Our people bring the passion, drive and ingenuity to make great things happen for our clients, communities and industry.
Meet Our Relentless Allies
At the Intersection of Design and Risk Reduction
Chief Estimator Brian Ficzeri approaches every project like a three-dimensional puzzle. But unlike a conventional jigsaw project, building critical infrastructure involves a level of complexity that requires the industry’s best problem solvers.
Over his nearly 30-year career, Brian has estimated some of Balfour Beatty’s most impactful bridge, highway and water projects. He has seen the industry change and adapt to an ever-evolving variety of supply chain disruptions and project risk scenarios. Through it all, Brian’s expertise has empowered client decision-making and forever improved the way our communities live and move.
Driving Down Risk
Estimators are integral to driving successful project outcomes from the earliest stages of preconstruction by identifying innovative and practical solutions that drive down costs. But far from simply crunching numbers, Brian knows that expert networking and well-cultivated industry savvy is essential to navigating a landscape of escalating risks.
“As estimators, we’re always looking for the best, most cost-effective way to do something,” Brian says. “That often requires some back-and-forth collaboration with our client and designers to arrive at the right intersection of design features, supply chain management and budget considerations.”
Brian maintains a revolving roster of suppliers, manufacturers and trade partners and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of common industry costs, but every component is less predictable than it’s ever been. To ensure our project stakeholders see the best outcomes, Brian keeps a particularly close eye on the prices of steel, concrete and other ubiquitous materials, as well as the strained labor market. Every advantage counts in the pursuit of reducing risk, and Brian finds them at every opportunity.
“In some ways, my role is now more complex, but understanding and facing each new challenge is part of the fun,” Brian says. “I combine my past project experience, knowledge of industry trends and strategic market analysis to determine which escalations are real and lasting, which are temporary and which path works for our client’s and trade partners schedules and budgets.”
Bridges to Success
Brian’s 27 years of estimating experience has touched countless landmark infrastructure projects in Texas. He still has favorites, however, and most are community-connecting bridges. From Houston’s I-10 to the Margaret McDermott Bridge and Skillman Bridge in Dallas, Brian’s preconstruction expertise powers later construction success.
Whatever the project, Brian likes to think of estimating in terms of what he colloquially calls “widgets” – discrete, modular and repeatable packages of design elements that create both cost reliability and eventual efficient constructability. Of course, Brian’s many widgets require constant re-evaluation according to market conditions. They nevertheless provide our estimating teams and the clients they serve with an endlessly useful toolbox of building blocks from which any infrastructure project can emerge.
“Finding opportunities for efficiency during the estimating process is as much an analytical task as it is a creative one,” Brian says. “Balfour Beatty’s estimating teams excel at creative project sequencing, procurement solutions and design revisions that can save our clients money and reduce risk.”
For example, a highway project may require the excavation and construction of a water retention pond. That design element may have a generally reliable set cost based on size and depth, but Brian identifies ways to reduce risk for all project stakeholders. Properly sequencing the pond within the larger project, repurposing excavated material and even strategic over-digging and using the excess to offset backfill costs elsewhere are just some possible opportunities to create savings on any front.
Brian’s project experience has also included a range of contracting models, including smaller hard bid projects and massive, multi-year design-build behemoths like the Horseshoe Interchange and its constituent Margaret McDermott Bridge, now a landmark feature of the Dallas skyline.
No matter a project’s contracting model, Brian strives to understand local municipalities, their construction regulations, project site conditions and how each factor might affect risk. Especially on large-scale design-build projects, many of which span many miles of highway, managing traffic redirection and utility relocation are critical considerations.
Brian and Balfour Beatty’s team of expert infrastructure estimators manage these risks – and so many more – through a matrix of common issues and a risk register, comprising even more movable widgets in their toolbox.
“No matter how complex a project is, we collaborate with all stakeholders to proactively seek out, evaluate and mitigate risks,” Brian says. “If something happens, do we have a half-a-million dollar problem, a $5 million problem or $50,000 problem? By planning for these contingencies in advance, our clients and trade partners are equipped to make the best decisions.”
By simultaneously satisfying local regulations, creating end-user-friendliness and meeting clients’ design and budget goals, Brian sets up projects for success.
Answering the “Why?”
Interstate highways and landmark bridges transport thousands of drivers every day, providing essential channels of connection for our communities. The design choices and cost considerations that inform these projects matter, not just to direct stakeholders but also the people who utilize them every day. Estimators like Brian can explain the “Why?” behind each such choice made at the strategic intersection of savings and design intent.
Problem-Solving With a Personal Touch
Project Executive Michelle Clark began her construction career on large projects with budgets in the hundreds of millions. By the time she reached Balfour Beatty in 2010, she had discovered her true passion for the industry’s polar opposite: fast-paced, high-touch and complex special projects.
In the decade since, Michelle has refined her problem-solving skills and earned a reputation as an enthusiastic advocate for Mid-Atlantic clients with unique project needs. In occupied buildings and on accelerated schedules, through night work and more, Michelle and her teammates leverage their years of special project experience to solve problems no one else can, delivering beautiful renovations and additions suited to each client’s needs.
Tackling Complex Logistics
Balfour Beatty experts like Michelle excel at special projects with truly unique challenges. Converting a mid-level tower floor into parking space or renovating a busy lobby with minimal disruption present a Gordian Knot of logistical considerations, but one that our teams are uniquely suited to untangle and overcome.
“Owners and clients come to us because they know we can see even the most complicated jobs through to success,” Michelle says. “Our clients trust us to solve problems that no one else can with design assistance, complicated or accelerated scheduling and innovative solutions – it’s where we thrive.”
On a current project in Washington, D.C., Balfour Beatty’s Mid-Atlantic special projects team has been tasked with adding an elevator to the interior of a historic downtown building. Beyond the aesthetic considerations of building an appropriately styled addition, the project site logistics are especially complex.
In addition to providing design input to help the elevator mesh with the surrounding structure, Michelle and her teammates are delivering construction solutions tailored to the site’s challenges, including limited space for material laydown, equipment and selective demolition. Backed by years of creative problem-solving experience, the team is performing complex shaft drilling, hydraulic installations and more within a narrow footprint.
Security Clearance: Granted
The Mid-Atlantic construction market, especially near historic Washington, D.C. is such that Balfour Beatty’s special projects teams often perform work for the federal government. Such projects can involve stringent security measures that Michelle loves to approach as another opportunity to solve a complex puzzle of logistical challenges.
“Federal special projects, just like special projects for private clients, are often located in occupied and secure office buildings where you must be a U.S. citizen, you can’t bring in any mobile devices and you can’t interact with surrounding offices in any way,” Michelle says. “It requires more planning and coordination than others in the industry may want to tackle, but we have the experience to ensure success. Every challenge is an opportunity to excel.”
Project coordination in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) also requires a unique approach to project management and Building Information Modeling (BIM) coordination.
When our teams can’t bring smartphones or tablets onto a project site, they rely on paper plans, intensive and intentional day-to-day planning and strategically timed communication with off-site personnel. Our special projects teams adapt to and overcome these unique constraints, carefully coordinating operations to maintain accelerated schedules and reliable budgets.
Making the Impossible Personal
When faced with challenging special projects, Michelle takes a personal, high-touch approach. By getting to know a client and understanding their project goals, she and her teammates can overcome any hurdle through innovative planning solutions, enhanced trade partner engagement and simply thinking outside the box.
Two back-to-back projects in the Warner Building in Washington, D.C. showcased Balfour Beatty’s ability to bring a client’s vision to life, first while converting an office floor into additional parking space. The team needed to avoid disrupting the existing parking structure above the floor and the offices above that, but the added complication of doorway-sized access points to the space precluded any large demolition equipment.
To effectively execute the garage conversion, including pouring a concrete ramp down to the new garage level, the team transported small loads of concrete in buggies that could navigate the space. Avoiding larger equipment also meant they could keep the rest of the garage open, which greatly benefited traffic to the rest of the building.
Impressed with the team’s work on the garage conversion, client JBG SMITH engaged Balfour Beatty to build a fitness center and renovate the Warner Building lobby. The client desired a green space despite the limited natural light, so Michelle and the team found a film set design specialist in California who could construct a 10-foot-tall artificial tree inside the lobby.
All the while, the team worked closely with JBG SMITH and the Warner Theater, a major occupant of the building, to coordinate work around live theater performances and peak activity hours in the lobby.
Near project completion, the team navigated even more complex logistics with the client and the city to deliver, assemble and install massive steel trellises, a key design feature of the renovated lobby. Though prefabricated in pieces off-site, each trellis component was large enough that the team worked with our delivery partners and the city of Washington, D.C. to coordinate lane closures during low-traffic hours.
The team needed to deliver the trellis components through the lobby’s front door, so constant communication with the client and its tenants was critical to mitigating disruptions to the Warner Building’s daily business.
Chasing the Next Challenge
Like many Balfour Beatty special projects experts across the U.S., Michelle feels uniquely suited for the fast-paced nature of these projects and loves what she does.
Every project has at least one especially unique, challenging or interesting feature. Whether she’s tackling an accelerated schedule, the challenge of delivering massive steel beams down a crowded city street or performing a complete lobby renovation without disturbing stage performances, Michelle is a passionate and respected Relentless Ally for our clients and communities.
Right on Track
Whether they carry commercial goods, raw materials or people, trains rarely have the luxury of stopping for long. That’s rarely an issue on an active rail line, but when railways require new construction, renovation and modernization, you need a hands-on expert who can keep things on track.
As one of Balfour Beatty’s leading rail experts, Commercial Director Chuck Chapman understands the importance of solutions-driven rail construction. Throughout his impressive 35-year career, Chuck has honed his skills as an innovative problem-solver, a master communicator and a creative project scheduler for public and private clients alike. Every dollar and every hour saved counts, and Balfour Beatty’s forward-thinking rail professionals like Chuck skillfully identify them at every turn.
Hands-On Problem Solving
Project leaders must display innovative problem-solving and the willingness to roll up one’s sleeves, take a personal role in the project plan and execute the best path forward.
Chuck’s storied career is replete with such situations, both as an estimator and as a project manager, and where the two disciplines converge. On a former employer’s bridge project, Chuck and his team were faced with a dilemma: the project required the creation of a dewatered area to facilitate bridgework, but traditional methods of sinking a cofferdam using sheet piles wouldn’t be adequate.
The approach spans of the bridge offered too little clearance to install cofferdams, and splicing sheet piles to handle the task would have increased project costs. So Chuck and his team got creative. They combined the strengths of each method by securing sheet piles to the cofferdam base using bulb seals.
