Western’s Summer Field Trip to Freedom Place Jobsite

Western Construction Group’s home office had a Friday field trip this summer to visit a St. Louis branch project site.

The purpose of this field trip was not only to give employees a morale boost with this fun, end-of the-week excursion, but also give them a first-hand look at the masonry restoration services we provide to our clients.

Once everyone was outfitted with the proper safety gear, hard hats, proper foot wear and protective eye-goggles, we were off to the bus.

The “Freedom Place” project site near the Central West End in St. Louis was an abandoned building that is currently being renovated into a residential community for veterans.

Our Western Specialty Contractors' St. Louis Masonry division was called in to work for HBD Construction Inc. to help bring this building back to life.

Department Manager, Jason Holtman was the on-site tour guide, conducting the walk through, describing the details in the scopes of work, and answering our questions.

Holtman went into detail describing to us the many different restoration challenges the branch was tasked to complete. Some of the main tasks were:

1. Clean all exterior elevations: Using a special cleaning detergent, Western will clean all the brick, terra cotta and concrete removing dirt, debris and graffiti from the walls.

2. Tuckpointing/Brick Replacement: 100% of the exterior joint, brick and terra cotta needed tuckpointing, and 3,000 bricks will be replaced with new or salvaged bricks.

3. Apply Clear Water Repellant: After the bricks and terra cotta are cleaned and replaced, Western will apply a protective breathable water repellant to prevent premature masonry deterioration.

4. Wall Repairs: Western will rebuild and repair 24 damaged walls on multiple floors of the building.

5.  GFRC Installation:  Western replaced over 100 missing or damaged terra cotta pieces with replica GFRC. New baluster posts and caps, totaling over 40 pieces were also installed.

Everyone from the Home Office was very excited to have this in-depth look at the operations side of the coin. Each Home Office department provides our field operations with support resources to help them deliver the best service to our customers. This opportunity to have a better understanding of the field’s daily operations helps us to assist them more efficiently.

If you’d like to speak to a St. Louis Masonry Branch representative about a building project or estimate, please contact Regional Manager Bill Hohmeier at (314) 773-8813.

Western Completes Parking Garage Rehabilitation, Waterproofing/Masonry Work at American Federation of Government Employees Headquarters

12-story Building Remained Open to Public During Two-Year Project


Western Specialty Contractors recently completed masonry repairs, window glazing and re-caulking, tuck-pointing and complete brick replacement on the 12-story, national headquarters for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) building in Washington, DC. The project also included a complete restoration of the building’s lower level concrete parking garage, which is also shared by three other building tenants.

The project began in 2011 with a complete restoration of the building’s lower level parking garage. The garage, damaged from years of wear and tear, is shared with three other building tenants, including a commercial office building, legendary hotel and national headquarters for a teacher’s union. Due to the garage’s high traffic, work on the parking garage had to be conducted during night and weekend hours.

The scope of the garage work included:

1. Shallow, full and overhead repairs, making use of SikaQuick® 1000 rapid hardening repair mortar and SikaTop® 123 two-component, polymer-modified, non-sag mortar. Crews installed a series of expansion joints at each entrance and exit of the garage, and in one vertical corner.

2. The garage project also included installation of a highly reflective coating from Neoguard® Performance Coatings on the cinder block walls, along with a re-coating of all pipes, doors and fixtures to comply with OSHA standards.

“The most critical step of the garage rehabilitation was to prepare both floors of the garage with a vehicular traffic coating from Tremco® Commercial Sealants and Waterproofing,” said Brian Radigan, Branch Manager, Western Specialty Contractors. “This was conducted during a garage shut-down over the course of two weekends, with the floors being ready for traffic each Monday morning.”

3. The final steps of the parking garage project included the oversight of parking striping and the fit-out of each light fixture. The fixtures were installed and attached to motion sensors that turn the lights on and off based on movement sensed in the garage.

The AFGE building had also been dealing with a myriad of water penetration issues for several years and hired Western to re-caulk and wet glaze the windows. Upon further inspection of the building, it was discovered that there would be some masonry repairs necessary, including tuck-pointing and complete brick replacement. Western set up a process where the extra work was completed on a unit-price basis and progress reports and updates were given to the owner bi-weekly to address any issues or concerns.

