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Chicago-Based Pepper Construction Named Most Innovative Company in Construction Industry

Wed October 13, 2021 - National Edition

Chicago-based Pepper Construction was named the most innovative construction firm in the country for developing a virtual reality safety training program by leveraging tools and staffing resources that were already in place to create a "real life" safety learning environment. As a result, Pepper Construction was named as the grand prize winner of the AGC Innovation Awards, sponsored by Autodesk.

"In order to make construction projects great, firms must innovate," said Bob Lanham, the association's president and president of Williams Brothers Construction Co. Inc. in Houston, Texas. "These award winners have mixed hard work and ingenuity to strengthen their firms and produce outstanding results."

Through collaboration between the safety and virtual technology department, the Pepper team developed a virtual training program by customizing it using their own statistics reinforced with industry data with an option to make changes as the data evolved. This process allowed the team to eliminate the need to hire a consultant or purchase new software minimizing financial investment.

The team combined BIM models and point-cloud scans that were already in use in their programs with Unreal Engine, a creation engine used to build video games, to immerse employees within a replicated job site with real hazards in an authentic yet safe way.

In addition to Pepper Construction, Richardson, Texas-based Skiles Group received the second-place prize for development of its own app, Smart Safety, which provides field staff and project administrators with one-click access to site-specific emergency protocols and resources on all active job sites. Dunkirk, Md.-based PATRIOT was awarded the third-place prize for creating individualized treatment units to support both the healthcare industry and patients suffering from COVID-19.

The association presented Pepper Construction with a $7,000 grand prize during its annual convention in Orlando. Lanham noted that the association created the AGC Innovation Awards to inspire members of the construction industry to craft innovative solutions to pressing industry challenges. Lanham added that the Innovation Award showcases free thinkers within the construction industry to provide solutions to construction challenges we face.

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