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.



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.

June 13, 2019

Builders at our Core: Andres Martinez

Assistant Superintendent Andres Martinez points to improved quality and schedule as benefits SPW crews bring to each project. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

The world’s largest medical complex sits just west of Texas State Highway 288, in south-central Houston. It is a two-square-mile district teeming with life, housing more than 60 medical institutions employing upwards of 106,000 people. Amid this densely occupied healthcare hive, Self-Perform Work (SPW) Assistant Superintendent Andres Martinez is putting to use one of the most valuable benefits SPW brings to each project: the ability to better control project schedules.

Hospital construction projects are inherently complex, with challenges amplified by occupied structures that continue to function during construction. Andres's commitent to planning, with robust communication both internally between trades and externally with customers, helps make his projects successful.

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

Martinez: I’m an assistant superintendent for SPW drywall. I started as a carpenter three years ago, when a previous boss asked me to come to DPR to work with him. After about six months, I became a foreman. A year after that, they gave me the opportunity to train to be an assistant superintendent, and I’m still here! It’s a big challenge, but I’ve learned a lot.

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Martinez: I’ve gotten to do a lot of new things because we get a lot of opportunities. If you want to learn something new, DPR gives you the chance. I always ask for training so I can do something more for the company, and for myself and my family. I have a wife and two kids, with one more on the way in two months! In the future, I hope to become a superintendent. There are always opportunities to learn more and more.

The culture of learning and improvement have helped Andres Martinez succeed in his career at DPR. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: Over the course of your career, what is the most important thing you have learned?

Martinez: Learning how to work on computers. Before I came to DPR, I never worked much with them. Here I get to learn different building software that makes our work so much easier. That’s what I like.

Q: What’s the most technical part of the job you’re working on now?

Martinez: Right now, we’re doing a tenant improvement project at a hospital tower. We’re re-doing floors seven through ten on the east side of the tower, which is phase one. It’s a bit different for me because it’s a remodel. The work itself is the same, but we’re really working with the occupants to make sure we don’t disrupt them or the hospital. We’re doing ceilings, doors, restrooms, nurses’ stations—we’re building in sections and being really careful to accommodate the work and schedules of the employees and the patients.

Q: What’s been the biggest challenge?

Martinez: Scheduling is the biggest challenge, but we’ll put in as much work as we need to get it done on time. We work nights if we need to. We communicate with each other and with the customer to make it work. It’s important to make a good plan of who needs to go in and when because the space is a bit tight and won’t accommodate everyone at the same time. That’s the toughest part.

Andres Martinez employs open and robust communication to ensure his projects run smoothly. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Martinez: Pretty much everything. I love what I do. I’m learning every day—always learning something different. I started in the field and now I’m working more in planning, working on the computer. But to be honest, I really like all the people here. I love DPR, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable going somewhere else.

Q: What are you most proud of?

Martinez: I feel proud every time we finish a job! That’s when I feel excited to move on to the next project. It’s a feeling of accomplishment. When we finish, we relax and say, “Ahh… we’re done!” And SPW brings more quality to every job, so that makes me proud.

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

Martinez: I think experience is the most important thing. It’s important to work a bit in the field so you know what you’re talking about. Also, listen to people’s concerns and help resolve them. Respect the people and take care of them.

Martinez has embraced the use of building software and other tech tools available at DPR to ensure project success. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Martinez: Work in the field as much as you can. You can do a lot on the computer and it makes building a lot easier, but if you know nothing about the field you don’t have the whole picture. And learn as much as you can about all the trades and everything that goes into building.

When Martinez says goodbye to his family in the morning, he takes pride in knowing he is part of an organization that helps create opportunities not only for him, but for the community around him. He is proud to be part of an organization that enables him to grow as a builder as he continues to build great things for his community.

April 11, 2019

Builders at our Core: Joe Rogers

Joe Rogers is a best in class foreman who has contributed greatly to the success of DPR's prefab project at UC Davis's Webster Hall. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Machines that spit out objects at the touch of a button. Robots that work for us. These concepts have long been the stuff of science fiction and Sunday morning cartoons—things the Jetsons took for granted but were out of our grasp. Today, innovators are changing this paradigm and creating new technologies aimed at ever increasing efficiency.

