As COVID-19 cripples industry across America, Miller Electric and our building partners continue to complete projects safely and on time. Work on MCL Construction’s new headquarters building at 145th Street and Giles Road was about 60 percent complete when COVID-19 struck Omaha, but Miller Electric didn’t let that stop its crew from getting work on the 32,000 square foot office building completed without incident.

Communication, Attention to Detail Kept Project Moving Forward

“Rough-ins were being finalized when COVID-19 hit, MCL Superintendent, Mike Procopio, Miller Electric Foreman Andy Peklo, and the entire team did a great job managing everyone’s concerns and making sure progress continued,” says Miller Electric Vice President and Senior Project Manager, Roger Knobbe. “Mike found a way to get the work done safely, got us information when we needed it and coordinated different trades in the field. He was a true team player and we couldn’t be happier that their new headquarters building is open for business.”

MCL put a safety protocol in place that involved remote meetings, daily screenings, morning assemblies, additional cleaning and safety checks. All workers involved practiced social distancing and stayed home if they felt ill. By taking the protocols seriously and policing themselves, workers were able to stay healthy and avoid infections.

While keeping the jobsite safe required PPE and cleaning adjustments, it wasn’t the only aspect of the project impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. Miller Electric had to stay on top of orders and ensure the factories producing the necessary items weren’t shut down. A few parts required personal attention and care, but in the end, everything arrived on time, which helped keep the overall project moving.

Finding Savings From the Start

Familiarity with MCL’s existing building and involvement with architects and engineers early on helped Miller Electric find ways to lower costs from the moment project planning began.

““We performed some early budgeting in spring of 2019, and were able to get further involved once they had a full design document prepared,” says Knobbe. “We proposed a few different ideas and concepts and in the end were able to find positive value engineering options that reduced project costs.”

Having worked with MCL on many projects over the years afforded Miller Electric’s planning team familiarity with their priorities, which translated into improved value engineering ideas. For example, the team suggested eliminating lighting inverters and instead serve egress lighting via a new transfer switch and generator that was part of the CD plans. This not only impacted first-time costs but will also reduce maintenance and battery replacement costs over the long term.

Another area Miller Electric provided savings in was through its prefab facility. By prefabbing cabling and using BIM early and often, Miller Electric was able to help MCL realize savings and create efficiencies. Those savings and efficiencies help offset challenges in the field that always accompany any building project.

In this case, there were relatively few hiccups, even despite the complexities caused by the pandemic. One of the minor glitches came with LED lighting for the building’s conference rooms, some of which feature spaces dedicated to virtual and augmented reality, as well as collaboration labs that help MCL provide a unique pre-construction and building experience.

“They had some LED lighting that had to be modified in the field,” says Knobbe. “Our team really shined with respect to that. We were able to make changes on the fly and configure innovative ways to complete the installation in the field. The fixtures were small, but if they were weren’t aligned properly during installation, it would have detracted from the look and functionality of those spaces, so I was pleased with our team’s ability to get it done right.”

Inspection Requires Quick Thinking at Project’s End

Inspections are generally the last hurdle to completing a building project. Depending on what the inspector requires, last minute changes can occur that could delay project completion. In this case, required changes could have delayed MCL employees from moving in to their new headquarters on time.

“There were some unique requests from the inspector at the end for exits and egress lighting as well as a Veridas wireless signal for the fire alarm within the building,” says Knobbe. “Our guys jumped on all those items and knocked them out in minimal time, which allowed MCL to get their certificate of occupancy in a timely manner.”

Speed at the end was critical since MCL had a hard date for moving out of their existing building. Miller Electric’s quick work enabled MCL employees to move into their new building without disrupting their workflow or operations.

From start to finish, it was a satisfying experience and a great opportunity to provide excellent service and attention to detail to a longstanding building partner.