Bishop Sullivan Center’s One City Café is now open!

Straub Construction: One City Cafe

By Hannah Morrey Brown, Project Manager at Straub Construction

Straub Construction: One City CafeStraub Construction is excited to showcase the newly opened and completed One City Café!

This renovation of the Bishop Sullivan Center’s kitchen and dining area included a full reconfiguration of the space to accommodate a larger kitchen and more tables. The project also included a new roof, new parking lot and dock system for the pantry, a new office area, and updated restrooms for both staff and patrons.

The new space has high exposed beam ceilings, stained concrete floors, and original brick walls throughout. The architect, Matthew Connolly, also contributed five original pieces of artwork for the new dining rooms inspired by patrons and volunteers of the center. The new dining room also includes TVs for meetings, a salad bar, and coffee and tea stations.

Straub Construction: One City CafeFrom start to finish the project took just over four months, and our project superintendent, Brad Castrop, oversaw every detail including donating his time on nights and weekends to provide an updated sound system for the dining area. Our project could not have been completed without the dedicated work of both him and our subcontractors who were incredibly generous in their donations as well.

Straub was so thankful to get to know and work with the people of Bishop Sullivan Center and are excited to see One City Café take off and grow. Please go check it out next time you’re in the area!

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Project Kickoff: Emanuel Cleaver II Senior Living Community

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

Straub Construction is extremely excited to kick off a new project in Kansas City Missouri. Due to the increasing need for affordable senior living in the Kansas City Area, the St. James United Methodist Church has decided to repurpose a piece of land that they own into a new senior living community.

Over the past 5 years, the 40 Acres and a Mule Activity Campus, operated by the St. James United Methodist Church has been scarcely used to promote educational, recreational, prevention and intervention programs. As the metropolitan area continues to age, the church recognized and wanted to fill the need for quality and affordable senior living.

Emanuel Cleaver II

The senior living community is named after Emanuel Cleaver II who represents Missouri’s 5th congressional district in the US House of Representatives, former mayor of Kansas City Missouri, and who served for many years as the pastor of the St. James United Methodist Church. The St. James United Methodist Church is currently lead by Emanuel’s oldest son Dr. Emanuel Cleaver III.

The Emanuel Cleaver II Senior Living Community is located on 9 acres of land and will feature 52 townhouses and a clubhouse. The site will have a total of 18 buildings which are being built to LEED Sustainability Standards. This Senior Living Community will serve seniors over the age of 55.

Straub Construction is partnering with St. James United Methodist Church (Owner), Clark Enersen Partners (Architect), and Dalmark Management Group (Developer) to build this project. The Emanuel Cleaver II Senior Living Community project will take approximately 12 months to complete.

We’re very happy to kick off this new project in Kansas City Missouri. Now, let’s go move some dirt!

Straub Construction: Emmanuel Cleaver II Senior Living Project

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.

The Ideal Team

By Joe Riedel, Director of Business Development at Straub Construction

I admit it. And I’m proud to admit it. I’m a sucker for business books – especially those dealing with leadership and culture.

It hasn’t always been that way. When I was in my twenties, I definitely considered anyone to buy these (what I called) “self-help” books as true suckers.  Not anymore.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned that these authors might actually know more than I do about some things.

The Ideal Team Player

These books often get shared among the leaders and managers of companies who endeavor to improve their culture or business processes.  The book The Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencione was recently given as a gift to our Executive Vice President, Parker Young. Parker read it almost immediately.

It’s a quick read, which made that easy to do. The book focuses on the three main attributes people must possess to be great team players.  They must be hungry, meaning self -driven in the constant pursuit of excellence. They must be humble. They are more concerned about the team and share credit in times of success. They also generally accept blame when things don’t go so well. And finally, Ideal Team Players are smart. They understand how to read people and work with them based on the situation at hand. So, of course he wanted to share the book with the leaders at Straub.

This is not a summary of the book, The Ideal Team Player. Rather, it’s a short story about how the entire company came together to share ideas on how to be great team players. To be great, every employee – in the office and at every job site – must approach their work with ownership and the mindset of a leader.

Rolling it out to the company

Straub Construction: Ideal Team PlayerSo, we kicked the process off with an all company meeting to introduce and distribute the book to all employees (all leaders). As with all meetings, Ernie shared some great stories about what the book means to him and how it relates to the culture he and his father envisioned when they took over the company thirty plus years ago.

From there, employees were grouped up into teams of 7, including a facilitator.  All were tasked with reading the book in preparation of a follow up small group discussion. The book and assignment were well received, as lots of employees were asking questions and getting engaged right away – even before reading the book.

