The Daily Reporter honored its 2019 Newsmakers of the Year on Thursday, October 24th at the new Discovery World Pavilion in downtown Milwaukee. Nearly 250 construction industry professionals were in attendance to honor this year’s Newsmakers. Hunzinger was proud to celebrate four of it’s own: Matt Horton, Project Manager of the Year, Kevin Lally, Service Provider of the Year, Brad Caspari, Super Super and Dan Cole, Estimator of the Year (not pictured below).
Project Manager of the Year – Matt Horton, Hunzinger Construction
Matt Horton, a Hunzinger Construction senior project manager, says his construction career started in his childhood sandbox.
“If a house was going in next to ours, I’d be over there after hours grabbing excess concrete from their washout area and building a dam in my sandbox,” Horton said. “I used to spend hours in my sandbox creating sand castle cities, replicating skylines of Chicago or San Francisco.”
At his parents’ urging, Horton studied civil engineering at UW-Platteville and worked as a design engineer for a year. He then decided to return to the construction side and joined Hunzinger’s project management team in 1995.
Horton said he has received a lot of repeat business over his nearly 25 years at Hunzinger. It’s now to the point that he’s doing renovations on projects he built earlier in his career. One of his best-known projects is ongoing work on the Summerfest grounds.
His work there started in 1995 and has continued through his most recent undertaking, raising the roof of the American Family Amphitheater and otherwise expanding it. Horton and his team lifted the half-acre, 607,000-pound roof inch by inch until it was 26 feet higher than before.
“The lifting of that roof is unique not only here, but really in the world,” said Joan Zepecki, director of corporate affairs and diversity and inclusion coordinator at Hunzinger. “Nobody had lifted something that large before. Matt and Joel Becker had to take that from a concept to work that through the reality. Working together, they were able to figure it out and do it without any injuries or mishaps.”
Horton said the roof project took nearly a year of research, planning and work from start to finish.
“We had a lot of adjacent work that had to be done in a specific sequence, and it was all hinging on raising that roof,” Horton said. “It was very important to make sure that particular element was preplanned and went off without a hitch.”
Horton said he tries to pass along his thorough methods and attention to detail in the people who work under him, many of whom he’s watch advance into leadership roles at Hunzinger.
“I was lucky enough to have some great mentors when I first started,” said Horton. “It’s nice to be able to give back and pass that down. To me, that’s a pretty big achievement.”
Service Provider of the Year – Kevin Lally, Hunzinger Construction
Kevin Lally’s career looks much different than the paths taken by his colleagues at Hunzinger Construction. The UW-Madison business-school graduate worked as a mortgage broker and in sales into his late 20s. He decided he wanted to find a career he’d enjoy, and while he was looking, he applied for a position at Hunzinger.
“I never thought they’d offer me a job,” Lally said. “When they offered me the position, I said, ‘Why?’ they said, ‘We’re looking for people who can work with people and manage people and process. We can teach you the construction part.”
Hunzinger hired Lally as an assistant project manager in 2005, and he’s advanced through the company to his current role as director of commercial interiors. He works with clients like Johnson Controls, Northwestern Mutual and Foley & Lardner to bring their vision for new spaces to life.
Lally recently completed a renovation for Milwaukee mortgage insurance company MGIC. The company wanted to modernize its downtown offices to attract and retain young talent. Lally and the Hunzinger team renovated roughly 200,000 square feet of the building’s space, including three floors in its headquarters building and eight floors in its existing 10-story tower. The project took place in a fully occupied space during eight phases of construction, requiring planning and coordination to stay on its fast-tracked timeline.
“Successful construction projects, and most endeavors in life I imagine, are about teamwork and communication,” Lally said. “I focus on building team chemistry out of the gates. Once moving forward, we stress the importance of communication amongst all stakeholders. When you have everyone’s buy-in on that process, it becomes very easy to manage expectations and hold each party accountable.”
Clients appreciate Lally’s leadership throughout their projects.
“Kevin’s clients say that he is proactive, holds everyone accountable and values feedback,” said Joan Zepecki, director of corporate affairs and diversity and inclusion coordinator at Hunzinger.
“His positive attitude and approach are contagious.”
Lally said he’s glad that what started as a winding career path led him to exactly where he wants to be.
