Pax Intrantibus: Peace to Those Who Enter (Drone video)

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

Drone license… check. New drone… check. It’s been three months since I received my drone pilot license and new drone, and I’m putting them to work!

With the purpose of getting additional flight hours/practice under my belt, I headed up to Gower, Missouri where we were putting the finishing touches on an important project. After eighteen months of construction, The Abbatial Church of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles is nearing completion. My intent was to simply get some practice, but the video I captured was worth sharing.

Pax Intrantibus: Peace to Those Who Enter

As you enter the site, a Latin phrase adorns the top of the gateway, which in English reads, “Peace to Those Who Enter.” Over the last several years, we’ve been blessed to work alongside a group of women who have dedicated their lives to peace and service. They remind us to slow down and find the peace in our daily lives, especially during this holiday season. As the construction activity comes to an end, we look forward to restoring more peace to their world.

This has been a challenging and rewarding project for our team. We’ve worked with the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles on many different projects for many years, and we are honored to be completing this beautiful church for this group of amazing women.


Procore’s 2018 Groundbreak Conference.

By Dan VanDonge, Senior Project Manager for Straub Construction

Dan VanDongeNovember 13th through 15th were action packed days at Procore’s 2018 Groundbreak conference in Austin, Texas. We’ve been a partner with Procore for 5 ½ years now, and we’re proud to be associated with such a great platform. Procore helps us collaborate and communicate with the highest level of transparency on all of our projects. The conference included a state of the art innovation lab, four breakout sessions daily, and a number of keynotes featuring Procore brass along with guest speakers Peyton Manning and Marc Randolph.

Collaborating with Industry Leaders

In addition to the many scheduled activities, we were able to find time to hang out with industry leaders, specifically representatives from JM Coull based out of Massachusetts and Tilton Pacific out of California. These companies, along with Straub, participated in a nation wide peer group that was started years ago and the relationships continue to be strong today. Even outside this peer group, it was a great opportunity to meet other professionals in our industry and share insight into challenges and successes that we all live on a daily basis.

Procore: Only as good as the people using it.

Procore 2018 Groundbreak ConferenceWhile we continue to embrace and develop our partnership with Procore, the software is only as good as the people using it. One thing is for certain, we came back to Kansas City proud that we get to work alongside Project Managers and Superintendents at Straub that leverage this project management platform as good or better than anyone in our industry.

A big thanks to Procore and our industry peers for a great all around experience at Groundbreak 2018!


The Dedication of the Abbatial Church of Our Lady Queen of Apostles

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

On September 9th, a beautiful ceremony took place in Gower, Missouri at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus. The Dedication of a Catholic Church is a very specific process that exists in order to consecrate and dedicate to God a material temple, as the Church consecrates most things that serve religious usage.

The Dedication

This dedication involved over 75 religious people from bishops, priests, sisters, and monks. It started on the outside of the church where the exteriors were blessed, accompanied by a litany of prayers and songs. After a few hours, the ceremony moved into the interior of the church, where every cross, statue, pew, font, etc. was blessed.

The Altar of the Church was the next thing to be dedicated and blessed. The Altar blessing also included the placing of the Holy Relics of three Saints. The Relics of Saint Maria Goretti, Pope Saint Pius X, and Saint John Neumann were placed into the Altar. After the Dedication ceremony was complete, the First Mass was celebrated in the newly dedicated Church. The day was concluded with a delicious celebration feast.

This was an incredible ceremony and we are blessed to be a part of such a holy place. Here are some photos from the day.

Dedication Dedication

Dedication Dedication

Dedication Dedication

Straub now has a certified drone pilot. Our first mission was St. Paul Catholic Church.

Matthew Straub in his Drone Pilot gear4By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

A few months ago, I became certified through the FAA as a Remote Pilot.

In order to fly a drone for commercial purposes, you must have, or be under, the direct supervision of someone with their remote pilot’s license. Receiving this license required numerous hours of study and passing a rigorous 60 question exam at an FAA facility. And now I’m excited to present my first drone video and project update for St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Olathe, Kansas. Yes, it was my first official mission!

St. Paul Catholic Church

The St. Paul Catholic Church project is moving right along, on schedule. The project began in December of 2017 and is scheduled to be completed by early 2019. When the building is complete, the church and school will move all of their operations from their old facility into the brand-new building.

A few weeks ago, all the teachers and staff took a tour of the new facility and they are all extremely ecstatic to move into their new building.