Fast forward to two weeks later, and we conducted our small group discussions. These groups were designed to foster diversity and inclusion. Each group had a mixture of field, project management, operations and support personnel. This provided a tremendous opportunity for all to learn more about the roles and responsibilities of just about every position in the company. In small teams, we talked about how to work better together, and everyone was sharing ideas. The takeaways from the discussions were invaluable, and we are in the process of implementing many great ideas from these conversations.

Always building the team

I’m proud to work for a company filled with Ideal Team Players. It’s not only rewarding, but it makes my job easier. When speaking with customers, I have the confidence to ensure their projects will be delivered by an entire team of people who are hungry, humble and smart.  Finally, if this type of culture appeals to you… we’re always in search of more Ideal Team Players. Pick up the phone. Give us a call. We want to talk with you.

Finishing an 11,600 Piece Puzzle for The Priory of our Lady of Ephesus

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

“That in all things God may be glorified through Mary”

On May 22nd, the final piece of the more than 11,600 piece puzzle was placed to complete an endeavor that took about 8 months to complete. This puzzle was the masonry veneer of The Priory of our Lady of Ephesus in Gower Missouri.

Inspired by the Historic Taylor Barn

The Historic Taylor BarnIt all started exactly one year to the day, on May 22nd when the project team went to see the Taylor Barn. The Benedictine’s of Mary, Queen of Apostles dreamed of a beautiful stone church that mirrored churches built hundreds of years ago. For inspiration and to get an idea of what that might look like, the project team to a trip to the Historical Taylor Barn in Lawrence, KS.

This historic barn is made of limestone and was built in 1879 and has been used as a unique event space for weddings and other events since 2007. During this visit, the ownership and design team were able to show Straub Construction what they wanted the exterior of the church to look like. We tried to tell the sisters and design team that people don’t build new construction like that anymore, but they would not be swayed. It’s almost like their decision was set in stone.

A Masonry Endeavor

The Priory of our Lady of Ephesus in Gower MissouriAfter the visit to the Taylor Barn, several masonry veneer mock-ups and samples were constructed at the project site to confirm the ability to construct the masonry details and to establish the ‘standard’ for the masonry construction. Once this mock-up was approved, Apex Construction was off to production and began laying stone. We knew this wasn’t going to be the fastest masonry endeavor, but when it was done it would be a sight to see.

Throughout the months of veneer construction, the Apex Construction crew became a welcome sight for the sisters at the Priory of our Lady of Ephesus. However, the masonry veneer wasn’t without its challenges. One of the main challenges undertaken during the veneer construction was the sequencing of the bell tower masonry. The bell tower’s location provided both a logistical and engineering challenge. The church’s roof couldn’t sustain the weight of a scaffolding system, so the stone on the bell tower had to be set before roof construction began. A scaffold system was erected from the church floor through the structure of the church to gain access to the bell tower. Once the bell tower masonry was complete and the scaffolding was removed, everyone got to marvel at a ‘floating’ stone tower fifty feet in the air.

The Priory of our Lady of Ephesus in Gower Missouri

Completion Celebration

Completion CelebrationAs the winter months turned to spring, the stone exterior that the owners and designers dreamed of was completed. After a long 8 months of work, a celebration was in order. On May 22nd, many people gathered to celebrate the blessing and setting of the cornerstone. On this beautiful day, many Straub Construction employees, the design team, and members of the community gathered in Gower to share in the celebration. The stone was set with the inscription “That in all things God may be glorified through Mary.” We hope that in hundreds of years, the Benedictine’s of Mary Queen of Apostles are still glorifying God in this beautiful church.

A special thanks to the Historic Taylor Barn for helping provide us with some inspiration and also to Studio Chyree Photography for the beautiful picture of the Historic Taylor Barn.

If You Don’t Know About New Century Fieldhouse in Gardner… You Should.

By Joe Riedel, Director of Business Development at Straub Construction

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people flow through Johnson County Park & Recreation’s New Century Fieldhouse in Gardner, KS. This project was completed by Straub Construction in 2011. When I think of New Century Fieldhouse, I think of volleyball tournaments, basketball games, and the brand-new turf for the soccer field.  However, the impact of the facility stretches far beyond traditional sports programs.

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 It Starts with the Culture

Straub Construction: New Centruy StaffShannon Sonnier oversees the daily operation of the Fieldhouse. But he credits his team of four full-time and roughly twelve part-time employees for the culture and attitude of service. In Shannon’s words, “I’ve been blessed from day one to have a fully engaged staff who care about the people we serve.”  This attitude trickles into the safety and maintenance of the facility, which shows. Although the building was completed in 2011, it looks brand new. Shannon still gets joy out of seeing people visit for the first time. Their eyes open wide and they pause for just a moment, taking in the view of the fieldhouse.

