2023 Awards Winner – Silver Building Construction : Dacon Corporation

Project Name: Monogram Foods
Owner: Paradigm Properties
Design-Builder: Dacon Corporation
Lead Designer: PDA Incorporated

Major Participants:  Civil – Merrimack Engineering Services, Inc., Geotechnical – McArdle Gannon Associates, Inc., Structural – DeSimone Consulting Engineering Group, Architect – PDA Incorporated (Dacon In-house architectural affiliate), Electrical – Rivers Electrical Corporation, Mechanical – Environmental Systems, Inc., Plumbing – North Shore Mechanical Contractors, Inc., Fire Protection – Platinum Fire Protection, Refrigeration – American Refrigeration Company, Inc., Envelope Consulting – Thermo Consulting LLC., Energy Modeling – Demand Management Institute

Dacon Corporation has completed construction on a 135,000 SF facility for Monogram Foods. This facility is dedicated to pre-assembled sandwich manufacturing. 

 This facility’s design optimizes production to meet consumer demand with 6 areas – freezer, cold storage, cool dock, dry goods storage, production, and offices – configured for ease of employee access.  Critical for operational efficiency, process engineering includes a state-of-the-art ammonia refrigeration system.  Loading dock areas and parking have been configured to maximize a restricted site plan.  Notes Karl Schledwitz, Monogram’s CEO, “This facility is created to fulfill increased demand by our valued customers across the country.  Dacon has been an excellent and innovative partner from start to finish.  We are proud of this project and proud to be part of the Haverhill, MA community.”  Paradigm Properties, an investor/operator/developer of office and industrial property, is the owner and developer.  States Kevin McCall, Paradigm’s Chief Executive Officer, “Paradigm is excited to have helped Monogram significantly expand its operations in Massachusetts.  Through a challenging Covid environment, our contractor, Dacon Corporation, led a team effort with tremendous support from the City of Haverhill, our lender, LowellFive, and dedicated subcontractors.”

  • Challenges/Goals:
    • Civil engineer: Partnering with a new civil engineer necessitated trust, as well as knowing when to bring a 3rd party in for review.     
    • Pandemic: Working through a time of material delays and manpower shortages. 
    • Interior Environments: Managing the unique thermal requirements and separation design of multiple environments in one building – cooler, freezer and dry storage as well as a production area.   
    • Design changes: The removal of a demising wall separating different environments as well as a late add of a post exterior grease trap.
  • Solutions/Achievements:
    • Civil Engineer: A long-standing civil engineering partner was employed to complete a peer review. This allowed for the identification of potential drainage issues and the formulation of a plan of action that mitigated problematic areas while staying on schedule.   
    • Pandemic:   A standard procedure for COVID, mask requirements, how the trades would interact as well as upgraded the technology in the trailers to allow for virtual site meetings was created. This procedure was fluid by early 2021.  Additionally in 2020 the team predicted procurement shut downs and delays.  Relying on long-standing subcontractor relationships we sourced alternative products that met performance standards.  In some cases, these subcontractors already had supplies which they gave to the project.
    • Interior Environments: The building housed dry, cold, freezer, and standard office environments. An envelope consultant, Thermo Consultants, needed to be brought on to review the design details and monitor construction for multiple environments and managed area transitions to ensure that construction details were adhered to.
    • Design Changes: Manufacturing clients rarely see the initial design make it to the end of the project and Monogram was no different. The changes that came along during the construction of the project were complicated due to the multiple environments within the building and no time extension to the project was allowed. While challenging, design-build lends itself well to pivoting. From removing walls that demised two environments to adding water treatment capabilities, it took all hands-on deck to make the clients’ needs a reality. Evaluating the completion stage versus what needed to be done with the entire team allowed for creative ideas the design team could quickly turn into drawings that already factored in feasibility and cost impact. Allowing the client to make quick decisions to make the changes without jeopardizing the project’s completion.

Project conversations began before the pandemic in 2020 when Paradigm Properties, a long-term Dacon client, was asked to help assist with their tenant Monogram Foods. Monogram had been exploring options with Paradigm, when everything stopped in March of 2020. The project was put on hold for a few months, however as people emerged from isolation consumer demand again initiated project engineering. Work remained virtual until the feasibility of the site in Haverhill was confirmed.  Paradigm had brought in a civil engineer that had a relationship with the town while Dacon contracted with Merrimack Engineering Services Inc. to complete the civil engineering for the project. Along with Merrimack, the geotechnical engineer was brought in to help complete the site design and structural design. As soon as the program was established and schematic design was set, a team of design-build MEP/FP engineers and a refrigeration team were selected based on their industry experience, history with Haverhill and overall standing with Dacon. Monogram’s in-house team of process engineers worked hand and hand with Dacon to understand process flow and wall placement to create an optimal design for production. Prior to expansion onsite for production, the developer needed to source investor options for cost feasibility. The investor required a peer review firm to review our design and ensure that a sound investment was being made.  We easily addressed their comments to mitigate potential issues during construction.  

Dacon, a true design-build company has architecture, project planning, project management and field staff in-house. Being in one office allows for more frequent and open conversations that instill the sense of a team. With every partner not being in-house the need for weekly standing project meetings including both the client and teaming partners is required. This enables the team to review schedule, design and review any open issues requiring resolution. The engineering teams work through design development to resolve any issues that may affect schedule and cost. These issues are brought to the table at regular weekly meetings for the client’s consideration and approval.

Unique to Dacon, the project lead manages the preconstruction process. The planner coordinates the architects and engineers with their scope of work, schedule and budgetary goals. Being respectful of the project team’s time is key to keeping the team engaged and motivated. The planner sets an agenda and appropriate goals for what is being covered in each meeting. This allows for proper attendance to address issues at hand while maintaining efficient use of time for other team members. Meeting notes are transmitted to all parties regardless of attendance at each week’s meeting to ensure that all information was being properly communicated.

As the project transfers to construction, the planner transitions the preconstruction meetings seamlessly to the project manager for weekly onsite subcontractor and owner meetings. The project manager is to be engaged weeks prior to construction start with the planner staying on after construction begins.  All information is shared on the project management website hosted by Procore including financials, schedules, drawings, submittals, observations, daily logs, and photos.  

The barriers found in the traditional bid build process do not exist in design-build, as sharing an office with everyone working on the same goal is inherent to the process. Special methods do not need to be employed to reinforce team engagement. Methods to relay information to all team members are a must, such as meetings and notes. When something needs resolution the first thought is not individual responsibility, but rather how it can be fixed. The field staff has direct access to the architectural team and vice versa; this allows for constant communication on a daily basis during construction.  As an end result, meetings for subcontractors, daily foreman and pre-installation, which all the design and construction staff attend, ensure clarity and consensus. A pre-envelope meeting is an example of a pre-meeting that brings the design team, construction staff and installers together to ensure a seamless installation. Design intent, details, scope and sequencing are reviewed before any material is on site. Design and construction are not a linear process and meetings like these are key to demonstrate that and promote collaboration.

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