Stories

Builders at our Core: Javier "Beto" Martinez

Austin Drywall Foreman Javier "Beto" Martinez embraces prefabrication to improve production and efficiency on the jobsite. Photo: Matt Pranzo

A handful of blocks away from the Colorado River in Austin’s historic downtown, the 39-story Indeed Tower seems to just about touch the big Texas sky. The cast-in-place concrete structure towers over neighboring buildings but does so subtly, as the glass of its full curtainwall exterior reflects its surroundings, nearly creating the illusion that it is transparent. And inside the LEED Platinum Certified core and shell of this technically complex tower, drywall foreman Beto Martinez and his crew are embracing new technologies to complete the interior.

In Downtown Austin, the Indeed Tower seems to touch the sky as it towers over neighboring buildings, reflecting its surroundings. Photo: Albert Vecerka

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

Martinez: I’m a drywall foreman. I’ve been in the industry for 22 years—12 of which have been here at DPR. I started here as a drywall journeyman and was offered opportunities to educate myself and take on more responsibilities. The trust DPR put in me allowed me to continue to learn and to grow, and I’ve been a foreman for the last nine years.

Q: What are some interesting aspects about the project you’re working on right now?

Martinez: With every project, there’s a new challenge. The Indeed Tower I’m working on now has some of the biggest challenges I’ve had, but we’ve used some innovations to overcome them. Prefabrication has helped us improve our production. We’re using a PanelMax to prefabricate the drywall. It’s a portable machine that makes cutting shapes and curves much easier, quicker and more cost-effective. With drywall that comes precut and ready to install, the rate is about 1.7 per hour. With this prefab method, we can move at double that rate. This is the first time I’ve used a PanelMax, and it’s a great tool for the drywall. Where it really helps is that we no longer have to worry about the corner beams. It sets them up already, and we just come and seal them. It improves production and efficiency, and it’s very easy to use. We’re also using extendable elevator studs in the tower. Instead of manually cutting the studs to fit, we just load them and extend them to the desired height, so that speeds up the process.

Martinez and his team are leveraging prefabrication solutions to improve production on the Indeed Tower project, including the use of a PanelMax machine to make cutting shapes and curves in drywall easier and more cost-effective. Photo: Matt Pranzo

Q: Why do you think being a self-performing general contractor makes a difference on a project?

Martinez: It helps us get things done because we’re all one unit. We have different divisions—concrete, interiors, drywall—but it’s like we’re one body, and each division is a different part. Every component is essential and important, and when an issue comes up, we’re able to fix it in house. It’s more efficient. The important thing is that we all have the same values and we’ve all received the same training, especially around safety.

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?

Martinez: It all starts with communication and empathy—just being able to connect and keep in mind we’re part of a team. It’s so important to develop a good team and have respect for one another. That’s what I always try to express, to always have that respect. I don’t want to be the foreman that’s demanding or putting pressure on his crew. That’s not how you do it. You have to create a safe environment. The key is to develop trust and instill confidence in your team, to build a good relationship with them. Also, be open to learning by doing. I have made mistakes, learned from them and fixed them. So, now when I see a similar situation, I make sure the mistakes don’t repeat themselves.

Martinez points to communication, empathy and respect as key factors in creating a good team and environment on the jobsite. Photo: Matt Pranzo

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

Martinez: This is a great career with great opportunities. It’s an industry where you don’t need a ring from a university to succeed or to have a good position. Opportunities will open up to anyone, regardless of the role you’re in. It just depends on your will and your desire to learn, grow and develop yourself. Personally, as someone who came from Mexico with basic schooling, I have been able to educate myself and grow through the opportunities DPR has given me. I started my career as a laborer, moved to assistant, to journeyman, and now to foreman. It’s about having that desire to work, to push yourself and give your best. Other leaders will notice and opportunities will keep coming. Your work will speak for itself. There’s a saying that the sky is the limit, and it truly is. You determine your own path.

Martinez values the opportunities DPR has given him to learn, grow and progress in his career. "It’s an industry where you don’t need a ring from a university to succeed or to have a good position." Photo: Matt Pranzo