Digital Realty (DLR), a real estate investment trust and leading global data center provider, recently opened its latest ground-up data center in Ashburn, Virginia. With the concrete tilt-up panels set in place for the 230,000-sq.-ft. building this summer, DLR’s first deployment of the “mega scale” prototype data center came online in only eight months—from ground breaking to IST/Occupancy.
Built to host a single customer, the project required a unique approach. DLR worked collaboratively with the customer and project team as the design evolved and adjusted needs accordingly. The confidential end user requirements incorporated a high-density rack layout, optimizing the dollar value of each rack. With power and cooling accounting for 80 percent of the data center operating costs, customers are trending towards this high-density layout which reduces the distance in cable runs and networks, minimizing the cooling and space footprint, resulting in increased efficiency. Every two years, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles, and the high-density layout offers more flexibility for these future needs.
DPR incorporated lessons learned from past buildouts through installing all future steel supports to eliminate re-work at the roof and through resequencing future equipment rigging to minimize the number of temporary roll-up doors. Now complete, Phase 1 includes a six-megawatt (MW) data hall. Once fully occupied, the building will have six separate data halls, built-out over the next two to three years, hosting 36MW of critical power.
More than 50 guests, including the customer, design partners, subcontractors, craftspeople and DPR employees celebrated the achievement, as well as the hard work and dedication put forth by all involved with the project. “We can’t thank all of you enough for your efforts to bring this one home,” Dan Kingman, Director of Construction for DLR, told the team. “This was an incredibly impressive performance by the DPR team. This was one of the most challenging and important projects Digital Realty has ever completed, and you more than delivered. Looking forward to continuing to build great things with you.”
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.
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.
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.”
When three years of dreaming, planning and building concluded, a new standard for patient-centered cancer care began as the Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center welcomed its first patients in Jacksonville, Florida. DPR Construction teamed with customer, Baptist Health, and a strong team of design and contracting partners to deliver the new, 330,000-sq.-ft., nine-story cancer treatment center, creating new possibilities for care providers and patients near Florida’s First Coast.
Rallying–and collaborating–for a cause
Knowing the customer saw this as a once-in-a-lifetime project, DPR turned to Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) to comprehensively understand the needs of the owner, to draw upon the expertise of local trade partners and to build trust and rapport with project stakeholders. The team included local contractor Perry McCall Construction and design partners HKS, FreemanWhite and Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc.; all partners collectively utilized a co-located “Big Room” as a hub for operations. The team was so focused on collaboration that after Hurricane Irma destroyed the co-location site in August 2017, they created a new and improved Big Room with a renewed synergy and sense of purpose within weeks.
DPR also drew on the knowledge and skills from its network of projects nationwide. Self-performing trades—such as concrete, doorframes, hardware and acoustical ceilings—on a facility of this size meant sourcing help from DPR craftspeople across multiple states, including California, Texas and North Carolina. This strategy not only contributed to the on-time delivery of the center, but resulted in considerable cost savings and unparalleled quality discoverable in even the smallest design details, as well.
Technical expertise bridges the old with new
A key aspect to successful delivery—and a significant technical challenge—was connecting the existing patient tower to the new cancer center by way of a 150-ton glass and steel enclosed pedestrian skybridge. Erection of the prefabricated bridge required meticulous planning for nearly a year prior to installation. Spanning across 124 feet of one of Jacksonville’s most traveled local thoroughfares, San Marco Boulevard, the bridge required installation with no disruption to patients, visitors and the public—in addition to Baptist Health’s existing emergency department.
The team explored options for the bridge’s frame system, exterior detailing, interior design features and MEP layouts while working with the hospital to understand how the bridge could be installed to maximize the facility’s ability to serve its patients.
Bridge erection involved two, 450-ton cranes that placed the structure on top of two, 36,000-pound trusses. The team planned MEP tie-ins between the two towers and the bridge with provisions for any contingency, and work at the outpatient facility was scheduled at night to avoid disruption of care and life safety systems. Additionally, 4D building information modeling kept the project moving on a fast-track, enabling prefabrication of significant electrical, plumbing and mechanical components, saving time during the construction process.
Remarkable partnerships, remarkable care
Nearly 1,200 construction workers from 45 different contractors and partners contributed to the new Baptist MD Anderson Cancer Center. Together, they have delivered an advanced cancer treatment center that will provide remarkable care in the Southeast region of the United States for years to come.
