Do Core Values Really Matter?
Brad Wermers | Jul 21, 2021
Like so many other companies working to find their place in the world, we approached the idea of core values as a way to pave the path to success. Also like other companies, we learned that finding our core values was not an easy or obvious journey. A few years ago, we started a process at Banner to reevaluate the company and establish new core values to match and strengthen our culture. We reflected and asked ourselves some tough questions about who we are and what we value as people. We discovered common threads in what we care about, what we would never compromise, and what we aspire to be. These ideas became the foundational pieces of a reformed Banner: we will be Reliable, Passionate, People-Focused, and Driven as we embrace a Culture of Improvement. These ideas became our core values.
Through company traditions, events, and daily interactions between staff and our clients, these core values began to surface in every facet of our business. Recognition, communication, and ongoing development brought a change in each of us as our passion for and commitment to our work grew. The business grew too. This was different than before. This was better.
What made the difference? We let the core values emerge on their own as genuine extensions of our collective motivations and goals. We stopped trying to manufacture motivation and instead started amplifying the excitement for our work we all shared. And when everyone here naturally upholds these core values, this outstanding company can take on just about anything.
Over the coming weeks, I will be posting segments on each of our core values through our social media channels. As important as it is for us on the Banner team to live by these values, we feel these values help the communities and entities we serve to better understand us and our ongoing mission of Engineering A Better Community. They have helped us continue solid relationships that have lasted decades, and build new ones that we are excited to see unfold.
So, to answer the question “Do Core Values really matter?”: Yes!
Core Value 1: embrace the Culture of Improvement
We think of success as a status that can be earned and maintained; something we have to work on daily. Whether it’s reading a self-improvement book recommended by a colleague or jumping into a new education path, we challenge ourselves to continuously grow and improve. For us, truly embracing this culture of improvement means providing opportunity to improve. Our team can receive tuition assistance for continuing education opportunities with nearby universities, technical schools, and online education. Different types of specialized training, certification, and short courses are covered too: Floodplain Management training, NACE certification, and AutoCAD University courses are just a few examples people on our team have pursued. While we are all excited to keep learning and evolving on a personal level, we are thrilled to better our services for the clients we serve today and in the future.
Core Value 2: coming soon!
Homing In: Vermillion’s Bliss Pointe Phase II Groundbreaking
Banner Associates, Inc. | Jun 02, 2021
On Wednesday May 12th, people gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony that will bring over 50 new homes to the City of Vermillion’s newest residential development. This event, hosted by the Vermillion Area Chamber and Development Company (VCDC), kicks off Phase II of the multimillion-dollar Bliss Pointe housing development.
Nate Welch (VCDC President and CEO) had a few words on the project’s impact: “Quality housing is imperative to any community… This next phase of Bliss Pointe will help Vermillion continue to strive in the improvement of attainable housing options so more people can call Vermillion home.”
Considering Banner’s core values of being people-focused and embracing a culture of improvement, this project resonated with us. The VCDC’s continued efforts to bring new, attainable housing options to current and potential residents echo these values, and we are proud to have a part in the Bliss Pointe Phase II development. So far, we have assisted with topographic surveying, planning, designing, and bidding; we are continuing our work on the project with construction staking and our resident project representative services.
Bliss Pointe Phase II is anticipated to be complete this coming November, and lot pricing information is scheduled for release in early July. We want to thank the VCDC for all they do for Vermillion, and again for letting us help engineer a better community.
Level Up: How Surveying Helps Communities Grow
Banner Associates, Inc. | May 06, 2021
Everything ages. As equipment and facilities reach the limits of their useful life, some companies will opt to do more than replace and update: they use it as an opportunity to expand. With the right information on the inner workings of the building, an expansion seems simple enough. Like everything aging, however, the earth is always shifting, and even subtle changes can have huge impacts on any expansion project. To make sure we have a complete picture of the conditions, we use various land surveying techniques to gather data on the land and any changes that have occurred. This data factors into design and construction, ensuring the new (or reconstructed) sections match the existing facility. One of these techniques is line leveling.
