January 15, 2019
January 11, 2019
Over 50 years ago, while working to put himself through his final year of college, Guy Weinzapfel was awarded a Sundt Scholarship. At the time, Sundt presented a one-year full-tuition scholarship to a fifth-year student at the University of Arizona CAPLA (College of Architecture, Planning and Landscape Architecture) who was self-supporting. For Guy, the scholarship made a huge impact. “It might have been around $250,” he said, “but back then that was a lot of money, and it let me concentrate on what was essentially my capstone.”
As a student, Guy was spending countless hours a week in a Safeway—not bagging groceries, but learning to plan, design and construct buildings. A lesser known fact of Tucson history is that from 1958 to 1965 the CAPLA’s design studios were located in a former Safeway grocery store on Park Avenue, a block southwest of the college’s current location.
Between the long hours, demanding coursework and close quarters of the repurposed building, students in the “Safeway Studios” became close friends and remained so, long after graduating.
The “Safeway Group” eventually came together as a tight-knit network of alumni. Having reaped many benefits from their careers in architecture, they wanted to pay it forward to future students. In 2010, the alumni came together under Guy’s leadership to create the Safeway Studios Alumni Scholarship—though Guy credits the idea to his wife, Jane, who herself is an architecture alumna of CAPLA and was part of the first class to graduate women in 1966. Modeled on the Sundt Scholarship of years past, the Alumni scholarship is awarded to a fifth-year student working to put him or herself through the most challenging year of an already very challenging program.
With their endowment close to reaching its target of $250,000, and the 2018 fall semester approaching, Guy reached out to Sundt Project Director Dave Ollanik for a donation. “When Guy approached me,” said Dave, “and I heard his story about the legacy of Sundt’s scholarship activities at the U of A and how it had impacted him over his 50-year career, we were excited to become the capstone of the newly formed Safeway Studios Alumni Scholarship.” Sundt contributed the last portion of the endowment, allowing the group to reach their goal and award a scholarship for the 2018-19 academic year.
The “Safeway Studios” Class of 1965, with Guy Weinzapfel on the far left.
The first recipient of the Alumni scholarship is CAPLA fifth-year student Ben Stewart, who just began his final semester in the program. “The scholarship has changed the course of my last year,” Ben said, “by increasing the time I have available to focus on my capstone, to more thoughtfully consider all that I learned during my internship this past summer and incorporate this into my final project, and time to mentor and support younger students, all without having to work an outside job. I’m extremely grateful to be the recipient of this scholarship.”
Reflecting on the team effort behind the scholarship, Guy was proud of his group: “To know the impact this will have on current and future students, it just really puffs up everyone’s chest. All of the Safeway Studios alumni gave, every single one of us. And it just further cements the bond that we’ve had since the beginning.” For Sundt’s part, we’re glad to contribute and continue the tradition of giving back to our industry and our community.
December 28, 2018
Companies and teams often brag about an “all-star recruit” who has committed to their side, but it’s not as common that we get to celebrate bringing on an “all-star recruiter.” Luckily for Sundt, that’s exactly who Madison Williams is. This week, Maddy joined Sundt as a full-time employee-owner after completing her internship with the Workforce Development Group.
Maddy grew up in Denver, Colorado, where she lived in the same home her whole life, before moving to Tempe to attend Arizona State. She has held different jobs in the service sector, but working for Sundt is her first “real, adult job” she said. Maddy graduated in December with a Bachelor of Arts in Business with an emphasis in Spanish Language and Culture. Since joining Talent Acquisition in March of last year, Maddy has been a valuable asset in recruiting top talent and helping Sundt maintain its sustainable growth as a company. When asked to share a bit about herself, she gladly obliged.
How much did you know about Sundt before you started your internship?
Honestly, not much. I was researching HR-related internships back in March, and an offer at Sundt came up in my search. I applied without really knowing what Sundt does as a company, but once I started researching, I was intrigued by the large scope of projects that Sundt is a part of. I didn’t know much about the construction industry before starting my internship, but I’ve learned so much in the short time I’ve been here.
What’s the most interesting part about being involved in the construction industry on the Talent Acquisition/Recruiting side?
The most interesting part of being in college recruiting specifically is that I get to work with people from all four groups/divisions at Sundt. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay up-to-date on all the projects going on throughout the company as a whole, but it’s been interesting to work with people from all the various disciplines and markets.
What advice would you give college students who want to work for Sundt?
I would tell them not to pigeonhole themselves into one specific type of work. A lot of college students studying construction or engineering will have an idea about the type of project they want to be on, so they don’t open themselves up to other possibilities within construction. An internship is the perfect time to explore the many different aspects of work that construction, and Sundt specifically, has to offer.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever done?
