Q&A: A Look Ahead with George Pfeffer

This article is included in the 2017 Year in Review edition of the DPR Newsletter.

After pivoting from a career in computer programming, George Pfeffer joined DPR in 1992 as a project engineer, growing with the company as he went on to become a regional manager in the Bay Area. Pfeffer now leads DPR’s Management Committee.

The San Francisco Business Times recently interviewed Pfeffer for its ongoing executive profile series, featuring his thoughts on the future of the industry and what it will take to continue to build great things for its customers and employees in an ever-changing environment.

Following are excerpts from the San Francisco Business Times profile. To read the article in full, check out:

What are some of the projects that you’re most excited about?
We pride ourselves on doing buildings that matter. An example of that is all our hospitals. You just feel really special at the end of the day when you’re finishing something that is helping save someone’s life. Hospitals that we’ve done recently include the Chinese Hospital in San Francisco, UCSF Mission Bay, and Kaiser Permanente facilities up in Sacramento.

Some developers say construction costs are beginning to stifle development. Do you agree?
There is no doubt construction costs are going up. There’s several things. It’s a continued, long-term healthy market. Coming out of the downturn several years ago, several construction companies either reduced their size, consolidated or wrapped up shop altogether. There are fewer players. Also, escalation of material costs is one that just naturally happens.

Is there anything that can temper construction costs?
Here in the Bay Area we have 825 craft union employees. We try to be as in control of our own labor force as much as we can to overcome those peaks and valleys. Separate from that, the industry is ready for disruption. There is a business disruption headed our way at some point for the positive—certainly through prefabrication.

Unions have opposed prefabricated construction on certain projects. Do you feel that’s a problem and how do you reconcile the conflict?
It’s probably an over generalization to qualify all unions as the same. Several unions are embracing prefabrication. The carpenters, for instance, are actually trying to find ways to do more prefabrication. They understand this disruption is coming.

You sound very positive about prefab.
We definitely are very positive about it. We work very hard in this company to try to eliminate waste in the process. We can eliminate some of the waste by improving efficiencies and how products are delivered. Ultimately, it’s a benefit to the project and to the customer and that’s what we want to do.

If there’s one thing you can change about yourself what would that be?
I’d like to be more of a morning person. I get up fairly early in the morning and it probably takes me longer to get going than I would like.