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.



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.

July 31, 2020

Builders at our Core: Getting the Bay Area Back to Work

Construction work taking place on the UCSF Block 23A Neurosciences Research Building in San Francisco
Work was paused on the UCSF Block 23A Building in San Francisco when California's Bay Area announced a shelter-in-place order. Photo courtesy of Barry Fleisher

On March 16, officials in California’s Bay Area announced a Shelter-in-Place (SIP) order for six Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara. Many DPR Construction projects stopped work to abide by this order to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections. But that wasn’t the end of the story. Safely winding down a project is one thing. Getting things back online with new protocols in the face of a pandemic is another. DPR’s Bay Area project teams quickly got to work on what they knew would be the next step: restarting these projects as safely as possible.

Teams were set up to formulate return to work plans, for both offices and jobsites, so projects could come back online with enhanced COVID-19 safety protocols. One such project that was paused due to the SIP order was the 283,000-sq.-ft. UCSF Block 23A Neurosciences Research Building in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. The project is in an urban setting, in the middle of a city block, a stone’s throw away from the Chase Center and AT&T Park. DPR’s self-perform scopes include concrete, drywall, ceilings, firestopping and fire safing.

Jack Poindexter, who serves as project executive on the UCSF job, summed up the challenges. “This project is massive. It’s a complex project with a lot of workers on-site—well over 300 on a given day.” The team knew they needed to build a plan to return to work, but being able to do it safely and with a high degree of excellence was paramount in their minds. “Our goal was to protect their jobs, but we also had to protect their health, and treat a potential restart with a level of seriousness that we would treat any other high hazard activity on a construction site.”

Cones and signage are set up outside the UCSF Block 23A site to remind people of social distancing requirements.
A team of DPR employees met daily via virtual conferences to devise a get back to work plan that included advanced protocols aimed at safeguarding everyone on-site. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

The final result was akin to a project procedures manual on a large job. The team, who met daily via virtual conferences, considered all possible angles: How to get people in. How to check that they’re healthy. How to get them into the building in the most efficient manner. How to move materials to and around the site. How to keep people safe in the field and in the trailer. What types of PPE would be required? What should working hours be? How to bring people back into the site while orienting them to new logistics and procedures. The team collected myriad ideas and came up with a final get back to work plan that UCSF not only approved but praised.

First and foremost was the question of how to spread people out for social distancing purposes. A team of DPR employees, including superintendents and craft team members who could advise on the practicalities of the field and come up with workable solutions, decided to spread workers out across shifts. The core crews were split into two shifts, while a third shift was added to handle material deliveries and some on-site work.

The next step was to stagger the start times of subcontractors, even within the same shift. With a pre-screening process, including temperature scans, in place to ensure that every person who enters the site is healthy, this cuts down on people queuing up for screening at the same time. And those who do wait in line for screening prior to entry stand at designated places on the pavement, helping them maintain a 6-foot distance from each other while waiting to enter the gate. The team even added a second gate, allowing two people to be screened at once at separate entry points. Those conducting temperature scans are protected in booths, behind plexiglass--not only on the construction site itself, but also in jobsite trailers.

Employees are given temperature scans at screening booths before entering work areas.
Booths were set up to screen people for COVID-19 symptoms before they enter the site, with screeners performing temperature scans behind plexiglass. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

The team also changed logistics once inside the site, even down to the use of the stairs in the building. One staircase is designated for going up, while another is designated for those going down. This minimizes the number of people potentially passing each other in close contact. Teams also began working in designated zones of the building so that certain crews can be isolated from others. For Poindexter, DPR’s self-perform crews not only helped make this possible, but helped make it a success.

“When we shut down, we were right in the middle of drywall, and we have a tremendous amount of our drywall and ceiling folks on-site. What’s great is getting them back to work, but also, they’re our people. It’s so much easier to control the safety and performance of a project when you’ve got DPR personnel executing it. These protocols are new to everybody, so making sure we’re all doing them well is a whole new hurdle for us. Having more DPR personnel on-site is a really big benefit for us.”

Three craft team members work to complete the UCSF Block 23A Building.
DPR's planning team included superintendents and craft team members who advised on the practicalities of the field and came up with workable solutions for restarting work. Photo courtesy of Barry Fleisher

The UCSF Block 23A project was able to restart successfully due to the careful analysis, planning and execution of those plans by DPR employees and the cooperation of every subcontractor and the client, itself. But, the importance of the learning element is not lost on anyone. The crisis has given everyone the opportunity to become better planners, with a multitude of lessons learned from both planning and scheduling standpoints.

