20 Years of Building Great Things
Q&A Spring/Summer 2010
Start Date at DPR: 8/20/90
What has DPR’s emphasis on teamwork taught you?
I have learned that working with others on projects may be more challenging but it’s better in the long term. Everyone learns and everyone grows from the experience. Friendships are developed, risks are taken, new ideas are born—and with the help of others become great ideas. Working on a team has kept me accountable, kept me on my toes, and taught me to listen, keep an open mind and think outside the box. I have learned to appreciate opinions I didn’t agree with but knew were valuable. In the end, all that really matters is exceeding the customer’s expectations, and there is a better chance of making that happen with a strong team.
Start Date at DPR: 3/4/96
What was your most memorable project?
Erecting the tower crane for the One Kearny project was very memorable. At one of the busiest intersections in downtown San Francisco we erected the tower crane to a full height of 250 feet above Market Street. We had completed all the research and planning to make sure we had all the clearances to the adjacent buildings figured correctly, but you never stop worrying until you actually swing that jib all the way around a full 360 degrees. We needed 132 feet of jib to do our job, and we knew the building across the street was going to be fairly close at about 140 feet from the crane. I must have scaled it on the drawings more than 100 times and paced it off by foot just as many. I will never forget when the operator started swinging the jib toward that building for the first time. It was close, but we cleared that building by eight feet—we could all breathe again.
Start Date at DPR: 7/12/99
What was your most challenging project?
We faced a big challenge on the Suniva solar cell manufacturing facility: It was a startup company and because of some changing real estate deals, we ended up working two shifts and seven days a week to build a new facility in 16 weeks. The management staff usually arrived at 6:30 a.m. and left around 11:00 p.m.—and at times they were there as late as 1:00 a.m. conducting pressure tests and running down issues.
The Suniva staff worked just as hard to get the facility online; it was clear how important it was to them to make their first cell when promised and do what they said they were going to do. At 10:00 p.m. on the projected completion day we finished the project and Suniva produced its first solar cell. That night, Stephen Shea, the head of manufacturing for Suniva, stopped by my desk and personally thanked DPR.
Start Date at DPR: 6/30/97
What was the most memorable moment at DPR?
While demolishing the restrooms in the emergency department of a hospital, we had to crack through five or six layers of ceramic tile that had been laid in the time since they were built in the 1970s. Finally reaching the slab, we began to remove chunks of concrete only to find a small safe buried in the slab. This immediately compelled Rod Geilenfeldt, MEP superintendent, to imitate Geraldo Rivera opening Al Capone’s vault. The safe was pulled out of the concrete, beat on, and finally cut open with a torch. Instead of the stock certificates, gold or bonds that we hoped to find, we found that it contained four 1974 dimes. I still have my dime today.
Start Date at DPR: 3/1/93
What is your biggest lesson learned from your time with DPR?
To borrow a phrase from Stephen R. Covey, “Begin with the end in mind.”
In all things, you have to have a vision of how you want things to play out, whether it’s on your project, the future of an office, a run down the mountain in fresh snow or your legacy.