September 15, 2020

Builders at our Core: Carlos Moreno

Superintendent Carlos Moreno stands on his jobsite.
Superintendent Carlos Moreno sees the ability to better control safety as one of the main benefits of being a self-performing general contractor. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Carlos Moreno is committed to working safely, not because it is a rule imposed on him, but because he believes in his heart it is the right thing to do. For himself, for his coworkers and for the people they love. As an SPW general superintendent in San Diego responsible for drywall and taping; doors, frames and hardware; acoustical ceiling; and firestopping and insulation work, Moreno sees the ability to better control safety as one of the main benefits of being a self-performing general contractor. This ability to guide a project’s direction, along with better control of schedule and quality, make self-perform work an essential part of DPR’s success. Says Moreno, “We’re the builders; I think that’s the heart of the company.”

Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?

I joined DPR 10 years ago, after working for a drywall subcontracting company for 25 years. I knew DPR was a good company, and coming here was the best decision I have made in my career. The culture here has given me the opportunity to grow. I started as a carpenter journeyman, later began to run work as a foreman, and today I have the privilege of being a part of the SPW superintendent team, a role I’ve been in for five years.

Q: What do you love about your job?

I enjoy building things and using my hands to create great things—that makes me feel proud of what I do. My passion is providing training. Every Wednesday, I bring a group of foremen into the office and we provide any training they need: blueprint classes, preplanning, navigating on Box, Bluebeam, PlanGrid, etc. DPR gives us the opportunity to grow. Why not give that chance to the next generation?

Carlos Moreno offers suggestions to craft team members on his jobsite.
Moreno is proud of creating things with his hands, but his true passion lies in training the next generation of builders. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What are the most challenging things you have worked on?

Working for DPR has been a new experience in learning how to build things differently using the latest technology. Every foreman has access to an iPad and/or a laptop, and they use various software platforms to perform their work more efficiently.

At the moment, I’m working on a Life Sciences project. We’re in the beginning stages of the drywall scopes. Our strategic partner, Digital Building Components, will be supplying prefabricated wall and ceiling panels for the lab areas. With having these prefabricated assemblies on this project, coordination and collaboration is a top priority to ensure we set the project up for success. This is a challenge, but an exciting one that I have no doubt we will manage.

Working in this industry can always be very challenging. No matter how much you organize and plan your workday, unpredicted roadblocks come up. Trying to balance the plan and having the ability to effectively address these unplanned changes is a skillset I am continuously improving upon.

Q: Talk about a time in your career where you intervened to make the work on-site safer.

Early on in my career, I realized how important the life of each person is. Every person depends on someone. I recall a time I arrived on-site to one of my projects to find the jobsite was dirty, with potential slip, trip and fall hazards. I called for a stand down, met with my foreman, leadmen, workers and the on-site safety coordinator, and explained my concerns. After the stand down, I also met with the superintendent and project manager so they could share our findings and solutions with our trade partners.

I have a family who depends on me—my wife and three children. Every day they expect me to come back home. Just like me and you, every employee has someone who is waiting for them at the end of the day.

Superintendent Carlos Moreno talks with a craft team member.
Moreno believes everyone must commit to working safely, not because it is a rule, but because they believe in its importance in protecting everyone on every jobsite. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What is one thing you think everyone can do to make the industry as a whole safer for everyone?

Everyone needs to commit first to themselves—not to a rule or imposition, but to themselves; committing to working safely because they believe in its importance. When this happens, they will automatically commit to the company’s safety culture. Not out of obligation, but from the heart because they understand how important their lives and the lives of others are.

Q: What is the most important thing you have learned over the course of your career?

Every day that I wake up is an opportunity to learn something new; you never finish learning. If I stop learning, I will stop growing. I’ve learned that each person is important and contributes valuable ideas that help our team achieve great results. I have learned from people with years of experience, but also from young people who are just starting their careers in construction. Everyone has something to bring to the table, and we are all part of the end results.

Carlos Moreno meets with fellow craft team members on his jobsite.
Says Moreno, "We're the builders. I think that's the heart of the company." Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?

You must have integrity, have the mindset of contributing, and have a teachable heart. You must embrace the ever forward mindset, stay persistent and have a good attitude, even when the circumstances are difficult. You must embrace innovation. Everyone has a certain level of creativity. Identifying that creativity and putting it to use is key. Here at DPR, you are given the opportunities to be creative, to offer influence, and to grow your career in many ways—not just the traditional paths.

