January 23, 2020
Hershal Rogers began his professional journey nailing off houses in Texas at the age of 13. He has witnessed a lot of change in the industry, from the adoption of iPads in the field to the use of digitally fabricated panels. He spoke to us about the benefits of using prefabricated panels over traditional stick-built methods in accelerating project schedules and improving overall safety in the field. And the tools he has found most useful on his journey? Honesty and integrity.
Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?
Rogers: I came to DPR a year and a half ago, but I‘ve been a superintendent level or above in the drywall trade for a long time. My brother started me in the business when I was 13 years old. After I served in the Navy, I worked for a small construction company. I was self-employed for years, then worked as an operations manager for an interiors company. Then a coworker referred me to DPR. I work as a superintendent, running various projects.
Q: How does your team integrate with other teams? How do you work with each other or make things easier for each other?
Rogers: One thing I’ve learned over this last year and a half with DPR is it’s all about relationships. We’re all one team. If there's something we can’t do, suggest alternatives. Offer a solution rather than a flat out “no,” to build trust that our group is going to be there to take care of the job and we’re not going to fail. I try to build that into our craft—to be solution-minded. Point out solutions to problems rather than the problems themselves. And it seems to be working. We’re training people right and getting the right people for the job.
Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Rogers: The most challenging part is proving yourself on a daily basis. I always try to be out in front of everyone, schedule-wise. We have to be organized and make sure the right materials are there when we need them. Everybody else is in same boat, so you can’t be too far ahead. I’ll set up delivery of a truckload of drywall for every Wednesday and Friday so the materials are there, but also not too many at once because it would clutter the jobsite. The good thing about the job is that each one has its own personality. You don’t do the same thing every day. It’s really about doing whatever task is at hand and trying to get things right. I’m always figuring out how to adjust things to fit the needs of the project.
Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?
Rogers: Patience is paramount, so I think patience and just being versatile. Being willing to make changes and to adjust to the needs of the other individuals on the job. Things can change constantly. I’ll have my plans for the day, and by 7:15 my plans have changed. You prioritize the project needs and decide what should come first. It’s a juggling act, but I don’t drop many balls.
Q: How have you grown since you started here?
Rogers: I come from a background of all "Mom and Pop" type shops. This is my first experience with a large general contractor. Where I was working before, we still used a hammer, a chisel and a rock to communicate. When I walked into DPR to get onboarded, the first thing they did was hand me an iPad, which I wasn’t used to. But I’m learning. I see the advantages of the technology, whereas before I thought of it as a hindrance.
If you ask anyone who knows me, I’ve even grown as a person. My wife, my fishing buddies, my hunting buddies… they all say I’m a completely different person than I used to be. Where I worked before, it was a negative, high-pressure environment. It was one of those situations where you pretty much had to give your personal life away. Now that I’ve been here a little bit longer and have learned to embrace the DPR culture, I realize that all the things I was told aren’t just empty words. They’re real. If you do something right, you hear about it. If you do something wrong, you hear about it. Whatever you’re doing, the occasional pat on the back goes a long way toward morale. A happy employee is a productive employee. I’m happy to be involved with a company that believes that.
Q: Tell us a bit more about the technology aspect of your work here.
Rogers: We’re working on a job in Fort Worth using prefabricated panels. Because DPR is a self-performing general contractor, we can get the job started at least a couple weeks faster than anybody else in town would have. There have been several jobs in the past year where that’s really been a benefit to everyone. From a scheduling standpoint, you can’t build walls in the air near as fast as you can put one up with a crane, like we do with our prefab panels. It takes about 20 minutes to set a 16-foot by 25-foot wall, 28 floors in the air. It would take two weeks to build it the traditional way.
Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?
Rogers: Honesty and integrity are the things that have gotten me where I am. I don’t have a college education, but I served my country and I’m proud of that. I’ve always done my best. It’s like I tell some of these young men and women: If you say you’re going to do something, do it. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing; come in every day and do your best. If you want opportunities, look for them and make the most of them. Like me—I started out nailing off houses in East Texas. I’ve pushed brooms thousands of miles. Don’t view what you’re doing today as meaningless because it’s not. It takes all of us to make this work. The sky is the limit. Set your own goals and meet those goals. If an opportunity happens, step through that door and knock it out of the park.