“On each phase of the bridge, our solution probably saved four to six months,” Chuck recalls. “You multiply that across 36 segments, and the time and cost savings made an incredible difference for our client.”
While that level of creative problem-solving can come with the territory of complex infrastructure construction, it remains one of Chuck’s favorite aspects of his job and something he sees as wise stewardship of clients’ valuable time and money.
“There’s always an opportunity to partner with our clients, develop solutions and proactively prevent problems,” Chuck adds. “We get the right people together to create solutions that serve a project technically, fiscally and safely.”
From the earliest planning phases to the completion of a project’s lifecycle, project leaders must be master communicators with every stakeholder. Direct, constant communication with clients, owners and trade partners can help prevent costly delays and any unnecessary impacts to the traveling public or vital supply chains that rely on rail infrastructure.
On Chuck’s most recent project, the electrification of Caltrain in San Jose, California, he prioritizes clear and consistent communication with project leaders, the client and local municipal authorities, ensuring Balfour Beatty adheres to all standards and procedures for working in and around critical infrastructure. Chuck understands that early and proactive team alignment enables the collaborative development of solutions that enhance critical logistics and safety planning.
Chuck and his fellow rail experts at Balfour Beatty cultivate a shared team understanding our client’s vision and target turnover dates, enabling strategic and successful project schedules.
“Traffic impacts and utility relocation are at the forefront of our minds on any rail project, because we know how mission critical both can be,” Chuck says. “By identifying these constraints early, we’re actually empowered to plan the most effective solutions such as nighttime closures and utility relocations that avoid interference with rail tracks and any permitting necessary to accomplish both.”
Balfour Beatty’s rail leaders can also leverage the many advantages of prefabrication where it can accelerate the schedule, save money and mitigate a project’s public impact. Railway replacements are a prime example.
“Prefabrication is another powerful tool in our planning toolbox,” Chuck says. “If we can build 1,000 feet of rail next to its final location, we can keep trains moving during that process, take the line out of service for a shorter outage period and install the new rail all at once.”
United in Vision
For Chuck, understanding a client’s vision is just par for the course. By communicating that vision to all stakeholders, then planning, designing and scheduling projects accordingly, the entire team stays on track.
Rail is one of our oldest modes of motorized travel but still plays a crucial role in the way we move people and goods around our communities and around the country. We’re proud to serve our clients by making rail construction and renovation as efficient, expedient and economical as possible and empowering leaders like Chuck who can make it happen.
Embracing Every Opportunity
In her 16 years with Balfour Beatty, Project Business Manager Kelsey Beaty has enthusiastically sought out new challenges. From her time as an intern in Georgia to serving as a project accountant in the Carolinas and taking on the role of project business manager in Texas, Kelsey has been committed to expanding her skillsets since day one. Her willingness to evolve with the needs of the business has broadened her knowledge of every area of our work, making her an invaluable teammate with a deep understanding of the industry.
Building on a Legacy
Kelsey comes by her interest in construction administration naturally. Her father spent several years as a human resources executive at Balfour Beatty, imparting his passion for the industry and the many opportunities available within it.
In December 2007, an opportunity to become the first accounting intern within Balfour Beatty’s U.S civils business opened in Atlanta, Georgia, and Kelsey jumped at the chance. Though she was nervous to begin the internship, having only taken one accounting class in school, her nerves were quickly eased.
“No one expected me to be the CEO on my first day,” Kelsey laughs. “My supervisors were clear with me: they wanted someone interested in the business who was willing to jump in and learn.”
Kelsey continued interning within the shared services team throughout her time in college, building rewarding relationships, learning about the industry and maximizing every opportunity. When she graduated, she was eager to begin her career with Balfour Beatty.
After several years of working in an office environment in Atlanta and in a regional office in Wilmington, North Carolina, Kelsey began to feel that field work was the next step in her career evolution. She had supported field teams extensively and participated in jobsite tours that broadened her perspective of how the accounting function supports our work.
Kelsey soon made the move to Jacksonville, North Carolina, to work on the Camp Lejeune base entry project. For the first time, Kelsey was fully immersed in a project, experiencing her accounting work in action right outside her window.
Her time amid active work allowed her to build relationships with field and craft teams in a way she hadn’t before. “It opened my world up a bit,” she says. “I gained an understanding of operational processes that I’ve carried with me ever since.”
After a year on the Camp Lejeune job, Kelsey was tapped to make a major transition: moving to Dallas, Texas, to begin work on the Dallas Horseshoe project. The project spanned 73 miles of roadway and included the construction of 37 bridges, well beyond the scope of any project in which Kelsey had been involved.
“It was quite an undertaking,” Kelsey reflects. “I very quickly learned the importance of teamwork on a job of that scale.”
After completing the Dallas Horseshoe, Kelsey moved to the Southern Gateway project and, currently, the I-635 East project. As project business manager, Kelsey and her teams are responsible for all things finance, including processing payroll for hundreds of employees, managing payments to trade partners and more.
Her most important role, she says, is supporting our field teams. “My job only exists because of the teams working on the project site,” Kelsey explains.
A Powerful Mentor
During her time on the Dallas Horseshoe project, Kelsey developed a mentoring relationship with Director of Construction Dan Young. In the decade since, the pair have been an unstoppable force, and Dan has been pivotal in Kelsey’s career development.
“Kelsey is an invaluable asset to our team,” Dan says. “Her time in the southeast and the Horseshoe and Southern Gateway projects has given her a great breadth of experience that allows her to understand and support her teammates, and she’s always seeking out new ways to learn.”
Throughout her time with Balfour Beatty, Kelsey has demonstrated that she is not only capable of adapting to new environments but thrives in the face of change. She enthusiastically adapts with the ever-changing needs of the industry, giving her a broad knowledge of operations and making her a well-rounded leader and passionate advocate for her teammates.
Lighting the Path for a Diverse and Inclusive Industry
Vu Nguyen is a senior project manager for Howard S. Wright (HSW), a Balfour Beatty company, but he’s simultaneously so much more – a thoughtful mentor and a passionate advocate for creating a diverse, thriving community of construction professionals that reflect the communities where we live and work.
Throughout his sixteen-year career, Vu has found a calling not only as a leader within HSW but also as an advocate for his Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) peers within Balfour Beatty and the construction industry as a whole. The AAPI community still represents a disproportionate minority in construction, but Vu knows what a rewarding and exciting path it can be.
Vu is lighting that path, clearing the way for younger generations and building future success for both Balfour Beatty and his community.
A Passion for Education
Vu never planned to find his calling in construction. In 1994, his family emigrated from Vietnam as political refugees with the dream of providing Vu and his siblings with exceptional educational opportunities. Pursuing his own higher education was as much a privilege as it was an expectation.
“My siblings and I grew up with the mentality that because we had the opportunity to go to school, we were going to go to school,” Vu recalls. “Our parents were always drivers and supporters of our continuing education.”
Vu attended the University of Washington (UW) with sights set on engineering. It seemed like a natural fit – he had always loved building, designing and understanding complex systems. Soon, Vu discovered his passion for building design and pursued a dual degree in architecture and construction management.
He joined HSW as a project engineer shortly after graduating in 2007. Vu has been part of the Balfour Beatty team ever since, but his education left a lasting impact—one he hopes to share with future generations of construction professionals.
Giving Back as a Community Educator
At the start of his career with HSW, he knew few other Asian American professionals in the industry and even fewer in the company. According to a Build California study, AAPI representation in construction is disproportionately low – around 1.5% of the industry workforce despite comprising 5.7% of the U.S. population.
“I think it’s an issue of perspective in Asian American communities and not understanding the opportunities in construction,” Vu says. “Growing up, I thought of construction as the person swinging a hammer or digging dirt. That’s an important part of the industry, but just a fraction of much more.”
With that in mind, Vu has dedicated his personal time to speaking with and mentoring students in the Pacific Northwest and exposing them to opportunities in construction they might not have otherwise encountered.
“There are so many successful paths in construction,” Vu says. “You can be a designer. You can be an engineer. You can manage people, finances, planning and processes. These are rewarding careers that students often don’t know about.”
Vu volunteers with a mentorship program at UW where he is paired with undergraduate students who meet with him regularly to learn from his industry experience and seek education and career advice—all invaluable resources Vu wishes he had as a student.
He also volunteers as a construction industry panelist and attends events at his alma mater, where he can already see the industry changing for the better. Today, industry events and graduating classes display a greater diversity of genders and ethnicities, better representing the communities they will soon serve.
Growing into Leadership
Over his career, Vu has contributed to a wide range of major and special projects as well as others for the HSW Service Department in Seattle. That variety was a conscious effort to cultivate well-rounded construction experience.
Still, when considering his favorite past projects, he gravitates toward the most unique and challenging. And the projects often fit a distinct pattern: each presented opportunities for Vu to step up, assume new and unfamiliar aspects of leadership and learn new management strategies.
“One of my favorite projects is the UW Husky Stadium renovation,” Vu says. “We built the players’ locker rooms, the training facilities, the coaching offices – it was one of those once-in-a-lifetime projects that you feel privileged to have taken part in.”
Although Vu was a project engineer at the time, the project gave him ample opportunity to take on more advanced responsibilities.
A similar opportunity arose on the Seattle University Vi Hilbert Hall Student Housing project that further solidified Vu’s career growth. He had the opportunity to step up and assume new leadership responsibilities midway through the project, and he rose to the occasion. Although the project was challenging on all fronts, Vu led a team of young project engineers to deliver a beautiful new student residence in his community.
Vu also participated in Balfour Beatty’s 2022 Propel Leadership Program, where he and other West Coast peers spent a year learning valuable leadership skills. In addition, HSW leadership selected Vu as a Legacy Award recipient for 2022, signifying his lasting impact on HSW and his community.
Building a Stronger, More Inclusive Industry
Vu’s natural leadership also lends itself to his role as an AAPI leader and one of the founders of Balfour Beatty’s company-wide AAPI employee affinity group, REGAL (Reinforcing, Educating and Guiding Asian Leaders). As a leader within REGAL, Vu hopes to expand on work he’s doing in the Seattle community to reach students of color, particularly those within the AAPI community.
Vu is poised to play a key role in creating a more diverse industry for all, a robust pipeline of exceptional talent and strong representation and opportunities for Balfour Beatty’s AAPI teammates.
Striving for Safety
When thinking of construction safety, images of hard hats, protective glasses and neon vests come to mind. But safety encompasses so much more than personal protective equipment—every choice counts, and a split-second decision on a jobsite can change a life forever.
