Adam Della Monica & Grant Hagen 48 min

"Super" charging the field


The Built Different podcast is back and this season we're headed to the field! To kick off the season, host Grant Hagen sits down with former superintendent and new co-host Adam Della Monica. In this episode the two share stories from the field. This season, we're traveling the country to meet the builders making incredible projects happen. Want to follow along? Subscribe now!



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and

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for this season to get started as we are. This has just always been really fun.

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I just wanted to say thank you for all the folks that have liked, engaged,

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commented, shared, all the fun stuff that we've been posting out there just

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kind of a little bit off season here is the year get started.

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It's just super encouraging to see how much some of these episodes and content

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and conversations that you guys have just been encouraged by. And so I just

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wanted to start by saying thank you -- it's super fun.

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To see all that and even more exciting is what we have on the horizon for this

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season. We have just tried to brainstorm what ideas and how to make these

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conversations more and more impactful.

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And we have some really fun things we're going to try this season. I think

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anytime you get into, you know, one season, two season, three -- being the

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fourth season, we have a lot of things that we're going to try to put in front

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of you guys this season.

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And what that looks like is going to be more field-based. So if you kind of

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recall back in season two, we really started to engage a lot of conversations

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with just the tech person, call it VDC, call it technology manager, whatever

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kind of fits that boat.

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And then really last season was like, "Hey, how do we focus on some folks in

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kind of that exec level? Like, how does the technology kind of persona or role

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interface with some of the exec folks?"

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As we were thinking about this season, we really thought, "Man, what could we

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do that would just continue the momentum and the awesome conversations that we

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've had?"

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And our thought was, "Let's focus on the field. Let's get into the minds of

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some of the folks that are out there using these tools every day, either in

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positive ways or feeling overwhelmed by them."

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I think just the idea here in the theme that you're going to see throughout

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this season in season four is really just a field focus.

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And with that, we were thinking, like, who is the best person to kind of engage

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in some of those conversations and dialogue and kind of host some of those

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things?

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And really the idea came around another team member that we have, Adam. And so

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I'm really excited to get to introduce you to him.

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Adam is going to be one of the co-hosts for this season. And what's exciting

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about it is, one, you'll get to hear from him in this kind of first episode of

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the season.

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And two, I think you're really going to be encouraged by how his background is

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going to play into where and how these conversations go.

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And so what I'm going to do is I'm actually going to bring in Adam and get to

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really introduce you to him.

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And really, this first episode is going to be about him and his background to

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hopefully get you guys encouraged about some of the conversations that we're

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going to have.

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So Adam, man, really excited that you're here. I've been waiting to record this

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for so long, one, because I've selfishly got to enjoy spending a lot of time

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with you on the team here.

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But two, just to even learn about your background, it's really cool anytime

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that I think all the work that we've done in maybe different parts of our

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career kind of get to be combined with other folks or being brought into

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different efforts.

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And so, man, just thank you for being open to co-hosting this season. It's

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going to be super fun. And yeah, man, I hope you're as excited as I am.

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We've been talking about it for the last couple of weeks. And this will be my

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first foray into the podcasting world.

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So looking forward to seeing how season four unfolds. Obviously, I've listened

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to the first three seasons and caught up with a lot of the great conversations

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that you guys, you and Brian, have had with a lot of the leaders in the

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construction industry, innovation space.

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There's tons and tons of value in a lot of those conversations. So excited to

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add my spin to conversations this season.

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Come on, the flavor from the field. But I mean, man, with that, I'm just going

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to tee you up here for some things. One, I have definitely gotten to steam and

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be a benefactor of your background and experience from the industry.

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But one would love for you to share. I think as we were thinking about just how

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we wanted to frame out the episodes for this season, it was like, "Hey, let's

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get to intro Adam."

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And like kind of talk about your background and kind of how that's played out

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before joining the structure site team, which eventually came on to the drone

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deploy team.

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And yeah, I really just kind of want to start there. Like, give us a little

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background of kind of your time and tenure out in the field, what your role was

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, what you did, how, and we'll get into some, obviously, specifics behind that.

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But yeah, I mean, let's just start with, hey, like, what were some of the

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projects you got to work on and what were some of the roles that you had on

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those jobs?

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Yeah, for sure. Kind of just real basic background grew up around the

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construction industry. My father's an architect built an awesome career there.

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And so sort of entered my career choices with that kind of background and that

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love of buildings and design in particular.

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Went to college for construction management at Sacramento State, Northern

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California. Stingers up, let's go. I'll go Hornets.

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And through a number of different avenues at college, I ended up getting an

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internship at Turner Construction in the Sacramento area.

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When I was, yeah, my first year at Sac State. So over the course of my time

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with Turner, I spent roughly just under 13 years there and got to work on a lot

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of cool, really cool, see things, get to, you know, touch and influence a lot

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of different projects.

