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SCA salutes Erlen Group as Developer of the Year

Willard school project is selected for design award

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A busy year of projects for Springfield Underground and its owner, Erlen Group, didn’t go unnoticed by the Springfield Contractors Association.

At its 35th annual Salute to Design and Construction awards banquet Nov. 7 at Oasis Hotel & Convention Center, the SCA honored Erlen Group as Developer of the Year. The company was recognized for more than $24.5 million in projects over the past year.

Erlen Group constructed offices, warehouse space and a command station at Springfield Underground, and completed infill work at the Frisco office building at Chestnut Expressway and U.S. Highway 65.

“It’s a real honor to be awarded this,” Erlen Group President and CEO John Griesemer said prior to the event. “I’d take it every year.

“Of course, if we won it every year, financially, we’d be in a tough spot,” he added with a laugh.

Erlen Group was created in September 2018 as a corporate umbrella for Springfield Underground Inc. Griesemer said the corporation was designed to more efficiently run the Springfield Underground brands. He took over the family business as president and CEO at the start of 2018, succeeding his uncle, Louis Griesemer, who retired.

In addition to Springfield Underground and the Frisco building, Erlen Group owns and operates Westside Stone LLC, Joplin Stone Co., Cold Zone and Umlaut Industrial.

While the award was the first from SCA to the Erlen Group, Springfield Underground is a past Developer of the Year winner having received the honors in 2008.

At the underground, Erlen Group manages more than 2.5 million square feet of warehouse and data storage space. Greisemer said 320,000 square feet was added this year. Some of that was to accommodate new addition Burgers’ Smokehouse, a California, Missouri-based processing company, as well as larger space for Edwardsville, Illinois-based Buske Logistics, which specializes in warehousing.

“There’s another 1 million square feet of space still available to grow into,” he said. “We’re in the process of weighing that out and figuring what that’ll look like. Some of that square footage sizing is based upon what our clients need.”

Greisemer credits the general contractors and designers for the success of the projects. He said project designers included JPS & Associates Inc., Dake Wells Architecture Inc., BRP Architects and Buxton Kubik Dodd Design Collective. Serving as general contractors were. Dewitt & Associates Inc., Hartman & Co. Inc., Carson-Mitchell Inc. and Ross Construction Group LLC, and more than 30 subcontractors were involved with the projects.

“We’ve got a huge team,” he said.

Team win
Another large group was spotlighted at the SCA event, as collaborators behind a $16 million project for Willard Public Schools was named the Design Team of the Year.

Recognized for the 70,000-square-foot Willard Intermediate School-South were:

• owner Willard Public Schools;

• construction manager J.E. Dunn Construction Co.;

• architect and interior designer Paragon Architecture LLC;

• engineers Toth & Associates Inc., RTM Engineering Consultants LLC, Terracon Consultants Inc.; and

• kitchen equipment consult and designer, Fellers Food Service Equipment LLC.

Brad Erwin, principal architect with Paragon Architecture, said his firm has worked with the Willard school district since 2014, completing around seven projects.

The addition of a second intermediate school for the district was a unique, collaborative experience, said Lindsay Reichert, Paragon’s project manager. “They’re a fabulous collaborator,” she said, adding the district let the designers work closely with teachers and support staff. “That’s not always common on education projects.”

A media lab and outdoor classroom space are among the building’s features, Erwin said, adding the project came in around $1 million under budget.

“We wanted this to be unique to Willard,” he said.

The school building is sized for 350-400 students, but Erwin said it can be expanded.

“We looked at site placement and how we could physically connect to the building as it operates today,” he said. “We wanted to do it in a way that kept the integrity of the building intact.”

The Willard project team was selected among three project finalists: Volt Credit Union and Zimmerman Corporate LLC, both designed by Buxon Kubik Dodd.

Other honors
Additionally, the SCA event included some individual honors, as the Salute to Design and Construction Council recognized three longtime professionals with its Lifetime Achievement Award: Dean Hartman of Hartman & Co. Inc.; Cliff Kennedy, retired from Kennedy Contractors Inc.; and Fred Palmerton, retired from Palmerton & Parrish Inc.

The American Institute of Architects presented the Craftsman of the Year award to Jeff Miller of Miller Woodworks for his work with Hotel Vandivort and Vantage Rooftop and Conservatory. AIA’s Superintendent of the Year award went to Kenton Payne with DeWitt & Associates for work at Springfield Underground.

The National Association of Women in Construction’s Southwest Missouri Chapter presented two Woman of the Year awards. Lana Stephens of Miller Engineering PC received the Rosebud Award, and April Planck of United Rentals got the Vesta Award.

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