Harry Robbins - Making a Difference for the Driven Pile IndustryBy Mark Halsall
Few people have had as big an impact on the Pile Driving Contractors Association as Harry Robbins. During his long and storied career in pile driving, Robbins has played a vital role in the success of PDCA as it's grown into a thriving national organization and was the driving force behind the establishment of its first local chapter in 2003.
Robbins has also been about as strong a proponent of the driven pile that you'll ever see in the industry. Just ask Jason Moore, the vice president and general manager of Palmetto Pile Driving in Charleston, S.C., who was mentored by Robbins. Click to read more in Issue #6, 2020 of PileDriver magazine.
Gwen Sanders, P.E., Eustis Engineering
When we talk about equality in the workplace, conversations are often laden with stories of challenges overcome and ceilings broken through. Hardly ever do we hear stories where women are supported and nurtured throughout their careers without bias or backlash for being a woman in the first place.
Those stories are just as important to tell. Women who work in an inclusive environment have the kind of story other women need to hear in order to keep progressing in their own careers, knowing that equality is possible.
Gwen Sanders, P.E., the first woman to be president of Eustis Engineering, a regional Gulf Coast firm headquartered in New Orleans, has that kind of story. Click to read more in Issue #5 2020, PileDriver Magazine.
Orange Park, FL (Oct. 27, 2020): The latest edition of PileDriver magazine is now available in digital format (click the image to open it).
In this issue, you can read a contractor's perspective on the The Soma Hotel project in California. Foundation Constructors, Inc. details mounting challenges they overcame while erecting the new building in San Francisco's Mission Bay District. This account begins on Page 64.
Then travel east and learn about the innovative engineering that Insight Group in Charleston, SC incorporated into the ground improvements for the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, one of the nation's largest port expansion projects. Read a 'deep dive' into this massive effort on Page 58.
Also, meet Gwen Sanders, P.E., the new President of Eustis Engineering in New Orleans; she's the first woman to ever hold that title. Her Career Story is on Page 21. Then visit the new North American headquarters of foundation equipment manufacturer CZM. A photo spread featuring their the brand new Georgia facility starts on Page 45.
Balfour Beatty details an important mental health endeavor they have launched on Page 81. And new PDCA Contracts & Risk Committee Chair Rick Kalson co-authors an insightful opinion exploring "who is liable for additional construction costs caused by differing site conditions," on Page 85.
You can read company profiles on longtime PDCA member Hammer & Steel, as well as one on new PDCA member EMC Engineering Services. You can read regular features like Pile Tips, a Business article, a Leadership perspective and plenty more in this issue. PileDriver Issue #5, 2020 closes with a remembrance of the late Pete Schell of Equipment Corporation of America who left an indelible mark on the pile driving industry throughout the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.
Read the full magazine here.
Celebrating 25 Years of PDCA!
The Anniversary Edition
For 25 years, the Pile Driving Contractors Association (PDCA) has been the leading organization dedicated exclusively to the representation and advancement of the driven pile in deep foundations construction. Make sure to browse this issue of PileDriver magazine which chronicles the organization's history dating back to its formative years in 1994-95.
There is plenty of nostalgia if that is your pleasure. You will sit in with several of PDCA's Past Presidents who reflect on industry developments and share ideas for continued progress in pile driving. Also, review the contents of a recently unearthed time capsule depicting PDCA's earliest days, including some of the organization names that were considered, logos that printed on letterhead, advertisements that ran in various publications and more.
If you are seeking technical content, new and compelling analyses are available, too. Some of the unique and thought provoking material you will find includes "A Comparison of Factors Affecting the Static Axial Resistance of Drilled and Driven Piles" by Dan Brown, P.E., D.GE., M.ASCE of Dan Brown and Associates on Page 60. Also, you can read "A Legacy of Innovation in Testing" by Ryan Allin, P.E., of Pile Dynamics, Inc. on Page 56. And don't miss "Driving Technology With the Latest Structural Retaining Wall Systems," submitted by the PDCA Steel Sheet Pile Committee on Page 100. There is plenty more shared knowledge available in this issue, so take your copy to your favorite reading spot and enjoy.
Finally, several PDCA members share their own business experiences and evolutions from the past 25 years. Chris Kinley of Foundation Constructors provides a 'look under the hood' at how his California contracting company has pivoted safety operations this year to meet the demands necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Jim Dash of the Carlson Dash law firm in Chicago shares unique perspectives on Construction Law and some of the major developments that have happened since 1995.
The digital edition is available here; if you are a subscriber of the print edition, it should be reaching your mailbox soon. Thank you for your interest in PDCA and please never hesitate to share your thoughts and ideas about this, or any issue of PileDriver magazine. And if you want to submit content for future magazines, we want to hear from you as well. We appreciate your support of PDCA.