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Yeah, my first sort of my first role at Turner Construction actually as an

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intern.

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I got my foot in the door because I had, I was just barely dangerous enough

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with a Revit model that I could spin it around and, you know, draw some walls,

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add some doors, those sorts of things.

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And one of the PMs that was involved at the Sac State CM program, he kind of

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said, hey, you know, we're looking for interns in the pre-construction

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department.

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Do you want to do want to come on board? So jumped in there, kind of became the

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one man VDC show in Turner Sacramento back in 2009 and got to get my hands

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really dirty.

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Not so much, you know, hands dirty, not so much boots dirty in that first, that

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first role, but really learning a lot of the VDC tools that were, you know,

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emerging at that point in time.

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You know, we're talking 15, 16 years ago now, so there was a lot of new stuff

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that was on the horizon. So first couple of years with Turner, I spent in the

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office in the pre-construction department.

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I was a resource to all of the projects that we had going in the Central Valley

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, Northern California area, just trying to help those project teams leverage,

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you know, the basic tools like Navisworks and Synchro and stuff that they were

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wanting to leverage on their projects.

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So I got from there, kind of, I told some executive leadership, I said, hey,

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you know, I got into construction because I like building stuff and as much fun

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as all the VDC innovation thing is, I do want to go to the field.

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And so I got my first opportunity on some tiny little tiny little storefront

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remodels for Kaiser, there were these little insurance offices that were about

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six weeks turnaround time on two of them that they overlap by three weeks.

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It was just a masterclass like first feet to the fire, Go be the superintendent

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, the project manager and the engineer all at once in this very short, short

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period of time.

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And so that was a fun first little first little bit in the field.

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From there, I got my first big job first big tea job and went out to the Stock

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ton courthouse, spent spent about two and a half, two and a half years down

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there, roughly.

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And again, feet to the fire, Turner was trying out this kind of hybrid engineer

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superintendent role back then. And so I was the engineer and superintendent for

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all of the structural trades on that project.

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So everything from, actually everything from earth moving, you know, major

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excavation for the basement, piles, shoring, structural steel, metal deck, reb

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ar, concrete, you name it, if it held that building up, it was, it was on my

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plate. And so, yeah, just tons of shop drawing learning, tons of scheduling practices,

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trying to get rushed up on.

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And yeah, got to experience a really, really cool project that ended up kind of

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shaping the skyline of Stockton, which close, oddly enough close enough to home

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, rising from Lodi, Lodi, California.

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So that was a good one too.

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I can't help but notice the big tea, little tea, it was the little tea like a

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small Turner jobs and then the big tea was like the big Turner job.

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Yeah, so Turner has a self perform, I'm sorry not so professional projects

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division SPD so it's it's a special projects divisions that generally like TI

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projects, kind of smaller volume jobs a lot faster turnaround times on those.

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Smaller crews, smaller, smaller staff, but you know, just a different type of

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project.

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And then, you know, big tea is kind of, you know, the mega jobs that everybody

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sees on LinkedIn and on the news and stuff, you know, the stadiums and

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hospitals and, and those sorts of things so.

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Yeah, my little Kaiser thing falls under sort of the SPD type of flavor, and

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then going to Stockton and the rest of my crew was a little bit more big Turner

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Nice. It's interesting to hear you. I've heard your story of your background,

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but maybe not in the context of like the VDC to the field side.

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I think oftentimes it's pretty common to hear folks coming from well, I shouldn

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't say common, but just it's something you hear more of maybe of like folks

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coming from the field into the tech side and walk me through like your interest

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And I think I made this note that was like, I came here to be a builder, like I

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want to go out and build, but obviously you, you know, found some value in kind

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of getting involved in the tech like, what was that like I mean was that like

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well received of saying like, hey, I have this background but

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I came here to build. Yeah, that's a good question and definitely something

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that I don't know that I've even really fully fully thought about and kind of

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like what the norm is and how you transition from one to the other but I guess

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throughout my life like growing up like I've always been interested in tech and

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interested in just, you know, the cool new thing when you gadgets and the new

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new ways to do things.

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I think I also have sort of an inherent kind of mentality or, or, I don't know,

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way of life, if you will, just trying to be better and more efficient at the

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jobs that I have.

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And so if there's a tool out there that will help me, you know, kind of be a

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little better at what it is I need to do every day that I'm going to try and

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leverage it at least explore it, figure out what the benefits, you know, the

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value is.

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And so I applied that, I applied that to my role and construction to start with

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in the form of learning some of these new, these new tools, right, and new

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again we're talking about 2008 2009.

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And these are not to yourself a little bit but yeah, yeah, at the time, you

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know, like VDC was, I don't even know VDC was truly like a title back then like

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it was like I was the BIM guy, right, like that was what my, my first boss

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Steve Schultz at Turner the pre construction manager there.

