lumber procurement

Trust and proactivity are key to managing lumber procurement

Written by Jason Vaughn, Director of Preconstruction

Every industry is feeling the upheaval caused by the relentless challenges of 2020. Whether it was pivoting to a fully remote workplace, changing your business model completely, or taking on teaching a virtual kindergarten class, it’s been a roller coaster of a year. In construction, material pricing has always been a hot button topic, but it reached new heights in the last 12 months. Specifically, the cost of lumber has taken a complete diversion from the typical patterns we’ve seen in the past. Decades of data have shown typical peak purchasing windows for lumber, but 2020 turned that data on its head.

Unique variables at work
When we look at the volatility of lumber pricing last year, it’s a perfect storm of many variables culminating at once: decreased supply, increased demand, and mass economic uncertainty. We’ve seen one or two of these variables in the past, but never have we experienced such an unprecedented spike in prices due to the outsized demand. One of the earliest factors we experienced last year was foreign borders closing due to the pandemic, putting an abrupt halt on lumber importing. As the pandemic continued to spread, production mills began to temporarily close or operate at reduced capacity due to outbreaks, preventive measures, or mandates from local governments.

With companies transitioning to remote environments, people began sprawling from urban areas in record numbers, increasing single-family home production, and at the same time, big box stores increased purchasing due to the DIY craze eating up supply.  The addition of a record-breaking number of wildfires last year was just the icing on the already dismal cake to the heightened question marks for the lumber industry.

Risk tolerance drives strategy
As a contractor, we have to play an active and informed role in analyzing supply and demand.  Our preconstruction department tracks commodities closely to enable us to make recommendations that support each clients’ unique goals based on where pricing is headed in the coming months and years. It takes this dedicated team to build estimates tailored for each project.

Determining the risk tolerance for all parties is a key part of our lumber procurement strategy. Understanding the contract structure, who assumes the risk, and what benefits there may be to each party are all considered and actively discussed, especially as we head into final pricing efforts.  We have to know when it’s preferable to turnkey material or purchase direct and, ultimately, our clients benefit from the strong partnerships we’ve built with suppliers and subcontractors that enable us to make more informed decisions. As project budgets get tighter due to stabilizing rents, early alignment on strategy is crucial to finding success for all parties.

Above all else, having key partners and a strategy is paramount. Building strong relationships with longstanding and trusted suppliers and subcontractors is what makes a project viable in today’s volatile landscape. Owners and developers can mitigate their risk and continue building projects. In fact, those that can maximize on the current market will thrive even as this pandemic continues.

Blue Federal Credit Union

Construction Completes on Blue Federal Credit Union World Headquarters

The historic Cole Shopping Center in Cheyenne, Wyo., has found new life. Brinkman Construction and Blue Federal Credit Union celebrated the official opening of the credit union’s new world headquarters campus and Blue Diamond Center branch in the former shopping center location last month.

“We truly feel our vision was executed,” said Stephanie Teubner, President & CEO of Blue Federal Credit Union. “The entire design-build team took a very hands-on and proactive approach to managing the process and ensuring the quality of the end product.”

The eight-acre project, which broke ground in explosive fashion in May 2019, includes three buildings with Class A office, retail and commercial suites located at the busy intersection of Pershing and Converse Avenues. The space in between the buildings is now a public plaza with patio seating and a half-mile walking path to create a true community space.

The credit union headquarters is a 76,000-square-foot steel building and includes three floors with workspace for 200 employees, training areas, fitness and locker rooms, a dining hall, and rooftop amenity space. The two-story community wing includes a large operable sliding door for events that leads to the main plaza. The onsite bar and large seating room includes acoustical felt baffle ceiling for employee events, as well as being available for the public to rent for corporate or private events.

The second level of the community wing includes a wet bar and a training room with two operable wall partitions allowing the space to be split into three separate rooms. The community wing also includes a large gallery space for events complete with a custom wall art feature, employee café and large catering kitchen.

The three-story office wing functions as Blue's World Headquarters with the main lobby showcasing a large fireplace with custom mantel made from the original Safeway structure that once stood onsite. The two-story curtain wall at the central stairs is the focal point of the entryway.

Another feature of the office wing is the Executive Board Room, complete with a custom-made table, also built from the original Safeway structure, and an outdoor balcony with a grill and firepit.

The new Blue Diamond Center branch anchors the west building and will be one of 18 branches across Colorado and Wyoming serving nearly 100,000 members.  There are several retail spaces available within and neighboring this space that are ready for interior finishes as tenants are secured.

