Powers & Sons Vice President Kelly Powers Baria and Superintendent David Nicholson are featured in a May 2023 episode of Built to Last, a program sponsored by the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council and broadcast on WGN Chicago.
Nicholson notes the Mid-America Carpenters Regional Council provides valuable educational and leadership training for apprentices. He says, “I thank the president for bringing the project to the community that he came from. There is only going to be one [Obama Presidential Center] and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”
The new OPC was intentionally designed for and will blend with the community. Many spaces will be free for local residents and the general public to enjoy, says Baria.
She believes that four minority-owned contractors forming an alliance with a majority contractor so they can all work together, rather than compete against each other, is unprecedented in Chicago. “We thought that for something as significant as the nation’s first Black president’s legacy library, we needed to approach the work with a different frame of mind,” Baria says.
“When you have a project that is as once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as this, it has the ability to change the trajectory and change the lives of so many young people when you can put the project on your resume,” she adds.
Powers & Sons continues to build affordable, safe, and modern multi-housing on the south side of Chicago. Two projects are 23rd Place at Southbridge, which opened earlier this year, and Phase 3-1 of the Oakwood Shores development. Both are for our clients at The Community Builders (TCB).
TCB is one of the nation’s leading nonprofit real estate developers and owners. Their mission is to build and sustain strong communities where people of all incomes can achieve their full potential. TCB utilizes neighborhood-based models and partnerships to drive economic opportunity for local residents.
Oakwood Shores is part of a Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) plan to build 3,000 affordable apartments spanning 94 acres in the historic Bronzeville neighborhood.
The development’s footprint was originally part of CHA’s former Ida B. Wells, Madden Park, and Clarence Darrow housing projects built in 1939-41. The developments were closed in 2002 and the buildings were demolished in 2011, leaving vacant property that is now being redeveloped.
Powers & Sons is the prime general contractor for this scope of work, which is for two buildings totaling 62,000 SF. Designed by Brook Architecture, the three-story structures include one-, two-, and three-bedroom units.
Vigilant about quality control, Superintendent Jeremy Wilson is managing the project to be in keeping with Powers & Sons’ Z-PRIDE (Zero Punchlist Requires Individual Daily Effort) goal.
Wilson is also adept at managing job-site challenges. “We built the first and most of the second floors while working around low-hanging voltage lines. We anticipate supply chain issues may delay installation of ComEd transformers and electric meters. Currently, we are engineering another solution so the buildings will have power until the components are delivered and installed.”
With M/WBE and Section 3 requirements included in the project’s financing, Senior Project Manager Dan O’Laughlin noted that local hiring is a focus. Community outreach sessions and partnerships with area assist agencies are two of the tactics Powers & Sons used to promote employment and subcontractor opportunities.
23rd Place at Southbridge
Powers & Sons was a JV partner for the new construction of 23rd Place at Southbridge. A mixed-use, mixed-income development, Southbridge is the first phase of a new development for which TCB has joined forces with a private real estate firm. Public partners include CHA, the Illinois Housing Development Authority (IHDA), and the City of Chicago.
The scope of work for 23rd Place at Southbridge included the new construction of 60,000 SF of ground-level retail space and 103 apartments on the upper levels of two buildings. The transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly buildings are within walking distance of train and bus routes.
Located just north of Bronzeville, Southbridge connects the neighborhood with other emerging South Loop communities as well as Chinatown, the Motor Row District, McCormick Place, and Burnham Harbor.
The area has a high level of income disparity among residents. Bringing more affordable housing to the neighborhood will help low-income families thrive.
When we think about some of the longest and most enduring relationships Powers & Sons has with clients, working with McDonald’s and dozens of their franchise owners is near the top of the list.
Over nearly 40 years, Powers & Sons has completed 105 McDonald’s projects ranging from ground-up new construction to restaurant demolitions and rebuilds as well as major interior and exterior renovations.
