Meet the smart, driven, and enthusiastic superintendent leading the new Transbay Transit Center project in San Francisco, California.
Unlike many teenagers, Josh Cantrell decided early on to pursue carpentry instead of college. The decision paid off — big time — and after working his way up through the trades, he found himself becoming one of Rudolph and Sletten’s youngest superintendents at the tender age of 28.
After spending 10 years at the firm, Josh made the move to Webcor, with a desire to work on high rise construction projects. To date, Josh has been involved in multiple recognizable projects, including Solyndra, the new Apple Campus, and most recently, the Transbay Transit Center.
He counts himself fortunate to have been exposed to some amazing opportunities, but taking advantage of these opportunities required a lot of motivation — something that Josh has in spades.
Whenever a new door of opportunity was placed in front of me, I kicked it open. You have to be hungry — not only in this industry, but in life — and constantly pushing yourself to improve and grow.
We spoke to Josh to get his take on the industry, discover what a day in the life of a Webcor superintendent looks like, and hear the best career advice he’s ever been given.
What does an average day look like for you right now?
I wake up at 3:20AM to catch the 4:00AM train into San Francisco. While I’m on the train, I’ll start to review my list from the night before in order to prioritize my day. I get to the jobsite at 5:00AM, power through emails, and put together my game plan for the day. I have a daily meeting at 6:00AM with the team to discuss the important activities for the job. Then I walk the field.
What (work related thing) keeps you up at night?
The one thing that is always out of our control: weather. You can only be as prepared as you can be, and Mother Nature always has other plans for your schedule. Other than that, you have to try to mitigate stress. Stress is a result of being unprepared.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Make a plan and work your plan. A team is only as good as its best back up plan. Don’t rely on Plan A. I guarantee it will not always work. You need to have backup plans and more back up plans. Often Plan E ends up becoming Plan A.
I once had a mentor tell me the story of the superintendent and the rock, and it’s worth sharing here: There was once a superintendent who was struggling at his job and couldn’t figure out why. He stumbled across a genie lamp, rubbed it, and got one wish. His wish? For his job to run smoothly. The genie handed him a rock and told him to walk this rock around his jobsite. Confused, he did as the genie directed, and started walking. Soon after, he came across a concrete truck with the wrong mix of concrete — so he fixed that issue. After a few days of walking the jobsite with his rock, his job ‘magically’ started to run more smoothly. The point is: the more time you can spend in the field, the better off you’ll be. Always make time to put your eyes on the project.
What trends are you watching in the construction industry?
I am super excited about new methods, materials, and technology. I can already start to see new changes taking place, and as the younger generation starts to take more of a hold on the industry, I think more positive changes will happen.
Why should a person consider a career in construction?
It’s not for everyone. It’s hard work, long hours, and a lot of sacrifice. But nothing beats the challenges of a new job, a new team, and a new set of goals to navigate. That should not be a deterrent, but more of a challenge: the industry needs new ideas and new leaders to push the industry forward.
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