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And so, you know, before VDC really became a title, there were these tools that

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, you know, most of the industry didn't really even know about, you know, some

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of our project teams were like, you know, there was a lot of friction even in,

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you know, me talking to some of those teams internally, and presenting to them,

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you know, some of those newer tools and ways that they could potentially gain

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efficiencies on their projects, visualize the data different way, you know,

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just look at, look at building things differently.

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And so that was, it was kind of a nice, you know, personal way of life mixed

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with a professional opportunity.

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And again, an opportunity exactly exactly what that was. There wasn't a whole

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lot of people in my seat that had those skills at that point in time.

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And so, you know, sit down hammer mountain and figure out how to apply it to

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the field.

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You'll notice that we're going to do this quite a bit throughout the season. I

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thought that just a question that I just like popped up to my mind totally off

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script here but like, what do you feel like in 2008 was the perception of the

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field to some of these tech folks.

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And then what do you feel like the perception was from the tech folks to the

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field because like, it's interesting. I think obviously that perceptions

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changed significantly and what is that quick math in my head 15 years right.

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Like what would you say when you started that perception was like, or at least

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your kind of perspective from it.

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Yeah, that's a great question.

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In sort of the perception of the field by me and more of the innovative role at

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the innovation role at that point in time.

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I really looked at the field as a massive opportunity, right, like that was the

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arena in which a Turner or any other construction that company that's where

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they make the money right like that's that is.

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There's a saying in the industry feed the field, right, at least, you know, a

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prominent saying a Turner when I was growing up was like feed the field

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everything we do as an organization, whether it be operational, whether it be,

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you know, back a house, you know, general administration, those sorts of things

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It's all geared to feed the field, right. If we can finish jobs on time under

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budget, we make money. We have more people. We win more jobs. We have a better

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reputation. So feed the field.

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Like that was it. So from my perspective, the tools that I was learning and the

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tools that I was, you know, kind of getting more familiar with and figuring out

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how to implement them in an operational perspective.

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I looked at that as the field was the opportunity to try and put some of those

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things out there and get those field folks to adopt and be better at their jobs

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From the on the flip side, I think the perception of the innovation person, you

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know, in my role for by the field.

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You know, I think it's come a long way in that, you know, quick math 15 years.

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But I think that it's very similar or still sort of an underlying feeling of,

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you know, if I'm the superintendent on a project, my number one charge is get

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this job built on time under budget efficiently safely.

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And so, you know, what behind the years college intern comes to the job site

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and says, Hey, I have a new way for you to do your job.

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You know, there's generally going to be some resistance there and some, you

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know, some, some apprehension possibly even.

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But I like to think and, you know, more than just like to think I had some

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really good relationships with superintendents, project managers, project

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engineers, through that period of time where, you know, I got, I won a lot of

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people over from thinking about things the way they had always built them.

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And starting to think about new tools and new work, you know, new processes in

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their workflows and how to inject some of that, that efficiency and some of

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that innovation into their job.

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So I would say overall successful during that period of time, but definitely,

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you know, you know, the glass was half full for some and half empty for others

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during that period of time.

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And I think that that some of that still exists in the industry today.

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You tease my next question, which we'll get to, I'm sure once we kind of dive

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into some of our other topics, but yeah, it's interesting. I mean, you take a

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snapshot of, I mean, 10 years in construction may seem like a long time, but it

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's not very long.

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And to think back in 2008, like what perceptions were of office to field and

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field to office.

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Yeah, man, we could camp out on that for a whole, you know, conversation itself

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, but it is interesting. It's like, has that changed a lot?

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Has that not changed a lot? And I think, I don't know, would you say that you

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're, you are encouraged or discouraged of how much you've seen it change over

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time?

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I mean, obviously, you know, your role changed from, you know, being more

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focused in the field and then coming into a technology role here on the

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software side, but like from your perception, what do you see?

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Like, do you see a positive change? You feel like, oh, man, I still think there

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's a lot of room to grow.

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Well, yeah, I definitely think that there's a ton of room to grow, right? But I

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will couple that with, yeah, overall, massive positive change. I think that,

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you know, again, we're talking about this period of 10 to 15 years and you look

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at just the influence of

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a perfect, a perfect tangible example is that when I first started, BIM

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services were like an add on to a project, right? You had a budget for that.

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You look at projects nowadays, the majority of, you know, kind of that, you

16:18

know, E on our list, if you will, of commercial construction, BIM services are

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just a thing that happens, right? Because we've recognized as an industry, as a

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general contracting

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industry, we've recognized that that is by far, far and away, worth the amount

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of time you're going to spend on it to make sure you can build the job more

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efficiently, make sure you meet your schedule and that sort of thing.

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So, you know, in most cases, and I'm sure that there's a lot of anomalies out

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there, but like in most cases, that's just standard practice now for a lot of

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the contractors that we're talking to.

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So that's just one easy, tangible example of change over time that, you know,

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has shifted in that positive direction, for sure.

