Most people think birds fly south for the winter, but some Redbirds from the Department of Technology had another idea: They flew west, and landed in Cupertino, California to work on the new Apple campus.

Twelve alumni of the construction management program at Illinois State University are employed by Holder Construction Co. Headquarted in Atlanta, the company also has offices in Washington, D.C.; Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas; Phoenix; and San Jose, California.

Nic Long ’10 is a project manager for Holder Construction. Before graduation, Long held an internship with Holder Construction in Louisville, Kentucky. As is the case with many College of Applied Science and Technology students, his internship led to a full-time position postgraduation in Oklahoma City. Long’s first project there focused on the Devon Energy Center headquarters. The lead on this project was Gavin Kalley ’00.

Kalley was the first intern hired by Holder Construction to work on the State Farm project in Bloomington-Normal. Kalley opened the door for over 60 Illinois State University candidates since championing the initial recruiting efforts in 2004. He has completed over 10 million square feet of construction during his career and was an integral part of opening the San Jose branch office in summer 2013.  While heading that office, both Kalley and Holder have had significant success establishing the company as an upper echelon general contractor within the state of California, carrying a No. 1 ranking in commercial contractors, as determined by the Engineering News-Record.

Kalley continues to be instrumental in recruiting Illinois State alumni today, and Long says it’s no surprise that Kalley looks to his alma mater for recent graduates. “Redbirds are a different breed,” said Long. “They understand hard work: that characteristic is there; it’s built-in.”

The willingness to work hard is instrumental on a project the size of Apple’s new “spaceship” campus. Long shared that his favorite part of the project is the overall magnitude of it, as it is the largest project of its kind in the world. “There are so many ‘industry firsts’ that are introduced on a project of this scale, and we’re excited to be a part of that,” said Long. “Being able to see the tangible element of your work and watching everything come together makes all of the effort worth it.” He also mentioned that the public interest in a project such as this brings an element of excitement and pride.

Long said coordinating the numerous partnerships is the biggest challenge of this project. There are multiple general contractors active on the site, including Holder Construction. “Everyone’s work impacts someone else’s work,” Long said. “Continued coordination and communication amongst the groups ensures that everything, including logistics, deliveries, installation sequence, and trade-work interface, remains within alignment.”

Coordination is also a consideration when it comes to materials. “We are seeing the world’s best with regards to manufacturers, tradesmen, and partners,” said Long. “With that brings new challenges and experiences, but we are progressing forward along with the best in the industry.”

Redbirds that are working on this once-in-a-lifetime project along with Kalley include Long; Gene Lahue ’07, project manager; Paul Scherman ’09, project manager; Mike Drake ’13, senior project engineer; Steven Reichert ’13, assistant superintendent; Ben Hummel ’13, assistant superintendent; Jeff Kegley ’14, assistant superintendent; Tyler Raineri ’14, project engineer; Sammy DeMarais ’14, M.S. ’15, project engineer; Paul Duke ’15, safety coordinator; Gavin Windell ’15, project engineer; and Allen Windell and Bryce Bartlett, summer 2016 interns.

“As a group, Redbirds provide an immediate family,” said Long. “We all have a similar sense of what home means, and we have similar family values.”

A Business Insider article provided more insight on the scope of the project that this Redbird team is working on daily:

  • Steve Jobs was instrumental in the planning process of the new campus.
  • The building will house more than 12,000 Apple employees in its 2.8 million square feet, and is designed to encourage collaboration with 83,000 square feet dedicated to meeting and breakout spaces.
  • The campus will be a leader in sustainability, as it will run 100 percent on renewable energy
  • A natural ventilation system will help Apple meet its goal of a net zero increase of greenhouse gas emissions.
  • More than 157,000 gallons of recycled water will flow to the campus daily.
  • With a circumference of about one mile, the building will use more than 3,000 sheets of curved glass once completed, and these sheets are the largest pieces of curved glass in the world.

Apple’s new campus is set to open in 2017.