July 25, 2016

School of Construction Events Offer Richmond, Phoenix Youth Insight on Construction Industry

One of the pillars of DPR’s community initiatives vision is to share our passion for construction with under-resourced youth through career and education guidance. During two DPR School of Construction events, scores of DPR volunteers turned out to help teach dozens of eager youth about much more than just the basics of what goes into a construction project. They also helped enlighten the students about the many different career options available in the construction industry, and how they all contribute to creating a built project.

DPR’s Richmond, VA office held its first School of Construction, while the Phoenix, AZ office held its third annual event. Each two-hour event featured breakout sessions that focused on designing, planning, and building the unique projects – a “little free library” in Richmond, and a finished wall segment in Phoenix.

The Richmond, VA School of Construction students pose with their "Little Free Libraries." The neighborhood book-lending displays will be installed in areas where the students live. Photo courtesy Diane Rossini.

During the sessions, students peppered the volunteers with questions about their jobs, the tools they use, safety issues and a host of other aspects relating to the hands-on experience of building projects.

“DPR’s School of Construction event opened the eyes of our youth to the world of construction, which they found out is a lot more than digging a ditch,” commented Darricka Carter, Director of Corporate & Foundation Relations with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Richmond, VA. “They were exposed to the design and planning phase that happens in the office before the actual “construction” begins.”

Engaging Richmond Area Teens

Extensive hours of preparation went into ensuring that both School of Construction events were a resounding success. In its first year hosting the event, the Richmond office drew 25 mostly 13-17-year-old youth to the office for the structured two-hour program. Altogether 18 DPR volunteers donated a total of 152 hours planning and running the event. The four “Little Free Libraries” that were built will be donated to hosts in the communities in which the club members live, according to DPR event organizer Diane Rossini.

Photo courtesy Diane Rossini.

“Seeing the need for engagement with the (Boys & Girls Club) teen group, and knowing what we can provide in real world mentoring and experience was really an inspiration for this event,” said Rossini. While the DPR Foundation supported the organization with a $25,000 grant this year, the office was looking for a way for employees to be able to volunteer their time and talent working one-on-one with the youth.

Photo courtesy Diane Rossini.

The event started out focused on design of the project. Students had the opportunity for hands-on work with google SketchUp, technology that many had never experienced before. During the second session, they worked with DPR volunteers to schedule various project items and had a chance to see a 4D Synchro model. A DPR superintendent led a safety demo during the third session while the kids enjoyed dinner. The fourth session involved actually building the structures.

“The kids engaging the staff throughout was one of the big highlights for me,” Rossini commented. “They asked some very pointed questions that I think taught them a lot about the industry. When our BIM coordinator was sharing the synchro models, he explained that modeling is part of the construction process and how you can work within construction but be a modeler, a BIM coordinator, an accountant or other roles. I think it was very eye opening for them.”

Boys & Girls Club Director Carter said that most of the kids are familiar with the construction industry “only from the perspective of seeing big machinery and men in hard hats working on site.” During the School of Construction, employees of DPR “exposed our kids to another side of the industry, teaching them that the construction they’re familiar with is just a part of the entire process,” Carter added. “Our kids were able to learn and practice skills and tools used during that process, like brainstorming and digital design using Google SketchUp, all while having lots of fun.”

Multiple Return Participants for Phoenix Event

Fun and learning also went hand in hand in the third annual School of Construction event in the Phoenix office. Fifty students from ICAN and Future for Kids – including about a dozen who had participated in at least one prior year’s event – spent two hours working with 32 DPR volunteers and others.

This year’s emphasis was self-perform work, a major driver in the Phoenix office which does extensive framing and drywall work in-house. Eight to 10 self-perform crafts workers were among those who showed up to teach the kids how to design, plan and build four 4-by-4-ft. model walls. The craftsmen contributed 48 hours of the total 238 total volunteer hours that went into putting the event on this year.