Running a marathon in under 4 hours last February. I had trained for the race, but it was my first marathon, and I was not expecting to do very well. My one goal was to finish. Once I reached the 13-mile mark, my body almost went into auto-pilot until mile 20, and then it started to get tough. But I finished in 3 hours and 46 minutes, and I realized how insanely powerful the human body is—sometimes you just have to convince your mind that it’s okay!
December 21, 2018
Deep in Nevada’s backcountry, between the Toquima and Toiyabe mountain ranges whose peaks top 11,000 feet, Kinross’s Round Mountain Gold Mine is one of the most rugged and remote places Sundt has ever performed work. Having overcome weather, travel, and logistical challenges, Project Manager Derek Neill expressed pride in his team’s resilience thus far. The already-massive open-pit mine is being expanded, and since September we’ve been building new processing facilities to accommodate its growth.
Sundt is self-performing the majority of work on the PEMBs (pre-engineered metal buildings), which will serve as new processing facilities for the gold mine.
“This one was a short fuse,” said Derek on the project’s quick start, “so you have to get creative with staffing, training, housing, and transportation”—and that’s just to get to the work, let alone perform it. Sundt has taken several steps to ensure necessary manpower and resources for the project. We’ve leased a temporary housing camp, which employee-owners have rightly named “Camp Grit,” and rented vehicles that can handle harsh conditions, including two 52-passenger buses equipped with tire chains. Then there’s onboarding, MSHA training, warehousing and equipment, and IT needs to account for, and it becomes clear just how much coordination is required to deliver as promised on such a job. “We’re prepared though,” said Derek, “mainly because we can cherry-pick from a deep roster of skilled craft professionals. I’ve got some real road warriors; they’d work on the moon if that’s where the job was.” Moreover, everyone here realizes the importance of doing well on this job, as it can open new doors in an important market like Nevada.
Round Mountain Gold Mine sits at 6,800 feet in elevation and is located 55 miles north of Tonopah, Nevada. Kinross Gold Corporation, a Toronto-based mining company, acquired full ownership of the mine from Barrick Gold Corporation in 2016.
With over 150 Sundt employee-owners on site, we’re self-performing a large majority of the work, including rebar, cold-weather concrete, and even architecture. The scope includes multiple PEMBs (pre-engineered metal buildings) and related civil, structural, mechanical, piping, electrical and instrumentation work. Self-performing allows for better control of scheduling and quality, especially with several risk factors already in play. “It’s gotten down to 5 or 7 degrees here, and at that point the project just turns into an ice rink,” said Derek. “We had to buy special cleats for our boots so guys wouldn’t be sliding around out there.”
A large-tonnage open-pit operation, Round Mountain is known for its high yields of gold, as well as its safety and environmental programs. The mine is a strong supporter of local community initiatives and is the largest private employer in Nye County, NV.
Add to these conditions a demanding six-day work week, and time off to see family about once a month (at best), and you might think workforce morale would be another challenge. The attitude here couldn’t be more positive, though, according to Derek. “These guys come to work so motivated, and we actually have a lot of fun.” Crews have taken ownership of the Grit part of Sundt’s tagline and now have “Got Grit?” sewn on their hats and jackets. “I know that our whole company has grit,” said Derek, “but I think we have the grittiest team.” Challenge accepted, Derek. Challenge accepted.
The Sundt Round Mountain Project Team poses together for a photo in front of “Camp Grit”
December 12, 2018
“All you can take with you is that which you give away”—even if you haven’t seen the classic Christmas movie It’s a Wonderful Life, these are still great words to live by. Throughout the year and especially around the holidays, Sundt employee-owners make a point to give back to the communities where they live and work. Here are just a few of the many holiday drives that our people have participated in across the country, spreading cheer and helping people in need. Thanks to all who contributed.
Sundt employee-owners in Sacramento and Monterey (incl. our project team at the Sac State Ernest E. Tschannen Science Complex), participated in the Sacramento Sheriff’s Toy Drive for children across the region—and had loads of fun while they were at it!
Our San Antonio office, San Pedro Creek project team and I-10 Old Fred project team donated to a holiday toy drive for the Rainbow Room, an organization that serves children in Child Protective Services. Also, Sundt employee-owners in San Antonio held their annual coat drive this month. They doubled the number of coats donated this year to Haven for Hope.
Sundt’s Irvine office and area projects hosted a toy drive for CHiPs for Kids, which has been hosted by the California Highway Patrol for the past 30 years.
Our San Diego office partnered with Support the Enlisted Project (STEP), an organization that sponsors enlisted families in need during the holiday season, and we were able to sponsor a total of 10 families.
