Speed to Market: STO Mission Critical in Texas
In the fast-paced world of mission critical construction, speed matters—and builders everywhere are looking for game-changing solutions that will help them deliver on cost, quality, and schedule. Join Grant O’Neal, Operations Manager for STO Mission Critical in Dallas, Brett Skyllingstad, VP of Business Development for Structure Tone Southwest, Chris Shackelford, Project Executive for Structure Tone Southwest, and Al Jaurez, a Helix Steel expert, as they explore the mission critical market in Texas and an innovative approach to concrete reinforcement.
Grant O’NealOperations Manager, Mission Critical, Structure Tone Southwest
Brett SkyllingstadVP of Business Development, Technical Services, Structure Tone Southwest
Chris ShackelfordProject Executive, Structure Tone Southwest
Al JuarezSales Consultant, Helix Steel
Welcome to Building Conversations, a construction podcast powered by the STO Building Group. On today’s episode, senior project manager in Structure Tone Southwest’s Dallas office, Grant O’Neal explores the state of the mission critical market in Texas, as well as an innovative concrete reinforcement technology that’s changing the way we build. Grant is joined by Structure Tone Southwest’s vice president of business development, Brett Skyllingstad, Structure Tone Southwest project executive, Chris Shackelford, and Helix Steel subject matter expert, Al Juarez.
Grant O’Neal (00:45):
Hi, and welcome to Building Conversations, the STO Building Group’s podcast. I’m Grant O’Neal, I’m a senior project manager at STO Mission Critical in Dallas and today, we’re going to be talking about some of the cutting-edge technologies that are taking the mission critical market here in Dallas by storm. Joining me are some of my colleagues and fellow mission critical construction experts, project executive, Chris Shackelford, and vice president of business development and technical services, Brett Skyllingstad, as well as a subject matter expert for some of the technology that we’ll be learning about, Al Juarez. So, with that, let’s jump into it.
Brett Skyllingstad (01:21):
Thanks Grant. Brett Skyllingstad, as Grant mentioned, vice president of business development and technical services for STO Mission Critical here in the Dallas office. Spent almost 17 years of my career, almost exclusively in the construction industry. Studied civil engineering when I was in college and have worked in a multitude of roles from superintendent to procurement to project management. Spent seven years doing technical sales for Cummins Diesel and have found my way back into the general contracting side with STO Mission Critical here in Dallas, and have been here for three years now and excited to be on this podcast today.
Chris Shackelford (02:06):
Yeah, and I’m Chris Shackelford, project executive. I’ve been working with Structure Tone going on seven years now with a focus on the core and shell side of the projects, which has kind of led me into pretty much touching every division here in Southwest from Mission Critical, healthcare, interiors. They kind of all have a core and shell component to it that I’ve somehow managed to get involved with. And through that, I’ve just worked up from working on project management, doing a lot of industrial work and now working into some of the new ground-up opportunities we have here in Texas.
Al Juarez (02:45):
My name is Al Juarez. I am with Helix Steel. I head up the business development efforts for our organization. We’re based out of Ann Arbor, Michigan. We have manufacturing here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where I live. Essentially my role is to do what I’m doing right now with you folks. So, what I’m doing with Chris and some of the construction that he’s doing and with, with Grant, some of the mission critical construction, is to bring a better way to building with concrete, using our product. Helix twisted steel, micro rebar.
Grant O’Neal (03:20):
Yeah. And I guess I didn’t introduce myself. I’m Grant O’Neal, like I said, I’m a senior project manager in the mission critical group, been in the industry for a little over 12 years, but my main focus has been data centers. I did interiors and some ground-up when I first started and then got lucky enough to get thrown on a big data center. And ever since it’s just been off to the races building one after the next. So, it’s been a fun, fast journey, but things are always evolving. And we’ll kind of talk about that throughout this podcast. So why don’t we jump into it? So, I wanted to throw the first question over to Brett. Just knowing the market, how did Texas become a data center hub? Where did it stem from?
