As 2018 drew to a close, we wanted to take a look back at the accomplishments we achieved over the past year. To say the least, it was a milestone year for our company. The highlight being breaking ground on our first ever high rise project at 730 N Milwaukee Ave in River West through our partnership with Rambaud Holdings. Although we still have a long way to go (another 9 stories to be exact), we are thrilled with the progress that we’ve made. Not only did our crew close out the year ahead of schedule, but our budget is coming in as projected!
What really allowed us to hit this tremendous achievement boils down to a few key ingredients. A talented team with boundless energy, hard work, and passion for doing things right are great examples. As a group, we learned important lessons such as the value of really understanding our numbers and the effect on the bottom line, putting the right people in the right spots and encouraging our team to focus on their strengths. By applying these simple concepts, we saw a ripple effect throughout the entire company. Digging into the details, learning new skills and allowing every employee the freedom to grow in their role contributed to the wave of change that swept Tandem. We have seen people take ownership when they believe that taking action is not someone else’s responsibility. This attitude has spread throughout the Tandem team this past year.
While 2018 was good to us, we’re excited to continue this growth in 2019. 730 N. Milwaukee will keep our hands full, but we’re fueled by the challenge. We aim to have it completed no later than the end of December 2019. We hope to nurture the ripple that began in 2018 and build it to a full wave in 2019. Maintaining our positive culture as we add new people to the team and ensuring that we have enough energy in the “tank” to get us to the finish line is how we’ll do it. We can’t wait to craft this post at the start of 2020. After adding an incredible building to the River West community that they’ll be proud of for years to come.
With 2019 bringing exciting changes for Tandem. We wanted to take a look back at how we got here. From 2004 and beyond, read below for a bit of background on the history of Tandem.
Tandem was started when Tony Andrews, Sean Staunton, Chris Walsh, and Dimitri Nassis joined together with the vision of building new single-family homes on the north side of Chicago, IL. The entire team was looking for career changes and to scratch a collective entrepreneurial itch. It all came together at their first office located in Roscoe Village at 1720 W School Street. The vision only grew from there and they quickly took on and sold their first new home project by October 2005.
Since then, the scale of their projects has changed rapidly. This was kick-started by a large scale six-unit condo building completed in January 2008. Internally they also pushed to grow and change processes that have resulted in projects ranging from a meat packing facility, to a low rise apartment building and now a high rise apartment building at 730 North Milwaukee.
These changes in project size have also merited a growth in staff. What started as a group of four is now 25 and counting thanks to project expansions. Thanks to the efforts of the team, a bright future is certainly in store. Most recently, the team has taken on 730 North Milwaukee with the grace of a well-established builder. This high rise apartment building with both residential and commercial space is nearing top-off come the end of February 2019. Taking on a project of this size has only inspired Tandem to continue challenging themselves.
After the completion of 730 in January of 2020, they will begin two projects in the West Loop. Both are 200 unit buildings who’s completions are anticipated to be mid-2021 and 2023 respectively. After the addition of these buildings, Tandem will be managing about 700 units including their prior properties. Looking even further in the company’s future, they’ve explored a number of ideas including development opportunities in other cities. With a growing portfolio of diverse projects, a hard-working team that is always ready to solve challenges, and leadership committed to using cutting edge processes, Tandem is sure to leave an impressive legacy in the years to come.”
Around mid-2016 Tandem Inc. first heard about the concept of Lean Construction and the began to understand the importance of it. After researching, they started implementing a few practices with the construction team. What’s special about the lean approach is how it focuses on creating value by relentlessly cutting waste and rework. In addition to this, the core values are efficiency, collaboration, accountability and transparency. These perfectly aligned with Tandem’s own values and commitment to building.
An important step on Tandem’s “lean journey” was hiring industry leader Rich Seiler from Unified Works to train the team and help the tradespeople understand the importance and benefits of creating a lean culture. He helped Tandem allow key players to work on the schedule together, which created a greater sense of ownership since everyone contributed to its creation and wasn’t something that was forced on them. Opening up the conversation where the various trades see how their work impacts each other has encouraged them to continue dialogue amongst themselves. Breaking down typical industry “silos” was also very helpful.
Change isn’t easy in any industry, but it’s even harder in construction which has religiously held onto a “this is how we’ve always done it” mentality. However, with team members like Superintendent Pat Cox, Tandem successfully was able to change methods within the company for the better. “One of the Lean practices is Pull Planning which emphasizes identifying activity sequence with all the stakeholders and agreeing to the hand-offs needed between each sequence. It also promoted the direct collaboration between trades in lieu of the General Contractor making promises” said Pat. It’s collaboration like this that has allowed the Lean Method to be fully embraced and successful within the Tandem team.
The Lean method practices that Tandem implemented aren’t groundbreaking or unique to the industry. What is unique is how Tandem, a small/boutique 25 person team, is a business using them. Typically these are methods performed by much larger GCs. An important piece to the puzzle of smaller contractors having the capability to build 25 story high rises is lean construction techniques. With a top off of the largest endeavor Tandem has tackled in the rearview mirror, the team is excited for what the future holds and how they’ll accomplish it implementing even more lean techniques.
I am fortunate enough that I have always known what I have wanted to do. Tandem started when I was 5 or 6 years old. I just did not know it back then.
What do you do at Tandem?
I do all the construction hiring, make final contractor selections and strategize about the direction and what the next year will look like.
What excites you about your work?
The most exciting thing is the all all-star team in front of me. Watching their innate skills makes me proud to be around every one of them. Not only because of their skills at work but as human beings.
What has your favorite project been?
What excites you about the future?
The team in front of me and how much better they will become. As well as all have accomplished. They have only just started hitting their stride.
If you could have an unlimited supply of anything in the office pantry what would it be?
Safety Yellow Hoodies and T-shirts….you can get a guy to knock down a wall for you in exchange for a hoodie.