DPR Construction is founded by Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski.
To truly understand the DPR culture is to know the history. The people behind the name. The passion for better serving customers and building complex projects with a strong sense of purpose and value. The desire to continuously be the best and drive an industry forward, doing what others believe simply cannot be done.
The DPR story begins in July of 1990. Doug, Peter and Ron, the D, the P and the R, made one of the best business decisions of their lives and started their own company. Armed with $750,000 of pooled resources and a steadfast determination, the three construction veterans set out to build something different in an industry traditionally resistant to change.
Words of Wisdom
“When we started DPR, we wanted to be a customer-focused organization,” said Doug. “We’re not a hard-bid general contractor; we’re a negotiating, self-performing general contractor that takes care of our customers. To do that, we need great people, who are happy and willing to work hard. That’s one of the things that started us, making us different from the very beginning.”
“At the time, most people thought of construction as more like a manufacturing type business,” said Peter. “It’s not; it’s a service business.”
“Our distinct purpose of building great things and the core values we dialed in on [integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness, ever forward] emulate the way we like to work and we like to live and transcend into the way we do business, again doing something different in an industry that has not always had a reputation for integrity and doing things right the first time,” said Ron.
WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED
DPR started its first year with a total of 11 professionals.
In addition to “D, P and R,” the original crew included Sandy Grayson, Michele Leiva, Eric Lamb, Peter Salvati, Jim Washburn, Mark Bartley, Brad Des Jardin and Jim Dolen—six of whom are with the company today. Much like the hundreds of projects DPR has completed over the years, the company has grown at a breakneck pace. DPR reached the $1 billion mark in less than 10 years since its founding. Since 1997, it has continued to rank in the top 50 general contractors in the country.
When asked what he considered to be the most successful moment at DPR, Doug answered, “We’ve had a lot of great successes, but I can’t think of one defining moment, because we’re not done yet. As the company continues to move forward, new opportunities constantly arise. One way we measure success, however, is by not letting employees down and keeping people within the company challenged with new opportunities.”
WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED
Author Jim Collins helps DPR identify its purpose (We Exist to Build Great Things.®), Core Values (integrity, enjoyment, uniqueness, ever forward) and first mission statement (To be a Truly Great Construction Company by the Year 2000).
A significant point in the history of DPR was a meeting in the spring of 1992 with Jim Collins, who was a Stanford professor at the time and now is a management consultant and best-selling author. Collins helped to identify and articulate the purpose and core values that continue to drive the company today.
“We defined our purpose and established our first company mission during that meeting,” said Peter. Doug added that, “To say we wanted to become a truly great construction company by the year 2000 was like a three-year-old saying that I want to graduate from college by the time I’m 10. We do set high goals, but with the people we have in place, we know we can reach every one of them.”
Ron felt positive that they could build a truly great company due to the network that each one of them had built and the individual skill sets they had developed. “In the very beginning, we were just three senior guys in one organization with a passion for building,” said Ron.
WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED
DPR ranks #1 on both the San Francisco Business Times' and San Jose/Silicon Valley Business Journal's Fastest-Growing Private Companies in the Bay Area lists.
DPR’s first pure contractor job was a $4.5 million, six-month tenant improvement project for Argo Systems in Sunnyvale, CA, where DPR was selected from among four or five other competitors.
“I remember sitting at my desk when we got the call,” said Peter. “We had been doing some consulting work, estimating, early on, but our first real customer in terms of being a builder was Argo. Those were difficult times. We were just learning to live with one another, and when there’s no money coming through the door, it’s pretty stressful.” All three consider the Argo project, which included core build-out of the elevator and bathroom areas, lobby finish, and electrical and HVAC systems for the shell, to be one of the company’s first major milestones.
"Shortly after we started the company, a recession hit, and the work just seemed to disappear overnight,” said Doug. “Before the Argo job, I would wake up at night in a cold sweat wondering how we were going to pay people, but more than that, people had trusted Peter, Ron and me, so I just kept thinking, ‘we gotta come through.’ If we can just keep this going for five years, we can make it.”
WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED
In 1994, DPR landed a $43 million wafer fabrication project in Los Angeles for Rockwell International. The six-month, fast-track project represented the type of work the three founders had pictured for the company. “We wanted to be in technical construction,” said Ron. “We did not want to be a commodity. We wanted to establish a niche to distinguish ourselves from other contractors.” The Rockwell project included building 17,500 sq. ft. of Class 1 cleanrooms, upgrading the existing central plant, installing specialty and bulk gas systems, and constructing a new bulk chemical building. DPR delivered the project ahead of schedule with fully functional cleanrooms in just four and a half months.
“Before Rockwell, DPR had never done a job that significant,” said Doug. “I think we were awarded the project because the client thought we sounded like the most fun to work with, and we were crazy enough to say ‘yeah, we could do it’ in the timeframe they wanted. We shoveled as fast and as hard as we could.”
WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED
DPR ranks third on Inc. Magazine's national Fastest-Growing Private Companies list.
The Rockwell job launched DPR into the next level of building technical facilities. Today, DPR is one of the nation’s leading general contractors and ranks among the top general contractors in the nation in its five core markets of advanced technology, healthcare, higher education, life sciences and commercial.
The “three senior guys” have learned a lot from each other over the years. Both Doug and Ron said that they have learned patience from Peter—how to slow down and listen and allow others to resolve issues on their own. Doug and Peter have 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.
