Our Engineer is Crazier Than Yours

Bill Abel, Engineer at Mid-States Concrete Industries, is crazy.  Not because he went to Iowa State, although he takes plenty of ribbing during football season, but for what he does for fun.  He is a runner.

How many of you have ran a marathon (26.2 mi)? Half marathon (13.1 mi)?  How about an ultra-marathon of 50 mi?

Bill just competed and completed an ultra marathon of 100 miles.  The Western States Endurance Run. The Run is conducted along the Western States Trail starting at Squaw Valley, California, and ending in Auburn, California, a total of 100 miles. The trail ascends from the Squaw Valley floor (elevation 6,200 feet) to Emigrant Pass (elevation 8,750 feet), a climb of 2,550 vertical feet in the first 4½ miles. From the pass, following the original trails used by the gold and silver miners of the 1850’s, runners travel west, climbing another 15,540 feet and descending 22,970 feet before reaching Auburn.

Most of the trail passes through remote and rugged territory, accessible only to hikers, horses and helicopters.

“There is no clear answer, but I think it’s to see how far I can push myself.  I think we have all seen the videos from the Ironman Triathlon when people are crawling to the finish line.  I’ve always wondered if I could push myself that far.  Since I can’t swim, I know triathlons were out of the questions.  So I thought I would give ultra-marathons a try.  I had run marathons for years, so I started with a few 50 mile races and then moved to the 100 mile races.  The race is just as much mental as it is physical.  You learn a lot about yourself when you are on a deserted trail in the middle of nowhere at 2:00 in the morning after already running 80 miles, knowing you still have 20 to go.  In most cases your mind will break long before your body does, but you just try to keep moving.”

“My family thinks I’m crazy, period.  They also know if I don’t get my runs in I can be hard to deal with.  That being said they are also very proud of what I have done.  Their sacrifice and support has been huge and I would not have been able to compete at this level without it.  They ask the same question everyone else does…”Why?”

“It takes an enormous amount of time to train for this event.  I am proud of the dedication and perseverance he shows.  It is a great lesson for our kids to learn.  We are very proud of him, it’s a great feeling to see him cross the finish line.” said Bill’s wife Val.

A good friend of Bills presented him with a trophy for his accomplishment.  Congratulations Bill on an amazing accomplishment.


Underground Parking

Why park outside if you don’t have to?

Basement / indoor parking is becoming more popular than ever for buildings.  With limited space and costly land values, basement parking helps to maximize a projects potential.

“Todays tenants expect a high level of amenities including underground parking.  A precast concrete floor deck is the economical choice to provide the fire protective structure required “ says Randy Bruce of Knothe & Bruce Architects.

Architects, owners and contractors enjoy several of the benefits the precast system provides, such as
· Design flexibility
· Fire rating
· Parking layout
· Cost effective
· Speed of construction
· All weather construction
· Low maintenance
· Land use

Design Flexibility – “Using a precast concrete floor deck above the parking garage gives us flexibility in our design.  We can design creative and exciting floor plans knowing that the precast concrete floor slab can support the framed bearing walls above” says Randy Bruce.  With the precaster involved early, loads are understood so the precast components can be designed and the layout given to the architect.

Fire Rating – The typical 2 and 3 hour fire ratings are easily achieved with the precast system.  Roger Johnson of JSSH Architects stated “Using precast for the required 3 hour fire rating between parking and residential does not raise any questions from plan reviewers or building officials, therefore helping the process move along faster”

Cost Effective –  Not only is precast more cost effective head to head versus other systems, the overall cost savings are greater when you figure the time savings of erecting, design time, all weather construction and a smaller crew size on site.

All Weather Construction – Precast is erected year round.  The construction schedule is kept on track and sometimes accelerated due to the use of precast.  With all of our components being produced indoors we are able to keep the highest quality standards per PCI.

