Builders at our Core: Ron Brown

Ron Brown has made it his mission at DPR to take advantage of every opportunity presented, learning new technologies and becoming a project engineer, with a deep appreciation for an organization that gives everyone a voice.

Since starting his journey with DPR as an interiors apprentice in 2016, Ronald Brown has made it his mission to take advantage of every opportunity presented. From apprentice to journeyman, journeyman to lead, and lead to project engineer, “Ron has shown tremendous growth in his skill sets, attitude, and ever forward mindset along the way, embracing technologies such as Dusty Robotics for layout,” says superintendent Bryce Castro. Now working on a large medical center project in Southern California, Brown shows no signs of slowing down.

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

Brown: I’m a project engineer for our self-perform work group. I came up through the carpentry trade and after working in various roles at other companies, I started with DPR eight years ago. Opportunities kept presenting themselves, and I just tried to excel at every one. One thing I've learned about DPR is that you will always have the support of the team to walk you through the processes, help you with the learning curve, and get you up to speed. Everyone is willing to help.

I got the opportunity to do layout with Dusty Robotics as a journeyman carpenter, and I did all of the layout for a major medical provider in Los Angeles. I fell in love with the technology of that robot—it makes the layout process so much faster and translates into real schedule savings. We’re using Dusty on this project, and as a project engineer, I’m focusing on all of the multiple scopes we have, trying to bring them all together. As a self-performing contractor, we have different divisions, but we're one installer. That's the unique part, bringing it all together.

A person gestures to a computer monitor and speaks to another person looking on.
As a project engineer, Brown focuses on multiple scopes on his current project and appreciates the high level of coordination necessary. Photo: Matt Pranzo

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

Brown: This the first project I’ve been acting as a project engineer on. Part of it is a ground-up tower, and part is a renovation of the existing hospital. I’ve been on this project since January of last year. We’re aiming for completion in 2025.

This project isn’t too far from where I grew up, in Beaumont, California, just north of here. This project is a bigger area of operation for me, so seeing the details of all the communication, sequencing and planning that takes place is new to me. Coming from the field where you focus on one scope to now see the management of multiple scopes with so many moving pieces is amazing.

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

Brown: The benefit is the fluidity. There's no excuse or reason we can't do anything. If there is a challenge, we have a solution, and SPW is a big part of that because we're a jack of all trades. Whatever needs to be done, we can do it. We do the research, we get the right folks in the right spots, and we have experts who will catch everyone else up. It's a big system of trust. I think you can overcome any challenge or unknown with SPW.

There’s also a cultural element. Because we work for DPR, it’s personal and we’re committed to the success of the project. We’re one team. Most of us know each other by name. Not only does that motivate you to work harder, smarter and safer, you take pride in your work. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the office or out in the field. We’re all one team out here, and their problems are my problems. It’s that kind of kind of environment. People want to be a part of DPR.

It’s also about quality. Everyone on our SPW teams is trained to the same standard of quality, and the standards always get higher because people share their knowledge, figure new things out, and often show you a better way of doing things. It's ever evolving in the right direction. Because of our culture, DPR gives you a seat at the table so you can share your ideas about how to make our projects and our processes better. Everyone has a voice, and in my experience, that’s very rare.

Two people stand talking together on an active jobsite, both looking at a desk containing construction plans.
"Everyone on our SPW teams is trained to the same standard of quality, and the standards always get higher because people share their knowledge, figure new things out, and often show you a better way of doing things," says Brown. Photo: Matt Pranzo

Q: What would you say is your proudest moment at DPR?

Brown: Recently, at our company meeting, I made an “Unsung Heroes” list. I got to stand up and be recognized—everybody applauded. I try to work hard every day. There’s always something to do, and I’m always busy, but just to get that kind of recognition for the things I’ve done and for my attitude is amazing. That's probably my proudest moment.

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

Brown: Patience, open mindedness, a go-get-it attitude, and, honestly, being okay with not being the smartest person in the room. It’s a “challenge accepted” attitude. And just be motivated. If working here doesn't motivate you, something's wrong.

Two builders wearing personal protective equipment squat down on a project site, looking at work in progress.
Brown appreciates DPR's culture of inclusion. "You can share your ideas about how to make our projects and our processes better. Everyone has a voice, and in my experience, that’s very rare." Photo: Matt Pranzo

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

Brown: It’s life-changing in ways that you can't understand until you do it. There's this preconceived notion that you have to have this certification or you need that education. You don't. You just need the work ethic and it will drive you in the direction you're supposed to go. You create your future success with your effort. Accept the successes, and accept the failures, too. But you have to wake up the next day and do it again.

The construction industry is very underrated and it will change you in ways you had no idea about. There are a lot of good people here, and in the industry as a whole—people who love to contribute to your success. It’s not like anything I’ve ever known. When I got to my first DPR project site, within the first 45 minutes, I knew I was somewhere that was gold. I knew it was different. I thought, “I’m here to stay, and I want to show these guys I want to stay.” And that’s what I did. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

Builders at our Core

Builders at our Core is a blog series dedicated to sharing stories of DPR’s self-perform work teams. With diverse career paths, we’ll hear from people who got to where they are in very different ways, but have a few key things in common: a passion for continuous learning, growth and building great things.

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