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Yeah, one thing we talked about, too, like even last season, like how much that

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tangible is changed by just like teams and job titles. Like imagine, like, you

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said, like, oh, the BIM kid, right? Like, back in '08, like, think of how much

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time you're going to be able to change your schedule, like, I mean, think of how many, like, teams and careers and departments have

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been made since 2008 and how much that has changed. And yeah, I mean, that's

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fascinating to think about, too.

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And that, for sure, could be another topic in itself. But yeah, I would throw

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on top of that. Just to interject one more thing there, too, is, and, you know,

17:33

if any of my old Turner, my Turner exactly are listening to any of this.

17:36

You know, when I was a kid, right, again, that two years into that internship

17:42

and realizing that I had the keys to tools that would make the job in the field

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better, that we weren't, like, vastly and widely training our people on, right?

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These are new things that hadn't made any sort of that corporate training model

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yet.

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And so one of the things that I pitched at near the end of that internship and

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kind of as I had gotten more familiar with my role was like, hey, why aren't we

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cross training all of our, all of our field staff on some of these tools that

18:07

would make them better at their jobs, right?

18:09

Yeah, sure. We're training engineers and superintendents on P6. That's great.

18:13

But why aren't we training engineers and superintendents on Navisworks, for

18:17

instance?

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It's like, let's empower them to jump into a model and be able to, you know,

18:21

spin it around, navigate, walk around the model and not get, you know, fully

18:25

lost and twisted out in space, making something that they're familiar with and

18:29

comfortable with so that it doesn't take a specialized, you know, intern Adam

18:34

to show up on the job to open the Navisworks model and get it into the hands of

18:38

the people who would benefit.

18:38

And, you know, put together this great PowerPoint slide that showed the career

18:43

development of me being the person training all those people. It was a funny

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thing. So it's kind of a modeled sort of today's innovation leaders back in

18:51

2009.

18:52

Yeah, it's interesting too is like, I mean, not to camp too long in the 15 year

18:57

ago mentality, but like, I mean, I've had, it's weren't really a thing 15 years

19:02

ago, right? It's like, it's interesting how, you know, I feel like we've talked

19:07

about this maybe two seasons ago, season two of like, how much hardware and

19:13

software have to be in sync with each other for this to really like catch fire

19:17

and really like get developed well within, or I should say,

19:21

operationalized well within companies because it's like, yeah, you could have

19:25

some really amazing and powerful tools, but if the tool is like a laptop in a

19:29

field office that is like being used by a superintendent, it's like, yeah, but

19:34

that's, that's not where they're spending a majority of their day and they

19:37

should be or it could be, you know, out on the job and

19:38

yeah, just it's interesting to think and I'm sure we'll have these

19:41

conversations and I know we'll have these conversations with a lot of field

19:45

folks in this season of like, hey, what were the transformative hardware

19:48

solutions that came out in your career?

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And hey, what were the like transformative software things that have come out

19:54

and I mean, we're definitely in that, you know, season now with all things AI

19:58

and all things, you know, intelligence and whatnot. But anyway, I'm teasing.

20:02

I'm teasing. Yeah, I had a front row seat to, to all shout out Tracy Young from

20:08

Plangrid. She went to Sac State and

20:10

yeah, we were participate on the same design build competition team back then

20:15

and had a front row seat to her saying we max our credit cards to buy a bunch

20:19

of iPads to give to contractors.

20:21

And that was the birth of Plangrid and so, you know, got to watch that sort of

20:26

meteoric rise to exactly your point. You know, it was just, that was a hardware

20:30

change and that was just a vehicle to give, you know, to take a workflow that

20:35

contractors were already, you know, obviously very entrenched in using drawings

20:39

and moving that from a plan table in a trailer to the hands of a superintendent

20:43

out in the field and just the efficiency that was, was there.

20:46

Pretty awesome, pretty awesome to watch. It's crazy to think I remember this is

20:51

going to date me a little bit, but I remember when the iPad got announced and

20:54

people being like, it's going to be a big phone, like it's just a big iPhone.

20:57

How are we? And then like the whole construction industry was like, this is

21:01

amazing. I can like, you know, actually multi touch this thing and not like

21:05

have to use a stylist anyway. It's just funny to think like how hardware really

21:09

does have to come in at the right.

21:10

Like, of course software is a huge component of it too, but I've used this

21:14

analogy that there's just like this unique dance like one can't get too far,

21:17

you know, in front of the other and the other can't get too far behind and

21:21

really when they intersect on their innovation paths like that's the key, you

21:25

know, moment of success that like hey, take advantage.

21:27

And then there's a unique eclipse, I guess, if we want to call it that of like

21:31

two things really coming together. Anyway, great things that we're teasing for

21:34

for throughout the season and conversations too. But yeah, I think to that

21:38

point and kind of going down the technology route like how have you seen it

21:47

change like obviously you, you got to see it on small jobs, bigger jobs, things

21:47

like that. But like, yeah, maybe maybe alluded to that a little bit too at just kind of

21:52

your perspective from being from the field like how much you have seen that

21:56

journey and come along in the time that you were out there.

