Mass Excavation Participate in Bowling Tournament for MATHCOUNTS

Mass Excavation and Davis Constructors and Engineers both participated in the MATHCOUNTS neon bowling fundraiser over Presidents’ Day weekend. The foundation helps children improve their attitude about math and other problem solving techniques!  The tournament proceeds helped support MATHCOUNTS through Alaska Engineering and Education Foundation (AEEF).  If you want to learn more about MATHCOUNTS programs and how you can get involve click here.

100th Ave Extension

The commute though and around Dimond Boulevard is about to get a lot easier! Mass Excavation is currently working on the 100th Ave Extension which will help with relieving congestion throughout Dimond Boulevard. The extension is well on its way to be completed but will be fully finished in 2018. We are looking forward to seeing all the benefits this new road extension will bring!

Yosemite Drive – Mass Excavation 2017 project

The Yosemite Drive project made the Alaska Star!! 

Affecting everyone from commuters to high school students, major upgrades along Eagle River’s Yosemite Drive are due to be completed by the beginning of the school year.

“That’s the goal, and that looks like it’s really doable,” said Jerry Hanson, a project manager with the Anchorage Public Works Department.

The neighborhood thoroughfare – nearly three-quarters of a mile long – connects Eagle River Road to Eagle River High School and the approximately 200 homes within the Eagle Pointe subdivision. Ongoing renovations along the two-lane road include extra lanes, new curbs and a long median strip near the road’s southern end.

Construction began this spring. The project itself began years prior. After the Anchorage School District built Eagle River High School in 2004, the developer behind the Eagle Pointe subdivision argued that the district was responsible for upgrading the access road, too. The issue dragged in court, and in 2010, the Alaska Supreme Court sided with the developer, obligating the school district to move forward with the road expansion.

Now it’s nearly complete, according to the municipality.

At work on the road are the Anchorage-based general contractor Mass Excavation, Inc., and the civil engineering firm PTS, Inc., which is providing project management services, Hansen said. Yosemite Drive – the only access route to the school and Eagle Pointe – has remained open throughout the construction season, with hundreds of vehicles sharing the narrow, rough dirt road with heavy equipment and a seemingly endless stream of trucks.

Crews are currently focusing on the “curb-to-curb” portion of the project, installing gutters and laying down pavement in preparation for the beginning of the new school year, Hansen said. The curbs around the entrance to the high school are already complete, he said, and project managers hope the bordering pathways are next in line.

Landscaping and other final touches might have to wait until next year, Hansen said, but the bulk of the project is slated for completion by mid-to-late August.

“It’s going really well right now,” Hansen said.

The Anchorage School District school year begins Aug. 21 for students, with teachers due back Aug. 16.

Huge Congrats to the Mass X Shop!

The shop boys over here at Mass X and Davis have gone

1,000 days

without an accident!!

What an accomplishment! Way to go guys and way to make us proud! Keep up the safe work!!!

Construction Equipment Magazine Features Mass X and Craig Worrell!

Construction Equipment Magazine featured Mass Excavation and Craig Worrell!  

Recruiting qualified heavy equipment employees in an industry where talent pools have almost dried up is a major challenge for every fleet manager in the private or public sector.

This persistent problem was created by what might be called an occupational evolution: Many of the best and brightest have heeded the sirens’ call to pursue careers in other industries that out-glitter wrench-
turning and dirt-moving.

One way to hurdle the issue is to grow your own shop crop. Dakota County (Minn.) has a mixed fleet of 687 active units. That includes heavy equipment, trailers, attachments, trucks, pickups, sedans, law enforcement vehicles, and push mowers. Keeping that fleet physically fit and available for operation is accomplished by only a baker’s dozen of fleet employees.

Equipment manager Kevin Schlangen, CEM, CPFP, CAFM, explains a recruitment method that has worked well for him.

“It’s a rough industry right now in identifying qualified technicians, so we work closely with the human resources department to make sure our job descriptions are up to date and our pay equity is close to what is paid in the private sector.

“Understand that in government, as a general rule, we have a difficult time because of the pay-scale difference, and also we can’t move as fast on making changes when we’re trying to hire.”

To circumvent the pay scale difference, Schlangen, whose team was named a 2017 Fleet Master, “works hard with the HR department to emphasize other benefits that we offer as a government agency that contractors can’t.”

