Our Interns Lead a Project for the Olathe Pregnancy Center

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

Intern Project for Olathe Pregnancy CenterFor the third year in a row, the Summer Internship Program at Straub Construction has culminated with our interns, Connor Wentz-Hall, Justin Briggs, and Trevor Scheumann planning and managing a volunteer/building project.

At Straub Construction, we take a very comprehensive approach to our summer internships.

Our interns spend time working in the field, in the estimating department, shadowing a project manager, and finally they get to plan and execute their own volunteer project. This year we had the privilege of working with Olathe Pregnancy Center, an organization that provides educational and material support to pregnant mothers from early on in their pregnancy, till years after.

We discovered the need for this project when Straub Construction was selected to renovate their new Olathe location. We were informed from the owner that they were only renovating half of the space because they didn’t have the funds to complete the whole space. When we heard this, we knew that our volunteer project was exactly what they needed. So, our volunteer committee and interns started to plan.

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Each intern took on their own role on the project.

Justin served as the Estimator which included determining how much material that we would need for the project and also reaching out to vendors for material donations. Connor took on the Project Manager Role which included creating the project schedule, determining and planning our project labor, and assembling necessary project tools. Trevor, who was also one of our interns last year, was the superintendent, which included planning the labor schedule for the volunteer days and overseeing those volunteer days.

On a Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, groups of Straub Construction employees and family members assembled at The Olathe Pregnancy Center and got after it! Projects included removing carpet and base, cutting and installing wood paneling, patch and mudding drywall, priming and painting all the walls and cabinets, frosting windows, painting counter tops, and much more. The Straub volunteers were extremely focused on getting their jobs done, only stopping shortly for a quick pizza and drink break. At the end of the two volunteer days, all the workers went home filled with pride from the work they’d done, and maybe a few paint fumes.

Intern Project for Olathe Pregnancy Center Intern Project for Olathe Pregnancy Center

In response to the work that was done on the volunteer project weekend, Mary with The Olathe Pregnancy Center said, “I walked through our clinic-in-the-making today, and I was so blown away by the work the volunteers did in the back area! The paint looks amazing back there and I know that was a ton of work! And the kitchen cabinets too! I’m sure there is more that was done over the weekend, and I just wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of you who worked on that! Really kind and wow, what a difference!”

Following the volunteer weekend, there was still a lot of work to be done.

TPC Interiors volunteered their time and materials to rebuild the ceiling grid. MC Flooring donated all the carpet and base for the space, so our interns came back and installed the flooring. MC Flooring also donated and installed LVT flooring in the kitchen area. Electrical Associates donated their time and materials to relocate a light switch. Also, cabinet hardware donated by Locks and Pulls were installed on the new painted cabinets.

This additional space will serve as a boutique where women can come and pick out essentials (diapers, wipes, clothes, toys, etc.) for their babies, a classroom type room, a kitchen, and storage area.

This was another amazing intern/volunteer project. Thank you to all the vendors and subcontractors who gave of their time and resources to make this project possible (MC Flooring, TPC Interiors, Electrical Associates, Locks and Pulls, and Home Depot).

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Stephen LaGue and the Kansas City Fellows Program

By Stephen LaGue, Project Superintendent for Straub Construction

Kansas City Fellows ProgramFrom September 2017 to May of 2018, I had the privilege and joy of learning, growing, living, and working with a wonderful group of eight other young professionals. We challenged each other as we learned practical steps to stitching faith into all areas of our lives.

The Kansas City Fellows Program is a 9-month leadership, professional, and spiritual development program for recent college graduates. Kansas City Fellows is a branch of The Fellows Initiative, a national organization that pairs with businesses and churches in over 20 cities across the US.

As I approached graduation from the Construction Management Program at John Brown University in Siloam Springs, Arkansas, I was encouraged to look into the Fellowship program in my home town of Kansas City. It seemed like a great fit for where I was at in life, and I soon found that this couldn’t have been more true.

