Jacobsen Construction

Few things are as valuable in the construction business as relationships. Take, for example, the relationship between Utah’s Jacobsen Construction and medical device manufacturer Merit Medical. Project Executive Doug Hronek says the company’s current project – expanding Merit Medical’s production facility in New Jordan, Utah – wouldn’t be on Jacobsen’s docket without the previous work it had done for Merit.

“In this economy that we’re in, we’re just really grateful that the relationship with Merit was intact,” Hronek says.

Jacobsen’s connection with Merit goes back more than 12 years and includes a number of projects to expand and upgrade the company’s facility. As a manufacturer of more than 150 medical devices, Merit’s facilities require a high degree of technical expertise and close attention to detail, and Jacobsen’s prior experience with Merit made it the best candidate for the job.

“They have a very dynamic business,” Hronek says. “Some of the things they’re manufacturing are right on the cutting edge of technology.”

Because Merit’s work is constantly evolving and improving, changes need to be made to the project’s plans all the time, and Jacobsen’s prior experience meant it knew exactly what to expect. “That may be one of the main reasons they selected us, because you have to be ready to change directions real quick,” Hronek says.

Jacobsen Construction has been building in Utah for almost 90 years. The company says its history and its status as an employee-owned company have given it a strong advantage in the marketplace. “Our primary purpose is to deploy our human and financial resources as a highly responsive, competitive general contractor,” the company explains. Jacobsen strives to provide “timely and exceptional preconstruction, construction, construction management and design/build services to honorable and financially sound clients, in ways which both favorably differentiate us from our competitors and also produce a reasonable profit.”

Daunting Task

The project involves a 240,000-square-foot expansion of Merit’s existing facility as well as construction of a new 742-stall parking facility. “The production facility is a three-story building, one story being completely underground,” Hronek says.

Because of the nature of the building, Jacobsen has had to work within some very exacting standards on the Merit project. For example, because the facility must have strict vibration tolerances to avoid damage to its equipment caused by earthquakes, the first floor has to incorporate a concrete pad system to dampen vibrations. 

Not only was the amount of excavation necessary for the underground level “massive,” according to Hronek, but Jacobsen needed to accommodate the building’s equipment in the foundation. “Because of the type of equipment that’s going into the building, there’s a significant amount of underground ducting that will be installed,” he says. 

Besides accommodating the highly technical nature of the work to be done inside the facility once it is completed, Merit wanted its newly expanded facility to meet LEED Silver specifications. “That’s a very challenging thing to do, given the fact that it is a production building,” Hronek says.

Meeting Deadlines

Aside from the project’s demanding requirements, Jacobsen encountered other challenges from outside the job site, as well. Hronek says work on the parking structure began in September 2010, meaning crews were pouring concrete straight through the winter months. It took a lot of effort and scheduling prowess to push the work through while contending with the wind, cold and snow, he adds. 

Also, the project is located close to a residential neighborhood, meaning the company had to be respectful of residents and try to disrupt their lives as little as possible. Hronek says the company held regular meetings with the community to understand their concerns about the project’s impact on their everyday lives. These meetings led to adjustments to the project such as routing trucks through the neighborhood during daylight hours, when they wouldn’t bother residents.

As it stands, Hronek says the project appears to be on track to meet its intended completion date in December 2012.

“We are currently on schedule right now, and we don’t really see any reason why we couldn’t finish on time,” he says.

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