Designing and Building with the End in Mind

icon Mechanical

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icon Mechanical continues to build upon its well-honed strengths as a full-service mechanical contractor that has been in business for over two decades in the Granite City and St. Louis region. Unlike much of its competition, icon offers more than highly qualified and experienced customer service—their team joins with clients to provide unique and successful mechanical engineering, contracting and construction solutions.
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“We see projects differently. We begin with the end in mind,” says icon’s Business Development & Diversity Coordinator, Steve Faust. “When you design and build your own projects, there are many issues you take into consideration. Not only coming up with the best design but also understanding how it will be operated and maintained.”

icon Mechanical works closely with customers to strategize the most cost-effective ways to build a project and takes advantage of opportunities to positively affect other trades. “By designing collaboratively with a team, you see first-hand how every change impacts the team,” he says. “In many cases, this can result in significant savings by planning and understanding the entire project.”

Today, icon has grown to employ over eighty professional staff and between 125 and 250 field operations members including pipe fitters, boilermakers, sheet metal workers, and millwrights. Tim Schaeffer, Partner and Senior Vice President, heads the national design-build group and oversees a team of engineers and project managers who handle all commercial projects outside of the St. Louis region. After twenty-two years in business, icon Mechanical maintains its focus and single goal: to provide unmatched customer service.

icon is more than just another mechanical contracting company. The team at icon has the knowledge, experience, and vision to create the appropriate solution for every client while respecting time and budget delivery goals. It is precisely this unmatched respect for customers and a high degree of professionalism that earns the company new and repeat work from such venerated companies and institutions as biopharmaceutical company Pfizer, American multinational agricultural biotechnology company Monsanto, health benefits management business Express Scripts, Washington University, and many others.

icon Mechanical boasts over 122,000 square feet of engineering and fabrication space with five overhead cranes in its pipe fabrication facilities, and the company recently installed new equipment for ductwork fabrication. “We are continually improving our in-house technology with design and estimating software and in the field with improved GPS and total station [surveying] equipment,” states Faust.

Safety is a top priority on each project. Guidelines are designed and implemented to optimize safe work practices on job sites for the benefit of employees, clients, and contractors. Staff work together to uphold safe work practices, such as identifying and reporting potential hazards, which are then closely monitored.

“Our safety program is the backbone of our operations,” says Faust. The company has received recognition for its safety guidelines and initiatives. “Without a strong safety culture, we are not able to deliver our projects and be competitive in our industry. Our safety team sets the tone for every project whether it is a commercial building, research laboratory or large-scale industrial project, the message is the same.”

icon Mechanical works in the chemical, petroleum, education, government, healthcare, industrial, laboratory, manufacturing, office, warehouse, and utility sectors.

One recently completed project is Zurich’s North America Headquarters facility, located in Schaumburg, Illinois. The 783,800 square foot facility is the largest LEED Platinum certified building in North America and reinforces Zurich’s commitment to environmental stewardship. icon Mechanical meticulously designed and integrated a unique world-class mechanical system to maximize the architectural integrity and functionality of this facility. This project has been selected as a finalist for a 2017 Keystone Award, through the AGC of Missouri.

“We are proud of every project we undertake, but receiving an award like a Keystone Award from the Associated General Contractors of Missouri – our peers within the industry – means a lot to us,” comments Faust. “Not every project is pretty, and some of the less notable projects are the ones that really require a team of experienced and knowledgeable project managers, engineers, and field operations.”

icon’s latest industrial project was to support the Nissan production facility in Tennessee. The design was started in June of 2016, with fabrication commencing in July, installation in September and completion on April 1, 2017. “The project consists of over 40,000 feet of pipe, much of it built into more than 50 pipe racks with multiple utility systems on each rack,” says Faust. “The utility plant boasts two 1,500-ton chillers with chilled water, condenser water, and process water pump skids fabricated in our fabrication shop and transported to the site. The entire project has focused on modularization for cost-effective and safe installation.”

Currently in the prefabrication stage, icon’s latest project is taking place at Pfizer’s Bioplace Development Lab in Chesterfield, Missouri. The company is responsible for the mechanical design and construction on the commercial side of the project, and design assist engineering on the process side. Many of the large mechanical components have already been prefabricated at icon’s shops, even though ground broke on the site just over a month ago.

icon Mechanical believes the design-build method is integral to the success of its projects and is a specialty which will continue to grow in the industry as the preferred construction delivery model. Owners, explains Faust, are no longer willing to wait months to have drawings completed, only to have costs come in over budget, and then have to attempt to value engineer the project. While costs and scheduling are extremely important to every project, how you manage an ever-changing workforce will be the key to the future success of any construction business.

“Through the design-build process, we are able to model every project and plan with all the trades, so we can prefabricate many of the larger components of a project,” he says. “Having an innovative engineering group and facilities capable of large-scale prefabrication, we are able to reduce our man-hours on site, ultimately providing a safer working environment and the highest-quality product for our field operations.”

After twenty-two years in business, icon Mechanical is stronger than ever, which is largely the result of having the right people in the right positions. “Our ability to continue to grow will only be limited by our ability to attract the best people,” says Faust. “Our motto is: ‘Creative people with strong passion driving exceptional results.’ We believe in what we do and why we do it – and we love doing it.”

Industry Changemakers

The construction industry has historically been slow to evolve, drawn to tradition over technology. As the industry is in a state of rapid innovation and advancement, organizations like the Toronto Construction Association (TCA) are working tirelessly to build strong member businesses that won’t fall behind.

June 16, 2019, 1:50 PM EDT