Training is important, as it is in the private sector, so Dakota County has made ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) part of its minimum qualifications for a job. Employees are tested constantly on different levels of the program. “As an ASE Blue Seal shop, we keep up with all levels of that area,” says Schlangen.

Dakota County also covers training expenses and gives its shop crew time to attend trade shows, expos, and different training events, he says.

Another factor that helps attract and keep good workers, Schlangen says, is the county’s facilities themselves.

“Ours is quite a bit nicer than some I’ve seen,” he says. “I have worked outside government before, so I know how good I’ve got it here as far as facilities are concerned.”

In addition, Schlangen says, generally government shop employees have better working conditions and hours than in construction with job sites spread all over. “We work basically Monday through Friday hours, except for emergency situations, such as a heavy snow event.”

With a contractor, Schlangen says, you can work seven days a week with 14-hour days. “The money is great. However, not only does it wear you down physically, it is really difficult for your family.”

Dakota County also provides technicians with tools that many times are better than the ones employees own. “The tools come with the job so, yes, we may not pay as much per hour, but our technicians can keep all their tools at home. This enables them to work outside jobs, if they want to, and still have a full-time job here. We also supply all uniforms, clothing, and all the testing equipment.”

Schlangen describes himself as “pretty damn picky” when it comes to recruiting. One reason is that, unlike in the private fleet sector, “in government, you can’t up and fire someone who isn’t doing the job,” he says.

“We have different responsibilities and criteria from the private sector. We have to be very specific on our questioning, our interviews, and our background checks. Right now, all our positions are filled—but recruiting qualified workers has been so difficult that it’s been nearly three years since we have been fully staffed.”

Many of the good hires have come from local colleges, and one of his sources is a college less than two miles from his shop. “I got to know a number of instructors up there, and because of that we started attending their job fairs, in addition to high school job fairs. We set up our little booth and tell them what we have to offer.”

Because Schlangen’s budget has a line item that lets him hire part-time temporary employees, he tries to hire a person from the colleges for six months. While they attend school, he hires them part time. During school breaks, he will have them work full-time hours. Out of the three people he hired last year, two of them had been students and trainees in his shop prior to being hired.

In Alaska, the same acute need exists for workers. Anchorage-based Davis Constructors & Engineers/Mass Excavation are two different companies, says Craig Worrell, CEM, equipment manager of both organizations. Mass Excavation “does the dirt side, such as utilities and underground work, and Davis Constructors & Engineers builds the new buildings,” he says. The combined fleet of both companies totals about 500 units.

Recruitment for each company differs. On the Davis Constructors side, for instance, recruitment targets would be product managers and engineers. Mass Excavation recruits technicians, oilers, and shop hands.

Since Worrell’s shop is union, union halls are a source for recruitment. “When there are not enough people or qualified hands in the hall, there is some flexibility… that allows us to bring on qualified guys and put them in the union so they can work on our jobs,” he says.

HR posts available positions on the company’s own website, and he uses online postings. “That’s where we start. We don’t go outside the Internet, and we don’t use recruiting services,” Worrell says.

Although some other fleet professionals make use of social media, Worrell rarely does. “I will tell somebody to send me a text message or email, but generally that’s as far as I go,” he says. “Social media such as Facebook or Twitter can provide a lot of exposure, but not necessarily the kind you want. I prefer methods that will target the people with the skills I need in the shop.”

Because the number of qualified people “is inadequate in construction, particularly in the 35-to-50 age bracket, it is not unusual for some competitors to steal experienced people from another shop or maybe from a dealer,” he says. “We don’t do that. Whatever free agents, you might say, are running around out there, are few.”

Worrell says he has never taken anyone from dealers he works with. “We have a good relationship with our dealers and an understanding that I won’t do it to them and they won’t do it to me. There is also a lot of time and training involved in developing a good workforce. There is also a lot of mutual respect between us that goes into dealer relationships too.”

When a position does come open in his shop, Worrell writes a job description and gives it to the HR department. They put it into a format for the public, and the opening is posted on the company’s website, Craigslist, and other online sites. The HR department scans the responses and sends them to Worrell for review.

“I put them in separate groups, based on the candidate’s experience and potential,” he says. “There might be Group 1, who are the first pick; Group 2, the second pick; and Group 3, the third.

