right time.

Hope HouseI am going a little different direction today. Most of our blogs have been about our great people, examples of our quality work or some flavor of life story or experience. Today I want to hit a subject that is serious and still prevalent in our society but I hope is not divisive: domestic violence.

Recently, I had an experience that was extremely eye opening. We were woken up at 3:00 am in our home to the screams of a woman and man arguing somewhere outside. It was clear things were escalating but we weren’t sure where it was coming from. I went downstairs to see what was going on when I heard her crying out for help.

New HouseAs I approached the scene, it was clear that the woman was scared. I saw the in her eyes. She was on the ground with a man holding her down and not letting her up. When I approached, she was able to get away and the man drove off.

They had been driving through our neighborhood, gotten into a fight and he wasn’t letting her out of the car. They just happened to stop in front of our house.

My wife and I took her inside and called the police. As we tried to calm her down and check her injuries, we learned all about her situation.  This was not the first time she had been abused by the man. Her immediate reaction was anger and frustration but the conversation quickly turned into the classic concerns on what she will do, where will she go and how will she manage without this person.

“He’s a great guy when he doesn’t drink. He just flips a switch.”

Safe HouseIt’s hard to understand the thoughts that you hear and read about victims of domestic violence having, but that make no logical sense to those on the outside.

Fortunately, this particular incident didn’t become something worse. But what happens next time? I hope and pray this young woman gets out of her situation. I hope she reaches out to one of the many organizations in our community that help and serve those affected by domestic violence.

Rose BrooksI also hope and pray that if you or someone you know is in this kind of situation, that you reach out for help. And I hope that the young man gets help as well.

Below is a list of organizations and resources that are in our community who can help.

Hope House:


Newhouse shelter:

Rose Brooks Center: