Piper Plaza Gets a Facelift

This week we are replacing curb and gutter at a strip center in the Piper area of Kansas City, Kansas. It is a full and very active place and we are replacing all the curbs in front of all the shops. 

I called the owner's representative to see how the work is going. He remarked, "Emery (Project Manager Schroeder) is doing a great job of keeping me informed about what is going on. Even better, I was out there this morning and I could not believe how clean the job site was. Your guys were following the removal work with shovels and brooms to pickup all the mess behind the excavation work. I was very impressed!"

That is what we do at Musselman & Hall. Congratulations to Mike Barnes and his crew for their excellent work.

Piper Plaza

Musselman & Hall Wins National Award with KU School of Business Polished Concrete Jawhawk

24 ft Polished Concrete KU Jayhawk Logo

166,500 SF four story facility with 20 classrooms, a 350 seat auditorium and nearly two dozen collaborative spaces.

M&H worked closely with local architecture firm Gastinger Walker during the design development phase of the project. M&H assisted with the project specifications and samples. The design team and owner’s representatives visited the M&H architectural concrete showroom multiple times to discuss project particulars and review samples until the team was able to fine tune the project finishes.

The atrium lobby, common area, and gathering space of the new four story, 166,500 SF facility was completed with the Bomanite Renaissance system. The large common area in the atrium lobby was designed to be a living room-like “entrepreneurship incubator.” M&H placed 15,800 SF of 4” thick integrally colored topping slab. The slab was integrally colored with Bomanite’s “Coal Gray”. The placement of the topping slab included multiple sets of cast-in-place steps as well as an ADA accessible ramp.

The center piece of the project, and building as a whole, is the 24’ diameter Jayhawk symbol at the west entry of the atrium lobby which M&H installed. The Jayhawk overlay involved the installation of an intricate zinc inlay of the Jayhawk. Musselman and Hall utilized a polishable overlay for the Jayhawk.

After the topping slab had cured sufficiently, M&H began the polishing operation. The slab was ground to a “salt & pepper” aggregate exposure and polished a semi-gloss finish. The schedule allowed for the polishing operation was extremely tight and a 12 man polishing crew worked 10+ hour days for 2 weeks straight to meet the aggressive schedule.

Musselman & Hall is very proud, especially Vice President of Architectural Concrete Dan Kroesen (pictured 6th from the left) who was the project manager for this project. 

2016 Bomanite Award Winners

2016 Bomanite Award Winners

Owner - University of Kansas 

Design Team: Kansas City Architecture Firm Gastinger Walker

General Contractor: JE Dunn Construction

Subcontractor: Musselman & Hall Contractors 

Project Manager: Dan Kroesen - Vice President 

Crossroads District Wins "Sustainable Communities" Award with help of 20th Street Streetscape by Musselman & Hall

Musselman & Hall changed the face of Kansas City's First Fridays Crossroads Art District for the better. The City of Kansas City Missouri nationally recognized the Crossroads Community for sustainability after the completion of the 20th street reconstruction and streetscape project led by Project Manager Matt Laipple and Musselman & Hall as the design-build team. At the crossroad of 20th and Baltimore you can find a pedestal plaque recognizing the district specifically with the Mid-America Regional Council's 'Sustainable Communities' award. Below, Matt Laipple gives his testimonial on the highly recognized and awarded project.  

We are entering a new age.  One hundred years ago, 20th Street from Southwest Boulevard to Grand Avenue was an industrial area filled with warehouses.  Trains were rambling through dropping their cargo.  The warehouses are now lofts and the old freight house is home to some sensational restaurants.  The area, now known as the Crossroads District, is experiencing one of the largest redevelopment movements in Kansas City history and is listed as one of America’s Great Places by the American Planning Association. 

I’m sure you’ve seen those “extreme makeover” shows…  Someone turns a run-down old house into a model home or someone works hard to lose weight and their appearance totally changes.   This project was like one of those shows-“Extreme Street Makeover”. The “Makeover” was initiated by the Crossroads Association and the City of Kansas City, Missouri.  Stakeholders recognized 20th Street as a barrier within the neighborhood. The wide roadway and neglected condition of the corridor created a chasm that gave the area a sense of desolation and emptiness.

The character of the corridor changes during First Fridays when thousands of visitors and residents walk the district and enjoy the many unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The intent of the project was to bring people to the district not just once a month but every day. A steering committee of Crossroads property owners, representatives from the City and numerous consultants, worked together to develop a master plan for the 20th Street Corridor fromCentral Street to McGee Street.

Mario Vasquez, a talented deal maker and project manager for the City, was charged with getting the job done.  He recognized that this was not an ordinary street reconstruction project.  The timeframe to get the project designed and built was tight, there were many stakeholders, EPA regulations required storm water detention and there was a century’s worth of buried utilities hidden below the street and the budget was tight. This was the right project for design-build construction. 

Mario put together the Request for Design-Build Services.  A weighted selection criterion of qualifications and price was used to identify the best Design-Build team for the job.

M&H teamed up with Taliaferro and Browne, the lead engineering consultant. The M&H/Taliaferro and Browne team was ultimately selected to design and build the project.  Additional team members were public relations specialists Parsons and Associates, and electrical design provided by Custom Engineering.

By late spring of 2015 the project was awarded and our team was allowed to start design.  The design process was broken into four scopes- streets and sidewalks, storm water, landscaping and electrical. 

Figuring out a system to collect storm water and slowly release it into the City’s combined sewer system was a big challenge.  The team studied several including pervious pavement (difficult to collect and meter), landscaped detention basins (deep, dark and dangerous) and plastic vaults buried below the street, (too many utility conflicts). 

The team finally settled on the vision of our veteran storm water engineer, Mike Looney.  Parallel 4’x4’ concrete vaults stretching along the north side of the street serve three purposes- form the vertical sides of the landscaped rain gardens, act as a base for sidewalks, and slowly release storm water collected from the rain garden into the combined sewer.  Constructing Mike’s design was the biggest challenge of the project.

20th Street

We broke ground on April 4, 2016.  M&H crews led by James Harra started digging at 20th and Grand.   Our storm sewer crew under the direction of Roger Trimble carefully excavated and placed box culverts and connecting plumbing.  April was a productive month but our luck was about to change.  As it turns out our excavation was at the bottom of a water shed that collected storm water from much of the area between I-70 and 20th Street.  Rains came in May and we learned that trash pumps were our friend.  James and Roger spent many afternoons and evenings pumping water to prepare for the next day’s work.  Mud was the ubiquitous demon, sticking to everything getting near it.  The crews pushed onward with the goal of completing Phase 1 (Main to Grand) by July 1.  As the storm sewer work progressed our concrete crews followed building sidewalk, curb and drives. 

This time, mud on the ground was a great thing.  In the construction industry mud has more than one meaning.  In this case “mud” a.k.a. concrete got us out of the real mud and made the job site a much better place to be working.

While the paving work was going on electrical crews were working, boring-in conduit, installing traffic signals and street lights.  These folks were like the secret service, always there working in the background, making things happen.  Electrical Services, Inc.  did a great job adapting to the spaghetti like network of pipes and wires hidden below ground.

Late June was suddenly upon us and our deadline to complete Phase 1 was nearing.  Neighborhood residents and businesses were getting anxious.  People were saying, “The sidewalk is great but are you going to leave the street like that?”  Part of the project included reshaping the cross section of the street from an inverse crown (water drains to the center of the street) to a standard crown (water drains to the edges of the street).  By this time new curbs were installed and it became obvious to onlookers that there was no way we could leave the street a foot or more below the curb.  What they didn’t know is that new asphalt pavement was next on the schedule. 

Until this point the street remained open while we were building.  Traffic made the street congested, busy, and impossible to work on the actual street without shutting it completely down.  So that’s what we suggested and the City concurred.  It was a glorious day when we were able to set up the barricades.  It reminded me of walking down the middle of main street at high noon in an old western movie.  People milling about on the sidewalks trying to see what was happening, waiting for the showdown.  In this case the showdown was profile milling and asphalt paving.  Jason Conard and Trevor Wratt used survey points laid out on the pavement to surgically remove undulations in the old pavement with our milling machine.  Matt Eilenstine, Dale Hetherington and crew installed variable depth asphalt.  This was a key design aspect of the job and ultimately what enabled the project to be built within the available budget.  The old street was 14” to 18” thick and in very good structural condition.  Like rings on a tree, the street had multiple layers of materials placed on top of each other over the last century.  Our team devised a plan to save the old pavement from the landfill by leaving it in place as structural base for the new street, creating a savings of $300,000. 

Finally, only a couple weeks behind schedule, a plant pallet created by landscape architect Meg Babani rounded out the streetscape work.  Trees, bushes, ornamental grass and numerous other plantings were installed in Ms. Babani’s very own special blend of soil, sand and compost.  Stonegait Nursery did the hard work of planting the nearly 8,000 plants along the corridor.  Once pavement markings were applied by Morgan Contractors, Phase 1 was open for business. 

Lessons learned during Phase 1 helped speed up building Phase 2 between Main and Southwest Blvd.  Phase 2 was longer than Phase 1 by about 25%.  The weather was much more forgiving in the summer and fall months and we managed to get the project back on schedule in time for a ribbon cutting held in conjunction with First Friday festivities in November.

Some interesting facts from the job-

-          20th street was put on a diet. Known in the industry as a “Road Diet”, the old six lane street was narrowed to three lanes to make room for wide sidewalks and bike lanes

-          An innovative underground storm water management system captures storm water runoff and slowly releases it back into the combined sewer system

-          LED Street Lighting

-          The project was recently awarded the Mid-America regional councils award for “Sustainable Communities” for including eco-friendly elements in the project

Some notable things we discovered while digging-

-          There were two brick streets.  One that we were aware of about sixteen inches under the asphalt.  What surprised us was we found another brick street four feet below that!

-          The guys found a .45 caliber cartridge that dated back to the late 1800s and, not too far from that, was a large horseshoe.  I’m still wondering if the two are connected.

-          Finally, the buried utility lines.  From one end of the job to the other is about three tenths of a mile.   By my calculations there are around five miles of buried utilities in this section.  And one of them connects the Federal Building here with the Federal building in Dallas, TX!  Our team did great avoiding everything.

David Johnson, president of the Crossroads Community Association summed up the project saying, “Matt and the Musselman & Hall team did a superb job communicating with the neighborhood throughout our streetscape project on 20th Street. Having fought hard to retain he original concept of a true “complete street” throughout planning and design, they remained sensitive to that work as the project moved to completion.”

HallMark : Winter 2015

Hallmark : Winter Edition 2015

Throwing Delmar for a Loop

The Delmar Loop Trolley is a new 2.2. mile long and $51 million trolley system, serving the Delmar area in St. Louis, near Washington University and Forest Park.

Musselman & Hall Contractors has a $7.6 million subcontract to construct the railroad track portion of the project for general contractor KCI Construction Co. of St. Louis.

The project is being developed by the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District which is funded by a partnership between the city of St. Louis and University City.

Specifications call for the use of new 115lb domestic rail, furnished by A&K Railroad Materials – out of their Kansas City, KS, office. A&K is pre-bending the curved rail for the project. Nortack Systems is fabricating the material for the eight turnouts.

When asked about unique challenges to the job, Dan Poelker, M&H project manager remarked, “By far the most difficult task is fitting the insulated rubber boots around the rail. These boots come in 600 ft. rolls and weight about 3000 pounds. We built a special rig that allows us to pick up a section of rail (up to 300 ft) long and slide the boot around the rail before setting it in place.”

The insulated boots protect the public from the high voltage electricity needed to power the electric cars on the system. They are manufactured by Ohio-based Iron Horse Engineering Co. Iron Horse also furnished the 80 inch long composite ties, which are placed on ten-foot centers. According to Dan, “We wrap the seals around the rail and then fasten the rail to the ties. The ties have adjustment bolts that we use to set the top rail to the exact elevation. Once the rails are set, KCI crews come in and install the concrete. It is a pretty slick operation.”

In mid-December, when most of the construction was suspended to accommodate Christmas shoppers, the rail installation was 58% complete. The entire project is scheduled for completion near the end of 2016.

In an article in the St. Louis Business Journal, Joe Edwards, owner of Blueberry Hill and Board Chairman of the Loop Trolley Transportation Development District wrote, “On the other side of our state, they recently completed 2.2 mile Kansas City Streetcar at a cost of $102 million. Our cost is just $51 million for the same distance. Most important is the value the Loop Trolley will bring to the St. Louis region in the form of clean electric transportation, connectivity, pedestrian friendly neighborhoods, increased tourism and economic development along the entire route.”

As he reminisced about his time on the project, Dan Poelker mused, “This job has been a real challenge. We are working right in the middle of very busy traffic and we are on a tight schedule. Adam Vogt (M&H general foreman) and the rest of our team have done a great job adapting to an ever changing job environment. I can’t wait to be the first rider.”

As we sit around our office on a cold, gray, dark winter morning, Musselman & Hall project managers and estimators are always happy to reflect on the Six Phases of a Project:




Search for the guilty.

Punishment of the innocent

Praise and honors for the non-participants.

We do not know who claims authorship for this. However, we are pretty sure it dates back to the building of the pyramids.

All Bottled Up on Troost

The area around Troost Avenue and Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard, in midtown Kansas City, had become an eyesore for the people living in this once proud neighborhood. The area featured shuttered storefront, abandoned buildings, vagrants and trash everywhere. It was not a pretty sight.

But not anymore!

Thanks to an initiative of the City of Kansas City, nearby Stowers Institute and the Brush Creek Community Partners – the area has come alive and is thriving. Barbeque entrepreneur Ollie Gates has been a key figure in the redevelopment. Through his commitment, he demolished all the old buildings on the southeast corner and built a new and vibrant shopping center. Gates maintains their busy barbeque restaurant on the eastside of the development and Gate’s RibTech is nearby at Cleaver II and The Paseo.

After a series of devastating floods, the City of Kansas City removed the old unsightly bridge over Brush Creek and built a beautiful new span – with pedestrian trails linking the eastern reach of Brush Creek to the Nelson-Atkins Country Club Plaza area.

The final stage of the redevelopment was dealing with the large (and not so beautiful) Kansas City Power & Light substation at 48th and Tracy. Two years ago, KCP&L made major improvements to the appearance of the substation when they upgraded it. It also now includes the SmartGrid Innovation Park bringing dependable and efficient electrical power to the surrounding area. Musselman & Hall installed a beautiful architectural concrete landscape as part of the outstanding improvement.