September 4, 2020

Have a Safe and Happy Labor Day

A collage of DPR builders.
DPR builders share the reasons they work safely.

When Labor Day comes around, many of us fire up the grill and pull on our swimsuits for one last grasp of summer before the fall season begins. Behind this merriment is an occasion that was created a century-and-a-quarter ago to honor the work of laborers and their contributions to the development and achievements of America. It is a tribute to all workers whose labor built the strength, prosperity and well-being of the country for over a century.

As we celebrate Labor Day in the U.S., we think about the daily contributions our people make to the success of DPR. An outsider would probably describe us as a construction company. They might say DPR is in the building business. This isn’t wrong; these statements are true—on the surface. But if you dig a little deeper, you realize DPR is a people business.

DPR is guided by a purpose: We exist to build great things.® But how do we achieve this? The answer: Our people, the heart and soul of DPR. Great things are built on the strong foundation of work done safely by our craft team members, who show up every day, tools in hand, and push the company ever forward.

Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our people. We strive to create a culture of discipline that translates into an injury-free workplace. This means zero incidents. We’ve worked hard to create a “checks and balances” system that demands daily involvement and vigilance. It includes everything from pre-task planning and safety walks to audits of jobsite practices.

In reality, it relies heavily on our builders in the field, who not only take care of themselves, but who take care of each other—who take care of us all. In practice, this means intervening if you see unsafe conditions—saying something if you see something. It means planning for safety and thinking about how to do each and every task safely, no matter if it’s brand new or if you’ve done it a hundred times. Our builders know that safety, quality and schedule are not mutually exclusive. They know that having zero incidents is an achievable goal. We all want to return home safely each day, whether it be to hug our kids, feed our pets or make dinner for our families. DPR builders are responsible for keeping our jobsites and everyone on them safe, and for that we are wholly grateful. For that, we say “Thank you.”

August 28, 2020

DPR Hosts Interns from Ann Richards School for Young Women

While students across the country head back to school this fall, DPR Construction once again offered a unique pre-pandemic internship that showcased an up-close look at the construction industry.

Earlier this year, DPR’s Austin business unit hosted a week-long internship with two students from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders who were selected from a group of nearly three dozen applicants. The Ann Richards School is a public all-girls school that serves grades 6-12, dedicating itself to preparing young women to attend and graduate from college and commit to a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle.

DPR’s Melody Rahbar organized and coordinated the interns’ schedules, carefully curating a program that included career-focused presentations and a variety of jobsite visits throughout the week. The interns visited DPR’s Block 71, Google Randall, Marriott and Block 185 jobsites, giving them a first-hand look at projects in various stages of construction. During these jobsite tours, interns shadowed either a superintendent or project engineer and got the chance to bond with team members over meal breaks.

Group photo of the Austin DPR team and Ann Richards School Interns.
Group photo of the Austin DPR team and Ann Richards School Interns. Image taken pre-COVID-19 and associated safety protocols. Photo courtesy of The Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders

Committed to pulling out all the stops, DPR ensured that this immersive experience was both informative and enriching for the students. More than 20 people from all facets of the company took time out of their schedules to teach the interns everything from construction safety and contracts to construction technology and marketing. Collectively, the DPR team offered the students an insight into the many career pathways that are available in the construction industry.

Rahbar said she was able to relate to the young interns since she herself interned with DPR at least three different times before coming on board.

“I really liked that they seemed to feel very comfortable with me – I was like their intern mom,” she said. “They came to me with all their questions, and I think they appreciated that I had my own role at DPR but was doing this volunteer work on the side.”

2020 marked the third straight year that DPR has hosted an internship week involving students from the Ann Richards School. The week not only offered the interns the chance to discover if a construction career appealed to them, it also gave DPR employees the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise. “We had a range of people presenting, from new hires to guys who have been with the company for over 20 years,” Rahbar said. “It showed them that DPR really does care about giving back and teaching about what we all like to do.”

August 26, 2020

The Emergence of the Digital Twin for Facility Operations and Management

According to the Gartner Hype Cycle the digital twin concept is a trending technology that is being adopted by numerous industries, including manufacturing, aviation, automotive, civil infrastructure, and healthcare. However, for the commercial facility operations and management (FM) community, the concept is relatively new - but it should not be.