Alex Ramos, a safety, environmental and health manager for our civils operations in the Southeast, is passionate about making safety personal, constantly seeking to enhance his safety expertise and ensuring that all of his teammates, when faced with difficult decisions, are equipped to make the right choices.
Managing Across Miles
Balfour Beatty’s industry-leading commitment to safety was the primary factor that drew Alex to pursue a career with Balfour Beatty. Before joining our team, he worked for a safety consulting firm, but Balfour Beatty’s steadfast dedication to Zero Harm stood out from the pack and led him to join the business in 2017.
Today, Alex travels throughout the Southeast conducting safety audits, offering safety management guidance and providing ongoing training for our teammates and trade partners. Whether he is at our Harkers Island Bridge Replacement project in Harkers Island, North Carolina, the Effingham Parkway project in Rincon, Georgia, or any of the large-scale infrastructure projects on which he oversees safety, Alex can always be found with his sleeves rolled up, working tirelessly to ensure our teams and surrounding communities stay safe.
On any given day, Alex is responsible for managing safety across 10 or more jobsites in multiple states. Unlike a high-rise development in which workers remain within a relatively small geographic radius, crews on civil infrastructure projects are often spread out across many miles. This might make the task of managing safety daunting to some, but Alex has honed his training and audit practices to ensure no safety issue is overlooked. Many of Balfour Beatty’s safety requirements exceed those of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and Alex believes in his teammates’ leadership to maintain safe jobsites.
“Safety is more than just an aspect of what we do, it’s deeply woven into the culture at Balfour Beatty,” says Alex. “When it comes to keeping our jobsites safe, the key is teamwork. Just as it takes a team to complete a construction project, it takes a team to make sure each and every person on our jobsite and in the surrounding community stays safe.”
Alex is a firm believer that communication is the foundation to safety. Although Alex regularly visits the jobsites he manages, he can’t be everywhere at once. Because of this, he relies heavily on personal touchpoints with his teammates. Alex ensures that everyone on-site is empowered to contact him with questions or concerns but also trusts project engineers, project managers, superintendents and forepeople to effectively monitor safety.
While it is easy to get caught up in the minutiae of day-to-day operations, Alex encourages his teammates to regularly step back and look at the bigger picture of safety. Through a three-question call-and-response at the beginning of every meeting, Alex helps keep his teammates focused on safety fundamentals.
Question: Whose job is safety?
Question: Are you committed to “Zero Harm”?
Question: Who has the authority to stop work because of a safety concern?
Answer: I do.
“Keeping those three questions at the forefront of everyone’s mind ensures that we are all on the same page,” says Alex. “Whether I am on-site or not, our teams make sure that safety is always effectively communicated.”
Making Safety Inclusive
One of the most important steps to getting on the same page is ensuring everyone on our jobsites understands safety materials. According to the National Association of Home Builders, nearly one in three construction workers identify as Hispanic/Latinx, and approximately half of construction laborers identify as Hispanic/Latinx. Translations of these essential materials allow our teams and partners to make informed, safe choices when faced with split-second decisions.
Alex, who is fluent in Spanish, has also gone above and beyond his day-to-day responsibilities by helping translate company-wide safety materials such as Toolbox Talks, training materials, jobsite signage and more. His efforts ensure we communicate with precision and accuracy to our diverse project teams and trade partners across our entire U.S. operations.
“These materials are vital to the success and safety of our projects. We can’t afford for anyone to miss this information,” Alex says. “Our teams need to be able to read and understand the information. Translating them is one way to make sure that’s possible.”
The Spanish translations of safety materials have been successful in maintaining greater cohesion and consistency for Balfour Beatty teams across the nation. Alex’s previous role as a safety consultant gave him an understanding of unique demographic and dialect needs across different regions, and he hopes to see safety materials translated into more languages in the future.
Continuing Safety Education
Alex’s passion for safety and desire to continue learning have inspired him to advance his education. Most recently, Alex earned his Associate Safety Professional (ASP) certification, a prerequisite of which was earning his associate degree in construction. The degree and certification processes were not easy; Alex studied and took classes on his own time, learning valuable lessons he brings with him each day to our jobsites.
“Ongoing safety training is crucial to our goal of achieving Zero Harm,” says Eric Yates, regional safety, environmental and health manager. “Alex’s initiative in pursuing and achieving the ASP certification demonstrates his continued commitment to improving both himself and our overall safety performance.”
Though proud to have achieved his ASP certification, Alex is far from finished. “I never dreamed I would get my degree or certification, but now that I know I can do it, why would I stop here?” He is excited to tackle his next endeavor: earning his Certified Safety Professional (CSP) certification. The first step? Completing his bachelor’s degree.
An inclusive safety leader who is continuously raising the bar in our pursuit of Zero Harm, Alex Ramos knows first-hand that choices made in a split-second can save a life. And on his watch, those choices are sure to be safe ones.
Changing Skylines and Building Landmarks
Michael Hite will be the first to tell you that he’s not a musician.
Nevertheless, Michael conducts his own opera of sorts on each of his large-scale hospitality projects, skillfully coordinating client relationships, choreographing interactions between hundreds of trade partners and implementing a philosophy of start-to-finish operational excellence to deliver iconic hotels and convention centers.
As a former superintendent and now as a Field Operations Director, Michael has served Balfour Beatty’s hospitality clients in many markets across the U.S. No matter their location, these projects require the decades of experience, deep industry networks and trusted leadership that Michael brings to every development.
From Designer to Builder
When his collegiate education as an architect was already well underway, Michael realized the rise of digital design signaled a major change in the industry. Computers were a useful and efficient tool, but the artistry lost some of its magic for Michael when he couldn’t put pencil to paper.
He quickly changed course, realizing he wanted to build structures instead of designing them. After attending construction trade school for four years, he soon found himself working for a mechanical contractor in Florida on the Miami Beach Convention Center project.
“That was my first exposure to big jobs, strategic planning, the implications of large-scale projects and the choreography of it all,” Michael recalls. “I didn’t yet understand that I was on the precipice of my career, but I was amazed and intrigued by it.”
Michael began cultivating his expertise in large hospitality construction by intentionally seeking out mentorship opportunities to learn the unique complexities of this market. This soon led to a brush with destiny on Balfour Beatty’s Broward County Arena project—and a life-changing job opportunity soon thereafter.
The Best Experts in Any Geography
Nearly 30 years later, Michael is one of our leading national experts in hospitality construction and has led projects that have become household names in their communities such as the two-million-square-foot Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. The project brought his family to their now permanent home in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and remains one of the most iconic hospitality centers in the region, encompassing 460,000 square feet of convention space and 1,814 guest rooms.
Balfour Beatty identified a team of hospitality experts from across Florida and Texas to lead the project, each group contributing unique talents and perspectives but united by a common mission.
“The merging of our talent enabled us to deliver the best final product for our client,” Michael says. “Our strong, unifying culture makes it possible to send the right people to the right places for the right jobs.”
The “Mints on Pillows” Approach to Excellence
Michael’s impact on the North Texas hospitality market was only just beginning on the Gaylord Texas. More recently, he served as superintendent for the Omni Dallas Convention Center and Hotel, a $331 million design-build project completed in 2011 for developer Matthews Southwest.
Michael still counts Omni Dallas among his top three “greatest hits.” Early in pursuit, the team committed to a fast-paced 30-month schedule. Shortly after the groundbreaking, Michael—with the buy-in of the entire project team and trade partners—committed to further expediting the already compressed schedule by an additional two months. They ultimately exceeded expectations and delivered the 1.1-million-square-foot complex in just under 26 months.
“The Omni Dallas was an incredibly high-quality project in all the ways we measure success – financially, structurally and architecturally,” Michael recalls. “We had everything from mints on pillows to locally commissioned artwork installed throughout the facility. We had it all.”
The project also completed with more than 2.5 million total hours worked without a single lost time incident. Keeping jobsites safe is Michael’s deeply personal responsibility to his teammates, clients and communities, and he’s proud to lead projects that exemplify Balfour Beatty’s Zero Harm commitment.
On the Road Again
Michael recently returned to his Florida construction roots on the Broward County Convention Center and Omni Hotel Expansion project in Fort Lauderdale, another Matthews Southwest partnership.
Michael views the nearly $1 billion project as another incredible opportunity to build a lasting community and tourism hub. Most importantly, it’s another chance to join Balfour Beatty teams in different regions and foster trade relationships that share our values.
“You have to be willing to engage your teams and partners with daily conversation, clear communication and fair and honest treatment,” Michael says. “That sometimes requires tough conversations and tough calls, but when your heart’s in the right place, it works out for the betterment of the project itself and for everyone involved.”
Building lasting relationships with like-minded trade partners pays dividends. In every market where Michael has worked, he knows he can count on trusted trade partners to fully engage with Balfour Beatty’s most important goals: safety, quality, innovation and accountability.
Lasting Community Impact
Even if given the opportunity, Michael wouldn’t change any step in his storied career—but he still has work to do.
As he looks ahead to the future, no matter the location, Michael is proud to say how much Balfour Beatty’s projects impact communities where our teams live and work. He and his teams deliver incredible facilities, but their art lives on for decades more as thriving centers for employment,
hospitality and community events – as Michael realized on a visit to the Gaylord Texan years after its grand opening.
“I was able to sit and observe this facility that employs over 2,000 workers and enables so many other vendors and services to exist,” Michael recalls. “I realized that we make so much of an impact in the community and the trajectories of so many families. What we do makes a difference, and it matters.”
Investing in Education
Keenan Arnold never expected to become an expert in the estimating, pursuits and preconstruction of educational facilities. However, after proving his aptitude, the Atlanta-based senior preconstruction manager has fallen into the role naturally, leading preconstruction efforts and training others to do the same in the education market and beyond. Keenan’s work doesn’t stop when construction begins; he’s investing in the communities he helped build and paving the way for a more inclusive industry.
Keenan’s interest in construction began at a young age. At eight years old, while attending a “Bring Your Child to Work” day with his mother, he was asked what he wanted to be when he grew up. To Keenan’s surprise, his mother insisted he tell the group he wanted to become an architect.
“I don’t think I really knew what an architect was at the time,” he laughs. “But I was creative and loved to draw, and she knew I would be well-suited for this industry. She saw something in me and knew this was the path for me.”
That moment planted a seed in Keenan, and he carried an interest in architecture through to college. After two years, he decided to broaden his horizons and switched his major to construction. And he’s never looked back. Keenan began his career estimating for a concrete formwork contractor before making his way to Balfour Beatty.