Chris Pashkevich, Clark Construction
By: Natalie Pressman
Having worked for Clark Construction for 45 years, Chris Pashkevich says that friends and family are probably getting sick of him pointing out jobs he's worked on in the Maryland and Washington, D.C. areas.
"I did a job recently where I stood on one corner and saw ten different buildings that I had worked on," he said. "I've done a hundred or so jobs, easily, just in D.C."
Construction, for Pashkevich, is a family affair.
His father was a pile driver beginning in the early '50s until he retired in 1992, and his older brother started in 1971 until his 2016 retirement. Likewise, Pashkevich's younger brother started at Clark Construction in 1980 and still works there today.
"My family has always been here," he said. "We all drive pile."
Even with retirement on the horizon, driving pile will continue to stay in the family. Pashkevich has a son and stepson who are both foremen at Clark Construction, in addition to another stepson who works for the company as a foundation superintendent.
In spite of his long career and family legacy in the industry, Pashkevich didn't always see himself working in construction he originally wanted to be a police officer. But when he went down to the police academy in 1973, he was told that at 5'7", he was two inches too short. That's when he decided to join his family in construction.
Click here to read more in PileDriver Magazine, 2020 Issue #2
Career Story on Dylan André, Patriot Deep Foundations
By: Jess Campbell
Dylan André is a lover of the outdoors, so it makes sense that he would get into a job that allows him to work outside. With a degree in construction management from Louisiana State University, André has worked in construction since graduating in 2012, but is new to the deep foundations industry.
"I didn't get to work in deep foundations until I came to work for my current company, Patriot Deep Foundations, which was only about a year and a half ago. So, I'm pretty fresh," he said. "But I absolutely love it."
Coming to work for Patriot may have been an easy decision for André, but that doesn't mean there wasn't any hesitation. Patriot had just formed their deep foundations division and André was very up front about his lack of knowledge. Yet his boss, Patriot Deep Foundations president Kevin Gourgues, encouraged André to take the leap.
"It was scary to say yes to the deep foundations opportunity," said André. "I said to Kevin, 'Man, I don't know anything about this.' And Kevin said, 'Look, you ain' got a thing to worry about. You sit next to me and I'll lead you to the promised land. I'll teach you everything I know and you'll learn from the people around you.' And that's exactly how it's been the last year and a half."
It's clear that André is grateful for every learning opportunity that comes his way, no matter who it's coming from. As project manager and estimator, he works with many different types of people. But he's always willing and open to learning from everyone, which he feels is an important aspect of being successful at the work he does.
"I don't look at it like there's a hierarchy and the superintendents that I work with work for me. Those guys know way more than I will probably ever know. It's been fun learning the ropes from people who have years of experience and know what they're doing." Continued, read the remainder of the story in PileDriver magazine.
Workplace safety in a cannibas revolution
By: Bob Morgan, Esq. and Rick Kalson, Esq., Benesch Law
Photo credit: openrangestock/123RF
There are now 33 states that have legalized medical cannabis and 10 that have legalized recreational cannabis, with more soon to come. Many of these state's laws have employer protections for safety-sensitive jobs, and generally allow an employer broad discretion to enact and implement zero-tolerance policies. For example, Arizona allows employers to discipline an employee for possessing or using marijuana on company premises or during work time, even if that employee is authorized to use medical cannabis (A.R.S. Sec. 36-2814(B)). However, note some contradictory caselaw in states such as Rhode Island (See Callaghan v. Darlington Fabrics, C.A. No. P.C. 2014-6680, where an employer was found to have violated the state medical cannabis law for failing to hire a job applicant that had a medical cannabis card and stated she could not pass a drug test) and Connecticut (Noffsinger v. SSC Niantic Operating Company, LLC, 2018 WL 4224075, at 1, D. Conn. Sept. 5, 2018, where an employer was found to have violated the state medical cannabis law when refusing to hire a medical cannabis patient who tested positive on a pre-employment drug test).
Notably, the vast majority of cases have ruled in favor of employer discretion regarding whether to discipline or terminate medical cannabis users. Even when anti-discrimination provisions were implicated, courts have consistently left open the possibility for an employer to take action against medical cannabis users in safety-sensitive positions (See Barbuto v. Advantage Sales and Marketing, LLC, SJC 12226; July 17, 2017).
On its face, these decisions make sense. There are some industries where workplace drug testing is increasingly rare such as in the technology sector where millennial workers are more in-demand and others where the employer approaches cannabis as a substance scientifically less harmful than alcohol or more dangerous drugs. Yet, safety-sensitive positions such as construction sites, medical facilities and large warehouses will always require more stringent workplace standards.
Read more in PileDriver magazine...