Said Poindexter: “We’ve learned a ton. We’ve focused on it in a way that folks at DPR always do. We rise to the occasion. Every time, we rally around these issues, solve the problems, learn from them, and are better in the future. That effort is well worth it. We will end up in a stronger position as better builders in the long run.”

UCSF Block 23A welcomed more than 300 people back to work the week of May 4. Safely.

April 24, 2020

Builders at our Core: Keeping Team Members Safe

Workers wear mask on a construction site.
DPR has changed the way work is done to keep people safe while continuing to deliver results. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

For businesses operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is anything but business as usual. Normal routines have been upended, and organizations have responded to the challenges by changing the way they work to protect the safety of employees, customers and communities. From maintaining social distance to donning face masks, the day to day of essential workers looks different than it ever has.

Construction is one such essential industry. While many projects remain operational, some sectors have experienced increased demand in the face of the current global health crisis. Hospitals continue to undertake herculean efforts while internet providers experience increased traffic, all with a view to helping people through the current crisis.

Taking care of people has always been at the heart of DPR. As projects continue to move forward, project teams have adjusted how they work to protect not only employees and their families, but customers and communities as well. Measures have been implemented on every DPR jobsite to keep people safe, the first being assessing personal health and risk factors before stepping onsite.

Jobsite workers wear face mask and practice social distancing.
DPR has implemented measures recommended by the CDC to safeguard health on all project sites. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

Prior to entering any jobsite, team members must complete a Pre-Screen Self-Assessment with questions aimed at determining whether COVID-19 related symptoms or risk factors exist. Self-Assessments consist of:

  • questions delivered via an app on either a team member’s personal phone or on a DPR-supplied tablet.
  • a temperature check administered by a trained screener with a non-contact infrared thermometer or camera. If no fever is present, the team member is given a daily wristband or sticker indicating they have been cleared to enter that day.
  • information shared with designated DPR COVID-19 Captains, and if applicable, trade partners, vendors and client leads.
A team member gets his temperature checked, and another washes her hands.
Temperature checks are carried out to rule out fever before admittance, and extra hand washing stations have been deployed. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

DPR’s Whitney Dorn reflected on her jobsite’s first go at screening. “More than 250 people went through the COVID-19 screen on our jobsite. The first day went swimmingly! The screen itself only took 45 seconds. The DPR Safety and craft team members are our first line of defense, keeping us safe.”

Once on the jobsite, team members practice social distancing, maintaining at least a 6-foot distance from each other. That means pre-task planning that takes social distancing into account. Additionally, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control, wearing cloth face masks is required. Extra hand washing stations are available on project sites, with reminders to wash hands often. Common areas and tools are sanitized frequently, and wherever possible team members avoid sharing tools.

Four team members practice social distancing while wearing face masks on a jobsite.
Team members wear cloth face masks and practice social distancing. Photo courtesy of DPR Construction

These safety measures taken on-site enable DPR to continue to deliver essential projects even during this pandemic. For example, on the East Coast, a longtime DPR healthcare partner issued an urgent request to DPR to modify 100 patient room doors and add glass panels into doors to enable care providers to observe patients while limiting direct exposure. The request came with a target timetable of just over a week. DPR responded immediately and mobilized an experienced self-perform workforce that knew the medical center well. The team formulated and deployed a plan best suited for the work, with the smallest impact to the customer and patients. DPR’s Chris Strock said, “I’m not sure we would be able to respond as quickly and with such confidence if we did not have self-perform work capabilities.

March 5, 2020

Builders at our Core: Nancy Martinez

Nancy Martinez currently works as a labor foreman and Black Hat Safety Supervisor.
Nancy Martinez's excellence and attitude have propelled her to being recognized as both a project foreman and a Black Hat Safety Supervisor in a historically male-dominated industry. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

These days it’s not out of the ordinary to see women working on construction sites—something that was a rarity when Emily Roebling oversaw the completion of the Brooklyn Bridge in 1883. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a 31 percent increase in the total number of women in the construction industry over the last decade. They are empowered to undertake roles previously not open to them. The story of one such female builder is shared in this latest edition of Builders at our Core: Nancy Martinez.

