Q&A: Looking Back on 25 Years and Forward to the Next 25

The D, P and R. Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski founded DPR in 1990
The D, P and R. Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski founded DPR in 1990

Flash back to 1990. Iraq invaded Kuwait leading to the start of the Gulf War, and the world was in a recession. It was a time of great economic uncertainty. It was also the time that three construction industry veterans set out to build something different in an industry traditionally resistant to change. Celebrating 25 years of building great things, DPR Co-Founders Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski respond to some questions posed by employees throughout the company.

What was the defining moment when you knew DPR was going to “make it”?
Depends upon what’s meant by “make it.” There have been a lot of defining moments at DPR. When we won our first ground-up project (a skilled nursing facility for The Terraces in 1992). The first time we reached $1 billion in annual revenue (1998). In the early 2000s when we had to make some tough business decisions following the collapse of the dot-com bubble, 9/11 attacks and Enron scandal.

For us, there has been no single defining moment but a series of opportunities and challenges that have impacted the company DPR is today and made us stronger. Not quite sure if we’ve “made it” yet, but one thing is for certain, we will never stop trying.

What concerns you most about the future/next 25 years at DPR?
Losing the ability to adapt quickly as we continue to grow. We started DPR with the deep desire to be different, unique, entrepreneurial, and we built a culture that empowers people at every level to make decisions and take chances…try new things to build faster and better for our customers.

To sustain our business over the long-term, however, we also understood that we needed a dose of discipline to support our entrepreneurial spirit. It’s our disciplined teams engaged in the right thought and right actions that help us scale in the right fashion.

It’s a delicate and powerful balance. Being both entrepreneurial and disciplined has helped us become one of the leading builders in the country. If we can maintain that balance through our next phase of growth, there is nothing we cannot accomplish in the next 25 years and beyond.

Why the focus on technical projects?
They are the most fun! Technical projects require people to constantly think outside of the box for solutions. They’re challenging. They’re complex. They keep people who are passionate about building excited to come to work every day.

What’s your advice to the next generation of DPR leadership?
It’s all about having the right whos and providing them with the right opportunities and monstrous challenges to continue to develop and grow.

Remember that it’s intrinsically rewarding work that creates high employee engagement. The more you can communicate the “why” we do the things we do, the better our employees will be able to handle any “what” that comes our way.

Our strategy, particularly in uncertain times, is to always focus on our people and help create an environment of respect, empowerment and trust.