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Behind the Build_Interview with Rocco Castiglione, VDC Manager, Sachse Construction

Behind the Build: Interview with Rocco Castiglione, VDC Manager, Sachse Construction

Amongst a construction labor shortage, many companies are exploring new ways to retain and recruit talent. While many organizations are tapping into non-traditional labor pools and adopting innovation to mitigate the effects of the shortage on talent in the short-term, it’s important not to overestimate one tried-and-true method–investing in the growth of current employees. In fact, according to LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career.

Sachse Construction is one company that emphasizes developing its talent from the ground up. As a testament to its efforts, Rocco Castiglione has been at the organization for six years. Starting as a closeout engineer, Rocco has forged his own path at the company working in a variety of different roles from project engineer to superintendent. Eventually, Sachse Construction empowered him to create a position for himself–VDC Manager. We recently spoke to Rocco on his journey at the company and his experience working in the Detroit construction market. Read on to learn his story in our latest Behind the Build. 

Tell us more about your background in construction.

I graduated with a Masters in Architecture in 2012. I began my career working for design firms but had no real construction experience. Two of my former design firm colleagues were working at Sachse Construction at the time–they helped me get my foot in the door. I started as a closeout engineer and worked my way up ever since. 

As a closeout engineer, I was accountable for closing out all open projects. It’s a big responsibility in the construction industry, especially for someone just starting their career. I eventually was promoted to project engineer. 

After some time in that role, I wanted to take the next steps. Particularly, I knew I wanted to learn more about what was going on in the field. I moved to an assistant superintendent role, then superintendent. After working as a superintendent for around two years, it became apparent how important technology is within the construction industry. A VDC manager role was not something Sachse Construction had on its radar initially. I pitched the role to a few senior leaders at the company and emphasized that my goal was to ensure we were using technology to the best of our abilities to help both our clients and our company. Sachse Construction does an excellent job of supporting career development for its team members, and they allowed me to create and grow in the role for myself. 

Looking back at the variety of roles you’ve had at Sachse Construction, which one has taught you the most?  

For me, the most fun but also demanding was being a superintendent.

Superintendents are the face of a company.

In that role, you are the first point of contact with the client, architect, and trade partners. Most importantly, I gained a lot of experience and respect for what our team members accomplish in the field. 

Since working as a superintendent, I have a better hands-on understanding of the entire construction process. It’s provided me with knowledge of the whole project lifecycle in addition to the industry and how it all comes together.

Tell us more about what you do today as a VDC manager?

As a VDC manager, I have a number of responsibilities including:

  • Develop, manipulate, and maintain 3D models for specific projects for use during preconstruction and construction
  • Analyze models provided by architects & engineers and adjust for use in estimating/preconstruction and construction operations
  • Utilize models to support estimating and preconstruction efforts
  • Perform and document quantity take-off reports
  • Generate 3D site logistics plans
  • Create presentation material and visual aids
  • Utilize models to support construction operations
  • Manage the coordination of work with subcontractors utilizing 3D models
  • Run clash detection, document clashes, and track issues
  • Train employees in the use of VDC technology and processes 

I also spend half of my time developing budgets and bidding on projects that come into our preconstruction department.

It’s important to start the VDC process early to determine the needs of a project and identify any challenges that can be solved with technology prior to the start of construction.

What makes you excited to come to work every day?

Every day and project is different, which keeps me engaged. I like being able to provide solutions to complex problems. For VDC, no one solution works for every project. I spent a lot of time showing everyone in the company what kind of solutions there are out there. I’m never implementing the same method over and over again. We may use standard formats, but we are using custom tactics each time we get a new project. 

Beyond that, the culture here at Sachse Construction is unique. Everyone works hard but supports one another. It makes me proud to go to work each day. 

What do you love about working in the Detroit construction market? 

I think the Detroit construction market is unique for two primary reasons. First, for its history–the city has some incredible architecture. Second, it’s changed so much in the last decade. It’s unbelievable how much downtown Detroit and other areas have grown–it’s become an urban hotspot. 

You can’t compare Detroit to Chicago or New York–they’re totally different, but that’s a good thing. We don’t want to be Chicago or New York–we want to be Detroit. As work ethic goes, we have a healthy Midwest attitude. Even more rewarding has been working six years at Sachse Construction and being on the frontlines of change in Detroit. It’s gratifying seeing how much we’ve contributed to the revitalization downtown.

What advice would you give to the future generation of construction professionals?

Try to understand and be conscious of the entire construction process–not just the small role you might play. My background is very diverse. While not everyone will pursue a wide range of roles like I have, I think everyone in the industry should always be questioning things and trying to figure out how they can better themselves with new experiences. You’ll benefit most from the challenges of learning and taking on something new. 

Further Reading:  Behind the Build: Interview with Kimberly Hansen, PE, System Director of Construction, Baptist Health

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