Sep 27, 2017 as published in the San Antonio Business Journal
Crews from San Antonio’s Cram Roofing are trading views of the Texas Hill Country for the Cascade Mountains of Oregon.
The Portland District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded Cram Roofing Company Inc. a $3.9 million contract in April to replace the roof of a building that houses 20 hydroelectric generators at the Bonneville Dam.
Located in the Columbia River Gorge between Oregon and Washington, the 80-year-old dam’s generators provide around 1,200 megawatts of power to the Pacific Northwest. Cram beat five companies bidding to put in a new roof at Powerhouse Two on the Washington side of dam.
With narrow roads for construction equipment and water rushing under both sides of the worksite, Cram Roofing Chief Operating Officer Mark Eichelbaum told the Business Journal that the job presents logistical challenges that the company does not ordinarily encounter in Texas.
“This project is exciting because it’s something different,” Eichelbaum said. “The last dam we did was five years ago. We don’t get the opportunity to work in the Portland, Oregon, and Washington area very often.”
Construction for the project started in August with Cram sending up to 30 employees from San Antonio to Oregon. Working on stair scaffolding four days a week, crews typically start their day at 2 a.m. and continue until about 3:30 p.m.
“At our preconstruction meeting, they told us that the heat would get up to a high of 87,” Eichelbaum said. “We looked at them and told them, ‘Our guys are going to love this job.'”
Crews with the San Antonio-based roofing company are expected to work on the Bonneville Dam project through October, take a break for the winter, and return in the spring to finish by fall 2018.
With the work being done in sections, Cram Roofing Sales and Estimating Manager Kevin Blische said crews start the day with demolition and abatement work and continue until the new section of roof is complete. The new roof uses lightweight insulating concrete, a waterproof membrane and a quarter inch slope to allow for runoff.
Voyles said the work crews must be mindful of tour groups and wildlife in the river. Since construction started, tourism related to the recent solar eclipse drove up hotel prices for a few days while the Eagle Creek Wildfire approached the dam and caused work to stop temporarily.
“When you put everything together, it makes for a very interesting and challenging project that not many people can do or even want to do,” Blische said.
Over the years, Cram has built a portfolio of commercial and governmental projects ranging from the roof of the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio to 1 million-square-foot roofs of distribution warehouses for companies such as Dollar General.
Five years ago, Cram redid the roof for a building that houses hydroelectric generators at the Dalles Dam in Oregon — another Army Corps of Engineers project. The company finished the Dalles project ahead of schedule, a factor that Voyles said helped them land the Bonneville project.
“Bonneville is one of the larger value jobs that we’ve done dollar wise,” Blische said. “There’s not too many $4 million roofs out there.”
San Antonio Business Journal