The project was a design-build collaboration between general contractor Brinkman Construction, design firm Open Studio Architecture and Blue Federal Credit Union. The development was part of a larger vision to strengthen the Cheyenne community by adding communal outdoor space. This space will ultimately provide a setting for summer musical performances and outdoor events.  Despite building through two Wyoming winters, the project remained on schedule and on budget.

“We are very happy with the entire process of building Blue’s new world headquarters,” said Jim Ciesla, President & CEO of Brinkman Construction. “From the onset, the design-build team was extremely strong. Blue’s commitment to their customers and their community is remarkable. This campus will continue building on Blue’s legacy and enhancing their local community.”

Dave Maddocks

Brinkman Construction Director of Finance & Accounting Named to 40 Under Forty List

Dave-MaddocksBelow article pulled from BizWest's 40 Under Forty Special Edition

“So many of the skills I’ve relied on in my career in accounting and finance were actually developed through my experience playing in bands and recording,” said Dave Maddocks. “Music taught me to collaborate, effectively communicate and stay true to myself.”

The past six years have been a song of success and growth for Maddocks at Brinkman Construction. He joined the company with three staff members reporting to him and now oversees three high-performing departments. He leads the financial vision and strategy for the nearly $200 million company, as well as initiatives that benefit its employees including transition to 100% employee ownership and leading the strategy for Brinkman’s retirement plan and profit-sharing benefits.

A Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Northern Colorado’s Monfort School of Business with bachelor’s and master’s degrees, Maddocks is an active member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Construction Financial Management Association. He graduated from the Leadership Fort Collins Class of 2020.

As the leader of Brinkman’s payroll and benefits, IT and accounting teams, Maddocks has pressed leadership to make strategic changes focused on enhancing company culture and taken an active role in removing the boundaries between the operations and finance teams.

He and his wife support several organizations that address human trafficking, access to clean water and food insecurity, both in Fort Collins and abroad. He has volunteered with many local nonprofits including Volunteers of America, United Way of Larimer County and Food Bank of Larimer County.

St. Anthony Medical Office

New Medical Office Building at St. Anthony North Breaks Ground, Plans to Open Fall 2021

The official groundbreaking of the new 14190 Orchard Parkway Medical Office Building at St. Anthony North in Westminster was recently celebrated by team members and dignitaries. Representatives from each of the project partners spoke about the importance of the longstanding partnerships that led to this milestone.

“Our partnership is strong,” remarked City of Westminster Mayor Herb Atchison. “There’s no one better positioned to provide the healthcare that we need for our community than Centura Health.”

Developed by Development Solutions Group, the building is located directly adjacent to the existing St. Anthony North Health Campus along Orchard Parkway, operated by Centura Health. The newest addition to the medical campus plans to open late next fall. Colorado Sleep Institute, Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center and an additional surgery center have committed to joining the campus as flagship tenants. There is 15,000 square feet still available for lease.

Several years in the making, the building will include a two-story, 75,000-square-foot medical office building including an ambulatory surgery and recovery center, clinical space, diagnostic imaging, physical therapy, urgent care and more than 300 new surface parking stalls.

“We’re grateful for all the leaders that continue to be strong partners for us in our community.” Constance Schmidt, CEO of St. Anthony North Health Campus stated. “This addition is going to promote health and wellness in our community and well beyond.”

Brinkman Construction is the general contractor and Boulder Associates designed the project.

Construction of the exterior building and tenant build-outs are expected to complete late 2021. Interested tenants can contact Development Solutions Group at 303.893.0250 for more information.


Target to Anchor Exchange at Boulevard One Development

The developers behind the Exchange at Boulevard One complex — Kelmore Development and Confluent Development — announced on Tuesday that Target has leased 30,000 square feet of space at 93 N. Quebec St. as the new anchor tenant for the retail project.

Read the full article at BusinessDen>>


Blue Diamond Center Project on Schedule, Under Budget

The Blue Diamond Center is three buildings, including the Blue Federal Credit Union World Headquarters building and two retail buildings, all being built by Brinkman Construction. About 150 employees will be located on two of the floors in the 75,000-sq. ft. corporate headquarters building.

Read the full article at The Cheyenne Post>>

Construction Complete on Longmont’s First Large-Scale Urban Apartment Community

Mass Equities, Inc. (MEQ), a private equity real estate investment firm, together with Brinkman Construction announced the completion of the first phase of South Main Station, including four of the five-building, multi-family and mixed-use project at the intersection of First Avenue and Main Street in Longmont. Part of the larger redevelopment of the 26-acre former Butterball Turkey plant, the $70-million-dollar mixed-use development is the first large-scale urban apartment community in downtown Longmont.

