Garney trials new Kenzen smart device to protect workers from heat stress
Garney, a firm focused singularly on water and wastewater construction, is interested in keeping its employee-owners as safe as possible on the job. Recently, the company added a new element to its already robust safety programs by testing new wearable technology smart devices.
The devices, worn on the arms of 28 Garney workers at 10 worksites throughout the U.S., are manufactured by Kenzen. They monitor key physiological indicators of each worker, including core body temperature, heart rate, and exertion level. Detecting changes in these factors can lead to proactive prediction and prevention of heat injuries and illnesses, including fatalities.
“We’re committed to continually evaluating new methods of protecting our employee-owners and incorporating the best solutions available,” said Ryan Smith, regional safety manager at Garney who coordinated the proof-of-concept project with the company’s environmental health and safety (EHS) leaders and regional project supervisors. “We’re looking to add more prevention approaches to our systems, which now include education and training, hydration, monitoring atmospheric and ambient heat, and cooling stations.”
Data from the wearable sensors provide alerts to workers by sending vibrations to the device and notifications to their smartphones, and to supervisors via their phones and a web dashboard that provides real-time heat health status of all team members. Alerts escalate from an initial “stop work” message to rest and hydrate, to subsequent alerts for additional measures to avoid emergency situations. Follow-up alerts indicate when a person’s core body temperature has returned to a safe level for resuming work.
Cumulative data can be analyzed by EHS leaders at the company to detect patterns and customize heat stress prevention and treatment strategies at various locations – from the dry heat of Arizona to the extreme heat of the Texas sun, to the hot humidity of Florida, and heat conditions at Colorado altitudes. Garney used the location-specific information to adjust break times and educate employee-owners on steps they can take to protect themselves, such as how to acclimatize to warm working conditions when coming onto a worksite, and best clothing choices.
Although Kenzen collects large amounts of physiological data from each worker, varying levels of information are provided to different viewers to protect workers’ rights, especially with regard to the privacy of their personal health information.
“Garney is on the leading edge of bringing technology into the safety equation,” said Heidi Lehmann, co-founder of Kenzen. “Because Garney is owned by its employees, all were involved in the decision and all are interested in advancing their business through increased safety and productivity.”
Founded in 2014, Kenzen is the premier physiological monitoring platform to keep workforces safe from heat, fatigue, and overexertion on the job. For more information about heat stress and how to integrate the system into your safety plan, visit Kenzen.com.
Garney headquarters moves to North Kansas City
Garney Construction has relocated its company headquarters. Strong growth drove the need for a larger office space than its long-time location along Vivion Road in Kansas City. The new headquarters, a 32,000 square-foot renovated warehouse office, is located at 1700 Swift Street, North Kansas City, MO 64116.
Garney had been located on Vivion Road since its beginning in 1961. The company, founded by Charles Garney, started out in a small building nicknamed the “Hot Dog Stand.” After a couple years, the company outgrew that space and relocated to 1235 NW Vivion Road, then moved to 1331 NW Vivion Road in the early 1970s. Garney built a new location at 1333 NW Vivion Road in 2001 where it remained until November 2020. Over the last 59 years, Garney Construction has become the nation’s leader in water and wastewater systems with annual revenue exceeding $1.1 billion in 2019. That success and growth led the company to seek expanded space for 75 employee-owners who operate from its headquarters.
“We are excited to join the North Kansas City business community,” said Mike Heitmann, CEO of Garney Construction. “We wanted to remain in the Northland, and the walkability and energy of North KC really appealed to us.”
As the company grew, Garney recognized that it had outgrown its space at 1333 NW Vivion Road, even after two recent expansions—including a renovated basement and separate shop converted to office and training space—that added 8,700 square feet to the original 8,000 square-foot building. Garney’s leadership found the best space to suit their needs in North Kansas City. Renovations to the new office are being completed by Gould Evans as architect and Haren Companies as the general contractor.
“Gould Evans and Haren have really created a space that our employee-owners are going to be excited about. They have focused on customizing the building to fit Garney’s current and future needs and providing a smooth transition for our employee-owners,” said Tony Kempf, Vice President and building manager.