In his first few years with Balfour Beatty, Keenan worked on a wide range of projects across diverse market sectors. One of the first markets on which he honed his skillset was in adaptive reuse. The knowledge and skills he took away from these projects would benefit the business over the next years in unexpected ways.
During the early days of the pandemic, Keenan found himself filling in gaps and assisting with preconstruction efforts on existing projects he had not previously worked on. Many of these were K-12 projects, which encompassed both renovations and additions. Through his experience with adaptive reuse, Keenan unexpectedly found himself operating within a new market that took advantage of his expertise.
Using what he learned on past projects, he quickly became adept at leading the preconstruction effort for K-12 projects. Balfour Beatty’s industry-leading and comprehensive preconstruction services are a differentiator for our clients, and Keenan plays a major role in not only helping win many projects, but he also ensures that they our project teams are equipped with the proper budgets and subcontractor input needed to successfully build the project.
In addition to his work on K-12 education projects, Keenan brings his expertise to a variety of market sectors. Keenan has made his mark on Atlanta by leading preconstruction efforts on major projects such as the Hotel Row Adaptive Reuse Project, Atlanta Mission’s Restoration House, Novel Midtown Residential Tower and The Krog District.
“Keenan understands the preconstruction process thoroughly and he is invaluable to our team,” says Amar Vel, senior vice president of preconstruction in Atlanta. “We can count on him to provide insightful guidance on every aspect of a project, whether for marketing, operations, scheduling or estimating. He has built an excellent rapport with both internal and external clients, and we are truly fortunate to have him as a leader in the business.”
Investing in His Community
An Atlanta native, Keenan takes great pride in Balfour Beatty’s impact on his local community. He enjoys pointing out Balfour Beatty projects when driving through the streets of Atlanta with friends and relishes building in his hometown.
“One of the things I really like about this industry is that what we’re doing today could have an impact for decades to come,” he says. “We’re building projects that will last for a lifetime.”
Keenan has also had the unique opportunity to work in spaces he was familiar with as a child, including some of the very same educational facilities he once attended. He even led preconstruction on a project at his former high school. “I got very nostalgic walking through the hallways of my old high school,” he says. “It means a lot to get the chance to build in these spaces that built me.”
While some may be content to move on from a project after its completion, Keenan and his teammates have identified opportunities to continue investing in the communities they’ve built.
Keenan has returned to schools our teams built to discuss the construction industry with students, introducing them to a potential career path they may not have otherwise discovered. Thus far, Keenan and his teammates have participated in career days and arranged informal class visits with several schools. He hopes to start a formal program that will bring this message to more schools in the Atlanta area, allowing children to explore all aspects of construction such as architecture, engineering, project management and design.
“Construction is a vital industry but one that a lot of kids might not know much about,” Keenan explains. “We want to get them interested in what we do and let them know that there is a lot of opportunity out there for them in the construction industry.”
A NOBLE Pursuit
In addition to having a heart for our younger generations, Keenan also leads the Atlanta chapter of Balfour Beatty’s Network of Black Leaders and Executives (NOBLE) employee affinity group. The group advocates for African American representation across the company and into our communities. He has been a member of the group since its inception in 2021 and is now in his second year of leading the local chapter.
Recruiting diverse talent is one of the group’s primary focuses. Through his work with NOBLE, Keenan has had the opportunity to partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to attend career fairs and hiring events to discover future industry talent and ensure students know what opportunities are available to them.
The group has also forged meaningful relationships with local minority and women owned business enterprises (MWBE) that open the door for future partnering opportunities. Keenan recently organized a MWBE outreach event that brought together 50 attendees from a diverse pool of local subcontractors.
“We want to make MWBE participation part of our industry fabric,” Keenan says. “Our goal is to expand the pool of subcontractors we’re choosing from and make sure everyone has a fair shot.”Whether he is putting together a project bid, organizing outreach events or advocating for the advancement of diverse construction professionals, Keenan lives out Balfour Beatty’s people-first culture in all his endeavors, creating an industry where everyone can learn, grow and thrive.
The Responsibility of Protecting Your Team
Every workplace has its unique cast of characters, mainstays that feel as much a part of the company’s culture and structure as the company leadership. Not every workplace, however, can say their company veterans are in the business of saving lives every day. That’s exactly what Balfour Beatty safety professionals like Luis Torres do on jobsites across the country, combining expertise, pride in their work and relationship building to keep workers safe.
Industry-Leading Safety Leadership
Luis is a jobsite safety carpenter, but he’s not just any carpenter. His tenure with Balfour Beatty spans nearly three decades, and in that time, he’s carefully honed his skills as a carpenter and his knack for developing innovative safety solutions. He’s a known quantity on every job – someone so trusted that his teammates have affectionally given him the title “Safety Luis.”
A well-earned title it is. Luis’s handiwork caught the attention of a Balfour Beatty safety leader, on a recent visit to the Alfond Inn project in Winter Park, Florida. On the jobsite, a sprawling 75,000-square-foot addition to the boutique hotel, Luis had constructed a set of temporary elevator guardrails.
The quality of the installation was evident at first sight. Each had clearly been constructed by a professional who deeply cared about their work and the impact it would have on worker safety.
In this case, the elevator enclosure went above and beyond the standards mandated by OSHA, Balfour Beatty and our construction elevator trade partner in Florida. While providing essential safety protections, it also featured removable sections and stowable netting, allowing different parts of the enclosure to be temporarily moved to suit different loads over the course of the job. On top of that, the entire guardrail structure was both modular and removable, so Luis’s hard work can be re-used on a future elevator thereby creating greater workflow efficiencies and reducing waste.
Luis’s responsibilities as a construction safety carpenter and the responsibilities of his peers on other jobsites don’t end with elevator guardrails and enclosures, of course. Safety carpenters build walkways, guardrails, work platforms, scaffolding and much more, all essential components of making jobsites safer for Balfour Beatty teammates, trade partners and any visitors. Alongside personal protective equipment (PPE) and established safety rules and standards, their work is on the frontlines of construction safety.
Tenured and Trusted
In his decades on construction sites, “Safety Luis” has established himself as someone our workers and trade partners can trust, as evidenced by his tenure, his demand on jobsites and his role which has grown to encompass mentoring Balfour Beatty safety carpenters across the country.
“He’s easily worked on at least a hundred different projects over the years, and his work is truly first-class,” says Jonathan Pearch, project executive. “When Luis is on the job, we know he’s going to anticipate safety needs others may not see, often going above and beyond to provide the safest possible working environment for everyone on the site. He always has the ‘what’ covered and can build anything you ask him to, but when given a task, he thinks about the ‘why’ and finds creative, safe solutions to meet the need.”
It’s only fitting that Luis has also taken his safety sixth sense outside his usual southeast region, guiding and teaching safety carpenters as far afield as jobsites in Texas. On every job, Luis truly cares about the safety of his teammates – he knows what he’s there to do and he takes pride in executing that job with excellence.
Across a career so vast, in terms of both projects and years worked, construction safety standards have naturally changed immensely and for the better, but that accumulation of knowledge is one of Luis’s greatest assets.
“He may have been able to do his job in sneakers and shorts back in the day,” Jonathan jokes, “but there’s no doubt the industry absolutely has changed. Luis has adapted to those changes and, in many ways, pushed us even further toward safer jobsites.”
The vital expertise of Luis and Balfour Beatty safety carpenters everywhere exemplifies Balfour Beatty’s commitment to leading the construction industry in safety.
Foundations of Trust
Whether she is anticipating the needs of trade partners, advocating for marginalized communities or lending a guiding hand to new teammates, Megan Cook-Eichelberger is building relationships to last.
At Balfour Beatty, our people-first culture is engrained in everything we do. From our decision-making to the ways in which we collaborate, we believe that the relationships we form with our clients, industry partners and fellow team members are paramount to everyone’s success. For Megan Cook-Eichelberger, a project manager in Portland, Oregon, relationship building is the key to consistently meeting project goals, producing meaningful results and ensuring that everyone has a seat at the table.
Megan began her career in general contracting eight years ago as a traveling field engineer, but her experience in the industry goes back much further than that. Her father owned a drywall finishing business, so Megan was introduced to jobsite environments at a young age.
While working at her father’s business after high school, Megan not only developed a strong work ethic but also learned the importance of creating a workplace culture grounded in the values of respect and collaboration. “It’s not just the people on your own team,” she says. “Everyone you interact with, from your design team to your clients to your trade partners, plays such an important role in how you show up to work every day.”
Since joining Howard S. Wright (HSW), a Balfour Beatty company, in 2019, Megan has found that building strong relationships allows her to collaborate with her teammates and partners more effectively and navigate conflicts when they inevitably arise. When teams have already established a foundation of trust, she maintains, they feel empowered to bring difficult topics to the table and identify the best solutions for the team and project.
Advocating for Trade Partners
Through these experiences, Megan has developed a deeply personal understanding of the challenges trade partners experience and has become a staunch advocate and ally for their growth and development. She doesn’t consider a project successful unless everyone involved—the project team, clients and trade partners—is satisfied with the results.
Megan is also committed to championing small and local businesses. Through collaborating with minority, women and emerging small businesses (MWESB), she and her teammates help remove barriers to success. The Block 216 project, on which Megan serves as project manager, has presented a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for some local MWESB businesses.
Projects of this size are rare in Portland; the building will total 1.1 million square-feet and construction is slated to span more than four years. Many small and emerging businesses may not have the experience or personnel to successfully execute scopes of this magnitude or complexity. Megan and the team implemented a right-size system to simultaneously meet our diversity, equity and inclusion goals along with the client’s: rather than issuing contracts to a single subcontractor for an entire scope package, the project team asks the partners what scope of work they can take on and allocates portions of the project accordingly. By applying this approach, the Block 216 project team is also stimulating the local economy by providing more jobs to local residents.
In addition to mentoring small businesses, Megan gives back to the women of Balfour Beatty and the greater Portland community. She currently leads her local chapter of the company’s Connecting Women employee affinity group, a role that has allowed her to partner with organizations such as Oregon Tradeswomen and Dress for Success that empower women in the construction industry and beyond.
Throughout her years in the industry, Megan has witnessed changing cultural dynamics that have resulted in a positive trend toward acceptance and inclusion. She considers herself fortunate that during her entire tenure with HSW, she’s always been able to bring her authentic self to the workplace. Megan prioritizes diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives in hopes that everyone is afforded the same opportunity.
“I’ve learned so much just by showing up,” she maintains. “By listening first, you start to understand what a community needs and how to implement change in a way that is equitable and sustainable over the long-term.”
In addition to building a stronger, more inclusive construction industry, Megan seeks out opportunities to nurture the growth and development of her own teammates. She shares her experiences and lessons she’s learned throughout her career but stresses the importance of innovation.
