Lessons Learned from First Wind Turbine Project
Marous Brothers Construction enters the wind industry and finds immediate success
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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