Imagine a Day Without Water video highlights critical need
Every day, people drive on, under, over, and around public infrastructure. The first two are easy to observe—the roads you drive on and power/telecommunication lines you drive under. What you don’t see is what you drive over and around—waterlines that bring clean water to your home and workplace, sewer lines that take away your liquid waste, and the facilities cleaning and treating that water.
Do you know which one you can’t live without? Water.
Garney created a video to Imagine a Day Without Water. It’s a good reminder that water is essential for everything we do in life.
Imagine a Day Without Water is led by the Value of Water Campaign to raise awareness about how water is our most precious resource, yet the most undervalued. America’s water infrastructure is rapidly aging and deteriorating. Since water infrastructure is largely invisible, it’s out of sight, out of mind for most people. While nature provides water, it takes pipes, pumps, equipment, and people working 24/7 to deliver clean water to homes and businesses, and then remove and treat wastewater so it can safely be reused or returned to the environment.
The gap between funding water and our water infrastructure needs is growing daily and is currently at $81 billion, according to a recent study by ASCE and the Value of Water Campaign. We can’t continue to ignore this fact. Let your local, state, and national elected officials know you want change and support increased water funding and necessary rate increases required to make this happen.
Learn more at imagineadaywithoutwater.org and follow the conversation on social media at #ValueWater.
Kipp Connell promoted to Director of IT
Garney is pleased to announce the promotion of Kipp Connell to Director of Information Technology (IT). After serving as Garney’s IT Manager for the last five years, Kipp’s promotion creates the new role of Director of IT. In this role, Kipp will continue to oversee Garney’s responsive and agile IT team as well as maintain our backend security. Kipp’s integrity, positive attitude, and approach to problem-solving have facilitated improvements in the behind-the-scenes systems that support and protect Garney’s employee-owners. Kipp joined Garney in 2015 after working in IT for the Lawrence, Kansas, Police Department for 11 years. He attended Washburn University and holds degrees in information technology and business administration.
Meggan Krase promoted to CFO
Garney is pleased to announce the promotion of Meggan Krase to Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Throughout her career at Garney, Meggan has demonstrated tremendous work ethic and dedication, which has propelled her to achieve this important position. Her humility, service-minded orientation, and willingness to do whatever it takes demonstrates her commitment to Garney and her team. What’s even more impressive is her courageousness to blaze this trail in a traditionally male-dominated industry like construction. The respect and admiration she has garnered from her peers in operations is a testament to the type of leader she is. Jeff Lacy is leaving a tremendous legacy at the CFO position and replacing this leadership is no small feat. However, Meggan is fully capable of taking the reins and leading the financial side of our company into the future.
Celebrating the life of Steve McCandless
From our Garney family, it is with great sadness that we share the passing of Steve McCandless – a legacy and friend. Throughout Steve’s 39 years of service, he epitomized Garney’s goals and philosophies. Steve embodied exceptional work ethic, long-term commitment to his clients, partners, and fellow employee-owners, diligence for continuous improvement, and an unwavering passion to Garney. He was truly one of a kind.
Steve started his Garney career in 1979 and was quickly named Vice President. He was integral in shaping an employee-ownership culture of honesty, integrity, and excellence. Steve retired in June of 2018, leaving a profound impact on the company’s success.
“There is a tacit understanding that no future player could ever live up to the number of a legend, whether it be on the field or off.”
It was an honor and a privilege to know Steve. Our thoughts and prayers are with the McCandless family during this incredibly difficult time.
Garney Constructs First of Its Kind Tunnel Rearmoring
In a highly rural area, at the base of one of the tallest mountains in the lower 48 states, the Mud Mountain Dam towers over the White River in Enumclaw, Washington. Constructed at the base of Mount Rainer in the 1940s by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers (USACE), it was the tallest rock/earthen dam of its time at a height of 430 feet.
Two tunnels channel the river around and under the dam. A 9-foot-wide tunnel passes normal flows and relieves the pressure of debris buildup on the backside of the dam. The debris flows consist of 2-foot diameter boulders flowing at velocities as high as 75 feet per second. The flat bottom, high carbon steel liner began to develop multiple scour holes after a decade of use and required maintenance repairs one to two times annually.
