Lessons Learned from First Wind Turbine Project

Marous Brothers Construction enters the wind industry and finds immediate success

Kenston Wind Turbine

Recognized as one of the leading construction firms in the Midwest, Marous Brothers Construction began operations in 1980 as a pair of carpenter contractors, and has grown to an office staff of 140 at its Willoughby, Ohio headquarters, with another 350-600 workers in the field on any given day.

The company's ongoing ability to diversify—from site work to road work to plant work—has enabled it to react and acclimate to ever-changing economic climates and ever-emerging industries. And it's foray into the energy industry via the natural gas pipeline subsequently presented Marous Brothers with its first wind industry project, according to company Vice President, Ken Marous.

For several years, the construction company has been working successfully throughout Pennsylvania and New York on projects for several shale gas industry clients. To broaden his company's reach Ken Marous coupled that success with his growing interest in alternative energy and began to seek out opportunities in the wind industry.

That opportunity came in 2010 when Marous Brothers Construction was awarded a public bid project funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to construct several 750kW wind turbines for three school districts in western and northeast Ohio.

As the general contractor for Aeronautica Windpower, a Plymouth, MA-based company that specializes in offering American-made wind turbines to mid-scale markets, Marous Brothers coordinated efforts with several component suppliers from around the U.S. to complete construction of the $5 million project.

A relative newcomer to the wind industry, Marous' first objective was to ensure that his construction crew was properly trained to meet the stringent industry requirements. "We partnered with Frontier Pro Services out of California to train our team," he explained. "And when the Norwin guys (Aeronautica's global partner) came over from Denmark to observe the project we were working on, they thought we had been installing turbines for ten years. That's how good our guys were."

On the construction side, installing wind turbines is just as fastidious a process as manufacturing component parts, according to Marous. "We had to work to very tight tolerances, from the type of rebar we used to the 350 cubic yards of concrete poured for the foundation, to precisely positioning 200, ten-foot long anchor bolts through the foundation," he said.

The crew was able to install each tower in a single day, and followed up with the nacelle and blade installation the following day. "We've been in the construction business for 33 years, and we're used to working proactively to keep progress moving," Marous declared.

While the installation went off without a hitch, Marous said the project was not without complications. "You really have to know what you're doing when you're working with so many suppliers," he said. "Particularly with public bid jobs like this, it's sort of like a shotgun marriage in that you're thrown into working relationships with partners you've never previously worked with. So you have to find a way to effectively work together to attain the goal."

Marous advises that organizations do their homework well in advance of a wind turbine project to ensure a smooth operation and timely completion. "Due diligence beforehand, beginning with the project's engineering plans right through to the suppliers you're going to be working with, will pay off in droves," he commented. "Be proactive, make sure everything is perfect in advance, and you'll be more successful at meeting deadlines, quality benchmarks and budgets at completion."

Asked for his thoughts on completing the company's first wind project, Marous was very upbeat. "It was an amazing experience and a lot of fun. Everything went together so well. I was onsite every day of the project with the crew, and even had my college-age daughter working with the crew as a climber so she could learn firsthand about the wind turbine installation process," he said.

"As for Marous Brothers Construction, we plan on expanding our footprint in the wind industry throughout the Midwest, and actively seeking out developers needing help with their projects."

Ken Marous, Vice President

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