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.
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.
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.
Two projects. Two category winners. One overall Facility of the Year (FOYA) Award.
Planning excellence! Using Monte Carlo-based modeling allowed the team to simulate thousands of possible outcomes of potential problems and predict the likelihood and severity of schedule and cost impacts, the project team then proactively developed mitigation plans that prevented the issues from ever happening.
This is one of many innovative examples and reasons Shire, a global biotechnology leader, captured three FOYA awards from the International Society of Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) in early November for two projects located in Los Angeles:
The FOYA was developed by ISPE to recognize the best pharmaceutical science and manufacturing industry projects in the world. This program showcases accomplishments in facility design, construction, and operation, and shares both new technologies and advanced applications of existing technology. The committee of judges is made up of senior industry leaders with global experience across all sectors of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology manufacturing industry.
Los Angeles Building 8: 2018 FOYA Winner and Category Winner for Facility Integration
What started in 1986 with a small team of entrepreneurs seeking solutions to unmet medical needs has led to a global biotechnology leader in rare disease. With medicines available in more than 100 countries, Shire is helping patients and families around the world in several therapeutic areas, including Hematology, Immunology, Neuroscience, Lysosomal Storage Disorders, and Hereditary Angioedema. Many of the Shire products developed to treat rare diseases are derived from human plasma, and as such, Shire operates one of the largest plasma fractionation sites in the world at their Los Angeles campus.
Building 8 purifies, processes, and supplies best-in-class commercial products to address these highly specialized conditions. This winning building project leveraged cutting-edge technology to diminish project challenges. Construction took place right in the center of a congested 11-acre campus, with the new 120,000-sq.-ft. purification facility replacing an aging 1930s-era building. The team converted challenges into opportunities for creativity and innovation via the use of Lean Construction concepts and technological advances. Building 8 became the first of its kind to be a virtually paperless project.
Building 8 has space constraints in every direction, with the new building being constructed within 6” of an existing structure. The project team used building information modeling (BIM) and resolved over 10,000 clashes per week during the design phase. Trimble Total Station was also used to save countless man hours and increase accuracy over traditional methods.
The quest for an uncompromising sustainable design resulted in the building also being awarded the LEED Silver Certification by the US Green Building Council. Water conserving sanitary fixtures and irrigation systems reduced water usage by 50%. Energy efficiency strategies were implemented resulting in a total reduction of 20% from baseline energy calculations. A construction waste management plan diverted 75% of the total construction waste from landfill disposal.
Per the ISPE, the “application of excellent and innovative design practices as well as superior planning led to the successful integration of this new facility into an existing operational campus, and the reason Shire was selected as the 2018 Facility of the Year Awards Overall Winner.” Learn more here.
Shire Los Angeles Quality Control Laboratory: Category Winner for Operational Excellence
Internal quality control is key to achieving Shire’s mission. Enter the construction of a “next generation Quality Control Lab” to address the ever-increasing, global demand for their therapies and to meet the goal of better, faster, and more economical delivery to patients worldwide. This 16,000-sq.-ft. laboratory is the category winner for Operational Excellence.
The new lab was chosen as the winning facility for a variety of reasons, including the thoughtful application of lean principles not only to deployment, but also to the design of actual daily operations of the lab. The judging committee particularly praised the application of organic Kaizen principles aimed at improving efficiency and decreasing waste. Using Kaizen as a guide and with the application of lean principles to every aspect of the facility design, the team was able to optimize the layout and operational aspects of the lab to reinforce teamwork, minimize expenditures, and allow for easy access to daily supervisory oversight—all key to decreasing latency times and modernizing quality control operations.
The new lab now supports multiple manufacturing operations at significantly reduced capital and operational costs, thereby improving value to Shire, its patients, and the industry as a whole. The goal of redesigning the lab while also delivering a space that allowed for the real-time sharing of ideas resulted in the creation of an advanced facility that also changed the lab’s culture for the better by trimming operational waste and increasing synergy and operational excellence. It is for these reasons that the judging committee selected the Shire Los Angeles Quality Control Laboratory as the category winner for Operational Excellence.
Did you know? In addition to the Shire projects, DPR Construction was also the builder for the Genentech CCP-2 Project, which won the 2016 FOYA in the Process Innovation category. DPR also built the Genentech Oceanside Production Operations facility, which won the ISPE’s 2007 FOYA in the Project Execution category and the overall 2007 Facility of the Year award.
