By Rich Jacobson, Senior Vice President, Kraus-Anderson Construction Company
One of the great things about my job is getting out and working with the team leaders from our various offices in Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. Our regional teams are doing tremendous work, and this “On the Road” series is one way of sharing some of those accomplishments with a larger audience in the Twin Cities metro and beyond. This month we’re focusing on KA’s Rochester office, talking to Director of Operations Nick Leimer. Nick shares some insights below.
Q: How long have you been a Rochester resident? How long in southern MN?
NICK LEIMER: I have been in Rochester since I started a college summer internship in 2000. I had the opportunity to live with some extended family for the summer and couldn’t be more grateful of the opportunities that came from them allowing me to stay with them. Through that, I learned how great this community was and have been here ever since. Prior to that, I grew up in south central Minnesota in the small rural town of Truman.
Q: Prior to joining KA, you’ve been involved in construction of some of the premier buildings in Rochester, for Mayo. Talk about that experience and the perspective you’ve gained from that work.
NICK LEIMER: Mayo is the largest employer in the state of MN, and attracts over 2 million visitors to their campus each year. Mayo is a world class healthcare provider and their facilities are designed and constructed at that same level. It is very rewarding to see complex projects become a reality that impacts patients from all around the world. Mayo’s mission is that the “Needs of the Patient Come First.”All of their construction projects revolve around that philosophy, from early design all the way through the construction phase. For me, this has really helped me understand that it’s not all about the construction project…it’s actually much bigger than that. Today, the thought of this mission still helps me think about how we exceed our clients’ needs and help them achieve their missions.
Q: How would you characterize the Rochester community? How is it changing, and how are civic leaders managing that change?
NICK LEIMER: Rochester is a “big”, “small” town. It seems that everyone is connected in one way or another, so it’s a pretty tight community. With the Destination Medical Center (DMC) initiative, there is a lot of change and excitement going on in and around our community. The DMC initiative is projecting the population of Rochester to double over the next 30 years. Keep an eye on it, should be fun to watch!
Q: One of the highly visible projects we’re working on right now is the Rochester Airport addition and renovation. How is KA working to maintain safety and traffic flow at the airport for the duration of this one-year project?
NICK LEIMER: Shortly after KA was awarded the project, we developed a detailed site phasing and construction plan and held a meeting with the Airport, design team, and construction team. During the project, our construction teams will be touching every area of the facility. Just as we got into the project, the airport threw us a bit of a curveball. They had the opportunity to add a new airline, so we had to quickly adapt to add the new space to fit in United Airlines. The project teams are working great with the airport and we look forward to a successful turn over early next spring.
Q: Another showcase project is the Rochester Hilton in the heart of downtown Rochester. Talk about that project and how are we handling the logistical challenges of building a high-rise building in downtown Rochester.
NICK LEIMER: This is a really exciting project for the Rochester community. In fact, this is the first project that was approved through the DMC initiative. In addition to the Hilton project, we are also the Construction Manager for the adjoining 630 car ramp for the City of Rochester. Our project teams have built a very detailed access and logistics plan and have spent countless hours with the City’s road closure coordinator to make sure everything continues to flow smoothly. View webcam
Q: Talk about the project we’re doing for Avani at the Miracle Mile site.
NICK LEIMER: This project is a redevelopment of a portion of the Miracle Mile shopping center, which, interestingly, KA built back in 1952. The multi-use project, named Avani Living, will include 107 apartment units, 115 underground parking spaces, and 40,000 s.f. of retail space with anchor tenant Fresh Thyme. Early on, this project provided our team a challenge with a unique unforeseen soil condition. It was determined that there was a vein of unconsolidated bedrock material through a portion of the site. We worked collaboratively with two soils engineers, as well as, the structural engineer to find the best solution. The ultimate solution was a down-hole hammer-pile system (over 9,000 linear feet) with concrete pile caps and grade beams. We are moving full speed ahead with completion scheduled for September 2018.
Q: As you’ve mentioned, for a world-renowned destination, Rochester is a surprisingly tight-knit community. What is KA’s strategic approach to maintaining an office in Rochester? Where does community involvement fit in that approach?
NICK LEIMER: When we opened the Rochester office, our strategic objective was to become the local construction expert. To do that, we are committed to all of our staff being actively engaged in our community. You will see many of our team on different non-profit boards, fundraising events, and volunteer opportunities. Our field staff has volunteered with the Rochester Children’s Museum to help change out exhibits. With these opportunities we can continue to give and build deeper relationships with our clients.
Q: Talk about how your office has grown over the past five years. Are you looking to expand or move to a larger space?
NICK LEIMER:We opened our Rochester office just over five years ago. When we opened the office, we started with two employees…and today, have almost 40 on our team. We have been very fortunate to develop the team that we have, and couldn’t do what we do without them. Our office is overflowing, and we continue to search for the right solution for our next office location.
Q: From your perspective, how does KA Rochester differ from our other operations? How is it aligned with the rest of our office locales?
NICK LEIMER: The largest difference for Rochester is the significant projected growth. This has brought very tough competition to construction services our market. The advantage we have, is that we can leverage the KA experience, brand, and strength and pair with our local relationships to build the perfect team. We have been able to capitalize on the “power of one” and truly realize the benefit from all KA offices.
Q: Anything else you would like to say about your team, your clients, and/or the region you’re in?
NICK LEIMER: Over the last five years we have developed relationships with some great clients and have developed an amazing team. The success of the Rochester office wouldn’t be possible without all the hard work of the local team, as well as, all the help and support from literally every KA office. We look forward to continuing to be a part of this great community for years to come.