By using strategic partner Digital Building Components to transform computer models into precise-to-spec building assemblies, DPR uses prefab technology to create significant cost and schedule savings for customers, as well as improve safety and quality on-site. On the front lines of this movement are builders like Joe Rogers, lead foreman on DPR’s self-perform work crew at the University of California Davis’s Webster Hall dormitory replacement project. Rogers shares his experience firsthand as he and his team manage the installation of fully custom, prefabricated panels on the 101,000-sq.-ft., four-story structure.

Q: How would you describe your career path?

Rogers: I’ve been working for DPR in Redwood City for the past four years, but I’ve been in construction since 1989. I’ve seen the industry change a lot for the better. I started out as a stocker and scrapper right out of high school. Then, I was offered an apprenticeship and worked my way up. I had heard about how good DPR was, so I reached out to them and they hired me on the spot.

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

Rogers: Honestly, I like all types. What I really like is that I’m not always on the same job or in the same place all the time. I get to meet different people and personalities on each project. I get to interact with other trades—we’re all working together. It’s never the same. I could be doing a hospital one year and a tenant improvement project the next. One thing about DPR, we have a lot of good people. Everyone communicates. Everyone gets to contribute to the success of the company.

Joe Rogers thrives on being recognized for making daily contributions to DPR's success. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s the most technical thing you’ve worked on?

Rogers: Right now, I’m working on a four-story dorm with custom prefabricated panels. It’s pretty much one-of-a-kind; it’s 100% prefab. For this type of job, you have to follow all of the details exactly, right down to each individual screw, so there’s a lot of planning involved. Digital Building Components custom makes the prefabricated panels according to the plan model—they’re made robotically. They’re numbered and labeled, so I think of it as being kind of like a puzzle. The team really had to plan ahead, to discuss the flow and how to best stock, move and install. There’s a lot of collaboration between everyone. We’re shaping the best practices and constantly moving forward. We’re leaders out here.

Planning is key for Joe Rogers, as he and his team manage the installation of prefabricated panels at UC Davis's Webster Hall project. Photo courtesy of Chip Allen

Q: How have you grown since you started here?

Rogers: My DPR family has really helped me since I first started. This is the first company I’ve worked for that’s done BIM modeling and uses iPads and spool sheets, which are basically printouts of the length of the wall with the stud placement showing. DPR has helped me all the way throughout the process. They didn’t just throw me out there. I’m learning the new techniques that DPR already has in place and pushing them forward to always be better. And I want to do a good job because they have confidence in me.

DPR's use of technology to deliver its projects has helped Joe Rogers grow as a builder. Photo courtesy of Chip Allen

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills are needed?

Rogers: Planning! You need to be prepared to look out ahead for possible issues. You do your best to plan for everything, but there’s always the chance that there’ll be a hiccup. You just have to plan as much as you can, deal with hiccups, move on and try to be as efficient as you can.

It’s also important to keep taking any training opportunities that come your way. DPR is excellent at keeping up to date with new ways of doing things, and at giving you any training you need. When I first joined, I didn’t know the technology stuff, but everybody on the team helped me and showed me how to use the technology.

Q: What's your advice for the next generation of builders?

Rogers: For the younger generation, just always do your best. Don’t worry about what the other person is doing or thinking. Keep your focus on what you want --- and what you want to do in the future.

DPR's focus on training and education helps Joe Rogers equip a new generation of builders. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

With an eye to the future and a drive to push himself ever forward, Joe Rogers embodies DPR’s purpose—building greatness within himself and utilizing it to build great buildings for his customers.

March 19, 2019

Builders at our Core: Scott Barron

Scott Barron, SPW Drywall Estimator for DPR San Diego and Southern California. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

People have been known to ask Scott Barron where he keeps his crystal ball—he seems to have a knack for predicting the future. Scott laughs and says it’s a part of his job as a drywall estimator in DPR’s San Diego office, nestled in the southern reaches of California’s Pacific Coast.

“We’re looking at the job holistically; we’re trying to look forward. [The project] may cost you more later if you don’t anticipate things now,” says Barron. Drywall teams are a critical segment of DPR’s SPW workforce, and not only for the reasons that typically spring to mind. Sure, they hang the walls in buildings, but they also function as a communications bridge, often identifying potential design gaps and making recommendations for alterations before a shovel even hits the ground. This proactive, upfront communication can translate into significant cost savings for the customer.