DPR craftsmen answer questions about framing, drywalling and mudding walls. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

Craftsman Richard Cruz kicked of the day with a Q&A led by DPR project manager Tim Hyde. “He was fantastic, the kids were very interested and asked him so many questions,” Hyde said of Cruz. “It just ended up being a huge success.”

During the sessions kids learned the ins and outs of framing, drywalling and applying mud to the walls. Volunteers used premade mockup walls as a teaching tool. The models (two with doors and two with windows) were painted and fully finished on one side with the other side left exposed and covered with Plexiglas to allow a look inside. “We kept the kids engaged throughout the whole process, teaching them different terminology, why we use metal vs. wood studs, the different framing members, all about drywall and mud, etc.,” Hyde said.

Students learn to use tools safely. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

Following the wall construction, the kids broke off into another hands-on session led by DPR superintendent Chad Drake. After discussing tool safety, he and other volunteers showed the kids how to work with tools to drill, hammer and screw preset nails and screws into precut plywood boards that sported a DPR log. The kids also decorated their take-home boards.

The students used hammers, nails, drills, screwdrivers and screws to decorate take-home souvenirs. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

“It was a chance to actually put a tool in their hands, and they seemed to really enjoy it,” said Drake. “We also encouraged them to look into the future, and if they enjoyed what they were doing, consider eventually getting into the trades, since there is definitely a shortage of workers going into the trades.”

Following the event, Future for Kids Community Relations Manager Nicole Pepper commented, “We are in awe of the time and work you all put in to making this event happen. Our kids had such a great time and learned so much.”

July 6, 2016

Melissa King Named Rising Star by Training Magazine

At DPR, who we build is as important as what we build. Continuous learning and training have proven to be keys to the success of our individuals and project teams. So it’s no surprise that DPR’s Melissa King was chosen as a 2016 Emerging Training Leader and recognized in Training Magazine.

“From the moment Melissa walks in a room, she is able to build an awe-inspiring level of rapport with people,” said nominator Robert Jackson, part of Learning Practices at DPR.

Melissa and the 25 total rising stars chosen this year are excellent examples of how Learning and Development professionals can continuously inspire, innovate and excel. Nominated by co-workers or industry peers, the winners were chosen based on the following factors:

  • Have been in the training industry for at least two years, but no more than ten
  • Took on at least one new responsibility in the past year
  • Successfully led a large-scale training or learning and development initiative within the last year that required management of a group of people and achieved a corporate strategic goal
  • Demonstrates leadership qualities such as: acts as a mentor/coach, adopts new technology, collaborates, communicates effectively, embraces change, fosters employee recognition, has a global mindset, innovates, inspires trust, provides regular feedback, sets an ethical example, thinks strategically and outside the box
  • Has the potential to lead the Training or Learning & Development function at an organization in the next one to ten years

Currently, Melissa supports over 3,000 professional staff and field craft across all DPR offices. One of her more salient responsibilities is leading Current Best Practices (CBP), DPR’s intensive training session that all new hires participate in within their first year with the company. CBP also happens to be Melissa’s favorite part about her job. “Getting to know a group of new DPR employees each time and walking away knowing we continue to hire great people is a pretty cool feeling. I feel like I leave each session with 30 new friends!” said Melissa.

Congratulations!


A group at Current Best Practices participates in an interactive quality control exercise. 


Melissa King and a Current Best Practices group in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina celebrate a successful training session. 

July 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, America (and DPR!)

Did you know? The Continental Congress actually voted to approve a resolution of independence declaring the United States independent from Great Britain on July 2, 1776. Congress debated and revised the wording of the Declaration of Independence, approving the final version on July 4, America’s celebrated birthday.

DPR Construction was also founded on July 2 (26 years ago in 1990) with the desire to be something different in the industry:  a company that exists to build great things—great teams, great projects, great relationships. A place that provides people with opportunities to learn and be better builders. An organization that cares deeply about changing the world and our surrounding communities.

More than two-and-a-half decades later, DPR has grown into a multi-billion-dollar organization that has built long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most progressive and admired companies.