“Every project has milestones to meet, but I try to remind the team that there are lots of ways to deliver for our client,” Megan asserts. “We always want to look for new solutions and ways to achieve our goals more with greater efficiency and value. It’s important to me that my teammates know that we encourage creative problem-solving.”
Megan’s extensive industry experience helps her mentor fellow teammates, but perhaps her greatest strength is her ability to put herself in others’ shoes. Whether she is anticipating the needs of trade partners, advocating for marginalized communities or lending a guiding hand to new teammates, Megan’s empathy makes her a great champion for others and allows her to lay a strong foundation of trust on which she is building relationships to last.
Michele Cummings builds relationships to last across her local Austin and trade partner communities
At Balfour Beatty, everything we do furthers our strategy of Build to Last. Talking positively, collaborating relentlessly, encouraging constantly, making a difference and valuing everyone are behaviors that ensure we aren’t just building lasting structures—we’re building lasting relationships too. In Austin, Texas, Senior Project Accountant Michele Cummings lives out these behaviors every day through the intentional, inclusive and collaborative ways she advocates for our trade partners, her Balfour Beatty teammates and the community-at-large.
Michele’s path to Balfour Beatty was not traditional; she discovered a love for accounting while climbing the ranks in property management. In 2014, a friend recommended her for a project accountant role at Balfour Beatty and Michele was excited for the opportunity to focus on her passion for accounting full time.
Nine years later, Michele has seen Balfour Beatty’s Austin operations grow and flourish as the community remains one of the fastest-growing cities in America. She has had the opportunity to work on projects that have positively impacted Austin such as the Texas Capitol Complex, the Kendra Scott corporate office and the Austin Independent School District headquarters, among others.
While working on high-impact, high-profile projects keeps Michele’s job exciting, it’s the relationships she has built throughout her tenure with the company that bring her the most fulfillment. From trade partners to coworkers to the greater Austin community, she is always willing to share her expertise to make sure everyone succeeds.
Guiding Trade Partners
As a senior project accountant, one of Michele’s major responsibilities is coordinating billing with subcontractors. In addition to helping ensure our partners receive timely payments, Michele goes above and beyond to answer their questions and serve as a trusted resource on every project.
“We can’t operate without our trade partners,” says Michele. “It’s very important to me that our subcontractors know that we value them and that we have their back. To me, that looks like helping them whenever I can.”
Michele cites communication as a hallmark of her relationships with trade partners. A major part of keeping partners happy, she asserts, is keeping them informed on processes, challenges and delays. Whether she shares good news or bad, Michele recognizes that transparency throughout a project builds trust with our partners.
Beyond her work with our industry partners, Michele is also a mentor and guide for her teammates at Balfour Beatty. As Austin operations continue to grow, Michele takes the initiative of helping new teammates acclimate to our culture, procedures and more.
“I want everyone to feel comfortable here,” she says. “I pride myself on being someone that new team members know they can come to for questions, help and direction.”
Michele’s willingness to share her in-depth understanding of our company values and procedures makes her a leader in Austin, while her warm and inviting nature has helped cultivate a strong culture of respect and mutual care among her teammates. Local leaders know they can rely on Michele to ensure that everyone is working together toward a common goal.
“Michele is a leader in our office in every way,” says Operations Director Travis McGarraugh. “From her commitment to support our trade partners and make sure they are successful while working on our projects, to how she helps all of our team members with any questions they may have, to her welcoming smile and positive, can-do attitude with everyone she interacts with, Michele is the very essence of what makes Balfour Beatty a great place to work and do business with.”
Beyond her local teammates, Michele is also part of the national project accounting training team, which helps Balfour Beatty project accountants from coast-to-coast refine and enhance their skills. As one of the only accountants in Austin, Michele relies heavily on her counterparts across the nation to provide guidance and, in turn, she does the same for them.
Advocating for Women
In her spare time, Michele sits on the board of directors for the local Austin chapter of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). NAWIC is a volunteer-based organization that facilitates professional development, community service and mentoring programs for women in the construction industry.
The association focuses on creative networking opportunities for industry professionals as well as cultivating interest in the construction industry for the next generation. Michele is passionate about helping young women develop agency and confidence in their abilities and is a staunch advocate for women in construction and beyond.
“I’m so encouraged and motivated by the women in this industry,” she says. “I don’t ever want women to second guess their knowledge or their confidence.”
Michele embodies Balfour Beatty’s people-first culture in all she does and has the spirit of a Relentless Ally that shines through in her continuous care and inclusion of her partners, coworkers and the community.
Marketing Pro Discovers New Purpose
Summer Boron always counted herself among the lucky ones.
She discovered her passion for construction at an early age, and over the course of nearly two decades, built a name for herself as one of the industry’s top marketing professionals in the Northwest. Even more, she took great pride in the contributions Howard S. Wright, a Balfour Beatty company, made to her community. Whenever Summer happened to drive past a Howard S. Wright project, friends and family patiently awaited her predictable exclamation: “We built that!”
Challenged and creatively fulfilled, Summer couldn’t imagine another career path. That was until her mentor, retired company executive John Bullwinkel, challenged her with a question that stuck like freshly poured cement: “What’s next?”
As time passed, Summer never forgot John’s question. “Were there greater, unexplored ways I could add value?” Summer pondered as she went about business as usual in the pursuit and presentation world.
While developing a new national business acquisition and risk management process, Summer became even more intrigued by the operations side of the business. At the same time, the company’s Portland team was seeking a candidate to oversee its Special Projects Group (SPG). They didn’t have to look far. Local leadership recognized the full breadth of Summer’s potential and offered her the opportunity to step into a project executive role.
Surprise, doubt, curiosity. Summer felt a rush of emotions as she considered the prospect of running projects when her entire career had been built around winning them. But Dan Peyovich, president of the company’s Northwest operations, and Troy Dickson, senior vice president and business unit leader in Oregon, knew she had exactly what it took for success.
And so this once die-hard marketer set out to write an unconventional new chapter in her life’s story. With the unwavering support of Dan, Troy, and the Portland SPG team, Summer dove headfirst into her new role. She quickly came to understand why so many builders gravitate towards this line of work.
“I love the fast pace and constant ebb and flow of SPG projects,” praises Summer. “I come in every day with a plan, and that plan always changes. I’ve learned more in the last year-and-a-half than during my whole career!”
Today, Summer leads a team of 23 who, on average, simultaneously manage the construction of 30 projects. Having grown into a career she never in her wildest imagination dreamed of pursuing, Summer has become a role model for women in the AEC industry.
In 2018, the Daily Journal of Commerce affirmed Summer’s impact, naming her a recipient of the prestigious Women of Vision Award. The program honored 51 women shaping the Pacific Northwest built environment. Although the award was a tremendous honor, Summer cites her proudest moment as receiving a text from one of her teammates that affirmed her contributions to their team, the company, and the industry at large.
“Summer has consistently demonstrated her ability to leverage the strengths of the company and deliver on the best interests of our clients, trade partners, and the communities we serve,” comments Troy Dickson.
Summer is living proof that there is tremendous untapped potential in our industry.
Building a Lasting Legacy
When Jimmy Anderson promised his high school sweetheart that they’d remain in one place their entire lives, he had no idea that he’d pretty quickly have to renege on that pledge. In fact, Jimmy’s storybook construction career has pretty closely approximated his wife’s childhood as an Air Force brat. They’ve lived in four states and the District of Columbia and moved over ten times—all in service to Balfour Beatty and our clients. Jimmy’s 37 years with one company makes him a rare gem in the construction industry. But even more exceptional than Jimmy’s longevity is his unique style as a builder that blends old school discipline with new school dexterity.
To be fair, Jimmy made that vow when he planned to pursue an architecture major at Clemson University. The construction bug soon bit the Chester, South Carolina native, and those who’ve had the opportunity to work with Jimmy since his first days with our Mid-Atlantic estimating team can attest that his passion has never wavered. And that’s really saying something. Ronald Reagan was just beginning his first term as president when Jimmy was hired. Nearly four decades later, Jimmy hasn’t returned to a traditional office setting, but the project executive has built quite a legacy in the field and has no plans on leaving it anytime soon. From office towers and airports to prisons and higher education beacons, Jimmy’s stamp of excellence across the Southeast is as inescapable as the summer humidity in his home state.
“I was raised to place a lot of importance on loyalty,” affirms Jimmy. “I’m still here because of the people, but also because I’ve always felt like I wasn’t another number in a big corporation. Balfour Beatty has treated me very fairly, and I’ve always tried to do the same.”
In many ways, Jimmy is a construction leader of a bygone era—one who can weld or woodwork as well as any trade partner. He began building in an age without computers, creating shop drawings with a parallel bar and draftsman’s pencil. Today, Jimmy has thoroughly embraced the tools and technologies like BIM and virtual reality that have replaced this manual work. “Now, I can assemble details and documents on a computer with my eyes closed,” he brims. But Jimmy hasn’t lost the grit that fueled him as a younger builder, known for routinely putting in 14-hour days, six days a week. “Every project is personal to me,” attests Jimmy, a self-professed perfectionist when it comes to managing his projects. “It’s like my own company, or it’s my own little world,” he remarks.
Jimmy’s tackled some tough ones in his day, too, like renovating seven historic dorms for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Facing unforeseen conditions of buildings originally constructed nearly one-hundred years prior, the team couldn’t see the finish line, much less have confidence they would reach it on time. But Jimmy had enough faith for everyone combined and united the team under a simple slogan, “Believe It.” It became their rallying cry. To Jimmy’s surprise, the entire team arrived at a morning meeting sporting custom t-shirts bearing that mantra underneath his photo. Jimmy’s legendary, handlebar mustache was also prominently featured. “It broke my heart in a good way,” Jimmy reminisces. “It was a motivational thing, and heck, we got it done.” Their picture-perfect finish was a testament to the collective team’s perseverance, certainly, but also to Jimmy’s leadership that turned the tide in their favor.
“No one is more dedicated to a project’s success than Jimmy,” praises Johnny Rankin, executive vice president in Raleigh. “He always goes the extra mile to ensure every project stakeholder is successful. For a guy who has seen it all in this business, he still manages to have fun along the way!"
He’s bringing that same determination and camaraderie to his current project, a 150,000-square-foot Student Union for NC A&T State University in Greensboro, North Carolina. Although Jimmy’s career has been filled with projects of immense complexity, he doesn’t bat an eye in citing this as his most difficult, due to its multifaceted, multidimensional skin coupled with an aggressive schedule. Jimmy has played an integral role in extensive value engineering efforts on this project—the largest built to date on the A&T campus—which underwent two vigorous stages of design modifications. Among the team’s many achievements includes establishing a robust engagement program for A&T students to learn about the project, furthering their real-world knowledge of construction before entering the workforce.