Line Leveling is a simple but essential part of surveying and engineering. It starts with finding fixed metal anchors in the earth known as National Geodetic Survey (NGS) monuments. Monuments are cataloged in the NGS database as a single point for all past, present, and future survey data. When surveying, we use a level and grading rod to create a level loop, which is a series of elevations collected by leap-frogging from point to point until we return to the original spot, collecting data along the way. From there, we “check in” to determine if the level loop data is within tolerance and run additional calculations to adjust for any errors that occurred throughout the process. The result is accurate elevation data for the surveyed area, which is critical for design and construction.
As an example, we are working with WEB Water on a project to expand a facility. This particular facility presents unique challenges, as it has plan sets spanning across multiple decades which use varying data points. In Surveying, these data points are known individually as Vertical Datum: they serve as a point of zero elevation that we use to determine the elevation of other points in the surveyed area. Since the earth is always moving and undulating, a vertical datum can change over time. Beyond that, each plan set through the years used a different vertical datum.
We set to work, obtaining accurate elevations of important features like tanks and finished floors using a new vertical datum. From there, the design team will be able to compare elevation data from the previous plans with current elevation data, designing an expansion that can seamlessly incorporate with the existing buildings.
Celebrating Environmental Protection: Happy 51st Anniversary to Earth Day!
Banner Associates, Inc. | Apr 22, 2021
After 51 years, April 22nd has become an important date on the calendars for over a billion people across nearly 200 countries: it’s Earth Day! Starting as a means to raise support for and awareness of environmental protection, Earth Day has grown into a movement that extends far beyond one calendar day. In fact, some areas have expanded Earth Day into a seven-day schedule of events, aptly titled Earth Week. This year’s theme is “Restore Our Earth,” which focuses on climate change and what we can do—individually and collectively—to make a difference. Environmental protection and restoration can start with simple steps in our everyday life, and it can start today. Here are a few ideas to get started:
- Swap out your single-use plastics.
- Add native plants to your garden. If you don’t have garden space, try indoor planters to grow your own herbs and leafy greens.
- Start a kitchen compost bin.
- Learn about your area’s recycling programs and which materials you can recycle.
- Support environmentally conscious companies:
- Check products and packaging labels for “made from recycled materials” and “made from sustainable resources” (e.g. paper, cardboard, clothing, and more)
- Look for biodegradable and/or compostable packaging (often food containers)
Of course, there are many other options and ideas to help our environment and restore our Earth: learn more by attending Earth Day events in your area. In South Dakota, Dakota Rural Action is hosting an Annual Earth Day Expo in Rapid City from April 19th–25th. The Expo includes virtual and socially-distanced outdoor activities and events in honor of Earth Day. The official Earth Day website has listings for larger area events, and local events are usually easy to find in local news websites and social media.
Sustainability and awareness begin with each of us, and together we have the power to make a change. Happy Earth Day!
No Bridge Too Far: Judging the AISC Student Steel Bridge Virtual Competition at SDSU
Banner Associates, Inc. | Apr 15, 2021
When COVID restrictions pushed a normally in-person student competition to the virtual stage, members of the Banner engineering team stepped up to help. For the last few decades, the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) has hosted an annual Student Steel Bridge Competition (SSBC). The goals of the SSBC are fairly straightforward: they encourage students, working in groups, to apply the concepts they’ve learned in class to design, construct, and test a bridge made of steel. The student teams would usually bring their finished bridges to regional events for judges to review, but limitations on social gatherings posed an issue. Rather than consider the competition a bridge too far during pandemic restrictions, AISC adapted by asking schools to compete virtually from their own campuses by enlisting local engineering professionals as judges.
Tevis Holzer, an engineer in our Structural group, was asked to be the Head Judge for the South Dakota State University (SDSU) entry. Tevis was joined by fellow Banner engineering team members Deidre Beck and Matthew Buenger, as well as Brian Ruppelt from CDI. Together, this team of judges was responsible for verifying the students adhered to the safety requirements and competition rules in the 56-page AISC competition rulebook and, of course, scoring the students’ work. This meant checking the student team’s safety measures, designs, construction time, processes, methods, materials, and even the simulated bridge installation area, complete with marked-off sections that represented staging yards, construction zones, and a river.