By: Brian Fraley, Fraley Construction Marketing
So you want to capture high quality photographs, but you lack the budget for a professional photographer or high-quality camera equipment? There has arguably never been a better time for amateurs to capture decent shots because of that little high-powered gadget in their pocket, the smartphone.
While the importance of high-quality photographs has not faded, it's better to capture an acceptable photo of your work in progress than to have no photo at all. The following will serve as a foundation for aspiring smartphone construction photographers.
1. Buy a smartphone with a quality camera
When it's time to buy a smartphone, make sure the camera functionality and photo resolution are among the criteria you consider. Today's smartphone cameras are competing with actual cameras when it comes to quality. In fact, Samsung has an ultra-high 64Mp to 108Mp smartphone sensor, which has a resolution equivalent to that of a high-end DSLR camera.
2. Adjust the settings
You're not aiming to become a professional photographer and the smartphone doesn't have as many settings as a traditional camera, so your best bet is to use the auto setting, which is usually the default. The only settings you might consider changing are High Definition Resolution (HDR) and flash. One of the benefits of digital photography is that you can compare shots using each setting right on the jobsite.
3. Get closer to the subject
One of the most common problems with construction photos is that the shot is taken from too far away. Zooming in with the smartphone is as simple as touching the screen with two fingertips and sliding them away from each other. Reverse the motion to zoom out. Getting closer to the subject can also help you to overcome lighting challenges.
4. Experiment with lighting
Lighting can be tough on construction sites, especially when you're down inside of a deep excavation. There are some situations where you simply can't get good photographs without supplemental lighting. The best you can do is to take your shots in the best lit portion of the site. You might also alternate between flash and no flash to see which delivers the best photos.
5. Edit your shots for perfection
One of the best things about digital photography compared to traditional photography is that you can edit your images. There are dozens of software brands on the market, but most will find the Photos app in Microsoft Windows 10 to be a perfect option. You can easily straighten, crop and lighten the photo to improve your results. For a quick fix, you can use the option "Enhance Your Photo" under Filters.
Read more in PileDriver magazine...
A legal opinion published in PileDriver magazine, 2020 Issue #6
by: C. Ryan Maloney, Esq.
Jimerson Birr, P.A.
Disputes are a fact of life on construction projects. There are just too many variables, unknowns and unpredictable things that can occur during the course of a project that can lead to disagreements and disputes, particularly when significant dollars are at stake. However, as many in the construction industry know, or come to find out, engaging in litigation or arbitration over disputes can sometimes be so time consuming and expensive that, as the old saying goes, the cure can be worse than the disease.
Even as a lawyer that specializes in construction litigation and arbitration, sometimes the best advice I can provide to a client is to help them resolve their dispute without having to resort to litigation or arbitration. One of the ways to try to facilitate that type of resolution is through well-crafted contractual dispute resolution procedures that are required before the parties can engage in litigation or arbitration. While there may still be certain disputes that just cannot be resolved without going to court or arbitration, effective pre-suit dispute resolution provisions in a construction contract make it more likely that there will be fewer such disputes by requiring the parties to engage in meaningful dispute resolution before resorting to litigation or arbitration.
Stepped Dispute Resolution
One of the keys to an effective dispute resolution contract provision is to require the parties to meet and attempt to resolve the dispute before they can file a lawsuit or an arbitration. Therefore, one of the key things that needs to be included in the contract language is that the dispute resolution process needs to be made a mandatory "condition precedent" to the ability of either party to institute legal action or arbitration. This means that they must engage in the dispute resolution process before filing suit or commencing arbitration, and if they fail to do so, the court or arbitrator will either dismiss or stay the proceedings until the dispute resolution process is completed. While the parties can mutually agree to dispense with the dispute resolution procedures if they each agree to do so, the contractual condition precedent language prevents one party from unilaterally ignoring the process and going straight to litigation or arbitration without engaging in the required dispute resolution procedures.
In order to have a better likelihood of success, the dispute resolution procedures should also be a stepped process, with at least two sets of meetings, with the first being at the project manager level. The provision should require the respective project managers to meet in person to try to resolve the dispute within a certain number of days after the written submission of a claim or dispute. Such a face to face meeting at the project level can sometimes leads to resolution of a dispute that emails or letter writing simply cannot.
Second, if the project level meeting is not successful in resolving the dispute within a certain time frame, such as 30 days after submission of the claim or dispute for example, the next step should be a required in-person meeting at the executive level of the respective companies within another set time period. The intent with this type of meeting is to move it from the project level participants, who may be very personally invested and whose emotions may run higher, to the executive level where the participants would be less likely to be day to day project participants and may be able to take a more holistic and potentially more objective view of the dispute.
