2016 Contractor of the Year Awards

Tony Tran

Opening night of T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday, April 6, 2016, on the Las Vegas Strip.

"Construction forms the backbone of society. It builds the infrastructure that shapes our daily lives, including homes, offices, schools and roads. It’s also responsible for thousands of great paying professional jobs. In short, construction helps make Southern Nevada a great place to live. The Nevada Contractors Association is dedicated to ensuring the construction industry’s future prosperity. We represent nearly 500 general contractors, subcontractors, suppliers and affiliated firms. Together, there is nothing we can’t do.

"We look forward to further strengthening the construction industry, ensuring its long-term vitality and enduring legacy in Nevada. As such, we’re proud to honor the valley’s best general contractors, subcontractors and professionals, as well as the year’s most impressive and prestigious projects. The Contractor of the Year Awards are the industry’s highest and most coveted honors."

— Sean Stewart, Nevada Contractors Association chief executive officer

    • Contractor of the Year and Building Project of the Year

      Penta Building Group and T-Mobile Arena

      In just 16 years, the Penta Building Group has grown into a nationally recognized general contractor with more than 190 salaried employees. The contractor was founded on the premise that people come first. That remains at the core of the company’s culture today.

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      T-Mobile Arena

      “Only the judges can truly say what they saw in us,” said Chief Operating Officer John Cannito. “I can say the Penta Building Group has grown significantly while completing over $4 billion in construction services since its inception.”

      In the last year, Penta has completed and/or has underway some significant work in Las Vegas, such as its joint venture with the Hunt Construction Group on T-Mobile Arena. “But our growth is much more than just adding people,” said Cannito. “It also comes in the realms of safety, technology, education and philanthropy. I have to believe, though, that we are not singled out for just our work and corporate initiatives. I truly believe it is our people and relationship-focused culture that sets us apart and has us singled out for excellence.”

      The company works on projects ranging from hospitality and gaming to education and health care. Indeed, it has become well known for its approach to Las Vegas Strip projects.

      “Our effectiveness — whether on or off the Strip — is a result of our focus to resolve construction-related problems and issues before they become issues,” Cannito said. “This means we are always evolving and looking for innovative techniques and advancements.”

      Penta has also adopted a collaborative, goal-focused approach to scheduling work on construction projects. This involves working with team members to schedule the completion of specific project milestones according to a target completion date.

      Cannito said that there are many projects that he and his colleagues are proud to have worked on. “We completed T-Mobile Arena with Hunt earlier this year; are swiftly nearing the completion of the Lucky Dragon Hotel & Casino; renovated the first and second floors of the James E. Rogers Center for Administration and Justice (RAJ) at UNLV; and broke ground on Culinary Health’s Neighborhood Health Center.”

      The T-Mobile Arena, completed three months ahead of schedule, is a special addition to the area.

      Notable elements at the arena include innovations relating to cantilevered balconies as functional parts of design.

      The design also provided opportunities to excel in terms of craftsmanship. The most visible of those can be seen in the exterior skin as well as some of the high-end finishes.

      “Being part of the project that helped bring Vegas its first professional sports team is very special to us,” Cannito said. “The success of this project is result of the success of our joint venture with Hunt. Together, our teams’ innovative craftsmanship, thorough safety strategy and keen ability to overcome challenges that arise led to successfully bringing this new landmark to the region.”

      — Howard Riell

    • Civil Project of the Year

      Las Vegas Wash Sloan Channel (Las Vegas Paving Corp.)

      It is an understatement to say that Las Vegas Paving Corp. helped build Las Vegas.

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      A remodeled portion of the Las Vegas Wash Sloan Channel

      “I believe that Las Vegas Paving has been singled out for excellence for many reasons,” said LVPC Division Manager Ryan Mendenhall, “the first of which is our incredible safety record. Our No. 1 goal each and every day is to make sure that our workers and the traveling public are able to get to their destinations as safely as possible.”