Employees of Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center left their mark on a multi-year master expansion project currently underway at the Athens, Georgia healthcare facility earlier this month. Piedmont Athens Regional staff members signed two steel beams days before they were hoisted into place signifying the first phase of the expansion—a fourth-floor addition of the Prince Tower Two—one of several towers on Piedmont Athens Regional’s campus.
In 2016, Atlanta-based Piedmont Healthcare acquired the 359-bed acute care hospital and has announced a phased master plan to expand services and amenities for the growing local community and the 17-county regional area surrounding Athens. Piedmont Athens Regional is home of Piedmont Healthcare’s east hub of services, which includes three other hospitals. Scheduled for completion in 2022, the master plan project includes:
230,000 sq. ft. of new construction and 150,000 sq. ft of renovated space
Demolition of a four-story tower and replacement with a six-story, 64-bed patient tower
Multiple interior renovations to accommodate current capacity for the Prince Tower One, which is set to be demolished
Addition of a fourth floor to the three-story Prince Tower Two
With a main objective of improving delivery of patient care and operational efficiency, the project will also improve both vehicular and pedestrian circulation around the campus and simplify patient arrival, wayfinding and access.
Before the beams were elevated atop the existing Prince Tower Two, construction partners and Piedmont Athens Regional employees, including Executive Director of Operations, Diane Todd, and Piedmont Athens Regional President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Dr. Charles Peck, came together to celebrate the monumental occasion. “Our mission, ‘to improve the lives and health of those we touch remains the same,” said Dr. Peck. “The opportunity to reach and care for more members of the Athens community is why today is such a significant first step for our future.”
This is the fifth project DPR has executed for Piedmont Healthcare in the Atlanta area and the organization's first project for Piedmont Athens Regional. DPR is no stranger to the Athens community, however, as the team recently completed enhancements to the University of Georgia’s Sanford Stadium—the 10th largest football facility in the country. Integral to the success of Piedmont Athens Regional’s expansion include DPR’s project partners: program consultant, BDR, and architect of record, SmithGroupJJR and Trinity Health Group Architects.
The conversation about sustainability is evolving. We’re on the cusp of some exciting things that could have long-term benefits for communities everywhere; construction has an opportunity to play a leading role in making these things a reality.
DPR Construction sustainability leaders are gearing up for Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, Nov. 14-16, in Chicago. Here are a few of the things we’re excited to talk about this year, especially with partners who want to align construction delivery with their organizations’ wellness and sustainability goals.
The intersection of wellness and green in buildings
From the start, LEED® has recognized contributions to healthier indoor environmental quality. Guidelines for the WELL Building Standard™ take things a step further, aiming to create spaces that proactively help occupants be healthier. Combining these two rating systems is now delivering value that pencils out.
Additionally, recently published books like Rex Miller’s Healthy Workplace Nudge are connecting the dots between workplaces and healthcare costs. Miller notes the rise in chronic diseases in the United States is increasing healthcare cost to a point where they will be unsustainable for businesses, with projections that companies will pay $25,000 for health insurance per employee each year as soon as 2025. At the same time, companies spend nearly $700 per employee annually on wellness programs that do not deliver results. Instead, we should imagine an environment where decisions are made based on employee health and well-being instead of upfront cap ex costs.
DPR’s new office in Reston, Virginia—a significant renovation of the common type of office park building found in every major U.S. market—shows how. The team found ways to marry LEED and WELL approaches and track for Net Zero Energy certification. The new space “nudges” occupants toward healthier behaviors through things like making it easier to find a healthy snack than junk food and an in-office workout room for employees to consider with their busy schedules. It accomplishes this without compromising building energy and water performance targets. The WELL Certified Gold and LEED Platinum space will pay for itself over the life of the lease through on-site energy generation, water savings and resulting lease negotiations due to the increased appraisal value of the building and long-term net savings to the landlord from the green retrofit.
Real world Net Zero applications for private development
In Reston, DPR’s Net Zero certification will be enabled by rooftop photovoltaics, which have also reached a point where the costs of the equipment and installation are offset by the cost savings from on-site energy generation or reduced lease rates for usage. Potentially, communities can now start to look at rooftop spaces and build a more robust PV infrastructure to generate more power and, ultimately, inoculate building owners from energy cost fluctuation. Think about the rooftop of a convention center or sports arena: huge spaces we could put to work. If we make a similar commitment to rainwater collection to what we believe we can do with PV, we could help alleviate drought problems, too.
