As this year comes to an end, DPR Construction appreciates the way everyone supported one another in 2020. Normally, at this time of year, everyone gathers to celebrate together at holiday events, but this year is different.
Fortunately, a group of employees from across DPR's organization had the technology – and holiday spirit – to send their best to employee and partners virtually.
At DPR, we aim to hire, inspire, develop and grow bullet-smart individuals. Each year, students from across the United States who study construction management, engineering, business and various other studies apply to spend their summers on a DPR project where they learn through hands-on experience. Things were a little different this year.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic gave DPR the opportunity to reimagine a traditional internship experience. Where interns used to be limited to the location and project type they were placed on, a virtual setting allowed for global audience connection and holistic business understanding.
“When we decided the internship was going to be virtual in early April, we put our heads together and decided a competition was the way to go,” said Sean O’Mara, who leads the College Recruiting team. “We paired up with different workgroups within DPR to design a program that would challenge and prepare interns for working in construction.”
Over the course of eight weeks, seventy-one interns teamed up and learned about different parts of DPR’s business from leaders across the company. The ultimate goal of the program was to apply these lessons to a real-life project scenario and answer the question, “Should DPR pursue the project?”
Throughout the summer, teams completed deliverables that built upon the material that was taught during the weekly webinar training session. The deliverables included: developing a schedule and site logistics plan, performing a drywall take off, completing a schedule of values and conducting contract risk assessments and a go/no-go analysis. Using a Microsoft Teams site, students were able to collaborate in real time, regardless of their geographic location. If teams needed guidance, they could reach out to their “captains,” which were DPR employees who acted as mentors throughout the program.
“The support from across the organization was overwhelming,” O’Mara commented. “Since it was online, we were able to hear from leaders around the United States. It was fun to see how excited everyone at DPR was to get involved and help out.”
The eight-week schedule consisted of presentations led by subject matter experts from across the company, and included:
Week 1: DPR Culture, Teambuilding & Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Assessment
Week 2: Contracts & Site Logistics
Week 3: Planning & Schedule
Week 4: General Conditions & Schedule of Values
Week 5: Break
Week 6: Sales Analysis & Presentation Skills Training
Week 7: Round 1 Presentations
Week 8: Round 2 Presentations to Management Committee
Week 7 was the final leg of the journey for some interns. Scores taken from weekly deliverables were combined with first-round presentation scores, and the top four teams moved forward to present their arguments to DPR’s Management Committee during Week 8. Members of the winning team each received a DPR gift box.
We asked our summer interns to describe their experience with this year’s Virtual Internship Program:
“The weekly deliverables were on point and the deadlines made me work on my toes like I was actually working in the team! Overall, I am sure I have made the best use of this summer and enhanced my knowledge and skills on various topics. I wanted to thank everybody in DPR who gave us great presentations, feedback on our deliverables and all other people who were a part of this program.” Jesline Althea, Arizona State University
“My favorite part of the internship was meeting all of the great people at DPR. They taught me aspects of the construction industry that other internships didn’t. I’ve realized that you must be goal-oriented and always moving forward to learn about things in the industry.” Isaac Michel, California State University, Sacramento
“I really enjoyed having access to the DPR employees throughout the program. During a regular internship experience you only get to see what’s going on in your project and talk to your team on site, but this opportunity was great for getting feedback and information from so many different professionals.” Julia Krok, University of California, Davis
In the first half of 2020, change has been the only constant. Mitigating risk and managing disruptions has been a necessity for all companies. At DPR, we know that being able to adapt and move Ever Forward is key to ensuring success.
"This summer’s internship program showed that no matter the obstacles, we will always build something great–great teams, great programs, great experiences, “said O’Mara.
“Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul.” – Michel de Montaigne
Veterans walk among us and work alongside us, and we’re often unaware of the contributions they made to protect our nation and ensure our safety. We might not know that the nurse taking our vital signs learned his trade as an Army combat medic; or that the project engineer on our jobsite was part of a Navy construction battalion.
These stories aren’t always shared, so we asked DPR employees to tell us a bit about the veterans in their lives. The response was overwhelming and inspiring. So, on this Veterans Day, we’d like to take a moment to honor the extraordinary men and women who answered the call to service.
Interns show off their impressive photography skills during DPR’s annual Intern Photo Contest. In 2019, nearly 100 entries gave insight into the breadth of experiences they had on projects across the country. The company voted. Following are the top “pics” and a little bit about what the winners did during their summer internship at DPR:
Sydney Buck takes home three wins with photos from a coastal project in San Diego, California.
