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top construction stories from 2019

10 of the Top Construction Stories from 2019

For nearly two years, we’ve been sharing regular construction stories in our Behind the Build blog series. We’ve interviewed nearly 100 construction professionals to participate in this special series, and we’re still amazed by what we hear. 

Likely, you haven’t read all of our Behind the Build posts – but props to you if you have! Either way, we’d like to share with you the stories that resonated with our readers the most this year. Below, you’ll find our list of the 10 most-read Behind the Build blogs from 2019. We’ve also highlighted our favorite quote from each of their profiles. 

These interviews and construction stories from 2019 are just a small sample of the incredible humans that make our industry amazing. We can’t wait to see the incredible stories we’ll capture in 2020. 

But first, before you dig into most-read Behind the Builds from the year, take a look at these construction stories featured in our Tech-Powered Superintendent and 40 Under 40 programs:

  1. 30 Construction Superintendents Who Are Changing the Industry 
  2. 40 Under 40: Construction Champions of 2019

1. Behind the Build: Interview with Nick McComb, Superintendent, Cupertino Electric

NickMcCombOur favorite quote: “It took a long time for us to get to this point where our workers know they should prioritize safety above all else, even efficiency. We don’t expect them to stand on the top of a ladder that’s too short when they’re installing a light fixture to save 10 minutes. Instead, we now observe them walking back to the trailer to grab the right one. What’s required of them is that they do it the right and safe way, so that they go home to their families and come back tomorrow healthy. It’s been a challenging migration of thought because productivity is also a focus. We set our standards at the highest level to make sure that we achieve our intended safety performance, meet schedules, and keep our people safe, happy and healthy.” 

2. Behind the Build: Interview with Brian Binkley, Director of Design, Gephart Electric

GEP_Binkley_2018 - Brian BinkleyOur favorite quote: “If I could have one wish fulfilled for the future generator of builders, and specifically, the architects and engineers, it would be to get field experience. I had an excellent education in college, but nothing beats having first-hand knowledge of working with tools and physically having to understand the construction processes. It would be my wish that all college graduates in this industry have at least a year of experience out in the field.”

3. Behind the Build: Interview with Blake Simpson, Project Engineer, W.E. O’Neil Construction

Blake simpsonOur favorite quote: “In general, the industry needs more sustainably-minded people who are passionate about the environment and can implement that into their day to day construction lives: for example, spending a little extra money to implement a solution that better avoids pollution of local water resources.”

4. Behind the Build: Interview with Ryan Lemke, CAD/BIM Manager, Walker Engineering

Ryan lemkeOur favorite quote: “From the relatively short amount of time I’ve been here, it has gone from everyone coming into our meeting with their models on thumb drives to a shift in using collaborative platforms. As a result, everyone is always up to date with the latest information, as well as using PlanGrid to share drawings to the field, get markups, track issues and track progress. The growth of collaboration software has gone from virtually non-existent to pretty much required on every job.” 

5. Behind the Build: Interview with Melissa Gomez, Project Engineer, BNBuilders 

Melissa GomezOur favorite quote: “I think about how far we have come today and the exciting tools we have available to us. For instance, I use these virtual reality construction goggles to walk through an empty building and rooms. These VR goggles have all the mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems loaded into the system. As you’re walking through the space, you get to see how everything will be constructed. You can also identify the potential clashes, months in advance of construction.

Technology has almost redefined our jobs as project engineers. We’re no longer the token record keepers. We get to take on so many more responsibilities without the burden of intense manual work.”

6. Behind the Build: Interview with Sheila Ohrenberg, President, Sorella Group

Ohrenberg, SheilaOur favorite quote: “For years, it used to be that I was the only female in the room on projects and at industry events. Today, there’s quite a few of us out there. I’m heavily involved with WCOE  in the U.S., and we have a lot of members with tons of excitement. I feel like we’re the best-kept secret in the U.S.–but it’s not going to be that way for long.”

7. Behind the Build: Interview with Dominic Daughtrey, Continuous Improvement Program Manager, Sundt Construction

Dominic DaughtryOur favorite quote: “At Sundt, I’ve made alliances with some like-minded people, and we’ve always just tried to do better. We always want people around us to succeed and be empowered to come up with solutions on their own. In construction, we’re working with such small margins, but crunching numbers isn’t the key to success.  If you focus on the people and the quality of life, it pays off. For instance, are the people on your site happier, more content and more engaged? Even if you did something that didn’t save you a dime–it might have even cost you–if it empowers and engages your workforce, it’s a win.” 

8. Behind the Build: Interview with Rachel R. Treanor, CPSM Director of Business Development and Marketing, Crossland Construction Company, Inc.

Rachel TreanorOur favorite quote: “Competition is fierce in construction, and it’s important to remember that nothing is personal.  A good rule to remember is, “What stands in the way, most often is the way”, meaning that fear and courage are not mutually exclusive. Putting yourself out there can be scary, and intimidating, but it important to remember it is not personal if Crossland Construction is not the best fit for a specific project at that time.  The goal is to position and promote the company for opportunities and to continually work to provide resources and solutions for others.”

9. Behind the Build: Interview with Cliff Cole, VDC Manager, The PENTA Building Group

Cole_CliffOur favorite quote: “My ultimate short-term goal is to have more people live in a virtual world before we build the physical world. Across the country right now, everybody’s busy–there’s so much work going on and it’s fast-paced. But we still have an efficiency problem in this industry. What we can do to improve it is to plan better and figure out why, what and how we’re building something.”

10. Behind the Build: Interview with Kevin Petrillo, Sr. Project Manager, DPR Construction

Kevin Petrill BackgroundOur favorite quote: “When you’re working with a hospital, you got to stay open. There isn’t any time or days off. It’s 24/7, 365 days a year and you’ve got to make sure that you have backups for everything. Every type of equipment that you can think of, there are always backups that you need to have in a hospital. It’s all this stuff that most people don’t ever see.

In general, healthcare construction raises the bar–everything always has to be correct and running. There are control measures that you put on for both sides. You’re not only protecting patients, but you’re also protecting your construction staff, too. The stakes are high and stressful, but it’s an exhilarating environment to work in.”

Further Reading:  Announcing 40 Under 40: Construction Champions of 2019

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