The Shauger Group Reconstructs Treetop Adventure Course
January 8, 2014
On August 23, 2013, members of The Shauger Group (TSG) proudly watched as Essex County’s reconstructed Treetop Adventure Course was reopened to the public. The original Treetop Adventure Course, which had been constructed by TSG in 2011, was destroyed in October 2012 when Hurricane Sandy tore through New Jersey and the surrounding area.
The new course features a zip line, which is over a football field in length. The remodeled site, located at 560 Northfield Avenue in West Orange, right next to the Turtle Back Zoo, includes both adult and junior courses.
TSG performed the site work on the project, including demolition work, construction, operations, drainage, and landscaping. TSG hired Challenge Towers as its subcontractor to assist with work on the zip line and course itself.
As is the case with all projects, the first step TSG took was to successfully estimate and bid on the project. TSG’s estimating department worked to secure competitive pricing from multiple sources, both for material and for qualified sub-contractors, in order to give TSG a chance at potentially proposing the lowest bid.
The work of Tom Kunc-Jasinski, Junior Project Supervisor, was instrumental in securing accurate information to use for compiling the bid numbers. Once an estimate draft was prepared, the estimating personnel met with Matthew Mulligan, Vice President of Operations, to discuss and ultimately finalize the bid numbers. Once the bid amount was decided, it was submitted sealed and then opened at the public bid opening. TSG, as the lowest overall responsive responsible bidder, was awarded the bid for Treetop, and a notice to proceed was issued to TSG on April 18, 2013. TSG, in accordance with Local Public Contract Law, has been extremely successful as the lowest bidder on numerous projects with the County of Essex, with a significant portion of the work taking place at the Turtle Back Zoo and the South Mountain Recreation Complex.
“To be able to be the successful bidder on this project by less than three percent was a testament to the dedication of all who contributed—plus a little luck,” said Mulligan, a West Orange and lifelong Essex County resident, who started working at TSG in 1994. Mulligan worked as a sweeper operator, dump truck driver, and construction foreman before becoming the Vice President of Operations. He now oversees the day-to-day workings of more than one hundred administrative, field, and supervisory employees.
Construction on the project began in May 2013. Extra measures were taken to further reinforce the new course and improve its durability against extreme weather conditions. While the original course had been built using existing trees, many of which were uprooted in the fierceness of Hurricane Sandy, the redesigned course uses utility poles as structural support. The utility poles vary from forty to sixty feet tall and are planted eight to twelve feet deep into the ground. Workers embedded the poles into concrete footings five to six feet deep.
TSG also ensured the sturdiness of the reconstructed course by using steel cables and guy anchors to keep the poles in tension.
The workers faced some unforeseen challenges during the construction process, but they nonetheless were able to complete the project on time and on budget. The crew hit a significant degree of solid rock, sometimes after digging only one foot deep. Encountering the rock made it trickier than expected to position the utility poles within an inch of the locations indicated on the design plans. Despite the fact that these were not issues originally anticipated, TSG dealt swiftly and efficiently with the problems, bringing in mini excavators and putting in the additional hours necessary to cut through the rock and accurately plant the poles.
“Thanks to the hard work of our project managers, specifically Brian DeCesare and foreman Mike Augustine; all of the field employees; and the administrative staff, particularly Patricia Fernandez, Operations Coordinator, the project was completed on time and to the complete satisfaction of the County of Essex,” said Mulligan.
The sophistication of the final project showcased just how talented the workforce—consisting of operators, carpenters, general laborers, and landscapers, among others—truly was. Kunc-Jasinski noted that the project highlighted a “diverse crew who made tremendous contributions.”
TSG’s overall workforce includes approximately 180 employees, ninety-eight percent of whom are New Jersey residents. Roughly eighty percent are Essex County residents, specifically.
“As owner of The Shauger Group, Inc., which is located right here in Essex County and which employs the highest number of employees who live in Essex County, I am so proud to be an integral part of the Treetop Adventure Course project—a project that will further enhance both the recreational and the cultural experience for residents of Essex County and the surrounding areas,” commented Lisa Shauger, President/CEO of TSG.
Donald Shauger, Executive Vice President of TSG, expressed TSG’s gratitude toward the County of Essex in a speech at the ribbon-cutting ceremony: “To the County Freeholders and the County Executive, we as an Essex County contractor thank you so much that you put jobs like this out there for us to bid on so that we’re keeping Essex County employees working.”
In his speech, Mr. Shauger spoke about the course, as well as the devastation caused ten months earlier by Hurricane Sandy. Mr. Shauger made particular mention of a Newark resident he had met a few months earlier, after she had given a speech at a United Negro College Fund fundraiser dinner. The girl, who lost her father in Hurricane Sandy, received a scholarship from the United Negro College Fund towards her college education. After learning that the scholarship did not cover the student’s entire college education, Mr. Shauger and Mrs. Shauger not only gave her money to pay for the balance of her education, but also offered her a job at TSG.
TSG was honored to serve Essex County, its residents, and members of the surrounding community through this project, and is proud to have been part of the efforts to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
To view additional photos on the project, please click here to view our project slideshow.
To view a feature video on the Treetop Adventure Course, please visit our Videos tab or click here.