Expansion’s contractor honors uncle and other vets who fought for freedom in The War That Changed The World
NEW ORLEANS (September 4, 2009) – When George Pontikes, President and CEO of Satterfield & Pontikes Construction (S&P), enters the construction site where the three newest attractions of The National World War II Museum rise, his thoughts invariably turn to the reasons he is here. There’s the job, itself, and the prestige of being associated with the largest attraction to open in the Crescent City since Hurricane Katrina. The most important reason, however, is his Uncle Mike, age 89.
“My uncle, Brigadier General Mike Cokinos fought in World War II,” he says. “He was the first person to receive the Silver Star in the 8th Armored Division. Uncle Mike commandeered a half-track to rescue his commanding officer pinned down and wounded by enemy fire. He laid down on top of him to protect him until reinforcements arrived.”
“Those guys are my heroes,” he says about the troops who built the bridges, roads and facilities that won the war that secured freedom for America and the world. That same sense of dedication to mission and urgency drives S&P as opening day approaches.
Uncle Mike is never far from Pontikes’ thoughts. “I’m reminded about him every time I’m faced with a new challenge,” he says.
That is frequently. Constructing The Museum’s new 70,000-square-foot addition is about coordinating a million different details for three distinct attractions. The Solomon Victory Theater, the Stage Door Canteen live entertainment venue, and The American Sector, a Chef John Besh Restaurant, demanded the expertise for which the 20-year-old firm is renowned. Here, S&P is working in the middle of a busy downtown, and it must make sure the execution – the men, the materials and the know-how – come together flawlessly.
“Our on-site team has been dedicated since day one,” Pontikes says. “They have shown tremendous creativity and flexibility over the life of this complex project.”
The unique features of the Solomon Victory Theater presented a special challenge. The 250-seat theater will house a 4-D cinematic experience called Beyond All Boundaries. With a sound, light and prop system to rival the most sophisticated Broadway theater, the immersive epic tells the Greatest Generation’s journey through the World War II. It is a mixture of Hollywood, high technology and authentic details uncovered and verified by the Museum’s research staff and top WWII scholars, told in the voice of the veterans themselves by an all-star cast. This includes Tom Hanks, its narrator and executive producer, and Kevin Bacon, Corbin Bleu, Patricia Clarkson, Kevin Connolly, James Cromwell, Blythe Danner, Viola Davis, Jessie Eisenberg, John Goodman, Neil Patrick Harris, Kevin Jonas, Justin Long, Tobey Maguire, Daran Norris, Wendell Pierce, Chris Pine, Brad Pitt, Bill Sadler, Gary Sinise and Elijah Wood, among others.
“The Solomon Victory Theater is one of the most unique jobs, we’ve done,” Pontikes says. “Everyone from the welders to the brick-layers and the engineers came through. We knew we had just one chance to get this right for Mike and all the veterans who made this country the great place it is for our children and us. It’s a gorgeous facility.”
The multi-day grand opening celebration, presented by Satterfield and Pontikes Construction, kicks off on Friday, November 6, 2009. The heartfelt event will pair WWII veterans with active military in a red-carpet procession. A cast of celebrities led by Tom Hanks and Tom Brokaw, political dignitaries from around the globe, as well as other assorted VIPs, will officially open the complex with a military fly-over and parachute drop. Family events and a New Orleans-style block party called the Victory Stomp will take place Saturday the 7th, and special retrospective honoring Museum-founder and Historian Stephen E. Ambrose will be held on Sunday the 8th followed by the Mason Lecture series featuring Dr. Alan Brinkley.
“The National World War II Museum is a project that matters to me not only on a professional level, but also on a personal one,” he concludes. “I was born after the war but was brought up learning about it. My Uncle Mike served in some of the most important battles and to think that I have the opportunity to do something that honors him and all the other veterans is both humbling and gratifying.”
The Museum continues to grow as well, with increasing national membership, and an ongoing $300 million capital expansion project. Upon completion, it will create a six-acre campus of exhibition pavilions illuminating the entire American experience during the World War II years. The expanded destination attraction is expected to draw more than 700,000-visitors-a-year when completed.
About Satterfield & Pontikes Construction
Established in 1989, Satterfield & Pontikes Construction is a general contractor with five offices in Louisiana and Texas. Led by CEO George A. Pontikes Jr., S&P has more than 550 employees and has become one of the largest construction companies in the Gulf South region. For more than 20 years, Satterfield & Pontikes has constructed projects of various sizes and scope, which include educational, institutional, commercial, entertainment, manufacturing, retail, disaster relief, and airport facilities throughout the Southeastern United States.
In 2005, S&P opened in the Greater New Orleans area as a certified Louisiana Resident Contractor. The New Orleans office employs 20 professionals.S&P has successfully completed more than 500 projects and renovations, which include 22 K-12 schools in New Orleans and parishes ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. In 2008, S&P completed $345 million in projects and will complete $415 million worth of projects in 2009. Currently S&P is completing the National World War II Museum Expansion Phase IV, which includes the first 4-D IMAX Theater in New Orleans, L.B. Landry High School, MSY Airport Rescue Fire Facility (ARFF), and St. Mary’s Academy.
The construction company has been recognized as one of Engineering News-Record’s Top 400 Contractors, ranked near the top of Texas Construction’s General Building Contractors and is listed among Houston (Texas) Business Journal’s Top 25 Commercial Building Contractors. S&P was also listed among Engineering News-Record’s Top 50 Green builders in American and Houston Business journal’s Top 10 Green Builders in Texas recognizing the company’s commitment to sustainable construction. Most recently, S&P was recognized by New Orleans City Business newspaper as one of the Top 100 Private Companies according to revenue and ranked No. 3 in revenue percentage growth from 2007 to 2008.
The National World War II Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world - why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and now designated by Congress as America's National World War II Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who fought on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.