Brett Skyllingstad (04:02):
Yeah, that’s a great question Grant. So, Dallas, Texas, over the past, I’ve been here since 2007 and it’s always been a place where there’s been a high concentration of Fortune 500 companies, large corporations, American Airlines. You have Frito Lay with headquarters here. And then over the past, more recent 10 years, we’ve seen a tremendous number of corporations plant large, either their main corporate headquarters from Toyota, North America, planning a flag here, or organizations like State Farm with large hubs in these locations. And so much of that concentration of large centers of employment for those organizations has also led the Dallas Fort Worth market to become a strategic data center location. There are a couple other factors that go into that. One of which is Texas is on an island when it comes to the power grid. Most people listening to this probably laughed at us in 2021 when we had some power challenges with a massive freeze and storm across the entire state all at once.
Brett Skyllingstad (05:12):
And one of the reasons that happened is Texas has an entity called ERCOT and our grid is separated from the rest of the United States. And so, one of the advantages of that is also one of the reasons that data center companies are located here. So, by having a separate isolated grid, we are able to deregulate power here in Texas. And so that allows for more competitive utility pricing. Since it’s not monopolized by one provider, if you will. And there’s multiple generators who create the electricity and then you have different entities that distribute that electricity in different markets, whether it’s Houston, Dallas, Austin, San Antonio, and then there’s providers, you know, for example, many people in other states who may be listening to this you know, you have con Edison and you have Duke Energy, you know, just depending on your locations. And that’s the only person you get your electric bill from. Here in Texas,
Brett Skyllingstad (06:09):
When you move here, a lot of people don’t realize is there’s you have the power to choose. So not only do consumers as us, as people who live here, but also a business or a data center or a company who’s building a big office, they can choose their power provider as well. And that, and that allows for them to negotiate and get extremely good rates, especially for organizations that use a lot of power, so manufacturing or data centers, for example. And so having an extremely competitive utility market rate drives a lot of data centers to want to build here. And then the other biggest factor aside from the high concentration of Fortune 500 companies, the low power is we have a relatively low disaster risk here in north Texas. While we do see some tornadoes, there’s easy ways to mitigate structures against tornadoes.
Brett Skyllingstad (06:59):
We’re not prone to flooding up here and we don’t see, typically don’t see tons of wildfires and other kind of natural disasters like that, hurricanes, and things of that in Northern Texas. And then finally, there’s a lot of land. A lot of people don’t realize how large Texas is until they move here. The considerable amount of the land is open for business. It’s zone for commercial use. And it’s easy to build here. It’s centrally located in the United States. So, it’s easy for folks to fly in, it’s two and a half to three hours from either coast as well as two and a half to Chicago. So, a lot of data center providers have flocked to Dallas in my time that I’ve been here, as I’ve seen the co-location companies pick up, and a lot of them were just headquartered here when they made their starts.
Brett Skyllingstad (07:42):
And so, some of that tends to keep that energy going to keep the desire to grow here. And then there’s also a robust fiber network. That was existing in the Texas market from all of the growth of over the past, you know, 50 years that we’ve had, all those things have, contributed to Dallas being one of the major hubs for data centers in the United States followed up after, you know, Northern Virginia and Phoenix and Chicago and, and Northern California. Some of the other major hubs for data centers, Dallas is always ranked right up there in, in absorption as well as new builds. And so, it’s a unique market for sure.
Grant O’Neal (08:24):
So, you’re saying it’s not a, if you build it, they will come, but it was a, if there’s land and power, then they will come. And that’s what Texas offers.
Brett Skyllingstad (08:31):
That’s exactly right.
Grant O’Neal (08:33):
So, what do you think some of the factors that matter most in the design and construction of a data centers here in Texas?
Brett Skyllingstad (08:40):
Yeah, I think one of the biggest is power availability. And talking to that Oncor is here in north Texas. That’s who almost, I’d say 99% of the data centers that are in north Texas are getting their power from, unless they’re on the Northern part, up in Denton, where they have a different service provider. So, Oncor is ready and able to, you know, build new substations partner with private developers to build a new substation on a data center, there’s capacity in the grid, and it’s a pro-business state. And so, they’re willing to work with folks, especially when they’re going to be a really good customer and buy a lot of power over the next 20 years. So that’s a large one and then also proximity to fiber and major fiber routes. There are quite a few major trunks that run through north Texas and close proximity to those.
