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Building Blocks - A story from the Marek workforce development graduation ceremony

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On July 23rd, Marek was pleased to recognize several of our workforce development participants for various levels of graduation within our program. An earlier post by Arthur Ehmling, our corporate training coordinator, outlined the specific levels attained by the 21 helpers, 8 mechanics, and 18 foremen, who worked very diligently to reach these levels.

In addition to our graduates, we wanted to acknowledge the contributions of our coaches, whose daily guidance is critical to each of their trainees. Also instrumental are our supervisors and workforce development executive committee, whose support, leadership, and vision establish the culture of expectations for both trainees and coaches.

At Marek, we regularly put our new trainees through on boarding sessions, commonly referred to as the “Bus tour”, a term coined by our Dallas Division President John Hinson. “If you’re coming with Marek, you’d better get on the bus," John would say to the Dallas trainees. The saying stuck around Houston too. During one of our early sessions, I began describing our new trainees as the building blocks of Marek’s future, even passing out signs saying just that to each of them. With each new session and class of trainees, I could feel the pride each of them felt about being valued in such a way and the awareness in me of their importance to Marek. In fact, without this consistent new influx of energy and talent, the Marek story would not be perpetuated.

Our keynote speaker for the graduation was Jim Hennessy, the Project Executive for the ExxonMobil Campus Project near The Woodlands. Gilbane Building Company and Harvey Builders formed a joint venture for this elaborate and comprehensive project. Gilbane-Harvey recruited Marek’s help, and we committed a significant amount of resources to the successful completion of this campus. Jim’s presentation outlined the process of developing this massive project from its early days of conception, painting a picture the Marek team could appreciate fully, with many of our attendees and graduates having contributed to the great work at this project. The office buildings on campus have a six story interior atrium, which Jim chose to highlight during his keynote address because the Marek team did all of the sheetrock in this area. "It is absolutely stunning," Jim explained. "You look at it and you say, 'How did they do that? How did they get to all of those spaces?'" Those of you who were involved should be proud of this.

Near the end of his remarks, Jim described a conversation he had with his predecessor, who had just walked the project to see if its near final stage resembled his early visions of it. The story, as told by Jim, goes like this:

I joined the team about three years ago. The design work had pretty much been done and we had just started structuring. And so a predecessor came out about three months ago and wanted to walk around the site, and I said, “Well, okay, but why?”

“Because, well I just want to see how close what you're building is to the design,” he responded.

We walked around and when we finished the walk I said, “Okay, so what do you think? Did you find any areas where you were disappointed that we had changed directions from the design?” He said, “No, actually I was so impressed.”

Then he went on to say, “but I'll tell you what I was most impressed about. I stood at the bottom of the atrium looking up the stairs, and I couldn't believe the level of detail, the level of precision that the team had taken to finish the stairs. I was just in awe.”

So, hats off to you guys! I mean this is somebody that was involved traveling around the world to 100 different locations to come up with designs, and he stands and looks at this building, and his comment is, “What a great job the sheetrockers have done on the precision of these stairs”.

At this point you could absolutely feel the pride in the room! To have just heard the story of the largest commercial project ever built in Houston, and possibly Texas, and then have the owners of this very project describe it in terms of the outstanding quality of Marek’s workforce was amazing. Jim’s story had just reinforced our message to all Marek employees, new or experienced. The work we do should be a constant source of pride, and every Marek craft professional is INDEED a building block in the construction process AND in the ongoing building of the Marek difference.

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