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.



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

October 2, 2018

Builders at our Core: David Lopez

David Lopez pictured on a DPR jobsite.
David Lopez came to a Project Engineer career track by starting in the trades. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

In 2010, David Lopez started his career at DPR in Phoenix, AZ as an apprentice, working as a laborer and operating an elevator for seven months. One day, he helped with layout and discovered his passion. He started reading plans and working on layout in the field full-time.

After honing his expertise in layout and continuously learning from mentors on his team, Lopez became a BIM engineer in 2015 and is now in training to become a project engineer. He mentors other DPR teammates in layout and is passionate about giving back to the community and sharing his knowledge, empowering others to grow in their careers, just as he has.

Lopez recently reflected on how he got to where he is today, sharing a few of his proudest moments over the course of his nontraditional career path:

Q: What do you love most about construction?

Lopez: What I love most is the end-result. I’m proud of what we build. To this day, I take my kids and drive around to show them what buildings I’ve been a part of. I take pride in delivering a high-quality product to our owners.

Q: Your career path is nontraditional—what made you pursue your career as a project engineer?

Lopez: My motivation has always been that DPR gives you the opportunity to do what you really want to do. Why not give my family a better future? If I could become a project engineer, why not do it, if I have all the tools and support?

David Lopez sits in a jobsite trailer with a VDC tool.
Lopez has combined his knowledge of work in the field with skills that are an asset in the jobsite trailer. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your proudest moment at DPR?

Lopez: When I graduated as a journeyman from the carpenters’ union, I was given the Golden Hammer award, meaning I was the best student out of the 2012 class. When I was an apprentice at DPR, I was already laying out, which was part of the final exam’s scope of work. One of the reasons they picked me was because DPR had already developed me into a journeyman; DPR had already given me all the tools and knowledge I needed to grow.

Q: What’s the most complex or technically challenging thing you’ve ever worked on?

Lopez: The project I’m currently on is Banner–University Medical Center Phoenix (BUMCP). It’s one of the biggest projects DPR has ever worked on in Arizona. Completing spool sheets and creating the model for BUMCP was both one of the biggest accomplishments and greatest challenges I’ve had here at DPR.

My field experience helped me tremendously as I modeled every single floor, including every opening and penetration in the emergency department expansion and new patient tower. It made it easier for me to comprehend what’s going to be built out there in the field, and from there I developed my skills further.

David Lopez on site helping another craft worker.
Lopez enjoys mentoring other members of the team. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What advice do you have for the next generation of builders?

Lopez: In my mentoring classes, I tell people that school isn’t for everyone. If you want to go the construction craft route, there is the possibility of growing, and I’m the perfect proof of it. I’m doing it because I want to, because I had the motivation. Without my mentors at DPR, I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

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

Lopez: Always share your knowledge. Never hold back. The more we teach people, the more we grow our industry, and the more we teach our DPR teams knowledge within the field, the better we will be. I wouldn’t have been able to become a BIM engineer or a project engineer without the support of my teammates, who always mentored and taught me. If someone wants to learn, don’t deny that opportunity. That’s how I got here.

David Lopez laughing on his job site.
Lopez enjoys his work from the field to the office. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

September 2, 2018

Builders at our Core: The Guzman Brothers

Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

In honor of Labor Day, DPR Construction is launching a new blog series, Builders at our Core, dedicated to sharing stories of DPR’s self-perform work teams. These builders are successfully executing complex, technical projects for some of the world’s most progressive and admired companies.

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.

The Builders at our Core series kicks off with the story of Jesus, Ruben and Isidro Guzman, three brothers who started their careers at DPR as carpenters in Reston, VA. Over the course of nearly a decade, all three have grown and developed their careers at DPR:

  • Jesus, the youngest of the Guzmans, was the first of his brothers to join DPR as a carpenter in 2008 and has since been promoted to general foreman. After hearing about DPR’s unique culture, his brothers came on board as well.
  • Ruben joined DPR as a carpenter in 2009, and went on to become a foreman, general foreman, assistant superintendent and is now a superintendent. He has also worked his way into estimating, and shares estimating duties 50/50 with another teammate in DPR’s Reston office.
  • Isidro, who prior to DPR began his career as a carpenter at age 15, joined DPR in 2010 and has since been promoted to foreman and assistant superintendent.
Guzman brothers
Over the course of nearly a decade, Isidro, Jesus and Ruben Guzman have grown and developed their careers at DPR. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

The Guzmans recently shared their passion, expertise and advice for the next generation of builders with us:

Q: What do you love about construction?
Ruben: It’s never the same; every day is something different. You are never finished learning. You keep yourself busy all the time. I fell into becoming a carpenter, but I found out it was actually what I wanted to do. When I came to DPR, I saw that DPR operates differently than more traditional general contractors. I really liked that, and it was one of the things that drove me to put more effort into what I did.

Isidro: I started in construction when I was young. I didn’t have the opportunity to go to college; everybody has a different path. I like everything about construction: putting work together and working around people, as well as managing teams and empowering them to do good work.

Jesus: The big responsibility. Sometimes people don’t see it like that, but I like to have responsibilities and do my work the best that I can.

Guzman brothers
The Guzman brothers enjoy managing teams and empowering them to do good work. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: To be successful in your role, what skills does a person need?
Ruben: In my case, it helps me a lot to come from the field, knowing how to build things. You can see the drawings, imagine people building it and know what it takes.

Isidro: It’s important that people have experience on the actual job that they’re doing. If you have experience doing things with your hands, that makes everything easier. It’s important to prepare yourself with trainings, and do as much as you can to be successful.

Jesus: A person needs to be open-minded to learning about all kinds of work, and be able to build good relationships with all the trades.

Guzman brothers
The Guzmans encourage the next generation of builders to never give up and never stop learning. Photo courtesy of Matt Pranzo

Q: What’s your proudest moment at DPR?
Jesus: At the holiday party in 2015, I was one of ten people, including my brother Ruben, recognized for safety. I completed 10,000 work hours without any incidents. People who work at DPR do good work, and DPR takes care of them.

Ruben: It was the first year DPR did these awards in Reston, VA. It makes people proud to be one of the few recognized for the 10,000 incident-free hours.

Isidro: The most important thing when you are a leader is to get better at it. It’s not easy, and it’s a lot of responsibility. You might have 100 people onsite, working around the clock, and you are responsible for the safety of every person. You are responsible for making sure they go home to their families at the end of the day. That’s the reason I am proud of getting the job done on time and without injuries.

Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering the field?
Ruben: Never give up. Don’t believe that because you are a laborer or a carpenter, you can’t become a project engineer or superintendent. As long as you have goals, and you study, it’s possible for everybody. If you need a tool to learn, people will always help you at DPR.

Isidro: Don’t be complacent; always try to learn new things. Carpenters, think about being foremen; foremen, think about being general foremen. It’s possible. Think about it, and work hard to get it. There are a ton of possibilities.