Serving Diversity

One goal of Johnson County Park & Recreation is to serve as many people as possible. They have programs that span from the indoor play park for toddlers to Pickleball and card games for seniors. They serve groups of great means, like club teams, as well as people who are able to take advantage of free and low cost services. Plus, having the vast space available inside New Century Fieldhouse affords the ability to host many unique events. Events for which the staff are extremely proud, but are somewhat unknown to people outside of the community.

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Further Community Impact

Straub Construction: New Centruy StaffNew Century Fieldhouse provides a tremendous amount of economic impact to neighboring businesses by bringing in thousands of participants and their families. It also serves as employer to many teenagers who will call Johnson County Park & Recreation their first job.  They learn work ethic, team work, punctuality and responsibility.

Quick facts:

  • 88,000 square feet
  • Completed Spring of 2011
  • 135,000 participations in 2017
  • 162,000 spectators in 2017
  • Architect:  DLR Group
  • Contractor:  Straub Construction Company

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.

The Future of St. Paul’s Catholic Church

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

Straub Construction is excited to have begun our project for the St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Olathe. The church is moving from its current location, to a new building being built off west 115th Terrace, just west of South Lone Elm Road. Having outgrown their current location and anticipating further growth, the parish is looking toward the future.

The Building

The new building will be approximately 48,000 square feet and will feature 25 classrooms, administrative offices, and a multi-purpose room which will serve as the church, gym, and cafeteria. The Pre-K through 8th grade school will be able to accommodate about 450 students and staff members.

The Team

The anticipated completion date of this project is early 2019. For this project, Straub Construction has partnered with Aaron Ledesma of HTK Architects, Bob D. Campbell is the structural engineer, and Smith & Boucher is the MEP engineer. The project manager for St. Paul’s is Nolan Cisper and the superintendent is Kip Gibler.

Straub Construction: St. Paul Catholic Church

The project is moving along very smoothly, the concrete slab was poured recently, and masonry block materials have arrived and are being installed. A special shout out to Bedrock Concrete, who are featured in these images, for their hard work and high-quality performance.

As our construction efforts march on, we are starting to see St. Paul’s Catholic Church’s vision for the future take physical form. As each stage of the construction process is completed, we’re moving closer and closer to welcoming the students, faculty, and parishioners to their future home. In early 2019, the St. Paul’s Catholic Church doors will open, and their dream for the future will be realized. We at Straub Construction are thrilled to be able to play a part in making that dream a reality!

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Straub Construction: St. Paul's Catholic Church Straub Construction: St. Paul's Catholic Church

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.

A New Church for The Singing Sisters of Gower, Missouri

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction, talking about the church project we are doing for a monastery in Gower, Missouri.

Straub Construction: Benedictines of Mary ProjectStraub Construction is currently building a beautiful church in Gower, Missouri for a monastery lead by the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles. Gower is 17 miles north of Smithville. It’s a small city with a population of about 1,500.

This is the second project that we’re building in Gower. The first was a priest’s retreat house for the Benedictines of Mary. This project is the new church right beside the retreat house. The church will be about 15,000 square feet, including the basement and loft area. It will seat about 150 people comfortably and will be finished around August of next year.

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles live a very simple but joyous life style. Their monestary, along with the retreat house, and church, sit on about 280 acres. In the Benedictine tradition, these nuns work and live on the land. They have gardens, an orchard, a honey bee farm, chickens for eggs, and cows for milk, which is where they get much of their food. You can imagine dozens of nuns in their black habits, working the fields, and milking their cows. It’s a wonderful sight to behold.

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The nuns also take a lot of pride in sewing priest’s vestments by hand, these are beautiful garments and yet another way that they provide for themselves. The work that they do is primarily done in silence. They believe that the Lord’s voice comes to them in whispers so they must be silent and listen. However, it’s the moments in the day when they aren’t silent, that the world is silent and listens… because of their beautiful singing.

When the Benedictines of Mary are not in silent reflection, they turn to a 1,500 year old form of prayer, the Gregorian Chant. They pray the Divine Office through Gregorian Chant 8 times a day and this usually takes a total of about 5 hours. As a way of connecting and bringing their message to the outside world, the Benedictines of Mary, have recorded multiple CD’s. Their CD’s have been very successful and you can understand why when you hear how beautiful their Gregorian Chant is. They have recorded a total of 6 CD’s and they’ve sold hundreds of thousands of copies over the years. Both of their first two albums reached #1 on the classical traditional Billboard charts in 2013. However, many of the nuns don’t even know how popular and inspirational their music is. If you ask any of them, they would say it’s not about selling CD’s, it’s about praising God and sharing that with the world.

These women have chosen a beautiful silent lifestyle, but we are thankful that they share their wonderful gifts with all of us.

YouTube Video of the Sister’s Gregorian Chant