Remembering the D in DPR
Doug Woods, the D in DPR Construction, passed away peacefully at his home on Wednesday, May 19, 2021, at the age of 70.
Doug co-founded DPR with Peter Nosler (The P) and Ron Davidowski (The R) in 1990. The three industry veterans set out to do something different in an industry traditionally resistant to change. Guided by a strong sense of purpose (We exist to build great things) and four core values (integrity enjoyment, uniqueness, ever forward), the “lettermen” as some like to call them set the foundation for what is now the nation’s 10th largest construction company (ENR 2021) with nearly 8,000 employees serving customers in the U.S., Europe and Asia.
Shared Leadership and Learning
The three co-founders have learned a lot from each other over the last 30+ years. Both Doug and Ron have said that they learned patience from Peter—how to slow down and listen and allow others to resolve issues on their own. Doug and Peter learned how to have fun from Ron, along with the importance of building and maintaining relationships which were particularly instrumental in the early days of DPR.
From Doug came the audacious vision. According to Peter and Ron, Doug was the one with the “believe it and it will happen” attitude, and Doug demanded more from himself than anyone. He often said, “you have to be the best at whatever you do. Anything less than that is not good enough.”
Builder at His Core
Doug loved construction. Born in Ontario, Canada on January 27, 1951, as a son of an engineer, Doug had a true passion for building. “I’ve always loved putting things together… Every house I’ve ever lived in, my parents built from scratch or remodeled. My dad worked for HP in construction and real estate. Being in the construction field is in my blood.”
His passion for building is one of the reasons DPR started as a self-performing general contractor. Back when DPR began in 1990, a lot of companies were moving away from hands-on coordination of details and self-perform work, becoming brokers. Not DPR.
Doug was very proud of the complex, technical and challenging types of projects DPR builds and the work that DPR self performs. He loved being on jobsites and connecting with customers, project teams and builders in the field to learn more about the great things DPR builds every day.
Taking Care of People
Going hand in hand with his love for construction was his love of people and that love was felt deeply by everyone around him. He was a caring father, partner, mentor, coach, friend. He was “Uncle Doug” to many employees, and a person who lived by the golden rule, treat others as you want to be treated. As a founding member of DPR’s Management Committee until 2017 and a member of DPR's Board of Directors, he helped build a company focused on taking care of people.
He often said, “DPR is a customer-focused business. To take care of customers, you need to take care of employees.” It is one of the many reasons why DPR is so passionate about safety and working incident free.
DPR is a company built on trust, shared leadership and collaboration. Doug used to always say, “no one is as smart as everyone.” Part of building DPR was to make sure that the company endured from one generation to the next and leadership transitions were executed seamlessly.
There have been a lot of defining moments at DPR, according to Doug, Peter and Ron. Its first ground-up project, a skilled-nursing facility for The Terraces in Los Gatos, CA in 1992. The first time DPR reached $1 billion in annual revenue in 1998. The early 2000s following the collapse of the dot-com bubble, 9/11 and the Enron scandal. This past year operating during a global pandemic and social unrest.
“For us, there has been no single defining moment but a series of opportunities and challenges that have impacted the company DPR is today and made us stronger.”
Ever forward, Doug. DPR will miss you every day.
"I remember working in the early days of DPR in pursuit of microelectronics manufacturing facilities. Just one of those projects would have tripled our volume at the time. Those projects seemed so out of reach--but not for Doug. His confidence, optimism, and pure determination made us feel like we would land them. And we did!"
"May 18, 2000…I met Doug for the first time 21 years ago. I hadn’t even started yet but I was invited to the company meeting because Peter Salvati and Doug were there to roll out and present the DPR 2030 Mission. Hearing Doug talk about a vision for DPR decades into the future, I knew right then and there I was joining something very, very special."
"When I first started at DPR, I was visiting the Redwood City office and a guy walked in and sat across from me. It appeared he had just come in from the jobsite and I assumed a superintendent. He asked what I did and who I was, I asked what job he was on, we chatted about nothing in particular (and he laughed at my joke...so I immediately liked him) and he walked away. I had no idea it was Doug. I felt really lucky to work for a company where founders would BS with anyone squatting at the desk across from them."
"As a new employee, I found Doug standing outside the jobsite trailer. He asked what my role was and asked me what I thought about the project. I told him that I was doing electrical, and that project was complex and a crazy commitment. He asked how else could we become a real technical builder if not participating in the most complex projects. He went on to ask me if my PX and PM were giving me what I needed to make decisions and execute smartly--if not he told me, 'just call them out!' I had a founder talking to me directly and ensuring that I was empowered to deliver in my role."
"As a college student, I got a meeting with a DPR leader who had to cancel at the last minute. Doug walked by the reception desk and overheard. Without knowing who I was he offered to talk to me and give me an office tour. It was surreal. I knew in that moment that I needed to be a part of this."
"I remember when Doug was named Most Admired CEO in 2015 by the San Francisco Business Times. When we talked about it, he said he would only accept the award if Peter and Ron could be up on stage with him and included in the interview because DPR is about shared leadership. If that didn’t happen, he didn’t want the award."
Only had the privilege of meeting Doug maybe 6 times. From a guy who came up from the field and had a limited education, Doug really showed me what “no rank in the room” meant. Don’t ever forget, we exist to build great things. Support your team. Ever forward.
Words of Wisdom
Doug talks about breaking down barriers and loving what you do every day.
For those wishing to honor Doug please consider making a contribution to medical research through the Berina Hawes and Douglas Woods Fund.
To make an online gift, go to: https://memorial.stanford.edu. Leave the first two drop downs for Stanford Medicine as is and write in the “Special Instructions/Other Designations” box: Fund GHHMI: The Berina Hawes and Douglas Woods Fund You may also complete the option that the gift is being made “in memory of” Douglas Woods.
To make a gift by check: Please make it payable to Stanford Medicine and include on the memo line or in attached documentation that it is for: Fund GHHMI: The Berina Hawes and Douglas Woods Fund Mail to P.O. Box 20466 Stanford, CA 94309-0466
To make any other type of gift or if you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Michele Thompson, [email protected], 408-757-5738.
Our hope is that together we can honor Doug and help fund medical research that makes an impact for generations to come.