Category Archives: Construction

Sunbelt Rentals enters market with store

WICHITA — Sunbelt Rentals, an international company that bills itself as the second-largest rental company nationally, is entering the Wichita market.

“We’ve got a variety of products that we’ll be able to provide,” says district manager Keith Dressendorfer.

He says Sunbelt, which is based in England and has U.S. headquarters in South Carolina, already has customers here. Now they’ll have a store to shop at in addition to online.

Sunbelt is remodeling a 13,000-square-foot building at 3410 W. 30th St. South. Dressendorfer says it should be ready by late September, but the company will have a soft opening sometime in August.

There are more than 400 Sunbelt stores, many of which surround the Midwest.

“Basically there’s been a void in the Midwest,” Dressendorfer says. “We just want to start filling in some of the Midwest.”

The company now has stores in Oklahoma City, Joplin, Mo., Rogers, Ark., and Kansas City. A second Kansas City store is in the works.

“A year ago, none of those existed for us,” Dressendorfer says. He says there’s “quite a lot of growth up in this area for us.”

Sunbelt does “a little bit of everything,” Dressendorfer says.

There are a dozen divisions, such as a general tool group, a concrete and masonry group, an earth moving division, an oil and gas division, a climate control division and a scaffolding division.

Dressendorfer says customers could be anyone from a homeowner needing to rent something for a one-time use to a Fortune 500 company needing to rent a number of things.

“We will do business with pretty much anybody,” he says.

General and commercial contractors are some of Sunbelt’s most regular customers.

Dressendorfer says there is a budget for nine employees initially, “But who knows where it will go after that?”

He says Sunbelt plans to hire locally.

Dressendorfer says a second Wichita store or more throughout Kansas are possibilities.

“There will always be that opportunity.”

Subaru of Wichita responds to ‘Shame on Subaru’ sign with one of its own

suburuWICHITA — Labor dispute signs have been popping up at all kinds of businesses and nonprofits in the last couple of years, but Subaru of Wichita appears to be the first business to fight back.

“To be accused of desecrating the American way of life, we’re going to take a little bit of exception to that,” says Aaron Wirtz, who handles marketing and media for Subaru.

Earlier this week, the United Brotherhood Of Carpenters And Joiners Of America Local 201 began a protest in front of the dealership, which is on East Kellogg between Greenwich and 127th Street.

Subaru is in the process of a $1.5 million update to transform the property to the Subaru brand from the previous Suzuki brand that was there.

Wirtz says in addition to hiring a local architect on the project, Subaru hired Wichita’s Key Construction as its contractor. He says Key then hired Hi-Tech Interiors, a local nonunion firm, to do a small portion of drywall work.

In response, the Carpenters union now has people manning a “Shame on Subaru of Wichita” sign on an easement in front of the dealership.

“While we’re certainly not happy to see that, we were kind of unsurprised,” Wirtz says.

In response, Subaru now has a sign that plays off the “Shame” by saying, “For having unbeatable prices.” It also says “indisputable” in a couple of places on the sign.

Wirtz says Subaru respects the union’s right to protest.

“We’ve actually given them lunch. We’ve invited them to visit our facilities.”

Wirtz says he’s convinced the people with the sign are simply hired by the union to stand there.

“It doesn’t really look like they want to be here anymore than we want them to be here, to be quite frank.”

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G.J. Gardner Homes Wichita to open at the Shops at Tallgrass

WICHITA –  Wade Wilkinson has been building homes in El Dorado, Wichita and Augusta since 2000, but he wants to expand his Wichita business so he’s moving his office here and rebranding his company.

Wilkinson Construction will now be G.J. Gardner Homes Wichita in the Shops at Tallgrass at 21st and Rock Road.

“It’s essentially a sales office,” Wilkinson says of the 2,250-square-foot space in the retail center.

Wilkinson had been looking online for new estimating and scheduling software when he discovered the Australian-based G.J. Gardner franchise.