Once the judges validated each of these requirements, they turned their attention to official evaluation of the student team’s work. The bridge was loaded with 2,500 pounds of weight while Tevis, Deidre, Matthew, and Brian watched for deflection, or changes in the structure to accommodate the load. The primary criteria included the weight of the bridge itself, overall assembly time, integrity under lateral and vertical loads, and aesthetics.
Ultimately, the work from the judges and students alike complied with the AISC requirements for a successful entry to the 2021 SSBC virtual competition. We are excited this long-standing competition could overcome the distancing challenges to keep students engaged and connected, and proud to have members of the Banner team volunteer their time to help out. We wish the best of luck to all the competitors!
Paving the Way for Community Growth: Volga, SD Industrial Park Improvement Projects
Banner Associates, Inc. | Mar 17, 2021
Volga’s Industrial Park is already home to many thriving businesses, and it’s expanding to welcome others on the horizon. To ensure prospective businesses can smoothly set up shop, the City set to work with updates and improvements to the current infrastructure. Part of this ongoing effort included securing funds to cover a portion of construction costs. The City decided to apply for the SDDOT Industrial Park Access Grant, which can cover up to 80% of eligible construction costs; Banner assisted with the application process.
The project specific to these grant funds resulted in updates to the drainage and storm sewer system and a street reconstruction on Industrial Drive. Starting south of a recycling business and traveling north toward a construction business and trucking firm, this 1,000-foot street section changed from gravel to finished street.
Designed to accommodate heavy truck traffic, the 39-foot wide asphalt section is six inches thick on top of an additional ten inches of aggregate base. This tapers into a 30-foot wide paved section with wide driveways for the trucking business. Curbs and gutters line both sections for improved aesthetics and drainage.
Bowes Construction served as the general contractor with subcontracting work from Clark Drew Construction and Meyer Services. Together, they installed over 1,300 tons of asphalt concrete and nearly 2,000 linear feet of concrete curbs and gutter, improving travel and access for at least six businesses in the Volga Industrial Park.
Volga continues to grow, and Banner is here to help. We are working with the City on their new industrial development area in the northwest area of town to meet the rising demand for more industrial lots. Planned for completion in August / September 2021, the new Volga Industrial Park will have 8 different lots (ranging from 0.6–2.4 acres in size) connected with a heavy-duty, 30-foot wide asphalt road with curb and gutter. Storm sewer, watermain, and sanitary sewer infrastructure are included as part of this project as well. These features ensure the new Volga Industrial Park is ready for a variety of businesses: plans for the first building are already underway!
You can read more about this new development on the Brookings EDC website, or by contacting the Volga City Administrator, Jameson Berreth at (605) 627-9113.
Project Spotlight: Lewis & Clark Regional Water System
Banner Associates, Inc. | Jan 20, 2021
Iowa Segment 3: Water for the Iowa members of Lewis & Clark
The Lewis & Clark Regional Water System Iowa Treated Water Pipeline – Segment 3 is the last Segment of pipe construction that needs to be completed to allow water to be delivered to the Iowa members of Lewis & Clark (Sioux Center, Hull and Sheldon). Iowa Segment 3 is just 1 of 3 projects being constructed by the same Contractor between Beresford SD and Sioux Center IA. Total length of all three projects is 33.45 miles to install a 24-inch diameter pipe to transmit treated drinking water. The Iowa 3 project itself is 12.59 miles. When finished the pipeline will ultimately deliver 3.75 million gallons of water per day to the Iowa members.
Top Left: Assembling a joint of the 24-inch diameter bore pipe prior to welding. In order to protect the pipes internal lining during the welding process a unique coupling was utilized to protect the girth weld from corrosion. Bottom Left: This pull head will be welded to the 24-inch diameter bore pipe to allow connection of a drill stem for pulling the pipe under the Big Sioux River.
The Segment 12 project started at Beresford, SD, and consisted of 9.67 miles of 24-inch diameter PVC pipe. The Iowa Segment 2 project started at Sioux Center and went west and is 11.19 miles of 24-inch diameter PVC pipe. The pipe pressures are higher at the Big Sioux River valley, requiring the Iowa Segment 3 project to be either ductile iron pipe or steel pipe. The contractor chose to use a ductile iron pipe for most all of Iowa Segment 3 and utilized a welded steel pipe to cross under the Big Sioux River.
