KCI New Terminal Project Benefits From Mentor-Protégé Program
Read More: Kissick Construction’s mentoring of a certified minority, women and disadvantaged business partner seen as a “WIN-WIN” for all involved.
Kansas City International Airport: The KCI New Terminal Project is breathing new life into a facility that has served travelers for nearly half a century. It has also brought to life a new partnership that has not only had a positive impact on the project, but on the firms involved, as well.
Through Kansas City, Missouri’s, mentor-protégé program, Kissick Construction Company, a 25-year-old heavy civil construction company, and Axiom Construction Group, a minority-owned concrete contractor founded in 2016, are working side-by-side. Together, they are constructing new roundabouts and roadways to establish the new permanent traffic flow pattern around the existing terminals and, when complete, the brand new terminal central to the KCI New Terminal Project.
The City’s mentor-protégé program provides an opportunity for certified minority, women and disadvantaged businesses to gain experience working alongside larger, established firms in similar industries.
In a successful mentor-protégé relationship, the mentor provides guidance and works hand-in-hand with the protégé to teach best practices. The benefits are a win-win for both organizations: the protégé receives exposure to the established processes of an experienced firm while the mentor benefits by helping smaller firms grow successfully and, in turn, gains an additional partner on whom they can rely for future projects.
Axiom’s President, Vince Stephens, says the relationship forged with Kissick through the mentor-protégé program is even better than he anticipated. “We knew it was a great opportunity to grow and learn from a very good contractor, but the results have far exceeded our expectations,” he said. “The program is working in a great way.”
Stephens said Axiom has been working alongside Kissick as an integrated team but has also been given the opportunity to work independently, allowing the firm to become more confident and capable. With the two companies working together, the project team has gained the efficiencies of a larger team with a vast knowledge of concrete work.
Spencer Moore, Kissick’s manager for the KCI roadway project, said the companies are working hand-in-hand at all levels of the organization. “From field crews to leadership, dealing with the client, accounting, and training, we are working together to show them what we’ve learned from years in the industry so they can take those best practices and integrate them into their organization,” Moore said.
Stephens and Axiom’s CEO, Dan Felder, meet regularly with Kissick’s leadership team. “We invite them to participate in insurance and bonding meetings, review HR practices and budgeting processes, and I’ve introduced them to the unions to start building a relationship with them,” said Kissick’s President Pete Browne.
The benefits are two-fold. “They know what we stand for, the level of quality we demand on our projects, the importance of adhering to schedules, and the value we place on safety, so working together creates a stronger team and a better project,” Browne said.
Both Kissick and Axiom consider the program a success, not just for their organizations, but for the local construction community.
One of the greatest benefits to Axiom has been understanding Kissick’s safety culture and adopting it. “We’ve learned so much from them about the importance of safety, and really benefited from witnessing their process,” Stephens said.
SPENCER MOORE | Senior Project Manager
Spencer spent many years in the field as an operator and later as a crew foreman. He has been highly successful in the project management role at Kissick and utilizes his significant field expertise to solve challenging and complex project solutions for our heavy civil clients.
He got his start using heavy equipment on his family farm at age 8.
Moore said safety is a top priority at Kissick. “Our safety culture is second to none. For a smaller company to be able to experience the many different elements of safety – from mitigating risks to field procedures – is one of the biggest benefits,” he said. “Learning how to do the job is obviously important, but learning to get the job done on time and doing it safely is invaluable.”
Stephens said this experience has had an enormous impact on the way Axiom does business, and he hopes to one day pay it forward and be a mentor to others. “To have on our resume the completion of a project of this scale, to learn how to do concrete construction well, prepare for projects, and do them safely has had a far-reaching impact on us,” he said. “It’s a story that has to be told.”
Through the program, the companies have formed a partnership that has been so successful, both firms hope to continue working together long after their work on the KCI New Terminal Project is completed.
“It’s really been a joy to work with them,” Stephens said. “They are not only great contractors, but incredible people first. We look forward to many more opportunities working with them in the future.”