Developed by Mass Equities and designed by Shears Adkins Rockmore, South Main Station is comprised of 253 apartment units and 10,000 square feet of ground-floor space including residential and commercial units fronting Main Street. Of the five buildings, two include street-level retail with residential units above and one building is a traditional walk-up with garden-level units. The phase 1 unit mix is 35 studio, 161 one-bedroom, and 57 two-bedroom units averaging 860 square feet.

“Mass Equities is excited that this first phase of South Main Station Apartments is completed, providing for the growing demand for new apartments and retail amenities in downtown Longmont,” said Brian Bair, MEQ principal and senior VP, Acquisitions & Development for Colorado. “Brinkman was the perfect strategic partner to help bring our vision of a community with an updated Urban feel that still reflects Longmont’s historic charm.
Tenant move-ins began in early January with the first building gaining occupancy at the end of last year, and rapidly continue as additional buildings have become available. South Main Station’s design is a nod to the industrial roots of the site with steel accents and masonry facades. Unit interiors come with quartz countertops, stainless steel appliances and sliding barn doors. Residents have a mix of covered, private and surface parking.

South Main Station offers direct access to downtown shops and amenities, including Dickens Farm Park on the St. Vrain River with its fishing ponds, great meadows, biking, kayaking, and running trails. Of the many on-site amenities offered in this unique community, the rooftop lounge with fire pits, a bar and expansive communing areas is a focal point. The apartments also include access to an onsite gym, yoga room and community room with kitchen, as well as a swimming pool, hot tub, fire pits, pet spa, mail center and storage. One of the most unique amenities is a DIY Garage with a self-service bike and ski workshop open to all tenants.
“This has been a flagship project for us,” noted Jim Ciesla, President and CEO of Brinkman Construction. “We’re proud to be partnering with Mass Equities to bring something unique to the Longmont market.”


Amid COVID-19, Exchange at Boulevard One Celebrates Topping Out Milestone Virtually

Project partners Confluent Development and Kelmore Development held their first virtual topping out event amidst the landscape of new COVID-19 protocols, celebrating the construction milestone for the commercial mixed-use redevelopment project in the heart of Denver’s revitalized Lowry neighborhood: Exchange at Boulevard One. Even amid COVID-19, the project’s initial phase – comprising 135,000 square feet – is anticipated for an on-schedule completion in spring 2021.

Previously known as The Boulevard at Lowry, the 200,000-square-foot project is the only commercial development at Boulevard One, the 70-acre parcel that represents the newest neighborhood to be developed at Lowry. The mixed-use project broke ground in April 2019.

“In the COVID-19 era, crews are more challenged than ever to maintain momentum while operating under strict and constantly changing safety guidelines. Successfully delivering a project that is mid-construction during a pandemic is the ultimate test of our project team’s ingenuity, resilience and fortitude,” said Marshall Burton, president and CEO of Confluent Development. “I couldn’t be prouder of all parties involved for moving this project forward expeditiously and safely, to achieve this milestone.”

Keeping with tradition, the project’s final beam was painted white and included signatures of project team members. A painting of the Colorado state flag was featured as an additional touch and an American flag flew behind the beam as it was raised. The new event form included limited guests onsite and the majority of team members and project consultants tuning in via live Zoom feed. The fewer than 10 people that attended the event in-person went through a COVID-19 health screening prior to entering the jobsite and were required to wear face coverings and maintain social distancing measures throughout the entire ceremony.

Jim Ciesla, president and CEO of Brinkman Construction, shared his remarks on the strong collaboration required to face the new challenges brought on by the current pandemic, “Every project has its unique challenges. This one is no different, but add a pandemic into the middle of it, and we’re now facing more adversity than we could have imagined. What has been amazing, is seeing how everyone is showing up for the project and for each other. It has been a true collaboration to work together to overcome what we’re dealing with today.”

Denver-based Confluent Development and Kelmore Development serve as the project co-owners and co-developers. Brinkman Construction is the general contractor and Open Studio Architecture designed the project. The project represents a collaborative vision that includes support from the Denver Urban Renewal Authority and Lowry Redevelopment Authority.

“Building healthy communities is more important than ever following the impacts of the global pandemic. Our team has been committed to creating a destination where residents and employees feel safe and connected to their community, and Exchange at Boulevard One will do just that,” said Bob Koontz, principal of Kelmore Development. “With a refreshed name speaking to the core values of the project, Exchange at Boulevard One will deliver value, connectedness, convenience and accessibility for the area’s residents, families and professionals alike.”

