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Luis Torres

Relentless Ally

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. 

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Megan Cook-Eichelberger

Relentless Ally

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. 

Cultivating Inclusion

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.” 

Developing Within

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.

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Michele Cummings

Relentless Ally

Cultivating Connections

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.  

Mentoring Teammates

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.