Brett Skyllingstad (09:22):
There are quite a few data centers that have gone up over the past few years, and then just the lower costs of construction compared to the east and west coasts is one of the other major reasons. We’re a right to work state. There are some great union contractors. There are some great non-union contractors in north Texas. It’s easy to do business. And, and I think Chris and Grant will both say the same is there’s a lot of really talented subcontractors with expert folks who have been in this industry from the time of first enterprise data centers getting built, you know, for banking and banking clients, you know, some 25 years ago, some of those were happening right here in north Texas.
Grant O’Neal (10:09):
Yeah, I’d agree. And I think really location, which is the ample amounts of land. And I’ve just found a lot of favor with the municipalities as well that they know what a data center is. It’s not a learning curve to explain that we’re just building a big box with a lot of computers in it. So, they’re not requiring a lot of exterior aesthetics to kind of waste the money on, but we’re getting to put a lot of the dollars back into the data hall so that they can actually get a bigger bang for their buck when it comes to just quick to market and square footage. I mean, I think that’s kind of the name of the game is how much square footage can we throw up? How fast can we do it and how much power can we get to it, all those, whether it’s Oncor world or the municipality, they’re very easy to work with to get things going and to get after construction really kind of get us out of the way and get them back onto the making money and getting revenue into their pockets.
Brett Skyllingstad (11:04):
Yeah. And to that end grant, one of the other things that I didn’t mention of one of the reasons Texas has become a data center hub is, is Texas was one of the first states to offer, you know, like a sales tax holiday for data centers. And that’s something that the governor put into play to attract folks to want to build data centers here. That model has since been duplicated in other locations, all across the country, whether it’s Maryland to I know Phoenix has offered some of those incentives. And then I believe Chicago has done that as well as Indiana and Ohio. Right? And so, you you’ll see both hyperscalers planting flags in these states with their own built data centers or co-location folks doing it and taking advantage of those tax holidays because ultimately those factor into the total cost of the project. And then there’s also property tax deferment opportunities for many large companies. And that’s been one of the ways that Texas has attracted some of the largest companies in the United States to want to move to Texas.
Grant O’Neal (12:08):
Yep. Other than traffic, that’s a great motto, but
Brett Skyllingstad (12:12):
Grant O’Neal (12:14):
So, the next one next question is what makes data center construction processes unique? And I would throw that to you, but I’m going to take some of that off is really, I mean, for me, when I first got into data centers, I was kind of nervous and thought that it was this big, bad animal, but really once you get down to it, it’s the same as a lot of other construction, you start on the ground, you do your underground, you pour your slab and then you go vertical. The big hurdle is just getting comfortable in the mechanical and electrical and plumbing drawings. Making sure that you get that infrastructure in there that you work with the power provider, it’s a back to the basics. It’s making sure that you’re coordinating everything, getting all your ducks in a row and just trying to position yourself for success so that you can get out of the ground as quick as possible, making sure you don’t miss any infrastructure in the process of hurry up and wait.
Grant O’Neal (13:04):
So, I know now with the supply chain kind of slowing things down, we’ve had to kind of pivot, but we’ve been able to do that with a bunch of our clients to where we can get a lot of the core and shell done, get a lot of the interiors done while we’re waiting on gear to be delivered as well as trying to go creative on what gear we can use, what’s available, if we need to build it on-site, or if we need to wait for it to be manufactured. I mean, Brett, have you seen any other unique things kind of with the new age of building that we’re in today?
Brett Skyllingstad (13:36):
Yeah. One of the biggest changes and differences of, of data centers to other normal buildings is, speaking about it with Chris before we got on this podcast, is these buildings are really very similar to other typical core and shell buildings. The major difference being is whatever major, you know, normal corn shell, industrial building, or, or a ground up four or five story commercial class A office project has for power requirements, for water requirements, for cooling requirements. A data center has all of those same things, just times a hundred. So, there’s a whole lot more of the same things, right? So, folks who are used to seeing a small central plant that services a commercial office building with some air-cooled chillers, maybe a generator and a switchboard, a data center has that times 10. And so, you have 10 chillers, 10 generators, 10 switchboards.
Brett Skyllingstad (14:30):
And so that’s one of the biggest things that a lot of people get misconstrued about. Oh, it’s so complicated. Well no, when you really start breaking it down and looking at the architecture of these buildings, looking at the, the electrical one lines, the, the cooling systems, it’s the same exact systems, just multiplied over and over again to serve the data halls because of the immense load and heat rejection that the servers put out, you need all of that cooling. You need all of that power. And so that’s, that’s one of the unique parts is you have a lot of the same components in a building that you normally only see once or twice in other projects, and then how those, those MEP systems are, you know, what kind of considerations have to go into play?