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

Barron: I have a drywall background and I’ve been at DPR for 20 years now. I was a foreman, a field superintendent for drywall, and then there was a need for another drywall estimator, so I gave it a shot and liked it a lot. Before I started estimating, some people wondered if I would like being inside [the office] after being out in the field for so long. But I was always good at math, so putting numbers with the trade that I’ve done for years is great.

Scott Barron has been with DPR for over 20 years, moving from foreman to estimator. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: How do you think SPW Drywall contributes to the work we’re doing overall at DPR?

Barron: We help control the schedule; that’s the main reason. Drywall is a big player on a project. We’re a coordinator between all trades. When we start framing a project, we have to know where the penetrations are for the other trades that are involved. We make sure everything needed is there so the job can keep moving forward, and we’re a huge conduit for information—we get it firsthand. Since we hear about it right away, we can tell the other trades what to be prepared for. We’re able to help expedite things when necessary.

Q: What project are you most proud of?

Barron: The Palomar Medical Center project in Escondido. The drywall portion was an 11-story, $45 million project. I was the general foreman for drywall, with 240 guys under me. When we first got up there, the drywall team was kind of nervous because of the size, but I was standing out in front of the building, and it hit me. I looked at the boss and said, “You know, this is just 11 different jobs in one building.” He paused and then said, “You know, you’re right.” So we treated it that way. The three main floors were the bulk of the work, and from the fourth floor up it was repetitive work. We spread out the foremen to work their way up the tower. I do the same thing at night when I walk my dog, Piper. You set a goal, work toward it, then set the next goal after that.

DPR's SPW drywall teams function as a communications bridge, often making recommendations for alterations before work begins. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Barron: In general, I like the challenge of figuring things out before we build—to take a 2D drawing and build it out to 3D or 4D in my head so I can visualize what’s missing before we start. That way there are fewer RFIs to write and we can keep the job running smoothly. People ask me a lot how my crystal ball works. I think because of my years in the field, I can foresee things happening.

Barron likes the challenge of figuring things out before building begins. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Barron: A knowledge of building helps you progress quickly. Coming to this job after working in the field, you’ve been exposed to things. You know what is what when you’re doing a takeoff or a job. You know what details to look for.

Q: What’s your advice for the next generation of builders entering this field

Barron: Spend some time in the field so you get a good background of what you’re going to be estimating. When field guys call and talk to you, you can relate to them and understand what they’re saying because you’ve done it yourself.

Barron chalks up his success to open and frequent communication. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

While Scott might have a reputation as a clairvoyant, his real power comes down to expertise at his craft, setting and achieving goals, and being empowered to be a contributor. His method of communicating early to help create cost efficiencies for projects is very real and is an important way DPR forges lasting partnerships with its customers that are built on trust.

February 21, 2019

Builders at our Core: Annie Brown

In the latest installment of Builders at Our Core, DPR focuses on SPW Laborer, Annie Brown. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

A significant contingency of DPR Construction’s self-perform work corps are laborers, who do everything from loading and unloading building materials, to building and tearing down scaffolding, to cleaning and preparing construction sites by removing possible hazards—work they perform with the core value of safety serving as a guide.

One such SPW Laborer is Annie Brown, who works out of DPR’s Richmond, Virginia office. Her personal commitment to safety is informed by the belief that safety is everyone’s job, and she weaves it into everything she does. Her path has been driven by hard work and determination to “not only get the job done, but get the job done the right way.” She shared some of her insights on doing great work while keeping those around her safe on the job.

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

Brown: I love being a part of the great things DPR has constructed and continues to. But I also love connecting with the clients and staff at our project sites. When I worked on the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Health PSR Operating Room Renovation, we used to pass out ice cream to the nightshift staff.

DPR’s Annie Brown believes the key to her success is focusing not just on getting the job done, but getting it done right. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Brown: I believe every project that I’ve been on has been and is a great experience, small or large, but I loved working on the VCU Health PSR Operating Room because I was able to see the transformation from start to finish. It made me feel great that I was able to contribute to the improvement of medical services, not only for the staff, but also for the patients.

Q: What are you most proud of?

Brown: I enjoy working for a company that continuously makes me feel like part of the team. Each one of DPR’s core values has not only projected into my career but also into my personal life. I’m reliable, a team player, a hard worker and very personable.

