The Walsh Group
The Walsh Group is one of the nation’s leading family-owned and -operated general contracting, construction management and design-build firms. Founded in 1898 by Matthew Myles Walsh, and currently in its fourth generation of family leadership, Walsh Construction and its younger sister company Archer Western Contractors draw from more than 100 years of proven experience, over $450 million in capital equipment and over 5,000 engineers and skilled tradesmen to execute the Walsh Group’s wide variety of building, civil and transportation sector projects. Headquartered in Chicago, Ill., and Atlanta, Ga., with 13 regional offices around the U.S., the Walsh Group’s arms are active in all but a half-dozen states.
As Top 20 Contractors in the nation, according to Engineering News-Record, Walsh Construction and Archer Western Contractors maintain the resources to set the highest standards of quality and safety, contributing to the Walsh Group’s position as the builder of choice for large-scale, detail-oriented projects. Using a variety of effective general contracting, construction management and design-build delivery strategies, the Walsh Group’s subsidiaries have completed projects ranking its companies as some of the largest U.S. builders in water and desalination plants, heavy construction, hydroplants, transportation and highway, water supply and wastewater treatment systems, bridges, multiunit residential, sewerage and solid waste, mass transit and rail, government offices, healthcare and more. Throughout the companies’ work the Walsh Group has upheld ethical business conduct, and is a proud founding member of the Construction Industry Ethics & Compliance Initiative.
Establishing a Partnership
The Walsh Group’s many attributes, including its ability to balance responsibility, profitability and citizenship, has resulted in it being the strategic partner of choice for projects such as major improvement and expansion initiatives for the Hospital Sisters Health System (HSHS), which owns and operates 13 hospitals in 12 communities from Illinois to Wisconsin, providing a holistic health care approach to treat a whole person and not just a disease. In a joint venture with Miron Construction Co. Inc. (MCC), Walsh Construction teams will oversee a 285,000-square foot renovation and addition to the St. John’s Hospital campus in Springfield, Ill.
The first phase will target the renovation of a 50,000-square foot building as clinical services and administrative staff operates from other spaces. As part of the renovation, crews bring the building’s systems up to contemporary building codes, including upgrades for seismic safety and to electrical and fire suppression systems, as well as the hospital’s life safety features. Once the renovations are complete, staff and patients will relocate to the newly completed space as crews demolish a five-story building to make room for the new surgical addition. Crews will slice open the wall of an existing building to raise the flooring inside 22 inches and connect with the new surgical center.
Along the way, crews will carry out some major upgrades to structural, mechanical, electrical, HVAC and fire suppression systems. From the very beginning the St. John’s Hospital staff asserted the need to remain at full-operating capacity and the Walsh Group coordinated with staff, MCC and subcontractors to stagger the project’s phases to minimize disruptions and accelerate completion times.
“This is by far the most challenging project of my career, but as a part of the Walsh team we pride ourselves on being able to understand our client’s priorities and capitalize on the locally available talent to deliver the project,” asserts John Frye, a senior healthcare project director with Walsh Construction. Walsh Construction’s completion strategy, involving multiple crews working in different areas at once, means multiple management professionals are also employed to ensure that work is always completed to the company’s exacting standards.
In addition Walsh Construction has crews at work at some of HSHS’s other locations. At HSHS’s St. Mary’s Hospital in Decatur, Ill., crews are wrapping up work on a $40 million emergency department, lobby and central plant expansion and Frye takes pride in personally overseeing the smallest of items, as a firm grasp of the client’s priorities and a proactive approach to every project are the Walsh Group’s signature of construction management and general contracting. “It’s a lot of driving, but it makes all the difference to take every opportunity to prove to the client that you’re on top of even the tiniest details,” asserts Frye.
Speedy construction can help a client save money, but compromising the health and safety of the hospital’s staff and patients is simply out of the question, which is another reason the Walsh Group stresses such direct supervision. The St. Mary’s staff estimated that completion would take at least 28 months, but Walsh Construction developed a method of using multiple phasing and subcontracting teams to complete work faster and with greater efficiency, to deliver the project in just 18 months.
Also, Walsh Construction recently completed the St. Mary’s North Decatur medical office building occupied primarily by Prairie Heart Institute Cardio Vascular Center, and the company has recently broken ground at HSHS’s St. Francis Hospital in Litchfield, Ill. on a new surgery addition and emergency department remodel.
Flexibility and Speed
The HSHS hospitals already keep a list of qualified subcontractors to call upon for construction and maintenance needs, but the Walsh Group’s extensive experience in the healthcare sector enabled Walsh Construction to take the bid process a step further. As a nationally active construction firm, the Walsh Group has worked with many of the best local contractors in any given area and, in turn, expanded the list of qualified subcontractors with contact from its own portfolio.
Mike Pedersen, a Walsh Midwest Area healthcare executive, has maintained that, ultimately, the increased pool of subcontractors secured the hospital the best price and a guarantee of quality performance. “This is a much larger-sized project than is typical for the area,” explains Pedersen. “We recognized very early on the need for extra labor capacity and expanded the selective bid list to incorporate the best talent available.”
Of course, the existing buildings are decades old and crews are bound to find a few surprises. “In one case, parts of the building were over 70 years old we were challenged to connect an old clay tile ductwork system to more contemporary sheetmetal ductwork,” admits Frye. With the help of the entire project team, crews identified a cost-effective solution quickly to keep the project on track.
By early 2012 the St. John’s Hospital staff will be moving back into the initial renovated space and crews will begin work simultaneously on the next phase. With Walsh Construction’s proactive management strategy and responsive service, the team is on track to complete the main surgery project by late 2013 and the multi-floor patient tower remodel by early 2014. As with every one of its firms’ successfully completed projects, the Walsh Group’s efforts on these facilities will further establish the company’s place as a prime contractor throughout the nation’s markets and sectors.
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