Brett Skyllingstad (15:16):
There’s a multitude and that’s traditionally, that’s a collaborative discussion with us as the general contractor, with the owner and their equipment vendors or the, the local equipment vendors that we work with as well as the design consultants. And so that collaboration’s many times happening early in the schematic design phase of the project. And then if it’s a speculative build, for example, most of the co-location providers that are out there in this market have a standard build that they follow. And they, they use that as a repeatable method of building over and over again from one site to the next, with, with small variability, for each different location in the United States.
Chris Shackelford (15:57):
I think there’s also a correlation you can probably tie between another market that has blown up just as much as the data center, which is the industrial tilt-panel warehouse space that has become very popular in the Dallas, DFW metroplex, and even throughout the rest of the state and the similarities in almost identical nature of the build between those has created a market that is fast. They found how to do it the most economical way, which helps drive the cost that allows companies to, as Grant said, put their money in the places that matter most and save money in the places that, the shell and the things that they’re not as focused on. So, there’s a really big tie between those that is really made our market really unique hub based on those similarities and the contractors that operate, those are working in both of those areas and or arenas.
Brett Skyllingstad (16:55):
That’s a great point, Chris. Absolutely.
Grant O’Neal (16:58):
Yeah. I was about to wake you up with a question, Chris, but you jumped on in, so now that you’re awake, I’m going to throw on over to you. I know you’re doing some innovative things at one of your projects. So, I wanted to kind of talk about just what that was with the Helix Steel micro-rebar, and just kind of give us a rundown on that and then kind of what innovations and implementations and what pros and cons you’ve seen from it.
Chris Shackelford (17:21):
To give you a little background of how we got involved with Al and Helix Steel. It goes back to, I guess it was pre-COVID where Vincent Gallagher, our pre-con manager here in Dallas, was out at the Tilt Up Concrete Association national meeting that was here in Dallas then. And as he was going through looking at all the booths, all the things that everybody was presenting there, he met Al and saw this unique product. Then the next day he brings to my desk a little small plastic baggy full of this twisted micro rebar, almost kind of look like a, a bag of needles that are twisted in, in a square shape, helical fashion and said, “Hey, this is something that I think may be interesting for us to start looking at.” So, made it through COVID and then after that, Vincent and I went back and to the next Tilt Up Concrete Association meeting, which was in St. Louis met back up with Al in his group and had some more conversations. And through those kinds of outlined places that Al felt we could begin using this product and, and places that we need to, that we could start looking at in our projects that we are going to be bidding on and looking at ways to find opportunities for him. Does that kind of sum up, you have any other thoughts on, on those meetings, Al?
Al Juarez (18:41):
Yeah, no, I think that summarizes it really well. I think that visit was really forward looking and bringing this to the Structure Tone Southwest office. Vincent thought that there was a great opportunity for what we were doing. It was just a matter of really connecting us with the right people inside the organization, such as yourself and the applications are really simple. I mean, we, our mission is to try to really create a better way to build with concrete. And that begins with the very fundamentals of the reinforcement of concrete and simple things like slab on grade, foundations, walls. Those things really just are very low hanging fruit. And those things are some of the elements that we’re bringing to, to bear that, that were working with you on. And it was just through that conversation that we got introduced to Grant and his team. And, you know, it seems like we might have a play with the things that Grant and his team are doing.
Chris Shackelford (19:41):
Al, go ahead and get quick explanation on what the product is and just kind of a quick on manufacturing process on, on how you guys have come about.
Al Juarez (19:51):
Yeah. Yeah. So long story short, the University of Michigan was funded by the DOD back in the late ‘90s find a material that would make concrete behave differently under blast and seismic conditions. Our president and chief technology officer, Luke Pinkerton, happened to be doing his master’s degree, working for the professor who was funded by the DOD. He was actually making the product by hand in the lab. And he took that idea with him after he got his MBA and really focused on bringing that an optimized version of that product to market and, and the optimized version of the product is actually a one-inch-long piece of twisted steel wire. That is, like you said, it’s twisted in, on its access. It’s designed to be like a screw versus a nail. The twist in twisted, in design locks it into the concrete really, really efficiently.