21:59

Yeah, I mean we've already called out a couple of them right them being a

22:04

standard. That's a that's, you know, that's table stakes these days.

22:09

So, I think playing grid iPads moving out to the field I think to your point,

22:14

not just playing good but iPad in general with nowadays you have pretty much

22:19

every tool is is is built or formatted to, you know, be able to be used on

22:23

those iPads and, you know, I think the evolution of the safety vest to include

22:29

the back iPad note pocket on it.

22:32

You know, it's going to those hardware changes in the most in the most simplest

22:39

sense but yeah I think just there's an attitude shift as well I think from the

22:43

field right we're seeing tools that, you know, pro core for instance, having

22:48

everything you need for project management within that platform that was the last on my last

22:54

project we used we had implemented and started use pro core there.

22:58

You know so the changes, I guess maybe the obvious most obvious changes the

23:03

number of solutions that are out there, right the, you know, back in 2008 you

23:08

had a handful of of auto desk products that were, you know, were and a lot of

23:13

them are still very

23:13

important in what we do. But nowadays like I saw an old colleague I think pro

23:20

program break last year and he was still in construction industry innovation

23:24

role walking around looking at everything that was, you know, there to

23:27

be at his fingertips, it's a manual, I kind of don't envy you in this role

23:33

right now and having to pick a pony and you know and try and, you know,

23:36

implement it and institutionalize it at your organization because everything's

23:40

just changing so fast and there are so many solutions out there and so many

23:45

options that, you know, it poses a big challenge for those folks so I think

23:49

just to answer your question the changes that have come about

23:53

I mean, there's a plethora of things that are available to the industry now

23:58

that now it's a matter of filtering, you know, sorting through it and trying to

24:02

standardize on things and really empower the people in the field to use the

24:06

best tools.

24:07

And so I know this is going to come up many times in the conversations we have

24:12

had and will have in the season of just like the feed the field mentality like,

24:22

you feel like that's easier or harder with all the different like options that

24:23

are out there like, I think on one hand it can be like, oh man,

24:24

now I have so many things at my fingertips or, you know, a store essentially

24:28

like go through and kind of this app mentality of like, oh, there's an app for

24:32

this now for that like, you feel like the kind of plethora of options enhances

24:37

feed the field mentality or like makes it harder or like is still neutral like

24:43

what I love the term I mean I think that obviously like resonates with a lot of

24:47

people and should almost be like a motto for a lot of the folks that are

24:50

probably listening like hey it's not helping you feed the field like I would

24:54

really start to wonder the, you know, need of the investment behind it but

24:58

yeah just talk about how like how crowded it's gotten and is that helpful or

25:03

not from your perspective being in that field kind of role.

25:07

Yeah, from my perspective I think to your point feed the field it if you can.

25:14

If you understand that phrase, you know, at its core, the intent is to remove

25:21

as many roadblocks as possible for the operations team on the project so that

25:27

they can deliver that job as efficiently and successfully as possible.

25:33

There is a very easy, I guess, stumbling block in in that by introducing too

25:43

much stuff.

25:44

Right if every solution you find on the market is something you want to try and

25:49

you want to hand it to a project team that can pretty quickly become a

25:52

distraction.

25:53

Right it can become too much it can become overload. So I think that there is a

26:02

balance between value and you know experimentation right if I can use that word

26:10

loosely.

26:11

Trying to find and vet solutions that are really really valuable in the context

26:16

of a field application, I think is the most important thing today with that

26:20

plethora of options that are out there with with the availability of so many

26:26

things that, you know, every

26:27

tech company website you look at it's the it's the number one in the world it's

26:28

the best available in this. Yeah, the x y and z right we do it too.

26:36

So, you know, really trying to put put value on why you're implementing a piece

26:42

of technology or innovation is can is the biggest thing and just stay out of

26:47

the way of the builders right there are a lot of very, very smart, talented

26:53

superintendents engineers Q a QC people safety folks like those people are, you

26:58

know, working burning the candle both ends in a lot of cases to deliver a world

27:03

class building.

27:04

And you know that's that's the way I felt during my years in the field is, you

27:08

know, my number one goal every day is to make sure this project stays on track.

27:12

And, you know, my job as a superintendent during that period of time was to

27:17

remove as many roadblocks remove as many constraints as I could for the people

27:21

who are actually swinging hammers right that's a really important note in, you

27:27

know, 13 years at Turner construction never swung a hammer once.

27:29

Right, it's it's the people in the field that are that are actually that are

27:33

actually building those jobs.

