Case Studies

HJ Foundation Co.

Pioneering new construction techniques in South Florida

Founded in 1988, HJ Foundation Co. has grown into South Florida’s largest deep foundation contractor. From its headquarters in Miami and regional offices, HJ serves most of its clients across 8 states within the Southeastern U.S., providing subterranean building solutions to a range of commercial and multifamily residential projects.

HJ Foundation was acquired in 2007 by one of the world’s largest ground engineering specialists, Keller, which allowed the company to rapidly expand its geographical footprint. In addition to offices in Orlando and Tampa, the Keller acquisition saw HJ expand into the Midwest and Southeast markets with regional offices in Atlanta and New Jersey.

HJ Foundation Co.

As a company that has rapidly created and adopted some of the industry’s newest building techniques and technologies, HJ Foundation is looking to change the very face of its hometown through the use of innovative methods. HJ specializes in deep foundations, including applications that utilize augured cast-in-place piling, excavation shoring and bottom plugs (tremie and deep soil mix). HJ has installed some of the world’s deepest, highest capacity augured piled, using custom-built equipment to install piles as large as 48 inches and as deep as 177 feet.

The company also offers displacement piling, a unique application well-suited to certain soil conditions. With this technique, piles displace the material they are installed into, making it the perfect technique for owners looking to keep their existing piling spoils in the ground, like in contaminated sites. HJ provides complete engineered shoring systems using elements that include augured piling walls, sheet piling, anchored tremie seals and/or deep soil mix for underwater construction.

Bringing new techniques to bear

Using a new technique called Tangent Bearing Element (TBE), HJ Foundation has been able to vastly reduce construction time on recent projects. “It has been a game changer as we’ve been able to speed up the process and save the project/owner as much as 30 percent; with it, some projects that were not financially feasible now are,” says Andres Baquerizo, vice president of HJ.

Using a new technique called Tangent Bearing Element (TBE), HJ Foundation has been able to vastly reduce construction time on recent projects.

This new, cost-effective schedule-driven solution saves money on excavation and is especially well-suited for tall building foundations and has been put to use in some of Miami’s largest recent building projects. The adaptable process can also reduce project cost by as much as 20 percent and requires thinner connections, less excavation and less dewatering.

“Certain buildings do not allow for large foundations, but with the lower cost and speed of TBE foundations are becoming more viable,” says Baquerizo. “Foundations that were worth $12 million or more can now be done for $7 million while shaving three months off the schedule, shifting the whole financial burden of a building,” he says.

The company has aided in the design of seven large basement projects using TBE, some under construction and Baquerizo has high hopes for the technique going into the future. While he is wary of overselling the merits of TBE, Baquerizo says TBE has the potential to change the very way cities such as Miami are designed.

“Miami has being going through a boom of underground construction and now 50 to 60 percent of projects/owners want to go underground,” he says. Many developers and architects hope to turn these subterranean structures into parking garages, freeing up space at the street level for dining and retail.

“Now the face of the cities are going to start to change because you’re going to have more commercial elements on the first floor instead of having parking, which will change the city from Miami-style buildings to a Chicago- or New York-style where the downtown area becomes an area where you walk and have stores instead of just parking,” he says.

As one of the forerunners of the TBE and basements techniques, HJ has been able to corner the local market for large basement projects. “Over the course of 2015, we’ve acquired 100 percent of the large basements,” says Baquerizo.

Leading company culture

As a pioneer in new techniques, HJ has come to dominate the local market. While a number of large building projects around Miami bear the mark of HJ, Baquerizo doesn’t necessarily measure success in yards of concrete poured or piles installed.

“For me, success is a cohesive, happy team that is fulfilling their dreams while performing amazing work,” he says. Having embraced this approach companywide, HJ was recently named the third-best place to work in South Florida by the Sun Sentinel newspaper. “It’s about changing the face of the city while having the best group of talented and intelligent friends around you,” he says.

As the company looks to the future, Baquerizo is committed to attracting and training the next generation workforce that will help the company grow for years to come. HJ has an elite training program, the P.I.L.E program (Preparing Individuals to Lead with Excellence), where they rotate within all departments of the company learning all aspects of the business.

“They want to feel included and want to know their contributions are important. They’re also more task-oriented and don’t want to be told what to do; they want to be shown what the goal is and find a way there on their own,” says Baquerizo.

While there are often some hurdles in integrating those of the millennial generation into the workplace, the concept of embracing change is deeply rooted in HJ’s company culture as one of its 26 guiding principles.

“As part of embracing change we realize that we have to be able to merge all the baby boomers and older workers with all the new millennials,” he says. “It’s been interesting to see how well they get along with each other and we’ve been nominated as a best company to work for because people really feel connected to each other here while we provide them with an opportunity to achieve their goals.”

HJ Foundation Co. is embracing new techniques and preparing the next generation of workers, both factors that will help the company cement its reputation as a leading subterranean building contractor.

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Spring 2018



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