The nine of us fellows were paired with different kinds of employers where we spent four days a week honing our talents and passions while being regularly challenged with the new and unfamiliar. We were also paired up with consistent and meaningful mentorship opportunities from established professionals in our field of study.

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The Kansas City Fellows organization is headed up by a leadership team that is consistently brilliant, thought provoking, competent, generous, and loving. Twice a week we met for discussions that were as challenging and robust as they were heartfelt and encouraging. For most of our discussions, we had the privilege of a new perspective in the form of guest leaders. We learned about the intersection of faith and work from over 30 different professionals coming from almost as many industries and lines of work.

I believe the Kansas City Fellowship will not stop having an impact on who I am.

Kansas City Fellows ProgramI find myself unable to fully express my gratitude for the opportunity to think so intentionally through what I believe and how that lines up so practically with the way I work, live, and play. In the past year, I’ve learned that the God of the Bible designed us not only for worship and relationship with Him, but also for our work and for our place in the community. Whatever piece you play in the massive jigsaw puzzle that is human existence, it has beautiful and inimitable meaning. Seeing yourself as a designed and thought out part of the big story of life provides so much freedom for flourishing in work and relationships.

If you know someone who is approaching, or in the midst of, that challenging transition from student to professional, encourage them to apply to a Fellowship in whatever city interests them. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I would like to thank my mentor Mike Barr. I’ve been sharpened and encouraged by my time with you. Thank you to Christ Community Church for being a loving family and discipling me so well. And most of all, I want to offer thanks to Kris, Kevin, Carol and to my eight classmates for an unforgettable and life-changing year.

Learn more about Fellows

Kansas City Fellowship: kansascityfellows.com
The Fellows Initiative: thefellowsinitiative.org

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.

The Straub Construction Picnic was a blast again this year!

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

Straub Construction PicnicJune. It’s the time of year when temperatures get warm and the lightning bugs come out (along with the mosquitos…) And it was also time for the 20th annual Straub Picnic. This year didn’t disappoint! We had a great turnout again this year. We brought in the usual bouncy house and face painting for the kids. And of course burgers and beverages along with the raffle so that everyone goes home a winner!

The Families

For me, the best part is catching up with the spouses and family members of our team. It’s amazing how much the kids grow and change from year to year. We’ve watched them grow up before us and now they’re starting families.

Ice Cream!

For the kids, and many adults, the ice cream truck’s arrival may be the best part. This year the ice cream truck showed up in the middle of the raffle, but that didn’t stop the kids. We might have had a couple winners who even had to be called away from the truck to pick their prize!

The first timers always comment on how much fun our picnic is. We’re already looking forward to next year!

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Bring Your Kids to Work Day is a Big Deal at Straub

Straub Construction: Bring Your Kids to Work Day

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

One of our favorite days of the year at Straub Construction is the day we get to bring our kids to work. It gives them a chance to see what mommy and daddy do every day. This year, Bring Your Kids to Work Day was jam packed with a bunch of activities from different departments at Straub.

Here’s a look back at some of those activities.

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Estimating

The first activity that the kids participated in was a Quantity Takeoff with our Estimating Department. In this activity, the young estimators looked at project plans and tallied up a list of items within the plans. These items included things such as fireplaces, toilets, bathroom sinks, fire extinguisher closets, water fountains, etc. This activity showed the kids just a few things that the estimating department does on a daily basis and tested their attention to detail.

Straub Construction: Bring Your Kids to Work Day

Marketing

Following the estimating activity, the kids got to spend some time with the Marketing Department. During this time, the kids all went outside to watch a drone flight and got to see what the drone sees when it’s hundreds of feet in the air. Following the flight, we went inside and watched the drone video, where the kids got some good laughs watching themselves dance around on the video.

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Project Management

After Marketing, the young employees moved into the Project Management Department. This was another fun activity, where the kids build bridges using just Dots (candy) and toothpicks. After building the bridges, they were all tested to see how much weight they could hold before breaking. Two of the bridges could withstand the weight of the small stapler and tape dispenser, but none of them were any match for the heavy-duty stapler.