      Safety and efficiency are part of the hallmarks of the work done on the Las Vegas Wash Sloan Channel. The $101 million reconstruction of the Las Vegas Wash and Flamingo Wash confluence between Sloan Channel to Nellis Boulevard was Clark County Public Work’s first Construction Manager at Risk project, according to Las Vegas Paving’s Jay Smith. It required coordination with Clark County Public Works, Clark County Regional Flood Control District, City of Las Vegas, Clark County Water Reclamation District, Nevada Energy, Southwest Gas and home and business owners.

      The work provided 2.5 miles of flood control improvements to both the Las Vegas and Flamingo washes in and around the old Desert Rose Golf Course (now The Club at Sunrise).

      Improvements included concrete and earthen channel improvements from the Sloan Channel confluence to Nellis Boulevard; bridge and roadway reconstruction on Sahara Avenue; sanitary sewer relocation and upgrades along the Flamingo Wash; and the redevelopment of the golf course.

      The company removed and reconstructed a larger Sahara Avenue bridge that now accommodates the largest of storm events.

      Notably, an application was sent to FEMA requesting a change to the “high risk” flood zone mapping, removing approximately 1,700 homes and businesses upon completion of the project.

      Said Mendenhall, “Whether it is a small asphalt patch or $250-million freeway extension, we are ready and prepared to accomplish the task at hand.” While management is aware that lane closures and detours are necessary to get a project completed, he continued, LVP “makes sure that those closures and detours are not only safe but also up for the least amount of time possible.”

      Las Vegas Paving has a proven history of bringing projects in under budget and on time. “We take great pride in that,” said Mendenhall. He also cited his team’s work ethic and professionalism. “LVPC has a longstanding history with every public works entity in completing their projects per the specifications and plans. We have a long history of zero claims with each of those public entities and strive to keep it that way. The company has been in operation in Las Vegas for over 58 years. We have worked hard to form relationships of trust with everyone we work with and plan to form additional relationships for the next 58 years.”

      The company’s goals for the year ahead include trying to continue to keep 1,200 Southern Nevadans at work.

      The Las Vegas construction market “is alive and well,” Mendenhall said. “The challenge now is to keep it going.”

      — Howard Riell

    • Safest Contractor

      DC Building Group

      Safety doesn’t happen by accident at DC Building Group.

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      Shawn Danoski and Bryce Clutts

      In fact, it’s an integral component of corporate culture, extolled in company leadership discussions, incorporated into every phase of every project, and practiced unfailingly on job sites and beyond.

      “The safety of our employees, clients and visitors is vitally important to us,” said Shawn Danoski, founder and CEO of DCBG. “Safety is second nature to us at DCBG and is applicable in every facet of our working day, from closing file drawers to working 40 stories up in the air. The safety measures we execute definitely save and protect lives. Look beyond safety-record data, and let’s examine how well people are doing — that’s a true testament of our efforts.”

      Founded in 2001 by Danoski — with fellow third-generation Nevadan Bryce Clutts coming on board as president in 2002 — DCBC is a full-service firm with more than 700 projects completed and a broad portfolio that includes office, medical, industrial, retail, restaurant, religious, nonprofit, aviation, education and public works.

      Since 2008, the company — which has a workforce of 30 — has racked up 16 Safe Site Awards from the Nevada Contractors Association, including a rare trifecta in 2013. DCBC was most recently honored with a Safe Site Award in April of 2016 for its work on Southern Hills Baptist Church and in November of 2015 for the Miracle Mile Shops façade remodel.

      “Both the recent Safe Site Awards have significance to our firm, as they provide recognition to our project team members and their dedication to ensuring the project is constructed safely, said Danoski, who holds a bachelor of science in construction management from UNLV (while Clutts holds a B.S. in business administration from UNLV). “The awards show that we care about not only our own employees, but all the employees and visitors to our sites.”

