Back to top
November 23, 2016
Notre Dame Jenkins and Nanovic HallsProjects, Education

As we pause this week to celebrate Thanksgiving with our families and friends, I wanted to share a story that happened on my jobsite last month because our client really kicked off the season of thanksgiving for me.

It started when the owner’s representative for the Notre Dame Jenkins and Nanovic Halls project told me that the Nanovic family wanted to buy coffee and donuts for all the tradespeople working on our project.

A few weeks later it had evolved from just coffee and donuts being dropped off for the tradespeople to a majority of department heads from the present Nanovic Institute for European Studies joining our team at the jobsite trailer.

The departments were involved with every aspect of setup in our conference trailer. Not only did they attend, they organized the event. From signage and photography to an elaborate spread of the finest donuts made by a noted area Amish bakery and coffee and juices from Notre Dame catering, they handled every detail.

Then, close to 150 tradespeople filed into our conference trailer to be served by Nanovic Institute staff. Many were able to shake Mr. Robert Nanovic’s hand and express appreciation to him directly for the thoughtful gesture.

JNH trade contractor breakfast

If that wasn’t enough, laid out in the very front of the tables of the catering line were 25 handwritten cards by many students and staff expressing their appreciation for all the tradespeople’s efforts.

The messages on these cards ranged from sentiments about how impressive the building looks on campus, to informing the tradespeople of their own passions and wishes once the new building is open. They shared specific areas of study and research in which they are presently and will be involved. Several even offered continued prayers and blessings for a safe completion of the project. All were very touching to read.

Notre Dame trade contractor breakfast

I was personally thankful for the notes and the time I was able to spend in casual question and answer conversation with Mr. Nanovic. He’s about as down-to-earth as you could ever hope.

We collected the thank you cards and posted them in the pull planning room to make sure everyone on site has a chance to read them.

At Pepper, we work with many clients who are appreciative of our work, but it’s not often that the message is directed to the people in the field doing the work, expressed by the clients themselves. It was unexpected and very thoughtful.

In a very tangible way, it connected the tradespeople’s individual tasks to the overall vision, and it connected the building to the people and purpose. I’m thankful for the opportunity to work on this project, for memorable moments like this and for clients who live their vision, even before the building is done.

All photos: Barbara Johnston, University of Notre Dame, 2016

About the Author

Gerry Sexton

Gerry SextonSenior Superintendent, Illinois

Gerry began working with Pepper Construction in 1978. A carpenter by trade, he is detail-oriented and focused on quality. Gerry has considerable experience working on higher education campuses for prestigious universities across the Midwest. In his day-to-day role, he works closely with the project team during planning to develop the project schedule and logistics plans and oversees on-site construction activities, including managing Pepper's tradespeople and subcontractors.