A Look Back: 3 Project Highlights of 2021

Christy Crook became one of the few women in America to own a masonry company when she founded Thornton, Colorado-based Phoenix Masonry Inc. in August 2010. Over the past 11.5 years, Phoenix has contributed to multiple noteworthy projects across the Centennial State, including Wadsworth Storage, the pedestrian bridges at Fox and Federal, and the Stanley Marketplace. Besides an impressive project portfolio, Crook’s staff grew 30 percent between 2017 and 2019. However, like countless companies across the globe, Phoenix has faced unprecedented challenges since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Supply chain issues, labor shortages, and inflation have wreaked havoc on the construction industry, causing project delays, a scarcity of building materials, and more. Despite such issues, Phoenix continued to ascend in 2021 and participated in a trio of significant undertakings. 

The Marcy Gulch Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements – Phase II

In January 2021, Phoenix partnered with heavy civil infrastructure contractor Flatiron to work on the second phase of improvements at the Marcy Gulch Wastewater Treatment Plant in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. This job, which is tentatively slated to be completed in the summertime, encountered a handful of scheduling delays. These scheduling delays could have adversely impacted bottom lines and exacerbated staffing issues. 

“Scheduling delays impact everything, like getting the right materials when we need them,” Gutierrez said. “They threw a wrench in plans for our estimating department and really made them have to jump through some hoops to keep all that manpower that we had for that project. It is challenging at times, especially when you’re short-staffed.” 

Despite the challenges associated with delays, Gutierrez said that proactive communication with Flatiron’s employees offset many issues. 

“Keeping open communication with a general contractor requires a lot of effort on both parts,” Gutierrez said. “Sometimes, general contractors have so many moving parts on a project that they might not realize that they’re going to need a mason in a month. By constantly making site visits and keeping the communication open with them, I can kind of anticipate when I think they might need us.” 

Peter Binney Water Treatment Facility

Although construction jobs typically encounter some roadblocks, that’s not the rule. Last March, Phoenix partnered with Glacier Construction to work on a massive, half-million-dollar project at the Peter Binney Water Treatment Facility in Aurora, Colorado. The project endured minimal setbacks, and it was completed roughly four months later in July. Adam Gutierrez has served as Phoenix’s vice president since Crook established the company. Gutierrez credited planning, proactive communication, and the ability to identify employees’ strengths as key reasons why the job “went really smooth (and) turned out really well.” 

“We had several pre-construction meetings with Glacier before arriving on the site,” Gutierrez said. “During those meetings, we became familiar with project documents and raised any concerns or potential ones. Those meetings were crucial to getting everyone on the same page. Also, it’s important to know the talents of all our foremen so we can select the right ones for different-sized projects. Because of planning, and our ability to fully evaluate and prepare, we were able to ensure that we all had the correct formula allotted for the project. We had a really good team out there that worked great together, from project managers to superintendents, and everywhere in between.”  

Gutierrez believes simplifying coordination efforts with other contractors, such as Glacier Construction, is something that Phoenix excels at. Fully grasping the Occupational Safety & Health Administration’s (OSHA) new silica rule, which requires employers to limit worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica and to take other steps to protect workers, is another thing.

“Well, we try to make it easy,” Gutierrez said. “And what I mean by that is, we get all of our ducks in a row before we’re off to the site. While many contractors are catching up to speed with the new silica laws, standards that have changed our industry, we’re ahead of the game on that. So, when we attend meetings with contractors, we can accurately answer if someone asks, ‘Hey, do you understand the new seller clause and the status quo?’ We’re already certified on those things and we have all the new HEPA vacuums in place. They’re really impressed by that, not having to bring in a rookie contractor, and it makes their job a lot easier.” 

Cherokee TDS Reduction Facility

In August, a month after finishing the Peter Binney Water Treatment Facility, Phoenix partnered with Littleton, Colorado-based Garney Construction and began working on the Cherokee TDS Reduction Facility in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Unlike the previous job in Aurora, this project posed challenges because it’s approximately 80 miles away from Phoenix’s headquarters in Thornton. 

“This project was somewhat difficult because it was out-of-town down in Colorado Springs,” Gutierrez said. “Projects not as close present challenges with deliveries and scheduling materials in a timely manner so that the crews don’t run out of materials. You always want to be ahead, so the crew can just be as productive as they can.” 

Per a survey conducted by Everstream, the pandemic hindered 98 percent of global supply chains. The crisis has caused construction and building materials to dwindle in supply and increase an average of 26 percent in costs. Hence, Gutierrez’s foresight was pivotal, and it helped negate delays, which can sabotage a job. Of equal importance, with the U.S. facing its worst inflation numbers since mid-1982, his preparedness minimized expenses. 

“Cost savings is something that we always try to help our clients with,” Gutierrez said. “When someone is looking for a particular basic contractor, we do offer a lot of value engineering on our side, which means we try to research products that can save money. Typically you submit products that are already on the drawings. But if you can find a product that it’s equal to, and there are some savings there, that’s a huge impact for the owner. So, we like to preserve that option early on to try to save some money for the client.” 

The Cherokee TDS Reduction Facility was completed in November. 

Building client relationships that last

2021 saw the success of three water treatment projects, but Phoenix doesn’t just work on these types of jobs. The masonry company works across multiple industries, including general contractors, municipalities, and architects in commercial masonry construction. “While we believe our work speaks for itself, we want to build strong, long-lasting relationships with clients so they don’t even have to get other bids. They want to just go with the professional contractors from the beginning. So, it’s really important to go in there and really perform on these projects in all aspects.” 

Contact Phoenix Masonry

Phoenix Masonry is built on integrity, quality, honesty, and transparency. Moreover, we are dead serious about meeting deadlines, take tremendous pride in our craftsmanship, and won’t rest until your project is finished. If you need a partner, contact us so we can make your project a reality.