      Boasting a safety record that’s among the best in the industry, DC Building Group has two dedicated safety facilitators who regularly instruct workers on how to assess each other’s well-being in terms of hydration, noise, and exposure to dust, wind, sun, temperatures and other natural elements, and offer ongoing OSHA certification training to ensure project teams are knowledgeable and aware of current project conditions.

      The company follows a comprehensive safety program — developed in collaboration with NCA, AGC and OSHA — with JHA (job hazard analyses) conducted at each project site. Before any project commences, DCBC superintendents and program managers must meet with clientele, key stakeholders and subcontractors to design a special safety and sensitivity plan outlining topics such as where to install fencing, where to place warning notices and how to escort visitors on site. Projects involving construction where staff, students, consumers and/or tourists are active are given special consideration.

      Case in point: When DCBC was the general contractor for Opportunity Village’s special-needs campus, the team issued a non-negotiable stipulation that every weekly meeting would address what to do if an Opportunity Village client was found on site, and how to respond to questions from OV clients.

      “Wicked Slice Pizza at Fashion Show, currently near completion (also) presented unique safety and logistical challenges, as this facility is located within one of the supporting structures of the large cloud element of the mall, which made installation of large mechanical equipment challenging from a safety standpoint as well as ensuring no property damage occurred,” said Danoski, adding that JHA protocols allowed for necessary installations without injury or property damage. “Between our internal safety team and external safety consultants we have been able to keep safe sites a top priority. We want every person on every job to go home to their family, safely.”

      — Danielle Birkin

    • Subcontractor of the Year

      Tiberti Fence Company

      The yellow Tiberti Fence sign has been in the Las Vegas Valley for six decades, and executives plan for it to continue to be seen well into the future.

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      Jason Plichta

      Local industry has relied on Tiberti for the installation of everything from temporary rental fences and securing homeowners’ property to the installation of intricate security systems like that installed recently in the Federal Justice Tower.

      With an emphasis on homeland security and a heightened awareness at government facilities, the company has taken the lead on educating and working with design engineers on the suitable products needed to secure those installations.

      What makes Tiberti Fence stand out, in Jason Plichta’s judgment, is its team culture. “We provide exceptional results to our clients through value engineering with the highest level of professionalism,” said the director of operations. The focus is placed on the firm’s employees by providing “a safe, positive atmosphere and offering opportunities for advancement and growth.”

      Another facet that sets the company apart from its competitors is stability, Plichta explains. “For over 60 years Tiberti Fence has been the premier fencing company in Nevada, setting the standard for quality, safety and integrity. The commitment, experience and drive to succeed by all members of the team equals total team buy in.”

      Case in point: The Federal Justice Tower, located at 501 Las Vegas Blvd. South. The design-build facility was completed this year by SR Construction, and will be the home for more than 300 employees for the Immigration Customs Enforcement Agency and U.S. Attorney’s office. Tiberti Fence was contracted to supply various security aspects to this facility.

      “As the project progressed several different crews were utilized to complete specific types and areas of work,” Plichta said. “Tiberti Fence had to work closely with several trades in order to facilitate the implementation of the crash-rated systems throughout the duration of the project.”

      Various factors necessitated both re-design and re-engineering. Tiberti worked closely with the contractor and various manufacturers in order to bring the project in as planned. This included re-design of the crash-rated bollards and original fence from a K-4 rating to K-12 due to increased security concerns at government facilities.

      “In laymen’s terms, a K-4 system will stop a 15,000-pound vehicle traveling at 30 miles per hour, while a K-12 system will stop a 15,000-pound vehicle travelling at 50 miles per hour, said Plichta. “In today’s environment of potential threat, government facilities such as the Federal Justice Tower continue to look for ways to increase security while not obstructing day-to-day functionality.”

      For the year ahead, Plichta and his colleagues plan to maintain their industry-leading safety rating and deliver cost-effective projects while maintaining profitability. The challenge will continue to be creating “new and innovative means and methods that provide the necessary flexibility required to meet the demands of our clients’ schedule.”

