October 20, 2015

25 Days In The Community: Big Impact Coast-to-Coast

How much can a contractor armed with hundreds of community-minded employees accomplish during 25 consecutive days of volunteerism?

Plenty, if DPR’s recent 25 Days In The Community initiative is any gauge.

In Phoenix, DPR completed renovations throughout the UMOM New Day Center campus. UMOM is the largest shelter for homeless families in Phoenix, and offers wrap-around social services to help their clients get back on their feet. Photo courtesy Tim Hyde.

Held as part of DPR’s 25th anniversary celebration, the initiative took place during the month of September in DPR offices coast to coast, putting the spotlight on DPR’s 2030 vivid description to be ‘integral and indispensable to the communities where we work.’ While the concentrated effort drew extra attention to DPR’s commitment to community involvement during the challenge month, it also served to highlight the skills-based volunteering and relationships that DPR regional offices maintain year round with organizations.

Over 25 consecutive days that began September 8th, DPR volunteers focused their skills, energy and resources on initiatives ranging from remodeled youth centers to upgraded facilities for homeless families, youth education programs and more. Altogether, DPR volunteers tallied about 5,000 hours in planning and executing initiatives to fill vital community needs.

In West Palm Beach, FL, DPR hosted the first of a two-part Construction School for youth at the Milagro Center. DPR has supported Milagro since 2011 through volunteer time and donations from the DPR Foundation. Photo courtesy Adriana Martinengo-Rosenberg.

While each outreach event was unique, collectively the results of the 25 Day initiative included:

  • 15 single and multi-family residences were renovated for veterans, families transitioning from homelessness and other deserving individuals, enabling them to live safely in their homes.
  • 5 youth centers that serve hundreds of teens and children in under-resourced communities were renovated to create inspiring, comfortable spaces to do homework, create art and enjoy being a kid.
  • 8 organizations received generous supplies of clothing, food and household items to better serve their clients.
  • 4 youth groups received hands-on mentoring from DPR volunteers on construction careers and other educational topics.

DPR Foundation president Gavin Keith pointed out that all of the organizations benefitting from DPR’s outreach efforts last month represent long-term relationships. 

“All the organizations we worked with during the 25 Days event are groups that we work with all year round,” he commented. “We focus on going deeper with these organizations rather than working with many different groups. We try to provide the best possible assistance to really well-researched organizations that we know are doing a great job in their communities.”

DPR's Raleigh, NC team completed major renovations to apartments used by PLM Families Together to provide short-term housing for homeless families. Photo courtesy Mindy Gray.

While the social issues DPR’s regional offices focus on vary across the country, they particularly seek out projects that can benefit from their collective expertise as a hands-on builder, Keith added. Building a house for a homeless family in Baja, renovating a veteran’s home in Austin and making improvements to a children’s center in Tampa are just a few of the projects DPR employees completed during the 25 Day in the Community initiative that illustrate the unique value DPR employees bring to the table. 

A major component of DPR’s regional Community Initiatives is the DPR Foundation. Founded in 2008, the 501(c)(3) nonprofit’s mission is to support organizations that assist economically disadvantaged youth.

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years. Here's the last one. Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.

October 16, 2015

25 Days In The Community: A Lesson in Concrete for Some Sacramento Youth

When the Roberts Family Development Center (RFDC) asked DPR for help building a small concrete pad needed on its Sacramento campus, DPR was happy to comply – but quickly devised a way to expand the community service project into a learning opportunity for the youth served by the center.

As a result, approximately 35 first-through-seventh graders learned about concrete construction in a fun, hands-on session led by eight DPR volunteers on Sept. 22.

The RFDC children added a creative touch to stepping stones as part of their lesson in casting concrete. Photo courtesy Megan Valles. 

The after-school class taught students about the concrete process, from design and grading to formwork, reinforcement, concrete placement and finishing. The hourlong learning session included a PowerPoint presentation featuring actual DPR jobsite pictures as well as hands-on activities that allowed the children to get their hands dirty casting small concrete stepping stones. The young participants received small DPR gift bags filled with DPR notebooks and snacks.

The class was a hit with the children, according to Megan Valles, who organized the project for DPR.

