PCI's Strong Performance in Portland
Another success story from this year’s NWCB annual event in Coeur d’Alene was without question the bravado shown by Performance Contracting Inc.’s Portland branch. The Portland group submitted two projects for the Bureau’s Outstanding Project of the Year Awards and received awards for those two projects—climbing the stairs not once but twice to collect awards. No doubt a very good day for PCI and the Portland branch.
Ilani Casino Resort
One of the three award-winning projects at this year’s NWCB event, the Ilani Resort & Casino that won NWCB’s Outstanding Project of the Year for Commercial Exterior. Construction on the project, located in Ridgefield, Wash., which began September 2015 and PCI’s exterior scope started in October. The original schedule for the construction of the exterior of the casino was approximately 13 days per sector, which was going to be difficult to achieve when analyzing all the labor and layers involved such as framing, sheathing, and weather barrier. Another potential barrier to meeting the deadline was that excavation around the foundation would be happening at the same time as the exterior scope.
PCI offered the solution of panelizing the exterior off-site in their manufacturing facility. This meant that the panels could be built in a controlled environment improving the quality of the finished product and the panels would be ready to install as soon as the structural steel was erected, which would “dry-in” the building sooner. Panelizing also helped by minimizing clashes with other trades on site because there were fewer tradespeople, and the panels arrived “just in time.” The interior scope was so tightly scheduled that they needed the building to be closed in immediately after the structural steel was erected. The exterior had to be built to create the 12-foot parapet so the roof could be applied and then the interior work could proceed. The exterior was the critical path for the project and if it was delayed, the project would not meet the schedule.
The wind load requirements for the exterior of the casino meant that panels needed to be built using 12-inch,16-gauge studs and with panels being as large as 12-feet by 45 feet and weighing as much as 3,500 pounds. The logistics of the site also required that we use a crane that was be movable and could reach out as long as 120 feet. The weather conditions were a challenge; there were several days where the wind would gust up to 40 miles-per-hour and shut down the panel flying process. When the conditions allowed, PCI brought out extra people to safely manage the process of landing the panels into place.
The customer had extra time in the schedule for setting up a manufacturing facility on site, but PCI’s facility in Tigard is constantly active so the company was able to shave that time off the schedule. The facility off-site can receive truckload quantities of material for the panel building process and the finished panels can be stored at the facility instead of taking up precious job site land.
Some areas of the casino required radiused walls which were conventionally “stick built.” Again, the wind load requirements meant heavy studs. The studs were as big as 12-inch, 12-gauge, and 30 feet tall, which required a forklift to put them in place and were also used for the headers as part of a compound radiused wall. PCI used BIM and the Total Station Layout machine to plot the points of the walls so they were installed correctly the first time.
In August 2016, when the exterior was completed and ready for the next group of trades to begin their work unencumbered by other craftspeople on the same area, PCI had installed 133 panels equaling 45,000 square feet. We did so in eight days per sector instead of the scheduled 13 days, shaving nearly three weeks off the schedule.
Products from manufacturers CertainTeed, Johns Manville, and SCAFCO were used. PCI used suppliers Cwalla, Knez, Winroc as well as VaproShield.
Thanks to Paul Adelman for detailed project reports.
One of the massive players in this industry, PCI was once the installation arm of Owens Corning and in 1987 the management bought it from the manufacturer. Today, PCI has divisions throughout North America and boasts a footprint that attracts the nation’s top labor talent. As W&C reported in the August issue’s Top 50 Contractors feature, PCI reported its 2016 earnings of $1.2 billion. Additionally, Engineering News Record magazine named PCI the top walls and ceilings contractor. The company employs more than 950 salaried individuals and 6,300 skilled craft workers across the U.S. By the company's records, this would place it among the largest of the country’s contractors, if not the world.
PCI’s Portland Interior branch currently has a solid 70 employees in the office, and between 350 to 500 field workers, annually. Heath Hansen, the general manager for PCI Portland, credits the Portland team for the branch tripling it’s revenue in the last 14 years.
“The entire West Coast is busy, making staffing the projects challenging,” says Hansen. “We maintain and track schedules of our projects and how to plan for staffing and then bid them based on our capacity. We don’t want to disappoint our customers by not being able to perform … you have to manage the work smartly by not over-committing.”
Given the popularity as well as just a general boom in Pacific Northwest construction, Portland Interior has developed niches such as prefabrication of exterior panels, drywall shapes, and digital jobsites. Other niche services include doors/frames/hardware, cleanrooms, raised access floors, Division 10 specialties, and more.
A Brand Built Strong
Through sheer hard work, quality output, and a reputation as a design-assist competent team, Portland Interior has built such momentum for work that its contracting work out through 2020 giving us a strong foundation for our field crews. This allows us to keep our manpower level which ensures we keep our trained employees who have our safety culture.
“Portland Interior has seen threefold growth in the last 14 years,” Hansen says. “Starting with the basics, like focusing on estimating reviews prior to submitting the bid that highlight potential issues for the customer. We review current jobs four times during the construction cycle to make sure that issues are dealt with immediately and not allowed to impact the project later. Attention to the project schedule is another way that we excel in customer service; we will work overtime if needed, but we will not allow our customer miss a deadline.”