Western worked diligently with the owner of the building, AFGE, to ensure that the building was kept open to the general public during the project. Located at 80 F Street NW, just five blocks from the Federal Capitol Building, the building’s front facade shares space with two neighboring offices, while the rear facade stands  in front of a neighboring hotel’s glass atrium. The safety of the general public and the neighboring properties was a top priority for Western’s crews throughout the project. The AFGE is an American labor union representing over 650,000 employees of the federal government.

“Our strict safety plan for the project helped us address the safety precautions that needed to be taken at each work location,” said Radigan. “We were not willing to compromise the safety of a single person in any way during the projects.”

If you’d like to contact our Washington DC branch for information or estimates for your future projects in the area, please email Branch Manager, Clay Geilmann.


Western Construction Group Uses Multi-Media Blasting Equipment to Restore Fire-Damaged Freezer

Customer required that no pressurized water be used and no dust created during clean up

Finding the best solution for your customer's needs can be extremely challenging at times. Sometimes finding the answer to a difficult project requires thinking outside of the box – a strategy that not only helps the customer solve their problem, but also solidifies your expertise with the customer and differentiates your business from the competition.

Recently, Western Construction Group's Little Rock, Arkansas branch was approached by a food processing plant in the region to restore a fire-damaged, 3,000-square-foot concrete freezer area at their facility. The freezer's precast walls and overhead double tees were scorched and spalled and exhibited areas of exposed, burned and rusted rebar.

The emergency restoration project came with many challenges as the customer was in the food processing industry and needed the large, fire-damaged freezer to be back in service as quickly as possible as it was vital to their operation. The customer also prohibited the use of any pressurized water or chemicals during the clean up, and any dust created during the project had to be completely controlled to prevent contaminating ongoing food processing in the facility.

The scope of the work included:

1. Cleaning the soot off the freezer's walls and ceiling

2. Making needed repairs to any concrete damaged by the fire

In the past, Western would have used heavy chemicals and a lot of pressure washing on such a job, which would have required extended time to clean up. The burned out area in this case was interior and the client could not allow water to enter any drains. Traditional sand blasting also created extreme dust and was very difficult to control, so crews would not have been able to use traditional sand blasting equipment in this case as food production was continuing in adjacent areas.

Since traditional concrete cleaning methods could not be used on this particular project, Western Construction Group's experts went out in search of new technology to meet the demands of the client. Western's experts determined that using micro-blasting equipment, plus an air scrubber, would provide the solution they were looking for.

The micro-blasting equipment proved to be extremely versatile and easy to use. Sold internationally and used on historical preservation projects throughout the world, to remove graffiti from a variety of urban surfaces, and to refurbish glass and other delicate surfaces, this unique equipment is ahead of its time technologically.

This micro-blasting technology can be used for a wide range of services from:

1. Limestone/sandstone cleaning

2. Metal cleaning and restoration

3. Micro-blasting equipment uses a combination of fine blasting materials and low pressure settings for soft stone and wood cleaning

4. More abrasive materials and high pressure settings are used for concrete cleaning and metal surface preparation.

Following a day of training on the equipment provided by the manufacturer, Western crews were able to mount the machine in the area under their work zones and move around freely with boom lifts to access all vertical and horizontal areas on the project. Use of the micro-blasting equipment also allowed Western crews to have control over the amount of pressure and consistency of the media material used, therefore minimizing flying dust. Western used a large, portable air scrubber in the center of the room to remove any escaping dust.

In addition to having to clean and prep concrete surfaces, crews were also able to use the multi-media blasting equipment to prep spalled areas and rusted rebar on the concrete ceiling and walls for necessary rebar protection and surface patching.

Western used two workers to operate the micro-blasting equipment and monitor the work progress within the space suite and two on the ground to monitor the air and sand feed. The project was successfully completed in just 22 days.

If you have a restoration project in the Little Rock area and would like more information about this branch's services, please contact Robert Young, Little Rock Branch Manager at 501-455-5311.