Building operators and managers are tasked with running safe, sustainable, and efficient buildings through the COVID-19 Pandemic and beyond. They face tight budgets, limited resources, constant regulatory monitoring and for many, are unfamiliar with advanced technologies.

Using a digital twin can be a critical and strategic step in the right direction for these teams but they just do not know where to start.

Definition and Key Benefits

“The benefits of the digital twin depend upon the level of implementation to support the challenges faced by facility operators and engineer’s day in and day out,” said Aaron Peterson, leader of VueOps, a strategic partner of DPR Construction. “One of our recent life science customers is focused on increasing its maintenance productivity. To do that, we are helping to build a solid data foundation that will lead to an understanding of how to improve their processes, increase facility up time and increase their tenant satisfaction, saving them hundreds of thousands of dollars over the lifecycle of their build.”

At first, the digital twin concept consisted of capturing information about a physical product digitally and visually. But a digital twin is not just a 3D model; it is a combination of model, product, location, performance data, and the systems they comprise. Connections between the products in a building and their digital twin are created when internet enabled sensors (installed on products) stream operating data to the twin for diagnostic analysis, visualization, and performance simulation.

A recent Arup report describes the digital twin with a five-level framework, spanning from 3D visualization to autonomous operation and control. Building operators and managers who are currently using a digital twin work within Level 1 -3. In the AEC industry, the expanded practices of incorporating data from external sources, autonomous operation, and control (Level 4 –5) is where there is opportunity to deliver even more value.

Level 1: Allows teams to virtually investigate problems quickly, identify building equipment and understand impacts on building occupants. It is a model of the products that comprise building systems and the building spaces they serve.

Level 2: Offers teams the ability to develop insight about equipment that requires frequent repair or performs sub-optimally. This information can inform fix or replace decisions and improve operational reliability and facility up time. Level 2 digital twin incorporates historical data, represented in preventive maintenance and incident response work orders from asset management systems.

Level 3: Improves collection of real time performance data about products via internet enabled sensors. It enables you to detect performance issues and compare real time data with baseline data to make changes to optimize your systems.

Level 4: Enhances your ability to optimize equipment performance by addressing how external factors affect system performance. For example, local weather, external temperatures, and insulation levels.

Level 5: The digital twin at this level can be trained to recognize the cause of issues in building performance and autonomously control and correct equipment operation using machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies.

“A digital twin helps customers improve up time of their facilities and for the people doing critical work within them,” said Andrew Arnold, Product Lead, VueOps. “With a single source of truth for all facility document, data and models, clients can find the right information and the right time, with multiple views of a building through 2D drawings, 3D models and asset registers. This critical data allows FM teams to spend less time looking for information and planning and more time addressing work orders and maintenance tasks.”

Setting Up Your Digital Twin Starts with BIM

Setting up a digital twin starts with a clear need for 3D representation of your mechanical system(s) and the spaces it serves. FM teams need to easily locate and identify products of a system in terms of the building locations, i.e., building levels, zones, and rooms.

Building Information Models (BIM) - already a part of nearly every major construction project - provide an early starting point for collecting and organizing the needed data. In some cases, they provide design information that represents the design function and occupancy requirements for rooms and spaces.

Since BIM exists before the physical building, you can use it for the digital representation of the products that will be installed in the building and associate design and functional requirements. You can also use BIM to understand how the products of a system are connected. In some cases, the BIM authoring system can define and represent building systems; in other cases, owners can collect the system data using other tools to group the members of a system.

Once teams have identified, located, and inventoried the installed products, they can build out the information needed for the digital twin as construction progresses by collecting and organizing data from project submittals and closeout, including test and balance reports, and the manufacturer’s recommended operation and maintenance procedures.

“Building a digital twin is a big endeavor,” said Aaron Peterson, VueOps. “But with managed services and the right enabling technology and platform, you can choose a hosted, custom or integrated approach to empower teams to prevent downtime, save money and take advantage of rich Building Information Modeling.”

August 24, 2020

The Intern Experience – Redefined in the Age of COVID-19

At DPR, we aim to hire, inspire, develop and grow bullet-smart individuals. Each year, students from across the United States who study construction management, engineering, business and various other studies apply to spend their summers on a DPR project where they learn through hands-on experience. Things were a little different this year.

