Read the interview with Mike where he shares why quality and safety are essential in construction, how things have changed over his 30-year construction career.
Working at RJM for the past 20 years, can you identify one or two areas that have changed the most in the construction industry?
Two major areas have changed during my construction career. One is the use of technology such as virtual design, drones, infrared cameras, and digital technology in general. Now more than ever before, I’ve seen an increase in the use of computers and tablets to allow our teams, on and off-sites, to share information more efficiently. The use of video conferencing also gives our team the ability to attend more meetings since they can do them anywhere and be more efficient with their time.
The other area where I’ve witnessed significant change is in the area of expanded diversity in our teams over the years. This has been vital in improving our project outcomes because it allows for more perspectives and ideas.
Can you describe a time early in your career when you realized how essential quality and safety are to the success of a project?
I realized the importance of quality and safety very early on in my career. If you don’t complete quality work for your clients, it means you’ve let them down, and it affects the company’s reputation. Having clear safety protocols in place and observed, along with a strong quality control/quality assurance program means everyone has a positive project experience.
Two examples that show the importance of QA/QC and safety:
Early in my career, I was completing tenant interior work for a law and insurance firm’s offices, and quality and safety were top priorities, over and above the norm. The offices required a specific aesthetic and quality since this is where they met with clients. There was also the challenge of completing the work while the tenants were occupying the space. This factor made the safety of both the tenants and our team essential.
Hospitals are another example where safety is essential, for many reasons. Because some patients can’t be moved, foresight and planning become critical to maximize patient and staff safety. Ensuring that everything is executed correctly the first time is vital; because you should not build a million-dollar room, and then have it not work for the machine that it was was designed for!
In what ways has COVID-19 changed your daily routines?
It’s changed just about everything, especially how we manage and perform our work on job sites. The RJM safety and quality teams and lead superintendents have worked hard to implement COVID-19 safety protocols from Day One, according to CDC and other guidelines. We have placed temperature scanning stations on our job sites, and it’s heightened what were already fairly stringent safety and hygiene protocols. The importance of everyone washing their hands has become a high priority, and we have installed handwashing stations around job sites to make it convenient for our team throughout the day. Social distancing guidelines are in place, as well as mandatory masks if those guidelines cannot be observed. All of these changes increase the health and safety of our teams and the client teams we work with.
Another major change is our sudden reliance on videoconferencing technology. Now we tend to be a bit more selective about which meetings we attend in person and which can be held over video, which has helped us to be even more efficient with our time.
Describe how you’ve worked to develop relationships with our contracting partners over the years and how these partnerships can affect project outcomes?
It’s important to be honest, transparent, and firm but fair with our trusted partners. Building relationships and trust allows for open and honest conversations, and makes working through challenges smoother, creating successful project outcomes. I have been lucky to work with many of the same great people over my career that I can rely on and feel confident recommending their expertise. These relationships ensure that RJM delivers quality projects to our clients, on time, and within budget.
At RJM you have offered mentorship and guidance to prospective construction career-seekers. If you were to provide a formula for success to an aspiring superintendent, project manager, or anyone who wants to get into the field, what would you say?
Come to work and do your best, be honest, fair, and have integrity. Be sure to make personal connections because you will continually learn every day from everyone you meet. You may have hard days, but the people you work with will be what helps you gets through them. For me, these relationships are the most cherished. It’s a great industry and I love the people!
If there was one thing you could have done differently over the years, what would it be, and why?
I would have had more of an open mind and understanding towards other people and listened to their opinions to make more educated decisions. I believe this would have helped me learn faster and have more of a collaborative approach by listening to other people’s experiences and advice.
All in all, It has been a great 20 years!
“Mike has done so much to inspire our youth to consider construction as a career. His personal experience working in the trades while earning his college degree gives him a unique perspective. I’ve had countless young people tell me they had Mike as a classmate and were motivated by his passion. He’s truly an advocate for RJM and our industry.”
—Ted Beckman, Senior Vice President