Thank you for helping to turn a vision into a reality. We look forward to the next 26 years—working together to build a better future for generations to come.

Have a safe and happy 4th of July!


DPR co-founder Ron Davidowski leads a team on a site walk on a project in San Diego, California.


DPR celebrates its 26th birthday with a sunny BBQ in Redwood City, California. 


Yum! DPR employees enjoy a sundae and pie bar at the birthday BBQ.

June 29, 2016

DPR Helps Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay Expand Program

A recent DPR-led volunteer project that renovated classroom space at a Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay facility is fulfilling a vital community need by enabling the Club to expand its program offerings and ultimately, to serve more local youth – just in time for the students’ summer break.

The involved approximately 15 craft and administrative workers from DPR’s Tampa office, who put in a collective 189 hours to make improvements to a key area of the aging clubhouse. The project renovated and converted a single, long room used for program space for K-5th graders – space formerly subdivided by thin paper curtains – into three separate classrooms. The rooms are now visually and acoustically separated by solid walls, and each room has its own door for separate egress.

Before the volunteer-led renovation the Club had a single, large room for youth programming.  

The renovation transformed the large space into three classrooms, allowing the Club to host more academic enrichment programs at the same time.

In addition to constructing new walls to subdivide the classroom space, volunteers also painted the walls and trim, installed new baseboard and new ceiling tiles and stripped and re-waxed the floors (the latter contributed by a local flooring company). Additional DPR funds are being used to purchase new furniture to outfit the space and for several computer monitors.

The much-needed project will allow a greater number and diversity of classes to be offered simultaneously to the many local students who rely on the Boys & Girls Club facility to provide safe, secure and enriching after school and summer programs, according to DPR’s MaryAnn Skok.

“They can now have more academic enrichment programs going at the same time,” she pointed out.

The DPR Foundation awarded the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay $15,000 in grant funding at the end of 2015 and has recognized it as a key community partner.

DPR volunteers were joined by volunteers from FleischmanGarcia Architects, as well as a local Sherwin Williams, the latter of which donated all of the paint.

Chris Letsos, President and CEO for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay, said the willingness of local businesses to partner with them makes a huge difference for the Club and their ability to provide vital services to the local community.

“It is only through the dedication of community partners, such as DPR Construction, that the Boys & Girls Clubs of Tampa Bay is able to provide a world class Club experience for the youth that need us the most,” Letsos said. “The Wilbert Davis Belmont Heights Club is a beacon for the families living in the surrounding neighborhood, providing a safe space where young people can spend time to learn, grow and be productive. The recent project completed by the team at DPR Construction will allow us to expand programming and serve more youth, more often.”

The new space will be used for a variety of hands-on, interactive learning activities and enrichment programs, including programs such as a “healthy habits” program, street smart program, arts and crafts and other offerings. 

June 28, 2016

DPR Survives the Big One! Six-Story Steel-Frame Building Withstands Earthquake Simulation

On the world’s largest outdoor shake table at the University of California, San Diego (UC San Diego), DPR erected the tallest cold-formed, steel-frame structure ever to be tested on a shake table. As engineers, scientists, earthquake experts and media watched, the six-story building withstood a simulation of 150% of 1994’s 6.7-magnitude Northridge, California earthquake, shaking and rocking, but remaining structurally intact and safe.

“What we are doing is the equivalent of giving the building an EKG to see how it performs after an earthquake and a post-earthquake fire,” said principal investigator and UC San Diego structural engineering professor Tara Hutchinson.

The project is part of a $1.5 million three-week series of tests, analyzing how cold-formed steel structural systems perform in multi-story buildings located in high seismic hazard zones. Prior to this test, the largest building ever studied was a two-story residential structure in 2013. The structure experienced accelerations of 3.0 to 3.5 G’s at the upper levels, putting a tremendous amount of demand on the “light-gauge” structural frame. Lighter than a concrete, or hot-rolled structural steel building of the same height, the cold-form, light-gauge panelized structure is strong and flexible, thus able to move with the shaking instead of against it.