Week One of the internship consisted of learning about DPR's culture, meeting teammates and taking the MBTI personality test.
Week 1 of the internship consisted of learning about DPR's culture, meeting teammates and taking the MBTI personality test.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic gave DPR the opportunity to reimagine a traditional internship experience. Where interns used to be limited to the location and project type they were placed on, a virtual setting allowed for global audience connection and holistic business understanding.

“When we decided the internship was going to be virtual in early April, we put our heads together and decided a competition was the way to go,” said Sean O’Mara, who leads the College Recruiting team. “We paired up with different workgroups within DPR to design a program that would challenge and prepare interns for working in construction.”

During Week Two, interns learned about contracts from a subject matter expert,
During Week 2, interns learned about contracts from a DPR subject matter expert.

Over the course of eight weeks, seventy-one interns teamed up and learned about different parts of DPR’s business from leaders across the company. The ultimate goal of the program was to apply these lessons to a real-life project scenario and answer the question, “Should DPR pursue the project?”

Throughout the summer, teams completed deliverables that built upon the material that was taught during the weekly webinar training session. The deliverables included: developing a schedule and site logistics plan, performing a drywall take off, completing a schedule of values and conducting contract risk assessments and a go/no-go analysis. Using a Microsoft Teams site, students were able to collaborate in real time, regardless of their geographic location. If teams needed guidance, they could reach out to their “captains,” which were DPR employees who acted as mentors throughout the program.

“The support from across the organization was overwhelming,” O’Mara commented. “Since it was online, we were able to hear from leaders around the United States. It was fun to see how excited everyone at DPR was to get involved and help out.”

Before presenting in Week 7, interns learned some valuable presentation skills from DPR's Learning & Development team.
Before presenting in Week 7, interns learned some valuable presentation skills from DPR's Learning & Development team.

The eight-week schedule consisted of presentations led by subject matter experts from across the company, and included:

  • Week 1: DPR Culture, Teambuilding & Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment
  • Week 2: Contracts & Site Logistics
  • Week 3: Planning & Schedule
  • Week 4: General Conditions & Schedule of Values
  • Week 5: Break
  • Week 6: Sales Analysis & Presentation Skills Training
  • Week 7: Round 1 Presentations
  • Week 8: Round 2 Presentations to Management Committee

Week 7 was the final leg of the journey for some interns. Scores taken from weekly deliverables were combined with first-round presentation scores, and the top four teams moved forward to present their arguments to DPR’s Management Committee during Week 8. Members of the winning team each received a DPR gift box.

The winning team celebrates their win!
The winning team celebrates their win! Members of the winning team each received a DPR gift box.
One member of the winning team celebrates her win with a dance!
One member of the winning team celebrates her win with a dance.

We asked our summer interns to describe their experience with this year’s Virtual Internship Program:

  • “The weekly deliverables were on point and the deadlines made me work on my toes like I was actually working in the team! Overall, I am sure I have made the best use of this summer and enhanced my knowledge and skills on various topics. I wanted to thank everybody in DPR who gave us great presentations, feedback on our deliverables and all other people who were a part of this program.” Jesline Althea, Arizona State University
  • “My favorite part of the internship was meeting all of the great people at DPR. They taught me aspects of the construction industry that other internships didn’t. I’ve realized that you must be goal-oriented and always moving forward to learn about things in the industry.” Isaac Michel, California State University, Sacramento
  • “I really enjoyed having access to the DPR employees throughout the program. During a regular internship experience you only get to see what’s going on in your project and talk to your team on site, but this opportunity was great for getting feedback and information from so many different professionals.” Julia Krok, University of California, Davis

In the first half of 2020, change has been the only constant. Mitigating risk and managing disruptions has been a necessity for all companies. At DPR, we know that being able to adapt and move Ever Forward is key to ensuring success.

"This summer’s internship program showed that no matter the obstacles, we will always build something great–great teams, great programs, great experiences, “said O’Mara.

August 21, 2020

Teamwork Wins at The Woman's Hospital of Texas

Renovated lobby at The Woman's Hospital of Texas in Houston. Photo courtesy of Jud Haggard Photography

DPR Construction is hard at work on a complex renovation project at The Woman’s Hospital of Texas. The scope of work consists of 52,000 sq.-ft. of interior renovation encompassing labor and delivery and antepartum patient rooms, operating rooms, the addition of new service elevators within the existing facility, demolition of an existing parking structure and construction of a 9-story 732,500 sq.-ft. precast parking garage. Since 1976, the hospital has helped bring 170,000 babies into the world and become one of Texas’s foremost care centers for women and newborns. Located just off The Old Spanish Trail and minutes away from The Texas Medical Center, a dense 2.1-square-mile medical district in south-central Houston, The Woman’s Hospital is one of 13 in HCA Houston Healthcare’s network that together treat more than 1 million patients each year.