St. Paul Catholic Church has the Mission, “To use our diversity and compassion to inspire, teach, and nurture all to grow in their respect for God and one another as we follow Christ who willingly laid down his life for us.”

Straub Construction is happy to play a part in furthering their mission. We’re excited for the future of St. Paul Catholic Church and School, and for the many generations of students, faculty, and parishioners who will benefit from this amazing project.

Project Delivery Methods

By Joe Riedel, Director of Business Development at Straub Construction

Straub Construction - Project Delivery MethodsFor years, I’ve heard many people say “Design-Build is the way of the future.” But, if you go back to when people started saying that, now would probably be the future. And yet today, Design-Build isn’t really all that common. Even back then, it was mostly people from the A/E/C  community saying that – not the owners. The owners make the decision, not the Architects, Engineers or Construction companies.

Design-Build works very well… with some projects. It may be a really bad strategy for other situations. There are multiple Project Delivery Methods available, the most common being Design-Bid-Build (DBB), Design-Build (DB), Construction Manager at Risk (CM@R), and Construction Manager as Agent (CMA). Hybrids, like Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), are also emerging. There is no “one size fits all” solution.

The Right Delivery Method

To choose the right delivery method, owners need to evaluate the goals of each and every project. What is most important? Budget? Timeline? Risk or liability to the owner? Control over design and sub-contractor selection? These are all important factors in determining which solution will generate the best outcome for the owner.

For more than 98 years, Straub Construction has delivered quality construction management services. We take the time to understand what desired outcomes are most important to our clients. Before evaluating your next project, we welcome the opportunity to partner with you in helping to determine which method is right for you.

Not Your Father’s Education

Board PresentationBy Joe Riedel, Director of Business Development at Straub Construction

“You kids have it so easy these days.  When I was your age, I had to WALK to school UPHILL, BOTH WAYS.  THROUGH SNOW!”  Right? We’ve all heard it. To this day, I’m still not sure if our dads were saying their way was better, or if they were calling us weak.

My 10-year-old son recently had the privilege of speaking at the USD 232 Board of Education meeting. He was prepared. He worked hard on getting his thoughts together, he rehearsed, and he dressed for the occasion. Still, he was nervous. Shortly before he would go up front, I caught him chewing on one of his shirt’s buttons.

He then stepped up to the microphone, calmly spoke his thoughts and feelings, and made eye contact.

He delivered. My wife and I were so proud.

Next Gen LearningEarlier in the board meeting, one of the district’s high school robotics teams was being recognized for qualifying for a national competition. Also awesome. The feeling of pride subtly switched to reflections of how much Education has changed since I was in school. And no… I did not walk uphill both ways. But, sometimes, there was snow.

Straub’s emphasis on Education has granted me access to some of the sharpest minds in the industry, including Architects, Engineers, Project Managers, Superintendents and School Administrators. They’re thought leaders regarding Next Gen and 21st Century Learning Environments.

7 habitsI’ve also seen examples of K-12 aged kids doing “real world” activities and solving life’s real problems. These environments are enabling high schoolers to do more advanced work than what I saw in college. Even at the grade school level, our kids are being taught things like leadership principles – which circles back to my son.  He was at the board meeting as a student representative to speak on the benefits he has gained from a program implemented by his school. The Leader in Me is based on the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® by Steven Covey.  Communication and interpersonal skill are just a few of the principles coached.  I can’t wait to see the amazing things my kids and their schoolmates are doing 5-10 years from now.

Contractor by Trade, Engineer by Training, Architecture Enthusiast by Night

By Hannah Morrey Brown, Project Manager at Straub Construction

Hannah Story about FLW Trip and her love of architectureI can easily date my initial interest in buildings to the numerous Frank Lloyd Wright books laying around my house growing up. My dad was the biggest FLW fan and he was personally dedicated to finding the best space, whether it be for home or his office. The two of us spent most Sunday afternoons going to every open house in town trying to find the “perfect” place.

Contractor by Trade, Engineer by Training

Although I never viewed myself as a designer, I knew I wanted to be involved in some way with the construction industry. This led me to study Civil Engineering, although I quickly determined that engineering design was not my cup of tea.

Working in commercial construction gives me the opportunity to participate in the design process with architects, engineers, and owners to create the ultimate space for the end-user – the very pastime I loved growing up.

Architecture Enthusiast by Night

Hannah Story about FLW Trip and her love of architectureThis past month, while visiting family in Scottsdale, AZ, I had the opportunity to visit Taliesin West. Taliesin West served as Frank Lloyd Wright’s winter home, studio, and school and still functions as home and school to architecture students from October to May each year.