KCP&L, however, was not finished. In Spring 2015, KCP&L contracted with M&H to build a beautiful precast, architectural concrete screen-wall around the entire substation.

The 1120 ft. long wall varies in height from 9 ft 3 inches to 13 ft 6 inches. Unfortunately, the substation was built atop an old dump and the subsoil is very unstable. To offset the instability, the plans called for the construction of a massive spread footing – six feet wide and two feet thick. The footing alone took more than 500 cubic yards of concrete.

According the M&H project manager Greg Frazier, “Since the screen-walls were built on a former dump site, we unearthed thousands of old bottles. Our workers would collect the bottles and explore the internet to see what they might be worth. One Coca Cola bottle was selling online for $150.00. One of our equipment operators uncovered a candy-apple-red, chewing gum machine. The machine showed a price of five cents per piece.”

M&H superintendent Tom Whitten supervised the crew, assisted by number two man – Cody Worsley and crew members Troy Schaub & Ryan Martinko. KCP&L crews were part of the team as well, ready to de-energize the electrical lines as necessary.

One of Musselman & Hall’s newest estimators/project managers is Keith Short.

At age 31, he was one of the oldest members of the graduating class from UMKC, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree in May of 2015. Keith is not a slow learner. He served our nation via the United States Navy for five years. After completing his Navy basic training, he spent three and one half years aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan touring the Western Pacific and achieving the rank of Petty Officer Second Class. As an Avionics Electronics Technician, he worked on electronic counter measures and secured communications systems for F-18 fighter planes. Keith’s Navy tour took him to thirteen countries including Singapore, Hong Kong (5 times), United Arab Emirates (Dubai) (4 times), Guam, Japan, and Thailand.

In 2006, Keith attended the funeral of a friend in Wichita, KS, where he bumped into another high school friend, named Keighsy (KC) – whom he had desired to date in high school back in Liberty, MO. That encounter signaled the end of  Keith’s Navy career – all he could think about was Keighsy. They married in 2008. After their wedding, she lived in Liberty and worked at the Military Entrance Processing Station near KCI and he finished his Naval career in 2010.

Today the Shorts are proud parents of Kelvin Levi Short who was born in February of 2015. They reside in Kearney, MO, where Keith likes to hunt and fish on the family farm near Bethany, MO. A self-described “square” Keith says he likes to hang out with family and play with Kelvin.

Keith joined M&H as an intern in March 2014 and began full time employment in May 2015.

When asked about his decision to pursue a degree in Civil Engineering rather than construction, Keith remarked, “My engineering degree fits me perfectly at Musselman & Hall. Even though, I am not in the business of designing things, my engineering degree helps me speak the language of construction and I understand our projects from a technical standpoint.”

Keith commented on his job at M&H, “I am constantly surprised by the large size of the Kansas City construction market. There is really a lot going on here. The flip side of that is that, even though the market is quite large, I am amazing at how many small and tightly connected is the construction community.”

He is an important part of the M&H team that is helping construct the new Burns & McDonnell headquarters building at Bannister and Wornall. He proclaimed, “I love the Burns and Mc job. WE have been out there more than a year and it has been fun to see the beautiful building taking shape. WE have had floor pours up to 19,000 square feet in one day. It is super amazing to see our experienced crews, material providers and everything come together for a pour that size.”

Keith is a big KC Royals fan and was thrilled with the Royals World Series run. When asked about his love for sports he exclaimed, “I cheer for the Royals but, with my step=father hailing from Michigan, I was raised a Michigan fan. I love the Wolverines, the Lions, the Red Wings, and the Tigers. It is really hard on me when the Royals play the Tigers.”

When asked about how he fits in at M&H Keith responded, “This family at M&H is wonderful. I can handle anything that goes on here with the support of the senior employees. From the executives to the field personnel everyone at M&H has so much experience to learn from.”

Shooting Hoops and Rolling Dice

On the night of November 14, 2015, more than 100 Musselman & Hall employees and their guests descended on the college Basketball Experience for our annual employee appreciation night.

After an intense competition of free throw shooting, three point shooting, vertical jumping, horse and knockout; the group sat down for a delicious buffet dinner and program.

The following employees were recognized for their service to the company:

Rookie of the Year: Matt Watterson

Five years: Jeremy Newland and Larry Eilenstine

Ten years: Jason Casey, Brandon Hyden and Cody Worsley.

Fifteen years: Clint Hager and Derek Ephland.

Twenty Years: Dexter Phillips.

Thirty Years: Mike Barnes.

A few weeks later on December 11, another 100 plus employees gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in St. Louis for the eastern Missouri version of the event. As the St. Louis operation is less than five years old, no longevity awards were given. However, the group enjoyed a fun casino night.


On the evening of November 23, my family and I gathered at our home to celebrate the 100th birthday of my father, Harry L. Hall.

Dad was born November 23, 1915 in Elephant Butte, New Mexico. My grandfather Harry F. Hall lived there while working on the construction of the Elephant Butte dam. Elephant Butte is in southeast New Mexico near Truth or Consequences.