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On Site

Once the Project Management activity was complete the group took a quick break for some pizza. After everybody was full, it was time to get out on a job site. It was a perfect day to do this because there was a concrete pour going on at St. Paul’s Catholic Church so the kids got to enjoy watching the machines and people at work.

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Carpentry

The final event of the day was an especially fun one because the kids were provided with some materials that had been measured and cut, and they got to learn a little bit of carpentry. With the help of their parents, the young carpenters assembled a bunch of boxes for the game Washers. Additionally, they spray painted their washers whatever color they wanted. This was a great learning experience for the kids and now they all have a fun game to play that they built themselves.

Thank you again to everyone that helped out with this great event. And a special thanks to all the awesome kids who were so eager to participate and learn. This was another great year for Bring Your Kids to Work Day and we can’t wait until it comes around again next year!

Ten Years in the Office, Time to Hit the Field

By De Nell Morris, Project Assistant at Straub Construction

Straub Construction: De Nell's Field ExperienceI’ve been with Straub Construction for almost ten years, and I’ve spent the majority of my time working in the office as a Project Assistant.

As a Project Assistant, I act as support on every project from issuing work orders, change orders, assembling operation maintenance manuals, analyzing job costs, managing our project management software Procore, and much more. Most of the time, I’ve been working in the office. For many years I have wanted to spend some time working in the field. So, about a month ago, I finally decided to go for it and asked if I could spend some time out on a project, and my boss agreed.

For the last four weeks, I’ve spent two days a week on job sites doing all kinds of jobs from finish carpentry to cleaning. These few weeks have been such a great learning experience and I’ve really enjoyed the work that I have gotten to do.

The Physical Work

I love my position as a project assistant, but what I have learned from being out in the field is that when you spend so long in an office, it’s easy to become detached from the physical work being done every day. We spend so much time looking at plans, that we see projects through that lens and don’t see the day to day operations.

Straub Construction: De Nell's Field ExperienceI’m married to an iron worker, so I have an idea of how difficult this kind of work is, but you don’t truly understand until you’ve done it yourself. We take a lot of things for granted being in the office such as having clean bathrooms right down the hall, getting fresh coffee whenever we want it, having all of our equipment handy, and turning on the AC or heater when it’s hot or cold. Being out in the field, you’re not afforded these kinds of luxuries.

Despite the many challenges of being in the field, all of the people that I worked with really love their jobs and being out in the field. The experience has given me a greater appreciation for the work that’s done every day on our job sites. Also, it has given me a more personal connection to these projects; bringing them to life for me with a personal connection.

I am excited to be back out in the field two days this week continuing to learn. I will be working on job sites two days a week for the foreseeable future. Thank you to all of our field employees for all of the hard work that they do, and a special thanks to Jeff Walters, James Mowdy, George Dinneen, and Rodney Pullen for their training and guidance. Also, an additional thanks to Dan VanDonge and Doug Heinen for putting their confidence in me and giving me this opportunity!

From Superintendent to Solemn Mass Candle Bearer in 15 Minutes

By David Baalman, Superintendent for Straub Construction

Straub Construction: Benedictines of Mary ProjectI grew up going to a Catholic School where it was ingrained in me to do what I’m told. I learned respect and the value of hard work from the stern sisters who taught me. All of this has stuck with me through the years and helped make me who I am today.

My current project at Straub Construction has brought back a sense of nostalgia for those elementary days. I am the project superintendent at the Benedictines of Mary Queen of the Apostles in Gower, Missouri, where I’m overseeing the construction of the church for the cloistered nuns’ growing community.

But the nuns serving here in Gower are quite different than the sisters I remembered. These women are some of the happiest and most devoted people I’ve ever met. It’s an honor working with them to co-create the church they’ve imagined, not to mention how much I’m personally impacted every day while working with the sisters. Kind and patient though they may be, just being around the sisters here has been quite a stretching experience.

