August 1, 2019
For Chad Urroz, a self-perform concrete superintendent based in Southern California, the recipe for DPR’s continued success calls for two main ingredients: hard work and a solid reputation. “DPR can’t do it without the folks in the field… we really owe it all the guys out there making it happen day in and day out. That’s where the hard work gets done,” says Urroz. This hard work is mixed in with integrity and dependability to create a reputation for quality that continues to be recognized in the industry and has helped make DPR one of the top 10 general contractors in the nation.
Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?
Urroz: I’ve been a superintendent for SPW Concrete with DPR since January of 2018. I started in concrete in 1998. My uncle and his neighbor were in the concrete business, so I started doing side jobs with them, and the rest is history. I like concrete because it doesn’t go away. There’s gratification that comes from knowing what you build will be there for a long time.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to build/type of project to work on?
Urroz: I would say projects that are unique. I couldn’t imagine myself doing the same old, same old every day. I like doing a variety of projects, getting to change every nine months or so. Like this job, it’s more of a steel structure overall, but we’re doing the foundations, concrete slabs and floors throughout. One of the buildings has concrete walls and elevator cores. It’s always a little different from job to job.
Q: What’s the most technical thing you’ve worked on?
Urroz: We did a client’s corporate headquarters, a nice architectural project, in Pasadena. It was a cast-in-place building for one of DPR’s long-time clients. Since it was their corporate headquarters, it was really a showroom for them, with high-end finishes and architectural details. I was really impressed at the level of trust DPR had in me to be a lead on such an important job. They just said, “Take this and run with it.” So I did.
Q: What do you love about construction/your job?
Urroz: It’s the fulfillment I get from showing up to a dirt lot and then walking away having built a structure that you know is going to be there for a long time. I can drive through downtown LA and point out several projects that I got off the ground. There’s fulfillment in it that I don’t think many people get.
Q: How have you grown since you started here?
Urroz: The culture here is so different from anywhere I’ve been. People get treated so well here. Believe it or not, that actually took a lot of getting used to.
Q: Over the course of your career, what is the most important thing you have learned?
Urroz: The first thing that comes to my mind is patience. It takes a lot of patience to do what we do, but you also have to be pretty quick on your feet to solve problems. If a pump breaks down and you have 20 guys on deck trying to pour and finish concrete, you have to come up with a solution quickly to figure out how to salvage that pour. You make a call and stand by it. I’m responsible for anywhere from 25 to 100 guys. You can’t command the respect of 100 guys; you have to earn it. That’s another thing I’ve learned. You have to earn respect from everyone you work with.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Urroz: The biggest challenges are always schedule and budget. We always strive to meet the customer’s schedule. There are unseen things that can delay a job, so you have to get really creative to make up any lost time. To come up with a solution, we run a bunch of schedules—different scenarios, different plays. There’s a lot of collaboration with our full-time schedulers, who are really good at what they do.
Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?
Urroz: Your reputation is everything. You have to have integrity. It’s the only way to build a good reputation. I’ve been in this industry for 21 years. I went through all the recessions without a single day off work. My reputation is what got me there.
My son, Seth, is an apprentice carpenter at DPR. I never knew I wanted him to follow in my footsteps, but I was pretty proud when he did. One of our business leaders brought his three-year-old grandson out here a month ago on a really quiet Friday. Just to see that little guy—he was so excited—it reminded me of taking my son to work with me when he was about that age. Those kids love that stuff.
With the younger generation, everybody needs to figure out that in your career, reputation is everything. Dependability, honesty, reliability, hard work—everything is wrapped up in that one thing. All that goes into reputation.