CG Schmidt resurrects historic Milwaukee’s Bucyrus Club
Bringing a local landmark back to life
South Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s Bucyrus Club is getting a new chapter. for the Schultz Brothers Furniture Company, the building was purchased in 1910 by the Bucyrus Foundry and Manufacturing Company, which went on to be the area’s largest employer for over a century. After a decade of use as a machine shop, the building was converted into the first incarnation of the Bucyrus Club; a facility for employees of the company that featured a bowling alley, basketball court, dining hall and bar, billiards room, and stage.
The Bucyrus Club was at the center of South Milwaukee civic life for decades, becoming the South Milwaukee Community Center in 1994, but gradually fell out of use. Used since 2006 as a restaurant and bowling alley, the city of South Milwaukee purchased the building in 2020.
The Bucyrus Foundation has donated $1.5 million to the city to fund the building’s renovation as a banquet facility and the new site of the South Milwaukee Industrial Museum. The roughly $5 million project was awarded to and designed by .
Founded in 1920, CG Schmidt is one of Wisconsin’s largest general contractors. Family-owned for four generations, the company has built many of the region’s landmarks over the past century, including schools, stadiums, museums, and high rises, and holds the record for Wisconsin’s longest continuous concrete pour — 27 hours.
With this impressive local history, it was only fitting that CG Schmidt take on the task of bringing the Bucyrus Club back to life. Supported by a strong design from Zimmerman Architectural Studios, the project began in October 2020.
Beginning in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, the project brought the new challenges of the times; ensuring employee safety while maintaining proper distance and hygiene protocols. From the outset of the project, the CG Schmidt team saw that anything that facilitated remote collaboration was going to strengthen their performance.
The company implemented Bosch RefinemySite on several projects in the last year, including the Bucyrus Club. “It’s a really simple software to use, and really easy to learn,” says project manager Erin Murphy.
Breaking the project out into seven areas, the team has found value in using RefinemySite as a project management tool, with the involvement of many of their trade partners as well. “With Covid going on, it was really impossible to have 20 subcontractors in a trailer doing a pull schedule meeting, so we actually were able to do this online, and we had some Bosch representatives on the call to help us through it and show us some tips and tricks along the way,” explains Murphy. “It worked really well,” adds superintendent Pete Burrie.
“We’re able to move things live, so it’s very click/drag friendly,” says Murphy. Keeping the work well organized visually has also helped keep the team on track as they work remotely or at a distance. The team has implemented RefinemySite internally, with their subcontractors, and as a tool to share project updates at client meetings.
“It’s a one-stop program, we’re not updating Excel sheets, we’re not updating a Microsoft Project, this is it…I think its simplicity is a bit more universal than other software out there,” says Murphy. “…When I opened it up, I thought, ‘Oh, there's no learning curve.’ I clicked around for maybe 30 minutes and then I started adding stuff. I would say there was a 30-minute learning period.”
Despite the challenges of working around pandemic safety protocols and the inherent surprises that come with renovating older buildings, the project was completed on schedule in June. “…We were still able to maintain the schedule with the help of RefinemySite because even if we weren't able to progress in one area, we were able to show on RefinemySite where we could work…So, we were able to shift crews accordingly with those unexpected existing conditions,” says Murphy.
“The last thing you want to do is send a crew home, because when you send them home then they get put on other jobs, so it's harder to get them back. So, you want the drywallers on site, you want to keep them on site and keep it moving just to make your schedule. It was helpful to be able to shift, and that's exactly what we did during those calls was shift crews and keep things moving.”
The team also found that communication among various stakeholders was more efficient in a digital format. Meetings with other project managers, subcontractors, and the project’s owner were conducted virtually, and everyone involved could see the project plan in RefinemySite.
“As we were talking, we were able to move stuff around instead of me taking notes and going back and updating it, I could just update it during those meetings,” says Murphy. Keeping everyone up to date and making updates in real time increased transparency and minimized the potential for miscommunication.
The support offered by the RefinemySite team was also beneficial. “They gave me quick little pointers that were helpful and we were able to — weeks before the project — get everything inputted and start it from the get-go, which was really helpful,” says Murphy.
All the team’s hard work paid off, and this historic South Milwaukee landmark is open again, just in time for summer.
About Bosch RefinemySite
Bosch RefinemySite is a cloud-based construction collaboration platform that applies Lean principles to enable your entire team — from owners to trade contractors — to plan accurately, communicate clearly, and execute work efficiently. The easy-to-use digital platform empowers your team, builds trust, creates a culture of responsibility, and enhances communication.
At Bosch, we have over 100 years of experience empowering teams on the construction site. But our expertise isn’t limited to power tools. We’re global leaders in technology with an emphasis on digital solutions, and our vision is to build a connected ecosystem for Lean, BIM, and IoT.