Building a New Church with Old World Construction

Straub Construction: Mass Candle BearerIt’s been one of the most unique structures I’ve been a part of during my career in construction. Unlike most of today’s modern structures, the sisters wanted a place of worship with an old world feel. Imagine a church in a French countryside, circa 1280 AD. All stone exterior, vaulted ceilings and buttresses, a huge bell tower… you get the idea.

Working on a church, especially for a monastery that about 40 sisters call home, is a unique kind of project. My role as a superintendent goes way beyond managing the creation of a functional space for a client. Each of the dimensions and aspects of the church has a sacred reason and intentional purpose. It’s my job to ensure that the construction process goes smoothly, but to also understand the “why” behind the construction.

Throughout the process, I’ve had the honor of working closely with Mother Cecilia. In some ways, she reminds me of the nuns who taught me in elementary school. She’s got a no-nonsense air about her, and isn’t shy to tell me her opinion or ask for help when she needs it. Whether it’s helping the sisters unload a truckload of feed for the livestock, or going over the Catholic history and purpose of the sanctuary design, Mother Cecilia teaches me so much about my faith every day.

She’s not afraid to push me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis, but nothing like the cold windy week last fall.

A Visit From the Cardinal

Straub Construction: Mass Candle BearerThe Cardinal, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke would be visiting the monastery on the week of November 20th. Over the course of a few days he would be doing a retreat for the nuns, bless their cemetery, and serve in a Solemn Pontifical High Mass. It was a huge honor for the sisters, and there was a buzz of excitement in the air for weeks leading up to the visit.

Mother Cecilia stopped in my trailer on the Friday before and asked if I’d participate in the ceremony to bless the cemetery. My stomach dropped. Now, I may have a Catholic background, but I’m definitely not used to the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony she was describing, let alone having to play a part in it! I tried to politely voice my hesitation, muttering something about not having a cassock or knowing any Latin.

With her steady smile and reassuring voice, Mother Cecilia countered my objections and told me I would do just great. And besides, what superintendent gets to say that they’ve participated in a religious ceremony with a Cardinal? Her excitement and confidence in me melted my resolve and I agreed.

It truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity. Besides the brief panic over forgetting my black shoes, (shout out to the owner’s rep, Paul Villotti, who lent me some of his) and feeling a little lost in all the Latin, it was a beautiful ceremony. Afterwards, His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke sought me out to thank me for the great job on the construction of their church as well as the help on the blessing ceremony.

Getting Out of My Comfort Zone

The Solemn Pontifical High Mass was scheduled for the following day and I was looking forward to attending. It was a rare opportunity to attend a Latin Mass led by a Cardinal! And this time, I didn’t have to worry about wearing a cassock or doing anything. Or so I thought.

I was up on a scaffold that morning, going over one of the flashing details when Mother Cecilia came to find me. She said “I’ve miscounted the servers we have for today’s mass and I need your help. I know you have the shoes and cassock here to do it!” It wasn’t so much a request as a statement of fact. I had been nervous about my small role in the blessing ceremony, but this was a whole other ball game.

I learned later that most people take three days in seminary training to learn the role of a candle bearer I was asked to perform. I had five minutes. My heart was pounding as I put on my cassock, rolled up the hem of my blue jeans, and tried to memorize all that Mother Cecilia and Father Drew were telling me.

We went into the sacristy and I grabbed my candle, then prayed that it didn’t go out during the ceremony. I worried about accidentally lighting the Cardinal’s robes on fire, but I pushed my concerns and nerves aside, hoping for the best.

Straub Construction: Mass Candle BearerJust like the day before, I didn’t understand everything that was going on throughout the ceremony, but it felt so special to get to be a part of it. I knelt with the candle while the fourteen other people attending did their various roles to help the Cardinal prepare for the mass. I was able to get the hang of genuflecting then standing without tripping over my robes. Even though I couldn’t tell what was all going on, it was clear each step of the process was full of sacred symbolism.