“I was really surprised that everyone in the room, from youngest to oldest, was engaged for the entire time,” she commented. “I think the neatest part for me was the kids who reached out and mentioned they had family members in construction. You could just tell the sense of pride for them and how they personally could relate to the volunteers in the room and what was being presented.”

The event offered a chance for the DPR superintendents, project engineers, project managers and other volunteer staff to interact directly with children who benefit from the DPR Foundation-supported Center. “It was great that even a couple of our newer employees participated and showed they are eager to get involved with some of our community efforts,” Valles added.

Photo courtesy Megan Valles.

DPR hopes to engage the youngsters in a second phase of learning about concrete construction when it completes the second phase of this initiative, prepping and pouring the concrete pad, sometime within the next few weeks. 

October 13, 2015

From Paper to Paperless: Maximizing a Project’s Efficiency in the Digital Age

With the responsibilities of each construction professional growing daily, kick off your next project with everyone on the same (digital) page. Maximize your team’s efficiency in design and construction through the use of paperless jobsites—a topic of discussion at a recent Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter event.

Attendees gained an inside look into this practice through the eyes of an architect, general contractor, and subcontractor. Some of the lessons learned and trends discussed included:

  • It’s not just for millennials. Many seasoned construction professionals are embracing the shift, with teams sharing 100% digital project files and using iPads in the field. During the submittal approval process, we see an average savings of ten days/each submittal approval. During construction, tech-savvy subcontractors gain real-time communication with the jobsite. The result is seamless communication, improving the ability to manage change and meet schedule milestones more efficiently.
  • It’s vital to select the necessary processes and supporting tools before starting a project. Bluebeam Studio, PlanGrid and Box are just a few digital tools used to collaborate. The means and methods of consistent file structure are equally as important as the tools themselves.
  • “Human interaction still prevails,” said William Santiago with HKS Architects, Inc. By blending human interaction with real-time technology, we’re able to bring the industry forward, together.  

Joining William and me on the panel were Kali Bonnell with DPR Construction, and RayC Southern with Baker Concrete. HKS and DPR worked together on the Boca Raton Regional Hospital Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health and Wellness Institute (a paperless jobsite), and Baker worked with DPR on the FIU Academic Health Science Building 4.

Photo Credit: Associated Builders and Contractors Florida East Coast Chapter 

October 6, 2015

News Round-Up and Look Back

Many of us work in constantly changing industries, and construction is no exception. In these kinds of environments, it's important to keep up with industry news to catch up on the latest best practices, and also see what's on the horizon.

This news article from 2008, for example, is a glimpse into the earlier days of building information modeling (BIM) in the construction industry. This article from Forbes is from 2010. As the use of BIM has evolved, the industry recognized it as a method that skilled teams could use to lower costs while maintaining a high level of quality and accuracy, especially on projects with a higher level of complexity (such as healthcare facilities). 

Fast forward to 2015...DPR continues to demonstrate that teams using BIM can benefit on complex projects, such as the Banner Boswell Medical Center Hybrid Operating Room. Throughout this project, the team used BIM to eliminate the need for significant rework in the field and also minimize shutdowns to the facility, delivering predictable results. 

Speaking of 2015, a round-up of interesting news articles in the media from this year alone include the following:

Looking back on the years, DPR has been mentioned in more than 700 electronic news posts total, as captured in the News section of our website. This news reflects the continual improvement we strive for as a technical builder. 

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years. Here's the last one. Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.

September 28, 2015

Millennials in the Workplace

In the latest installment of CBS Sunday Morning, the report "Millennials: New kids on the block" features DPR Construction's millennial employees. The youngest generation in the workforce, millennials are those born between 1981 and 2000. 

The report also features Doug Woods—the "D" in DPR—a member of the baby boomer generation. Starting at the five minute mark of the video, Woods responds to the stereotype that millennial employees are overconfident. "What generation doesn't have those feelings?" he replies. "I grew up in the '60s. We were totally rebellious, and I think it's part of being young."

The feature then focuses on Alice Leung, Michael Pearson, Deepti Bhadkamkar and Brian Bolandi—some of DPR's millennial employees—who discuss how they view their generation and how growing up being told "you can be anything you want" affects them in the workplace. While DPR's millennial employees may not fully embrace the label of their generation, they confess it sometimes fits.