“That’s exactly what I need right there,” he says he thought.

There are more than 1,000 floor plans with marketing materials included, and Wilkinson says the G.J. Gardner warranties are better than anything he could offer on his own.

“I really, really liked it,” he says.

By having space at the Shops at Tallgrass, Wilkinson says customers can stop in and select from displays for things such as kitchens, granite, carpet and tile.

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You don’t say

“The wise (cracking) answer is it’s one of those Christo modern art things. … But actually it’s part of environmental remediation.”

John Philbrick, the city’s real estate administrator, on why the soon-to-be-demolished East Pike building at Kellogg and Webb Road is covered in plastic

Wichita State University selects developer, contractors and architect for new housing

WICHITA — Wichita State University is one step closer to new campus housing, which is a goal president John Bardo established not long after his arrival last year.

Spokesman Joe Kleinsasser confirms that Memphis-based EdR has been chosen as the developer for new 700-bed campus housing.

Farha Construction, in partnership with Dondlinger and Sons Construction, is the contractor, and Howard & Helmer Architecture is the architect.

Kleinsasser says the final contracts aren’t signed.

“It’s a matter of ironing out details,” he says.

Look for more information soon.

Larry Bud’s Sports Bar & Grill to open on the west side no later than Aug. 1

WICHITA — Larry Bud’s Sports Bar & Grill, which is opening a west-side location in the former Brooklyn’s Chophouse building on West 21st Street, now has a tentative opening date of Aug. 1.

If remodeling construction goes especially well, though, it could open as early as mid July.

Regardless, management says doors definitely will open before preseason football.

Farha Construction moves to former Woolf Brothers building for next Eyster-Ramsey project

WICHITA — It’s customary for contractors to move from job to job, but lately Farha Construction has been moving from office to office, too.

“This is very unusual,” says Ted Farha.

In October, the company moved into the Lux, which is the former Protection One building at First and Market that Farha Construction is helping developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey convert into condos.

“It was good to be in there for a while,” Farha says. “There was a lot of investigative work to do there.”

This week, the company moved into another Eyster-Ramsey property at the former Woolf Brothers department store building at the southwest corner of Douglas and Market. The address used to be 111 S. Market, but they’ve changed it to 135 E. Douglas.

“Everybody knows where Douglas is,” Farha says. “Douglas is just the main artery … in downtown.”

Ramsey says the idea is “to breathe some life into that corner down there. Just having somebody in those buildings is going to help that area.”

Farha Construction is taking two floors of the four-story building.

“We have a lot of work in the neighborhood, and we have a lot more work to plan,” Farha says. “It’s very convenient to be within walking distance of multiple projects. Not that we don’t want to work in the suburbs.”

Ramsey and Eyster are working on plans for a grouping of buildings they want to redevelop near Douglas and Market.

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Dondlinger and Sons disputes bid process for $100 million airport contract

UPDATED — The scheduled start of construction on a new terminal at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport is months behind because the bid process for the contract, worth around $100 million, is in dispute.

Dondlinger and Sons is the lowest bidder, but the contract may be awarded to Key Construction instead because the city doesn’t think Dondlinger met the requirements for building the terminal.

The planned two-level, 273,000-square-foot terminal – which will feature 12 gates, each with a passenger loading bridge, more efficient passenger and baggage security screening, baggage claim and airline ticketing systems – initially was projected to be done in late 2014 or 2015. Due to the dispute, that’s likely to be pushed back.

“We’ve given the city a couple of ways to get out of this mess, and whether they’ll take it or not, we don’t know,” said Jim Armstrong, one of the Foulston Siefkin attorneys working on behalf of Dondlinger and Hunt Construction Group of Indianapolis.

That’s the team that built Intrust Bank Arena.

It bid $99,370,542 for the airport contract.

Key, in partnership with Detroit-based contractor Walbridge, bid $101,500,542.

