For the past three years Beckenhauer Construction, Inc. (BCI) has been the general contractor for the Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) construction and renovation project. Heading that effort was the company’s Project Manager Jim Bargen. Needless to say, he literally knows the hospital’s facility inside and out. So it seemed a perfect fit for him to apply for the Chief Operations Manager position when it opened up after Lori Mazanec vacated that position when she was named CEO of the hospital. Mr. Bargen was very interested. “I didn’t apply immediately, wanting to make sure my family was okay with me seeking the job,” he said. “They were, so I applied and went through the hospital’s application process.”
The 2007 UNL graduate (obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Construction Management) said he was flattered when Ms. Mazanec offered him the position. “I strive for people to think I’m doing a good job, especially a client,” Mr. Bargen said. “Her saying that she and the rest of the people who interviewed me were eager to make me a part of the executive team was a pretty good feeling.”
The Hebron, NE native will start his new duties as COO at BBGH on March 1, 2017, assuming leadership responsibilities for Plant Services, Environmental and Laundry Services and Information Services.
Asked what the best experience he’s had while managing the BBGH project, he said, “It has been really enjoyable working with the staff here. There are always problems that come up with projects like this that you have to work through as a team. That kind of collaboration has been great here. Some projects you might have an owner who isn’t too easy to work with, or maybe a design team that is hard to work with. But here it all meshed together really well. It’s a good crew, which is why I was very interested in applying for the COO position.”
After graduating from UNL, Mr. Bargen immediately joined BCI and after a few months doing ‘labor stuff’ he became an assistant superintendent. “After about a year, I became a superintendent and ran around five construction projects for BCI,” he said. “From there I moved up to project management and last year BCI promoted me to Senior Project Manager where I work with all our other project managers. This past year I’ve been finishing up the renovation project here as well as an on-going one we have with Regional West Medical Center in Scottsbluff; doing the pre-construction for the Valentine hospital being planned, and working on a library project for Wayne State College.” Another feather in his cap is the fact that Mr. Bargen was named BCI’s Employee of the Year for 2016.
“In the 10 years I’ve been with BCI, I’ve always been interested in construction projects involving healthcare,” he continued. “There’s a lot more pre-planning, planning and much more intricate detail in constructing a hospital … the ICU’s, operating rooms, PCU rooms, ancillary departments … all of that requires a lot of detail work that has to be done right. I really pushed getting involved in healthcare, and for the past six years I’ve been mostly working on those kinds of projects. One just before coming out here was the St. Francis Memorial Hospital in West Point, just a little smaller than the one here at BBGH, but still a three year project.”
As any fan of television shows who like “Fixer Upper” and the “Property Brothers” know, there can be some surprises when doing renovations on older buildings. And there was a big one here at BBGH when they started on The Rehab & Wellness Center renovation early last year. “It was pretty bizarre,” Mr. Bargen said. “We were in the middle of demo work in the old Imaging area, and we came across a huge steel structure that supported a platform above the ceiling that had two huge old transformers on it; what you usually see on platforms or poles in an alley. One wasn’t working. The other one was still live, but only feeding a little distribution panel that had just a couple circuits. So there were a lot of steel supports and concrete that had to be removed. I mean, none of this was in the original building plans or any other old plans. It was just … there. So yeah, that kind of threw us for a couple days. Oh, and demo crews came across beer cans in the walls and even a remote control rat that was pretty gnarly. We figure someone was using it to scare someone back then. You always find things like that when doing renovations.”
When announcing Mr. Bargen’s acceptance of the COO position to staff last week, Ms. Mazanec said, “It is with great excitement to announce that Jim Bargen has accepted the position of Chief Operations Officer … He already has extensive knowledge of our facility as the Project Manager of our new addition and renovation project. It’s great to have him on board. Jim became a part of our BBGH family during construction, and I am thrilled that he and his family are staying in this great community and will continue to be a part of BBGH.”
Mr. Bargen moved here with his family in January of 2014 to be onsite all of the time. “My wife Kari and I moved here with our triplets: Harper, Harrison and Claire, all four years old, and a new baby born at BBGH in 2015; Lincoln, who’s one year old,” he concluded. “We all enjoying living in Alliance and I am really looking forward to working at the BBGH.”
Box Butte General Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.