Much of the project’s complexity stems from the fact that it is being carried out while the facility remains occupied and fully operational, as well as from the addition of the two elevators in the core of the building. Patrick Gorman, who serves as project manager, says “the addition of two staff elevators in the core of the hospital is by far the most complex portion of this project .”

The elevator shaft was built into the structure during initial construction, designed with knockout slabs in preparation for adding the elevators later. But over the years, several projects had been undertaken in the area which lead to some unforeseen obstacles that required solutions-based strategies. Upon demolition, the team encountered numerous existing unidentified conditions with conduit, piping and steam lines that had to be rerouted to clear the way for the new elevators.

Says Gorman, “On every floor, we’ve overcome major conflicts and challenges to prepare to demolish the slabs for the shaft. But the demolition is almost complete, and we’re gearing up to start the penthouse expansion to support the elevators.”

DPR’s mechanical, electrical and plumbing expertise was vital in the planning and relocating of these existing utilities. The team worked together to come up with a plan for the complex series of shutdowns that were necessary, but that would mitigate potential downtime. They utilized an existing fusible crane disconnect that was left in place from previous work, refeeding it with normal power and using it to temporarily feed each panel as it was shut down to relocate the conduits and feeders.

“The whole project has really allowed us to showcase our abilities as a true self-perform builder,” said Gorman. When the original subcontractor was unable to man the demolition portion of the project, DPR’s self-perform corps stepped up to complete the demolition, met the schedule perfectly and smoothed out the entire process.

DPR self-perform team members are also completing the concrete on the 2000-space parking garage, which includes an expansive site work utilities package for the garage and to support the adjacent medical office building. And since the project is at a major medical center, work must align with requirements for infection control and other measures inside the hospital. The work carried out by DPR’s craft team members, including Jose Rubio and Jose Zelaya, to meet these requirements has garnered raving reviews from the hospital and its staff. Says Gorman, “We truly could not complete a project of this magnitude without their help.”

Navigating the project’s unique challenges requires extensive coordination amongst the various trades on-site and the use of VDC site models that are color coded by scope and serve as visual aids for sequencing of the work. “This job is different from the traditional approach to a project schedule,” says Robert Parham, a project engineer on the team. “We have six phases. In the first phase, we’re in 12 areas of the building at one time. Each space is phased out, so it’s a lot of communication and coordination with the trades out in the field.”

The team uses Smartsheet for collaboration and work management, meticulously reviewing every activity with the responsible foremen. The goal is not only to notify each trade of schedule commitments, but also to obtain educated buy-in from each trade on-site, committing to the schedules agreed upon with the customer. Planning includes daily coordination with facility staff on the ground, to notify them of what spaces are scheduled for work and to coordinate the various access plans.

As a result of these efforts, the project is on track for its scheduled 2021 completion.

August 14, 2020

Q&A: DPR's Journey to Empowering Authenticity


August 13, 2020

Arizona Stadium Upgrade Receives an Assist from VDC

A view of the renovated presidential suite at Arizona Stadium with the football field in clear view.
DPR Construction recently renovated parts of the historic Arizona Stadium, including the university president’s box. Photo courtesy of Austin Tepper

Virtual design and construction helped push a project over the goal line at the University of Arizona’s football stadium. DPR Construction recently renovated the Skybox Club, ten Skybox Suites and the university president’s box in the historic Arizona Stadium. The upgrades to the premium open-air seating area near the 50-yard line and presidential suite were designed to completely change the fan experience and create new opportunities for university advancement when play resumes.

The 10,000-sq.-ft. interior renovation on the third floor included upgraded finishes, new fixtures and furnishings, updated ADA accessibility and a new operable window. The scope also included restroom renovations, updates to the concessions support spaces and installation of LED lighting and displays. The improvements are part of a major west-side renovation to the stadium.

DPR’s Special Services Group (SSG) was enlisted to perform the improvements. With a focus on small to mid-size projects, the team has expertise delivering greater value on upgrades, renovations, remodels and reconfigurations. The DPR team also self-performed drywall.