The Halls were not wealthy people. My grandfather, one of four boys, was the son of a stonemason from Sedalia, Missouri. Grandpa was not formally educated, but the entire Hall family was grounded in the construction business. My great-grandfather, Nicholas Halthausen, was a stonemason. When my sister was attending college in Enid, Oklahoma in 1961, Dad drove us by the little shanty where they had lived in Oil Hill, KS, near Eldorado during the 1920’s. Grandpa had worked at the refinery there. Shanty is the right word-there was no hint of luxury.

In the mid 1920’s, my grandmother, Trixie Hall, died and left my grandfather with my father, his younger sister Dale and his older brother Raymond. It was also in the mid 1920’s that my great uncle, John N. Hall, contracted tuberculosis and moved to Arizona. Uncle John convinced Grandpa to relocate to Kansas City and take over his interest in Musselman & Hall Contractors.

Records show that Musselman & Hall thrived during the Roaring Twenties. Business in Kansas City was going well and Grandpa moved the family into the house I knew at 4008 St. John in northeast Kansas City. By then, Grandpa had found help raising his three children when he hired a housekeeper by the name of Dorothy, whom he later married. She was always, “Aunt Dorothy” and never Grandma.

As the stock market crashed and the depression hit, somehow the Harry Hall family survived. AS Uncle Ray went off to college to earn a medical degree and dad shuffled off to the University of Kansas to earn a Civil Engineering degree in 1939.

Dad married my mother two times. The first time they married secretly while dad was at KU and mom was in highschool. Thanks to my mother’s sister, Beulah, the secret was disclosed and my grandfather had the marriage annulled. Two years later, as Dad turned 21 and my mom turned 18, they were united again in a wonderful marriage that lasted until Dad died of stomach cancer on January 23, 1978 at the young age of 62.

Dad’s life was marked by three significant events. The first occurred during his youth-as a very good baseball player, he struck on the nose by a bat shattering his nose and leaving him permanently disfigured. He attempted plastic surgery but it was never successful. The broken nose caused Dad to be rated 4F for selective service. When other men went off to World War II, he was left behind to fly airplanes for the Civil Air Patrol. He would have loved being a pilot in the Army Air Corps, but that was not to be.

The second event, of course, was the secret marriage and the scandal that followed. This fiasco left my dad permanently disenchanted with his church and permanently scarred the relationship between my parents and their parents. It was ugly!

Finally, in June of 1954, my parents were attending a 25th Wedding Anniversary party for our next door neighbors in Raytown. During the party Dad, slipped and fell on a wet stairway – jamming the drinking glass he had been holding into his right hand – through the center of his hand, severing all the arteries and tendons. He nearly died from loss of blood. He did survive, but with a severely deformed hand which plagued him for the remainder of his life.

Dad was a complex man, raised without a mother, by the grandfather (who also lost his mother at an early age). He was never quite sure how to love my sister and me. He never hugged me or told me he loved me – he didn’t have to. I could tell it from the way he cared for me. He taught me discipline, honesty, and how to treat and respect women.

It took Dad a long time to accept Judy into our family. He was not good at accepting outsiders.

Not long before he died, he told me there were two women in his life. They became more beautiful as they aged. One was my mother Florence, and the other was my wife Judy. It was the nicest thing he had ever said to me. I think of it every day.

Dad worked at Musselman & Hall as a laborer to an owner from 1930s until he died in 1978. Under his leadership, the company survived the death of my grandpa in 1968 and the death of his partner and cousin, Ed, in 1969. He had the wisdom to lay out a plan to transfer the business to me-allowing the company to last for more than 100 years.

This was the group we refer to as “The Greatest Generation.” My dad was born at the beginning of World War I, raised during The Great Depression, tempered by the second World War (in which he could not serve), crippled by two debilitating injured, survived two airplane crashes and a car wreck-all the while providing a safe and comfortable suburban life for his wife and children. Way to go Dad! Happy Birthday!

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!

HallMark: Summer 2015

HallMark : Summer 2015 Edition

Onyx and Axys; A Couple of Jewels – by Tim Moulis

In our previous Hallmark, we discussed asphalt sealers; particularly sprayed mastic sealers. Due to their low cost, private owners and government entities are including these preventive applications into their annual maintenance plans.

Mastic sealers are composite materials made up of asphalt bitumen, polymers, particulate reinforced materials, surfactants, emulsifiers and synthetic aggregates. Both Onyx (for roadways) and Axys (for parking lots) are engineered around these product performance attributes. In other words, the material is designed to address specific conditions that are of utmost importance to the end user – i.e. durability, impermeability, drying time, friction, and color lock. Both products are mixed in central plants under high scrutiny to ensure every batch is consistent and precisely proportioned.

