Hunzinger Interns: Kyle Hayward, Hilton Steele, Andrew Beine, Zeke Adkins, and Tessa Walker

On Tuesday evening, May 14th Vice President of Field Operations Joel Becker received the Association of General Contractors of Greater Milwaukee’s Lifetime Achievement Award. He was joined by his wife of 50 years Diane, his son Jonathan and his oldest granddaughter Lyla, along with numerous longtime coworkers and friends to celebrate this well-deserved achievement. Joel is in his 49th year at Hunzinger and it is not an understatement to say that he is a legend in our construction market. The AGC’s Annual Past President’s Award Dinner was packed with over 350 construction professionals, and it was clear that Joel is respected and admired. Not only did he receive two standing ovations from the crowd, but he was swarmed with well wishers offering their congratulations. It was a rare and very special evening. Joel exemplifies the “Hunzinger Brand”, and it was a privilege to be in attendance.

We thought we would share just a small portion of Joel’s incredible career and what he has meant to our industry by including excerpts from his nomination that Joel never saw, and he reminded us that if we had asked him about nominating him, he would have said no and that is precisely why he wasn’t asked.
Congratulations on an incredible career: Joel has spent his entire professional career, all 49 years at Hunzinger.

Joel is an MSOE graduate from the class of 1976 from the ABCT Program also known as the architectural and building construction engineering technology program where he was Valedictorian. Joel is also a LEED AP BD+C with experience and knowledge of building that is unequalled in his field and in this marketplace.

Joel is an amazing leader and mentor with a work ethic that is second to none. He started working at Hunzinger with a unique combination of estimator, project manager and superintendent all rolled into one, and has been in charge of Hunzinger’s field forces for over 35 years as general superintendent and VP of Field Operations. Joel has had a huge impact on the construction marketplace in Wisconsin.

Joel has an incredible talent of bringing the best out in our superintendents and crews. Joel can “see” their individual strengths and helps individuals to focus on what they do best. He creates an atmosphere of pride in their work that is reflected in high quality craftsmanship on extremely difficult projects. While always willing to learn new construction methods and use the latest technology to help him in his work, Joel understands the “old school” Superintendent approach and maximizes our field superintendents’ skills for some of our most specialized and difficult concrete jobs.
Joel is amazing and knows the construction industry better than anybody. He knows how to build. Joel has taught our people that there are no short cuts and that there is a right way and a wrong way to build. He encouraged our crews to visualize their projects through completion before we even begin work on a project because it helps them develop the road map to a successful project. Joel teaches that it’s really important to learn about how every trade works on the project because that will make you a better leader to understand each subcontractor’s scope. That holistic insight is what makes Joel so great and what makes his mentorship so important for our industry.

Right out of college, Joel started out as a Field Superintendent on a variety of manufacturing projects for clients like Harley Davidson, Miller Brewing, Allen Bradley/Rockwell Automation,
Briggs & Stratton, Navistar, P & H/Joy Global/Komatsu, Caterpillar and Toshiba. He has a particular expertise in challenging manufacturing projects that include massive machine foundations and super flat concrete floors or testing chambers or very sensitive dock leveling equipment. As Harley Davidson grew, Joel was at the ready building their Product Development Center and Warehouse Distribution Center and renovating their Corporate Headquarters on 37th and Juneau in Milwaukee.

Joel built the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Milwaukee and shortly thereafter moved into the role as VP of Field Operations working on a number of Milwaukee Public Schools, The Pfister Hotel, Mayfair Mall, the old Grand Geneva Lakes Resort, the Bayshore Town Center, multiple projects for We Energies and Interstate Partners developers to name only a few.

Becker’s impact on the construction industry in Southeastern Wisconsin has been immense with his 49 years of projects too numerous to mention. His career has many highlights, particularly all the school districts and schools he has worked with like MPS, Pewaukee, Muskego-Norway, Mequon-Thiensville, Racine Unified, Germantown, Shorewood, Ripon, Elmbrook, Menomonee Falls, Fontana, University Lake School, University School of Milwaukee, Marquette University, MSOE, UW-Milwaukee among others. Joel is especially proud of his work at MSOE as Hunzinger Construction served as construction manager/general contractor on The Kern Center, The Pamela and Hermann Viets Field, and the Grohmann Tower Apartments in addition to dozens of smaller projects there.