Powers & Sons has served McDonald’s in communities large and small across Northeast Illinois, Northwest Indiana, and Central Indiana. We have been recognized with two speed-to-market records for new McDonald’s in Chicago, with one completed in 56 days and another in 69 days, and one in Hickory Hills, Illinois that was completed in 64 days.
Our most recently completed new construction for McDonald’s was a 4,700 SF new restaurant. Located at 10915 Delaware Parkway, just off I-65 in Crown Point, it opened December 29, 2022. A 20-second time-lapsed video of that build appears below.
Further south, Powers & Sons Indianapolis has been awarded a 2023 contract for the new construction of a McDonald’s in Westfield, Indiana.
Recent renovation work included a series of improvements at McDonald’s restaurants in Chicago on South Ashland and South Halsted. We also renovated restaurants in Carol Stream and Beecher, both in Illinois.
“While the outward architecture and appearance of their restaurants has changed over the years, what remains constant is McDonald’s continual innovation in response to shifting consumer preferences and demand,” noted Chief Operating Officer & President Claude Powers.
Whether it is adding second drive-through lanes at high-volume restaurants or installing touch screen self-service kiosks inside their lobbies, McDonald’s is a leader in delivering quick-service food with a customer-centric focus.
“From a general contracting and construction management perspective, it has been impressive to witness McDonald’s continued innovation. That spirit of innovation has had a major impact on their continued success as one of the world’s most iconic and beloved brands,” Powers added.
We look forward to continuing our relationship with McDonald’s for decades to come and playing a small role in making future generations of hungry customers smile.
The program is popular because it not only showcases Indiana’s top workplaces but includes an employee survey that helps all applicants improve their culture and productivity.
“One exciting point is that more small companies made the list this year than ever before,” said Indiana Chamber President and CEO Kevin Brinegar. “With small businesses being the backbone of our state’s economy, it’s encouraging to see so many putting an emphasis on culture.”
The companies span over 30 Indiana cities and towns. They include firms in four categories (small, medium, large, and major) with employee counts ranging from 15 to 1,300. Powers & Sons Indianapolis is one of 72 small companies with 74 or fewer full-time employees who were recognized.
The selection process is managed by the Workforce Research Group. Evaluations are based on criteria including employee surveys and employer reports. All companies who participate receive an in-depth evaluation that identifies strengths and weaknesses based on employee feedback which, in turn, is useful for enhancing employee retention and recruitment.
The winning companies will be recognized at a May 10 award ceremony, in the Indiana Chamber’s BizVoice magazine, and by Inside INdiana Businesswith Gerry Dick.
The mayor and OMWBD representatives presented President Mamon Powers III with a framed certificate of recognition and spoke with members of the Indianapolis team.
Reporters and photographers from local media outlets were also in attendance. WISH-TV broadcast an interview with Powers in which he discusses the family business and history. The segment is part of the station’s Business, Equity, & Opportunities series.
In a news release issued by the city, Mayor Hogsett noted, “Powers & Sons Construction has been involved with some of our city’s largest and most beloved 21st century projects, including portions of the Indiana Convention Center, Indianapolis International Airport, and TCU Amphitheater. But their legacy stretches back decades, making them a longstanding pillar of both Hoosier construction firms and the Black-owned business landscape of Indianapolis.”
The mayor also noted that Powers & Sons’ Indianapolis office, which has tripled in size over the past ten years, is actively engaged in serving the community through partnerships with organizations like Indy Parks & Recreation, Citizens Energy Group’s Sharing the Dream program, and MSD of Lawrence Townships annual “Do Good Day.” He also cited the company’s dedication to youth development, including over $550,000 in needs-based and other college scholarships for deserving students, including those pursuing degrees in construction, engineering, and architecture.
Accepting the honor, Powers said, “When my grandfather started our business, all he wanted was to be a good contractor and give back to the communities we serve. I am proud that 56 years later, striving to be the best and giving back to the community is core to our culture.”