Buck: Oceanside Beach Resort (OBR) is a two-hotel project right off the beautiful beach of Oceanside, CA. This summer I was able to conduct pricing exercises, write RFIs, manage the model rooms, and help facilitate MEP coordination for the project. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with an amazing team on a dream beach project! The crane photo was taken atop the South Block tower crane which soars 120 feet in the air over OBR. Kyle Christy, the safety manager at OBR, took the photo using a UAV while I was in the trolley car at the end of the boom.
Nabeel Shahid wins second place with a photo called "Man of the Fire's Watch!" taken at a project in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.
Shahid: It was summer time and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience with DPR. I had an opportunity to work for one of our great clients, United Therapeutics, to renovate and upfit lab space. The renovation of 14,000-sq.-ft. space included the addition of a loading dock and freight elevator, various facade repairs, and impressive internal structural reinforcements. The picture captioned ‘Man of the Fire’s Watch!’ is a moment where we are shooting shear studs through the second floor above to reinforce the soon to be clean room floor. Once set and mortared, the studs will transfer force between the steel section and the concrete slab that can hold up to 60 pounds per square foot.
Jasmin Ocampo is the third place winner with a photo from a concrete pour in Sacramento, California.
Ocampo: My name is Jasmin Ocampo, and I am going into my senior year of college at CSU Long Beach as a construction management major. This summer I have been working at the Mira Loma High School Science Building project in Sacramento. I have been working on anything and everything, from As-Builts to BIM coordination to Primavera. There is a great team here in Sacramento and I am glad to have been a part of it.
Congratulations to the winners, and thank you for spending your summers with DPR!
While DPR Construction has project work under way in several European markets – Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland – DPR’s professionals took center stage in Dublin and Paris as part of two global thought leadership events, both focused on the future of project delivery.
“As much as we’re trying to showcase what DPR can do in our European target geographies, many of the topics we discussed apply throughout the world,” said DPR’s Europe Lead Damian Farr. “Wherever a customer works with DPR in the world, we want them to know our approach is aligned and focused on delivering great results.”
Lean Without Borders
At the International Group for Lean Construction (IGLC) Annual Conference in Dublin, DPR was hard to miss, with several speakers, paper submissions and attendees from around the globe.
“It really showcased that DPR’s depth of Lean knowledge knows no borders,” said Chris Dierks, one of DPR’s Lean leaders. “Customers everywhere are looking to bring projects online faster and that requires letting go of a lot of long-held ways of working. At IGLC, we really helped show how a customer can take advantage of emerging delivery methods, and coupling those with a Lean mindset.”
That approach was kicked off by DPR’s Atul Khanzode, Dean Reed and Leonardo Rischmoller, who presented the Simple Framework for Integrated Project Delivery. Concurrently, DPR’s Paz Arroyo teamed with Annett Schöttle, a Lean expert from German consultancy Refine Projects AG, for a workshop on Choosing by Advantages.
Teams also led sessions focused on their abstract topics. Anthony Munoz, Jean Laurent and Dierks presented DPR’s Team Health Assessment, a tool that used to better identify and provide measurement to otherwise unquantifiable indices of a project’s performance.
“Traditional measures of Lean Construction can sometimes fail to represent or provide insightful commentary to the lengths they measure,” Dierks said. “The satisfaction of every member of the team can greatly affect outcomes and true Lean project success requires taking this into account, otherwise, there will be erosion of the benefits of Lean approaches. Diving deep into understanding the health of the team is critical to the success of any project; that's why we feel so strongly about doing an Assessment each month to figure out what do we need to improve and how can we support each other better in making that happen throughout the next month.”
Calling “caca” in Paris
While the IGLC conference focused on the processes of construction, BuiltWorlds’ Summit Paris looked closely at the tools themselves changing the construction landscape. Of course, DPR had quite a bit to say about how technology is affecting construction.
Peter Schneider, from DPR’s Amsterdam team, shared some provocative opinions on a panel that addressed the slow adoption of technology in our industry.
“We have to address the tension that exists between the desire to increase productivity and efficiency and what customers are really willing to invest in to disrupt the industry,” Schneider said. “As much as contractors are in a ‘space race’ to differentiate themselves with the newest things, we have to find common goals or else existing ways of working won’t change.”
Schneider also suggested that our industry is too quick to implement a new piece of technology when more testing is needed.
“If our industry doesn’t take the time to set expectations when projects test products under development, it’s likely that those tools become burdens. If that happens too many times, the brand around “technology” goes down. When we launch a tool without an integrated training and education platform, we’re setting it up to fail. From there, what needs to happen for it to recover?” He noted.
Meanwhile, DPR’s Farr sat on a panel that expressed similar themes while projecting the future state of construction.