Both Onyx and Axys are highly durable. WE have not found any product that can match their durability. They gain this toughness through the addition of polymers, a microscopic mesh that literally holds it all together. The question has been asked many times, “How tough is it?” The reply is, “Try to find another sealer that has a wet track abrasive test (WTAT) that betters an 80 gram/sq. meter after a 6 day soak. THERE IS NONE!”

Sealcoats are applied to prevent the intrusion of water into the asphalt sub-strata. Both Onyx and Axys are highly impermeable. The addition of a fine aggregate into the mix provides a feeling of comfort and security while providing excellent skid resistance. Both Onyx and Axys are consistently black and are formulated to reduce ultraviolet damage.

Dry time can be roughly calculated off the charts on the back of every brochure. An example of the quick dry time on Onyx at 80 degrees F. 50% humidity with a 5MPH wind and 100 degree F pavement – 38 minutes. That’s right, 38 minutes!

As marvelous as this mastic is, it is not a panacea for all asphalt ailments. It will not return your highly deteriorated pavement to a new status. It is not a crack sealer although it can bridge small bracks. IT does not repair poor subgrade nor does it act as a binder. It will, however, provide a barrier for the destructive action of sun and water, add micro abrasion to your surface, look good, dry quickly, resist wear and not empty your pocketbook. It’s best applied in the first few years of a pavement’s life and every 4-5 years thereafter. Properly applied along with crack sealing, it will extend the life of pavements by a factor of 3% or more.

He Hunts for Wild Boar and Railroad Customers

– the newest addition to Musselman & Hall’s rapidly growing railroad group is 41 year old, Adam Turley. Adam grew up in the Kansas City, Kansas area but after graduating from high school, slipped off to Iola, KS to study and play baseball at Allen County Community College. He always dreamed of being a major league catcher, catching was the only position where there was enough action to hold his interest.

After earning his associate’s degree at Allen County, Adam packed up and moved over to Manhattan to pursue a degree in agriculture from Kansas State University. However, the construction world called, Adam left KSU to work full time for his part time employer Damon Pursell Construction Co. At Pursell he worked as a heavy equipment operator and project superintendent.

Seeking greater opportunity, Adam left Pursell to work as a project manager/estimator for Barge Construction Co. in Olathe, KS. It was not long before Glen Barge offered him a partial ownership in the growing utility construction company. Unfortunately, the great recession of 2008 hit Barge-Turley hard and they chose to shut down and liquidate in 2010.

Adam found himself working as a construction technician for the Kansas City, KS Board of Public Utilities. At BPU he met Musselman & Hall Vice President of railroads Jason Fleck. HE was impressed by M&H’s operation and reputation and soon felt the urge to get back in the construction business. He joined M*H in March of 2015. His duties include business development, estimating and project management for the railroad group.

When asked about his time with M&H Adam remarked, “It is a great company. The atmosphere here is very laid back but, at the same time, there is an assumed urgency to get things done. I like the freedom I have to pursue my goals at my own pace.” Adam lives near Piper in western Wyandotte Country with Christy, his wife of 16 years, and their 6 year old son Colt.

For many years he traveled around the United States participating in men’s fast pitch softball tournaments. He now enjoys more relaxing activities – fishing with son Colt and hunting wild game with his recurve bow. His favorite targets include deer, wild boar (Oklahoma), bear (in Canada although he has never seen one) and wild turkey. When not hunting or fishing, Adam can be found helping Colt show his market pigs in Colt’s 4-H Club. Adam also serves on the Wyandotte County Fair Board.

Burns & McDonnel and Musselman & Hall,
More Than 200 Years of History Between Us.

In 1898, Clinton Burns and Robert McDonnell came to Kansas City and set up shop as Burns & McDonnell Engineering. The two partners liked Kansas City because there was a great need for water and sewer engineering projects within a day’s drive of the City. Today Burns & McDonnell’s work force includes more than 5000 employee owners working in more than 40 different offices. They have become one of the leading engineering firms I the world and a terrific citizen of the Greater Kansas City area.

The Burns & McDonnell World Headquarters is at 9400 Ward Parkway in a massive red granite building. As massive as the headquarters building is, it is not big enough so they are adding on. Working with VanTyl Trust, they are building a spectacular new building east of their present location.

Musselman & Hall is pleased to have been chosen to do the structural and site concrete work on the new building. M&H crews, under the direction of superintendent Wes Skaggs, moved onto the site in October of 2014 and went to work. The M&H package for the four story 325,000 SF building includes grade beams, pile caps, perimeter footings, floor slabs, equipment foundations, pan steps and all the site curbs, sidewalks, brick pavers and drive approaches.

According to Wes, “It has been a really fun project. We started in October and worked all through the winter, even pouring concrete on a day when the temperature was five degrees. We worked with Burns and McDonnell to enclose the building which allowed us to pour on those cold winter days.”

Wes went on, “There is nothing quite as much fun as pouring 280 cubic yards of concrete in 15,000 square foot floor sections day after day. The most exciting thing was that we did all our own layout and we only had to reset two anchor bolts because we took a dimension off the wrong drawings. Layout was not at all easy. Even though the building is rectangular, there are plenty of odd angles. We had to set the angles and check them twice to be sure they were accurate.”