This should also be a face to face meeting, and generally should not have legal counsel in attendance at the meeting in order to try to facilitate practical negotiations less focused on adversarial legal positions. Oftentimes, executives may be able to see the bigger picture and have more authority and flexibility to be able to come to a resolution that could not have been reached by the project level participants.
Mandatory Pre-Suit Mediation
If the project level and subsequent executive level meetings are not successful in resolving the dispute after an agreed time period, then the next required step should be mediation. Mediation should be identified in the contract as a mandatory condition precedent to institution of legal action or arbitration so that mediation has to occur first, unless both parties agree to waive the requirement.
Mediation is a structured settlement conference managed by a professional and trained mediator whose job it is to work with the parties to try to resolve their dispute. While the mediator cannot make any rulings or force the parties to resolve their dispute, the mediator will often be an attorney with experience in construction law and special training in dispute resolution who should be able to provide the parties with an outside view on how a judge or arbitrator might view their dispute and can point out significant issues with the parties' respective claims and defenses. This is particularly true where the parties provide in the contract for the mediation to be administered under the construction industry mediation rules of organizations like the American Arbitration Association ("AAA") or JAMS, which have large lists of mediators specializing in mediating construction industry disputes. In addition, most states have laws that make what is said or presented during mediation by the parties or mediator completely confidential, and not admissible in court or arbitration, in order to try to encourage frank and open settlement discussions.
It is recommended that the contract provision requiring mediation incorporate the mediation rules of an organization such as AAA or JAMS to facilitate the mediator selection and the procedures of the mediation. If not, then the mediation contract provision should include a specific process for mediator selection to try to avoid disputes over who the mediator will be for the mediation. It should also provide that mediation should be held in the same city or county where the project is located, and should provide that the parties will split evenly the mediator fees. It is also important that the mediation contract provision provide that any agreements reached in mediation shall be enforceable as settlement agreements in any court of competent jurisdiction so that settlements reached in mediation are binding and enforceable. In addition, it is recommended that the contract provision allow for suits to be filed prior to completion of mediation if necessary to perfect mechanic's lien or bond claims, but that the parties agree that such proceedings shall be stayed pending completion of the required mediation.
If the project level meeting, the executive level meeting, and mediation are all unsuccessful in resolving a dispute, then the next step would appropriately be resort to litigation in court, or arbitration if the parties have agreed in the contract to require arbitration of disputes in lieu of litigation. While the type of stepped dispute resolution process described in this article is likely to result in faster and less expensive resolution of many disputes without the need for litigation or arbitration, disputes that remain unresolved after going through such a process are likely to be the type of dispute that truly needs the involvement of a judge, jury or arbitrator, and for which the time, effort and expense of litigation or arbitration may be justified. However, most disputes are not of that type, and requiring in the construction contract that the parties engage in a stepped dispute resolution process is likely to result in faster and less expensive resolution of many disputes, permitting the parties to focus their efforts on project completion and profitability rather than protracted and expensive litigation or arbitration.
A Unique Perspective from a Multi-faceted Career; John Peirce
by: Lisa Gordon, PileDriver magazine
This Construction Career profile originally appeared in PileDriver magazine, 2019 Issue #6
John Peirce has learned a lot of valuable lessons over his 46 years in civil engineering.
During that time, he's completed a couple thousand projects, mostly designing and building temporary and permanent earth retaining walls to facilitate road and bridge building, cofferdam and foundation construction, and shoring and underpinning of all types.
While working on his Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in geotechnical engineering at Drexel University earned in 1973 and 1978, respectively Peirce landed a co-op position at The Conduit & Foundation Corporation's corporate headquarters in Philadelphia.
"I worked out in the field and got involved in heavy construction," said Peirce, who says that suited him just fine. In the early days of his career, he never wanted to be cooped up in an office.
Following graduation, he was hired on with The Conduit & Foundation Corporation and specialized in highway construction with them for 15 years, before moving on to geotechnical specialty contractor Schnabel Foundation Company.
Peirce stayed with Schnabel a design/build specialty contractor focused on temporary and permanent earth support for 11 years, eight of which were served as branch manager of the Philadelphia office.
In 1992, Peirce co-founded Peirce Engineering with his wife, Beth, and daughter, Jennifer Peirce Brandt, who is also a professional engineer. Later, his son, John another professional engineer joined the company.
By 1997, Peirce was focusing on the family engineering firm full-time. His diverse professional background and varied experience has served him well.
"I have a unique perspective," he said. "I've done highway work, plant work, utility work, estimating, project managing and I'm a retired surveyor. I was everything from a lowly rod man all the way up to a project manager."
PileDriver recently caught up with Peirce to talk about his impressive career and some of the key lessons he's aiming to pass along to his children.
From three key mentors over the years, Peirce learned the importance of being familiar with every aspect of a job, staying quiet when he was unsure of his facts and dealing with people fairly...Read More in PileDriver
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