Al Juarez (20:48):
And it actually takes up the load before the concrete cracks. So, with a very low dosage, you can actually achieve quite a bit. And so that’s, you know, we started with that. It comes at 45-pound boxes. That’s where we’ve been for the past really 20 years, you mix it in with, we have engineering services, we have product evaluation reports that allow us to do things that other discontinuous reinforcement technologies are not able to do, like be used in footings and foundations and load bearing walls. And really, we’re trying to just improve, we’re trying to automate a way the manual installation of rebar in the field, just like you would use a steam shovel and have people instead of digging a ditch, go do something else. We’re trying to bring a level of automation to the reinforcement of concrete, to allow people to do higher order functions in the construction industry and not that back, breaking installation and tying rebar.
Chris Shackelford (21:50):
Now I want to kind of just talk about some of the conversations that we’ve had with, with whether they be owners, developers, and designers on just kind of the, the barriers and hesitations that it seems that every project, or just whenever we’re trying to bring an innovated process to the attention of our owners, our designers that we work with and just wanted to run through a few of those. You had mentioned earlier on design. The question that I commonly get asked is, okay, what does my structural engineer, or what do I have to do to use this product? And I think that one of the best things, one of the top things about Helix Steel is I said, you can actually do, do nothing other than review it, be okay with it. But beyond that, as you mentioned, now, you have on-staff engineers that have, have all the resources and all the data and backup to be able to provide an engineering package for your system.
Al Juarez (22:46):
We essentially do behave as an extension of the of the engineering team, we are a structural engineering team on demand. And one of the things that really make us stand out and that makes us unique in the industry is that we’ve spent 10 plus years and tens of thousands of dollars on two independently produced product evaluation reports that allow us to design in accordance with ACI 318 design criteria for structural reinforcement, independent footings and foundations, and, and walls that with a discontinuous reinforcement product that you couldn’t, that you can’t do with any other product that we know of on the market.
Chris Shackelford (23:31):
And as you mentioned, Al, you had the interaction with the AHJs, you know, the authorities having jurisdiction inspectors within cities having those reports, having that documentation, because nowadays you’re finding that the inspectors with regards to structural elements at the end of the job, they are looking for a sign off from a structural engineer they’ll review based on the plans and documents or what’s been approved. But in the end, that’s, it’s really kind of falling on the hands of the structural engineers to give that final sign off that those inspectors have. So having those documents is really beneficial.
Al Juarez (24:06):
Yeah. The international building code and international residential code actually recognize our product and approve of Helix in certain applications, quite a few applications if I may. And what we’ll do is what our engineers will do quite often is if we have a first-time engineer of record, who feels somewhat comfortable with our product, but not quite all the way of letting it fly underneath their building envelope engineer of record stamp, we’ll take a slab or a footing and we’ll actually delegate the design to ourselves and we’ll stamp that design, we’ll stand behind it, put our money where our mouth is, and that flies really well with the building code officials, both residential and commercial. And that relieves a little bit of indigestion for the engineer of record,
Chris Shackelford (24:55):
Right. And now the biggest item that we were faced with down here in Texas, I’m getting you is just the overall cost of using your product. Down here in Texas, the cost of rebar and labor is less expensive at times than the rest of the United States. Prior to the pandemic, that was really the case, but post-COVID and the consistent increases that we are seeing in the market, not to mention the availability and supply chain issues with welded wire mesh are really the biggest thing that led to in essence, on the project that we were working on the door really getting opened, because I could always justify the speed and the, and the time savings that your product has offered with eliminating the step to go in and tie all the reinforcing and all the work associated there. But it was until it was a cost efficient means it was always a little more difficult to sell, but that has since in the past couple of months kind of swinged into favor and has really made it not only a schedule viable solution innovation, but also a cost saver.
Al Juarez (26:07):
Yeah, exactly. And this is something that’s not unique just to the Dallas market, the Texas market it’s happening across the country in some markets it’s worse than others. But what you’re describing is really consistent with market conditions that we are hearing and seeing across the country. And most folks that use us the first time come to us because they’re behind schedule or they’re over budget. And if you’re looking just at labor and time savings and maybe, you know, and the cost of our material versus the cost of rebar or wire welded mesh, you can get close or there maybe a 10 or 20% cost savings that’s blown through now to 20 to 30% cost savings. But what folks find out the second time and the third time and what hooks them and gets them on this is the downstream efficiencies that they see.