Headquartered in Northwest Indiana, Powers & Sons was incorporated in 1967 as a builder of single-family homes. In the early 1980s, it transitioned away from serving residential homeowners into commercial construction, opening a Chicago office in 1985 and an Indianapolis office in 1992.
Now that a new year is upon us, everyone at Powers & Sons Construction looks forward to meeting new challenges with spirits of innovation and excellence.
The winter months are some of my favorite times of the year to enjoy interesting books, especially those based on the true stories of men and women who overcame unimaginable obstacles and challenges along the path to success.
Author Michael Crichton has been quoted as saying, “If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything. You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree.”
Here are a few stories rooted in both fact and history that have inspired me. I hope you find inspiration in them, too.
This is the compelling story of a Uruguayan rugby team whose airplane crashed in 1972. My wife read the book first. Later, I heard a survivor of the crash speak in person and was inspired to read the book myself. I marvel at the will human beings have to survive even in the harshest of conditions. These survivors took each negative circumstance and turned it into a positive.
Written by Chicago native Nathan Thompson, this book fills an important gap in Black history. It is a remarkable testament to the inventive, entrepreneurial spirit of African Americans at a time when all other doors to economic prosperity were closed to them. Without Thompson’s research, most people would never have known today’s modern lottery system was invented and perfected by an African American.
This is the true story of eight young Black college students who would go on to play pivotal and leading roles in America’s civil rights movement, including the 1959-62 Nashville Student Movement. They protested the segregation they saw at Nashville’s lunch counters. They led similar protests in cities like Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. Their courage and vision changed history. It demonstrated that well-organized, nonviolent protest can change the course of a nation.
These books document the life stories of two women who overcame astonishing odds to achieve their dreams of success. The first is about Sarah Breedlove, a self-made entrepreneur who would become known as Madam C.J. Walker. She built a business empire centered on cosmetics and beauty products for African Americans. Parallel to Walker’s story is that of Annie Turnbo Malone, another pioneer who is believed to be one of the first Black female millionaires in America. Rumor has it that Walker stole one of Turnbo’s formulas while she was a Turnbo employee. While that may or may not be true, what I find inspirational about their stories is that both women were innovators and entrepreneurs who did not follow the “normal” societal and business rules of their era. They inspired countless other women (and men) to pursue their dreams. Walker and Turnbo both devoted their later years to philanthropy and political and social activism, causes that I deeply admire.
C.J. Walker and Annie Turnbo were, in my opinion, precursors to Samuel Fuller, founder of the Fuller Products Company. Fuller also utilized a business model that began by selling products door-to-door and created a wildly successful company. Through the 1950s, Fuller employed a sales force of 5,000 “Fullerites” with sales averaging $18 million a year. With tenacity, an innovative spirit, strong work ethic, and penchant for eschewing many of the prevalent social and political views of the era, Fuller was the first African American inducted into the National Association of Manufacturers. He, too, inspired future generations of successful entrepreneurs. They included John H. Johnson, founder of Ebony and Jet magazines, and George E. Johnson, founder of Johnson Products which manufactured products Ultra Sheen and Afro Sheen and was exclusive sponsor of the Soul Train television program in the 1970s. I found this book inspiring because Fuller believed that nothing could stop the right product or the right idea whose time had come.
As we prepare for the next 55 years in business, Powers & Sons Construction would like to thank the clients, subcontractors, business partners, and supporters who have contributed to our longevity in the general contracting and construction industry.
We look forward to new challenges and new opportunities for building strong communities and better tomorrows today!
Click the graphic below to watch our video and learn more about our story.
The project will provide faculty and students with a modern, secure facility for teaching and learning. It will feature ample green space with walking trails and heritage trees to be enjoyed by local residents.