Land Use – One huge benefit for owners is the efficiency of land use.  “Providing underground parking allows us to increase the density of apartments on a site which in turn maximizes the land value” says Randy Bruce.

Low Maintenance – “The completed structure is low maintenance, easy to keep clean and easy to paint if clients specify” states Roger Johnson.

Precast is regularly used to provide parking under multi-family, senior/assisted living, mixed use and institutional projects.

Please contact us for design assistance

Buttercup at 3,000 Feet

Buttercup + Leinenkugel + iPod = Best Flight Ever

May 9th, was the day we flew to Washington DC for our grandfathers memorial service at Arlington National Cemetary.  My brother and one of my cousins drove down from northern Wisconsin, while I traveled from Illinois to meet at General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, WI.

Although my experience in air travel is somewhat limited, Milwaukee is the best place to fly out of and I recommend Air Tran to everyone.  This story is one more reason why.

Once we had gone through security and recombobulated, there really is a sign that says “Recombobulated Area”, my brother thought it was a good time to make a donation to the Leinenkugel family.  Unknown to me was the fact that my brother gets a little tense on planes.  After a couple tall Summer Shandy’s, it was time to board.  Let the fun begin.

Josh drew the window seat.  It didn’t seem that hot in there but he started to bead up a little on his forehead.  Believe it or not I was trying to help him by talking about his work and other things to take his mind off of it.  Probably didn’t help when my cousin leaned over and asked Josh to let her know if the wing falls off.  Time to meet the flight attendant.

Seat belt light came on and we kept talking.  The flight attendant was going down the aisle and stopped at my cousin, picked up one end of the seat belt, looked at her and looked at the belt, looked at her and dropped the belt.  My cousin, Sarah, was fired up now.  I was cracking up and ready to give the attendant a tip already.  Josh grabbed a pinch of chew hoping that would help him.  In a couple of minutes the attendant returned and started to make small talk. She asked Josh what he did for a living.  He explained that he is an English teacher.  She seemed excited and asked him to pull out the pamphlet that was in the seat in front of him and find what is wrong in the one paragraph.  I kept reading it trying to find the grammatical errors before he did.  Fourth time through, I realized I was reading about the fines for chewing tobacco on a plane.  She was on her game.  Now he is really stressing.

As the crew is reading the safety procedures, I am talking to Josh, still trying to help.  Whap!  The attendant smacks me in the forehead with the instruction sheet.  Now the whole plane is laughing.  Sarah is warming up to her now.

Once the plane was up, which was far more adventurous for Josh than the rest of us, the attendants came through with beverages.  Josh had also brought his iPod to listen to but he had it in his daughters pink case.  Perfect time for the attendants to come through.

“Cute case Buttercup”, came from the first attendant in her southern accent.
“Aww, would you like a pink lemonade to drink Buttercup?” ,was from her partner in crime.  Our entire area was cracking up, even the little girl behind us.

Eddie Murphy and Sam Kinison were loaded on the iPod, another plan by my brother to divert his attention away from flying.  Have you ever seen a kid at a music store with the headphones on talking really loud? Josh started laughing.  Josh kept laughing.  Our southern flight attendant stopped by and started mouthing a question to Josh.  Josh couldn’t hear any of her three attempts, so he took the earphones out and she yelled, “What’s so funny?”   Unlike the kid at the music store, my brother realized how loud he was.  Whole section was laughing again.

The Air Tran crew made a flight that was on a sad premise the most enjoyable flight we ever had. Their team went out of the way to make sure everyone enjoyed the trip.  Their customer service was amazing.  They went beyond what was necessary, had a great sense of humor and brought smiles to dozens of faces.  They also earned a few repeat customers.

The flight back was its own adventure that included Josh leaving the boarding area to go back through security to buy his daughters tee shirts and being one of the last people on the plane. The attendants had everyone clap and stomp their feet as we went down the runway and throw our hands in the air as we took off.  And a little kid getting sick in the seat behind him.

What are you doing to make the best of every situation that comes your way?