DPR’s Annie Brown gets personal satisfaction out of delivering quality work to DPR’s customers. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Brown: Making sure that each project has a clean and safe work environment. Because I’ve been through OSHA 10, I look out for safety. If I see someone doing something with more risk, I correct them. I say, 'Just letting you know. Just keeping you safe.' It's everybody's job.

Q: Over the course of your career, what is the most important thing you have learned?

Brown: Each project has its own unique way of doing things. Each project has its own challenges. As long as you work together as a team, you can overcome those challenges.

DPR’s Annie Brown espouses not only hard work and determination, but also working together as a team to get the job done. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Brown: You need to work hard and be determined, but the most important thing is to be a team player. You absolutely have to work together to get the job done.

From ensuring jobsite safety to building relationships with colleagues and clients, Annie Brown imbues her work with the values DPR holds dear.

January 4, 2019

Builders at our Core: Heraldo & Yordan Vasquez Sanchez

In the latest installment of Builders at our Core, we talk with father-and-son team Heraldo and Yordan Vasquez. Heraldo started as a carpenter at DPR and worked hard to become a general foreman, while his son, Yordan, worked his way up from laborer to lead carpenter, followed by foreman training. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

When we asked DPR’s leader of SPW field operations in Austin, Texas, BB Lopez, about father-and-son team Heraldo & Yordan Vasquez Sanchez, he didn’t hesitate to answer with praise. “Listen, I wouldn’t be where I am today without these two guys. Their success is the key to my success. They’ve always been leaders and mentors, and that’s been the key.”

That theme runs through Heraldo and Yordan’s careers: mentoring and building up the careers of others. Heraldo started as a carpenter at DPR and worked hard to become a general foreman, while his son, Yordan, worked his way up from laborer to lead carpenter, followed by foreman training. We sat the duo down to find out what makes them so successful, not only at building world-class structures, but at building great people.

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

Heraldo: I like everything. I like seeing my son as a tradesman. I like the small group of eight workers we’ve had working together for 12 years—our original group is still together—and seeing them grow.

Yordan: We all started as carpenters, and he’s always tried to motivate us and push us forward. We kind of complement each other; we know what everyone is best at and we can pick each other up and cover each other without even saying a word.

Q: What are you most proud of in your work at DPR?

Heraldo: All the jobs I’ve completed with the minimum number of incidents and the overall completion and quality of my work.

Yordan: Heraldo is a good boss, but he’s real picky. He doesn’t like messy work. He wants it fast, but he always taught me this: construction is based on quality, safety and production. Delivering that makes me proud.

DPR's Heraldo Vasquez Sanchez believes that quality and safety are the keys to his success. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo.

Q: Over the course of your career, what is the most important thing you have learned?

Heraldo: Overall, I would say I value safety much more. About four or five years ago I suffered an injury to my right hand. I was close to being disabled. After I got better, I started seeing everything differently. I became even more focused on safety. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I did to learn how important it is.

Yordan: Always hearing about safety from my father and seeing him practice what he preaches. He shows everyone you can deliver quality safely and on schedule.

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

Yordan: Family and work-life balance. Wanting to spend more time with my family but not leaving my profession and my workers behind; it’s a balancing act. And my family is small—only five. I’m the oldest of three brothers, but my father has 18 brothers! But DPR wants us to spend time with our families so we can focus better when we’re on the job.

DPR's Yordan Vasquez Sanchez strives to continuously learn to make himself and his work better. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo.

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

Yordan: Learn! One of the biggest things for us, something we emphasize for the whole family, is to never be satisfied. Always learn, learn, learn!

Q: It sounds like you could work for anyone. I’m curious, what do you tell people when they ask, “Why DPR?”

Heraldo: Honestly, DPR has given me opportunities other companies would never entertain. I think there are a lot of folks who don’t see or appreciate what DPR does. But I’m proof that DPR can help people have a career, not just a job. I always try to share that with my crews. The culture and support at DPR is really what got me where I am today.

Yordan: One thing I would add is that Heraldo has VERY high standards. He doesn’t allow sloppy work, and his crews are good because of that. DPR empowers all of us to take action when someone isn’t living up to what we expect. Don’t get me wrong, Heraldo gives everyone an opportunity to earn it… but if they won’t listen and adhere to DPR’s high standards, then they don’t belong at DPR.