It’s an initiative that goes hand-in-hand with a passion Jimmy’s developed over the last decade—mentoring his younger teammates. “It really hit me how much they learn to do things the way you show them,” reflects Jimmy. “My mom was a schoolteacher her whole life. I reckon I can finally see why she enjoyed it so much.”
Loyalty and leadership—they’re traits that never go out of style. If you look beyond Jimmy’s encyclopedic industry knowledge, beyond his ability to successfully steward a project’s financials, you’ll understand the real impact of a man who’s dedicated his life’s work to a single company in pursuit of a singular goal: excellence. Aristotle once said “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Jimmy Anderson is living proof that longevity in and of itself doesn’t create a legacy. But a man whose love for and pride in his work shine through everything he does can build a pretty inspirational one. And a man who embodies the message “we’re all in this together” in both word and deed? That’s a legacy that will stand the test of time.
Helping to Pave the Way for Future “LEEDers” in Construction
Kyle Frandsen is a born leader, and he's especially passionate about sharing his knowledge and expertise about sustainability and green construction. His interest in the field was sparked at the University of Florida where he earned his master’s degree in building construction with a sustainability concentration. He also worked for a general contractor on a campus project pursuing LEED® Platinum certification from the United States Green Building Council.
In his role as Sustainability project manager for Balfour Beatty in California, Kyle is responsible for implementing the company’s sustainability initiatives through education, direction, and example.
Beyond that, Kyle truly enjoys being counted on for guidance in anything related to this field of study because he believes our business and environmental future depends on it. That’s why when he was asked by the dean of the Construction Management Program at California Baptist University in Riverside, California to help shape the program’s curriculum and courses, he embraced it as an opportunity to help make a difference for the future leaders of tomorrow. The relationship with the university came about through our company’s work on the Lancer Plaza North Renovation project where our Balfour Beatty team is renovating a 30,000-square-foot retail strip center with student support facilities and other community and campus life facilities.
“I was honored to be asked to help mold a program for the university,” said Kyle. “It’s great when you can work in a field that is forward thinking that can have an impact on people’s lives for years to come. Being able to contribute to the actual course content and become an even stronger industry partner for one of our clients is truly a rewarding experience.”
In addition to helping form the curriculum, Kyle was asked to teach one of the courses he helped to create: “Evolving Technologies in Construction.” Kyle challenges his students to learn the latest innovations in the field and also makes sure that all students leave with something tangible — LEED Green Associate credential. All students must pass the LEED Green Associate exam in order to pass the course. Last year, 100% of Kyle’s 16 students passed with flying colors, and now they all have a leg-up in their future careers in sustainable construction.
Recently, Kyle joined an elite group of young professionals when Engineering News-Record (ENR) California named him as one of their Top 20 Under 40 winners in 2016. The publication's annual, regional competition recognizes 20 individuals under the age of 40 who represent the "Best-of-the-Best" in their construction and design careers by giving back to their industry and communities.
Kyle also practices what he preaches at home with his wife and two young children. Solar panels are installed on his roof, recycle bins are in his kitchen and garage, and he is instilling an importance of resource conservation in everything they do together as a family.
A Career on Track
A career in railroad engineering “came and got” Will Pfeffer, and ever since he’s been holding on for the amazing ride. Ten years ago, Will made the transition from a construction engineer with a desire to put up buildings to a rail engineer with a passion for laying down tracks.
“I never thought of building a career in rail,” admits Will, now a senior project manager on Balfour Beatty’s Metrolink project in Southern California. “But when a college friend who worked at Balfour Beatty told me about what the company did, I was excited about the opportunity.”
Now Will does not want to work anywhere else. As a member of Balfour Beatty’s rail team, he’s found a home in the work, the people and the clients, and he enjoys his role in providing vital transportation to the Southern California community.
Will is working on Metrolink’s on-call installation contract, which has been in place since 2009 and has fulfilled approximately 250 task orders for a variety of improvements along the rail line. He is currently helping to perform speed improvements at the Burbank junction. Will and his colleagues are delivering this project to implement the early stages of high-speed rail to California.
Will’s introduction to construction came at a young age. He visited jobsites with his father, a building inspector, and construction sites were his “playground” of choice. Before long, he was hanging drywall with his dad and learning the trade.
“I always admired and respected the work,” he says, “but I knew it was a hard, physical job. I decided to pursue a different side of the business and studied engineering in college.”
With his bachelor’s degree in construction engineering technology from California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), Will worked as a project engineer for a construction services firm and a pipeline company in California and even took his talents to the building of a church school in Tijuana, Mexico, as a project manager.
Then Balfour Beatty and a different kind of engineering job came calling.
The Allure of Rail
Will says he knew very little about rail when he started as a project engineer but found this aspect of the construction industry fascinating. Because rail is a highly specialized field, most college and university curriculums do not cover the required skills. Therefore, those with rail experience are highly valued for their abilities.
“Rail is an important part of Balfour Beatty’s business, because it’s important for our nation,” Will says.
As the pandemic and subsequent supply shortages have brought to light, our nation’s economy is reliant on rail for the delivery of goods. It’s also critical for public transportation, especially in large metropolitan areas where many essential workers rely on it.
The country needs companies with our technical expertise, and Balfour Beatty, as Will sees it, has a big advantage through the value our teams offer through self-performing civils work.
The Allure of Balfour Beatty
Because our rail team both builds and maintains rail systems with minimal subcontracting, the crews hone their expertise on every project. This applies to Will’s career, too, and he attributes that to Balfour Beatty’s people-first culture.
Through a variety of Metrolink projects, Will has grown his expertise in the many moving parts of a rail system. Over his past 10 years at Balfour Beatty, Will has worked on more than 22 different projects, including the San Clemente audible warning system, the Los Angeles 6th street signal relocation, several crossing upgrades up and down the Metrolink line, the Empire Avenue/I-5 widening project, installation of a new control point for 4th Street in Santa Ana and the Los Angeles Union Station rail yard modernization.
With every assignment, Will says, the company has provided him with a new challenge and an opportunity to grow, learn and get involved, moving his career ever forward.
Aside from his own continual professional growth, there is another reason Will is staying on the Balfour Beatty train. Will appreciates the exceptional service experience we provide our clients, and he values the process of developing those strong customer relationships. The ultimate reward? Receiving comments from our client’s representatives that they like working with Balfour Beatty because of our flexibility and positivity.
The Next Stop
Since Will’s entrée into rail in 2012, he has loved coming to work for different reasons along the journey. In the beginning, it was the enjoyment of learning highly technical systems and becoming an expert on the rail systems we build.
Now, it’s being part of those “ah ha” moments for others who are joining him in the field. “I love seeing the hunger in other people for learning and growing,” he acknowledges. That’s why, after going back to Cal Poly to earn an MBA in 2020, he became a teacher himself. Will has been an adjunct professor at his alma mater during the past year, teaching construction management courses in the civil engineering program.
Will’s favorite professors were full-time industry professionals. So, after serving as a coach for several Cal Poly competitive construction teams, Will observed how becoming a teacher offers yet another way to be a Relentless Ally for Balfour Beatty and the rail industry.
Will often sees himself in the students in his classroom, as well as the young engineers joining the Metrolink team. He relishes sharing his experiences—both successes and lessons learned—to give them a better understanding of the working world.
As a young father, Will knows the importance of inspiring the next generation. By keeping an open mind when unconventional opportunities come their way, they might not only change the course of their lives but also truly enjoy the ride.
Putting the Quality in Quality Control
As someone who grew up working with his father and uncle on different build and repair jobs, Balfour Beatty Quality Assurance/Quality Control Director Terry Marsh always enjoyed working with his hands. Given his natural abilities, construction may have seemed an obvious career path, but in his earlier years, Terry was more interested in becoming a pilot.
Fresh out of high school and only a mere 17-years-old, Terry was eager to launch his career. As part of his job search, Terry took a leap and responded to an ad for an electrical superintendent position. The only catch was, at such a young age, he didn’t have any of the necessary background for it. Little did Terry know at the time, taking that small leap would set him up for a successful 30-year career in the construction industry.
When asked why he applied to a role for which he didn't initially meet the qualifications, Terry explained that he wanted to learn the trade and simply needed the right opportunity to get his foot in the door. From there, the leap didn't seem so far off. "The owner apparently liked my drive and hired me immediately," recalls Terry.
Terry was a natural fit for the construction industry, easily surpassing most of his peers and quickly obtaining his master's electrician license. After Terry worked alongside Balfour Beatty on several projects, our team quickly recognized his potential and offered Terry a full-time position in 1991. It was a move that established the foundation for Terry’s career as a highly esteemed quality control expert.
Working with teams in Nashville, Tennessee and later, Dallas, Terry quickly rose through the ranks and honed his craft in quality control. Praised by teammates for his attention to detail, drive for excellence and unrivaled knowledge of building systems, Terry has built a reputation for significantly improving the quality of every project he touches.
In his role, Terry provides critical recommendations to improve processes and mitigate risks or adverse trends that have the potential to impact the successful delivery of best-in-class projects. Through consistent and accurate execution of quality control procedures including reviewing installations and assisting teams in improving their execution of installations and systems, Terry is a consummate Relentless Ally for our people, partners and projects.
Providing the foundation of a successful and safe project, effective quality control programs can mitigate the likelihood of costly rework and associated schedule delays, promote greater collaboration between trade partners and resolve design challenges that arise as projects progress. Balfour Beatty’s quality control plans are founded on delivering the owner’s vision and goals and empowering trade partners to execute quality work in rewarding team environments.
“My goal is to help our project teams succeed through consistent and accurate execution of quality control procedures," says Terry. "Safety, quality and schedule are the foundation of a successful project. When I step on a project where it is evident that everyone cares about safety, it is always well-organized and clean. It is obvious at that point that everyone there is proud of what they do, they enjoy their work and they place a high degree of importance on getting things right."
Preferring to keep his boots on the ground, Terry makes it a priority to visit as many jobsites as he can. And although he might seem like more of a behind-the-scenes operator, over the last 30 years of working with our business, Terry has played an integral role in hundreds of projects across the Southeast and Texas.