“The introduction of light-gauge structural systems in areas of high seismic hazard offers owners a superior option over traditional wood framing construction from economic, quality, safety, sustainability and overall building performance standpoints,” said DPR’s Zach Murphy, who is part of DPR’s cold-form steel prefab operations team. “We believe the results of these tests and future projects will continue to prove that this is the better way to build and create higher quality, safer structures in a cost-effective manner.”

In 2015, DPR constructed the MonteCedro senior-living community in Altadena, California, using prefabricated light-gauge panels. While the direct costs were close to wood-frame construction, additional savings were realized through faster schedule, better fire resistance and higher quality framing. DPR also recently built student housing at Otis College in Los Angeles using cold-formed structural framing. 

Full video of this week’s shake test can be viewed below: 

 

Scott Reasoner (DPR), Steve Helland (DPR), Tara Hutchinson (UCSD), James Atwood (DPR) and Kelly Holcomb (Sureboard) celebrate the performance of the prefabricated light-gauge structure in San Diego, California. 

June 7, 2016

Watch DPR Transform An Empty Classroom Into Three Sound Studios

DPR's Community Initiatives team in Austin, Texas turned it up to 11 to transform an empty room at Kealing Middle School into three new sound studios over spring break. 

June 6, 2016

Touchdown! Clemson Coaches Offer a Sneak Peek of Football Operations Building

It's safe to say Clemson football is excited for its new Football Operations Building

A tiger may never change its stripes, but it can put on a DPR safety helmet. Head coach Dabo Swinney recently pulled off an epic trick play, disguising himself as "Fred," a laborer from Albuquerque, as part of Clemson's version of popular reality TV series “Undercover Boss.” 

Watch ESPN's video to see if his plan to get a sneak peek of the new facility while it's still under construction works. 

Coach Swinney wasn't the only surprise visitor on the site, as defensive coordinator Brent Venables also stopped by to "coach" the construction crew, bringing his trademark intensity along with him. Check out the video and see what happens.

But for now, back to the building.

This new facility, which Swinney calls "the epitome of Clemson" due to its fun and unique nature, will set the bar high for any future athletic facility in the college football arms race.  

The 142,500-sq.-ft. operations building will include coaches’ offices, team meeting rooms, recruiting areas, locker rooms, weight rooms, training rooms, a hydro-therapy area, equipment room, dining areas and associated support spaces.  All of which will allow Clemson’s Athletic Department to better serve the needs of its student-athletes.

Coach said it best when he said, “Clemson is going to be the envy of the entire country when this thing is finished.”

Go Tigers!

May 31, 2016

Can Your Project Really Afford Any Contractor Default?

The economy has finally bounced back from the trough caused by the subprime mortgage crisis, and construction dollars are being spent in increasing amounts as more structures are being built across core markets.

Our customers are pushing for even faster schedules. Time-to-market is critical. We are putting teams together based on proven track records, and they are performing well, given the limited skilled labor available in most markets.

According to Engineering News Record, contractors are three times as likely to fail in an economic recovery period than in a downturn. How can that be, and how can we avoid this through careful planning, talent management and leadership?

Several factors contribute to this high default rate during economic recovery periods, including:

  • Skilled Labor Shortages: After the downturn of 2008, many experienced construction tradesmen left the field—for good. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, skilled construction employment is down 19 percent from its 2007 peak, with the decline particularly stark in areas strongly affected by the housing bust. Now with construction roaring, many new, inexperienced workers have entered the job market, and – as with any new employees in any industry – need time to train and develop.

  • Talent Management: When contractors move into unfamiliar geographies or product types, they often engage in joint ventures with other firms that have either the local or product type knowledge. From a talent management standpoint, contractors need to balance winning new business with being able to accurately staff projects with the “right whos.”

  • Cash Flow: In a hot market, contractors are increasing their spending month over month as they take on more work – for labor, materials, equipment and subcontracts. In a contracting market, spending becomes less and less. Schedule pressure is also causing contractors to put more people on their jobs, increasing payrolls and putting a heavy strain on the contractors’ cash flow. 