Martinez flexes her team integration muscles on a daily basis. As the leader of a self-perform crew in Virginia that works with dozens of superintendents and a slew of craft teams to maintain order and cleanliness on the job site, she helps keep projects on track and works to spread safety awareness along the way. Her excellence and attitude have propelled her to being recognized as both a project foreman and a Black Hat Safety Supervisor in a historically male-dominated industry. She attributes these achievements to an ‘I can do it’ mentality, simply stating, “We work hard, and there is nothing we can’t do.”

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

Martinez: I’m currently in charge of the labor group for Building 3 on this job site. I heard about DPR from another team member, who happens to be my brother-in-law. I came from an outside contractor, cleaning hospitals, and I’ve been here since November of 2018. I started as a laborer, and as we grew and added more people, I became a lead for Building 1. From there, I became a foreman for electrical rooms and then ended up taking responsibility for the whole building.

I was also recently nominated to be a part of the new Black Hat Safety Supervisors program, which was an honor. The black hat signifies being a safety advocate for the people. We look out for everybody on the site, not just our specific craft team, and we work to spread safety awareness. We are vigilant about safety, which includes everything from making sure people have their PPE on to making sure everyone is tied off properly and has four points of contact.

Nancy Martinez points to a crew member on a DPR job site.
Martinez leads a self-perform crew in Virginia that works with dozens of superintendents and a slew of craft teams to maintain order and cleanliness on the job site. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: How does your team integrate with other teams? How do you work with each other or make things easier for each other?

Martinez: My team goes wherever we are needed. We coordinate with other craft schedules to clean areas when work is done, and we also prepare areas before work starts so craft team members know they are coming into a clean and safe environment. If there’s water in a pit, we figure out the most efficient way to get it out, whether it be pumps connected to a hose or shop vacs, or even a squeegee machine to squeegee it out. If a bunch of plywood needs to be moved, we walk it down three flights of stairs. We pick up trash, sweep break tents and make sure everything is clean and slip-trip-and-fall hazards are minimized so building can continue as it needs to.

Q: What is your proudest moment at DPR?

Martinez: Honestly, there’s a whole lot. I helped turn over parts of Building 1 on this site, and it was exciting to be a part of that. We watch a site go from dirt to an entire building. There’s a huge sense of accomplishment that goes along with that. At the end of this project, there will be a big reveal, and I will be able to say I was a part of that. But I think my proudest moment was becoming a foreman. It was a recognition of my determination and the contributions I’ve made to the team. It’s a real honor.

Martinez oversees a crew member on a DPR job site.
Martinez helps keep projects on track and works to spread safety awareness along the way as a Black Hat Safety Supervisor. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Martinez: One challenge is managing so many moving parts. We have 23 superintendents running three different buildings, with each of them needing something different. Managing that takes some creativity. Everything else is cake. (Laughing) Before this, I was always a small fry. At first, I was terrified of being put in charge, but the superintendents I work with were able to guide me through how to handle everything, which made it easier. I just take it one room at a time.

Q: What do you love about construction/your job?

Martinez: It’s never the same work over and over again; there’s always something new. You can come onto a construction site doing one thing, and three years down the line be doing something completely different. The really great thing at DPR is there is unlimited potential for growth, and the work you do is recognized and rewarded.

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

Martinez: Honestly, I think it comes down to self-determination. There’s not one single skill I can identify in my role. It comes down to the desire to do the work and to do it well. Anybody can push a broom. What really matters is how you go about doing it. Anybody can pick up a piece of wood, but it’s another thing to pick up a 20-foot two-by-four and walk it down three floors. You have to see the work to its finish and every little bit matters.

Martinez and a coworker lift  a sign together.
Martinez attributes her achievements to an ‘I can do it’ mentality, stating, “We work hard, and there is nothing we can’t do.” Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What advice would you give other women who want to get into the industry?

Martinez: We are in a predominantly male industry, and we work just as hard as they do. It’s vital that we have an ‘I can do it’ mentality. If guys can do it, we can too. I see other females in our industry—painters, finishers, drywallers, electricians, laborers. A lot of them do duct work. I’ve even seen a female steelworker. There is nothing we can’t do. You get out of it what you put in, and the opportunities are there for us, as well.