The Big Sioux River defines the boundary between South Dakota and Iowa and flows past the communities of Sioux Falls, and Hudson, SD and Hawarden, IA. It also collects the Rock River which flows from Luverne, MN.
Above: This is the drill rig/bore machine located on the Iowa side of the Big Sioux River. In the lower left corner of photo you can see the drill stem as it enters the ground. This drill stem has been extended under the Big Sioux River and into South Dakota. The bore machine via the drill stem will pull the 24-inch diameter pipe and centering it under the Big Sioux River and positioning it for a connection to 24-inch ductile iron pipe.
Top: Banner Associates Sr. Project Manager Scott Vander Meulen and a representative from the contractor review the directional drilling pulling head after it has been welded on the 24-inch diameter pipe. Protective coatings will be applied to the welded joint before the pipe gets pulled under the Big Sioux River. Scott has been involved in the planning, design and project management of this Segment of L&C for several years. Bottom: The contractor is moving the 1700 foot long steel pipe into position so that it can be connected to the drill stem.
In order to serve the L&C members of Hull, Sheldon and Sioux Center, IA, a pipe had to be constructed across or “under” the Big Sioux River. To install the pipe across the Big Sioux River the Contractor utilized a construction method known as Horizontal Directional Drilling or HDD. A pipe stem is drilled or advanced under the river from the Iowa side and once it emerges on the South Dakota side a larger reamer (drill bit) is attached to the stem and pulled back so that the bore hole is reamed to a larger diameter bore hole. Eventually the hole is reamed to a 36-inch diameter and large enough to allow the 24-inch water pipe to be pulled through the bore hole via the drill stem which is attached to the boring machine on the Iowa side.
The Lewis and Clark Regional Water System, a non-profit corporation composed of numerous municipalities and rural water systems, is constructing a water supply pipeline and associated well field, pump stations, treatment plant, and storage reservoirs throughout southeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, and northwestern Iowa. The completed pipeline system would be approximately 310 miles long, and will provide a high-quality reliable domestic water supply to residents of 14 counties in southeastern South Dakota, southwestern Minnesota, and northwestern Iowa.
Importance of Community
Banner Associates, Inc. | Dec 29, 2020
Banner Associates has been around since 1947. We’re proud to be an engineering firm that provides a wide array of services to our clients, and we feel fortunate to be a growing, thriving business. But truth be told, there’s more to our business than engineering. To align our purpose with the communities we serve, it’s important that we demonstrate a commitment to our communities throughout the year.
"Now and always, our commitment to community is a priority."
We at Banner take pride in supporting our staff that participate and donate their time to programs like Brookings County Youth Mentoring, SDSU’s Growing in Engineering, Mathematics, and Science (GEMS) Program, Feeding Brookings, Project Joy, the Backpack Projects in Brookings and Sioux Falls, Habitat for Humanity, as well as involvement in various community boards, committees, and efforts.
We’ve enjoyed community outreach opportunities that make our communities better, like helping high school students prepare for the workforce, hosting a Community Open House to promote the Build Dakota Scholarship Program, and organizing community screening events in Brookings and Huron for “Dream Big,” an inspiring film that portrays human ingenuity and the impact of engineering. Now and always, our commitment to community is a priority.
Banner is Excited to Announce Our Newly Established Environmental Department
Banner Associates, Inc. | Nov 16, 2020
WHAT IS ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE?
Environmental compliance is meeting official environmental requirements. Simply put, doing everything that is required by local, state, and/or federal laws that are focused on protecting social, economic, cultural, and natural resources in our environment. Some examples of these laws include the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), Endangered Species Act, Clean Water Act, and the National Historic Preservation Act.
HOW DO I KNOW IF MY PROJECT REQUIRES ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE?
All projects should be reviewed to determine which environmental regulations are applicable and their requirements. Due to our South Dakota-focused team’s knowledge of each regulation and process, we can map out a path for each specific project in a short conversation. Please do not hesitate to give our Environmental Department a call to discuss.
HOW CAN THE BANNER ENVIRONMENTAL TEAM ASSIST IN COMPLETING MY PROJECT?