“I’m one of those guys, that at a crossroads in my life, found Hunzinger Construction,” said Lally. “They gave me a tremendous opportunity that I have strived to take full advantage of. I can’t thank the Hunzinger family enough for their faith in me.”
Estimator of the Year – Dan Cole, Hunzinger Construction
Dan Cole’s professional goals at Hunzinger Construction can be detected in his career path. As vice president and director of preconstruction services, Cole serves as a leader for staff and clients, fulfilling his ambition to build on the foundation laid by other Hunzinger officials.
“I really enjoy working with our younger staff, teaching them what I know and watching them grow,” Cole said. “I love selling (clients) on the great capabilities and people we have at Hunzinger.”
Hunzinger hired Cole in 2015 as a senior estimator and promoted him to vice president and director of preconstruction services in February 2018. As vice president and director of preconstruction services, Cole works with Hunzinger’s clients, its staff and its subcontractors to provide accurate project costs. His notable projects include the Milwaukee Bucks Entertainment Block, Zund America’s North American headquarters in Oak Creek, the Komatsu South Harbor Campus Project in Milwaukee’s Harbor District and continued improvements at Miller Park.
“When an owner states their needs, we listen,” Cole said. “After that, I’m a builder. We do our research, understand the project, the site, how it’s going to be built, the architect’s vision, and then work with our internal team and subcontractor teammates to collaboratively figure out how much it’s going to cost.”
Hunzinger’s clients appreciate Cole’s accuracy and ability to convey complex information.
“He takes the complexities of pre-construction cost estimating of a project and translates that methodology of pricing into clear and plain language that clients and subcontractors really appreciate,” said Joan Zepecki, director of corporate affairs and diversity and inclusion coordinator at Hunzinger.
Cole credits his methods for one of his proudest professional achievements — building the Lurie Children’s Hospital and Shirley Ryan AbilityLab projects during his time in Chicago.
“(I) learned quite a bit that shaped me into what I am today,” Cole said. “Seeing the younger staff I mentored on those projects get promoted and reaching out to thank me for helping them, that is the most important thing in this business to me and one of the greatest achievements a person can strive for in this industry — to teach what you know to the next generation.”
Super Super – Brad Caspari, Hunzinger Construction
Growing up, Brad Caspari remembers his father, Robert Caspari, pointing out as they drove through downtown Milwaukee the buildings he had worked on. Now, Brad does the same with his family. His 19-year tenure with Hunzinger includes one of the city’s biggest projects of this past decade.
Caspari, a superintendent at Hunzinger Construction, helped bring various projects for the Milwaukee Bucks from start to finish on tight deadlines, starting in 2016 with Palermo’s Courtside Club, Potawatomi Club and service-yard renovations in preparation for the Fiserv Forum’s construction.
He then served as a superintendent for the Bucks’ entertainment block outside the arena. The mixed-use block included a 120,000-square-foot plaza, three buildings, stages with underground electric for concerts, a space for an ice rink and more. The Bucks had Hunzinger and Caspari finish the block before the start of the season, while crews were building Fiserv Forum at the same time.
“We had a weekly meeting between all of the construction work for the Milwaukee Bucks,” Caspari said. “The superintendents got together each week and said what we were doing so we could help each other out, whether someone needed a place to park a load of steel for a day or someone needed to get through our site to make a critical delivery.”
Caspari said interval planning and daily foreman’s meetings were also crucial to finishing the project.
“We’d talk for five to 10 minutes, asking ‘What are you doing today, and where are you going tomorrow?’ so there’d be no surprises,” said Caspari. “At one time, we had 14 aerial lifts around these buildings. We tried to work counter-clockwise, so everyone was sort of chasing each other around the building.”
Caspari is proud that the project was finished with no injuries, and Hunzinger has taken note of other project milestones achieved with Caspari’s help.
“All projects were completed on schedule and under budget,” said Joan Zepecki, director of corporate affairs and diversity and inclusion coordinator at Hunzinger. “All exceeded the SBE and RPP goals.”
Caspari is now overseeing the demolition of the BMO Harris Bradley Center next door, a project scheduled to wrap up in the fall.
“I like the challenge of being a super,” Caspari said. “I love solving problems with a team and, of course, it’s the satisfaction of each day you can see what you’ve accomplished. After a project, you can say, ‘Yeah, I built that.’”