In the (South) End Zone with Tweet/Garot
By Steve Smith and Dan Foley
David S. LeMay is the kind of guy whose business card just can’t easily spell out all of what he does for a living at Tweet/Garot Mechanical Inc. Tweet/Garot is one of Wisconsin's largest mechanical contractors, with offices in Green Bay and Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.
While he might simply describe himself as a “design estimator and project manager,” we’d also add “specialist,” “ace designer for all things radiant, snowmelt, solar and geothermal,” “troubleshooter,” "bidder,” possibly, “big thinker,” and, maybe above all, “relationship builder.”
“I think I have the ability to wear different hats where competitors may have individual people for those jobs,” David said. “That was a key piece for us being awarded the work at Lambeau Field for its recent South End Zone expansion and additional work with an expanded atrium and entrance to the stadium. We know the radiant side; we’ve done work there before and we’ve got great relationships with the guys in charge of maintaining the daily heating and snowmelting operations.”
“Our company has grown to a point where it could easily spread itself too thin,” said Christopher R. Howald, CEO of the firm that employs approximately 400 people. “We have to be careful not to consider Lambeau Field as just another construction project without also thinking of the Green Bay Packers as one of our primary customers. David is an example of how we can both take care of the job and know the customer well.”
South End Zone expansion
When David mentions the South End Zone expansion, he’s referring to the Green Bay Packers’ latest renovation to Lambeau Field, a $146 million expansion that added 7,000 seats to increase seating capacity to 80,750. Maybe most important to the team, the expansion provides opposing players facing the South End Zone with a veritable wall of fans that reaches 30 stories tall; the highest point in town.
Also, just as important to David, this outdoor section of seating will be radiantly heated in four levels that will melt snow as it falls — a concept tested on a small scale during winter 2010. This concept will solve the logistical problem of shoveling snow from an "upper deck" seating area. Before the expansion, the team relied on community volunteers who readily pitched in to shovel snowfall within the original area. The snow was placed on temporary chutes placed in the aisles that ran all the way down into carts on the field to be taken out the stadium for disposal.
In addition, Tweet/Garot was also involved in another phase of stadium improvement that included relocating and expanding the Packers Pro Shop, as well as relocating the restaurant and team’s Hall of Fame inside the stadium’s atrium, which the mechanical contractor helped construct as part of the first major changes to the stadium made in 2001-2003. In fact, the work done at Lambeau at that time was the company’s largest plumbing and HVAC project.
Although Green Bay is one of the smallest cities in professional sports with a population of 104,000, at the time of this writing, the team’s stadium now has the third-largest seating capacity in the NFL. The Packers now play home games in front of capacity crowds of 80,750. That's a long way from the 32,500 seating capacity that existed when Lambeau opened in 1957.
The mechanics behind the scene
During a recent visit, David gave us a tour of the mechanical systems at Lambeau. Leading the tour was Mike Moynihan, director of facility operations for the Packers. David had recently completed a mechanical upgrade, which included replacing the boilers that keep the legendary “Frozen Tundra” warm and green through the season.
David's crew installed 12 Fulton Vantage 4M BTU 95 percent, thermally efficient condensing gas-fired boilers with modulating burners. The boilers are common vented through a manifold system of stainless steel pipe and an Enervex inline variable speed exhaust system. This system maintains a constant negative pressure in the stainless boiler flue pipe, exhausting the flue products horizontally through a sidewall near a rear loading dock. Combustion air is ducted from the outside to each burner, eliminating the need for combustion air louvers.
Glycol is pumped through the piping and Uponor turf conditioning tubing network by Bell & Gossett (B&G) base mounted pumps. B&G expansion tanks, air separators and specialties round out the system. This bank of boilers is controlled through a custom DDC control system that allows David as well as Lambeau staff to monitor and control the system remotely. Before game day, or after a large snowfall, David will check in to ensure his system is operating properly and that heat is flowing. Temperature sensors installed below the turf field indicate soil temperature and adjust for varying conditions created by wind and shading.
Another mechanical room on the field's east side features four more 4M BTU Fulton condensing boilers, as well as the chiller plant. Banks of B&G pumps deliver hot and chilled water though the atrium addition, team offices and locker rooms. This system also supplies the snow and icemelt system in the new Oneida Nation Gate entrance and team space. The skill and workmanship in both mechanical rooms is evident. David and the Tweet/Garot team take pride in their work. The equipment is laid out neatly and orderly. All the piping is plumb and level. Pipes, valves and equipment are clearly labeled. There is plenty of room to properly service the pumps and equipment. This is a first-class professional installation.
Teamwork off the field
David has built his specialized reputation over the past 10 years he has worked at Tweet/Garot. However, he’s a long-time veteran of the PHC industry, initially working for his family plumbing business near Green Bay. Prior to joining Tweet/Garot, he was a manufacturer’s rep. While we enjoyed the time spent at Lambeau, David’s craftsmanship can also be found at the state’s burgeoning casino businesses and pulp-and-paper mills, to name just some of the industry that rely on his skill.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to build relationships up to where I don’t have to bid against anybody,” he added. “Or if I do, it’s usually one other contractor. The majority of the time when I’m looking at a project, I’m always trying to build a relationship to make sure that it doesn’t have to go out to the street for another bid.”
Of course, it’s not all up to David to get these jobs done. We met one of his colleagues, Kipp Sturdivant, energy services and business development at Tweet/Garot, during our visit.
“What makes us work really well is that when I look at a job, I’m always in search of doing something new, better, more efficient,” David said. “So I design with all that in mind. Kipp will take a look at the design, figure out labor and materials and ask if it really needs to be done that way.”
“There are ways to honor Dave’s design,” Kipp explained, “by combining his ideas with the reality of getting the job and still have the system run the way he wants it to.”
David and Kipp work as a team. David concentrates on getting the work, most often through existing relationships. He has the creativity and vision for the project and what he wants to accomplish. Kipp takes David’s concept and hammers out the nuts and bolts of how they are going to create the mechanical system.
Kipp oversees the mechanical drawings, labor estimates, materials and equipment pricing, as well as scheduling. Together, through teamwork, they rely on each other’s strengths to achieve goals nether would reach alone. David also differentiates himself and his company by following up on completed projects. It is not enough to install the mechanical system and start it up. David goes back on his completed projects to verify they achieved the desired results. If not, he and his service department will tweak, adjust and balance the system until it is working as specified. This attention to detail is noticed and appreciated by his clients, which is why he engenders loyalty from his customers and why he always has a steady backlog of new work.
As we wrapped up our visit, David also shared the story of a project that he did not get originally. It was a casino project and the system was not performing well. There were issues with fresh air, humidity, smoke and overall indoor air quality. David and his team redesigned the entire mechanical system. The firm replaced rooftop units and installed packaged ERV units and air filtering systems. A new control system rounded out the package. The revised system has performed flawlessly, leading to additional work with this client.