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VOL. 130 | NO. 194 | Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Allworld Project Management Grows Staff With Tech Focus

By Madeline Faber

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Tiger Lane. Crosstown Concourse. The Shelby Farms “Heart of the Park” expansion. The Main to Main Multi-Modal Connector Project across the Harahan Bridge. Some of the city’s biggest development projects lead to Allworld Project Management, a 5-year-old firm that’s taking the project management industry to new, tech-focused territory.

Allworld Project Management founder Michael Hooks Jr. (center left) with staff (from left) Brent Hooks, Ivan Tamayo, April V. Simmons, Emily Rozar, Ronnie Foster Jr., Chris Burford, Ron Hooks and AJ Robinson.

(Daily News/Andrew J. Breig)

AWPM manages mainly civil and environmental projects for architectural and engineering clients. The firm, which was founded by Michael Hooks Jr. in 2010, can scale to manage as much of a project as needed from coordinating schedules to overseeing compliance with federal environmental regulations.

Since the its first project performing document control and construction administration for Tiger Lane, AWPM has ventured into areas that haven’t traditionally fallen under the header of project management such as data management, geographic information systems and community and economic planning. It’s currently developing a proprietary software application to keep up with field crews through the use of GIS date- and time-stamped reports and photographs sent from the project site.

“That’s how I started the company based on simplified document control at Tiger Lane where you had multiple sources of funds, multiple contractors and a compressed schedule,” Hooks said. “I’ll never forget – I said I’m going to put this on the cloud and people looked at me like what is he talking about? The cloud? Now it’s almost in the specifications that you keep it in the cloud.”

Moving to cloud-based project management and emphasizing GIS mapping will allow AWPM to grow its reach outside of the Memphis area. Currently, the firm is working on 13 contracts across Memphis; West Memphis and Little Rock, Ark.; Vicksburg, Miss.; and Minneapolis.

One of the biggest projects underway is program management of the Sewer Assessment Rehabilitation Program. Dubbed SARP10, the program will revamp 2,400 miles of Memphis pipelines.

“Since the beginning of time, the city of Memphis operated off of paper maps,” said Brent Hooks, project manager and accountant with AWPM. “Now we’re digitizing those maps so they will be able to streamline processes and protocols within their organization.”

As part of a consent decree with the Environmental Protection Agency, all city pipes need to be monitored through closed-circuit video. In addition to staying on top of deadlines and making sure everything is compliant with the EPA, AWPM is putting the videos and other information in an online database for future city use.

“Being young and adaptable to technology really gives us an advantage,” Michael Hooks said. “It also creates opportunity; being a small firm and being more lean, the clients like the fact that we’re a little bit more flexible.”

Hooks boasts a diverse staff of 20 full-time employees. Seventy percent of the staff are millennials, and 72 percent graduated from the University of Memphis.

AWPM is looking for ways to grow in the private sector and increase its GIS and data management offerings. The firm just wrapped a strategic business plan with the Mid-South Minority Business Council and it’s hoping to apply for the 8(a) Business Development Program through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The project management industry looks different than it did in 2001 when Hooks was administrating over construction of the FedExForum, but diversity programming has been constant.

“I was able to focus on the diversity programming, which is huge to us at Allworld,” he said. “We were able to match-make and pull contractors together – black, white, women-owned, majority, minority, people that didn’t necessarily have familiarity with each other and create some success stories.”

One of AWPM’s early contracts was developing diversity plans for the Memphis-Shelby County Economic Development Growth Engine. AWPM compiled a database of local women and minority-owned businesses to help developers meet diversity requirements when applying for EDGE’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes incentives.

AWPM’s work helped PILOT-grantee Electrolux Home Products achieve 50 percent local and minority participation in the construction of its $190 million manufacturing facility in 2013. AWPM also provided construction compliance and inspection on the project.

“That’s something that we’re very proud of,” Hooks said. “But we don’t want to be pigeonholed into just doing diversity work. We want to be technical, provide value-added services that are not DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) required. That’s our main goal.”

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