27:34

Yeah, totally. It's funny hearing you say some of those things like these past

27:39

episodes and conversations like come up so vividly of, you know, hey, like, if

27:44

you're not like developing problem statements and really things that like are

27:50

identifying the needs here, like that may be a really good sign that it may not

27:55

be something you need or use

27:55

And I guess to that, and maybe I'm again taking a little bit of a right term

28:00

but like, would you, would you from a field perspective, like appreciate the

28:04

like questions and asking like, hey, like, what are your problem statements

28:09

that you're trying to solve?

28:11

Or would you almost like prefer kind of said technology role person be like,

28:16

hey, this is what I'm perceiving your problems or challenges are from the

28:20

position I'm in.

28:21

Is this true or not like how much of that problem statement like brainstorming

28:26

process. Do you think the field like wants to be involved with? Does that make

28:31

sense?

28:31

Yeah, it does. It's an interesting question. I think, you know, I think the

28:35

answer to that will vary from person to person for me personally.

28:39

And, you know, I was always kind of the champion persona for the tech solutions

28:43

that I was that I was interested in. Obviously my introduction to structure

28:48

site and, you know, ultimately leading me to working here was one of those was

28:52

one of those kind of scenarios.

28:53

But I think that there's definitely, there's definitely a time in place and one

28:58

thing that that should be stressed, I think, and, you know, I think a lot of

29:02

the people who are potentially listening to this may already understand this

29:07

but it's very difficult to

29:08

change course, right? Once that ship leaves the station, it leaves port, that

29:13

train leaves the station, which is the project starting, right? Once that once

29:19

you break, break ground on a project, it is in the best interest of the field

29:24

to have the tech stack figured out by that point, right?

29:26

It's really difficult to insert new technology and training, changing your

29:32

processes and workflows midstream. And so I think that there's a really good

29:37

opportunity for exactly that where talk to the builders, talk to the field

29:41

staff, those operation staff between projects, right?

29:44

The cool thing about the construction industry is it's very cyclical. We get to

29:49

go just nose to the grindstone all in on a project for 12 to 36 months roughly,

29:54

you know, kind of on average, I would guess.

29:57

And then you get a chance to reset, right? Once that project's done, you get to

30:02

go to the new one and it's the next one and it's a clean slate, right? This

30:05

next one's going to be the best project I ever built. That was always the, that

30:10

was always the the terms. So use that sort of downtime in between, which across an

30:16

organization, you're going to have generally a lot of those people, you know,

30:21

throughout the year, moving from job to job, pull them in for a few minutes,

30:24

right? Talk to them and be like, hey, check this out.

30:26

Is this something that you'd find interesting? While their minds are clear,

30:30

while they have that sort of lull in the action, when it's peak performance,

30:34

peak time on the schedule, it's really tough to try and solicit some of that

30:39

feedback.

30:39

So, yeah, you don't want to build a process and a building at the same time,

30:44

right? Like, that's tough. It's not easy to do. What's challenging in that too,

30:50

though, is like, I don't know. And we obviously have a lot of folks from the

30:55

software side and listen into this too.

30:55

And it's hard because I've seen it having been an end result of a customer and

31:01

also seeing it on this side a little bit too of like the, oh, but yeah, like,

31:06

hey, just try this or like, like trial or beta test or pilot, I think is the

31:11

word like, you know, and it's hard.

31:13

We talked about this again in some other episodes in past seasons of like, hey,

31:18

defining what a pilot process is like, and honestly extending that to like, hey

31:23

, are pilots something that you are open to doing during a project or hey, like,

31:28

start at the beginning.

31:29

It's just so fascinating because, yeah, I think you said it really well, like,

31:34

the best time to do it obviously is the is at the beginning of the job to not

31:38

overwhelm folks, but I also would like kind of counter to saying like, there's

31:42

some times that you just need a unique solution in the project that it may work

31:48

out, like, and I don't know success rates, right?

31:50

Like, let's call it 5050 of like something being successful halfway through a

31:55

project versus that being at the beginning, but yeah, like, it's funny what

31:59

innovation comes out of just true need and what innovation comes out of like

32:03

really true intentional planning of like, this is our goal.

32:05

This is what we want to do for the job and yeah, almost having a balance of

32:09

both.

32:09

But obviously to your point, like you don't want to be building those processes

32:14

like during the job, right?

32:15

And I think to add on to that too, I think that something that I found was very

32:20

successful during my time and something that I'm sure a lot of other people

32:24

have figured out already but my very last project or my last project while I

32:30

was working at Turner was the natural resources building

32:31

in Sacramento. I was responsible for the entire basic exterior skin of that

32:38

building. One system that we had as part of the exterior skin was, it really

32:42

wasn't even a system real building system when we got to it.

32:44

It was these really cool rammed earth like precast panels, if you will,

32:51

effectively had to create a building system out of this kind of material that

32:56

the architect wanted on that project.

32:58

One of the major constraints to that was the structural aspect of this. We're

33:02

going to make sure these panels don't fall off the building.