Our approach anticipates the regulatory and legal requirements, along with community concerns. We have completed numerous environmental documents under the National Environmental Policy Act and have worked with federal agencies to ensure regulatory compliance with all laws.
Environmental regulations vary in the application for each project, as does the level of compliance required. Mapping a strategy focused on each project meeting the environmental regulations promptly is always our goal. Our environmental team offers excellent collaboration to successfully implement your project.
WHAT SERVICES DOES THE BANNER ENVIRONMENTAL TEAM PROVIDE?
- NEPA Documentation (Categorical Exclusions, Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements)
- Wetland Delineations that meet US Army Corp of Engineers requirements
- Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessments
- Section 404 Permitting
- Wetland Mitigation Site Identification and Design
- Strategic Communication
- Documentation such as Solid Waste Codes and Solid Waste Management Plans Climate Analysis and Adaptation Plans
- Public Information, Website Development, and Social Media Section 106 Coordination
- Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
- General Habitat Assessments and Biological Assessment Documentation
- Topeka Shiner Construction Monitoring
- Wildlife Management Plans, Wildlife Population Analyses, Program Development
- Grant Writing
- Hazardous Material Review
- Asset Management
MEET OUR ENVIRONMENTAL TEAM
Becky Baker, Environmental Department Head
Leading our Environmental Department is Becky Baker, a graduate of SDSU and a life-long resident of South Dakota. She has over 17 years of experience in environmental analysis, assisting cities, counties, and states to meet environmental requirements to move forward with infrastructure projects. Becky specializes in National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) documentation and wetland regulations.
Cheryl Chapman, Ph.D., PE Technical Advisor
Dr. Chapman has more than 41 years in the environmental field, holding top management and leadership positions in both the private and government sectors. Her experience as an engineer, corporate director, elected official, and public administrator brings diverse capabilities and perspectives, which are essential in controversial environmental projects within communities. She specializes in strategic communication and Section 106 consultation.
Leslie Murphy, Project Manager
Leslie has over 20 years of experience in environmental review, compliance, and conservation, assisting clients with navigation through environmental regulations in an effective, efficient process. Leslie has worked in coordination with private landowners, local, state, federal, and Tribal agencies and can effectively identify environmental impacts. Her focus includes public and agency coordination, NEPA documentation, Section 404 permitting on water resource projects, wetland delineation, and threatened and endangered species impact assessment.
Reinique Beck, Environmental Scientist
Reinique has 8 years’ experience working with Tribal Natural Resource and Water Resource Departments in South Dakota. She specializes in assisting tribal departments in meeting required operational documentation and strategic communication. Reinique has collaborated with various agencies in the collection of water sample testing for pesticides in wetlands, intermittent streams, and lakes located on Tribal lands.
Audra Van Ekeren, Environmental Scientist
Audra has 2 years of experience in biological surveys, habitat assessments, watershed protection, and conservation in government, academic, and volunteer roles both in the United States and abroad. She specializes in watershed management analysis fieldwork at Banner, and her focus includes wetland delineations, threatened and endangered species impact assessments, NEPA documentation, and GIS. Outside of Banner, Audra is an avid bird of prey conservationist and advocate.
Brennan Hilzendeger, Environmental Scientist
Brennan specializes in air quality monitoring and wetland delineations. He brings 2 years’ experience working with air quality monitoring, wetland delineations, and threatened and endangered species surveys. He has worked with the NRCS, USACE, and the South Dakota DENR. Brennan's focus will include wetland delineations, assisting with NEPA documentation, and assisting with T&E impact assessments.
Joanna Studt, Biologist
Joanna, with over 20 years of experience, specializes in natural resource management issues facing tribal, federal, state, and private entities. Her work includes wildlife management plans, wetland delineation, wildlife population analyses, program development, and grant writing, which helps entities resolve management issues by providing sound, biological data on which to base decisions.
Zachary Darling, Engineer Graduate
A 2019 Engineering graduate of South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Zach specializes in hazardous material review and climate analysis.
Frank Parker, GIS Analyst
Frank Parker specializes in GIS and asset management databases for communities. With over 3 years’ experience, he works with clients to create asset management systems and perform analysis of their assets to aid in determining future planning.