BB Lopez sums up how instrumental strong leadership from the trades is: “These guys built these crews on their own, and that really is the bedrock of success at DPR. And it’s not just their crews. We wouldn’t be as strong as we are today without them mentoring the guys running other jobs.”

DPR's father-and-son team Heraldo and Yordan Vasquez Sanchez set their standards high for every project they manage. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo.

December 5, 2018

Builders at our Core: Marc Agulla

Marc Agulla on his Orlando, FL job site.
The work of DPR self-perform drywall crews caught Mark Agulla's interest, and he created an opportunity for himself to join DPR as an apprentice, specifically learning about hanging and framing. Today, he has a goal of becoming a superintendent. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Marc Agulla first connected with DPR in 2015 working in the trades with a subcontractor at a Central Florida DPR project. The work of DPR self-perform drywall crews caught his interest and, through conversations with DPR staff, he created an opportunity for himself to join DPR as an apprentice, specifically learning about hanging and framing. Today, he’s not only leading drywall crews for a large portion of work on The KPMG Learning, Development and Innovation Center in Orlando, he’s set a longer-term goal of becoming a superintendent.

Agulla recently discussed his career path, how DPR recognizes hard work with opportunities and how the trades have helped him grow.

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

Agulla: Right now, I lead a drywall crew on the “hotel” portion of the KPMG project, the place where employees will stay during training. It’s pretty amazing how I got here. I was working on a DPR job in a different trade, but I always wanted to frame and hang. I got to know DPR’s team and, after quite a bit of insistence on my part, DPR gave me an opportunity to come in as an apprentice. At that point, the team grabbed a hold of me and took it upon themselves to mentor me. I was placed at a large job site and mentored by the superintendents and foremen there. They had a class where I learned to read drawings, to know the Underwriters Laboratories types, the codes and similar topics. The framing and hanging I learned hands on. So many people took me under their wings. Now, I’m in a bit of a leadership position where I can guide and instruct the craft and utilize all I’ve been taught from DPR.

DPR's Marc Agulla examines his work area.
DPR's Marc Agulla committed himself to learning and has quickly risen through the ranks of DPR self-perform crews. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your favorite thing about construction work?

Agulla: I enjoy the end result more than anything else. I really like that when you first come in, there’s nothing, but you can picture the end product in your mind. You watch the process and then, to see it come to fruition, is gratifying.

Q: What’s the most technical thing you’ve worked on?

Agulla: The stage of the game we’re at on the KPMG project has prefab bathroom units. We’re getting ready to set the pods in place and all the trades have to work together because everything has to be perfect to be able to just put these in place. We all know how this will affect the customer and its end users.

DPR's Marc Agulla chats with his crew
DPR's Marc Gulla says communication skills have been key to his success in the field. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

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

Agulla: You need to be able to multitask. Also, communication skills are key, especially listening. Listening and being open to advice from everyone and anyone is something I’ve really learned at DPR. I didn’t always have a construction background. I’ve managed people before, but it’s a different kind of management in construction. We’re a team. My mentors are great, but the craft guys who are installing, the laborers… you can learn anything from anyone on the job site if you listen. I don’t pretend to know everything.

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

Don’t sell yourself short. If you’re a laborer and you choose to apply yourself, DPR will give you these opportunities to go as far as you are willing to go. If you put the work in, DPR will help you get there. They want to help. It’s just a matter of applying yourself. Stay focused, study and work hard and you can have it all. Ultimately, my goal is foreman, then superintendent. That’s my hope and dream and, with time and hard work, I know those are realistic goals.

Q: How is working with DPR’s self perform workers different than other work you’ve done?

You know, I got married since I’ve been with the company. Today, we’re getting ready to have a baby and what’s different at DPR is that it’s like a family. Everyone is so loving and supportive, from the office to out here in the field. I’ve worked at other places and done other things and never had people that truly cared about your spouse or your child the way they do here. Stuff like that to me is important. DPR puts value on that. You see it in the way people genuinely care and in things like the lengths we go to for safety every day. I love that about DPR.

Marc Agulla in his job site trailer
DPR's Marc Agulla loves his work, but also the culture DPR has throughout its company. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo