Middleburg graduate returns home to deliver new Clay hospital

Jeb McLendon keeping Baptist Clay Hospital on track, budget

By Don Coble don@claytodayonline.com
Posted 1/12/22

FLEMING ISLAND – Jeb McLendon always wanted to wear a hard hat.

As a student at Middleburg High, he embraced his Career and Technical Education classes, knowing he was destined to drive nails …

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Middleburg graduate returns home to deliver new Clay hospital

Jeb McLendon keeping Baptist Clay Hospital on track, budget

Posted

FLEMING ISLAND – Jeb McLendon always wanted to wear a hard hat.

As a student at Middleburg High, he embraced his Career and Technical Education classes, knowing he was destined to drive nails and cut boards.

Eleven years later, McLendon is doing exactly that as the project manager for Haskell Company's $2 million construction of a new 100-bed hospital on the Baptist Clay Medical Campus.

“I call it full circle,” McLendon said.

As a student at Middleburg, CTE teacher Bob Warner left an indelible impact on McLendon. After graduating in 2011, he went to college and was hired by Jacksonville-based Haskell Company.

Now he’s one of the young bosses of the construction giant.

And he’s quick to give the CTE program and all of the on-site workers most of the credit.

CTE programs provide important pathways to success for high school students to personalize their education toward skill-based careers, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

As the project manager, McLendon is in charge of making sure the building will be delivered on time and within budget. The progress, according to the Baptist Clay President Darin Roark, has been astounding.

“Jeb is an intelligent mechanical engineer that I have ever interacted with,” Roark said. “He is extremely professional. He is a tremendous leader and has done a great job keeping our hospital project under budget and on time.”

While McLendon is in charge of putting all the pieces in place, he said it’s the 300 workers – many who came from similar CTE construction programs – who make the difference.

“We oversee the financial aspect of the job and how it ties from the owner to the subcontractors and with the general contractors. We hire the teams that do the work, we manage the installation of the work. We see it through from cradle to grave,” he said.

“We’re the people who manage the work. We manage the project seven days a week on a day-to-day basis. The way we get things done is we manage the process, but it’s due to the 300-plus trade workers that show up every day that we’re able to find success.”

McLendon will entertain CTE students from Ridgeview, Middleburg, Orange Park and Clay highs during a Northeast Florida Builders Association-sponsored field trip at the worksite on Feb. 3. He hopes many of the students will understand there is a need – and a pathway – for a career in construction.

“Coming from a construction program where in high school you think maybe it’s a little less than it can be one day, but it all led me back to help build a hospital that ultimately will provide care for people,” McLendon said.

“We’re going to talk to them about the industry and how important it is to make the world stay moving. A lot of these students that come out are industry-tech level students who don’t take the college route. We want to make sure they don’t have to take the same path I did by going to school.”

McLendon has managed major builds throughout the Southeast, but this is his first assignment in Clay County.

“It’s nice to be back home,” he said.

An important aspect of the construction staying on track was Baptist and Haskell’s long-range planning to stay ahead of the supply chain crisis. They stockpiled materials months in advance of groundbreaking, filling storage units around the county, Roark said.

“It’s going really well. We’re going to deliver this at the end of 2022,” McLendon said. “Right now, in the last quarter of that year patients will be seen before the end of the year. It’s all on schedule.”

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