Social equity through a construction lens
More and more, we’re discussing social equity when we get together to discuss sustainability. It might seem like a construction firm wouldn’t have a lot to say on this subject. Instead, we believe construction is uniquely positioned to be a major contributor to a more equitable society.
For starters, construction is among the few industries hiring people without a college degree and putting many of those folks on fulfilling career tracks. This is true not only in the trades but also for our office management staff. The majority of DPR’s superintendent and craft leadership do not have degrees and came up through the trades. With a labor shortage across our industry, construction can be an attractive career for anyone who doesn’t want – or simply cannot afford – the financial burdens of attending college. Making well-paying careers attainable for more people would be a significant step toward bridging the wage gap. We’re seeing some tech companies create these opportunities for white collar workers; construction can set the tone in the blue collar workforce.
Moreover, construction also hires a significant number of local small businesses, many of which are certified minority-, woman- or veteran-owned emerging small businesses. Much as we try to source regional materials for greener projects, the more we can use our projects to help these small, local businesses grow, the more we guarantee the health of local economies. As DPR strives to be integral and indispensable to the communities where we operate, our ability to include local partners in our projects is a significant focus.
We’re past the time of simply talking about making greener buildings. Now, when we go to Greenbuild, we focus on our ability to truly create sustainable communities.
Aligned around Inova Loudoun Hospital’s motto of “Stronger Together,” the project team, hospital staff and patients, donors, and members of the local community, came together to celebrate the latest milestone on the Inova Loudoun Hospital (ILH) Patient Tower project—the topping out of the steel penthouse which sits on top of the new seven-story concrete structure.
As one of the fastest growing counties in the country, the Loudoun County community has rallied behind the ILH Patient Tower project. Once complete, the new tower will bring additional services to the area, critical to maintaining the current level of care. “It’s not just the bricks and mortar, but the new services and new programs. [This facility] gives us the opportunity to really bring state-of-the-art technology to the community that people are accustomed to and used to,” said Deborah Addo, Inova Loudoun CEO.
The original hospital was built to hold 82 patients while the new tower will accommodate 228 new patient beds, keeping up with current demands for patient space and allowing space for future growth, as well. “It is about progress and investing in the community we serve. This will help ensure that Loudoun County residents have access to quality health care well into the future,” Ben Frank, chief of staff and chief operating office for Inova Health System added.
This project, scheduled for completion in 2020, is just one phase of ILH’s $300 million master plan for expansion of facilities and services. As the project reached this latest milestone, it was important to the project team to recognize all the individuals and organizations that have helped make this project a reality. A series of events were planned, including beam signings and celebrations, honoring the entire team, from the subcontractors in the field to the critical network of facilities within the Inova Loudoun family that each support the main campus.
The first event was the “topping out” of the seven-story concrete structure, which celebrated the efforts of more than 250 workers who got the team to the top, one week ahead of schedule.
Each of the workers left their mark by signing a concrete wall, followed by a team barbeque and a thank you message delivered by Addo and the DPR project team. Kimberly Shumaker, senior project manager for the ILH project, spoke about the importance of the team and working together towards a common goal. “Achieving this milestone is a testament to the level of teamwork exemplified by all,” Shumaker states. “I am so proud to be celebrating this moment with such a tremendous group of individuals.”
Prior to the official steel topping out, the final steel beams went on a roadshow to each of the Inova campuses that support the greater Loudoun community. Thanking members of the campuses for their support and uniting them under the “Stronger Together” belief, the roadshow, termed “breakfast with the beam,” allowed staff and donors to sign the beams and leave their mark. Some employees listed children born at the hospital, others thanked their parents and other family members, and others simply signed their name to be part of history. As Addo wrote on the beam, our work lives on!
“When you think about it, we have been providing care to this community for more than 100 years. Many of our employees began and ended their careers here, their kids were born here, their parents died here,” says Addo. “This is a special place for them, it’s not just a place of work, it really is home, it’s a community.”
The capstone event was the steel topping out, where the final beam was hoisted into place following remarks from Addo, Frank and Scott Hamberger, ILH Board Chair. “Today we’re building a legacy—a legacy of the future,” Frank told those who gathered in what will be the hospital’s lobby. “We’re building something we can all be proud of.”