As each previous generation can attest to, today's youngest generation will eventually become tomorrow's older generation. As Brian Bolani puts it, "I'm 28 years old and I found myself saying, 'Kids these days!'"

Empowering employees is the key to building a solid future. As pointed out by the Talent Culture earlier this year, DPR empowers its employees with a flat, egalitarian culture without hierarchy. The principle of “what’s right, not who’s right"—listening closely to all employees, regardless of position—resonates with all generations, but specifically connects with millennials' sense of wanting purpose or meaning behind their jobs. Their desire fits with DPR’s way of connecting work to a greater goal—for example, taking pride in building a biotech manufacturing facility that produces drugs that benefit cancer patients.

DPR aims to inspire all its employees (millennials, baby-boomers or any other generation) to take pride in building to improve the world we live in.

September 25, 2015

25 Days In The Community: Renovated Art Room for Boys & Girls Club in Dallas

Over 100 school age youth in one of Dallas’ toughest neighborhoods have a brighter, more inspiring place to express their artistic side – all thanks to an art room overhaul that DPR recently completed at the Boys & Girls Club’s South Oak Cliff facility.

DPR contributed new furniture, fixtures and materials while nearly two dozen employees donated dozens of volunteer hours to complete the project. Those efforts transformed and modernized space in a 50-year-old facility that had seen very few upgrades.

DPR volunteers came straight from the jobsite to do the dirty (demolition) work. Photo courtesy Sarah Gentry.

The project involved the complete demolition/gutting and renovation of the aging space. DPR partnered with six local subcontractors who volunteered materials and time performing drywall repairs, painting and installing new light fixtures, flooring and doors. Skilled DPR volunteers replaced all electrical outlets, hung new cabinets and plumbed and installed a new utility sink.

On Sept. 14 about 18 DPR employees gathered at the facility to finish the work, adding cabinet hardware, assembling new furniture and organizing new and existing craft supplies, among other things. Several volunteers stayed around to greet the children coming into the facility after school, then joined them in a pumpkin coloring project that offered time to hang out together and chat.

Club members immediately went to work on the truly important task: a pumpkin coloring project. Photo courtesy Sarah Gentry.

The art room renovation for this particular Boys & Girls Club is a way DPR was confident they could make a real difference in this community.

“This facility is in one of the rougher neighborhoods of Dallas and is underserved by volunteerism,” commented DPR’s Sarah Gentry. “It is pretty important to have a program like this one to serve these kids and give them alternatives.”

The project was rewarding for all involved, she added. “Just seeing the kids in the new space being inspired and their staff being inspired and so appreciative was a highlight for us.” 

September 24, 2015

Eight Strategies for Project Success Using Lean, BIM and IPD

With the increased complexity and variability in the building process, building owners are seeking more predictable results from project delivery methods. Project teams are using lean methodology, integrated project delivery (IPD), and building information modeling (BIM) to contribute to the success of many projects. With a carefully, intentionally designed system, teams can eliminate unknown variables, while meeting cost, schedule, and design quality goals.

Atul Khanzode, leader of DPR’s Construction Technologies Group, recently wrote a white paper titled, “Setting your Project Up for Success Using Lean, BIM, and IPD.” 

In this white paper, Atul outlines eight strategies for facilitating productivity and success in a project. A DPR team recently applied these strategies on a project and was able to cut down construction time by a month and increase their productivity by 22%. 

But wait, what are these eight important strategies? Read this White Paper Watch for a summary or the full white paper to learn more. 

Photo Credit: David Cox

September 16, 2015

Safety Stand-Downs Refresh Employees after the Holidays

After being away from work for vacation or a holiday, it might take some time to regain focus on the job at hand. But in construction, every person is responsible for being alert and creating a safe work environment the minute they step onto the jobsite. That’s why project teams are using safety stand-downs post-holidays to refresh the idea that safety is not only a priority, but a value as well.

This past Memorial Day marked the second holiday safety stand-down for DPR's Mid-Atlantic region. The Tuesday after the holiday, project superintendents, field employees and subcontractors came together to discuss the importance of getting everyone back into work focused on safety, pre-task-plans and looking out for one another. The region’s first stand-down was held following the 4th of July.