Located at Lowry Boulevard and Quebec Street, the infill development will feature about 500 parking spaces, including a 231-stall underground parking garage, plus multimodal accessibility with a mobility hub for bicycle and scooter parking, pedestrian connectivity, electric car charging stations and nearby transit lines with connections to light rail. The commercial mixed-use redevelopment is situated on more than five acres. In reverence to Lowry’s sustainable development practices, the project plans to obtain LEED® certification.

Driven to Build Women in Construction

The first week in March is National Women in Construction Week sponsored by the National Association of Women in Construction. In addition to providing an opportunity to celebrate the powerful impact our women leaders have in our industry, National Women in Construction Week also helps to raise awareness of the many career opportunities available to women in this field.

At Brinkman Construction, women are leading our organization from every department, from accounting to field operations. Here's what they had to say about their roles and career paths in this industry:

Barb New - Women in Construction

What do you love about your job?

Barb (Senior Project Coordinator): "I love working in the construction industry. It is challenging at times, but also very interesting and fun! I truly learn something new every day. The relationships are what I value the most - we are one big family and we all find a way to stay connected and work together for the betterment of the company."


What inspired you to pursue a career in the construction industry?

Paulina (Field Coordinator): "I wasn’t looking for a career in the construction industry, the construction industry found me. What I love about the field is that it is ever-changing and dynamic. I am constantly learning and am very lucky to have landed at Brinkman Construction."


Jessi-Goodwin-Women in Construction

What do you love about working in construction?

Jessie (Project Manager): "I have always loved the creative process of building and problem-solving. Creating something where nothing was before you started is so much fun! Additionally, there's nothing better than driving by a project that you have helped build and the satisfaction that comes from that experience."


Aubry Teeters - Women in Construction

How did you get into the construction industry?

Aubry (Project Executive): "I started pursuing engineering, but was drawn to how tangible and dynamic the construction industry is. During the course of a project, we interact and coordinate so many different disciplines between development, architecture, engineering, and the trades. At the end of each project, we have the opportunity to witness how the work we have accomplished will impact a neighborhood."


Gail Wilcox - Women in Construction

How did you get into the construction industry?

Gail (Senior Project Accountant): "My aunt worked for a larger contractor for 30+ years and helped get me my first job as a runner for a smaller contractor in Fort Collins. From there, I moved to accounting at the same company and stayed for 16 years. I have now been with Brinkman Construction for more than 7 years and I love being a part of the project, from loading the budgets to seeing the finished product!


Alaina-Squires---Women in Construction

What inspired you to pursue a career in the construction industry?

Alaina (Operations Support Manager): "I kind of fell into the construction industry. My degree is in Restaurant and Resort Management, but I quickly discovered that I didn’t want to stay in the hospitality industry. So, I took a job working in the accounting dept for a large general contractor in Albuquerque and have been in the construction industry ever since!"

Shifting The Traditional Budgeting Process in Multi-Family Construction

In today’s competitive multi-family market, speed to market is critical for developers and contractors. A seemingly small delay can ultimately push a project’s timeline out of the desired leasing season and send everyone back to the drawing board. One of the biggest factors that can derail a project is the necessity for redesign and even though this has tremendous negative impact on the success of a project, we still see this happening time and time again.

The traditional budgeting process is largely reactionary. As a general contractor, more often than not, we’re approached to provide budgeting when design has already progressed. Although this is the norm, we encourage a different approach that doesn’t get the cart too far in front of the horse. Developing budgets earlier on the front end allows owners to communicate their non-negotiables and programming requirements, while getting the most value out of their partnership with the general contractor by drawing on their expertise of the market trends and costs.

Make sure you’re comparing apples to apples
It’s not uncommon for developers to generate the pro forma for a new multi-family community utilizing data that was compiled from a similar project. This typically includes applying past metrics to a new geographic area, different construction type, decreased density, or completely different market audience. In these cases, design decisions have already been made before we’re engaged to provide budgeting services and significant modifications must be made to the program for the project to be financially viable. We’ve partnered with clients to change the size of the units, add density, and modify large amenity programming components in order to bring a project into the right ballpark. These changes can have a significant impact on the overall vision for the project and returns for investors.

pool-multi-family-construction-timnath-trail-riverbendDive into the details early
Although it may sound counter-intuitive, it’s crucial to delve into the details before they’ve even been pulled into the design. In fact, our preferred method is to engage with clients before they even start the design process to talk through the vision for the project. Through a collaborative working session, we aim to understand a client’s expectations, goals, and must-haves. We analyze their target market, target rent rates, and many other data points so we can help them make proactive design decisions. Knowing the owner’s expectations on quality, how they envision the façade, what the site conditions are, what construction type they’re targeting, and even down to the details of their desired window and interior finishes, helps us hone in on a budget they can trust.