“There’s certainly a trend of contractors bringing design expertise in-house to improve control of their own processes and architects aiming to bring in construction talent,” Farr said. “In reality, those folks will enhance integrated delivery but it’s unlikely this approach will replace the role of the other partner.”
Similarly, there is a narrative that contractors will become more and more vertically integrated, essentially becoming a one-stop shop for all facets of project delivery. Farr is skeptical.
“Customers are always going to want to maintain some competition, at least until true integration and real trust is the norm. They know it benefits their price,” Farr said. “Each project is different enough to be considered more than widgets that can be screwed together, and we are analyzing where significant elements of our core market work is consistent enough, across all projects for us to procure and produce those pieces in an integrated manner and even where a customer has insisted upon some form of market testing.”
"Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, and singers of song." – Pam Brown
The DPR family is growing! As employees become fathers/father figures throughout the years, we watch as our friends take on new roles that transform who they are. This year for Father’s Day, we are celebrating the first-time dads of DPR. We reached out to employees who have entered fatherhood over the past year and asked, “What kind of father/father figure do you want to be?”
The responses show the uniqueness and heart of our employees, who help us change the world not only through the buildings we build, but the people we grow.
Who we build is as important as what we build. The power of DPR has always been, and forever will be, our people…innovative, entrepreneurial, empowered, disciplined, caring, aggressive and bullet-smart.
This year for Mother’s Day, we want to pay tribute to the remarkable moms/mother figures of DPR employees. Thank you for helping to raise and nurture individuals who change the world we live in by building great things every day. Thank you for making a distinctive impact.
The response was overwhelming to the survey we sent out asking employees to provide images and answer the question, “What makes your mom/mother figure unique or special?” Following is a taste of the heartwarming and powerful stories. Happy Mother’s Day!
The new year will be a continuation of the current construction boom. Even if economic headwinds arise this year, the effects won’t be felt by active construction projects in 2019. Even in a busy market, the year ahead comes with challenges. DPR national core market experts each weigh in about a trend they’re watching that has the potential to impact customers.
“The Cloud is central to everything we do at work and at home. There is no short-term ease on demand. As such, the focus in 2019 will be minimal speculative builds with optimized speed-to-market strategies. The customers of our customers are exerting a lot of pressure on getting things online. Contractors need to use every tool at their disposal to ensure just-in-time delivery of materials and methods like prefabrication to shorten schedules. That said, the magic will happen in the planning stages; preconstruction and VDC services have the tools to really drive the process, especially in collaborative arrangements like design-build.”
“The single biggest driver in the market this year will be the younger generation of the workforce and the expectations they have for workplaces and lifestyles. On the office front, we’ve seen how spaces that offer flexibility and nudge toward healthy decisions and sustainability are preferred. Beyond that, in sectors like hospitality, the effect is even greater. With travel trends, it’s not OK to have a cookie cutter hotel anymore, and owners are spending more time looking at things like lighting to encourage selfies and food posts to social media. Cost is a pressure, but the need is real. We expect, even with a potential slowdown, we’ll see owners taking advantage of lower costs to renovate existing spaces to these new standards.”
“There continues to be a lot of discussion about how driving services to less acute facilities will ultimately lead to the increased development of outpatient facilities. However, the majority of work we continue to see are major patient tower expansions and renovations to existing acute care facilities. This is due to more access to insurance, an increasingly older population and a desire to capture market share with nicer amenities and newer technologies.
“That being said, healthcare systems continue to look at doing more with less to increase profitability due to lower reimbursement rates. Prefabrication and modularization, particularly for things like exterior skin and headwalls to corridor racks and full bathroom pods, will be key in helping customers maximize their returns. The good news is this is driven by more access to insurance, so systems are aiming to support a larger share of the population and providing key services to those who need it.”
“We keep hearing from customers that their biggest uncertainty is knowing what majors will be in demand in five to ten years. Plus, technology changes quickly. As a result, we see high demand for lab/STEM/STEAM spaces, but with an emphasis on flexibility. How can we best advise a customer on design and construction of a new space that they can literally roll in new equipment in a few years to meet student and professor needs? The way we address that issue will be a key issue in 2019."
“Manufacturing is trending towards scaling-out instead of scaling-up to keep pace with exciting new life science discoveries that demand a more targeted and personalized approach to treating diseases. We know that there is a trend toward smaller production spaces, where smaller lots can be produced before making the investment to manufacture at large scale. On the R&D front, there is a growing number of projects that are converting office buildings into lab buildings; that will involve some very technical needs from a contractor. Additionally, there is more reliance on data, so we see a convergence among the interests of life sciences, healthcare and data center customers.”
