Our people bring the passion, drive and ingenuity to make great things happen for our clients, communities and industry.
Meet Our Relentless Allies
Safety Bob: The Capacity to Lead and Character to Inspire
You don’t get a nickname like “Safety Bob” overnight.
Maybe it was born out of the way people perplexedly linger on that first syllable of his last name, waiting expectantly for Bob to finish it. “Mrrr… Mrrr…”
“MER*JEEN*O*VITCH,” he’s learned to sound out before another tongue-tied iteration. But perhaps the alias stems just as much from Bob’s unique-if-hard-to-pronounce surname as his reputation for honesty, fairness and humility – traits that make our trade partners trust him and his colleagues love him.
When Bob started out in the construction industry, the nineteen-year-old high school sports standout was certain he’d bucked his familial destiny. Beginning as a laborer and going on to become a licensed carpenter, the Wisconsin native was seemingly as far away from the teaching profession as the sun is from Green Bay’s Lambeau Field on a frigid January day.
But Bob, who never lost his passion for athletics or the camaraderie that comes from participating in them, would take on yet another title beginning with the letter c. Carpenter by day, coach by night, Bob was – unbeknownst to him at the time – laying the foundation for a career in construction safety.
But it would become so much more than a career. While working as the director of maintenance at a Wisconsin college, Bob witnessed two accidents as alarming as they were avoidable. “I realized safety was my calling,” Bob recollects of this life-changing moment. The principles that guided Bob both as a player and coach to countless victories would go on to influence his philosophies about safety.
“To achieve Zero Harm, you need inspirational leadership,” asserts Bob. “That means I have to walk the talk. When I give subs my word on something, I have to follow through.” Beyond personal accountability, Bob is a staunch believer in handling safety infractions in a constructive manner. “I never want to be a disciplinarian or take someone off a job for one mistake. I always ask myself the question, ‘how can I develop this worker to make him or her an asset to the team?’ ”
Seeing potential in everyone? Transforming setbacks into stepping stones? Spoken like a man born to teach.
Bob officially became a Relentless Ally when he joined Balfour Beatty in 2015 after working for our MWBE partner on the Tarleton State University student housing project. But in many ways, he’s been a Relentless Ally his entire career, impacting hundreds of impressionable tradesmen and teenagers alike.
Bob, who knows better than most that one star a winning team does not make (unless you’re talking Aaron Rodgers, of course), is quick to credit his mentor, Hank Mouser, and the entire Texas safety department for bringing him into the fold. “This is the most interesting job I’ve ever had,” praises Bob. “More than any other company I know, Balfour Beatty employees are believers in the team concept. I just enjoy putting in a good, hard day’s work.”
Today, Bob has unofficially retired from coaching – or at least that’s what you’ll hear in Dallas’ youth sports circles. But even though Bob has stepped away from the playing fields and the fanfare of cheering stadiums, choosing instead to spend much of his free time with his wife and his Harley on the open road, his competitive fire still burns brightly.
It can be observed when he exchanges a gloved handshake with a foreman or gently pulls aside an ironworker who has forgotten her glasses. It can be felt when he facilitates OSHA 10/30 hour classes. It can be heard when he testifies about distracted driving.
Carpenter, coach, champion. Does Safety Bob encompass them all?
Florida Operations Announce Relentless Ally Award Winners
Congratulations to Florida office's 1st annual culture champions and Relentless Ally winners. Derived from the company’s culture statement, the award categories were Zero Harm, Client Experience and People First. The winners were announced at the Florida Managers Meeting this month, and the ceremony was a popular success! The Florida leadership team discussed the categories and decided the nominations. Nominees were anonymously submitted and chosen through supportive evidence, in-depth discussion and outside recommendations.
The Zero Harm award recognizes a team that is striving for complete safety on the job to help Balfour Beatty lead the industry in safety. The winner was objectively chosen by pulling the safety statistics from every active project. What the statistics don’t say is how the team has changed their client’s safety culture to reflect Balfour Beatty’s perspective on the importance of Zero Harm. Congratulations to Jacksonville Regional Transportation Center team on winning the Zero Harm Relentless Ally award. This team exemplifies the idea Make it Count; on the jobsite, you will see safety best practices to little things often overlooked. Way to go JRTC!
The Client Experience award recognizes a team that went above and beyond in their delivery to the client. The winning team overcame extreme obstacles and challenges to deliver the building early (35 days!); the early and in-budget project led to the client selecting Balfour Beatty for their next project. Congratulations to the SeaWorld Sesame Street team on winning the Client Experience Relentless Ally award. This team prioritized the client by delivering our services while forming a powerful and lasting connection. Great Job SeaWorld team!
The People First award recognizes an employee who is truly a relentless ally internally, externally, personally and professionally. This individual is motivated to create an environment where Balfour Beatty is hands-down the best place to work. Congratulations to Jason Sizemore on winning the People First Relentless Ally award. Jason has a close relationship with his large team and focuses on developing them personally and professionally. He naturally connects with people on a personal level and is well-respected for that and many other reasons. Thank you, Jason, for truly putting your team members and clients first!
A Formula for Success
Nature versus nurture. It’s one of the most hotly contested topics within the field of psychology.
As the son of a civil engineer and interior designer who went on to build an impressive career in construction, Amar Vel might help scholars settle the debate.
Amar, whose family owned their own construction firm in Chennai, India, knew from a young age that he wanted to follow in his parents’ footsteps. When he was just 17, Amar came to the United States to study civil engineering at the University of Connecticut. With a prodigious talent for mathematics, Amar excelled at his coursework.
During an internship with the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT), Amar helped analyze the Metro-North rail line that crosses over approximately 150 historic bridges between New Haven Station and Grand Central Station. As he identified needed bridge repairs, Amar found himself dreaming instead about performing them. “I realized I enjoyed physically building something,” recalls Amar.
Upon graduation, Amar could have easily returned to India to work in his family’s business. But Amar wanted to write his own formula for success. The equation was simple: courage + opportunity = fulfillment of the American dream. “I wanted to stand on my own and build a name for myself in this country,” acknowledges Amar.
Preconstruction was a natural fit for the self-professed numbers guy who soon found his niche in high-rise, multi-unit construction, and most recently in the hospitality sector. But Amar didn’t just thrive on providing air-tight estimates; he enjoyed the relationships he forged with design, trade and engineering partners.
“If you can guide an owner or designer to make the most cost-effective decisions earlier during the preconstruction phase, you can start a project much more quickly than the traditional design-bid-build approach,” affirms Amar. The adage “time is money” rings true for all markets in construction, but perhaps none more so than multifamily—making Amar’s expertise even more valuable.
Amar joined Balfour Beatty in 2011 when the company’s Atlanta team was resuming construction on Buckhead Atlanta, a megaproject that stalled during the Great Recession. Amar was instrumental in helping reach a guaranteed maximum price (GMP), which set the successful restart in motion.
In his role as vice president, preconstruction, Amar has taken countless projects from mere napkin sketches to become recognized Atlanta landmarks like Icon Midtown. In fact, Amar is so fond of this brainstorming stage that he often keeps the first mock-ups as souvenirs. For Icon Midtown, it all started with a simple rectangle box from which Amar helped determine how to maximize the owner’s pro forma.
Amar is as passionate about hitting the numbers as he is about achieving them in an innovative way. Recently, Amar played an instrumental role in driving preconstruction efforts on the Osprey, Balfour Beatty’s first project with off-site manufacturing firm Prescient. He performed six different density studies, ultimately developing a model that met each stakeholder’s distinct needs including the desired building skin and variety of floor plans. The result was a 13-story Prescient tower located adjacent to a precast parking deck and two five-story, wood-frame buildings.
Recognizing the density limitations of wood-frame structures and their long construction schedules, Amar believes off-site is the future of multifamily housing construction. “Owners are not always going to build 30 or 40-story towers, and labor isn’t coming back overnight. Structural prefabrication can achieve that middle ground with less on-site resources,” says Amar.
But Amar is quick to caution that innovative projects such as the Osprey must be planned and executed as a cohesive team. “You can’t think, ‘I’m an owner, I’m a trade partner.’ You have to think I am part of a team trying to achieve a common goal.”