We’ve found that this mitigates the likelihood of losing crucial time going back to the drawing board. For some developers, big design changes trigger changes to the pro forma that then need to be approved by an investment committee before moving forward. The timeline grows exponentially with every decision. This can be minimized if the design is based on the budget that was developed out of the original vision alignment conversation. This also allows the developer to take advantage of and apply the contractor’s knowledge throughout the entire process.

Contractors inform, not control, design
Every project is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all estimate. Our goal is to understand the differentiators of each project so we can complete an intensive budgeting effort that owners can use to inform their design. This process shouldn’t be misunderstood as the contractor controlling the design – it’s quite the opposite. This process allows the owner to collaborate with the architect to achieve their desired design with the most accurate budgeting data available. In contrast, waiting to engage contractors until after drawings have reached a progressed state often results in significant value engineering efforts that can negatively impact the overall vision of the project.

Safety - We Own It In The Colorado Commercial Construction World

At Brinkman Construction, We Own Safety. For us, safety is personal. It’s about our workers and their families and making sure everyone that steps foot on our jobsites can return home safely at the end of the day. As a 100% employee owned company, every member of our organization is empowered to own safety and make it their ultimate priority.

At Brinkman Construction, we have an award-winning zero-incident safety culture. In addition to project-specific awards such as the Eating Recovery Center Merit Award for Safety, we’ve also achieved the OSHA/AGC CHASE Blue designation, demonstrating the strength of our safety program and history.

Our safety program is extensive and reaches every area of our company through quarterly, monthly, weekly, and daily touch points. Our quarterly Safest Project recognition program awards the jobsite with the highest scoring safety assessments from the previous quarter.

We are committed to training our employees through monthly safety trainings, OSHA 10-HR and 30-HR courses, First Aid/CPR Training, and a variety of task-specific training. We also train our subcontractors through our mandatory jobsite Safety Orientation Program and weekly Safety Meetings during which site and project-specific hazards are always a topic of discussion.

In addition to an ongoing focus on training, we’ve also implemented the practice of completing Job Hazard Analyses (JHAs) for every task performed on our jobsites. These JHAs trigger employees and subcontractors to put precautions in place to prevent safety incidents. Beyond our proactive tactics, we also inspect our jobsites regularly throughout each day and take disciplinary action for unsafe practices.

The high quality of our safety program has led to Brinkman Construction’s low EMR, DART and RIR and elicits confidence with our trade partners and clients, but beyond the procedures that are in place, our people truly care about the well-being of the men and women on our jobsites. They’re passionate about making sure they have a safe working environment. They’re driven to build safely.

Brinkman Construction Breaks Ground on Colorado Springs Townhome-Style Apartment Community

Brinkman Construction celebrated the start of construction on their latest Colorado Springs project last week, a 12-building townhome-style apartment community. Springs at Foothill Farms, owned, developed and operated by Continental Properties, will include 264 two-story loft-style units. The 354,000 SF luxury community offers amenities such as a resort-style swimming pool, community clubhouse and a state-of-the-art fitness center.

Located at 1203 Affirmed View, Springs at Foothill Farms is the second apartment community developed by Continental Properties in this market and sixth in Colorado. The first community, Springs at Allison Valley, is within a mile of the new complex and was developed in 2016.

The project was designed by Phillips Partnership and is in line with Continental Properties’ Springs brand of communities. The Wisconsin-based developer specializes in apartment homes, retail and hospitality products across the United States from Arizona to South Carolina and has been in business for more than 40 years. This will be their fifth property in Colorado and second in the Colorado Springs market.

“We continue to see Colorado as a great market for our Springs brand and our growth trajectory,” said Ryan Folger, Vice President of Design & Construction for Continental Properties at the groundbreaking ceremony. “We are excited to see the Springs at Foothill Farms off to a great start and look forward to pre-leasing the units as soon as next summer.”

The construction of Springs at Foothills Farms began in September 2019 and will complete in the summer of 2021. For pre-leasing information, visit

Brinkman Construction also completed a four-story, 166,000 SF affordable senior community, Traditions, in Colorado Springs last December.  The complex includes 180 units consisting of studio, one- and two-bedrooms. Community amenities onsite include a community garden, dog park, fire pit, theater, craft room and library. The apartments serve seniors age 55 and older who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income adjusted for household size.