During the last week of August, cement trucks came in droves and crews poured and finished the foundation for Parkside Church’s new children’s wing. Once the concrete was set, crews were onsite at the start of September to begin setting the steel beams for the rest of the structure. Both projects mark major milestones for Parkside’s vision of building into the next generation and have been expertly managed by our representatives in the field, Ralph Repp and Robert (Bob) McCoy, co-owners of Choice Repps Construction Advisers.
Helping to execute Parkside’s construction plans, Choice Repps serves as Parkside’s advocates. “Ralph is primarily involved in field operations. I'm in charge of the project management side,” explains Project Manager Bob McCoy. “We work as construction managers like we're doing here where Parkside Church has hired us to bid out contracts and then manage the construction in the field. We also work in the capacity of what's called an ‘owner's representative’ which is when an owner has a general contractor working for them onsite, but they want their interests to be represented. Those are our two areas of expertise. We do not do any of the field construction itself. We are strictly managers of construction projects. We do the planning, scheduling, the hiring of contractors, the execution of the work, tracking it, and watching safety.”
Weather, suppliers, and contractors all create challenges for any construction project, but Bob is pleased with the overall progress. “Normally, we might have poured concrete after the steel went up, but when the steel delivery got delayed, we reacted with an alternate plan and said we'll get the slab on grade in the basement to keep progress up. Completing a foundation is a milestone, and we’re looking for every opportunity where we can make up some time,” he explains. “Our next significant barrier is winter. When does winter come and how bad will it be this year? We don't know, so we have to be able to react and shift gears on the fly to keep progress going. You plan ahead, but you have to be able to adapt your plan.”
“Pouring out the basement was a big thing,” notes Ralph. “There were probably guys out there that didn't really sleep [the night before] worried if everything was going to click in the morning. Is the pump going to work? Are the trucks going to come in like they're supposed to? But that worry comes with the job.”
This particular job entailed pouring more than ten trucks of concrete to establish the new foundation, and Ralph knows a thing or two about building a solid foundation. A veteran of the industry for 57 years, Ralph has become an expert in concrete construction. “My father was in [construction]. His father was in it, and my son's in it. All of my cousins, I have about 10, they've been in construction, and all to do with concrete.” Ralph remembers his early days working with concrete. “That's when we were on our knees all day long finishing. We might be on our knees 8 to 10 hours a day finishing the concrete,” Ralph explains. “It all comes by experience -- how you learn to tell what concrete is. Concrete doesn’t wait for you. You can't stop it. Even if it rains, you have to stay there.”
Bob and Ralph have worked on numerous projects in Cleveland and around the world. “I did the Great Lakes Science Center. I did the Marriott Hotel. Bob and I did Mall A Parking Garage. You'd be here for a month if I told you every job I worked on,” jokes Ralph. “But it's a very enjoyable job here because of the people at the church. The atmosphere here is terrific. It's not like something you have in downtown Cleveland, the hustle and bustle, the screaming and the yelling, it doesn't happen here.”
Bob adds, “Normally, when you're working in the private or public sector, people really don't care what your problems are. But here, if you as a person are having a problem or just an issue, people care. Whether it's Mike Bowerman or anyone else, they care about you personally. We're not used to that.”
Bob, originally from the tri-state New York area, now lives in Olmsted Falls and is raising a 13-year-old daughter. Ralph, a father of four and grandfather of 10, calls North Royalton home. Both men find little time to relax, but when they do, Bob enjoys working in his yard and doing carpentry projects; Ralph enjoys golfing, grilling, and making bread.
How You Can Pray
Please pray for the safety of all the construction crews that come onsite. “We joke,” laughs Bob, “but we’re also very serious when we tell the guys that our job is to do everything we can to make sure they go home at night so their wives can give them their honey-do lists.”
Please also pray for Ralph’s and Bob’s families and the specific challenges Bob faces with raising his teenage daughter.