As Amar seeks out new and innovative ways to serve Balfour Beatty’s clients, he will continue to cement the legacy he set out to build as a young man. Amar’s family may have influenced his destiny as a second-generation builder, but it’s also his unique talents and entrepreneurial spirit that have helped him excel—thousands of miles away from where he first became fascinated by an industry that impacts the whole world, one building, one home at a time.
Building from the Heart
“Iris is a joy to work with; she is one of the most caring individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. Iris is caring in the sense of delivering a quality product to the client every time. Caring in the sense of respect for every individual on the project and gaining their trust by delivering on every promise she makes. Her positive attitude and nature are contagious on the job site, as well as to her team.”
Karl Joeris, Vice President
Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport Terminal Renewal & Improvement Program
Iris Canary, an assistant superintendent on the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFWIA) Terminal Renewal and Improvement Program, is part of the team currently working on the 400,000-square-foot renovation of Terminal A Phase III. This project is a significant interior remodel, as well as a replacement of all back of house systems. “The job site is vast, we easily walk eight to 10 miles a day,” stated Iris.
As assistant superintendent, Iris says one of her favorite things about her job is interacting with people, collaborating with the team and solving problems. Iris wants to ensure project success by building trust and open communication with owners and trade partners, so at the end of the day, we deliver on their dream, their vision.
To carry out a build of this magnitude required a strong team with a singular focus on the project success. The team uses Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) principles, where DFWIA and end-users, construction teams, design teams, consultants and subcontractors are on a collocated job site. Iris is proud of the fact that this collocation cultivated mutual respect, humility, and the readiness to listen, contribute, and collaborate as a team for the betterment of the project. “Each stakeholder provided their collective expertise and held each other accountable to optimize results. This philosophy allowed all stakeholders to come to the table early and, using their expertise, identify conflicts and provide solutions with an equal voice. The result of using this intensive collaboration was improved quality and efficiency and reduced project cost,” shared Iris.
Iris believes it’s easy to love what you do when you love the people on your team. “You do what you have to do to get the job done; you are never off the clock,” she says. “I have great pride in being able to say my hands are on that, my fingerprints are on that, so it must always represent the best I have to offer, the best the team has to offer,” shared Iris.
Part of working with a great team is ensuring everybody on the job site is safe. Iris said, “You have to keep your team safe first and foremost, making sure everyone goes home at the end of the day, every person, whether they are sweeping the floor, floating drywall or hanging pipe—they are family, and you want to protect your family.”
She first got into the construction business simply by association. Her late husband, Jeff Canary was a superintendent in the industry for 27 years. To honor him, she runs half-marathons in support for organizations that help people stay well and get well, find cures, and fight back against cancer.
Iris Canary builds from the heart, striving daily to deliver on dreams in the communities in which we live and work
Building Connections and Trust
“There is only an upside to being open and honest. If not, you are asking people to trust you when they don’t know what you’re doing. We allow our clients and design teams to look behind the curtain.”
Chad Brewer is a born builder. His dad has worked in construction his entire career, so Chad grew up on jobsites, and construction is all he’s ever wanted to do. When he graduated from college, he turned to his dad for recommendations on good companies. Lucky for us, Balfour Beatty was on that list. Chad started with us as a project engineer in 1998, and he has worked his way up the ranks to operations director for the Fort Worth office, but he has never forgotten his first projects, and the lessons he learned.
On Chad’s first project, the client believed all contractors worked in their own best interest and didn’t care about the needs of the client. This lack of trust made the project challenging. Chad’s next project was the exact opposite. The owner, design team and the Balfour Beatty project team worked very closely together. The project was fast tracked and demanding, but everyone liked and respected each other. So even though the team worked hard, the project went smoothly, and everyone had a lot of fun.
“The fact that these two projects happened back to back, and the experiences were so extremely different, really impressed on me the importance of connecting and building trust,” says Chad. “I’ve spent the rest of my career trying to prevent that first project from ever happening again, and trying to recreate the second project.”
Chad originally worked in our Dallas office, but he lives in Fort Worth. When we decided to increase services to our Fort Worth clients, Chad jumped at the chance to join the team. His first assignment was the 185,000-square-foot, North Richland Hills Municipal Complex. There was only one hitch, the client was frustrated. On Chad’s first day in Fort Worth, he headed to the North Richland Hill’s police headquarters to meet Chief of Police, Jimmy Perdue.
“I don’t have any sales techniques when I meet with a client. All I can do is listen and give the best recommendations I can give,” says Chad.
Chad discovered Balfour Beatty was expanding so fast in Fort Worth, Chief Purdue was worried we might be too busy for his project. “In 2014, we broke into the ranks as one of the top three contractors in Fort Worth, and our office was hopping,” states Chad. “The municipal complex project was kicking off, and Chief Perdue needed to know that his project was important to us.”
Chad included Chief Perdue and the design team in all post bid meetings so they could join in the discussions with the subcontractors. Chad stresses the significance of this approach. “I think it’s important for the owner and design team to the see the level of detail we go through. They need to see us discussing logistics, planning, scope and price,” says Chad.
Chief Perdue has enjoyed working alongside Chad. “Throughout our project, Chad has done an excellent job of listening to our needs and wants. This allowed time for us to examine different options,” says Chief Perdue. “During this process, he provided input on our ideas and identified cost and overall project impacts. Rather than direct, he guided, allowing us to reach our decision.”
Chad’s rules for connecting with others are simple, but impactful:
Be honest and open
Show trust and respect
Do what you say you’ll do
Work hard and have fun together
Words to live by, Chad.
For Interiors and Special Projects Group, Passion is the Primary Ingredient for Success
If you’re lucky, you have a good job. If you’re especially fortunate, you have a rewarding career. But if you’re truly blessed, that career just so happens to be your life’s calling. A calling so powerful you go home at night with a sense of meaning, purpose, and accomplishment. A calling that probably also looks a lot like the real answer to the childhood question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
If you had recently posed that question to Alan Wahlstrom — the talented builder who heads up Balfour Beatty's special projects and interiors groups in the Mid-Atlantic Division — rest assured he would enthusiastically answer “construction.” Since, in his own unique way, is living out a calling.
Balfour Beatty’s Mid-Atlantic Division has placed a dedicated focus on the special projects and interiors segment of their business, with Alan leading the way. Although the Division has always excelled at both core and shell and interiors work alike, over the years, the market has come to associate the company with larger, headline-garnering projects such as the NPR Headquarters, Pentagon Memorial, and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The ultimate goal is not to re-invent the business but to instead re-brand it.
“We want our clients to know that the end of a project isn’t when we turn the keys over to a 20-story base building,” says Alan. “The end of a Balfour Beatty project can be when we move the last tenant in. We have the desire and capability to serve our Clients through the full lifecycle of every project.”
Alan is excited about the opportunities in this market as well as the custom, client-focused nature of the work. In addition to his strong operations background, Alan has extensive estimating experience — a tremendous asset in a market sector where scope decisions often hinge significantly on early conceptual pricing.
For Alan, it’s the “quick, rapid-fire” nature of the work he finds so appealing. Having developed relationships with key special projects clients such as Vornado/Charles E. Smith and MedImmune over the past several years, Alan knows this market can keep many a construction professional on his or her toes with its tight budgets and schedules. Although those issues can bring a cold sweat to many a contractor’s brow, for Alan, it’s what makes him excited to get up every morning. And when it comes to providing dynamic and sophisticated interior spaces, few can match Alan's expertise or enthusiasm. Although it could be said of most interiors jobs that “the devil is in the details,” the details are precisely where Alan shines.
Recently, the group finished an 18,000-square-foot project for client, Vornado/Charles E. Smith, LP, called Skyline Seven in Falls Church, Virginia. Balfour Beatty provided demolition, renovation, and new construction services to transform the former GSA space into square footage suited for high-end retail businesses like Panera and Buffalo Wild Wings.
Whether you’re seeking a CM-at-Risk for a 200,000-square-foot, ground-up office tower, or a general contractor for a 2,000-square-foot retail renovation, look no further than Balfour Beatty. We have the people who know what it takes to execute any type, size or scope of project and the passion to deliver an unparalleled customer experience.
