School project supporting local firms

More than $1M awarded locally
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Leader Photo by Scott Williams Working on concrete supplied by Peters Concrete Co. in Bonduel, Dave Kasper of Miron Construction finishes a freshly poured concrete floor inside Shawano Community Middle School.

Leader Photo by Scott Williams Ryan O’Connor of Radtke Reuter Electric LLC in Shawano works on installing electrical systems inside the renovated Shawano Community Middle School.

An estimated $10 million overhaul of Shawano Community Middle School is paying dividends in terms of jobs and work for local contractors and suppliers.

Managers overseeing the publicly funded school renovation project have hired locally for electrical work, concrete supplies, landscaping services and office furnishings.

In all, more than $1 million in contracts have been awarded to Shawano County businesses, which means the money is more likely to be reinvested locally, as opposed to supporting out-of-town companies.

“To keep that money around this area is only going to help our economy,” said Dan Schutt of DFS Business Interiors, a Cecil-based firm that landed the job of equipping the newly renovated school with desks, chairs and other office furnishings.

Voters in the Shawano School District approved a referendum in November to move forward with a long-delayed upgrade of the middle school, 1050 S. Union St., which originally served as Shawano’s high school. The 62-year-old building is getting a new heating system, new main entrance, an enlarged cafeteria, new gymnasium locker rooms and more.

Work began in April and is scheduled for completion by August, before the new school year begins.

Miron Construction Co., the school district’s construction management firm, has worked to keep the project within budget while also looking for opportunities to award contracts to local businesses whenever possible.

Miron project manager Jared Olk said enlisting local specialists and suppliers not only makes a project go more smoothly from a logistical standpoint, it also tends to promote a stronger commitment on the job site among workers taking pride in what they are doing.

“It brings a sense of community together,” Olk said. “I’m glad we were able to find those local contractors. It worked out well.”

The largest local contract went to Radtke Reuter Electric LLC of Shawano, which won the estimated $900,000 job of handling all electrical work throughout the middle school project. The firm hired nine additional employees for the school job.

Business owner Mike Reuter said his firm has done work for the Shawano School District many times previously, so it is beneficial to the district to have a company that is familiar with school facilities and administrators.

Reuter also agreed with keeping the school district’s money in the community as much as possible.

“You’ve got local people paying for it,” he said. “You might as well try to keep it local.”

Other firms involved in the project include Peters Concrete Co., which is using a Bonduel plant to produce $20,000 to $30,000 worth of concrete, and Gretzinger Landscaping & Evergreens LLC of Shawano, which is doing a $50,000 courtyard makeover that originally was not part of the referendum project but was funded separately.

Jeff Peters, owner of the concrete supplier, said his workers already have poured concrete for new foundations and new floors in the renovated school.

“It’s a nice job,” he said. “We’re very happy to have the work.”

DFS Business Interiors has ordered about $62,000 worth of office furnishings to be installed before the school project is finished. Schutt said he was pleasantly surprised to see his firm announced as the winning bidder for the contract, which he called “a nice chunk of business.”

Doing business with local firms also will benefit the school district later with good customer service if any sort of follow-up service is needed, Schutt said.

“I’m here,” he said. “I’m here to stay.”