Perspective | by Thomas J. Finan, Publisher | 09/05/2012
I'm officially old enough that I can remember a book that was published 30 years ago as if it happened yesterday.
"In Search of Excellence" by former McKinsey consultant Tom Peters set a whole generation of us to "Managing by Wandering Around". Those of you weren't born when it was written can Google to find out what was meant by that term.
A lot of what Peters had to say devolved - as this sort of thing frequently does - into a cliché once the media and corporate culture got hold of it. It was the "Good to Great" of its era. But, stripping aside the cult-like following that Peters developed; his message itself has withstood the test of time. Part of the "Excellence" process that he espoused was an "Excellence Oath and Credo". One statement in that document was "We shall use Excellence as the principal benchmark in the assessment of ourselves and our work and our impact on our Clients."
Throughout the 43-year history of St. Louis Construction News and Review we have made the recognition of excellence in relationships, process, and results one of our cornerstone. Part of this process has been to develop awards programs aimed at recognition of that excellence. Early in our history we presented the "St. Louis Area Construction Industry Man of the Year" awards. Recognizing one individual really doesn't acknowledge the collaborative nature of our industry. Next we presented the "Readers' Choice Awards". We still didn't quite have it right: While popular appeal is a good way to gauge the best restaurant or hotel, construction is a complex process. Recognizing excellence in construction demands a more analytical approach.
The St. Louis Construction News & Review Regional Excellence Awards were established in 1989. The judges for the Regional Excellence Awards include construction professionals, industry educators, and the CNR editor, publisher and COO. The panel's objective is to select projects which demonstrate excellence in design, excellence in construction, and a positive contribution to the St. Louis community. Because the intention is to recognize the entire building team, the awards are presented to the owner, to the designer, and to the contractor/cm for each project.
Inaugural REA winners included Metropolitan Square and Camp Grizzly World at Beaumont Scout Reservation. Over the years, winners have included Missouri Historical Society Library Archives (Skinker), 1993; Trans World (Edward Jones) Dome, 1996; Missouri Botanical Garden Research Center, 1998; Renaissance Grand Hotel, 2003; Contemporary Art Museum, 2004; Doisy Research Center at St. Louis University, 2008; Cannon Design St. Louis Headquarters, 2009; SSM St. Clare Medical Center, 2010 and Stephen F. & Camilla T. Brauer Hall at Washington University, 2011.
This year's winners are a solid representation of the best our industry has to offer, particularly in these very tough times:
The Laurel Apartments/Hotel represents the determined attitude that it takes to resurrect an all-but-dead commercial project in an historical building. The designer, contractor and owner all had to work together to make this innovative reuse of the former Dillard's building.
360 (Three Sixty) rooftop bar at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark required vision on the part of the owner and designer and pinpoint logistical and safety efforts on the part of the contractors to construct a stunning new downtown venue on the top of an existing hotel tower.
Peabody Opera House was a high-profile project that embodied collaborative effort, detailed planning, and amazing craftsmanship to revitalize a St. Louis landmark.
Sheet Metal Workers Local 36 "walked the talk" of the green building practices that they and their contractors espouse as well as showing a commitment to urban renewal. The project took owner/contractor/design/union cooperation to a whole new level.
Westminster Christian Academy was a true leap of faith. The state-of-the-art project - started before all funding was in place - was built on a compressed schedule, reusing existing space to conserve funds and to open a year earlier than originally anticipated.
We'll also be recognizing Ameren Corporation as the winner of the Thomas J. Finan, Jr. Humanitarian Award. This award is named for my Dad, founding publisher of St. Louis Construction News & Review magazine who strongly believed in cooperation between management and labor, in diversity, and in the ability of those in the industry to work together to affect an urban St. Louis renaissance. Recipients epitomize those values. The first award was presented to the St. Louis Chapter, National Electrical Contractors and to IBEW Local 1 for their generous support of Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis. AGC of St. Louis was honored in 2010 for the Construction Career Center. Dr. Deborah Henry, of St. Louis Community College was recognized in 2011 for her efforts as a champion of diversity in the St. Louis construction industry. Ameren Corporation has "walked the talk" of diversity. Their construction procurement process has demonstrated an organization-wide commitment to inclusion and to building relationships.
We'll be recognizing the winners of this year's awards at a luncheon on Sept. 26th at Carmine's Steak House. We hope you'll join us at this great networking opportunity. To register for the event, go to http://www.StLouisCNR.com and click on the registration link.