January 23, 2020

Builders at our Core: Hershal Rogers

Hershal Rogers, superintendent for DPR's SPW crew, talks about his experiences.
Hershal Rogers has witnessed a lot of positive industry change since he started in the drywall business over 35 years ago. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

Hershal Rogers focuses on being solution oriented and tries to impart the importance of this goal to everyone he works with.
Building trust is important to Rogers. He and his team accomplish this by being solution oriented and sticking to their promises. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

Hershal Rogers is a believer in the benefits of prefabrication panels in accelreating schedule and improving jobsite safety.
Rogers cites accelerated schedule and increased safety as crucial benefits of building with prefabricated panels. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

November 27, 2019

Builders at our Core: Andres Sanchez

Andres Sanchez has a keen appreciation for and experience with integrating various teams.
Andres Sanchez has a keen appreciation for and experience with integrating the various teams it takes to deliver a successful project. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Over the past year, DPR Construction has shared stories of its self-perform work (SPW) teams. We’ve heard from builders who successfully execute complex technical projects every day by working closely with their teammates. But a key part of project success also lies in the collaboration and integration between teams, so we’re shifting our focus to highlight those synergies. We begin with Andres Sanchez, a self-proclaimed “office guy who came from the field and every day takes the field to the office.” Sanchez began his career as a craft team member, transitioned into virtual design and construction and currently acts as a project engineer, so he has a keen appreciation for and experience with integrating the various teams it takes to deliver a successful project.

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

Sanchez: I’m currently a project engineer, managing SPW work. I started working in the field as a craft employee, and I was fortunate to get the chance to be part of the laser scanning unit when it was brand new to our region. We laser scanned as-built conditions, floor flatness, concrete pre-pours, and after we were successful we trained other regions in laser scanning. I liked laser scanning because it allowed me to visit multiple offices and work with various teams, because we were performing work outside of our Phoenix office and training others. We mastered the process so we could share our learning. I’m currently managing the ASU Health Futures Center projects and assisting at other SSG projects on other campuses.

Q: What do you love about construction / your job?

Sanchez: The main thing I love about construction is just putting my two cents in to get something done. To be the bridge between our design and our craft. To be able to translate what’s being requested to put that in place. That’s team integration in a nutshell.

Sanchez points out that each person he works with has the same goal: to work together to deliver a successful project. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: How does your team integrate with other teams? How do you work with each other or make things easier for each other?

Sanchez: In my role, we deal with Preconstruction before the project even starts. We deal with BIM coordination. We work with our superintendents to be able to manage the correct schedule, and with other trade partners to coordinate the work in place. At the end of the day, we’re all working together to achieve one goal: a successful project. And teamwork makes that happen.

One good example was the laser scanning. I was doing framing on a project, and I was asked if I was interested in being part of this new team that was being developed. I didn’t hesitate for a minute. I said, “Yes, when do I start?” Our group of three had no real experience with it, but we knew we needed to master it as soon as possible. With support from our Southern California team, we purchased our own laser scanner and brought in a specialty team from the vendor, Trimble, to train us. On a scale from one to 10, our first project was a 9. To be able to exceed the owner’s expectations and showcase the benefit of laser scanning was mind-blowing. As a region, it was just the beginning of a new way of implementing technology into construction. From that project, it skyrocketed. We did Shea Hospital in Phoenix. That lead us to go to Austin, Dallas and Houston to coach and train our Texas folks, where concrete was taking off. After that, we did the same thing in Florida.

Sanchez loves his job, especially being the bridge between design and the craft, and to help translate what’s being requested into what gets built. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What are you most proud of / what is your proudest moment at DPR?

Sanchez: One of my proudest moments was to be able to share my love of construction with my daughter. When I worked on the project in Tucson, my 9-year-old daughter, Mia, visited the jobsite with me on multiple occasions until completion. During our daily dinner conversation, she always asked me, “Is it done yet?” It was like having to give a superintendent a daily project update. Now that we moved back to Phoenix, she tells everyone, “I built a hospital in Tucson. I worked for DPR.” And now she wants to be an engineer.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Sanchez: (Laughs) Going home! There are days when I get calls from home telling me dinner is ready, and I say, “Give me 20 more minutes.” I always try to stay ahead of things and be on top of what’s coming up next week: forecasting, what’s going to be impacting our schedule. I must stay on top of all that.

According to Sanchez, a great attitude and a great smile make every day, and every project, easier. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Sanchez: Attitude. Having the right attitude, the will to learn and to be teachable. You could have all it takes to master a skill or a task, but not having the correct attitude will not give you great results. It can be as simple as sharing a smile with someone who might be having a bad day. A great smile and a great attitude make everything easier. I’m always smiling. Even when something goes wrong, they say, “Why is he smiling?” And I say, “Well, let’s figure something out!”

