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Sunday, January 29, 2023

Construction Hub

The day-to-day work that brings a construction project, such as the University of Southern Indiana’s new Applied Engineering building, to its final glory centers at the crossroads for all job-related activities: the construction trailer. At any given time, the office of Mike Porter, ARC Construction Co. project superintendent, doubles as a space for planning, meetings, and lunch.

This particular trailer, which Porter says is newer and smaller than most construction trailers (bigger jobs with more workers require the larger models), is about eight feet wide and 32 feet long, and a very short hallway divides it into roughly one-third office and two-thirds meeting room.

Between each job, Porter gathers his office supplies and the trailer is cleaned. It’s far from a “spring cleaning,” he says, pointing out tacks and staples lining the walls, where he pulled down posters from the previous job. Over the weeks and months, clutter can begin to stack up. Still, “it’s home away from home,” Porter says.

From coolers to cleaning supplies and appliances to file cabinets full of paperwork, the trailer has everything the crew needs to stay organized. Some days, depending on weather or responsibilities, Porter spends hours at a time in his office, though he laughs and admits he’s never had to spend the night in the trailer. And he isn’t the only one: between lunches, planning meetings, and assignments, every construction worker is sure to pass through the trailer at least once each day, leaving a muddy trail behind.

The Office:
Porter works on his laptop, relying on wireless Internet connectivity, among piles of folders, cords, and miscellaneous construction equipment such as a hardhat, yet doesn’t think the trailer is all that cluttered — at least, not as cluttered as some can get. His idea of clutter is the stacks of paperwork that can pile up from job to job and pack his file cabinet, which currently overflows with folders from recent construction jobs. Covering the window to Porter’s left is a construction schedule for ARC’s current USI job. This winter’s rainy weather set the job back, and now the schedule is outdated — but Porter still puts it to good use. It may not be accurate, but it works just fine as a window blind.

The Meeting Room:
A long table that takes up most of the room is surrounded by metal folding chairs, serving as both conference room and dining hall. On sunny days the room stays relatively clean; rain, on the other hand, forces the workers to eat inside, and the trailer becomes home to stacks of boots and coolers. Against the far wall, an outlet charges a line of power tools. Porter doesn’t consider himself a messy person — “maybe borderline,” he confesses with a chuckle. “But I put work a little higher on my priority list (than cleaning).”

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