33:04

Well, okay, we have to design a frame for that. We have to design a bunch of

33:07

supplemental steel to get that in and hang them on the building.

33:10

And one of the things that I found absolutely critical to that was laser

33:15

scanning of existing supplemental steel that we had installed already.

33:20

And then a full blown like them coordination effort of exterior skin

33:24

connections to those pieces of steel that I could then move around on the back

33:28

of the panel so that when those panels showed up, they hung on the building and

33:33

we had no issues.

33:33

Had a superintendent and slash engineer during that period of time, not wearing

33:39

the true like innovation VDC cap. I knew that the tools were available to me.

33:44

I knew that the use case that I was looking for would work with what we had.

33:48

And it was a matter of me just asking and saying, Hey, I have this problem.

33:52

Can we use these tools to solve it? And the answer was yes, we managed to get

33:58

through it. And everything worked out, you know, without a hitch.

34:02

So that what the point there is, make sure I guess as an organization, what you

34:07

can do is just educate the staff educate the operations people on what is on

34:12

deck like what do we have what's in the toolbox.

34:15

And then empower them to think outside of the normal sort of quote unquote way

34:23

we've always done it.

34:24

And, Hey, maybe that, you know, that tool that we had that I heard about at the

34:28

last quarterly business meeting from some other superintendent or another

34:32

innovation guy. Maybe that works in this scenario. Let me make that phone call.

34:36

Right. And so just having that sort of mentality on a job site is super helpful

34:41

in these in these conversations.

34:43

Yeah, well said. I mean, again, just these episodes and conversations keep

34:48

coming to mind like there was a guest we had on, I think two seasons ago, that

34:52

was like, Hey, my desire to create almost like a Yelp or reviewed like Doc of

34:59

like, Hey, here's all the tools at our disposal.

35:00

Here's the use cases. Here's where like they had value. Here's where we like

35:05

tried them that didn't fit into its use case like, yeah, I mean, maybe it's not

35:09

as much more about like, Hey, defining the processes you go.

35:12

Like, Hey, really defining the tools you have at your disposal at the beginning

35:16

of this thing so that when those times present itself. Hey, you're not, you're

35:20

not basically doing the searching for the tool. You're more doing the like

35:24

searching for application of it in its best capacity of like, Hey, that we know

35:30

this is in the wheelhouse of what this intended use of this tool is.

35:32

We're going to use the hammer for the hammer. We're going to use a screwdriver

35:35

for the screwdriver. But yeah, at the end of the day, like you got to make sure

35:39

that you know what tools are in that toolbox.

35:41

And that is, I think where this kind of blend of like field and office do have

35:46

to like come together and be like, Hey, like, let's constantly evaluate our

35:50

toolbox. Like, what are the things that are working? What are not?

35:53

Do we have two tools that are doing the same thing that ultimately like is just

35:58

causing it to be more challenging or as their optimization in a tool? Like,

36:03

that's where I think at the end of jobs.

36:04

Like, that's the super exciting part is like almost like a retro of the project

36:09

, you know, technology stack. If you call it that and you know, I don't know how

36:13

that may be a phrase, but

36:14

I'm at that point. In fact, I was having a conversation with somebody today. It

36:18

's like, we don't really do the term retro was new to me coming to the tech side

36:24

of things.

36:24

You know, you do probably from your experience and, you know, after being part

36:29

of the product or here for a little while and like, you know, we plan something

36:32

, we build some stuff and we retro.

36:33

We figure out what we do well. What we do well. That doesn't happen in the

36:37

construction industry as much as I, at least from my perspective, like it never

36:41

really happened at the end of a job where we pulled all the people who worked

36:43

on that job back into a room for two, three hours and said, what do we screw up

36:48

What do we do really well? What do you want to do differently next time? Right.

36:52

And that could be applied not just to the tech stack side of things, but even

36:55

just the process of building relationships with owners and engineers architects

36:59

You know, how can we make this industry better by having those records?

37:03

It is that though. Like, is that a culture thing? Is that a timing thing? I

37:08

mean, because you hear about project teams that are like, I'm taking two weeks,

37:11

three weeks, four weeks off after this job because we just like sprinted over

37:13

the finish line.

37:14

Like, what is the meaning of the group?

37:17

Okay.

37:18

Yeah, I think it's timing. I mean, you know, the peak, you know, if you look at

37:22

your manpower, you can't show all of those curves right when they peak and then

37:25

they, you know, you run them out until the end of the job and then they start

37:28

to. They start to taper off during that taper period is when, you know, GCs are

37:32

trying to pull staff, right? It's like, yeah, okay, Adam, you're off this job.

37:37

No, you're going to go start the next one grant your office job a month later.

37:41

You're going to go start that next one. And so we tend to then splinter the

37:45

team towards the end as that job starts to taper down.

37:48

You know, and then, you know, then, then the, the, the age old question of like

37:53

, when is the project actually finished? Right? Is it when?

