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Association News

Ingenuity and Leadership on the Jobsite Recognized

The Association of Union Constructors' (TAUC) Annual Craftsperson Awards for Ingenuity and Innovation in Construction were presented on May 15th in conjunction with TAUC's second annual Leadership Conference which took place in Miami, FL.

The Craftsperson Awards for Ingenuity and Innovation in Construction were developed by the National Erectors Association's (NEA) Labor Committee in 1989. The NEA was the first employer association that established a national award that recognizes and celebrates the achievements of our most important partners - the craft workers who turn blue prints into bridges, buildings and industrial plants. The craft workers of the Building Trades Unions that we work with truly are our most important partners. This award recognizes journeymen, foremen, or general foremen for their achievement in one of five areas of excellence; 1 - schedule and budget; 2 - productivity; 3 - cost savings innovation; 4 - safety and health; and 5 - outstanding craftsmanship. A three member panel judged the nominations and the awards were given for two work hour categories.

From left: John Courtien, Craftsperson Award Winner Todd Zehner, Tony Bochniak and Bob HooverIn Category I, for projects under 25,000 Craft Work Hours, TAUC had several excellent  submissions. The 2nd runner up was awarded to Todd Zehner, a Painter for Manta Industrial, Inc. for his work at the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District in Hammond, IN. While early cost projections indicated that the project would lose money, Mr. Zehner took over as supervisor and immediately investigated an alternate chemical stripping product and also coordinated with the general contractor and owner on issues regarding the train schedules, flagger schedules, shutdown schedules and weekend schedules to complete the project on time.

Both the 1st runner up and the winner in Category I were tradesmen working for Stevens Painton Corporation (SPC), a TAUC Governing Member. The 1st runner up for Category I was James Huston, a Carpenter who worked on the Reliant Energy Cheswick Power Station Plant in Springdale, Pennsylvania. Through Mr. Huston's innovative management of a self contained Pneumatic Batch Plant, SPC achieved production rates in excess of 400CY per day which resulted in a 20% cost and schedule duration savings.

The winner for Category I was Ken Balcerak, an Ironworker for SPC, for his work on the ArcelorMittal Blast Furnace MACT Project in Burns Harbor, Indiana. SPC took the job mid stream after two previous contractors had failed. This job was done under live furnace operations, which presented conditions that exceed normal safety conditions. Mr. Balcerak's approach to safety provided a comforting level with his supervisors as well as all personnel under his direction. His knowledge of the work, his ability to recognize an unsafe condition and take control to remedy the situation and provided a job that enhanced customer relations, provided a safe working environment, increased productivity, and stayed on schedule and within budget.

TAUC's final category for the Craftsperson Awards, Category III, is for projects over 100,000 Work Hours. The 1st Runner Up for Category III was James Carroll, an Ironworker at Midwest Steel, Inc. for his work at the KBR Government Processing Facility Project in Florida. With the initial erection plan calling for four cranes, Mr. Carroll's unconventional plan to re-sequence the blast wall panels before the hoist saved Midwest Steel over one million dollars in crane rental costs. In addition, using two cranes instead of four eliminated the chances of boom interference. Bill Treharne, Director of Engineering and Administration at Midwest Steel remarked that "a true artisan builds his model in his mind and orchestrates the actions in a series of masterful movements that appears effortless to many. James Carroll displayed this ability in three major components in this project."

This year's Category III Winner, for projects over 100,000 Craft Work Hours, is Pat Kouns, an Ironworker at Graycor Industrial Constructors, Inc. for his work on the Severstal Rebuild Blast Furnace "C" Project. On this project, the third such complete blast furnace rebuild in the world in the last five years, Mr. Kouns worked with the owner's engineers, material suppliers and the construction team for one year leading up to the outage to develop the shortest schedule possible. Working with Detroit Building Trades craftspeople, thirty days were saved by preassembling major components on the ground prior to the outage, five major pieces weighing 200 to 535 tons were then hoisted as one unit. With the furnace operating value of one million dollars per day, the thirty days saved was a huge savings to Graycor's client. Safety was not sacrificed on Mr. Kouns' job, every employee on site was safety trained and all supervisors performed per shift safety audits.

These awards demonstrate TAUC's commitment to innovative and creative ways to promote the union construction industry and TAUC's success in developing innovative and unique labor-management programs. Congratulations again to this year's winners!