FINISHING THE FIRST DECADE STRONG
1997: #46 on ENR magazine's Top 400 Contractors list
1998: Annual revenue of $1 billion and featured in Fast Company magazine
1999: Joins the U.S. Green Building council and begins construction on first green project
“There are many spectacular stories of individuals, who after coming to work here found out their true capabilities,” said Peter. “Several people have gone from pounding nails on a jobsite to becoming integral members of the management team. This represents success, as one underlying concept from the very beginning was to build an organization, where people can continuously develop and grow.”
“It was Ron’s strong relationships with the bank and insurers that really got us through the initial phase, providing us with the financial base and bonding capacity we needed to compete against larger contractors,” said Peter.
From Doug comes the “audacious vision.” According to Peter and Ron, Doug is the one with the “believe it and it will happen” attitude, and Doug demands more from himself than anyone.
“You have to be the best at whatever you do,” said Doug. “Anything less than that is not good enough.”
ENTERING THE DECADE OF DISCIPLINE
From one office and 11 professionals to 13 offices across the country and nearly 2,000 people, Doug, Peter and Ron attribute the company’s successful growth to the dedicated individuals who work hard each day to build a truly great construction company.
As DPR entered its teenage years, another meeting with Jim Collins challenged the company to prepare itself for increased growing pains, which Collins compared to a giant flywheel. The flywheel starts out slowly, but as more people join in and add energy, the flywheel begins rotating faster on its own, almost seeming out of control. To remain on track and retain a strong competitive advantage for providing exceptional customer service and building great things, DPR needs to embrace and welcome this natural tension and resist creating rules, which could potentially stop the flywheel. Rather, DPR must continue to foster a strong entrepreneurial environment.
“Fundamentally, a company with the ‘right whos’-the right people on the bus-does not need a lot of rules, because everyone is operating from the perspective that they don’t have a job but responsibilities,” said Collins.
2001: Working with the world’s leading microprocessor manufacturer, DPR completes its biggest project to date—and one of the world’s largest construction projects at the time—in 18 months.
2004: California Governor Schwarzeneggar awards DPR the Environmental and Economic Leadership Award for its Sacramento office building, the first privately-owned LEED certified building in California’s Central Valley.
2005: The Banner Estrella Medical Center, DPR’s first greenfield hospital, wins top honors in the Modern Healthcare Design Awards.
REACHING CAMP 2010
2006: DPR is featured in “Mavericks at Work: Why the Most Original Minds in Business Win.”
2007: The Genentech Oceanside Production Operations facility, completed by DPR in 2005, wins the coveted ISPE Facility of the year award.
2008: The DPR Foundation is established to help disadvantaged children and, to date, has contributed $8.8 million to organizations across the country.
2009: The Scripps Florida Research Campus project wins Best of the Best in the nation from ENR magazine in the Higher Education/Research category.
In Their Words: Why DPR?
I like working with the people DPR attracts. DPR wants people to unleash themselves from the restrictions that may have been instilled in them by other companies.
The people. In some ways it is like having an extended family. Being here from the beginning, there is a sense of pride that I have contributed to something that will last.
HOW DO WE TRANSFORM OUR WORLD?
In 2010 DPR had grown into a multi-billion-dollar organization with long-standing relationships with some of the world’s most admired companies.
“We’re fortunate to work with great customers, some that have literally changed the world, especially over the last 20 years,” said Woods.
We asked ourselves: How do we take DPR to the next level and position ourselves to be a most admired company by the year 2030?
Part of the transformation needed was truly great leadership transitions, putting the right whos in the right seats to more the company forward, to scale and to grow. It was means continuing to serve world-changing customers and pushing the industry forward in sustainable practices and technology adoption
STARTING THE TRANSFORMATION
2010: DPR completes its new San Diego office building, which is the first and only commercial office in San Diego to achieve both LEED-NC Platinum certification and net-zero energy status.
2012: After a year of operation, DPR’s Phoenix office achieves net-zero energy status. The LEED®-NC Platinum “living laboratory” is Arizona’s first commercial net-zero office building.
2013: DPR acquires Hardin Construction combining operations in the southeast and Texas to build a stronger national organization.
2014: DPR ranks #10 on FORTUNE magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” rankings for 2014. DPR has ranked for five consecutive years on the list in 2010 at #57, in 2011 at #22, in 2012 at #13 and in 2013 at #15.
2014: DPR completes construction on its third net-zero energy (NZE) office—the first certified NZE commercial building in San Francisco.
TRULY GREAT TRANSFORMATIONS
2015: DPR surpasses $3 billion in revenue for the first time.
2016: Genentech’s Cell Culture Biologics Drug Substance Plant 2 (CCP-2) Manufacturing Facility and Return to Service (RTS) project wins the coveted 2016 Facility of the Year Award (FOYA) in the Process Innovation category.
2017: The UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay project team accepted ASHE’s prestigious Vista Award for New Construction at the 2017 ASHE International Summit & Exhibition on Health Facility Planning, Design & Construction (PDC Summit).
2017: DPR founds WND Ventures to transform the industry through investment in innovation.
2019: DPR reaches $6 billion in revenue and climbs to #10 on Engineering News-Record’s Top 400 Contractors list.
PATH TO 2030
DPR has a bench of experience to draw on as it enters the next 10 years, what it aptly calls its “Decade of Strategic Growth” on its way to Mission 2030. Now ranked among the top general contractors by ENR, and with about 8,000 employees worldwide, DPR has some scale to throw behind its efforts to optimize, innovate and change the world.
“Revenue and size are outcomes, or lagging indicators, of the strategic actions we take,” said George Pfeffer, member of DPR’s Management Committee. “As we move into our decade of strategic growth, we remain focused on hiring, inspiring, developing and growing the best people, operational excellence and delivering great results every time.”
It's been 30 years. Now, ever forward...