October 4, 2019

Supporting Apprenticeship in the Carolinas

DPR Construction's projects don’t just build themselves. Our craft employees and subcontractors make amazing things happen on site every day, but the need to recruit a new generation of people to the trades is vital.

At Wake Tech, in the heart of North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park, DPR’s sponsorship of the university’s apprenticeship program is just one of the ways we aim to support a sustainable, skilled workforce. Watch the video to learn more.

September 5, 2019

Builders at our Core: Pete Catalano

SPW General Superintendent Pete Catalano has been instrumental in bringing DPR’s New Jersey office online and helping to forge a strong SPW crew in the Northeast. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

SPW General Superintendent Pete Catalano has a goal: to leave something behind. Getting his start as a carpenter almost four decades ago, he has always focused on doing great work. And over the past nine years he has put this focus to work at DPR, an organization that empowers him to be a more confident communicator and contributor. He has been instrumental in bringing DPR’s New Jersey office online and helping to forge a strong SPW crew in the Northeast. For Pete, it’s not just about building structures, it’s about crafting a great team to strengthen DPR.

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

Catalano: I’m an SPW superintendent for DPR in the Northeast—mainly in New Jersey, but sometimes in Boston and Virginia if they need me. I started out 35 years ago with a union company that self-performed carpentry. I’ve run my own business and worked for a large drywall company. Then, I decided I wanted to be a superintendent who ran the entire job, and DPR put me in that position. I never dreamed the opportunity would turn out the way it did.

Q: What’s your favorite thing to build/type of project to work on?

Catalano: I like when we get into buildings that are already occupied. We go through special measures to get things done and to work with the occupants, and we’re extra careful with how we conduct ourselves. But what I like the best is building from the ground up—starting out with nothing, seeing something come up out of the ground, and leaving something behind.

For Catalano, the keys to success at DPR include skill in your trade and the abitility to anticipate and solve problems. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What do you love about construction/your job?

Catalano: The people and the challenges. We work with people we’ve worked with before, and also a lot of people we’ve never worked with. But we’re all working toward a common goal, and we align ourselves to get to that goal. With DPR, I’ve had the opportunity to work with people in different parts of the country, which was really cool. That’s what I like the most, figuring out who plays where to get the work done.

Q: What are you most proud of/what is your proudest moment at DPR?

Catalano: Bringing an office to New Jersey so everybody here could have a home base. I think that was a huge step for us in New Jersey. I ran that job as superintendent, and my team did all the carpentry work. That’s probably what has made me most proud. Everyone has a home to go to every day. It’s great to be in on the ground floor of SPW here, building the group up from nothing. That’s really my passion here. I want to get the SPW group running strong for DPR so that when I ride off into the sunset, I know that I left something behind.

Catalano says, "What I like the best is building from the ground up—starting out with nothing, seeing something come up out of the ground, and leaving something behind." Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Catalano: DPR has allowed me to learn how to communicate better because of the position I’m in. I’m in the trenches every day, yet I can go into the office and sit down with our business unit leader to figure things out. As a person, I’ve grown a lot. It’s not about the project size, but about understanding how the business works from top to bottom. I’ve grown by leaps and bounds in that way. One of the other superintendents told me, “When we first met, you were only about doing your job. Now you’re coming up with ideas about how to do things better.” When you start a job, you’re just focused on doing the job. As you get more confident, you can contribute more. Because DPR is confident in my abilities, I feel empowered to contribute to the success of the company.

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

Catalano: You absolutely must be skilled at your trade, to hone your skills and learn from the more experienced people. Our level of skill tells our customers they are getting quality work on a building. You also have to be a good problem solver. Our jobs are always a little different, so we have to think on our feet and anticipate problems before they happen. Awareness and skill are very important.

The trust DPR places in Catalano's abilities has empowered him to make ever greater contributions to the success of the company. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Catalano: First, to learn everything you can about the trade you’re in. Second, to learn as much as you can about the other trades. No matter what your role, you need to get actual boots-on-the-ground, field experience. That’s where you really learn this industry, by getting out in the field and asking a bunch of questions. Experienced people in the field are always willing to help those just getting their start.