A look into the Skybox Suites at Arizona Stadium with downtown Tucson in view.
The Skybox Suites offer picturesque views of downtown Tucson and the mountains. Photo courtesy of Austin Tepper

Construction was completed in a three-month time span. DPR project manager Taylor Fulkerson said the combination of the SSG team and self-perform work was key to adhering to the strict timeline.

“DPR’s SSG group focuses on projects that are five million dollars or less. They can mobilize quickly, maintain quality and successfully meet aggressive deadlines,” said Fulkerson. “Self-performing a critical trade allowed us to start work earlier in the field and fast-track the schedule.”

To upgrade the look and feel of the space, DPR texturized exposed concrete walls to match the finishes of framed walls to provide consistency in the space. The new metal panel ceiling required extreme precision for installation because the design required lights to be mounted on the surface. The electricians provided “literal white glove service” to protect the ceiling from scuffs during their work said Fulkerson.

A view of the social area with tables and chairs in the third level Skybox Suites in Arizona Stadium.
The Skybox Club offers a premium seating area located on the west side between the 35 and 45-yard lines on the third level of the Skyboxes. Photo courtesy of Austin Tepper

Scoring with Virtual Reality

Satisfied with the third-floor Skybox Club and suite improvements, the university asked if similar renovations on a smaller scale could be completed on the second floor. The client wanted a single suite that could be used as a showroom to solicit donor interest in upgraded accommodations. With an even tighter timeline for this exhibition space, DPR alternatively proposed and built a virtual reality model to help support the fundraising efforts.

“Virtual reality was a game-changer for this small project that required a quick turnaround,” said DPR VDC manager Dustin Ridley. “We were able to deliver a high quality and low-cost solution.” The virtual mockup reduced costs by 90 percent compared to a full-scale suite build-out.

DPR’s technical partner vConstruct used rendering tools and photos from similar stadium suites to map materials to the mockup and create a highly detailed virtual environment. The final product allowed donors to interact with the space exactly as they would in a walk-through. Chairs could be moved, and mini refrigerator doors could be opened during the interactive tour when participants were hooked up to a virtual reality headset.

“The model allows the university to conduct customer interest research and begin planning the additional level of suites,” said Ridley. “With VR, fans can give feedback and the design is a collaborative process.”

August 6, 2020

30 Years and Ever Forward

Editor's Note: This post was updated on Sept.15, 2020.

"The only thing to expect is the unexpected" has become the go-to line. Life looks different today than it did six months ago, much less 30 years ago when DPR Construction was founded. But celebrating an anniversary on the heels of a global inflection point is fitting for a company that has aimed to disrupt the industry since its inception.

“Looking back on what DPR has weathered is helping us move forward to achieve our mission of being a most admired company,” said George Pfeffer, member of DPR’s Management Committee. “If you focus on taking care of people and developing a strong organization to support them, you can continue to deliver great results.”

Starting a construction company in the fluctuating market of 1990 might've been buoyed by the pure confidence of founders Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski (the D, P and R), but navigating multiple ups and downs since can be chalked up to more than tenacity; something is working here. The last three decades have taught DPR more than a few lessons that continue to shape its business, culture and people.

(From left to right) DPR Construction founders Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski.

Doing Things Differently

“When we started DPR, we wanted to be a customer-focused organization," said Woods. "We’re a negotiating 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.”

DPR's first decade in business, what it now calls the “Decade of Development” (1990-2000), focused on building an entrepreneurial and innovative culture and empowering employees. It paid off with great success and accolades. DPR harnessed the rising semiconductor industry that was powering 1990s globalization to quickly establish itself as a competitive contractor. Its first semiconductor fabrication facility was awarded in 1994; a $43 million wafer fabrication project for Rockwell International completed in just six months. By the end of the decade, DPR had upwards of $2 billion in revenue and was quickly expanding operations across the country.

The next two decades marked a critical shift in DPR's approach to winning work and taking care of people. The bust and financial crisis bookending the 2000s necessitated strategic evaluations for taking on new work; spurred greater understanding of DPR's core customer markets; and underlined the importance of supporting the community. There were some hard pills to swallow: revenue shrinkage, office closures and the great recession among them. In reacting to the factors outside of its control, the company learned that a culture of discipline was needed to support its entrepreneurial spirit.