Al Juarez (27:05):
I don’t have to rent a crane. I don’t have to store and haul around wire welded mesh, which is one of the things I think that Damon was talking about last week when we were out on-site in Dallas, they don’t have to spend time hauling around and guarding and, and taking care of, of items. They don’t have to wait for inspections from building code rebar inspections from building code officials, all of these little downstream effects that people really have a hard time that everybody has a hard time accounting for and putting an exact dollar figure on, they don’t really know upfront, but after three or four experiences, the streamlining of the operations comes into play. And that’s where we, where we build the repeat business client base is with that gain and efficiency.
Chris Shackelford (27:53):
Yeah. And the, and the last question we always get asked, and this kind of mainly comes from our architectural side is what is it going to look like?
Al Juarez (28:01):
Chris, I’m going to say two words, plain concrete. That’s what it looks like. It looks like plain concrete, as you said, unless you’re going to polish it and expose the aggregate. You’re not going to see the product protruding from the surface or at the surface. It finishes a few millimeters below the surface. And as long as the finisher, the concrete finishers follow the standard, ASCC finishing practices, you’re going to see plain concrete.
Chris Shackelford (28:31):
And even in the event that they decide to do some sort of polishing, it really does. Even those examples that I’ve seen really give it a unique, you actually expose kind of a flec with a shiny bit of reinforcing within that product. So, there is even a unique application for those instances as well.
Grant O’Neal (28:51):
Chris. So, I wanted to jump in one last thing. I mean, I know for me, when you kind of showed us or introduced us to Al it was one of those in mission critical, there was always a lot of concrete and it was a, the dig-to-place and just reducing timeframe was a huge, just selling point for us just to remove any, any additional work or time in the schedule anywhere we can grab a day or two is huge to get the client to market quicker, but kind of the cherry on top Al was the environmental with the reduced carbon. Can you jump into that a little bit before I butcher
Grant O’Neal (29:28):
It with any of my memories?
Al Juarez (29:31):
Yeah. <laugh> yeah. I, I don’t think you’re going to butcher it, but sure. What we can do and what we’re seeing in the marketplace, and especially in the data center and mission critical market, we have, there are clients for whom carbon reduction, sustainability is a big deal, and we actually have an environmental product declaration that’s specific to our product. We have recycled steel content in our product. And so, rule of thumb is for every pound of steel that you use. You’re going to use about a third of a pound of Helix micro rebar. And what that allows is a reduction in the carbon footprint of a structure. The other thing that we can do is because of the excellent load carrying properties of the product is we can, we can thin the thickness of the concrete. And that is a huge deal for, I mean, if you, if you can shave off two inches off a million square foot facility, that is a monstrous reduction in carbon footprint, and those are the kind of things that we’re doing in paving, the things that we’re doing in slab on grade, those two items taken together are a big deal for anybody that cares about sustainability and carbon footprint reduction.
Grant O’Neal (30:48):
Helping us build a better tomorrow as opposed to just building something quick and cheap today.
Brett Skyllingstad (30:53):
Yeah. So, so one of the things that we talked about earlier is kind of the evolution of data centers here in north Texas. Well, not only have the projects evolved, but our clients have evolved many of our clients, our data center clients here in north Texas and all across the country have set mandates and set goals to reduce their carbon footprint across their entire building portfolio. Whether it’s a hyperscaler, who’s building million square foot projects or a co-location provider, who’s, who’s building 2-300,000 square foot buildings. They’re all looking at ways to reduce the impact of their buildings on the, the built environment. And by removing this rebar and this steel out of these projects and replacing with something like Helix, it’s an amazing thing.
Grant O’Neal (31:41):
I mean, honestly, if I can reduce a couple days of not having rebar mat after rebar mat being tied, I will jump on a product like that in a heartbeat. So, it’s something exciting to see. And I never thought I’d see the day where I could dig a spread footing and just dump some concrete in there and it was fully reinforced, but that day is now. And so, it’s exciting to see what comes in the future from that. So, with that Brett and Chris, any other trends you think you’re seeing in designs of ground-up or data centers that are going to keep evolving?