The Wichita City Council, which will make the final decision on the contract, was updated on the dispute during an executive session Tuesday.

“This is a monstrous decision,” City Council member Pete Meitzner said. “It affects the next 50 years of the terminal and our city.”

He added: “It is a decision that I am not taking lightly. … It just needs to be fair and the right decision.”

Because the terminal will be funded in part through federal grants – airport passenger facility charges and airport revenue will make up the rest – certain requirements must be met in the bids. That includes the stipulation that either 7.11 percent of the contracting business be shared with disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE), such as minority-owned firms, or that the bidders show that they made a good-faith effort to reach that percentage.

That’s what’s at issue in the bidding process. Dondlinger has filed a bid protest, which follows an earlier review of the DBE requirement and a motion to reconsider, both requested by Dondlinger.

“We are firmly convinced that we did more than enough, and frankly that decision-making process is pretty subjective,” Armstrong said.

In response to a request for comment, city attorney Gary Rebenstorf issued a statement that said: “That protest is under review according to the City’s purchasing policy. The review process is confidential. When the review is completed, the outcome will help determine what happens next.”

No one with Key Construction is commenting, but Armstrong said that at the time of the initial bid, neither Key nor Dondlinger reached the 7.11 percent.

Armstrong said the city found that Key made a good-faith effort while Dondlinger did not.

“We don’t know how they made that determination,” Armstrong said. “From what we have been able to determine, we don’t think that’s a correct decision.”

Armstrong said when Dondlinger made its bid, two of its DBE contractors hadn’t yet been certified by the Kansas Department of Transportation, but they have now. He said that puts Dondlinger over the 7.11 percent.

“We’re just at a loss to explain why this has happened, to be honest with you,” Armstrong said, “because Dondlinger has been involved with the minority business community for years and has always actively participated.”

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Northern Tool & Equipment celebrates Wichita success

WICHITA — Northern Tool & Equipment is having its one-year anniversary in Wichita, and the company says the store’s performance in the Westgate shopping center on West Kellogg is worth celebrating.

“It’s actually outdelivering our expectations,” says Roger Bunn, vice president for retail for the Minnesota-based company.

Of the dozen or so new stores the company opened in the last year, Bunn says, “Wichita’s second and third in pretty much all of our key financials.”

That’s saying something in a down economy, especially since it relates to the troubled construction business.

Bunn attributes the success to a few things.

“It’s a heavy concentration of our target customers,” he says of blue-collar workers and white-collar workers with blue-collar backgrounds.

Also, Bunn says, “It’s a really large trade area.”

Customers come from as far as two hours away, he says.

“There was a real pent-up demand for our product.”

The Wichita store is about 60 percent the size of a traditional Northern Tool, but Bunn says all its products can be shipped for free to the store.

“Even though we’ve skinnied down the assortment …  the customer still has full access to what we carry.”

So is it possible the chain will bring a second store here?

“That’s always a hard question,” Bunn says. “I would be surprised if we do that.”

He adds, though, “I wouldn’t rule it out.”

 

Volvo Rents purchases Wichita’s R-Quip Equipment Rental

UPDATED — Pennsylvania-based Volvo Rents, a division of Volvo Group, has purchased Wichita’s 9-year-old R-Quip Equipment Rental.

This is the second time Bob Richardson has sold an equipment rental company that caters to the construction industry.

His first, AAA Rent-All, he sold in 1997. The same brokerage company that approached him with that deal called again.

“The guy kind of called out of the blue and said, ‘Hey, do you remember me?’” says Troy Richardson, who is one of Bob Richardson’s three sons who planned to take over the business.

Bob Richardson initially told the broker he wasn’t interested, but the family eventually decided it was in everyone’s best interest to sell, in part because of the difficulty the sons would have faced financing the purchase.

Troy Richardson says there are a lot of positives with the sale to Volvo.

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