After all, they’ve been called to the work. And who better to deliver your dream than people who are living out theirs?
If you want to learn more about Balfour Beatty’s special projects or interiors capabilities, please feel free to reach out to Alan directly.
A People-First Relentless Ally for Diverse Project Dreams
When Henry Thacker first set foot on the University of Florida (UF) campus, he didn’t have a clear vision for his future career path. After exploring potential majors in design and business, Henry found his home at UF’s Rinker School of Construction Management. Beyond the excitement of watching structures come to life, the construction industry offered Henry what he most desired out of a career–working in a people-oriented industry. Henry has achieved that dream at Balfour Beatty and so much more as he’s embodied the company’s people-first culture on projects across Florida.
Henry joined Balfour Beatty in 2018 on the Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando project, which transformed an aging attraction into a modern entertainment experience complete with immersive play areas, vibrantly themed rides and one-of-a-kind interactive experiences based on the long-running children’s show.
To this day, the SeaWorld project still stands as Henry’s favorite—but not for the reasons one might imagine. When construction was already underway, SeaWorld Orlando established a new goal of opening Sesame Street in time for the Spring Break rush, which was one month earlier than the original plan. The Balfour Beatty team took the time to understand SeaWorld’s needs, tailor their plan and accelerate all technical aspects to finish the job early and within budget. Their success helped Balfour Beatty establish an ongoing relationship with this valued client.
Building on Best Practices in a New Market
After the completion of Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando and other projects, an opportunity arose to assume the leadership role of a burgeoning business sector focusing on special projects. When Henry raised his hand to help the Florida business continue expanding its presence in this market, local leadership knew that he had the skills, vision and tenacity to be successful.
"Henry brings a competitive spirit and excitement to every pursuit and project, which is important in this fast-paced seller/doer role,” says Brian Prebenda, senior vice president operations. “He takes on every role he takes with passion and continuously surpasses expectations."
Today, Henry leads a dedicated team of fast-track delivery specialists who execute projects of diverse scopes and sizes. This team has the unique opportunity to become quickly immersed in every facet of their projects from preconstruction to final close-out.
Henry knows that behind every proposal, budget and schedule is a team of people, and those individuals define and deliver the complete Balfour Beatty experience to our clients and partners.
Deepening Existing Relationships
When Florida’s Special Projects Group (SPG) was established, the team recognized that there were exciting opportunities to complete niche work with clients who had already entrusted their large, ground-up projects to Balfour Beatty. Repeat clients such as Tavistock Development and Disney’s Facility Asset Management quickly turned to Henry to lead the delivery of projects such as office upfits, resort renovations and restaurant refreshes.
One of the first projects Henry inherited in his new role was Disney’s Facility Asset Management (FAM) Polynesian Resort Villa and Bungalow Renovation. Although the project went off without a hitch and almost immediately resulted in another project award, Henry proactively facilitated a debrief with all parties to better understand the client’s vision and needs.
“I make it my mission to continually align and connect with the clients and partners who depend on our teams,” says Henry. “I was extremely proud of our team and excited to get started on our next project, but I knew that there were opportunities to hone our delivery skills and the construction experience we provided Disney’s FAM.”
Although Balfour Beatty is recognized as an industry-leading large-scale builder in Florida, Henry is here to tell you that we can deliver the special projects too. From roofing to room renovations, these projects are just as complex and take proven experts to ensure they are executed with the same precision and dedication to operational excellence.
Whether you’re seeking a Construction Manager at-Risk for a 200,000-square-foot, ground-up office tower or a general contractor for a 2,000-square-foot retail renovation, look no further than Henry and his team. Florida’s Special Projects Group knows what it takes to deliver an unparalleled and people-first customer experience.
Taking RDU Airport to New Heights
Trent’s leadership has been instrumental in nurturing Balfour Beatty’s long-standing relationship with valued aviation client and executing on the challenges of working in an active airport environment.
Trent Johnson has always enjoyed a good challenge. For the past 15 years, he's had the opportunity to solve plenty of them at Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU), where Balfour Beatty has been entrusted to build 16 projects ranging in size and scope from a $700,000 carpet replacement to the recent win of the $400 million Runway 5L/23R Replacement Program. Although each project is unique, one constant remains: Trent's leadership has been instrumental in building strong teams that have successfully executed on the challenges of working in an active airport environment.
Trent didn’t always envision a career managing large-scale construction projects. But when his first internship while attending NC State University led him to RDU, he appreciated the magnitude and complexity of the work and could envision himself one day solving challenges such as building in and around fully operational critical systems.
Although Trent has worked on a variety of project types - from multifamily to healthcare - since joining Balfour Beatty in 2013, his home away from home has been RDU, building over 1 million square feet as part of 16 projects. It is a point of tremendous honor for Trent, who notes that RDU is not only his "hometown airport" having grown up in Wake Forest, North Carolina, but also a major economic driver in the region.
While the size and scope of Trent’s projects at RDU have varied, one constant has remained: Trent’s belief that a project team’s culture must be grounded in collaboration, respect and trust to be an effective construction partner.
“We’ve all worked the night shift. No one says, ‘That’s not my job.’ If the people on your team are all willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done, it builds morale.”
Trent counts himself fortunate to have worked with many of the same Balfour Beatty team members at RDU over the years, building a core crew that is uniquely positioned to understand and deliver on every stakeholder’s needs and goals.
That understanding begins with ensuring construction activities do not impact an airport’s 24/7 security operations and other critical systems such as baggage handling or Customs and Border Protection (CBP) screening that could result in costly shutdowns, delays or jeopardized public safety. It also requires in-depth knowledge of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations—especially where runway construction is involved and may present hazards to aircraft or air traffic control operations.
To minimize risks once construction begins, Trent drives early planning and collaboration with all project stakeholders.
“We believe that delivering a successful construction experience for RDU depends on more than meeting a project’s budget and schedule,” affirms Trent. “We plan for the potential challenges that a project at an active airport may encounter such as safe and secure access to work zones, impact of daily airport operations and the constant concern for material deliveries.”
Trent employs strategies such as developing site logistics plans that minimize or eliminate the interface between construction activities and the public and performing as much work as possible in non-secure areas. Because all workers in secure areas must undergo an application process to obtain Security Identification Display Area (SIDA) badges, this can significantly impact a project’s labor force and productivity. Projects that involve power switchovers or temporary outages require early communication and ongoing coordination with the client.
On the Terminal 2 Passenger Screening Checkpoint Expansion project, the team added two lanes to the security checkpoint while working adjacent to the active security screening area. Careful coordination of all systems was required to ensure operations of the TSA checkpoint were never impacted. In a single overnight shift, the team erected a pre-finished wall system as the temporary security walls, effectively separating the construction areas from the public security lanes. The expansion was then completed in the non-secure construction space, and the new lanes were unveiled overnight after all construction had been completed.
Beyond the day-in and day-out operational excellence Trent helps deliver for RDU, he understands the immense value in achieving an early project delivery. During the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Balfour Beatty was able to accelerate the Runway 5L-23R Preservation project due to the reduced flow of air traffic.
Originally, the team was slated to begin the third phase of this four-phase project in early 2020. One of the major logistical considerations leading up to this point had been the need to re-open the runway daily to accommodate RDU’s international flights. When restrictions were imposed on international flights, the team was able to work with RDU and project trade partners to occupy the runway and complete the remaining work, which included an additional 25 slab replacements in only 35 days, ultimately completing the project five and half months early. This early delivery allowed RDU to eliminate an additional 57 runway closures that were originally scheduled to complete the project.
On other projects, Trent leverages cutting-edge technologies to improve efficiency. Because runway concrete must be able to withstand the weight of aircraft, construction teams test samples before it is poured and incrementally while it is curing to ensure proper temperature readings. This can be a time-consuming and often inexact process.
On the Runway 5L-23R Preservation project, the team used a wireless maturity meter that enabled every project team member, including the client, to remotely access readings from a Smartphone app. This real-time monitoring was imperative since the concrete had to reach the strength required for an aircraft landing within 12 hours of placement. Rather than wait several hours between physically testing samples, the strength of the concrete was able to be tracked in real-time to ensure that all parameters were in place to open the runway each morning.