Terry’s influence far transcends the projects on which he has directly worked. When Balfour Beatty launched a new national Quality Control program in the early 2000s, Terry was a key contributor to the initiative. He also had a hand in our most recent development of an Integrated Quality Control plan launched in 2020, an innovative approach to quality control that incorporates project stakeholders’ expectations into our jobsite specific plans. Before construction begins, project teams obtain input from trade partners, owners and designers to build a plan that holistically incorporates every concern and expectation. This process builds on itself in bitesize pieces throughout the project lifecycle instead of creating a partially complete quality control plan at the beginning when pressure is high to complete design and begin construction.
On a more personal level, Terry is known by his peers for being a natural teacher and mentor. Willing and able to make his technical expertise easily understandable for a wide range of skill levels, Terry’s extensive knowledge and research often helps teams discover and implement innovative solutions before they become problems.
"What struck me most the very first time I met Terry, that still rings true today, is his ability to share knowledge with others without being overbearing while doing it," says Titus Rodriguez, senior project manager for Balfour Beatty. "In my 20 years with the company, Terry has never failed to provide assistance when called upon, which is an invaluable asset to his teammates."
That trust isn’t just one-sided.
“Three decades is a long time to spend with one company,” says Terry. “But the people and the relationships I’ve built over the last 30 years have truly been the best part about working at Balfour Beatty. I trust my teammates and our leadership to always make the right decisions based on what is best for the business to thrive.”
After successfully celebrating 30 years with Balfour Beatty, it’s hard to believe that Terry could have ever ended up in any career other than construction and quality control. But much like the pilot he once yearned to be, he has used his knowledge, training and natural skills to help our project teams soar to new heights at every opportunity.
Setting the Bar with Intentional Leadership
The sound of project executive, Taylor Bredow, walking the halls of jobsites across the Carolinas is one that those who work with him know well. His heels hit heavy with intention and purpose as he leads the Carolinas Special Projects Group—counting every square foot he’s built along the way.
But Taylor’s intentional leadership and integral role within Balfour Beatty’s Special Projects Group stems from more than the critical eye he’s utilized to track and manage upwards of 1,350,000 square feet of construction. Taylor’s dedication to his craft is founded upon the principles of providing Balfour Beatty’s clients with an individualized approach and demonstrating servant leadership—within Balfour Beatty and the communities in which we live and build.
From bustling financial businesses to the architectural offices of the RedLine Design Group or the marble lobby floors of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel, Taylor has been a trailblazer throughout his career. With over a decade of tenure in the business, he’s contributed to a variety of projects that require highly specialized approaches and custom project solutions from design to preconstruction and final close-out.
While the market sectors Taylor oversees may be diverse, one characteristic is common: clients often depend on Balfour Beatty to deliver projects on accelerated schedules, thereby ensuring minimal disruption to their operations, employees and customers. To meet his clients’ unique needs, Taylor seeks to gain an in-depth understanding of their project and business priorities which empowers him to make timely yet well-informed decisions on critical issues such as material selection—an increasingly complex issue in a time of unprecedented inflationary pressures and supply chain disruption.
“Working with the Special Projects Group is unique, because every day on every project is always different,” explains Taylor. “We work on tight timelines, and our roles often require us to quickly shift direction and evaluate our time and priorities on each project. Our teams are typically much smaller than those working on larger projects and therefore demand that we wear many hats outside of what our technical roles may traditionally encompass.”
In recent years, Taylor’s unique skillset has been instrumental in helping establish Balfour Beatty as a premier legal upfit builder. His precision has helped our team ‘set the bar’ for operational excellence in this market and contributed to significant project wins and deliveries including the new, award-winning Parker Poe Charlotte Headquarters and the recently completed Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft law offices in Charlotte, North Carolina. Through strategic guidance on material selection and collaboration with design partners, Taylor has helped bring an aura of sophistication and inviting ambiances to law offices across the Carolinas.
However, what makes Taylor an intentional leader is more than the technical skillsets he brings to the table; Taylor also provides his teams with valuable mentorship as they build their careers in construction.
“Taylor is inclusive by nature and is always willing to teach anyone about the industry,” adds Michael Smith, Balfour Beatty assistant project manager. “He involves anyone interested, even if it is just to observe. He has helped me understand the importance of being a strong leader within the company and on the jobsite.”
And his dedication to the industry extends beyond his teams and jobsites. As a valued member of the ACE (architecture, construction and engineering) Mentor program for nearly a decade, Taylor also understands the importance of volunteering with local programs like ACE to help develop the future generation of builders and introduce students at a young age to the exciting careers in construction.
For six years, Taylor served as the lead mentor for ACE at East Mecklenburg High School, part of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools system. Because of his dedication to service, the ACE Board of Directors named Taylor their 2017 Mentor of the Year, and in 2020, appointed him to the Charlotte ACE Board of Directors, where he now thrives as their valued program treasurer.
Those who know Taylor and have the pleasure of working with him will say that they look to him primarily because of his deep understanding of his personal strengths, areas for growth and motivations. Never one to shy away from self-reflection, Taylor is on a mission to hone his operational and leadership skills by modeling best practices he learned from the leaders at Balfour Beatty who came before him.
“Very early in his career, it was apparent to those who crossed Taylor’s path that he was driven to learn the business and build authentic and lasting relationships with his peers in the industry,” says Hunt Werner, Balfour Beatty operations director and an early mentor in Taylor’s career. “Taylor’s passion for perfection, eye for design, genuine guidance and intentional actions have made him the outstanding leader he is today.”
A rising young leader, Taylor is building up much more than just an impressive list of projects that encompass upwards of 1,350,000 square feet of best-in-class spaces; he’s developing, earning and refining a legacy that will ensure the success of his projects and teams for decades to come.
Going the Extra Mile
A champion for his clients and a leader to his team, Senior Project Manager Shane Connolly consistently delivers operational and service excellence with passion and drive no matter the situation.
To understand where Shane’s passion originated, you need first rewind to a small town in western New York state. The son of a contractor, Shane’s appreciation for quality construction began while watching his father execute work with a dedication to excellence. Following in the footsteps set before him, Shane donned his first hard hat at an early age and found that it was just the right fit.
Specializing in interiors construction, Shane works in Balfour Beatty’s Charlotte, North Carolina Special Projects Group–a dedicated team of fast-track delivery specialists who execute projects of all scopes and sizes. From high-end interiors to hospitality establishments, Shane’s portfolio of work is as diverse as they come, but one quality is a mainstay: service excellence.
Shane’s most challenging project to date, the Ballantyne Theater Conversion, is one that has influenced the way he tackles projects to this day. The interior demolition of a 55,000-square-foot, five-theater movie plex into corporate office space involved unique scopes of work and endless opportunities for the team to leverage new tools such as harnessing the power of robotics to demolish the existing theater seating. Under Shane’s leadership, the team eagerly leaned into new challenges and demonstrated how Balfour Beatty delivers industry-leading quality and value for our clients and partners.
Due to the novel challenges posed by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Ballantyne Theater Conversion project required the team to identify and implement innovative solutions to material lead time delays and labor shortages.
To overcome these difficulties, Shane and his teammates remained agile, adapting to ever-changing market conditions and ultimately delivering the project on time, within budget, and most importantly, to the owner’s delight.
The Ballantyne Theater’s owner, Daniel Amodio, praised, “Our entire team was very satisfied with Balfour Beatty and the work they performed on our behalf at Ballantyne Village. Not only did they understand the complexities and execute our vision for the property, but they also effectively managed the project during a time of global uncertainty, adapting to the new environment without losing a step.”
Shane is always willing to go the extra mile to ensure a successful project delivery – or 500! When his South Carolina lakefront restaurant project, Drift, experienced a large steel delay, which could have ultimately delayed its completion by several months, Shane quickly identified a solution that unexpectedly found him on the long road home.
Although a steel manufacturer in New York was able to supply the needed materials, due to widespread shipping delays, an in-person pick-up was the only option to keep the project on schedule. Nineteen hours after loading up his truck and trailer, Shane delivered the steel to the jobsite, demonstrating once again the difference between a good and great builder.
“In the professional world, it can be such a rarity to work under a leader like Shane who is so even-tempered, knowledgeable and who consistently guides with excellence by example,” says Megan Pearson, senior project engineer, who works under Shane’s direction with Balfour Beatty. “If Shane asks me to jump, I ask, ‘How high?’ without hesitation, because I know there is nothing he asks me to do for the team or clients that he wouldn’t do himself.”
From tackling unique scopes of work to overcoming material delays and shortages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Shane continuously proves himself as a dedicated partner to his clients and mentor to a future of builders who are willing to go the extra mile.
Make Every Moment Count
Safety, Health and Environment Director Ryan Little recalls a life-changing conversation that forever impacted his approach to Zero Harm
Do you remember where you were around noon on Saturday April 28, 2007? Were you eating lunch, playing golf or maybe enjoying an afternoon in the park with your children? That day may be a distant memory for most, but fourteen years later, I can still recall every detail because it fundamentally changed me as a safety professional. It changed me as a person. And it reinforced my view of our responsibility to ensure safety is within everyone’s reach – on every task, every day, on every jobsite.
At the time, I was working for another major general contractor on a high-rise project in Miami, Florida. Before I joined the team, the project had already gone wrong in almost every way a project can. Significant and ongoing staffing turnover led to poor management, catastrophic schedule delays and communication breakdowns such as the mass overstocking of drywall. With a booming local economy, second-tier trades were pressed to meet aggressive production targets on advanced scopes. We even dismantled the first tower crane as a hurricane was approaching. This project had nearly every risk factor for a serious safety incident.
But we never expected that on April 28, someone would lose their life on our jobsite. A 26-year-old young man from Nicaragua fell 90 feet to his death while moving some of the building’s extra drywall onto an outrigger. This tragedy was entirely preventable—the result of a series of unsafe choices, an acceptance of unnecessary risk and a toxic ‘rip and react’ project culture that failed to address either dangerous dynamic.
But before I explain the technical circumstances that led to this young man’s death, I’d like to set the stage for the challenges our workforce faces and why I immediately recognized that I could have done more to ensure safety was within his reach.
This young man was being paid $.25 cents for each board of 70-pound drywall he moved. It was physically demanding, repetitive and production-driven work. Every night, he went home to a one-room extended stay motel that he shared with six brothers and sisters.
When I was notified about the fatality, I remembered riding up an elevator with that young man earlier the same day. As I went through a roller coaster of emotions, I replayed every moment of the interaction in my mind. After a quick PPE check, I asked him to put on his eye protection in my best Spanish. With a smile and a nod, he did just as I’d asked. But I didn’t check for his orientation sticker or verify what task he was working on. I didn’t engage him in a personal conversation. By not maximizing that moment, I felt I had failed him.