Creating a patient-focused experience for the community that elevates the human spirit is the goal of the new patient tower, only accomplished by working together. In Addo’s words, “I succeed when we succeed.”
Alberto Sandoval-Renteria joined DPR Construction in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014, but he knew he wanted to be a builder since he was six years old. His passion for carpentry started when he was first introduced to woodworking on his family’s ranch in Mexico, and he saw the joy his hard work brought to the people around him.
He brings that same enthusiasm to his work as a carpenter foreman every day. Sandoval-Renteria is also one of five siblings, whom he credits for teaching him leadership and consensus-building skills.
Sandoval-Renteria recently discussed how he got started in the trades, how work at DPR has influenced his life at home and his advice for people looking to work in the trades.
Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?
Sandoval-Renteria: I’m a carpenter foreman for our self-perform doors division. When I started, I was considering going to art school, but I lived close to the union hall and I stopped in and asked if they were hiring. They told me to come back the next week as they were staffing up. When I did, they sent me out to a project.
I came to DPR the same way. I just happened to call a friend of mine who used to work here and asked if DPR was hiring. He called back five minutes later and, next thing I knew, I came over as a carpenter and a year later I became a foreman.
Q: You used to build toys as a child. Have you always been building?
Sandoval-Renteria: The place I grew up was pretty poor, so if you wanted a toy or something, you had to build it. When I was a kid, I made my own toy top and little things like toy cars. The funny thing is that it takes a few hours to build a toy and then you play with it for 15 minutes. For me, the fun part was building it.
My grandpa used to be a bricklayer, so I could always help him. Depending on how skilled you were, you were either carrying things for him or helping him put things it in place. I figured out that it was better to learn things and work than to carry stuff.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to build/type of project to work on?
Sandoval-Renteria: I love doing aluminum frames because everything has to be cut, and there are a lot of mitered corners. Fast-paced work is the most fun. You have to “go go go” and make sure you’re doing it to the right quality and appearance at the same time. It’s fun when you first see the schedule and think it doesn’t look possible, but when the work is done, it’s on time and looks amazing.
Q: What’s the most technical thing you’ve worked on?
Sandoval-Renteria: The doors for a customer focused on audio technologies, which needed to meet a certain FCC rating to limit sound. It was very technical, and we had to do everything little by little, taking the time to make sure everything was just right. When we were done, our work exceeded the rating the customer was looking for.
Q: How have you grown since you started here?
Sandoval-Renteria: DPR puts a lot of effort into growing and training people, asking us what we need and where we want to go. My people skills have really grown, especially from the Crucial Conversations course. That’s been a big help at work, but at home, too. My girlfriend tells me all the time how working at DPR has changed who I am! I think a lot of that has come from DPR trainings and learning how to express myself.
Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?
Sandoval-Renteria: People in high school who want to pursue this career should get into it as soon as they can. Instead of going to college and accruing debt, you basically make that amount and put it into your pocket. I was 19 when I started. Everyone I have met who started right after high school, they’re all very happy.
A new community partnership with the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee’s Andrew Jackson (AJ) Clubhouse in Nashville has begun as DPR expands its operations in the Southeast. The AJ Clubhouse serves the community by providing approximately 220 kids, aged 5-18, with after-school programs, including mentoring, music instruction and recording opportunities in the club’s sound room.
Thirty DPR volunteers, ranging from self-perform work (SPW) drywall and concrete crews to administrative and project management staff, took a rare Saturday off from working on the fast-tracked LG Manufacturing project in Clarksville, Tennessee, to support the organization. In one day, 260 volunteer hours were contributed to renovation work, including:
Painting two classrooms and two bathrooms
Replacing all flooring in the Club’s music sound room with new carpeting
Repairing holes in the gym floors
Replacing grime-covered ceiling tiles with clean ones
“The work DPR Construction did for our AJ Clubhouse was simply amazing and appreciated,” said Dan Jernigan, Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee President/CEO. “Your company was an unexpected blessing to our Boys & Girls Club organization and the youth we serve.”
The volunteer team not only consisted of DPR volunteers, but their family members, as well. “It felt good working as a team and being able to concentrate on paying it forward for somebody else,” said DPR’s Mary Lou Kelly, a community initiative coordinator. “It makes me feel really proud that we came together to show we’re a team, we’re in Nashville–and we’re here to stay.”