Ready for Take-Off
Throughout his time at RDU, Trent has been a consummate Relentless Ally for the airport, developing a trusted partnership and achieving a proven track record that has contributed to Balfour Beatty’s repeat award of multiple projects. As a tireless advocate for RDU, Trent understands the importance of treating the traveling public as his client.
“As a true Construction Manager at-Risk partner, we’re looking out for RDU in every facet of their business. Their number one priority is the public, so we’ve made it our mission to ensure the public is at the forefront of our planning and operations.”
Whether he’s helping RDU achieve their vision of delivering a world-class airport experience or building new education, commercial or residential structures to support one of the fastest-growing regions in the U.S., Trent can be counted on to lead project teams with an unrivaled commitment to operational excellence and customer service.
The best in class in school construction
When it comes to building schools and managing district programs, Project Executive Dennis Kuykendall, “aces it” each and every time. With his 25-plus years in construction, Dennis is deeply entrenched within local school communities located along California’s southernmost Central Coast. In fact, he has developed trusted advisor relationships with over 25-percent of all Ventura County School Districts.
In the ten years he’s been with Balfour Beatty, Dennis has overseen work that includes just about every project in progress or completed by the Ventura office such as the Oxnard College Student Services Building; a parking structure for the University of California, Santa Barbara; Cesar E. Chavez K-8 School in the Oxnard School District; a new K-8 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Agriculture and Mathematics (STEAAM) school for the Somis Union Elementary School District; a new K-8 STEAAM school for Rio School District; the Rio School District Bond program; and the Oak Park Unified School District Measure R Bond Program. Other large projects include the William J. “Pete” Knight Veteran’s Home, the Ruben Castro Human Services Center, and the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation National Training Center.
In the Oak Park Union School District, Dennis is a shining star for the work he performed at Oak Park High School. That project gained national attention for the installation of seven, first of its kind, net-zero classroom buildings that were made out of single use containers used for ocean shipping.
The buildings achieve net-zero energy consumption, save 115 tons of landfill waste by using 85 percent reclaimed material, and use high-performing and energy-efficient systems that reduce monthly utility costs. Each building features full LED lighting, ductless HVAC Risystems, floor-to-ceiling windows, and solar panels classifying the buildings as “ultra-green” and automatically qualifying for 37 LEED credits or 42 CHPS credits.
Dennis played a key role in helping the District gain additional recognition for that classroom project, as well as for Oak Park’s program in general, with honors and awards from the United States Green Building Council’s (USGBC) California Central Coast Chapter’s Green School Award; “Green Ribbon” recognition from the U.S. Department of Education; and a Green School Leadership Award, which was presented at the Green Schools California Summit in 2011.
No matter what project Dennis is working on, his professionalism, leadership skills, passion for his work, and positive attitude fosters an uncanny ability to treat each project as though it was his own business. “To run a great business, you have to have a great team, and I’m lucky to have that in my favor,” says Dennis. “I’ve been working with the same, trusted Balfour Beatty teammates as a cohesive unit for the past ten years now. Together with our partners, we’ve built amazing structures and friendships. All of us are equally committed—and it shows in the trusted advisor relationships we’ve built over the years. They just keep getting stronger every day.”
Paying it forward in spades
With over 13 years of experience in the design and construction industry, Elizabeth Angel is a technology wizard. In her role as Senior Process Manager in the Seattle office, she focuses on making projects located throughout the Pacific Northwest leaner using her knowledge, experience, and sheer passion to transform buildings. Her expertise using the latest technologies such as Bluebeam, Digital Docs, and 3D modeling, combined with her solid connections within the AEC community, places her at the forefront in the field. She definitely has a “finger” on the pulse and pace of the industry.
But it’s her journey and her passion for helping others that takes Elizabeth’s work to the next level as a true relentless ally.
The sixth of seven kids, Elizabeth grew up in San Ysidro, California where she and her brother would spend countless hours in the back yard designing and creating structures of all shapes and sizes. She may not have realized it then, but it was during these early years that she honed in on her natural-born talent as an engineer. Motivated by her maternal grandfather who endured hardship moving the family from Mexico in the 1960’s, and her father, an engineer without a formal education and the sole breadwinner for her large family, all she ever wanted to do was make her family proud.
Ask anyone who knows Elizabeth and they will tell you it was because of her family’s support and guidance that she was able to earn her Bachelor of Science Degree in Architectural Engineering from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. She joined her six other siblings who all earned college degrees and are now part of her family’s legacy of first generation college graduates.
Perhaps it’s her desire to pay it forward, or just her bubbly personality, Elizabeth stays self-motivated because she has a strong desire to help. “I came from very humble beginnings,” said Elizabeth. “I’m grateful for the help I received when I was growing up. Now it’s my time to pay it back. My biggest focus is not to be a bottleneck—but rather, an enabler. Any information that I can share that will benefit a project or team is truly what drives and inspires me. I’m determined to do whatever it takes to generate results and make it happen.”
Elizabeth definitely makes “it happen” for both clients and her fellow colleagues. Before bringing any idea to a client, she’s researched and tested it thoroughly to convince herself it’s a good idea first. Then, she explains her idea in a way that is easily understood and implemented by project teams. The company’s up and coming project engineers especially appreciate Elizabeth because they are the “Gen-X’rs” who are starving to know more about the latest applications of technology. Elizabeth is always right there to mentor and coach.
Elizabeth also leads the company’s Zero Waste initiative in the Pacific Northwest, championing technology and how to best use it in projects and in the office. In addition, she co-leads Seattle’s “Improvement Champion Group,” a diverse group that meets every month to identify, discuss, and implement new technologies into the business, as well as serves as the Division’s champion for the company’s “My Contributions” initiative which provides the opportunity for all employees to engage directly by proposing, developing, and managing improvement ideas and beneficial changes to be made in the business. If that’s not enough, she also co-leads the Seattle office’s Spirit Committee, and in 2014, she was part of the team that won the 2014 Seattle AEC Hackathon 1.2, an annual state-wide competition that brings together computer programmers, interface specialists, and industry process experts and professionals to create software solutions in a single weekend.
The first to volunteer for community service events, Elizabeth is quick to point out praise to others who have gone above and beyond. It not a coincidence that she leads a number of nominations in the company’s own Above and Beyond program. Elizabeth Angel is relentless in her passion for all aspects of the business, and a true ally for clients and co-workers alike—her namesake says it all!
Named Superintendent of the Year
Balfour Beatty’s own Wayne Kibbe received recognition for his tremendous efforts and joyous spirit.
“Now, the moment you have all been waiting for, the winner of the 2019 General Contractor Superintendent of the Year Award goes to Wayne Kibbe of Balfour Beatty.”
The audience, full of Wayne’s gleeful nominators, erupted into praise. Both surprised and honored, he walked towards the stage and humbly accepted the award and well-deserved recognition as one of San Diego’s best superintendents.
Wayne developed his love of construction from watching his dad work as a lineman. He also watched his next-door neighbor build his own house, From that point on, Wayne knew what he wanted to do with his life—become a builder. Equipped with a strong sense of drive and ambition, he set a target and took every construction class offered at his high school. He worked part-time in various trades to equip himself with the knowledge and skillset to work towards his goal. Wayne even had the opportunity to assist in building three homes while still in school.
Upon graduation, Wayne began his first full-time role working for a general contractor. He proudly accepted a position working in the field, applying his newly developed skills at what would unknowingly be his forever home–Balfour Beatty.
Working his way up through the company, Wayne established himself as a high achiever and quickly moved from skilled laborer to carpenter, then from assistant superintendent to now general superintendent, where he continues to thrive. Able to easily navigate and overcome project setbacks while maintaining an amicable and confident demeanor, Wayne cultivates a sense of unification, safety and mentorship.
Wayne enjoys the opportunity to successfully deliver top-notch projects for many education clients and school programs throughout California. Some of his recent projects are within the San Diego Unified School District and Chula Vista Elementary School District. Our clients at San Francisco State University know Wayne for successfully delivering projects, maintaining a high level of integrity, and most importantly, being a friend to all.
