HallMark : Fall 2015

Hallmark – Fall Edition 2015

Going Ape – A New Exhibit

For more than 50 years, the Great Ape House has towered over the sprawling landscape of the Kansas City Zoo. This imposing structure can be seen from all of Swope Park and was a state-of-the-art habitat in the 1960s. However, the steel-bar and concrete-walled behemoth has become obsolete. Current design strives to provide animals with more natural habitats.

In 2002, under pressure from animal welfare officials and threatened with a loss of accreditation, zoo officials built the “primadome” a steel cage 27 feet tall and 34 feet wide providing a comfortable home for the animals. However, it was a stopgap measure that was unattractive and sterile. Although, the “primadome” was meant to be temporary, it stayed in service for more than 13 years.

With the help of zoo tax district funding and $1.2 million in private donations, construction started on a new orangutan exhibit earlier this year. The $6 million plus project was built by general contractor, A.L. Huber Construction Co, a longtime Kansas City business.

Musselman & Hall Contractors was chosen to install the architectural concrete portion of the facility. M&H became involved in the initial design of the work through their affiliation with well-known landscape architects, Bowman Bowman Novick.

The M&H work, under the supervision of veteran supervisor Bryson Scott, called for a light brown Sandtex concrete surface. This surface surrounds the exhibit area and winds through the faux rocks- ending in the children’s play area. A set of steps and concrete paving inside the orangutan habitat itself completed the work.

The new exhibit features large glass windows that look out onto both artificial and natural trees in Swope Park. There is a stream and a waterfall. Visitors are able to observe the orangutans on two levels, one of which features a plank the Orangutans can walk across to greet their visiting guests up close.

According to Bryson, “ I was very proud of Jerry (Warren), E.J. (Stahlman), Dan (Gatrost) and Matt (Curtice). The job site was very cramped and there were workers everywhere. We really had to think about what we were doing just to stay out of each other’s way. We were under a huge time crunch so we worked days, nights and weekends to get it done for the May grand opening. It was gratifying to get the job done and see how great it all looked in the end.”

Zach stokes was Huber’s project superintendent. He remarked, “The Musselman & Hall performance was miraculous. The last two weeks, when we were really under the gun, it rained every day. Rather than get all upset, Bryson and his crew , just dug a little deeper and got on with the work; we would not have made the deadline without them.”

The Orangutan exhibit is the latest gem by Musselman & Hall crews at the Kansas City Zoo. Other recent projects include: the Main Entrance renovation, the Penguin Exhibit, the Polar Bear Exhibit and (eh granddaddy of them all) the two-mile-long, narrow gage train track constructed in 1971.

On Top of the World – By Nikolas Perkins – The transportation world is always changing and presenting obstacles. One of these obstacles popped up for one of Muselman and Hall’s newer customers recently. The railroad needed to get approximately 1200 tons of railroad ballast unloaded from train cars and stockpiled. Their open top ballast cars are designed to dump ballast underneath the car as the train is moving to distribute ballast in between the rails and along the shoulder. The cars were needed elsewhere on the railroad’s system, and the rock belonged to the local division. The other problem was, this rock was not ready to be distributed on the tracks, but need to be unloaded in a staging area in the local yard.

In order to get a giant trackhoe up to the top of the cars, the M&H shop already constructed a ramp from an old trailer that hooks onto the end of railroad cars. With the help of Scott Youndg, Keith Clark, and Glenn Gross, M&H got the ramp and a 20 car ton crawler excavator delivered on site quickly. Railroad operator, Jon Arnold climbed the machine up the ramp and unloaded the 14 cars of ballast in just under 8 hours.

The customer had their rock on the ground and released the empty cars to be shipped. “It was a little nerve-wracking getting started, but once I started unloading I was fine,” claimed Jon Arnold.

No matter what road blocks the transportation market throws in our way, we have the experience and knowledge to get around or sometimes over those problems.


The Water Runs Through It – by Dan Kroesen

The parking lot at the KCMO Swope Campus Water Services Department was in a very bad state of repair. Rather than install a traditional asphalt parking lot, Water Services took the opportunity to experiment with several different permeable paving systems. Jim Schussler and the design team from BNIM worked with landscape architect Lisa Treese from Water Service, to design a one-of-a-kind, sustainable storm water management project.

This project included various sustainable storm water improvements, including four different types of pervious pavements. Pervious pavements reduce site runoff and lower the heat island effect. Pervious pavements are designed to keep storm water on site for a longer period of time and significantly reduce downstream flood damage.

KCMO officials will just need to look out their office windows to evaluate the maintenance requirements and effectiveness of each of the pavements.

Musselman & Hall Contractors installed 3,000 square feet of Grasscrete pavement. The design team at BNIM was interested in implementing Grasscrete into the design as a pervious pavement to accommodate the heavy service trucks that would occasionally use the lot.

Grasscrete, a Bomanite Pervious Concrete System, is a cast-in-place, monolithic, concrete pavement that is continuously reinforced to provide superior structural integrity. Once the pavement is installed, grass seed may be sown over it allowing grass to grow up through the voids in the Grasscrete blocks. It is an excellent application for alleys, infrequently used driveways, access driveways to utility installations, emergency access lanes, overflow parking and intermittent drainage channels where vehicular traffic is the secondary use of the pavement.

Grasscrete has been a Bomanite System for over 20 years with installations throughout North America in all climate types. Grasscrete is void structured concrete – a pervious pavement system that can be cast using proven mix designs with no potential for freeze-thaw or clogging problems. Grasscrete can be used as an exposed paving system for functional applications or as a concealed system with vegetation such as grass or native ground cover installed over the concrete.


