While some subscribe to the idea that all publicity is good publicity, the people of Kraus-Anderson Construction Company believe that if our name is in the paper it ought to be surrounded by facts and accurate depictions of what’s happening and why. Some recent coverage about the construction of two St. Louis County schools seems to have fallen short of that standard, and I write on behalf of my colleagues and myself to set the record straight.
First, though, a little background. It has been our great privilege to work in northern Minnesota for more than 40 years and as part of hundreds of projects during that period, a record that we believe reflects both the quality of our work and the character of our people.
With our Duluth office celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and an office in Bemidji for over 25 years, we have extensive experience in all manner of projects and in working with school districts, municipalities, businesses and individuals. Our roles in those engagements have ranged from general construction to acting as a construction management adviser to both project owners and contractors.
Our record speaks for itself, but we are grateful, too for the many positive comments we’ve received over the years, such as when Bob Anderson, the longtime mayor of International Falls, noted in a recent interview, “The word was out in the northland of the projects KA brought in on time and on budget.”
It was in the role of providing construction management advice that we were retained in 2010 by the St. Louis County School District’s program manager, Johnson Controls International, to assist with the North Woods and South Ridge school projects. As such, we did not perform any of the construction work associated with those schools, nor did we hire any of the many trade contractors who worked on the schools. Instead, we were retained to provide an independent, experienced construction management perspective for Johnson Controls, the district and its contractors. We’re proud of the work we did in helping take these schools from ideas to reality.
In the last several years, the district has raised legitimate concerns about deficiencies in the two schools that are the subject of ongoing review and examination. It remains undetermined as to the cause of these problems, but — contrary to the impression created by recent coverage — Kraus-Anderson is not, in fact, the focus of that review. As noted above, we did not perform any of the work that may be at issue, nor did we hire the trade contractors who did the construction work.
To the contrary, we have been assisting the district in an advisory role as it works to determine the cause of the construction deficiencies and where responsibility for those issues rests. In this effort, we are working directly with Superintendent Reggie Engebritson and her leadership team and we will continue to do so as the district works through this unfortunate situation. Based on recent conversations, we believe Superintendent Engebritson and her team values our support and our continued assistance.
As with our original engagement, we are proud to be filling this important role in order to help figure out what’s happened at North Woods and South Ridge, why it happened, and who bears the responsibility for the repairs. We agree with the district that this work is important so that every student can learn in a safe, well-built and well-maintained facility, and so that the residents of St. Louis County can be assured their tax dollars are being wisely and appropriately invested. In a small — but important — way, we hope this work will affirm the laudable Minnesota tradition of robust support for public education.
Rich Jacobson is the Executive Vice President of Kraus-Anderson Construction Company