Awarded the first project of its kind in North America, Garney and our engineering partner, ILF, proposed an innovative approach to reline the tunnel using granite blocks rather than steel. This extended the design life to 40 years and reduced overall construction and capital lifecycle costs.
Garney adopted the concept of using granite for Mud Mountain Dam from the Pfaffensprung tunnel in Switzerland instead of using steel. This tunnel served as a basis for information and inspiration for the alternative granite proposal to USACE.
Garney performed all construction work on the site to line 1,685 linear feet of the 1,800-foot tunnel. A 4-inch layer of cellular concrete was installed over the floor, drains, and alarm system. Precision-cut granite blocks were installed tightly together in a specific sequence on top of the cellular concrete. The scope required dewatering, 1,600 linear feet of 3″ bypass pumping, and temporary power. The main challenge included the logistics of getting the required materials in place.
Check out this video to learn more about this forward-thinking project.
Garney Joins Water Design-Build Council
As collaborative delivery has taken a stronghold in our industry, the need to create consistent best practices has generated multiple organizations that provide resources to owners, engineers, and contractors.
Originally formed in 2006, the Water Design-Build Council (WDBC) is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to advance the development and rehabilitation of the nation’s municipal water and wastewater systems through the use of the design-build and construction management at risk (CMAR) methods of project delivery.
Comprised of engineering and construction leaders in the industry, Garney is excited to now be a part of the council helping shape the future of collaborative delivery.
Learn more about North America’s leading educational resource for best practices in water design-build delivery on the Water Design-Build Council’s website
Garney acquires Warren Environmental and A&W Maintenance
Garney acquires Massachusetts-based companies, Warren Environmental and A&W Maintenance. Warren Environmental manufacturers epoxies that offer a cost-effective option to coat, protect, and rehabilitate pipelines and structures with minimal downtime. A&W Maintenance is Warren’s applicator and trains all of Warren Environmental’s approved applicators worldwide.
This acquisition expands Garney’s capabilities in the water and wastewater market, and for the first time in the company’s history, Garney is a product manufacturer. As a 100% employee owned company, Garney provides Warren Environmental and A&W Maintenance with significant resources and financial strength for continued long-term growth in the epoxy coating industry. It also assures their current and future employees gain a beneficial ownership interest in the combined companies without any personal investment.
“It was very important that our team of incredible employees be secure and thrive after the sale of our companies,” said Danny Warren, President of Warren Environmental and A&W Maintenance. “Garney’s employee owned structure provides that.”
Warren Environmental and A&W Maintenance were founded by Danny and Jane Warren nearly 35 years ago. The companies were established with the goal of protecting the environment and developing safer 100% solids epoxy coatings and application technologies. Danny and Jane Warren will remain in their current positions to drive continued success.
“It will be exciting to be a part of the future growth that Garney will accelerate because of their footprint in the industry,” said Jane Warren.
Garney is excited to welcome both organizations as our newest employee‐owners. Our combined strengths will enable both organizations to continue leading the water and wastewater industry.
Leadership promotions at Garney
Scott Parrish has been promoted to President of Garney Construction.
Scott joined Garney in 1988 as a Laborer, learning the field skills necessary to be an effective builder of water and wastewater projects. These skills proved valuable in becoming a leading Project Manager and Estimator of pipeline projects throughout his 30-year career at the company. In his new role, Scott has oversight for all company operations, including resource management, employee development, and operational strategy. Scott has been responsible for some of Garney’s most high-profile projects, including the Vista Ridge Water Supply Project – the largest P3 water project in the history of the United States. Scott’s role as President allows current CEO, Mike Heitmann, to focus on longer-term aspects of the company’s growth, such as succession, strategic vision, and acquisitions.
Matt Foster has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer of Western Pipe Operations.
In this role, he is responsible for the organization and management of Garney’s pipe operations in the Western United States. Matt oversees project pursuits and operations across multiple projects throughout this region. These projects focus primarily on large diameter water and sewer pipelines in varying ground conditions. Matt joined Garney in 1993 after graduating from Kansas State University. He is based in Garney’s Kansas City headquarters.