As Pete starts his drive home to the Jersey Shore each evening, he takes pride in knowing he is leaving behind great things he had a hand in creating—great buildings and a great team.

August 1, 2019

Builders at our Core: Chad Urroz

Self-Perform Concrete Superintendent Chad Urroz points to hard work, integrity and dependability as the basis for DPR's success. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

Urroz finds fulfillment in creating structures that will stand the test of time. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

Reputation is very important to Urroz, and he works hard to gain the respect of everyone he works with. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

Urroz says collaboration and quick problem-solving skills help him overcome the challenges that inevitably come his way. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

Says Urroz, “DPR can’t do it without the guys in the field. That's where the hard work gets done." Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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.

June 28, 2019

Builders at our Core: Fedor Carrillo

For Drywall Foreman Fedor Carrillo, a job isn’t worth doing unless it’s done right and exceeds customer expectations. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

“Fedor Carrillo was one of first people in DPR’s Raleigh-Durham location. He really helped build that office,” says DPR Superintendent Bruce Worcester. “He’s very demanding because he wants things done the right way. He’s excellent quality control on a project.” Worcester underscores a significant benefit that DPR’s self-perform workforce delivers: better quality control on DPR’s projects. To Carrillo, a drywall foreman, a job isn’t worth doing unless it’s done right and exceeds customer expectations. In this way, he embodies DPR’s drive to be a truly great builder.

Q: How did you come to work at DPR?

Carrillo: I started at DPR in November of 2007. I had been working for another construction company and had just finished a project when a friend told me DPR was looking for people. I started here as a carpenter, and after a couple years they gave me the opportunity to become a foreman and gave me a lot of training to move into that.

Before that, in 1999, I had to leave El Salvador because it was dangerous. The government was unstable. I lost my family and was on my own at 13, stocking soda on shelves to earn money, then driving a truck and a city bus. When I came to America, I worked hard to become successful here, and I felt so thankful to have a company like DPR see my hard work and give me more opportunity. I try to let younger people see that if you work hard and do the right thing, it will open doors. I try to set a standard for the younger people.

Q: What is the most challenging thing you’ve work on?

Carrillo: Right now, we’re finishing up a day care center located inside a client’s campus—we renovated one of the buildings for the employees. The building was occupied while we worked, so that was the big challenge, but we tried to disrupt them as little as possible. We put up temporary walls to separate us from their employees during the day. Many times, we worked at night so the noise wouldn’t bother them. We did a lot of pre-task planning and communicating with the customer here.

Carrillo makes the most of every learning opportunity offered at DPR, and he passes on his knowledge by training others. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What do you love about your job?

Carrillo: I love this company. It’s not like any other one I’ve worked with. Every day I learn something. When I don’t understand something, my bosses help me and give me training. People are willing to be patient and go through everything with you—new technology, iPads, types of drawings. And when I understand it, I train others because it’s important to me that everyone does things right.

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Carrillo: DPR trusted me with responsibility and let me rise to the challenge. They had confidence in me, and that made me feel like I could do the job. The responsibilities they gave me built my confidence in myself. It made me want to learn more and do a good job, always learning more, becoming better, and taking on more responsibility.

Carrillo attributes his success to the view that "it's not just about building a better building; it's about building myself to be better." Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Carrillo: To do a good job and to do the right thing. DPR helps me feel successful because it’s not just about building a better building; it’s about building myself to be better. I’ve been able to advance because they trust me to do the right thing.

Q: What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Carrillo: For me, the most challenging thing at first was that I felt like my English wasn’t very good. I wasn’t confident communicating with people. But DPR helped me with that. They gave me training, and there has never been a problem with my work.

Carrillo knows that you have to make the most of every opportunity you are given, and he has worked hard to be successful. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Carrillo: DPR is a good company. My son even works for DPR, in an apprenticeship program here in North Carolina. DPR is about trust and opportunity. They give you opportunities to grow, but you have to make the most of them. I tell young people all the time: You have to work hard so you can use the opportunities to be successful.

Says Carrillo, "I feel so thankful to have a company like DPR see my hard work and give me more opportunity." Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Fedor Carrillo makes the most of the trust DPR places in him, to always work in the best interest of the project, the customer and DPR—empowering him to be a great builder. Says Worcester, “We’re here to build good people, not just good buildings. Fedor has always met each challenge and advanced. It’s enriching for us to see that success.” It’s not just about experience and skill sets; it’s about zeal and drive. Great people make great things happen.