Taliesin means “Shining Brow” as FLW believed that a home should be built into the brow of the hill, not on top, so as to truly integrate with the surroundings. He purchased the 620 acres in 1937 and continued building new spaces and renovating his initial designs until his death in 1959.

The property also boasts a cabaret theater he designed that has 95% acoustic perfection, even better than the Sydney opera house! The structures were designated a National Historic Landmark in 1982 and are currently being considered for World Heritage Status.

Road Trip. Sometimes you just need some time away.

By Parker Young, Executive Vice President and COO at Straub Construction

Parker Young - Jackson HoleRecently, my 16 year old son and I took a relatively unplanned 2,500 mile road trip. I say relatively unplanned, because just 10 days before, most of our crew was planning to head to Lakeland, Florida. Unfortunately, our host in Lakeland was out for his daily bike ride when he got hit by an inattentive driver. Fortunately, he was wearing his helmet! But he ended up with six broken ribs. So obviously they weren’t up for a Kansas invasion. (He is well on the road to recovery, thank goodness.)

So we started kicking around ideas about where we could go together. Ultimately, my son and I ended up deciding to go skiing. I had always heard about Jackson Hole and knew the area was gorgeous from our dude ranch trip a few years ago.

So off we went.

Parker - Jackson HoleIt always amazes me the variety of geography our country has in such short stretches. We left the rolling hills of East Kansas and Northwest Missouri into the corn fields of Iowa and Nebraska. Then we hit the foothills and high desert of Wyoming and ended up at the base of the Grand Tetons. All in 15 hours!

The skiing at Jackson Hole was unlike much of the skiing that I’ve done before. You actually have to work to ski! But the best part of the trip was forming fun memories with my son. Whether it was packing into a tram with 98 others to ride to the top, or him watching me walk off a run that was way too advanced for my skills. Or listening to K-State make the Sweet Sixteen on the road home. We had some great quality time to bond.

It was a good reminder that life moves quickly and you have to take full advantage of the time you’re given. No one is going to remember the day to day grind, but we always remember what happens on a fun road trip, especially with those we care so much about. When was the last time you carved out time for a road trip? If it’s been longer than a year, I encourage you to get something on your calendar in the next three months!

Parker - Jackson Hole Parker - Jackson Hole

The Value of Peer Advisory Groups

By Parker Young, Executive Vice President and COO at Straub Construction

You can read about companies and their trials, tribulations and successes in most business books. Whether it is one of Jim Collins’, top sellers Good to Great or other great authors with books like Built to Serve, you learn about the businesses in some detail. But if you are like me, you want to know more of the detail such as how and why did certain decisions work or not work? So while reading books is an excellent starting point, they can only do so much. What are some other options?

Peer Advisory Groups

Straub Construction: Peer Advisory GroupsI’ve been a member of two different peer advisory groups for more than 10 years. The first one and longest running, in various forms, is a peer group that is comprised of individuals in similar operational roles. We have members across many industries, including advertising and blogging, insurance, moving and storage, construction and many others. You might think there’s nothing to be gained from such a variety of industries participating, but it’s amazing how many similar issues we all face. Whether it is teaching and mentoring your teams or working with ownership in strategy. We all deal with similar issues.

It’s extremely beneficial to bring a challenge to the group. There are others that are facing the challenge or may have dealt with something similar in the past. I get to learn what worked or didn’t for them. The best part is that we can work on both personal and professional issues.

You can always learn from others.  The bonds that are formed in peer groups are life changing.

I’ve also been a member of a small contractor peer group with members from Boston, Baltimore, Memphis, Denver, Sacramento and Kansas City. We’re all contractors with a variety of market niches but have similar values and approaches to business. Again, the ability to have a trusted confidant when you need a sounding board is invaluable. The goal is to make each other better and hold each other accountable.

I recognize many of you already may be a part of a peer group and can share greater, and more in-depth experiences. But this blog is for those who may not be. Peer advisory groups don’t have to be an expensive venture. My operations group meets monthly with each member hosting once a year. The host buys lunch for the group. I can tell you my return on the $150 lunch has been immeasurable!

If you’re interested in joining or forming a peer advisory group, just ask your network. I guarantee there are plenty of people that would love the opportunity to collaborate with you. The best groups are made up of people that care about each other on many levels. So that’s who you should invite. We all learn better as a group!

The Boy on the Bridge

Guest story from Susan Straub

It was dusk on a surprisingly warm Saturday on January 27th. I was running late, headed home. I knew Ernie was waiting for me to get home so we could go to a charity event.

