Bluestem Financial Advisors, LLC
Award of Excellence
Bluestem Financial Advisors is a 5,373 square‐foot office building located in Savoy, Illinois at 1809 Woodfield Drive. The building is a single‐story wood framed structure with a cedar and stone exterior constructed in 1978. Owner, Jacob Kuebler, closed on the building in February of 2022. ECI Construction Services (ECI) started the exterior and interior remodel on March 31st and construction was completed at the end of August. ECI was the general contractor providing site work, supervision, and demolition, as well as self‐performing 29% of the work on the project. This was a lump sum contracted remodel totaling $549,491. Eight merit‐based subcontractors participated in the project’s construction. Two are ABC IL members, A.D. Binder Plumbing, and Waters Electric, as well as one minority‐owned business.
ECI started working with Jacob Kuebler and project designer Erin Masters in late October of 2021. The initial design was a simplified office buildout attempting to minimize structural changes and utilize existing elements such as doors and frames. The featured doors were eight‐foot slabs that would have been expensive to replace. In the interest of value engineering, ECI preserved the doors and self‐performed refinishing them saving the customer $6,600 in cost. The initial lighting selections were reevaluated before installation. ECI worked with Waters Electric to find a similar fixture that would provide the same capabilities as the initially planned fixture. The end result was a $10,249 deduction in lighting costs to the owner. The final challenge of the design elements was the flooring, tiling, painting, & wall coverings. Due to the lingering effects of COVID‐19, many of the designer’s selections were unavailable or would not arrive in time to meet the timeline for project completion. ECI spent time sourcing comparable materials that would work within the parameters of the designer’s appearance and color schemes. These custom selections included two styles of wallpaper, three types of acoustical baffles and panels for cloud ceilings and cubbies (pictured above), six different types of flooring and wall tile, seven different paint colors, and five different styles of carpet tiles. Through substantial coordination and resourcing, ECI was able to provide the requested or comparable materials to meet the project timeline.
Construction started on March 31st, 2022. The demolition process exposed two major challenges spurring the potential to miss the construction deadline. The first of these challenges was the location of an exposed post. The customer wanted to adjust the location of the post to be hidden in a wall to improve the aesthetics of the space. After consulting with the Architect and Engineers, it was decided the best way to relocate the post was to install an additional footer in the existing basement. In order to accommodate the customer’s layout, we began the process of moving the post. As demolition continued, the inaccessible areas of the ceiling were exposed revealing fiberglass duct board. The City of Savoy does not require the removal of fiberglass duct board, we felt it was best to address the hazards of the existing duct issue with our customer. It was agreed that in the interest of improving the air quality and eliminating fiberglass surface deposits along with other irritants was the best choice for public/employee health and wellness. Replacing the ductwork was not part of the original job schedule and created further setbacks. As the labor market continues to be a challenge for the construction industry, we found ourselves with one additional obstacle for this project. We were in need of custom‐built cabinets manufactured by Wilson Art in a fine velvet finish. After reaching out to seven cabinet makers in the central Illinois area, it was clear they would not be able to supply them to us within the year. They all had the same problem, not enough craft professionals. We found Midwest Commercial Millwork in Lima, Ohio that could produce the cabinets in the given timeline but faced a logistics problem. ECI decided to pick up the cabinets from Lima, Ohio, and deliver them directly to the job site. As a result, this lowered shipping costs and eliminated a three‐week delivery delay. Fortunately, the planning on the front end for the remaining finish materials allowed us to have them onsite and ready for installation. We were able to utilize our ECI craft professionals to assist our subcontractors and efficiently schedule installations to maximize production and close out the project as scheduled.
ECI continues to utilize the web‐based Raken Daily Reporting application to monitor and assign tasks to individuals or subcontractors with completion deadlines and reminders. This application also produces daily reports to be sent on demand to owners, architects, and engineers to communicate any onsite changes, field adjustments, and visual productivity. The project was completed on time and under budget due to the effective project management team led by ECI Vice President Jerry Tadlock. Jerry’s years of experience and attention to detail helped produce one of the finer office spaces in Champaign County. During the course of this project, Jerry managed eight ECI employees, eight subcontractors, and their employees, and had a TRIR (total recordable incident rate) of zero.
In conclusion, ECI Construction Services requests your consideration for the award of excellence for the Bluestem Financial remodel. We were able to maintain schedule despite the additional footer and relocating a structural post. Furthermore, ECI improved the health and wellness of the occupants by eliminating the use of fiberglass ducting. Through collaboration, we were able to engineer and analyze several budget saving strategies reducing the total cost of the project by 3% of the original contract all while maintaining zero recordable incidents for the third straight year.