Working for Burns & McDonnell is not always easy. They are particular about safety and quality and have no tolerance for contractors that will not comply with their rules. This is not a problem as M&H is just as obsessed with safety as Burns & McDonnell.

Although Wes Skaggs was the original superintendent on the site, he shared his duties with M&H foreman Joe Smith. When asked about the Musselman & Hall performance, Burns & McDonnell project site manager, Travis Reed remarked, “From a quality control and quality assurance standpoint M&H went way above the norm. Their attention to safety and quality is superb. I can’t say enough good things about Wes and Joe. They managed the job perfectly.”

M&H crews will finish up most of the structural concrete work by the end of June. They will then pull off until the building is nearly finished then move back in to finish up and install the remainder of the curbs, sidewalks, and pavers.

700 Market Street is a classic 1970’s building in downtown St. Louis. Designed by well-known architect Phillip Johnson, it has been described as everything from a “masterpiece” to a “giant mistake.”

According to an article in the January-February St. Louis CNR magazine, Mark Venturella, project manager for developer the Korman Group, the largest challenge is that the design of the building isn’t typical. It is often described as a three-story square cut on a diagonal with a round peg-the rotunda-inserted in the middle. Half the building sits at ground level, while the other half is raised three stories up the peg. There is no central core for lateral bracing or utilities.

Undaunted by all the problems, the building was acquired by the Korman Group to house the Laclede Group the parent company of Laclede Natural gas. Korman retained St. Louis architect HOK to redesign and repurpose the building.

The Korman Group hired St. Louis based Tarlton Corporation to be the construction manager. Musselman & Hall Contractors was contracted to completely remove and replace the entire site paving including revision of the site elevation to accommodate additional stairs and stadium seating. M&H installed specialty concrete floor finishes, a colored sculpture base, colored walls, a water feature, and decorative sawcutting.

According to Musselman & Hall St. Louis Division Manager Keith Ahal, “The biggest problem was laying out 3000 linear feet of decorative sawcuts. We had to match the window mullions with east-west sawcuts, and then turn 45 degrees through the main entry access walkway, then turn 45 degrees again to run north south. There was no room for error; every sawcut had to be done perfectly.”

Kevin Ross, M&H manager of field operations, had to coordinate not only M&H crews and M&H’s demolition subcontractor, but also had to schedule around other mechanical subs on the job as well. The work had to be scheduled to keep as much of the public sidewalks open as possible. The site is adjacent to Busch stadium where the Cardinals draw 40,000 fans on game days.

Carpenter superintendent Bob Heggemann supervised the layout and stair and wall work, while all the flatwork activities were coordinated by finisher foreman Scott Moelmann.

Michelle Ohle, Senior Landscape Architect, HOK says “Complementing its modern setting, the concrete in the plaza at 700 Market needed to be precise, timeless, and contemporary. M&H worked tirelessly to achieve this high standard and the clean lines required for the success of such an iconic space. “

Ironically, the previously all electric building had to be totally refitted to allow for the use of natural gas. It would not work for Laclede Gas to be in an all-electric building.

Looking back on the project, Katherine Bourque, project manager for Tarlton commented, “Keith and his team provided an excellent service to us and the owner on this project. From bid time to punchlist completion, M&H was responsive, safe, and effectively delivered a quality product. There were a lot of challenges on the project including a complete redesign of the site concrete due to historical requirements, two weeks after the project bid, and a 4 month schedule with liquidated damages. Add in the city’s diversity requirements, and the project didn’t look too attractive to many bidders. However, M&H kept a positive attitude through the whole process, and his obvious commitment to customer service was really refreshing. With Kevin coining the phrase “If you’re payin’, we’re stayin’!’, we were able to deliver a quality project, on schedule. Jokes aside, they were also reasonable with the significant change orders on the project. I’d take Keith and his team anywhere, and look forward to future projects with them.

700 Market St. is the St. Louis version of trend sweeping the country to repurpose and completely reconstruct obsolete buildings. The high cost of constructing new buildings in downtown areas is frequently no match to a total renovation.

M&H Nabs Builder’s Association Safety Award

– Musselman & Hall risk manager, Larry Eilenstine and CEO Doug Hall were on hand March 5 at the Adams Point Conference Center in Blue Springs to receive the Builder’s Association annual Safety Excellence Award. M&H received the first place for all area contractors reporting 300,000 to 500,000 man hours in 2014.

As he admired the handsome plastic laminate trophy Larry commented, “This is a special award as it is for all trades in the area, not just heavy contractors. It is nothing short of amazing that we booked more than 300,000 hours last year with only one recordable incident.”

The 300,000 to 500,000 hour category is second only to contractors recording more than 500,000 hours.

Remarks by Doug Hall

Back in the early 1950’s when I was a kid and television was brand new, I used to sit in front of our little 12 inch Motorola TV and watch it for hours; even if it was just the test pattern.

