A Gig at the Hard Rock
SPRAY FOAM MAGAZINE – Jeremy Klein was on his way home to South Florida. As the plane made its final approach to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport from New York, he looked out the cabin window and was able to take in the spectacle of lights below. Even at a great height, the giant guitar of the Hard Rock Hotel was visible, with its flashing melodic colors shooting into the sky. Jeremy felt a special connection with the structure and building below, knowing that he played a part in bringing it to life.
Like many people, Jeremy Klein came to Florida from someplace else. Jeremy relocated from Connecticut in early 2019 with four other people to start a new life and a new business on Florida’s East Coast. He and his business partner Enrique (Ricky) Altamirano are the owners of Compass Insulation Services in Pompano Beach, FL. In Connecticut, the two worked together in the spray foam industry. Jeremy was the branch manager and Ricky was the production manager for the same company. With nearly 15 years of experience behind him, Jeremy along with the four others including Ricky, decided to take the leap of faith, and make the move south, opening their own spray foam business in the Pompano Beach, FL area – Compass Insulation Services. In four short years, they have grown the business to eight people as well as one outside salesperson, and they run three foam rigs and trailer.
“Connecticut is kind of where I got my feet wet. That’s where I started in the spray foam insulation industry. Spray foam is more than a business to me. It’s a passion. We’re able to help homeowners and businesses insulate their property and reduce energy consumption,” Jeremy explained. “My parents have been in Florida for about 15 years, so that was a motivating factor for me. Some of the other people I brought down also have family here. It was a chance to be closer to our families, and we felt there was a great opportunity here.”
Only a few months after arriving in Florida, Compass Insulation Services was offered the unique opportunity to work on a property that has since become a local landmark and an international destination for vacationers and tourists, with its one-of-a-kind design being recognized around the world.
The original Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL opened in 2004. After heavy use and several years of planning, a facelift was in order. The redesign and major overhaul began in 2016, and after three years of extensive renovation, the updated hotel officially reopened in late 2019. During the three-year construction phase, which involved the ground-up build of The Guitar Hotel and a new Hard Rock Live theater, the existing hotel and casino complex remained operational while the renovation took place.
In addition to the 36-story guitar hotel section, with its 638 luxury guest rooms and suites, the property includes a separate seven-story hotel on its flank, stand-alone villas, a 13.5-acre pool complex, a central energy plant, and the existing hotel and casino complex.
Jeremy’s team was called in late to the project. By mid-2019 the renovation of the complex was nearing the end of completion, but much work remained. There was a call for all hands-on deck by the general contractors looking to hit the fall completion date. General contractor KHS&S, contractors out of Pompano Beach needed a qualified spray foam subcontractor to come in and insulate the ground floor restaurant spaces. At the time KHS&S was handling the batt insulation but didn’t have a spray foam division.
Compass Insulation Services caught the attention of KHS&S who then reached out to Jeremy to work on the fine dining areas at the hotel/casino. The area of the property that Compass worked in was a completely new build with no teardown of any existing structure involved.
Compass ended up working on the large wine room for Cipresso Italian Restaurant, the butcher shop and freezer for the Council Oak Steaks & Seafood Restaurant, and a second wine room. They also insulated the "Garde Manger" area, often referred to as the “salad room,” and another butcher shop for the Hard Rock Cafe restaurant. These rooms needed to be properly insulated for temperature control due to wine and food sensitivity to temperature fluctuations.
A three-man crew from Compass, along with Jeremy, worked the job from July through October of 2019. Due to safety concerns and traffic, and the fact that the hotel and casino were still operational, the crew needed to work through the night from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. The crew didn’t always work consecutive days and were at the site for about 10 nights total over a three-month period.
Jeremy described what it was like to work on such a large prominent construction site, “It was a challenge, and required a lot of coordination with the site always being crowded with hundreds of other workers. The general contractor was great though. We all were on the same page, and we all set expectations together. We were able to get the job done in the timeframe they wanted.”
The general contractor specified closed-cell spray foam. Jeremy’s team set up Baker Racks and sprayed Gaco Western OnePass Closed-Cell spray foam to insulate the butcher shop, restaurant wine rooms, salad prep room, and freezer. The thickness varied from a minimum of three inches R21 in the salad prep area, all the way up to six inches R42 in the wine rooms and freezer.
The wine, butcher, and freezer areas were anywhere from 500 to 1000 sq ft each. Jeremy described these as “specialized locations.” They weren’t large areas so Compass was able to work with a smaller crew allowing them to work faster. Jeremy had to laugh. “I was mostly running material and supplies as needed back and forth, which wasn't that much, but we did run shy on the material once, and I had to run back to the warehouse. I also remember having to drag over a set of closed-cell at 2:00 AM to make sure we could finish before other trades were set to return by 7:00 AM”
It was important for Jeremy’s crew to work safely and comfortably in such tight quarters. Although working indoors, the heat is always a factor in South Florida. Compass uses the Tennessee Chill Box to provide fresh air during installation, and to keep the men cool, they use an adapter that goes directly into the suit. Not only does it keep the sprayer’s face cold, but it keeps their whole body cool as well.
For the safety of all, posters were placed around the construction area making everyone aware of the spraying and alerting everyone that nobody should walk into those areas. The general contractors, along with the hotel, made sure that schedules with the other trades didn’t conflict.
Looking back at Compass’s involvement in the project Jeremy said, “The general contractor was happy with the work and our ability to get it done in such a tight timeframe, and we were happy to have worked on such an awesome project! They’ve continued to use us on projects that require SPF.” As for the hotel/casino, “When I visit that casino with friends, I still like to point out that our foam work is in the wine rooms, and the butcher shop too.”
On a separate note, it’s worth mentioning Compass Insulation Services’ involvement in the community. Parkland, Florida is just five miles away from Jeremy’s business. A year before Jeremy arrived in the area, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland suffered the unthinkable experience of a mass shooting. Seventeen young adults were murdered and seventeen more were injured. Because of Compass’s proximity to Parkland and Jeremy’s commitment to his community, he felt it important that Compass give back in some way. Jeremy connected with Tomorrow’s Rainbow, a special place for children, teens and families that have experienced the death of a loved one and/or trauma.
Jeremy described the local facility, “Tomorrow’s Rainbow out of Coconut Creek helps provide therapy to kids who have had a traumatic experience in their lives, like losing a parent unexpectedly or other life-altering experiences.” Tomorrow's Rainbow was particularly helpful following the Parkland shootings in Florida. The facility has a ranch with small horses. They let the kids be around the horses and take care of them which provides them a type of therapy. Tomorrow’s Rainbow was building a couple of rooms for the therapists and kids to talk one-on-one, and Compass donated the insulation for that project. Jeremy confirms, “It really is a worthy cause.”
There’s no denying the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL is a unique piece of architecture. It cuts a striking figure reaching 450 feet into the sky, towering over an otherwise flat Florida landscape. On the flight back from New York to Florida Jeremy watched out the cabin window as the vertical LED strings of the guitar flashed like a beacon and lit up the night. As he looked down a sense of pride came over him knowing he had a part in helping to complete the building below in the city he now calls home.
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