United Excel

United Excel relaunches as StructSure Projects

The national general contractor formerly known as United Excel Corporation has relaunched as StructSure Projects. The firm founded in 1994 will build on its strength in the healthcare market and grow its presence in office and other diverse spaces.

“Healthcare is our main lane, but there is a desire to diversify and pursue other markets such as higher education, Class A office, and laboratory and pharmaceutical space,” said StructSure President Dennis Burns, who is leading the local market launch. “Healthcare is our bread and butter and what we are known for, but we still are going to look to expand into other sectors.”

“Our team is ready to put its expertise and drive for excellence to work in their own backyard,” Owner Kevin Rogers added. “StructSure Projects is motivated to perform at the highest level by offering certainty in quality of work and schedule.”

The company will retain all the history, experience and talent in its project management team. Recent projects include a new Hybrid OR at Shawnee Mission Medical Center, now AdventHealth, and the firm is currently working on projects for Lawrence Memorial Hospital, Children’s Mercy Hospital, and Menorah Medical Center.

"We have new energy and a new vision and it was the right time to rebrand and differentiate ourselves from the competition," Burns said. “We are still the same firm, just with a new look and feel."

Teamwork and expertise prove good medicine for SMMC project timeline

Shawnee Mission Medical Center has opened the city’s largest hybrid operating room, a fast-tracked project that converted an outdated clinical area into a 3,550-square foot surgical space equipped with the latest advanced imaging equipment and technology.

Built by general contractor United Excel and designed by health care architecture firm Pulse Design Group, the new multidisciplinary operating room allows health care professionals from different specialties to treat patients undergoing minimally-invasive heart and vascular surgeries in the same location. Procedures will include Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacements (TAVR), electrophysiology, vascular procedures and cardiac catheterization.

Most of the construction took place after normal business hours to meet an expedited project timeline and to minimize disruptions to patients and ongoing operations. It was a challenge that United Excel was prepared to meet.

“It’s so different from building a big box store or standalone construction because there are birthing mothers and even NICU patients right next to us.” said United Excel Project Manager Lucy Campbell. “Adjacent areas remained active during hospital hours and during off hours. If someone was admitted for an emergency surgery, we had to stop what we were doing but still maintain the construction schedule.”

United Excel built a shell around the construction space to limit harmful fumes, dust, vibration and noise. Once the hybrid OR was completed and equipment installed within the shell, crews performed a thorough terminal cleaning to ensure the space was 100 percent sterile.

“We built a whole room around the space in which we were going to be working, so you are building twice, basically,” said United Excel President Dennis Burns. “Those in health care construction understand how important infection control is. If you don’t do health care construction, then you may not be aware of how important that piece is.”

Architectural details included a flexible floor plan that was developed and vetted by nurses and physicians with the aid of virtual reality, custom solid surface casework provided by Shield, and an elevated control desk for optimal patient viewing. The advanced room design allows for a patient to transition from an interventional catheter-based procedure to a surgical procedure without being transported to another setting.

“Our firm has designed hybrid operating rooms for numerous clients, but the new hybrid operating room at Shawnee Mission Medical Center is by far the most spacious and technologically advanced. It sets the highest standards for future hybrid operating rooms,” said Pulse Design Group Principal Rick Embers.

Greg Highbarger, SMH design and construction manager, agreed that the complexities of the hybrid operating room project-- including a September-to-January timeline-- provided challenges.

“...the synergy of our design and construction partners defused any concerns that our project would not be completed on time and under budget,” Highbarger said in a release. “The success of our new state-of-the-art hybrid operating room is a testament to having the right expertise at each phase of the project.”

The project team included: Professional Engineering Consultants (PEC), P1 Group, Capital Electric, Allied Construction Services, Shield Casework, and Jayhawk Fire Sprinkler Co. Medical equipment was provided by Steris, Phillips, Biosense Webster, GE, Drager, Siemens, & Sorin.

United Excel built an actual infection control barrier during construction of Shawnee Mission Medical Center's Hybrid OR. The wall blends visually into the adjacent hallway.

United Excel built an actual infection control barrier during construction of Shawnee Mission Medical Center's Hybrid OR. The wall blends visually into the adjacent hallway.

United Excel returns to private sector work, beefs up KC presence

Since 1994, United Excel’s bread and butter has been in the health care market, building 130 projects for the University of Kansas Medical Center and dozens more for Shawnee Mission Medical Center. But about 8 years ago, the recession forced the company to branch out into design-build government health care projects.

United Excel is the only family of companies in the U.S. that incorporates design and construction-- as well as furniture, fixtures and equipment (FF&E)-- into its wheelhouse. That differentiation has paid off for the Kansas City-based general contractor, which currently rakes in roughly $130 million a year in government contracts alone, with projects lined up from New York to Hawaii.

But while steady and lucrative, government design-build is among the most difficult construction work a company can undertake, according to United Excel President Kevin Rogers. The government itself is a demanding client, and adding layers of oversight and input from various agencies makes for a grueling process.

“Doing work for KU Med or Shawnee Mission Medical Center is hard enough, and when you add in the Army Corps of Engineers and the Air Force on top of that, it’s very difficult.” Rogers said. “Plus when you’re working in a city where none of the contractors know you, it can get pretty tough, but the challenges have helped us create a team of amazing builders. They don’t even know how good they are.”

With architects in St. Louis under United Excel Design, most of the FF&E team in Denver, and the general contracting team in Kansas City, United Excel prides itself on taking a 3,000-page RFP and turning it into a project within 45 days.

“When we submit our proposals, they’re masterpieces,” Rogers said. “We don’t win every time, because the price isn’t always right, but it always comes back that our proposal is the best. We’ve become experts at understanding the government’s needs and submitting proposals, but it takes a lot of time.”

After two years as president, Rogers has observed a team approaching burnout. To reward all the hard work and success, he’s leading United Excel's charge back into private development. It’s a ripe market, and leadership believes the firm's highly capable and talented team will continue United Excel's winning streak as it expands into new strategic areas with significant potential. For example, Rogers believes United Excel's established health care design experience will set the stage for expansion into the assisted living sector.

United Excel is in the process of hiring a new business development professional to chase new business, ideally a Kansas City industry veteran with local and private sector experience who can complement Rogers’ background in government health care. Once that critical leadership piece is in place, United Excel will open a new Kansas City office—preferably in the Crossroads Arts District—later this year. 

“We don’t want to just do local work; we want to be part of Kansas City again,” Rogers said.

United Excel’s office at 5425 Antioch Dr. in Merriam, Kan. is listed for sale by CBRE.

Kevin Rogers, President of United Excel; and Jennifer Hansford, Vice President of Mill Creek

Kevin Rogers, President of United Excel; and Jennifer Hansford, Vice President of Mill Creek