Sundt’s HACEP (Housing Authority of the City of El Paso) project team donated $1,000 to the 51st Annual Senior Citizen Holiday Event, benefiting over 400 senior citizens living in affordable housing. Employee-owners from our El Paso office also volunteered their time for two nights to prepare and serve turkey dinners.
Our Fort Worth office participated in a canned food drive for the Tarrant Area Food Bank. Each month, TAFB and its partners provide groceries and/or meals to more than 53,000 households.
Sundt employee-owners in Tucson gathered toys and gifts for Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse and participated in a blood drive with the American Red Cross.
The Sundt Foundation donated $20,000 to St. Mary’s Food Bank in Phoenix; our Tempe and Phoenix offices participated in the Arizona Builders Alliance Toy Drive, which helped over 1,200 children; and we “adopted” 25 children and four college students from Sunshine Acres and helped fulfill their personal wish lists.
Texas Tech University at El Paso College of Architecture junior Lupita Chao Zambrano was recently named the grand-prize winner of Sundt Construction’s “Art of Building: A Design Competition.” For her winning piece, Lupita earned a $5,000 scholarship to help with her spring tuition. Her hanging sculpture titled “Cultural Symbiosis” depicts El Paso’s iconic Franklin Mountains and Scenic Drive, next to the neighboring Sierra de Juárez mountains. The piece was made using wire and volcanic rocks, and it will be mounted to a steel beam in Sundt’s downtown El Paso office. Following her big win, Lupita took some time to share about her inspiration and her plans for the future.
What made you decide to study architecture?
It’s funny, actually. I was always an artsy kid, but I wanted to play professional basketball. I played competitively growing up in Juárez and El Paso, and at Cochise College on a full-ride scholarship while I got my associate’s. Eventually, I realized I needed a better plan. I looked at graphic design, but it didn’t seem to match my full potential. My cousin told me how architecture teaches you a bit of everything, that it’s art but more practical. When I realized there was an architecture program in El Paso, it was a perfect fit because I could study what I wanted and be with my family.
Texas Tech University at El Paso College of Architecture junior Guadalupe (Lupita) Chao Zambrano, grand-prize winner of Sundt Construction’s “Art of Building: A Design Competition”
Once you graduate from Texas Tech, what are your goals?
My goal is to attend the California College of the Arts and earn a Master of Architecture degree. From there, I’d like to intern and eventually work for SOM (Skidmore, Owings & Merrill) in Chicago. Their work is amazing, and SOM is my dream firm. Once I gain some experience, I’d like to return to my hometown and give back. Being from a humble family, I’d want to use my skills to help the economic and social growth of El Paso.
Where did you get your inspiration for this piece?
First of all, the other competitors’ pieces were awesome—they did a great job. For mine, I figured it can’t be too abstract, but it can’t be too functional; sculpture has to have balance. The piece is based on the symbiosis between El Paso and Juárez, how they depend on each other. Every day, people cross over to either side to work, to shop, to see family. And if you live here, you know the area by its mountains. Like each person, every rock is different, but together they build up a mountain. I also think it’s significant that these rocks were unwanted. You could say I “recycled” them. But like people, they’re all diverse, but they make up one community. Altogether, the border has its own knowledge, traditions, history, its own subculture really, so I see these two cities as one.
Zambrano said the volcanic rocks were used to represent each person in El Paso and Juárez, “even though we are all different, we join together to create one community.” She colored the roadway a reddish-brown to depict Scenic Drive because it is a main artery into downtown El Paso, the heart of the city.
What was your reaction when you found out you won?
I was so happy! I was smiling so big I looked like the Joker, and my classmates probably thought something was wrong with me. I ran downstairs and called my mom, but she couldn’t understand me because I was talking so fast. It’s like, I know what it’s like to win, but this felt so much deeper. I also knew I’d have to take out another loan to pay for my tuition this year, and I didn’t want my mom to worry. The prize money will help pay for my next semester, and it gives me time to apply for further scholarships.
How was it interacting with the people at Sundt?
I’d never been in this kind of competition, but everyone was so nice and helpful—Joe, Rudy, Angie, Mike, and everyone else I met. They even lent me a scaffold and helped me transport the piece from my house. It weighs like 300 pounds!
Sundt employee-owners work to help Lupita set up her piece
What would you say to younger students, especially girls, considering architecture or the AEC fields in general?
If you have an opportunity, go for it. Don’t worry about how it could go wrong. You never know—you might win, or you might lose. But you’ll learn along the way. Seriously, though. Take any opportunity life gives you. Don’t be afraid to talk, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Be brave. That’s really it. Just be brave.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.