Joel’s work shaped major landmarks like the Wisconsin Center Convention Center (now named the Baird Center), Miller Park (now American Family Field) and The Summerfest Grounds, having worked on almost all the projects within Henry Meier Festival Park from the construction of the Marcus Amphitheater in 1987 to the challenging renovation of the same venue, newly named American Family Amphitheater which opened to great reviews in 2021 and was recognized with multiple national awards including the ENR (Engineering News Record) and American Institute of Steel Construction.

American Family Insurance Amphitheater Award

The Am Fam Amphitheater renovation was unique in the WORLD because of the roof lift and was made possible because of the hard work Joel put in for over a year on the planning. In January of 2019, Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. (MWF) was excited to announce that a portion of the roof of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater had been safely and successfully raised to almost twice the height of the existing roof, from 39 feet to 65 feet. The lift expanded stage production capabilities in the Amphitheater, which now has the ability to host larger and more complex tours. This highly anticipated portion of the project marked an engineering and design milestone of phase one of the redevelopment of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater.

Led by project construction manager Hunzinger Construction, engineers began preparing the roof for this complex procedure in summer 2018, along with Ace Iron and Steel Corp., ALE HeavyLift, Computerized Structural Design Engineers, Eppstein Uhen Architects, I.A.T.S.E. Local 18, Larson-Engineering, Inc., Professional Services, Inc., SPE, Inc., and Staff Electric. Approximately half of the current roof was raised, from the stage out to the end of the current reserved seating sections 1-3, which is approximately 24,100 square feet (1/2 acre) and weighing 607,000 pounds. The process of lifting the roof utilized eight different lifting motors, known as strand jacks, which pull cables inch by inch, from each of the eight points simultaneously, until the 26’ lift was completed. Joel led the team in which this is the largest lift done in the world at the time and the first time ALE used as many as 8 strand jacks.

At the time Joel said that “We are so proud to be leading the construction team of the American Family Insurance Amphitheater renovation because back in 1987, Hunzinger built this venue. I ran the construction crews that built the Amphitheater 32 years ago and I am here again supervising this amazing upgrade.”

ALE HeavyLift, an international company, based in Houston, Texas, carried out the roof lift and has also completed the world’s heaviest commercial lift in Brazil, in addition to other projects – off-shore oil rigs in Texas and a world-record breaking lift in Nigeria. While an international firm helped execute the lift, there are strong local ties to companies who were involved in the building of the original Amphitheater in 1987 and are part of the project today – Hunzinger Construction Company, Eppstein Uhen Architects, Larson Engineering, Inc., and Staff Electric.

Joel oversaw and led construction crews on Komatsu’s South Harbor Campus, Four Uline warehou/distribution centers that total 4 million SF, Johnson Controls, Inc. $120,000,000+ Global Headquarters Campus, the complete reinvention of Bayshore Towne Center (twice) and the Westlawn Gardens Residential Revitalization, a 75-acre public housing neighborhood located between North 60th and North 68th Streets and Silver Spring Drive on Milwaukee’s northwest side.

Just in the past few years Joel’s notable clients include The Milwaukee Brewers (Food & Beverage Reinvention among multiple projects), Milwaukee World Festivals, Inc. (Summerfest – Miller Lite Oasis Renovation, new Summerfest Store and Lakefront Gateway Project and $53 million American Family Amphitheater renovation), The Milwaukee Bucks Entertainment Block more commonly known as The Deer District and BMO Harris Bradley Center construction and 30 years later the demolition, Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporate Office Expansion, Bayshore Towne Center Renovation, multiple projects for Northwestern Mutual, CUNA Mutual Group, and MGIC Corporate Headquarters.

Joel is truly valued at Hunzinger, and his work has helped grow and shape our company in important ways. He has become one of the leading experts and authorities on construction in the region. He is very deserving to be recognized for his exemplary work, incredible mentoring, integrity in all he does, and the huge impact he has made on our community’s-built environments from schools to offices and factories, from sports and entertainment venues to housing. He is a giant in the southeastern Wisconsin construction market and within the AGC members.