He Wrangles Iron Horses

One of Musselman & Hall’s newest and most famous employees is 49-year-old C.J. Staats. C.J. joined the company earlier this year to manage railroad maintenance operations in Eastern Missouri and Western Illinois. On an average day, his crew of up to 20 workers completes 10 to 14 jobs doing everything from brush cutting and flood debris removal to installing turnouts and changing railroad ties.

He began his railroad career in 1993, working for a St. Louis based contractor helping manage their railroad maintenance work. He continued to work for this company until they went out of business in 2012. He then worked for a St. Louis based competitor until he joined M&H this past spring.

Railroading, how ever, has not been C.J’s first love. He has always been around horses and has been an avid wrangler since his boyhood years. A wrangler is a person who takes care of horses on a ranch. C.J. is a lifetime wrangler.

As C.J. neared high school graduation in 1984, his father (also a wrangler) connected with a personal acquaintance to land C.J. his first role as a wrangler on film. C.J. flew off to Hollywood to appear with Patrick Swayze in the TV miniseries, North and South. When production began on North and South II, C.J. was called again to be a wrangler and a stuntman.

C.J.s film career continued for 28 years during which he played in 63 films, TV shows and commercials. According to C.J., “I did a lot of horse falls, where you see somebody riding and the horse gets shot out from underneath them. That was my specialty. I also did a number of backovers where I would fall backward off a horse after being shot.”

When asked if he ever thought he was going to die on film, C.J. perked up and said, “Well, almost. The toughest stunt I ever did was riding on a wagon being pulled by four horses at full speed. ON cue, I was to jump off the wagon, onto the horses, just as the wagon broke loose and flipped over before rolling down a cliff. Everything had to be timed perfectly. Fortunately, we did the stunt in one take so we did not have to do it a second time. I knew they had a backup wagon for a second take but later I found out they had a backup for me too.”

The low point of his career occurred in the 1995 filming of The Avenging Angel starring Charlton Heston. He acted as a double for Tom Berenger. C.J. recanted, “ I was riding a horse in a dense forest near Park City, Utah, when the horse got confused and we ran straight into a tree. I hit the ground with a thud. The horse got right up but I was hurting. They took me to a hospital in an ambulance. Man, was I in pain I guess I was lucky to survive at all.”

C.J. continued wrangling until 2012, when he took his last fall in the movie Lincoln with Daniel Day Lewis. C.J. went on, “By the time we did Lincoln I had experienced all the pain, broken teeth and bruises I needed. I was ready to get back to normal. I still get calls for interesting roles but I don’t need the travel and the headaches. I like being home in my own bed every night.”

C.J. appeared with many famous actors including Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. He liked Nicole better. His all-time favorite star is Sam Elliott. C.J. exclaimed, “I doubled for Sam many times. He is the same person on the screen as he is in real life. He has no pretenses. He is just a great guy. We are very close friends. I have been to his house many times.”

C.J. lives with his wife, Linda, a daughter (20) and two sons (14 and 18) at their home in Labadie, MO, a suburb of St. Louis.

Reflecting on his brief time with Musselman & Hall he mused, “This is a great job. My previous employer kept me on a tight rein. I had to be in the office every day and be told everything to do. With M&H I can do my own thing and manage the crews the way I see it needs to be done every day. I spend 95% of my time out in the field where the action is. It is great.”

WE would like to close this article by telling C.J. to “break a leg” but he might just go out and do it.


M&H Completes Grand Slam – On the afternoon of August 31st, Musselman & Hall CEO Doug Hall and Risk Manager Larry Eilenstine stood in front of a room full of hot and sweaty golfers to receive the Heavy Constructors Association of Greater Kansas City Annual First Place Safety Award.

The occasion was the Affiliates Golf tournament held in late summer every year to raise money for the HCA political action committee. The venue was the dining room of the fabulous National Golf Club near Parkville, MO.

M&H garnered the award for the fourth consecutive year for the Class B Division which includes contractors with between 200,000 and 399,999 worker hours in the field. The only division larger for the Class B Division is Class A for contractors with more than 400,000 hours. The award will be on display in the company’s conference room right next to a similar first place award received from the KC area Builder’s Association in March of this year.

As he admired the impressive plaque, Larry remarked, “To win this award for four consecutive years is nothing short of a miracle. The competition is very tough and construction is a hazardous business. I am proud to receive this award on behalf of our almost 250 employees who work day after day in very unpleasant conditions and around big heavy equipment. Safety doesn’t just happen. We worked very hard to achieve this recognition for the fourth straight time.”

Larry went on to say, “Safety has become a very big deal. Our customers want us to be safe. They do not want the bad publicity surrounding an accident in their plant. Most large manufacturing companies will not allow companies with bad safety records into their plants. If we want to keep the best customers, we must provide the best and safest workers.”


Remarks – Doug Hall

On July 17, 1965, Judy and I walked down the aisle of Raytown Christian Church to exchange our wedding vows in front of a couple hundred friends and family. It was the greatest day of my life. After six years of dating (starting as sophomores in high school) we were ready to get down to the serious business of being married and living happily ever after.

It seems like such a short time ago as we drove off in our canary yellow 1965 Chevrolet Impala, heading for the Hilton Inn downtown KC. After six years of dating, we were ready to get on with the honeymoon. WE did not spend much time at our reception.

Things were simple 50 years ago. We had a new two-bedroom apartment near Raytown. We had one car. We would come home at night, have a nice dinner and settle down for an evening of watching television on our twelve-inch black and white. Channel selection was not a problem as our choices were Channels 4,5 or 9. At 10:00, we would share a Pepsi and break out the Fritos and dip while we watched the local news and Johnny Carson in bed. Life was perfect!