With more than 32 years of experience working in the industry, Wayne's work ethic and personal drive to succeed emanates on the jobsite, inspiring those around him to continue working towards greatness. When you step foot onto one of Wayne's projects, there is an overwhelming sense of pride carried by every team member.
The Associated Subcontractors Alliance (ASA) San Diego annual award’s program recognizes outstanding companies and individuals in a variety of categories. Only members of ASA can nominate candidates, making the awards a great honor for those nominated, and especially so for those who win. It came as no surprise to those who work with Wayne that he received the General Contractor Superintendent of the Year Award.
From all his friends and teammates at Balfour Beatty, and from around the industry, we are proud to congratulate Wayne for this merited achievement and commend him on his positive attitude, passion for building and his unwavering desire to bring client visions to life.
When He's on a Project, it’s Always a “Hole-In-One”
Arizona is an ideal environment for people who love golf and enjoy living and visiting the warm desert climate. Project Manager Ryan O’Donnell has masterfully combined his love for golf into his work life by successfully delivering beautiful hospitality projects throughout the region, many of which are within walking distance of nearby golf tracks.
Maybe that’s the reason Ryan always has a smile on his face, or maybe—and most likely—it’s because Ryan is passionate about building. He is truly focused on creating the best building experience for his clients, partners, and co-workers.
Having spent ten of the last twelve years in the construction industry with Balfour Beatty, Ryan has been providing innovative solutions on projects like a 102-guest room addition and 57,000-square-foot ballroom addition at the Fairmont Princess Resort; a new Scottsdale Resort Sales Center building; a 70-unit hotel building renovation, new villas/courtyard, and T. Cook’s Restaurant renovation for the Royal Palms Resort in Phoenix; and ADA upgrades for the Phoenician. These projects are only a small sampling of his work – which also includes projects in the tenant improvement, healthcare, office, public, and transportation market sectors.
For Ryan, it doesn’t matter which project or which market sector, it’s all about developing trusted relationships so that he can deliver his client’s true vision and dream. Not only does he excel at leading projects, he goes out of his way to solve problems that may, or may not, be at all related to the projects he was hired to build.
He is a vested partner and demonstrates his commitment in many ways including when he offered his budgeting expertise to a client so they could better understand the needs of a hotel located in a completely different state, or when he paved a parking lot at a moment’s notice–free of charge—so that it would be ready for a community holiday event, and when he, and his family, show up on the weekends and after hours to embrace events held by local charitable organizations aligned with his client’s missions.
Ryan says that the greatest satisfaction from his job comes from generating and maintaining long-term relationships with his colleagues, clients, and partners. “It’s all about creating the best building experience we can for the entire team,” said Ryan. “I focus on creating positive energy on the job site throughout the duration of the project. The result is a more fun environment and team members are especially motivated to be creative. It’s a great way to ensure our clients and partners are receiving the outstanding service and products they deserve.”
Ryan embodies the entire concept of “Relentless Ally.” Famous for his brightly colored shirts, he’s hard to miss on a project site. But even when he wears “Balfour Beatty blue” his contagious enthusiasm and energy are qualities that set him apart as a true client advocate and inspired leader.
In fact, others in the industry are also taking notice. Engineering News Record (ENR) Southwest named him as one of their Top 20 Under 40 winners in 2015. The publication’s annual, the 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.
An Extraordinary Leader, and Pioneer, in Our Industry
Every year, the Los Angeles Business Journal releases a special issue dedicated to honoring LA’s most influential women in construction and design. The Journal states "According to labor force statistics, the share of women in the construction industry is only at about 10%, so the women who become standouts in that industry are truly pioneers." Congratulations to Vice President, Emily Kay, for being recognized by Los Angeles Business Journal as one of 2020's Outstanding Women in Construction Management and Design!
Building Her Legacy
Emily Kay’s collection of hardhats hangs proudly on display along a wall in her father’s home. The collection, which documents her 25 years in the construction industry, tracks her career path, from concrete laborer to her role today as Vice President of Operations with Balfour Beatty. It’s a story that exemplifies a willingness to try new things, a focus on learning and development, and above all, an overarching passion for working with people and building enduring relationships.
In 1994, Emily Kay was pursuing an advertising major at the University of Kansas. To earn enough funds to pay for college tuition, she took a position as a laborer on a concrete crew, that was part of an enormous effort to build a $200M Cargill 600-acre corn-processing plant. Despite the environment, which included being the only woman among hundreds of workers, waking up every morning at 4 am with fingers so swollen from the day’s labor that they couldn’t bend, she had a positive awakening to what her future would held. She realized her teammates in the field represented the best elements of society, salt of the earth humans that had built the world around us and she decided that in this industry she would be able to build a career that could leave an impact. Five and a half years later she would graduate from the University of Nebraska with a B.S. in Construction Management.
With the field experience and construction knowledge, Emily earned through her internships and summer jobs held consistently through those 5 years, she worked her way up the ladder; from laborer to field layout engineer, to Project Engineer, to Assistant Superintendent, to the sole female Project Executive overseeing construction in Los Angeles County for one of the largest construction companies nationwide and internationally, Balfour Beatty, to finally Vice President of Operations. From humble schedules, built with post-it notes on butcher-block paper, Emily has crafted her career by doing a little bit of everything to gain experience, familiarity, and the trust of her team, and to prove to herself she could. “I never wanted to ask someone to do something that I hadn’t already done myself, so I intended to get out there and try it all, running every piece of equipment I could get my hands on, spending time in every job role,” says Emily.
In her twenty-five years in the construction industry, Emily has developed a noticeable habit: She does whatever it takes. “You don’t blend in, you don’t fly under the radar. You’re out there proving to your team - and yourself - that you can and will do it. Asking yourself ‘what can I do to make everyone else’s job easier’ and then doing just that.” This construction approach, and to working with teams in general, was born that first rainy season in 1994 when flooding threatened her project. As heavy rains filled previously excavated foundations full of reinforcing steel cages with mud, with a frame smaller than many of her peers on the field, she jumped into the rebar cage and “mucked out” the footings and grade beams by the bucket-full. “I like to focus on what the successful outcome looks like, then do whatever it takes to get there - and be willing to perform” reflects Emily.
In 2014, Emily was welcomed to Balfour Beatty as a Senior Project Manager and quickly excelled to become a Project Executive where she was trusted with three of Balfour Beatty’s long-standing legacy clients; the Torrance Unified School District, Culver City Unified School District, and Redondo Beach Unified School District (USD). Over the past five years, Emily and her team have overseen the successful completion of new additions, summer modernization, upgrades, and new construction with a value well over $400 Million for the Torrance, Culver City, and Redondo Beach communities. And while she and her teams still oversee Balfour Beatty’s most senior clients, she’s also been trusted with building first impressions with Manhattan Beach USD and Wiseburn USD. Her continued success and achievements with Balfour Beatty have led her to become the sole female Vice President in Balfour Beatty’s California Division.
It was at Wiseburn High School that Emily and the team would provide construction of a ground-breaking building type that would revolutionize the educational industry, a concept known as MindShift: changing the way we educate by approaching education with the idea of “labs over lectures.” This revolutionary idea not only involves innovation in the school curriculum but evolution in building design and construction. As the Project’s Executive, it was Emily was responsible for managing and building the $100 M, four-story state-of-the-art high school campus. The adaptive reuse high school, originally an office building for Northrop Grumman, was the largest conversion of commercial space to a school building to make it through the Division of the State Architect’s approval process. Upon its completion in 2018, Wiseburn HS served as the backdrop for the 2018 EdShift Conference, which brings stakeholders together for an interactive discussion about transforming the face of K 12 education into high-impact learning environments. The project also received the 2019 “Commercial Real Estate Silver Award” from the Los Angeles Business Journal. Through Emily’s leadership and guidance, the team delivered one of LA County’s premier award-winning educational facilities, which now serves as a leading example for other innovators in education.