Straub Construction: Boy on a BridgeI have a habit of running a little late so I was hoping to hurry home when a white car caught my eye. It seemed out of place, parked on a highway overpass on Shawnee Mission Parkway. Just past the vehicle, I saw someone. I looked closer as I passed him. No shoes. Ragged clothing. Unwashed hair in a ponytail. He looked young and extremely agitated. And he was leaning over the side of the bridge.

Something inside me went on high alert, and I instinctively slowed down. Another car was coming behind me, and I watched as it passed by the boy and kept going. The boy was still on the bridge, looking down into the oncoming highway traffic.

I started whispering a Hail Mary and then a prayer to St. Michael.  “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard…”

As I looked up to the overpass, I could see the boy back up, away from the ledge. My heart started racing as I was not sure what I was to do now..

Can I be honest? I’m not one to jump into action when there’s a crisis.

Straub Construction: Boy on the BridgeIn emergency situations, I usually back up, I let others be the first responders, people more equipped to handle things. And I’m definitely not in the habit of helping strangers on the side of the road at night. I’m great at helping in the aftermath, but in the moment, I freeze up.

I was really hoping that other car would stop. But it didn’t, and no other cars were coming. It was just me, and I knew I had to help. So I took the exit and turned around, coming back up on the road beside him.

He eyed me as I pulled up in front of him. Rolling down my window, I called out “Excuse me, are you okay? Can I help you?” He came towards my car, and I got nervous all over again.

His face was even younger up close. He looked like he hadn’t cleaned himself in a week, and tears were streaked down his face. “Yeah, can you get a piece of paper and write down my name? I’m going to kill myself and I want people to know who I am.”

My heart was racing. My fingers shook as I scrambled to find a pen. I had to ask him to repeat his name, and I just started talking, trying to say anything I could think of to convince him to change his mind. I told him about how Jesus had sent me back to talk to him, and he spat back that he hadn’t believed in God since he was seven. He leaned into the door of my car, unloading all of his pain. He was addicted to drugs and an alcoholic. He felt confused about his sexual identity and was certain his parents didn’t love him. “I just can’t do this any longer.”

I felt his desperation, and saw the confusion and hurt riddled on his face. I can’t even remember what all I said, but I blurted out everything I could think of to convince him he didn’t need to do this. He didn’t need to have it all figured out. That it was ok if it took a couple tries to be free from his addiction. I said, “You can’t do this alone, but Jesus can help you through this.”

“Well, I don’t believe in Jesus.”

I pointed right at him and said, adamantly, “But He believes in you!”

I thought he was starting to hear what I was saying, but a few minutes in, he got more frustrated. Without warning, he jumped in his car and peeled out, speeding down Shawnee Mission Parkway.

At least he wasn’t the boy on the bridge any more.

Not sure what to do next, I drove home, heartsick and praying. I told Ernie what just happened, and he convinced me to call the Shawnee Police. So I did, telling the dispatcher everything I knew. He asked what his name was. I couldn’t remember. “Well, what was the license plate number?”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t even look at that.”

“Well, what kind of car was it?”

“Um, it was white, and dirty. I’m sorry, I didn’t notice the details. I was just so worried in the moment.”

“Well can you describe him?”

“Young man, I believe he said he was 18. He wasn’t wearing any shoes, and he had a ponytail and a nose ring.”

“Ma’am, we have him here. There’s a boy, matching that description, here at the station right now.”

My hand flew to my chest. and I sighed with relief. I didn’t know how he got there, but it felt like a huge blessing from God that I knew that, at least for the moment, he was okay. The dispatcher reassured me that there were staff trained to help in these situations.

Straub Construction: Boy on the BridgeI still think of that young man, and pray for him every day. I know that mental illness, and struggling with addiction is a long and uphill battle. I’m sharing this story because I want to encourage others who might not always feel brave or feel like they don’t know how to help when others are hurting. I didn’t realize I was prepared for this moment, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time (running late even!)

I had been reading through Michael Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Morning Glory, a Marian Consecration devotional. A few days after this incident, I read this quote: “The greatest evil is the lack of love and charity, the terrible indifference towards one’s neighbor… People today are hungry for love, for understanding love which is much greater and which is the only answer to loneliness and great poverty.”

It was such an important reminder that people don’t need me to have the right answers or to be some superhero. Showing up and being myself really is enough. So keep your eyes and hearts open, and know that God will give you the strength when the time comes because you never know when you might see the boy on the bridge.