      — Howard Riell

    • Supplier of the Year

      Ahern Rentals

      John Ahern started Ahern Rentals in 1953, eventually turning it over to his son Don. The firm has grown from the original rental yard with a handful of employees located on West Bonanza Road to a rental company with locations across the USA, and is part of a larger group of companies with a global reach.

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      Don Ahern and John Ahern

      In 1978, Don started the aerial work platform division of Ahern Rentals, which focused upward with high-reach lifting machines that yielded cost efficiency, higher productivity and increased safety. Through organic growth and a consistent “thinking outside the box” approach to business and development, Ahern Rentals has become the largest independent rental company in North America.

      In all, the Ahern family of companies incorporates 15 brands, which between them employ more than 2,400 people globally. With a focus on the construction sector, Ahern companies provide a comprehensive offering to its customer base, including equipment sales and rentals, spare parts, financing, IT & security systems, and transportation services.

      Ahern Rentals inventories more than 46,000 pieces of rental equipment in its fleet.

      “We are also a high-reach specialist with 27,000-plus pieces of high-reach equipment in the fleet,” said Ahern.

      To support its philosophy of providing the best equipment and service at an affordable price, and to better serve the construction industry, Don Ahern created Xtreme Manufacturing to engineer and build what it calls the toughest boom forklift in the world.

      Together with the acquisition of Snorkel aerial work platforms a few years ago, the Ahern family of companies has become a major player in high reach equipment manufacturing and rental worldwide.

      Giving Back

      With its dedication to leadership in community affairs, Ahern Rentals and its family of companies donate substantial financial support and more to charities and organizations that benefit underserved, physically impaired, and others in Southern Nevada.

      It was founder John Ahern who set the philosophical tone, noting, “If you’re a member of the community doing business in that community, you have a responsibility as a business to bring value to all who live in that community. You must be respectful, treat all fairly and courteously, be charitable and help those in need. Only then do you earn the right to be successful in that community.”

      The company has a charitable foundation that supports employees’ special needs children and older dependents with long-term medical issues.

      The company also has a Make a Difference program that encourages employees to get involved with local charities.

      Ahern is also a contributor to Remote Area Medical, a volunteer nonprofit medical relief corps that provides free health, dental, and eye care and technical and education assistance to people around the world.

      — Howard Riell

    • Affiliate of the Year

      Region 9 Safety Compliance

      Troy McKnight founded Las Vegas-based Region 9 Safety Compliance — a construction-safety consulting company — in 2008, having worked previously as a safety inspector since 2003, during which time he developed a core value of building long-term relationships in the industry while becoming an expert on the OSHA 1926 Construction Standard and accumulating years of hands-on field experience.

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      Troy McNight

      “Then the economy crashed and I was laid off, but ACG offered me the safety portion of the business to run as my own company, with the promise to use my services for all of their members, and I’ve looked for other clients as well,” said McKnight, recounting the genesis of Region 9 Safety Compliance, which is dedicated to helping members achieve the safest possible workplace.

      To that end, he advocates a Zero Tolerance Safety Policy, whereby even the slightest safety infraction is unacceptable. Sometimes workers might skirt safety protocols and violate what they consider small safety hazards to complete a task quicker, but shortcuts lead to accidents, said McKnight, who is also a proponent of the trickle-down theory of safety, upholding the belief that sound safety practices must originate at the uppermost levels of management.

      “Our goal is to instill into every company that safety is the highest priority and it begins with top management making safety first,” said McKnight, who has some 20 years of experience in the business of construction safety. “Our dedication to implementing a proactive approach to safety is totally dependent on top management supporting their safety programs, because top management controls all the moving parts that create our industry.”

      Region 9 Safety Compliance also offers other services including a contractor-specific safety manual, tool box talks manual, jobsite safety hazard analysis, site-specific safety hazard analysis, customized safety training, forklift training, fall-protection training, OSHA representation and more.

      McKnight also conducts OSHA informal hearings and has an excellent track level of reversals.