Project Executive Les Carroll says the team is making steady progress. “Procurement was an early focus. Buying essential materials like concrete, cement, steel, lumber, insulation, drywall, and HVAC equipment since the pandemic required good long-lead strategies and constant monitoring of supply chains and deliveries. We adjusted sequencing and scheduling as needed.”
Bidding & Value Engineering Strategy
Chris Kerns, director of estimating, led the preconstruction effort to make value-based decisions. “We began issuing bid packages a year after the initial COVID-19 outbreak. The market was volatile, and costs began to rise so the team focused on outreach,” says Kerns.
Community engagement partners included Winston Terrell Group and Nubian Construction, who helped the project team with a virtual outreach session, phone calls, and talking with dozens of subs in all the trades.
Nearly 140 bids on 27 bid packages were received, averaging five bids per category, which Kerns notes is nearly unheard of in a post-pandemic construction world Many first-tier subcontractors have one or more second-tier subs working for them.
When all scopes were purchased, Kerns says the final GMP was millions below what had been allocated. “The owner was able to shift those funds to mitigate cost over-runs and escalations that were happening as conditions grew more unstable.”
Little did the team know how volatile the market would become. The same school today would cost over $85 million.
Key factors for Schmidt Associates and the design team included flexible spaces, dedicated collaboration spaces for teachers and for students, intentional safety zones with planned entry points, technology infrastructure, and lots of natural light.
Efficient parking design separates bus and passenger vehicles. Passenger vehicles have a dedicated student pick-up and drop-off spot.
The building is organized into zones that provide clear definition and control between academic spaces and event/community spaces.
A main public corridor connects interior spaces, which are organized along a path that can be locked down for security.
Teams of students will learn in grade-specific pods. Teams within the pods will share school and building resources.
Grade 8 students will be housed in a two-story wing on the east side of the school with students in other grades in a single-story wing on the south side of the building. Project Lead the Way will have classrooms near the pods.
A high-tech media center with library and maker spaces is at the heart of the building.
The school will also feature a music suite with band, orchestra, and choir support spaces and practice rooms adjacent to a performance platform in the cafetorium.
With retractable seating for 500 and special acoustical treatments throughout, the cafetorium has a separate event entrance and corridor.
On the opposite side of the school, the main gymnasium can accommodate up to 500 spectators and includes full-size basketball and volleyball courts. The auxiliary gym will have similar courts with seating for 400.
Throughout the building, the decor will celebrate the neighborhood and reflect a palette that includes the school brand and colors.
CMc Project at a Glance
Practicing equitable procurement and including a diverse workforce is a priority for this CMc project. The XBE spend to date is $13 million or 27 percent of subcontracted work.
MEP systems are Energy Star Certified, with indoor air quality standards and low water usage key design considerations. Energy-efficient LED lighting will be installed inside and out.
HVAC features include single- and multi-zoned VAV systems, vertical unit ventilators, air-cooled chillers, and boilers.
Approved through a 2020 Washington Township tax referendum, the Northview Middle School project is part of a larger $418 million initiative to fund district-wide capital improvements and increasing operations costs.
Powers & Sons has had some great student interns over the years. Internships are a win-win: they give us extra hands during busy summer months and provide students with real-world experience. When the first year goes well, we invite them to come back. Here are two of their stories.
Maliq Cherry, Ball State University
Maliq Cherry is an architectural design major completing his second Powers & Sons internship. Interested in a career that positions him to be the change he wants to see in the world, Cherry is passionate about repurposing abandoned properties and improving quality of life for inner-city residents.
“Abandoned buildings still have potential, from my perspective, which drew me to architecture. How can we redesign these properties to boost local economies, provide access to fresh food, and bring jobs to the neighborhood? Those are the kinds of projects I ultimately hope my career will focus on,” reports the Merrillville, Indiana native.
Cherry says his Powers & Sons internship has provided unique opportunities, like working on the Obama Presidential Center (OPC) project and meeting the nation’s former chief executive.