When I spoke to his mother just a few hours later, that missed opportunity flashed before my eyes. She asked me a haunting question no parent should ever have to ask and no safety professional ever wants to answer: “Why did you let my son die on your jobsite?”
I could have told her that the outrigger subcontractor had gone to lunch, leaving the system unmonitored. I could have told her that his crew grabbed some unattended harnesses they hadn’t been trained to use and loaded boards onto an outrigger they weren’t authorized to work on. Or that they’d removed their retractables, so when the load on the outrigger shifted, they had no adequate fall restraint measures in place. But none of those responses would have brought her any comfort, and none would have brought her son back. They didn’t bring me any comfort either.
We owe the people who work on our projects more than leaving their lives to luck or chance, but far too often in this industry, we believe we are safe when we just got lucky. Or, we assume that people will make safe choices because we think they seem like common sense. But that’s not always the case. Yes, these young men made misguided and unsafe choices, but their only motive was to get a job done to provide for their families. No one sets out on any given workday with the intent of getting hurt.
This tragedy reminded me that safety isn’t about a sign or a rule. Rules are important and help save countless lives on jobsites every day, but those measures don’t work in isolation.
Safety must be an authentic value we live and operate by every single day. To make safety within everyone’s reach, we must engage in personal conversations with our trade partners and take the time to examine our work through the eyes of the people performing it. By forming meaningful, authentic relationships, we can empower people to make safety, quality and production so deeply ingrained into their everyday operations that it’s as routine as putting on a seatbelt. They also need to understand it’s their right and responsibility to speak up if they see something unsafe.
At its core, safety is rooted in trust—trust our workforce places in us to create safe jobsites, trust they place in one another to make safe choices and trust that everyone operates with one another’s best interests at heart.
In the wake of any safety incident, there are always difficult questions to answer. Some questions, like the one the young man’s mother posed to me, can’t be answered because there are no do-overs. To honor his memory, challenge yourself today to honestly evaluate whether you embody the leadership, courage and commitment to make safety within everyone’s reach on your team, jobsite or office environment.
Don’t let a single ‘elevator moment’ pass you by.
Architect by trade, Rudy spent the first 20 years of his career in architectural and engineering design followed by five years in construction administration. When working on the Lincoln High School Renovation, he was invited to join D.E. Barnhart, Inc. (General Contractor of the project) in 2008, teaming up with a group of enthusiastic construction and design experts to form what later became the VDC/BIM Department in the Barnhart San Diego Headquarters (eventually acquired by Balfour Beatty).
This team has evolved significantly since its beginnings; very talented professionals have joined the ranks and Rudy has mentored most of them, proudly winning an International BIM Award in 2015 for the “Best BIM Application in Education” category, sponsored by buildingSMART. The following year, the team brought back another award in a different BIM category from the same organizers.
As an award-winning BIM expert, Rudy travels whenever possible to continue learning and educating others about advancements in construction technology. Currently, as senior BIM manager on the LAX Automated People Mover (APM), Rudy leads the Virtual Design and Construction effort of the five APM stations and the Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF).
Though his love for art and building design remains, the satisfaction of watching a building go all the way to completion led him to his first job in construction administration, in Palm Springs, CA and later, in San Diego, CA where he found more opportunities, including the chance to join the Balfour Beatty family.
When he joined Balfour Beatty in 2008, Rudy was one of few professionals in the industry with expertise using BIM, which landed him the opportunity to assemble the BIM team in the San Diego office.
“Twelve years ago, there was virtually no one with expertise in BIM in the AEC industry,” Rudy explains. “The constant evolution of technology is pushing companies to be more aware of the trend and its value in construction.”
A passionate leader and BIM expert, Rudy dedicates his time practicing and advancing his craft, mentoring his team and staying abreast of new developments in construction technology.
Rudy’s commitment to his Mexican heritage is another contribution that doesn’t go unnoticed at Balfour Beatty.
As a Mexican native, Rudy’s language of origin is Spanish, and he generously assists the Balfour Beatty communications team with Spanish translations for a number of construction-related communications.
One of the main subjects for translation is Zero Harm communications, to ensure that everyone is always safe on all Balfour Beatty projects. Rudy regularly volunteers to ensure our Zero Harm messages are clearly communicated and comprehended by Spanish-speaking staff.
“To me safety is extremely important,” Rudy explains. “I've lost coworkers due to unsafe working conditions and I find it important that people understand how a safe practice on the jobsite can save lives.”
Rudy attributes his work ethic and willingness to go above and beyond to his Hispanic roots and values.
“I came to this country in 1986, and like many others, I came looking for better opportunities in life,” Rudy proudly explains. “I am grateful for the values of hard work and integrity my heritage instilled in me.”
And Balfour Beatty is grateful to Rudy for going above and beyond to serve our clients and ensure the safety of all Balfour Beatty teammates and partners.
Ronnie Hall, Jr.
Building a Stronger Savannah
There’s an old saying: you can’t go home again, meaning that even if you try to return to a place from your past, it won’t be the same as when you left it. Ronnie Hall has never moved from his hometown of Savannah, Georgia, yet that old saying still rings true due to the massive amount of change Ronnie has seen in the city throughout his life.
Today, he uses his 20 years of local construction experience and first-hand knowledge of the town that built him to build a stronger, safer, and sustainable Savannah. As the local market leader for Balfour Beatty’s recently established Savannah office, Ronnie is keeping trade partnerships local, assembling a diverse team of talented builders, and positioning our team as a key player in the growth of his hometown.
Breaking into Savannah
Amid Savannah’s population and economic growth, Ronnie has been instrumental in establishing Balfour Beatty as a trusted community partner and general contractor of choice that is prepared to meet every size and scope of Savannah’s building needs.
Despite the exciting growth it has experienced over the last several years, the city still operates with the familiarity and camaraderie of a small town. Project owners prioritize strong relationships built on mutual trust, and historically, smaller and mid-size contractors have maintained a more significant presence in the area. Due to Savannah’s close-knit community, contractors that have attempted to enter the market from different geographies have experienced difficulty.
Ronnie is determined to help Balfour Beatty break that pattern. By taking a highly localized approach and establishing collaborative relationships with Savannah-based trade partners, Ronnie looks to weave the company into the fabric of the community.
“I’m very deliberate about partnering with the local businesses that drive our community and economy,” Ronnie says. “It starts with a relationship. Our trade partners want to interact with our team members personally, so we put a lot of effort into developing those relationships.”
During the Thompson Savannah Hotel project, Ronnie (then the senior project manager on the job) discovered that the concrete and drywall trades had not previously worked on a project of similar magnitude. Rather than outsourcing the work to non-local trades, Ronnie made the conscious choice to go the extra mile and mentor these valued partners to make the project a learning experience for all.
“We worked to identify any growth points on their side and ours and made sure we addressed them thoroughly. We maintained continuous lines of communication to ensure we delivered the highest quality work for our client,” Ronnie says.
As a testament to their success, the concrete trade partner completed their scope three weeks ahead of schedule, and the drywall partner consistently met or exceeded deadlines. Ultimately, the team completed the project on schedule, and the experience set a precedent of the return on investment for this level of collaboration.
Moving forward, Balfour Beatty plans to continue investing in the local trade community. “We’ve set a goal of making sure the smaller, local partners are growing,” Ronnie says. “We want to help give them the chance to take their business to the next level while also growing ours.”
Developing these strong local trade relationships requires investment, and Ronnie is committed to showing the construction industry the numerous benefits of these partnerships. He’s never shied away from putting in the extra time and work to facilitate growth.
A Lineage of Hard Work
From the time he was born, Ronnie was surrounded by numerous examples of how a strong work ethic can make all the difference. Growing up, he and his siblings watched their father work 16-hour days and still make it to their peewee football and baseball games on the weekend. His grandparents and great-grandparents were farmers, spending their whole lives tilling and harvesting crops from the rich Georgia soil.
By the time he reached high school and began working for his uncle’s general contracting business, Ronnie had discovered his professional calling which just so happened to continue his family’s legacy of working the land: construction.
Today, Ronnie takes inspiration from his deep Georgia roots to pave the way at Balfour Beatty’s Savannah office. Easy Street is nowhere on his route; Ronnie is committed to providing exceptional work while ensuring he does what’s best for Balfour Beatty and local businesses.
As Ronnie helps expand Balfour Beatty’s Savannah operations, he emphasizes the need to ensure that his teammates come from diverse backgrounds and share the company’s vision and values. Because the team’s footprint spans multiple market sectors from education to hospitality, healthcare, housing, special projects, and more, Ronnie has strategically assembled a team that possesses a variety of skill sets and perspectives to provide industry-leading project solutions that effectively deliver our clients’ unique visions. Furthermore, Ronnie works to create a culture of inclusion in which all members of the team can voice their opinions openly and honestly.
“When I was growing up in the industry, the culture was more focused on ‘hard’ or technical skills. Now, we recognize the need to ensure our teammates have effective ‘soft skills’—especially the ability to build relationships,” Ronnie says. “We’ve been very deliberate about hiring the right talent. We’ve brought together a group of very talented individuals who are excited to be involved in our growth, passionate about providing excellent service to our clients, and adept at building relationships with our industry partners.”
With this personal approach to developing his team, Ronnie hopes to make his staff feel safe and supported—but that mindset doesn’t stop at the office doors. By engaging in conversations about the future of Savannah and volunteering with key community organizations, Ronnie demonstrates a dedication to people that extends beyond the projects Balfour Beatty builds.
Strengthening the Community — Today and Tomorrow
As more major companies recognize the appeal of Savannah, Ronnie has been instrumental in helping community leaders anticipate the building needs of a growing city. With an influx of new residents comes the need for new schools, more housing options, additional corporate office space and so much more. Balfour Beatty has the experience and expertise to fulfill these needs, and Ronnie and his team are excited to be involved in the growth of the community.
Amid conversations about the future of Savannah, Ronnie is also involved in several organizations making an impact on current residents. Through work with the Home Builders Institute, Ronnie assists with a specialized trades training program for transitioning military personnel returning to civilian life. He fundraises to make wishes come through for children facing critical illnesses through Make-A-Wish® Georgia. He volunteers with Heads-Up Guidance Services, an organization that provides behavioral health counseling to under-served populations. Ronnie’s passion for making Savannah a better place for all its residents makes him a true relentless ally for his community.
That old saying may be true—maybe you really can’t go home again. Change is the only constant in life, after all. But Ronnie is living proof that growth through change doesn’t just benefit the individual, but the whole community. And that home, even if it looks different than it used to, is really where the heart is after all.