Working together at a confidential life sciences project in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, project engineers Devin Kennedy and Ben Salsman noticed that their customer was disposing of a few old bioreactors. Designed to grow and develop cells to extract proteins that are used to create injectable medicines, bioreactors are an important aspect of life sciences–a piece of equipment that engineers usually learn about out of a book.
Wanting to gain more hands-on MEP experience in DPR’s culture of continuous learning, Kennedy and Salsman decided to turn the discarded 60-liter bioreactor into a learning tool. With a core team of DPR’s technical experts, they brainstormed what they could do, such as adding valves and instruments, building a control panel and developing a sequence of operations. They stepped up to the biggest challenge: making the out-of-service bioreactor fully functional.
A team of 20 project engineers in DPR’s Raleigh-Durham office set out to create a physically self-contained bioreactor on one skid and understand how its components (sensors, valves, pumps, controls, wiring) interacted in a highly controlled, pressurized environment. Through hands-on workdays led by DPR experts focused on mechanical, controls and electrical aspects of the bioreactor, the project engineers gained experience from design through commissioning.
Focusing on the “why,” not just the “what,” the project engineers looked at the bioreactor as a holistic system that helped them connect to DPR’s work. They gained hands-on experience with concepts including controlled automation systems, welding and wiring–all of which reappear in projects across core markets, and all of which project engineers typically don’t get to touch with their own hands.
“Knowing how the bioreactors work, and knowing how to build them through their own experiences only makes our project engineers better team members for our customers,” said David Ross, who leads DPR’s life sciences core market in the Southeast. “On a broader level, Project Tinman helped them better understand our life science customers, as well as the perspectives of trade partners and equipment manufacturers.”
At DPR Construction, the drive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions just shifted into neutral. Through a pilot program in the technical builder’s Southwest region, the recent purchase of 16,500 metric tons of Verified Carbon Offsets certifies that DPR's offices in Phoenix, San Diego, Pasadena and Newport Beach are carbon neutral through 2020.
Through the program, the Verified Carbon Offsets will balance the estimated amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) released into the atmosphere by employees and jobsites, with an equal amount of CO2 that’s captured through Green-e Climate, a global third-party certification program. DPR’s Southwest region is already home to highly sustainable office locations, with both San Diego and Phoenix achieving net-zero certification in 2016 and 2013, respectively.
The investment in neutralizing the region’s carbon footprint is the next logical step in environmentally forward thinking, according to Brian Gracz, who leads DPR’s San Diego business unit. He cited the importance of setting and achieving tangible goals as part of the builder’s unwavering commitment to sustainability, particularly in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
“DPR set a companywide goal in 2007 to reduce employee greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by the year 2015, and we exceeded it,” Gracz shared. “Not only did we reduce emissions by more than 30 percent, we received a Climate Leadership Award for Excellence in Greenhouse Gas Management from the EPA in 2014.
2020: a sustainable vision For the Southwest region, projections to achieve carbon neutrality by 2020 are based on several factors, including a 2013 carbon footprint study of the region’s offices and an inventory of greenhouse gas emissions conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Climate Leadership Award. The 2020 projections also take into account an expected doubling of DPR’s staff in Phoenix and tripling of staff in Southern California.
Just as Fortune Magazine’s “World’s Most Admired Companies” for social responsibility—Walt Disney, Starbucks and GE among them—have a sustainability story to tell, so does DPR. In addition to earning International Living Future Institute (ILFI) net-zero energy certification through its net-zero energy offices in Phoenix, San Francisco, San Diego and Washington, D.C., DPR has also implemented a number of solutions to reduce its carbon footprint at both the regional and national levels.
The 2007 national initiative began with the documentation of the company’s greenhouse gas emissions. A carbon footprint survey was conducted to determine individual employee emissions such as travel and commuting, as well as jobsite emissions. As a result, DPR implemented employee education campaigns, along with targeted reduction strategies such as the use of more efficient fleet vehicles.
The value of capturing carbon While companies and individuals everywhere are embracing various forms of renewable energy, carbon likely will continue to fuel the energy demands of a global market. That’s why carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology can play an important role. According to the Carbon Capture & Storage Association, CCS can capture up to 90 percent of carbon dioxide emissions produced by fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, and prevent it from entering the atmosphere.
As a member of the EPA Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, DPR is steadfast in continuing to do its part to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Purchased in bulk, the Southwest region’s 16,500 metric tons of Verified Carbon Offsets are sourced through a landfill gas project capture validated and registered under high-quality project standards through Green-e Climate.
According to Gracz, the bulk price value of approximately $2 per ton made the investment in Verified Carbon Offsets to balance the region’s carbon emissions all the more worthwhile. Total cost for the Southwest region to remain carbon neutral through 2020: approximately $20,000.
The investment is another step forward on an environmental path paved with voluntary actions and sustainable results.