In Manhattan Beach USD, Emily and her team oversee two bond programs valued at over $100 M. Active and completed projects include district-wide security fencing, HVAC upgrades throughout the District, the modernization of five elementary schools and one middle school, new 2-story classroom buildings and Multipurpose Room/Admin buildings at 2 elementary schools, and new construction of an impressive Athletic Complex at Mira Costa High School. Dr. Michael D. Matthews, the Superintendent, had the following to say with regard to the management of the projects: “Emily Kay is an extraordinary leader. She brings experience, technical knowledge, high expectations, strong support, and insightful practice to the team. She is also skilled at building highly effective construction teams.”
And while she erects structures that shape skylines and enhance communities, it’s building those highly effective teams that give her the most gratification. “As a person in a leadership role, an individual’s growth and satisfaction are what’s most important to me. I want to make sure not only my team but all staff members, are headed in the right direction, not just filling seats on the bus.” As a result of her people-first focus, she has been helping with hiring and staffing for the entire Division – from San Francisco, CA to Scottsdale, AZ. And despite living in Los Angeles, she travels monthly to Newport Beach and San Diego to meet with her mentees and stays in touch frequently with other Balfour Beatty staff from Seattle to Dallas. Emily is an active member of Balfour Beatty’s employee resource group ‘Connecting Women,’ a group that is committed to empowering employees through fostering alliances and networking.
At any time during the year, you can find Emily devoting her time to supporting local schools and organizations. Each holiday season she participates in ‘Adopt a Family.’ Since its inception, Emily and her coworkers have helped raise over $35,000 to adopt more than 60 families in need. The families are recommended from Districts serviced by Project Executives, like Emily, and the program serves to provide a true holiday experience for those families. “We’re so fortunate to be living in Southern California, to have amazing jobs and careers, and to be able to make ends meet – I feel that those of us who are this fortunate have a responsibility to help support those that may not have the resources that we do. The holidays are a time of family and hope and happiness, and this is one small way that we can help to give back.” This fall, she and her family joined celebrities and community members in the Hermosa Beach area for the “Pier to Pier Friendship Walk” a local event that has raised over $2M annually for children with special needs. Each spring, Emily participates in the Sharefest Workday and Sharefest Golf Tournament. On average, the Golf Tournament raises over $150,000 for Los Angeles county students and school districts. During the Sharefest Workday Emily, along with dozens of coworkers and approximately 150 volunteers, dedicate their time to construction of small projects at up to 10 school sites. Fundraising is one thing, but committing time and energy on nights and weekends to ensure the job gets done is a hallmark of volunteers like Emily Kay.
Emily has overseen the creation of community buildings, rehabilitation institutions, educational facilities, and hospitals. But perhaps her greatest contribution has been to the men and women who work beside her. Emily has earned the type of influence where people will follow her, with or without a direct line of authority. “At the end of the day, what I love most about this industry is that it truly is all about building relationships and establishing trust.” That takes personal focus, dedication, transparency, and communication.
Embodying Respect, Kindness and Personal Integrity
For some, the family business leads to a lifetime career. Titus Rodriguez got his first taste of construction working for his dad’s construction company in high school. After graduation, Titus served in the army for two years before heading to college and earning a bachelor’s degree in sociology and an associate’s degree in criminal justice. While in college, he also served in the Army Reserves and participated in the ROTC program. Upon graduation, Titus was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Military Intelligence Corps. He credits the military for giving him a foundation of leadership skills used throughout his life.
When Titus first started as an assistant project manager at Balfour Beatty in 2001, he worked mostly on small projects. His parents had always instilled in him that if you work hard and excel in small tasks then you will be trusted and rewarded with greater areas responsibility. Learning from others, acquiring sound leadership skills, and maintaining relationships have served him well throughout his career. Titus now serves as senior project manager of the Frost Tower project, a 25-story Class A office tower and the first commercial skyscraper to be built in downtown Fort Worth in over a decade. From day one on this complex project, Titus knew that the key to success was a high-powered team.
What is a high-power team to Titus? “They excel as professionals, but also care for each other and show mutual admiration. If a team with these qualities is assigned to a project they will go above and beyond,” says Titus. “To keep the team connected, it’s also important to have fun. The team enjoys spending time together. We have a family culture. We have a tight bond and support each other. We also support our community. We actively participate.”
Outside of his past and present coworkers, Titus credits his wife as his number one coach and largest supporter. After 20 years of marriage, 16 years of employment at Balfour Beatty, and three moves along the way his wife has stayed by his side cheering him on.
Respect and kindness are essential for Titus. His motto is: do what is right and never take advantage of others. A river of change has flooded the construction industry since Titus started working with Balfour Beatty. At that time, poor relations between general contractors and trade partners were often the norm. Titus made Balfour Beatty his home because he saw a different approach. He saw Balfour Beatty as the forerunner of a more professional construction industry where respect for others was paramount. Today, Titus sees partnership as a valued element throughout the industry, and he is proud that Balfour Beatty has never wavered in this approach.
Karl Joeris, vice president of Balfour Beatty’s Fort Worth office, appreciates Titus’ service to the Fort Worth community and his commitment to helping his clients and staff. “Whether leading fundraising for community service projects or recognition of others, he has created an environment of teamwork and servant leadership. He exemplifies the meaning of doing the right thing when no one is looking and never looks for credit. Titus inspires other employees and trade partners to be Relentless Allies for the community.”
Following in the footsteps of his past mentors, Titus is always there for the employees that work for him. At the root of everything for Titus is respect. Respect for the client, the team, the company, and for the work itself.
“I am the sum of everyone I have ever worked with over my lifetime. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by exceptional, high caliber individuals—people who embody personal integrity.”
Earnest DeLoach, Jr.
Taking Risks, Blazing Trails and Spreading the Wealth
For a moment in time, the dream was to become an astronaut – until Earnest DeLoach, Jr. started the third grade. He jumped at every chance to be heard between oratorical competitions, essay contests and chatting to anyone who would listen. Earnest’s teachers always said he had the personality and characteristics to become a great lawyer one day – they were right.
At a young age, Earnest discovered his dream to defend and advocate for others. He knew becoming a lawyer would allow him to channel his passion to protect and serve the community. With full support from his parents, it was a career path he began to pave, but one that had never been pursued by family or friends. Earnest was a trailblazer.
His father, a Korean War veteran, worked as a heavy equipment operator within the construction industry for 30 years. His mother graduated from college with a math degree and became an elementary school teacher. His older sister graduated college with an accounting degree and became a fourth-grade math teacher. “We used to call ‘teaching’ the family business,” Earnest reflects.
Unbeknownst to Earnest at the time, his family’s professions would play an impactful role throughout his law career. After graduating from the University of Miami and Florida State University College of Law, Earnest moved to Orlando and worked for a law firm for two years before catching the attention of a small construction law firm in Winter Park. Without any previous construction experience, they took a chance on Earnest due to his willingness to learn.
In the early 2000s, construction was booming. The housing and multifamily markets were exploding, and Earnest was one of a few young construction lawyers in Orlando. During this time, he supported many clients gaining more knowledge around the industry with each milestone. Years later, when the market slowed down, Earnest decided to take a leap, and from 2006 to 2014 ran his own law firm. He represented dozens of clients in various businesses and industries: Fortune 500 companies, transportation authorities, school districts and more.
Every new client presented its own challenges, but that didn’t intimidate Earnest – it motived him to succeed. If he didn’t know the answer, he sought it out. Learning was a powerful tool, and he wasn’t afraid to use it – or share it.
Earnest’s desire to spread the wealth of knowledge drove him to become a speaker and part-time professor. Over the last 13 years, Earnest has taught classes at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) College of Law, Barry University - Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law and Valencia College. Across Florida, Earnest has been asked to speak at events, conferences, places of business, and universities to share his experiences and lessons learned throughout his career.
To Earnest, change wouldn’t be possible without risk, but it’s what you do with risk that determines an outcome. He believes the only way to manage risk is to confront it head-on to create optimal resolutions and success – in both life and business. Earnest built his career upon taking risks: declaring he wanted to be a lawyer, starting his own firm, becoming a part-time professor, and ultimately shifting his career in 2018 to work for Balfour Beatty.
With over $1 billion of active work across Florida, reducing risk is crucial. With a career full of experiences mitigating risk, Earnest is an expert. Ironically, he’s learned that most times, you must assume some risk to reduce and resolve it.