Brett Skyllingstad (32:17):
Yeah. Grant, I think the number one thing that every one of my clients is asking me is what are you doing different? How can you do something outside the box and help us build our buildings faster and more green and at a lower cost. That is the biggest trend that we’re seeing is whatever fits one of those three items is going to be what, what comes to the top and, and Helix does exactly that. I think the, the next kind of iteration that we’ve seen evolve in the data center is they’re not building the buildings as robust as, as Grant mentioned anymore. Just simply because there’s so much redundancy built into many of these providers networks, but it’s going to be a continued evolution of how can reduce the cost of the actual core and shell of the overall project. And so other innovative structures, I think that’s really the next biggest thing of, Hey, are we willing to put things in a metal building?
Brett Skyllingstad (33:10):
Are there options for something like that or the other large cost drivers on data center projects, as well as scheduled drivers are, are the equipment. Honestly, I think that’s going to be the next biggest change in my lifetime. And everyone that that’s on this podcast lifetime is, you know, we’re going to see a shift away from, from diesel generators. We’re going to see a shift away from even battery systems. I think there’s going to be stuff that we haven’t even seen and don’t even know about yet. So, when are we going to see some sort of, as, as the power grids gets more constrained, when are we going to see some sort of on-site generation?
Brett Skyllingstad (33:45):
And does that come in the form of, of some sort of, of nuclear, right? I mean, that’s, we only have so many means to generate power across the United States. And the options are getting slimmer as new builds of coal plants and gas plants are no longer permitted or allowed. And, and you’re even seeing some states like California shutting down a nuclear plant that they have that serves a, a large majority of their grid right now. So, the power’s going to have to come from somewhere are shapeable appetite for media, for data, for pictures, for all of those things is, is not slowing down. E-Commerce is continuing to track up. So, all these things are dependent on data centers. And so, I think that those are some of the areas that I see the next biggest trends happening and the companies and organizations that are out there working on those things are going to be the ones to keep your eyes on?
Grant O’Neal (34:34):
Yeah, I agree. I mean, I’ve always said if you draw it, I can build it. So, I’m just excited to see what gets drawn so we can build it for the future. So, any closing remarks you got Chris?
Chris Shackelford (34:45):
Just regards to kind of finding innovation, looking for innovative ways to do things different. A lot of times, we will get sent to these trade association, these conferences, these places where Structured Tone has spent money and time to send us to those. And I think taking advantage of those and looking for opportunities and don’t just pass by or take anything for granted in those times. And there are opportunities, there are things out there, there are people out there with great ideas that they’re just needing somebody to come alongside and join with them. So I just would also encourage that anytime you have those opportunities, whether it’s even lunch and learns or any type of training or those type of things that we, that we really use that as a springboard to just move forward in innovation, because that’s really, that’s kind of going to eventually become the differentiator.
Grant O’Neal (35:40):
Al any closing remarks.
Al Juarez (35:42):
I would just encourage you to, if you’re experiencing price and availability issues again, you know, the, the reasons, the number one reasons that people come to us in the first place, they can’t get rebar. They can’t get labor or they’re over budget, or they’re behind schedule if you’re experiencing any of those things and you have an open mind and you have some level of trust that what we’re telling you is, is the truth that we actually have. These building product evaluation reports, where we can actually have your engineer of record approve this, visit us, contact us, reach out to us. I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed. In fact, I think you’re, you’ll be thrilled, the experience that you have, and that’s what we’re all about. So if you’re in that space between a rock and a hard place, that’s where everybody else has started with us. You’re no different anybody else and encourage you to reach out to us.
Grant O’Neal (36:37):
Yeah. When you’re in between a rock and a hard place, put some Helix Steel in between it and call it a day. There you go. So, I’m excited. I know this was a light bulb moment for me. I didn’t think that concrete could evolve, but it definitely has. And I’m excited to take this into the mission critical realm, just to expedite schedules and get out of the concrete and dirt work portions of a project quicker so we can get power on and get data pumping through these data centers. So I really appreciate your time and look forward to working with you in the future.
Al Juarez (37:08):
Absolutely. Thank you very much for having us. I appreciate it.
Thanks for listening to Building Conversations for more episodes like this, you can find us on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Audible, and the STO Building Group website.