Even though challenges still exist in times of economic prosperity, what separates the good from the great general contractors is how they mitigate these known issues through careful planning, talent management and budgeting. 

Conventional wisdom today says the bigger, more established contractors are “okay” and can’t fail. According to Monthly Labor Review, 20% of new construction firms fail in their first year of operation, and 70% have failed by the end of their seventh years. A Bizminer study of the 986,057 general contractors, operative builders, heavy construction contractors and special trade contractors operating in 2011 found that only 735,160 were still in business in 2013 – a 26.24% failure rate.

Image courtesy of Zurich

Today’s projects are moving fast and with the potential in an upturn to be 3X greater for contractor default, can you really afford to have even the smallest contractor on your job go down…let alone a big one?

History tells us now is the time to be vigilant with every project and endeavor, putting a consistent and objective process in place to create the right team to best serve the needs of your project. The process should take into account a number of factors, including past work history, safety records, default claim history and financial stability, to help reduce risk and ensure success.

May 27, 2016

Standing Together, Standing Down

On May 2nd, 9,402 participants across 129 DPR jobsites and offices joined together to take part in OSHA’s 2016 National Safety Stand-Down campaign. As OSHA’s third National Safety Stand-Down—and our third year participating—we grew our involvement by more than 2,700 people, raising awareness about fall protection in the construction industry. 

As one of the safest contractors in the nation, we’re committed to promoting and nurturing an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project. Participation in the annual Safety Stand-Down is a way for us to strengthen our culture of safety.

Check out the following video capturing Stand-Down events spanning DPR jobsites and offices across the country. 

May 26, 2016

Community Initiatives Team Transforms Programming Space for AbilityFirst

On May 14, some 100 DPR volunteers in Southern California put the company’s focus on skills-based volunteering to work, transforming a neglected outdoor space into a fully landscaped haven for nonprofit AbilityFirst. The organization serves children and adults with physical and developmental disabilities and special needs. The newly landscaped space provides AbilityFirst clients with additional room for programming and provides a visual boost from the previously overgrown, unappealing site.

The landscaping overhaul provides AbilityFirst with additional programming space, allowing them to provide more services for more clients. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

The results speak for themselves, according to Maddie Schotl, who organized the community service project for DPR’s Southern California offices. She described the end product as a “complete transformation.”

The project entailed a variety of demolition components to prepare the area, including tree removal, stump grinding, and fence and structure removal. Crews then completely reworked the space, adding hundreds of new plants, a new irrigation system, two new shade structures, a renovated shed and numerous planter boxes, among other things. Working side-by-side with DPR, subcontractor BrightView stepped up to volunteer material and services involving the larger landscape elements, new plants/trees and the irrigation system. Local waste company Recology donated dumpsters and sent 10 volunteers to help out on the workday as well.

DPR’s concrete and drywall crews played an integral role with the major landscaping and renovation elements, including preparing or completing various aspects of the work in the days and weeks leading up to the volunteer workday project. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

 “We ended up doing a complete overhaul,” Schotl noted. DPR not only executed the carefully crafted landscape plan that AbilityFirst had devised, but also added additional touches that contributed to creating a highly appealing outdoor space. DPR’s concrete and drywall crews played an integral role with several of the landscaping and renovation elements, preparing or completing various aspects of the work in the days and weeks leading up to the volunteer workday project. All totaled, DPR donated an estimated $35,000 in skilled craft services leading up to the volunteer-led workday.

Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

The skills and expertise of DPR craftsmen are fully displayed in the finished product. Among other components, they designed and crafted several ADA compliant “tree hugger” benches, which enabled people in wheelchairs to garden underneath them.

 

DPR's self perform craftsmen designed and built ADA compliant tree-hugger benches, which allow people in wheelchairs to garden underneath them. Photo courtesy Brennan Cooke.

“The clients’ eyes really lit up when they saw the finished product; it made it all worth it seeing how excited they were,” said Schotl.