From 2010-2019, DPR shifted its aim from market dominance to positioning itself as a transformative entity in an industry traditionally slow to change. Part of that evolution was internal: instituting leadership transitions and hiring and development practices to provide leadership opportunities for more people. The organization also transformed to a collective "team of teams" approach, resulting in integrated regional business units to help identify and scale areas of excellence.

Taken during one of the largest ever self-performed concrete pour, this photo won ENR's 2018 Year in Construction photo contest. The intensity of the 11-hour pour of 4,800 cubic yards of concrete is captured in the focus of Ed Pratt. Photo courtesy of Everett Rosette

A Fully Integrated Business

No fewer than four inflection points later, 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 Pfeffer. “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.”

Increasing alignment within its team of teams has translated to more predictable outcomes for DPR customers and partners. Looking at the integrated project lifecycle end-to-end is leading to an evolution of better workflows. Workflows enabled by technology and data bear out efficiencies in execution through virtual design and construction, increased prefabrication, and the capability to self-perform work.

DPR is ranked among the top general contractors by ENR, with about 8,000 employees worldwide. Photo taken prior to COVID-19 protocols.

Taking Care of People

"If you let people do the right things,and do what they're good at,good things will happen,” said Davidowski.

DPR prioritizes a well-rounded, supportive employee experience to enable the delivery of predictable outcomes across its enterprise. It’s a sentiment expressed in the company’s two central beliefs: Respect for the individual and change the world.

“Respect for the individual means that we trust and care about each other and our customers, and how we interact with others,” said Jody Quinton, member of DPR’s Management Committee. "Changing the world boils down to believing that what we do and how we do it truly matters, and that we’re always inspired to make a difference.”

These beliefs create alignment and foster a willingness to keep pushing forward. As the economic and social landscapes continue to evolve, DPR, like many companies, is looking deeper into Global Social Responsibility and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) practices. These are rooted in the idea that when employees are engaged, seen and heard, they’re more productive. In a company that runs on teamwork, diversity fuels understanding and communication, thereby strengthening trust in each other.

Although far from complete, DPR’s DEI journey thus far has included recasting partnership agreements to reflect diversity best practices, hiring new leadership to increase diversity in its supply chain, expanding its college recruitment portfolio, and breaking bias training.

“Having a work force that matches the customers we build for and the communities where we build is about social responsibility, but it’s also about getting results,” said Mark Whitson of DPR’s Management Committee. “Having a diverse group of people who feel included and can bring their whole selves to work changes the way we build. Having a diverse set of opinions and a diverse set of backgrounds allows us to make better decisions and explore new ways of doing things.”

DPR teams participate in OSHA’s annual National Fall Prevention Stand-Down to raise awareness of preventing fall hazards in construction. Photo taken prior to COVID-19 protocols.

Building Raving Fans

Where construction has been mostly focused on the transaction of getting work done at a good price, DPR’s dedication to collaboration both inside and outside its organization might feel against the grain. But that’s why it works.

“From day one we were really determined that every client we had would be a raving fan,” said Nosler. “Not just in the sense that we did a good job, and that they liked us, but also that they would tell their spouses and their neighbors, ‘Hey, we have this fantastic company that helped us build this wonderful project.’ That’s what we want."

DPR’s model highlights something inherent to the industry: Construction is a people business. By providing a cultural foundation focused on people, aligned by common goals and a commitment to operational excellence, DPR creates an environment that encourages people to be their best selves. Diversifying its business lines and workforce has brought new perspectives and approaches.The efficiencies and innovations gained as a result of a highly collaborative workflow lead to more predictable outcomes on projects. Put that all together, and the result is a blueprint for transforming the industry and delivering great results, every time.

“Everything we do adds up to two simple things: build great projects that create raving fans,” said Mike Humphrey of DPR’s Management Committee.

August 6, 2020

If These Walls Could Talk... They'd Say Design Management Leads to Quality

When a plane takes off, it looks like a graceful motion of the plane lifting from the ground and gradually rising out of sight. What isn’t seen is the work pilots do to adjust to even small factors ranging from weight, wind and even more. Construction, too, can look like every piece is moving just right at every moment.

Like pilots, many on the team work behind the scenes to make sure execution goes as planned. MEP professionals play a special role in this, leveraging technical building expertise with designers and other project partners to make sure what’s in the drawings becomes a reality in the field. Sometimes, that means collaboration to iron out the finer details of a design.

This edition of If These Walls Could Talk… looks at how MEP pros can make great things happen in design management to deliver quality.