About five minutes into the Mass, I caught a glimpse of Mother Cecilia and she had the biggest grin on her face. Seeing that made all the nervousness from stepping out of my comfort zone worth it. I didn’t realize it when I went into work that day that I’d become one of the very few lay-people who can actually say they’ve been a part of a Solemn Pontifical High Mass.

So yes, I went from Superintendent to Solemn Mass Candle Bearer in 15 Minutes. And it was an amazing experience.

Merry Christmas From Straub Construction and Casino Night Recap

A very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from Straub Construction! We hope that everyone enjoys some much-deserved time off with family and friends!

Straub Casino Night

Straub Construction: Casinoe Night 2017To celebrate the Christmas Season as a team, we had our annual casino night at the office recently. This is an event that all our employees look forward to every year because it allows us to relax, unwind, and have some fun with our coworkers and families. It’s also a testament to our company culture… because we always have a handful of past employees who show up to enjoy some fun with their Straub Construction Family. But who can blame them? With the prospect of delicious appetizers and desserts from Paulo and Bill, all kinds of drinks, and casino games all night, it’s definitely a fun evening.

Wheeling 'n DealingFor this event, we hired Wheeling n’ Dealing to set up casino tables (poker, blackjack, roulette, craps and more.) Something new this year is that we were able to have the casino set up in our new gaming room. (Wheeling n’ Dealing was really happy that they didn’t have to take everything up to our second floor!) They also provided professional dealers for the games. My personal favorite is craps, even though the rules must be re-explained to me every year. That’s where the dealers come in. They’re more than happy to continuously explain how the game works and help you along the way.

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Every Straub employee and their guests are given “$15,000 of Straub Money” to gamble with, and at the end of the night the three people with the most play money receive a prize. This year was the year of the ladies, because all the prize winners were female. (We’ll get them next year men!)

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Another Christmas tradition that we continued at Straub Construction this year was our White Elephant Gift Exchange. We had twenty-one participants with a wide range of presents. It was a pretty crazy gift exchange; with secret partnerships being formed, partnerships turning on each other, conspiracies all around, fathers stealing from sons, sons stealing back from fathers, and family rivalries being formed. It reminded me of an episode of Game of Thrones! But in the end, everyone had an awesome time and we can’t wait until next year to do it again!

Here are some photos from the White Elephant Gift Exchange.

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Straub Construction: Casino Night 2017

AIA Kansas City Design Excellence Awards

By Hannah Morrey Brown, Project Manager at Straub Construction, talking about the recent AIA Kansas City Design Excellence Awards.

A group of Straub employees recently attended the local AIA Design Excellence Awards this past November 10th located at the beautiful 1900 Building in Mission Woods. The night consisted of great food and drinks, catching up with many of our local architecture partners, and an awards presentation. It was a great evening celebrating some of the amazing designs that have been created by architects in the Kansas City area. Straub would like to congratulate El Dorado Architects for winning Project of the Year 2017!

“The AIA Kansas City Design Excellence Committee is challenged each year to create a unique event to recognize and celebrate the great design completed by local firms. This is our signature annual event, drawing 400 people from the design community. Each year, this committee convenes a jury and coordinates the celebration to honor the best in architecture and design.”

– AIA Kansas City

AIA Event 2017 - Straub Team

From left to right: Matthew Straub, Parker Young, Hannah Morrey Brown, Ernie Straub IV, Jason Riordan, Nolan Cisper, and Joe Riedel.

AIA Event 2017 - Award Presentation

Straub Construction: Labor Day 2017

By Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction, talking about Labor Day 2017

The annual Straub Labor Day picnic a few weeks ago was a huge success! Our very own Parker Young, Dan VanDonge, and Ernie Straub contributed to the cooking by making delicious chicken, ribs, and brisket. It was a great afternoon of fellowship and food with the entire office and field staff together. And the perfect way to celebrate all the hard work our Straub employees do year-round!

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