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Excerpt from the Final Participation Report to the City...

The curved glass “curtainwall” that would encase the building, required unique construction and installation and no local companies had done such complex work on such a large scale. After a thorough search, the Gilbane/CG Schmidt team procured Portland, Oregon based Benson Industries, a company experienced in the construction of complex curtainwall, to assemble and install the unique glass panels for The Tower and Commons.

Benson came to Milwaukee in search of two things: a location to set up the “curtainwall" plant and a local business partner to assist in building the workforce.

Mark Mosher, Benson’s project manager for The Tower and Commons, found a competent and energetic business partner in Duwe Metal’s Jeannie Lauret. 

“Duwe’s leadership impressed us with high integrity and a willingness to work with us. They understood that we would control the means and methods, how our system must go together, and they would provide the craftsmen,” Mosher said. While Lauret credits some of their success as partners to “chemistry,” it may have been her tenacity that cemented the partnership. “It helped greatly that they were very proactive addressing their issues,” Mosher said. 

Lauret worked with WRTP/BIG STEP to personally recruit over 150 RPP assembly workers. 

Lauret met with unions directly and determined the project would need composite crews of Glaziers and Ironworkers. “I was already signatory to the Ironworkers (Union) and I became signatory to the Glaziers so we could do the assembly work with them and have composite crews work on the install,” she said, adding, “the Glaziers Union became a vital partner on the project." 

Mosher felt good about the outcome. Benson had set up an assembly shop in a city they had not worked in, with a partner they had never worked with and with workers that had never worked on custom curtainwall – success was achieved! 

Gilbane/CG Schmidt was also proud of what the group accomplished. “The $70 million curtainwall contract for The Tower and Commons was fabricated and assembled in an out-of-service building in the city limits by 100% underemployed workers. With more than 100,000 workforce hours and 386,000 square feet of glass behind them, the workers delivered their customized portion of the project” he said.