“I couldn’t believe I was on site when President Obama visited this summer. He took time to meet the crew, shake hands, pose for photos, and thank us for the work we’ve done so far. It was a little overwhelming, but I was smiling from ear to ear,” Cherry says. “It inspired me and encouraged me to believe in myself and my dreams.”
Also interested in commercial and industrial architecture, his 2022 internship is focused on the foundations of project management and engineering. Responsible for managing, completing, and tracking subcontractor submittals and RFIs as part of the preconstruction process, Cherry is learning about the mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) components required in the project specifications and design drawings.
“In the classroom, I learn to create building structures and select the appropriate building materials. In the internship, I am seeing intricate systems as they are installed and hidden in walls, floors, and ceilings. Working on the job site helps me correlate conceptual design with actual context. I’m gaining experience in a range of areas that will help me be a better architect,” says Cherry.
Zahra Malik, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI)
A senior majoring in construction management major with minors in interior design and business, Zahra Malik is also completing her second internship Powers & Sons.
“As a student, I had heard some construction firms don’t really value interns. From my first day at Powers & Sons, I knew I would enjoy the experience. As a family-owned business, I felt like they cared about me, each other, and doing quality work.”
During her first summer with Powers & Sons, Malik worked in the Indianapolis estimating department for several weeks, then went to Chicago and worked on the Friends Health job site. “That on-site experience was my favorite because I learned a lot about how things are executed on the job—not just how they look on the specs and floor plans,” she says.
This year, Malik is serving on the MSD Wayne Township K-12 school improvement program team. She supports the project manager and engineer with managing construction documents, drawings, and samples.
“I’m interested in the details and complexities of construction. I like the flexibility of the field because there are so many different options. I’m a hands-on person, so construction fulfills that side of me.” She is also interested in residential construction. “Growing up, I would help my dad renovate and fix-up old homes so that he could rent them. I would love to somehow get back into that and start buying houses and fixing them up.”
As she prepares for a career in a largely male industry, Malik sees good things for women who want to join the field. “Honestly, I was surprised by the number of women I’ve met in the field and in the office. I think we have come a long way and the future for women in construction only looks up from here.”
St. Laurence School has been a South Shore landmark for decades. Many of the original materials, finishes, and architectural features are being preserved in the Muller & Muller design.
“The design reflects the building’s historic character,” explains Project Manager Rob Kennedy.
The gym will become an art exhibit space. Original plasterwork around the stage and decorative brick wall veneers are being repaired and restored. Ceilings will be left exposed.
The Rebuild Foundation’s Construction Project Manager is Shirin Shahin. “Shirin is onsite daily and is our go-to contact as we execute the work,” notes Kennedy. The foundation’s eyes and ears, Shahin has been integral to the project since its inception.
Project Management Approach
Renovating a structure that has been vacant for 20 years can come with a few challenges. According to Kennedy, the bones of the structure are strong, with sturdy concrete beams, decks, and masonry exterior. Structural repairs have been minimal.
New building components, including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and fire protection systems, are being installed along with new exterior windows, flooring, and other materials. The entire building will be updated and modified for ADA compliance, including a full elevator system to reach every floor.
Preconstruction services began in 2020 followed by the start of construction in April of 2021, with Powers & Sons self-performing some of the carpentry and interior demolition.
In total, about 25 Chicago subcontractors representing all trades are expected to be utilized on the project. At least 50% of the on-site workforce will be City of Chicago residents. In addition, the work will meet 35% MBE and 15% WBE participation goals.
Powers & Sons Superintendent Chitan Bibbs and Project Engineer Megan Andres are also on the team.
Known throughout the Midwest and across the U.S., Powers & Sons Construction is an award-winning firm specializing in general contracting, construction management, design-build, and owner’s representative projects that exceed client expectations. With three offices in Indiana and Illinois, we have completed over $1 billion in business since 1967.