Knutson Construction Services – Marshfield Clinic Health System Hospital

Knutson picDespite the aggressive schedule for its latest project, Knutson Construction is right where it wants to be.
By Bianca Herron

Knutson Construction Services has been in continuous operation since Thor Knutson founded it in 1911. With experience building in 18 states, more than a century later the Minneapolis-based company has earned a reputation for an intense work ethic, unwavering business integrity and a profound sense of collaboration with its architects and subcontractors.

Knutson has additional offices in Rochester, Minn.; Eau Claire, Wis.; and Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Its purpose, Senior Project Manager Roger Hunwardsen explains, is to make its clients’ dreams a reality.

“We complete nearly $300 million in projects annually,” he says. “We know that we exist to work in concert with each other to take the shared vision from concept to spectacular reality, and to make the journey as collaborative and stress-free as possible.”

Knutson’s company culture and its more than 700 employees distinguish it from the competition, Hunwardsen adds. “Everyone’s out to win, but that can only be accomplished by creating a team environment,” he explains. “Succeeding is only within the power of your people, and that’s what we have.”

On Schedule

Knutson’s latest project is the Marshfield Clinic Health System Hospital in Eau Claire. The company started construction in January on the 40,000-square-foot cancer center and 220,000-square-foot, five-story hospital. Both are expected to be completed spring 2018. Knutson box

“We started construction after the owner completed the demolition of a hotel on the site,” Hunwardsen says. “The hospital will also have a basement and loading dock. Both the cancer center and hospital are about 30 feet apart, so we’re also building a tunnel that connects them.”

Hunwardsen notes Knutson has not faced any challenges thus far, despite the company’s aggressive schedule to complete the project on time. “The first phase of the cancer center is due Sept. 15 and the second phase is October,” he explains. “So the cancer center will be completed in roughly eight months, while the hospital has a 14-month construction schedule.”

Communication and remaining on schedule are critical for this project, Hunwardsen adds. “Teamwork is also critical for us,” he says. “We have to work as a team because if we don’t, we won’t communicate and function as one. If we are not one, we won’t get anything done. So being five months in right now for this project, we’re knocking on wood, things are going great.”

Additionally, due to the project’s aggressive schedule, many of the materials and building methods – which were selected with the help of Knutson’s subcontractors and design team – were chosen to meet the speed of construction.

Valuing Partners

Hunwardsen notes that Knutson believes it is only as good as its partners, which is why the company’s relationships with its subcontractors are crucial to its success.

“Knutson relies on them from the day they bid a project until completion,” he says. “We value those who take initiative in their jobs and offer solutions-oriented approaches to their work.”

Everyone on the jobsite is valued as a member of the Knutson team, Hunwardsen adds, noting the company maintains a positive, productive worksite environment. “I’ve worked with a number of the same subcontractors over the years,” he says. “They’re all very good and that’s part of the reason why they are first priority for selection. The subcontractors for this project, for example, were chosen based on their abilities to perform as well as their commitment to the schedule.”

Having worked with the same subcontractors for years not only ensures quality control, but it also builds a positive rapport, Hunwardsen notes. “Integrity is key to maintaining these longstanding relationships,” he explains. “You have to act as a team and have respect for each other. Those key components, and more, are vital to completing a project.”

Additionally, with more than 250 employees on-site at peak, the health and well-being of those involved with its projects are most important. To maintain a culture of safety, the company has made it a priority to have zero injuries and no lost-time accidents.

“On all Knutson projects, each subcontractor is required to have their own safety department walk the site to ensure safety is incorporated into their work,” Hunwardsen says. “Also, everyone has to attend site orientation before starting work on the project to understand the logistics of the job and how to remain safe, which is most important.

“With everyone working as one on this project, at this point, we are right where we want to be,” he concludes.

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