We were smack in the middle of the cold war. There were lots of programs about nuclear attacks and nuclear weapons gaps. We would practice jumping under our desks at Blue Ridge School in case Kansas City was a prime target of the Soviet Union. We could see ground zero, 12th and Main from the north window and our classroom.

I was mesmerized by Senator Joe McCarthy and his harsh questioning of everyone who came to testify at every hearing in front of his anti-communist committee. According to McCarthy, communists were everywhere; nobody could be trusted. We were told that we needed to be ever vigilant of efforts of communist attempts to pollute our water and poison our food supply.

One night, I began to wonder if even my own mother was a member of the communist party. It was a night just like any other night when she served up a very peculiar dish at dinner. The food was mostly white with traces of purple around the edges. Mom said they ate this delicacy most every night when she was growing up and I was sure to like it.

One bite and I quickly learned otherwise. The texture was crunchy and mushy at the same time. The taste was a cross between kerosene and creosote. I immediately spit it out and grabbed for the water glass to wash it down. Mom called it turnips but I was pretty sure that the people in the Kremlin created I and sent it over here to kill children.

That night was not the first time I suspected our food supply was being tainted. Occasionally my dad would try to get me to eat sauerkraut. I was sure this nasty tasting and smelling stuff was left over from the Third Reich. I never tried it and to this day I is not allowed near me or my plate.

Later in the 50’s I went to have dinner with my friend George. We were good buddies and I loved hanging out at his house. Mysteriously, I had never been offered food there before. As we sat down to a small table in their 40’s era kitchen, George’s mother sat before me a strange looking concoction that smelled fairly good but had the texture of three day old road kill. The first bit stuck in my mouth just long enough for me to know it was surely created by the communist party. I quickly dislodged the thing from my palate and, once again, reached for my water glass for a rinse. George’s mom called the stuff Egg Plant. I had never tasted the awful stuff before or since. Once again, I survived the communist conspiracy.

As I grew up, I occasionally experienced the communist infiltration that Joe McCarthy talked about.

In college, the assault came in the form of broccoli served at the dormitory cafeteria. This was not the fresh crisp kind soaked in butter and garlic that I enjoy today. Rather, the commie broccoli was the cold and mushy kind. You could see right through it and the seeds would latch, like a magnet, to every molar in my mouth taking hours to dislodge. There is was, night after night, week after week, month after month, and year after year. I was probably the greatest success of the Soviets annual five year plan. It was no small miracle to get that awful tasting stuff from Moscow to Lawrence, Kansas without being detected by the CIA or the FBI. The broccoli corrupted my mind, especially during calculus and physics tests when my poor little brain struggled to recall the simple answers to those complex and irrelevant questions. Only through the grace of God did I service those four years at KU.

The communists, now fighting us in the Vietnam War, showed up again when I was in Air Force officer training. We cadets had to survive on four hours of sleep and a 200 calorie a day diet for 10 weeks. Every night I would go to the mess hall, careful not to eat any dogs and cats along the way. I would walk into the room and be greeted by the overwhelming aroma of liver and onions. I was liver and onions seven nights a week. I tried everything; ketchup, Heinz 57, mustard, A-1 sauce, three in one oil, aftershave lotion-everything, but it still tasted like liver and onions. For ten weeks, I survived on bread and water until I was able to get home to Judy’s all American home cooking.

As the US won the cold war, the attack on our food supply went away and I was able to add 10% to my ballooning body weight year after year. Those were the good times of ice cream and homemade cookies. America was in its prime.

Now, a new threat is at hand. It is on the menu in nearly every restaurant and appears there in many forms. From the finest restaurants in New York to the mom and pop places in Kansas City, this menace is everywhere. We call it food terrorism.

The name of the food is Quinoa!

Notice the spelling so similar to the name Al Queda. Quinoa and Al Queda showed up at precisely the same time. There was no mandate for Quinoa, no government initiative that claimed it cures erectile dysfunction or cancer. It was just there and now everywhere.

I am told by reliable sources that the CIA is investigating Quinoa around the clock to determine how it crossed our borders and found its way onto every table.

Like Kale, Quinoa is tasteless and disgusting no matter how it is prepared. Restaurant chefs promote Quinoa as high in protein and low in calories. The last few months I have seen it served as “Organic Quinoa, kale and almond veggie patties.” There is also “Quinoa and Pico salad”,”Quinoa and Kale dip”,”Quinoa and Arugula Salad” and even Quinoa Lentil bowl served with chicken raised without antibiotics and cage free eggs.” Forget about the antibiotics and cage causing illnesses, look out for the Quinoa.

So consider yourself warned. President Obama worries about Iran’s nuclear capability. I worry about what Al Qaeda does to poison our food supply.

What’s next? The promotion of beets and Brussel sprouts as edible foods? BE ON THE ALERT FOR THIS NEXT CHAPTER IN THE WAR ON TERROR!!!