As a part of the safety stand-downs, each project is expected to hold an all-hands meeting with all of the subcontractors and DPR staff to discuss safety on the job. The superintendents lead the effort, encouraging the subcontractors to get involved and share stories about safety incidents while on vacation. Everyone on the jobsite is asked to get their heads, minds and hearts focused on the tasks at hand and to hold the highest of standards for safety practices.

Our most recent stand-down was held after Labor Day, as superintendents across the Mid-Atlantic region reminded their crew to always put safety first before resuming work on their jobsites.

It’s clear that the DPR's commitment to safety is paying off on local projects such as the Inova Ashburn Healthplex project, which began construction over a year ago.

To see one of DPR's safety stand-downs, watch this video

September 15, 2015

25 Days In The Community: DPR Spruces Up UMOM Shelter As Part Of Month-long Campaign

For day five of DPR’s 25th anniversary celebration – 25 Days In The Community - two dozen DPR volunteers gathered at one of Arizona’s largest homeless shelters to contribute their time and skills to make needed repairs.

DPR’s Will Mouser organized the workday that provided improvements to UMOM’s main Phoenix campus. The organization provides safe shelter, meals and support services to over 140 homeless families at their main Phoenix campus.

Photo of volunteer stretch-and-flex courtesy Will Mouser

The volunteer day drew from all ranks of DPR Phoenix region employees, ranging from skilled craftsmen to administrative and project-based staff. Along with a handful of UMOM volunteers, DPR staffers worked hands-on performing repairs and upgrades to three buildings in the housing complex. Work included caulking and weatherproofing doors and windows, painting walls, and installing wall base and corner guards, among other things.

“This project is really about giving back and helping these people have a brighter start so they can get back on their feet,” commented Mouser. “The biggest highlight for me was the chance to use our handyman skills in a different capacity. Many of us are dealing with managing multimillion dollar projects, but we don’t actually get to swing the hammer every day. Here we get to see the fruits of our labor immediately.”

Photo of one of the work areas courtesy Will Mouser

The DPR volunteers were joined by a number of young shelter residents who were eager to help out. “They just wanted to help make the facility nicer and give back, and we welcomed them with open arms,” Mouser said.

The Sept. 12 workday is just the latest example of DPR’s ongoing involvement with the 51-year-old UMOM organization. DPR volunteers also participate in a monthly lunch serve on campus, among other projects.

In celebration of DPR’s 25th anniversary, the company is organizing 25 consecutive days of service in our communities between Tuesday, September 8 and Saturday, October 3. Visit the 25 Days In The Community website for all the details.

September 9, 2015

Back to School…Safely

The end of the dog days of summer welcome an annual rite of passage—back to school time—for students coast to coast.

Building on an Active College Campus
For construction companies working in a fluctuating campus environment, the back-to-school season brings a heightened awareness of the importance of safety. Specifically, this means maintaining a stringent, comprehensive safety program to keep the public—as well as workers—safe on and around jobsites. And even as they push to meet critical budget and schedule goals, savvy owners and builders understand that a safe project and a successful project are ultimately interwoven.

The Arizona Center for Law and Society project is just one example of a project currently underway on a busy college campus. DPR is building the $128 million facility on Arizona State University’s downtown campus, a beehive of activity since fall classes recently began. The project is slated for completion by the start of the 2016 fall semester.

Culture of Safety
Over the past 25 years, DPR’s focus on continuous improvement has been directly reflected in a culture of safety. Our safety culture promotes awareness of the need to work continuously and collectively better and more safely—as a company and as an industry. To further that goal, this past May some 6,670 individuals across 79 DPR jobsites and 18 offices nationwide participated in OSHA’s annual National Safety Stand-Down. OSHA’s industrywide safety effort raises awareness about fall protection on construction jobsites.

Integrated, Holistic Approach
An integrated and holistic focus on safety, quality and productivity has long been the cornerstone of DPR’s approach to successful project delivery, whether we are building on a college campus, within an operating hospital or anywhere else. Our record reflects that—in 2014, DPR’s OSHA incident rate was less than one-third the industry average

At DPR, we promote and nurture an Injury-Free Environment (IFE), with the goal of achieving zero incidents on every project.

*This blog post is part of a series that celebrates DPR's silver anniversary and focuses on 25 great things from the company from over 25 years. Here's the last one. Follow #DPR25 on social media to learn more.