A strong customer focus along with creativity and innovation has helped pave the way for Portland Interior’s reputation as an industry leader. Hansen says his team begins working with customers early in the project cycle in a design-assist role to help create unique solutions for their projects. In many cases, prefabrication and off-site manufacturing are solutions that customers find appealing for many reasons.
“Building exterior panels in our manufacturing facility off-site and attaching them to the outside of the building can shorten the construction schedule, get interior work started sooner, and improve the quality of the weather envelope,” Hansen says. “Prefabricated drywall shapes are also built off-site in our manufacturing facility preventing waste from coming to and being removed from the jobsite, working within the LEAN construction methods.
Reese Deewall, Portland Interior’s Manager of Pre-Construction Services added that drywall shapes and BIM are also ways the company is able to increase efficiency.
“Our drywall shapes improve the quality by making a perfect 90 degree corner without bead or taping compound,” Deewall says. “We use BIM to communicate with our digital layout machines to make sure that we build a wall correctly the first time. The digital layout can also identify potential issues with the drawings or structure prior to actually building walls. We use Mobile Digital Plan Machines on the jobsite to create a paperless office. All drawing updates and RFIs are loaded into the MDPS, keeping all information current.”
The company’s Business Development and Preconstruction Departments are tracking projects up to two years out, targeting the right job paired with the right customer at the right time of Portland Interior’s schedule. Hansen says by targeting the projects that far out, the company can focus its team with its customer’s team and start helping with design and potential VEs.
Like many companies, Portland Interior has given thought to the next economic downturn and how it may affect business in the Pacific Northwest. Despite the challenges associated with a potential recession, Hansen said that continuing to develop customer relationships and creating partnerships is the key to withstanding downturns in the market.
“We bring solutions to the bidding and preconstruction process so our customers don’t start a project with potential cost and material issues,” Hansen said. “By being a resource, we create trust and comfort levels that becomes loyalty.”
With one of the industry’s lowest EMRs at .42, Hansen stressed the importance of safety and the strong culture at PCI that supports it.
“We want our team to go home every day the way they showed up for work,” Hansen said. “Our company is employee owned which creates an amazing level of commitment to quality and hard work. That level of dedication creates great results and allows PCI to reward employees for their hard work.”
The Marcus Mariota Sports Performance Center is located on the ground floor of the Casanova Center on the campus of the University of Oregon. It is a cutting-edge facility for studying sports science, performance, medicine and technology. When it came to the design of the interiors, nothing was sacrificed considering the budget was $19 million for the 29,000 square-foot space. The project won NWCB’s Outstanding Project of the Year for Suspended Ceiling, as well as CISCA’s Gold Award for an education project in the West Region under 50,000 square feet.
This was a high-profile project with several custom one-of-a-kind ceiling elements. The challenges associated with such special materials were long lead times, painstaking ordering processes, intense quality inspections, and intricate installations. All of these challenges were faced on this project.
The vast majority of the specialty metal ceilings had a unique punched perforation in the shape of a “flying V duck” pattern flying towards Autzen Stadium for visual interest and to allow acoustical performance. No field cutting of border panels would be allowed in the ceilings, so these panels had to be individually measured, designed, engineered, and then produced. After they were produced, the project manager visited the factory to do a visual inspection of the more than 500 unique individual panels. The panels were labeled with left hand, right hand, or edge, and took months to field verify during the installation phase. Another challenge to the ordering process was that these panels were also used for radiant heating. After they were made in California, they were shipped to Connecticut to have the radiant plumbing installed and were then finally shipped to the jobsite in Eugene, Ore.
The Marcus Mariota face and jersey ceiling element was also completely unique and consisted of custom aluminum panels with laser-cut flying duck shaped perforations. The surface of the panels were then overlaid with black and white printed duck silhouettes to create the images of Marcus’s face and jersey when backlit like the pixels of a visual monitor. The installation of the 2-foot-by-8-foot panels required that we lay them out on the turf in the practice facility next door to sequence them correctly like pieces of a puzzle. The field panels were installed with torsion springs, but the custom border panels had to be installed with clips designed by the installers so they could cantilever over the edge and conceal the LED backlighting.
The “Resting Room” was the most unique room in the sports science area. It is a small, warmly-lit room with five sleep pods where student-athletes can come and rest between practices or meetings. The “Starry Night” ceiling is also perforated with the flying duck pattern to simulate a night sky full of stars, the only non-flying duck perforation is a U of O logo Death Star. On the walls are U of O logo custom acoustical panels. The fabric is CNC cut 100 percent wool design felt in the shape of the logo that is then hand applied to the acoustical substrate in varying thicknesses to create a 3-D effect. PCI’s project manager traveled to the FilzFelt factory in New York to visually inspect the panels prior to shipping to the jobsite.
This project consisted of some of the most unique products that required extra care because of long lead times and detailed ordering processes – all on a tight schedule starting February 2016 and completing on time in June 2016.
In addition to the FilzFelt product, Arktura, Ceilings Plus, Knauf, SCAFCO and USG products were used. Suppliers for this project were Building Specialties, Cwalla and Service Partners.
Thanks to Paul Adelman for detailed project reports.