Guest Column - May 2009
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Your Turf Team

Selecting the Best Partners for Your Synthetic Turf Project

By Jim Dobmeier

Project Management

Building synthetic grass athletic fields is major construction and requires sound project management. Having one company handle the magnitude of paperwork involved not only creates an efficient process, it can also mean peace-of-mind. Bid forms, contracts, submittals, progress invoicing, scheduling and close-out documents are all crucial administration details. How these tasks are handled can mean the difference between a successful field installation and a problem project.

Case in Point

For St. Joseph Collegiate Institute in Buffalo, N.Y., which recently built an impressive 183,000-square-foot multi-sport, multi-field synthetic turf facility, the benefits were clear. Consultant Paul Bieron who led the project for St. Joe's, said the decision to work directly with a field builder ultimately came down to guarantees—on quality, expertise and the commitment to get the job done right.

After years of playing on a traditional natural grass field, the new synthetic turf field offered the promise of durability for year-round usage, consistent playability and no more weather worries due to harsh winters and rainy springs. For the school's baseball team, the new field would mean early season outdoor practices—a luxury in Western New York.

"We were given a commitment that our project would go, that they would take care of everything and we would only have to deal with them," Bieron said. "Everything was guaranteed, coordinated and handled by one company."

The "everything" St. Joe's was counting on included the field, the track, water and fiber-optic lines and the installation of the scoreboard. And while everything was well planned, even the best plans on paper have a few bumps.

"The backstop needed for the baseball portion of the field was a unique problem. This became a real issue for the installer due to the circumference needed and the fact that we had to anchor the backstop to the cement curb. It just didn't work as planned," Bieron explained. But working with the field installer, they put in a second curb, a workable solution.

Solutions were needed again when the school decided to add fiber optics to the plan. In this case, the answer was easy—dig another trench. The trouble came when the crew installing the fence cut right through one of the fiber-optic cables. What could have been a major issue involving an architect, a change order and added expense turned out to be a minor disruption. Bieron credits the streamlined process to working directly with the field builder that delivered exceptional expertise and customer service.

"I could call them any time I wanted. I could meet with them any time I wanted.

I had unlimited accessibility from day one—and we got what we wanted and we got it done right."


Jim Dobmeier is founder & president of A-Turf and Surface America. Based in Cheektowaga, N.Y., A-Turf Inc. is a leading field builder specializing in the supply, installation and administration of synthetic turf projects. Surface America is a leader in the playground surfacing industry with a complete line of playground surfacing systems. For more information, visit and