Scott Skidelsky, president of Balfour Beatty’s operations in Florida, praises, “Since joining Balfour Beatty, Earnest has been an incredible asset to the leadership of Florida serving his capacity as division counsel and business partner. He’s the perfect fit for our culture.”
In 2019, Earnest was promoted to vice president of legal for Florida. He has proven his expertise, but what makes him truly valuable is his ability to teach his teammates the importance of managing risk properly: taking measured risks, learning and improving constantly and spreading the wealth along the way.
Building Relationships, Teams and Solutions
“You have to be willing to step up and take responsibility for the situation at any given moment, in any sector of our work, and try to make a difference in every way possible.”
John started his career as an intern with Balfour Beatty’s Houston office. After he received his degree in 2013, he was assigned to serve as senior project engineer on the South Bend Memorial Children’s Hospital expansion. In addition to his role as senior project engineer, John also led the project’s Building Information Modeling (BIM) coordination. He participated in a very involved BIM coordination process which provided all stakeholders with a continuous, real-time flow of information, enabling the team to make informed decisions regarding sequencing and quality control on the project. John and the team developed many precedent-setting techniques that have been implemented as a best practice on current Balfour Beatty projects.
John now works in Austin as an assistant superintendent on The Independent - a multifamily project that soars 670 above the downtown area, making it the tallest building in Austin. As steward of Balfour Beatty’s Zero Harm program on the project, John’s number one priority is safety. He prides himself on taking ownership of safety for the entire project family. If he sees something on the project that looks unsafe, he starts a dialogue about it without delay. “What I feel to be unsafe isn’t always against the rules, but from my training with some remarkable superintendents, I’ve learned that safety is not just about the rules. Safety is about using your instincts to see potential risks and then figuring out how to eliminate or mitigate the risk for everyone’s benefit. We want to ensure everyone goes home to their friends and family, every day,” shared John.
His favorite part of being a member of a construction team on a large project like The Independent or the South Bend Memorial Children’s Hospital expansion is applying what he has learned and on a much larger scale. “Providing solutions-oriented results to help a client or a team reach their business goals is a remarkable feeling and extremely gratifying.” He takes great pride in noting the Balfour Beatty projects across Austin and being able to say, “I helped build that!”
As part of Balfour Beatty’s unique brand of construction, we strive to be active participants in the needs of those communities in which we work and play. John was instrumental in initiating a fundraising campaign featuring a rubber duck race in downtown South Bend along the St. Joseph River to benefit South Bend Memorial Children’s Hospital. When he returned to Texas, he was involved in coordinating Balfour Beatty's participation in the Austin Duck Derby, which supports the Boys and Girls Clubs of Austin.
When asked about being a Relentless Ally John answered humbly, “You have to be willing to step up and take responsibility for the situation at any given moment, in any sector of our work, and try to make a difference in every way possible.”
A Family that Grows Together Stays Together
When someone says that the people they work with are family to them, they don’t usually mean that literally. But for Rachele Phariss, the story is different.
From a young age, Rachele knew she wanted to pursue a career in the construction industry. She was fortunate enough to have an extraordinary science teacher who got her involved in a math, science and engineering program. Rachele was fascinated with the connection between these subjects and fell in love with the notion of helping build something impactful for her community.
She continued to pursue this passion during college, majoring in civil engineering at the University of California, Davis. While in her senior year, Rachele discovered Balfour Beatty’s internship program.
“My boyfriend at the time was interning at Balfour Beatty, so I knew about the opportunity through him,” says Rachele. “I was lucky enough to intern right in the middle of construction on the Freeport Regional Water Intake Facility in Sacramento, and once I graduated, they hired me.”
As a fulltime employee, Rachele had the opportunity to finish out the project she had started as an intern. Rachele’s boyfriend was also hired after his internship, and the two quickly became a Balfour Beatty couple.
“And now I’m married to him,” says Rachele. Just like that, Balfour was family.
Eleven years later, Rachele still boasts about the home she’s found within the company. She’s worked on numerous different civils projects, ranging from large-scale water projects to joint ventures between our infrastructure and rail teams, some of which she’s been able to work on with her husband. To Rachele, every project in unique, not just thanks to its learning opportunities, but also in the connections she forms with her fellow project team members.
“It’s our interaction that is kind of like family,” says Rachele. “I always make a connection and long-lasting friendships with the people I’ve worked alongside.”
Rachele is currently contributing to Balfour Beatty’s most significant integrated U.S. Civils and Buildings project, the LAX Automated People Mover. In a field that’s largely still male-dominated, it’s the people on this job – specifically the women – who have surprised Rachele the most.
“I used to be the only woman on the whole construction team,” says Rachele. “This megaproject is a good 50/50 mixture. I am seeing more women out there. I think it’s good. Something is changing, and it’s changing for the better.”
Rachele is deeply grateful for the growth and development opportunities has been afforded at Balfour Beatty. Between the relationships she’s built and the knowledge she’s acquired from her projects, Rachele is not the same shy intern she was when she started; she’s found her voice and her purpose. And she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Balfour Beatty cares about its people. That’s why I was attracted to this company, and it’s why I stay,” praises Rachele. “They really do treat us like family. My husband and I joke that our kids are going to be Balfour people, too.”
Leading with Purpose
Superintendent Pete Caley invests in the next generation of construction industry leaders
As a superintendent, Pete Caley recognizes the impact leadership has on nurturing the potential of others who are striving to make their mark in the construction industry, whether it’s his teammates, partners or even his own son. Throughout his career, Pete has found that traits such as kindness, respect and patience are fundamental to effective leadership. By embodying these qualities, Pete inspires passion and motivation within others, propelling them to achieve their dreams.
Pete is a five-year company veteran with more than 25 years of experience in the construction industry. He leads the construction of complex tenant improvement projects for high-profile clients in the greater Seattle area.
During his time with HSW, Pete has delivered corporate interiors projects for tech industry clients that feature multiple floors of new or renovated spaces. This process often requires demolishing the floors to their structure and upfitting the space, from its bare concrete floor to pan decking at the ceiling, with new walls, HVAC systems, and mechanical, electrical and plumbing (MEP) facilities. There have even been instances in which Pete has led project teams to effectively renovate floors measuring, at its diagonal, up to a football field in length (or 100 yards).
Supportive Leadership That Empowers Others
As a superintendent focused on the successful delivery of unique tenant improvement projects, Pete knows he not only needs to be a strong leader but also a kind, supportive and selfless teammate committed to empowering others.
“We cannot excel in our professional development journeys without the kindness of others,” Pete says. “As a leader, it is important to give the steering wheel to your teammates from time to time in addition to having the patience to show them effective methods to lead and complete a job. Whenever leaders facilitate these opportunities, they are inspiring others to thrive in their specific roles and potentially beyond.”
Pete recalls an incredibly meaningful mentorship opportunity that arose while he was working on a robust tenant improvement project. When a foreperson expressed an interest in learning new project management skills, Pete gave that individual additional leadership responsibilities and then provided valuable mentorship on how to successfully execute and achieve those tasks. For Pete, it was rewarding to observe this individual broaden their skillset to effectively manage new jobsite dynamics and project management strategies.
In moments like these, Pete understands that leadership involves introducing teammates to new opportunities outside of their assigned roles and providing genuine support every step of the way. He states, “As a leader in this industry, I believe that my teammates’ professional development will always start and stop with me.”
Pete also recognizes that becoming a leader in this industry doesn’t happen without the genuine, long-lasting support of a people-first company. He is honored to work with project teammates across HSW who have been with the business for well over a decade. It’s not uncommon for construction workers to be employed in transitory roles, moving from one job to the next across multiple geographies. But, at HSW, Pete values its family-like environment which is a significant contributor to the longevity of his teammates’ careers. A people-first culture is especially important to diverse teammates, because it values and respects the inclusion of different talents, perspectives and backgrounds.
Paving the Way for the Next Generation
Born in Seoul, Korea, Pete has noticed throughout his career that the prevalence of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) on the jobsites where he’s worked has been very limited. According to Zippia, a data-driven career resource for professionals, 2.7 percent of superintendents in the construction industry identify as Asian. As the industry has joined forces to ensure greater diversity among the workforce, Pete is exceptionally honored to pave a trail for the AAPI community and is especially proud to witness his youngest son follow in his footsteps as a construction professional.