“We don’t use professional services to do background checks,” he says. “If you see a large gap in an individual’s work background, most of the time that means they were in trouble. Also, driving records are very important to us. We don’t want someone with a bad driving record operating our trucks or machines.”

After the screening, telephone calls go out to two or three likely candidates, who come in for face-to-face interviews. If a candidate is called in for a second interview, that’s when a job offer is made. The entire process takes about a month.

By being involved with AEMP and current events in the other departments, Worrell can keep up with other developments relative to the fleet operation, such as what laws are new that affect the construction industry. In fact, legislation was passed last year legalizing marijuana in Alaska.

“I think that could create a lot of problems,” he says. “Our company, however, requires you to pass a drug test with the paperwork from the screen.”

But the most important guideline of all is not on the résumé, he says. Pay attention to the individual’s attitude.

“I would take a person with a good attitude and less experience and develop them,” he says, “over a negative person who can be cancerous. It only takes one person to poison the well, and if you get four or five going around with bad attitudes, you’re going to have a real problem.”


Barefoot Mile Event!

Barefoot Mile

The Barefoot Mile is a 1 mile barefoot walk where participants stand behind the cause of human trafficking.

The event will be May 20th, 2017 in Downtown Anchorage. It starts and ends in Town Square Park from 1-4pm.

Barefoot Walk – Route

Please use link below to sign up to walk or donate to the cause! See you out there May 20th!!

2017 Eklutna Pit Pricing is available!

Eklutna Price List 2017

Summer Toy Drive for the Children’s Hospital at Providence

Mass X and Davis have partnered up with Architects Alaska on a “Summer Toy Drive for the Children’s Hospital at Providence”

Architects Alaska reached out to the Design and Construction Community exclusively for this and are looking for donations of building toys in particular. Of course any kind of toy donation would be appreciated, but building toys are great for boys and girls of all ages. They also help inspire future generations of designers and contractors!

The toy drive will run for two weeks beginning Friday, July 15th.

If you would like to donate, please call our office (907) 771-9272 or stop by the office, we will have a toy box at the reception desk if you choose to drop toys off.

Again, thank you for your kindness!

For further information, please see flyer: BHK Summer Toy Drive – Final Flyer

Downtown Solstice Festival Sandbox!

Mass Excavation puts the giant sandbox together every year for the Downtown Solstice Festival! To no surprise, this year was another success!! Thank you to all the hard workers who get there early to set up and stay late to take down!

IMG_5354  IMG_5355IMG_5356

Under 40 in Construction Equipment Award!

Craig Mass X

Construction Equipment Award Winner- Craig Worrell!!!

Congratulations to our own Craig Worrell who was selected as a 2015 Under 40 in Construction Equipment Award winner!

Craig Worrell, CEM, 39, is the Equipment Manager for Mass Excavation and Davis Constructors.

Worrell built Mass Excavation’s shop facilities from a 30×60-foot tent in 2007 to a 60×100-foot shop in 2008, and then to today’s 70×120-foot maintenance facility. “Craig excels at promoting our shop hands into the union positions, either through the Laborer or Operator halls,” says Carl Swanson, vice president. “Through the training that they learn at our facility and under Craig’s watchful eye, he is shaping future equipment industry personnel.”

Education: Associates Degree, University of Alaska-Fairbanks; Certified Equipment Manager, AEMP.

Professional Accomplishments: Attaining Volvo Master Guild Mechanic Certification and retaining top-quality shop hands. “Most of my guys have been with me over 7 years,” states Craig.

Off of the Clock:  My wife and I travelled to Italy to see our son who was stationed there with the Air Force. We had not seen him in nearly a year and he had grown tremendously as a person in that short period of time. When we flew back to the United States, we were able to see our daughter and son-in-law (who is also in the Air Force) and received some special news.  Our first grandchild was on the way!! Best Vacation Ever!!

Extracurricular: Craig volunteers at the Mat-Su Technical School Career Days and at the Construction Career Days in Palmer. He also volunteers with the University of Alaska Anchorage, providing input to students in the Construction Management Curriculum. 

Fun Fact: For the past 31 years, my family has operated a booth at the Alaska State Fair. The Potato Palace provides fair attendees with delicious baked potatoes.  We have sold over 300,000 potatoes since 1984.