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Stearns (Minn.) County

CATEGORY: Renovations & Retrofits



Our renovation & retrofit opportunity started with a space shortage. Our achievement of building a new “Service Center” started with our current location becoming too small for a growing County. We are 1 of the 87 counties in the State of Minnesota. Our County is a midsized County located in Central Minnesota, which serves a population of approximately 152,000 people. Stearns County employees approximately 880 people and our Facilities Department has a staff of 28. We were landlocked in our current location and the only course of action was to purchase additional land to build a new “center” to accommodate additional offices to support our citizens. We were the General Contractor and hired a Project Manager. We, as Owners and General Contractor, awarded a fair amount of the work to ourselves which included: Doors, Access Doors, Door frames, Door hardware, interior glass, painting, toilet compartments, fire cabinets, fire extinguishers, lockers, flag poles, display screens, plumbing, HVAC, electrical, carpentry, fire alarm system install and keycard access system.

We chose this course of action for financial reasons. Our staff was more than capable of undertaking the tasks and it was going to be more cost-effective to subcontract ourselves than to hire contractors to do what our staff is qualified to do.

Challenges that we ran into are having the staff do the “sub-contracting” part while keeping the County Buildings in their well-maintained state. The project ran for 2 years which was another commitment that had to be made by our staff to work overtime and use less vacation for a period of time. Our staff did an amazing job. They were motivated and it built confidence in our department. It also brought awareness to what our department is doing and what we are capable of. We do more than clean, change a light bulb or unplug a toilet. We are skilled professionals that strive to keep our County buildings in a highly functional, safe, clean and well maintained environment. Another challenge that was proposed to us was how to implement the most upcoming and newest technology on the bid packs that we were awarded. We planned and researched the products that we used to make the building as efficient and green as possible and within budget. This allowed us to have the intimate knowledge of the systems and the knowledge to maintain and repair the equipment after installation. Efficiency, safety and working with other Subcontractors to harmonize and work together to reach our end goal was another major challenge. By holding monthly meetings with owner, architects and subcontractors, we were able to keep communication open. We also had to work with the city to convince them to expand bus services to the new building.

Our achievement came much to our hard work and commitment of our Management, Office, Construction, Electrical, Plumbing and Custodial staff. We came in under budget and the project was completed on time. Our project was well managed and leadership skills prospered. The County now owns a new building with the most state-of-the-art heat pumps, energy efficient lighting with daylight controls, and rain gardens to help the environment and to enhance the prairie look. Once this project was completed it opened the door to more ventures such as building our new Household Hazardous Waste Facility, a $3,600,000.00 budgeted project and the jail remodel, a $6,000,000.00 budgeted project. On both of these undertakings we subcontracted our Department to do various skilled labor and they were also completed on time and under budget.


In-house Participants

List of current employees in Stearns County Facilities Management Department:
Pete Reuter, Department Director
Orville Willenbring, Construction Supervisor
James Johnson, Custodial Supervisor
Suzanne Stenseth, Administrative Assistant
Nancy Cummings, Office Specialist
Tom Koralewski, Master Electrician
Mark Kemper, Electrician
Jake Rothstein, Electrician
Tony Frieler, Master Plumber
Jason Oldenkamp, Refrigeration Technician
Gary Woods, Skilled Maintenance Technician
Pete Tomsche, Skilled Maintenance Technician
Kevin Shea, Skilled Maintenance Technician
Ben Krueger, Skilled Carpenter
Wally Doebber, Skilled Carpenter
Kurt Stangler, Skilled Carpenter
Jim Jones, Custodian
Larry Kuzel, Custodian
Tim Deppa, Custodian
Dale Skudlarek, Custodian
John Zwack, Custodian
Ryan Barker, Custodian
Dave Lukason, Custodian
Parker Doran, Custodian
Mike Rueter, Custodian
Emmaline Stafki, Custodian

Additional Information

Stearns County

Stearns County

Stearns County

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