When asked what advice he’d give to the next generation of leaders in the construction industry, Pete offers these words of wisdom: “First you need to have desire and drive for your own professional development and success. This means finding a company that aligns with your personal and professional values and making it your priority to connect with someone in the industry who is passionate about your career development. Once you’ve found this, pay it forward and help instill that same desire and drive in others looking to climb the ladder.”
In a world where professional development is often dependent on the support and mentorship of influential leaders, Balfour Beatty is honored to have team members like Pete who are making conscious efforts to invest in the future of the construction industry and the talent that will drive it. His leadership and passion for others to excel not only supports the delivery of premier projects but also the relentless pursuit to serve as an ally in our industry, communities and beyond.
Paul Chang, preconstruction manager for Balfour Beatty in California, was awarded with the Albert R. Vallin Award for Estimator of the Year. With an impressive history of project estimating, Paul also proudly serves as the President of the American Society of Professional Estimators’ (ASPE) San Diego chapter where he promotes education, fellowship and professional development to ASPE members and the community alike.
Paul is originally from Peru and holds a technical degree in diversified tool & die stamping, a bachelor’s degree in business administration and management and is a Certified Professional Estimator (CPE).
Early on, Paul’s interest in construction began while he was working in the mechanical industry in Sao Paulo, Brazil. From there, his career took him to Nagoya, Japan, where he continued in the mechanical industry for another two years. Paul then made the move to the U.S., where he began working as an estimator in training with another general contractor in Dallas, TX.
Now, with 22 years of experience under his belt, Paul utilizes his expertise to help build educational facilities, hospitals, military projects and civic facilities among other markets. Paul is reshaping preconstruction by applying skills and practices he has learned and developed on his path through the trades.
His experiences in the field give him a tangible understanding of how projects develop and insight into creating a successful building experience. He has an instinctive passion to teach and innovate, fueled by a relentless curiosity and drive to employ best practices. In his current role, Paul is responsible for preparing budgets, estimates and pre-bid packages for future construction projects for Balfour Beatty’s Southern California clients.
Congratulations Paul on achieving this accolade! Your hard work and determination are making a mark on Balfour Beatty, the local community and the industry as a whole.
A Trooper for Highway Safety
Orival Thompson is no stranger to following the rules in his role as US Department of Transportation (USDOT) compliance manager at Balfour Beatty. In fact, there was a time in his life where he enforced the rules to protect the citizens of Florida as an officer of the law.
Orival served more than 36 years in law enforcement, with 21 of those years dedicated to the highway patrol in the motor carrier enforcement unit.
After retiring in 2016, Orival began a new chapter as a DOT compliance consultant for motor carrier companies, sharing his expertise and knowledge in highway patrol and DOT regulations. After serving as a consultant for our rail team, Orival joined Balfour Beatty as a full-time DOT compliance manager that following year.
“A lot of people don’t recognize Balfour Beatty as being a motor carrier company,” Orival explains. “Though we are a construction company, we use commercial motor vehicles to transport materials throughout jobsites. Because of this, we have a responsibility to follow USDOT guidelines.”
As the DOT Compliance Manager, Orival is responsible for ensuring Balfour Beatty maintains compliance with federal and state regulations required for commercial vehicles, including the management of Balfour Beatty’s USDOT score, which is a leading indicator of businesses’ driver safety.
Orival takes his responsibility as “gatekeeper” of our USDOT score seriously.
In fact, he conducts workshops across the US to educate our civils teams on topics such as pre-trip inspections, vehicle and driver violations, proper load securement and drug and alcohol requirements. Orival’s workshops are part of a larger, comprehensive safety and risk management plan to ensure the wellbeing of our drivers and all other drivers or members of the public they encounter.
"Highway safety is our ultimate goal,” Orival states. “The [USDOT] rules and regulations often change, and consistency across our business helps to prevent violations and demonstrate our commitment to Zero Harm.”
Orival is passionate about his role as a liaison between Balfour Beatty and federal/state regulating agencies, staying informed about the latest regulatory updates, qualifications and trends in the transportation industry to maintain Balfour Beatty’s driver safety score—a figure we are committed to continuously improving.
Orival’s personal mantra, “If you can’t do the right thing all the time, then you should not do it at all,” speaks to the integrity and wisdom he displays in his role and makes him a Relentless Ally for the safety of our people and the public on construction sites, roads and highways across America.
North Carolina A&T State University Project Team
Building Foundations at North Carolina A&T State University
Impactful student engagement plan revolutionizes engineering education at NC A&T University
In business, there are relationships. And then there are partnerships.
In Balfour Beatty, North Carolina A&T State University has found the latter. When this renowned historically black college and university (HBCU) retained Balfour Beatty to build its new Student Union, a mutual commitment was established to leverage this project as a teaching opportunity for A&T students. Through one of the most innovative and robust student engagement plans ever applied on a higher education construction project, Balfour Beatty has directly impacted more than 600 A&T students. Together, A&T and Balfour Beatty have revolutionized the educational experience within the University’s #1 program for engineers of color as ranked by Money Magazine.
Balfour Beatty and NC A&T collaborated with the North Carolina Institute of Minority Economic Development to develop this student engagement plan, whose approach to maximizing learning and development opportunities touched not only future builders but also the entire student body. A website was created and maintained to keep the campus highly informed and connected to the project. The University dedicated an area in its construction management school for engagement activities, where engineering students have received guidance on nearly every aspect of the construction process.
Members of Balfour Beatty’s project team, which includes six A&T alumni, have embraced their roles as mentors during the past two years on campus. Along with joint venture partner C2 Contractors, team members have provided students with a vast array of industry-related opportunities. From monthly project tours to guest lectures on subjects such as Building Information Modeling (BIM), scheduling, estimating, bidding, blueprint reading and more, this team has given of their time and talents—all to the benefit of up-and-coming industry professionals. In September 2017, the team set up virtual reality (VR) booth at the University’s Career Fair, giving students a lens into the industry’s most cutting-edge trend.
“The Student Union project has been an incubator for education,” praises Andrew Perkins, associate vice chancellor, facilities at NC A&T.
Balfour Beatty has also helped facilitate networking opportunities with many of the 62 firms that comprise the project’s impressive 43% Minority and Women Owned Enterprise (MWBE) participation—a rate that more than quadrupled the state’s goal. Some students like civil engineering major, Christian Stowe, have worked even more closely with the team. Following his 2017 internship, Stowe praised his experiences on social media. “Learning about the complex design and build [of the Student Union] was amazing. I have learned so many lessons about construction that will help me fuel my career…”
Collectively, these efforts have elevated A&T’s already prestigious and highly sought-after engineering program. Many engineering students graduate with largely theoretical knowledge, having merely toured active constructions sites. At A&T, however, students receive continued, hands-on training that crystallizes classroom studies. “We’ve taken it to another level,” acknowledges Johnny Rankin, executive vice president for Balfour Beatty in Raleigh. Better preparation goes hand-in-hand with improved graduation rates, which ultimately boost recruitment, bringing the process full circle.
“When a student can walk onto a 150,000-square-foot project and witness the activities they’ve read about come to fruition, that student can be a contributor day one,” commends Perkins.
The Student Union project is scheduled to complete in spring 2018, and a highly anticipated ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held in July. A beacon for the campus, the new facility is a modern, glass-fronted structure bridging green spaces running from the Aggie Village Green to Aggie Stadium. Balfour Beatty plans to expand engagement efforts on a second campus project known as the ERIC building (Engineering Research and Innovation Complex), which is slated to begin construction in summer 2018. When complete, it will surpass the Student Union as the largest construction project to date at the University.
It’s been said that “to whom much is given, much is expected.” For an industry in which experiences outside the classroom are fundamental to succeeding in the field, the opportunities Balfour Beatty has and will continue to provide A&T students are invaluable. Although Balfour Beatty was contracted to build a Student Union’s structural foundation, thanks to this strong and synergistic partnership with NC A&T University, a foundation is also being built for North Carolina’s next generation of construction leaders.