      “Because we walk our sites regularly and enforce our safety programs, eight out of 10 of our citations are turned around at the OSHA informal hearing level of the process,” McKnight said, adding that this can present some unusual challenges. “Because of our record at turning OSHA citations around, we get companies that don’t follow their safety programs and don’t use us to walk their sites, then expect me to go in there and work magic when they get a violation. But it’s a team effort that makes us successful at the OSHA office.”

      In addition to conducting informal OSHA hearings, McKnight also offers the 10-hour mandatory OSHA safety-training course for working hands as well as the more in-depth 30 hours of required training for supervisors and superintendents, in addition to auditing construction sites to ensure they are in compliance with OSHA standards, providing written reports and recommendations.

      The company has provided safety services to a variety of projects of Nevada Contractors Association members, including T-Mobile Arena, The Lucky Dragon, SLS Las Vegas, Wynn Las Vegas, Cracker Barrel, Burger King, Maggiono’s Little Italy, Southern Hills Baptist Church, Silverton Casino, Los Prados Country Club, Centennial Hills Hospital and Bally’s Grand Bazaar.

      “We want our members to know that we are partners with them in managing their safety programs,” said McKnight, adding that safety is a way of life for him on the job site, with no exceptions. “I write up every violation, because I don’t want one person to get injured or die because I didn’t do my job. As a safety inspector, you can’t see the accidents that you prevent, but if you don’t take action you may see somebody dead.”

      — Danielle Birkin

    • JA Tiberti Spirit Award

      Gus Nunez, administrator of the Public Works Division's Dept. of Administration

      Gustavo Nunez has been entrenched in the construction industry for some 30 years, both as an engineer/contractor, and most recently as a public official, having worked for Nevada State Public Works Division since 2001, serving since 2011 as administrator of the Department of Administration.

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      Gus Nunez

      A native of Cuba who moved to Nevada when he was 13 years old, Nunez holds a degree in civil engineering from UNR, and previously worked in various engineering capacities for SEA Engineers, Reno, Clark County Public Works and the Nevada Department of Transportation. Nunez also previously owned and managed Transwestern Engineering and C&I Construction prior to being recruited to State Public Works as a deputy manager of the Department of Administration.

      Nunez is an effective communicator — delivering comprehensive presentations to planning commissions, county commissions and State Legislature — and is also a proven problem-solver whose recent accomplishments include the implementation of a Computerized Maintenance Management System for about 80 state buildings.

      “The CMMS allows us to set up a preventive maintenance program by doing inventory control, tracking utilities, and doing cost-accounting for every building and every piece of equipment we have in the building, from a maintenance perspective,” Nunez said, adding that the division began implementing the system about a year and a half ago. “This includes everything from paint and utilities to all the electrical and mechanical systems, and the plumbing, the janitorial, the security, and any other requests from the occupant.”

      Nunez also developed a five-year Capital Improvement Program for deferred maintenance needs of Marlette Hobart Water System, which provides water to Virginia City and was built in the 1880s — “It was in need of upgrading,” he said — and also coordinated the successful merger of Public Works and Buildings and Grounds Division in the 2011 session.

      Under Nunez’ direction, the department is currently overseeing projects from Carson City to Elko, with two major undertakings in Southern Nevada, including the new nearly $23 million DMV office on East Sahara Avenue.

      “The 38,000-square-foot facility will replace the existing facility with much more capacity, more customer-service windows (40 up from the current 34), outdoor kiosks for after-hours transactions, a DMV Emissions Lab and a motorcycle test course,” Nunez said. “The new facility is currently under construction, and should be up and running in the first quarter of 2017.”

      Another major project includes Hospitality Hall at UNLV, which broke ground in spring of 2016 and is expected to be open and holding classes in 2018. The nearly $50 million, 93,000-square-foot structure will house the Harrah Hotel College, and will allow UNLV to better serve and accommodate its rapidly growing undergraduate and graduate student body for decades to come.

      — Danielle Birkin