37:56

Is it when like the punch list is complete? Is it when you actually turn over

38:00

the building to the owner? Is it when you get final payment? Is it, you know,

38:04

like, when is it done?

38:05

So when is that sort of line to bring all those people who have you've, you've

38:09

now split off to the other jobs when you bring them back into a room? And so I

38:12

think that's probably the biggest hurdle.

38:13

I mean, in your opinion, like what, what is the most effective catalyst to

38:19

change that? Is that like the innovation person's role or the tech person's

38:23

role? Is it the like field team being very active?

38:25

Like, I don't want to ever see that thing again. Like, obviously the answer is

38:31

both, right? But like someone has to initiate it. Like, is there from your

38:36

opinion? Is there one over the other?

38:39

Uh, I guess, yeah, I didn't really thought about it. My opinion would be it's

38:44

probably in the best interest of the business as a whole. And so it's probably

38:49

a function of, of that kind of executive leadership.

38:54

You know, I would say that, you know, you have a PX that either oversees a

38:58

massive job or multiple smaller jobs. You know, I would even put on, on that

39:02

person's plate, that sort of retro, right? Leave the retro at the end of the

39:06

job.

39:06

Um, you know, because, because so much of what we learned during a construction

39:11

project could benefit, you know, the way that we practice scheduling at a

39:14

corporate level, the way that we practice pre construction estimating at a

39:19

corporate level, right?

39:19

So many of the findings of the job should be fed back to those auxiliary, um,

39:24

those auxiliary functions. So then again, in the interest of feeding the field

39:28

in the future, if we can disseminate our learnings, we set ourselves up for,

39:32

for success.

39:33

Um, you know, even even better on the next job.

39:35

I think we just found some questions that were for sure going to put in front

39:39

of people for sure. Yeah. I like. Yeah. I mean, it is tricky, right? I, it's so

39:44

easy to point the finger. It's so easy to be like, Oh, that's their

39:47

responsibility, right?

39:48

Or that's, you know, another team or department, but it really is. And that's

39:52

why I kind of almost asked at a like cultural level, right? Like everyone is

39:56

obviously keen to get feedback and, you know, there's parts of review cycles,

40:00

promotions, all that.

40:01

But like, yeah, at the same time, like, you know, these projects, gosh, such a

40:06

such a big miss is when just go to the next one and you don't either implement

40:11

and you know that, right? Like, that's just so tricky about this is that.

40:14

And hopefully, I mean, that's what we're trying to elevate here, right? Like,

40:20

that's what we're trying to do is, you know, share, share stories of when that

40:23

's worked and maybe share some horror stories of when it hasn't.

40:25

You kind of see that happening again and again on other jobs. But yeah, it's

40:29

interesting, man. It would be great. Like, great thoughts to like questions. I

40:32

'm sure we are going to ask some folks.

40:33

I think a good example too is, you know, just to, I guess, maybe one time in

40:38

this episode, just tie it back to kind of what we do now is, you know, my

40:41

experience before that last project, the natural resources job, I came off of

40:46

healthcare.

40:48

We built a new wing to a hospital in Oakland was a superintendent on that

40:53

project. And that was when I was approached by the very first wave, the

40:57

beginning of these platforms that were utilizing these 360 cameras.

41:01

And, you know, Philip Lorenzo, co-founder of, of "Struction Site" and knocked

41:04

on my trailer door and just said, "Hey, man, I'm going to give you this camera

41:09

and go take pictures." And you know, it was sort of a little bit of apprehens

41:12

ive.

41:12

I caught myself in my own sort of, "This is the way we do. We've always done it

41:17

ways." It's like, "Now I got to carve out extra time to go take pictures." But

41:21

I'll give it a shot, right? Being, being sort of that more forward-thinking

41:25

person.

41:25

When did it started to find myself and my team looking at those photos pretty

41:30

often, leveraging the content that we had generated on the project over the

41:34

course of, you know, those, that period of time.

41:37

And then by the time I finished that project and moved to the natural resources

41:43

job, I spoke to the PXPM on that project and said, "Hey, you need to carve out

41:48

money because I'm buying five of those cameras and we're going to buy "St

41:51

ruction Site" because we have to have that on this next job.

41:54

And from that, you know, then fast forward the next three and a half years on

41:59

that job, I now talk to people who I was on that project with, who are on their

42:03

next jobs, and they've brought "Struction Site" with them to the next job

42:05

because they saw the value that I saw.

42:07

And so I think just getting the ball rolling, right, it's that snowball effect

42:11

of exposing people to new tech, finding value, implementation on the next job,

42:16

right?

42:16

And so that's how we kind of further the industry as a whole, just through

42:20

positive use cases.

42:21

Yeah, and it's funny even hearing you like explain that. I go back to like what

42:25

we were talking about earlier, like this intersection of hardware and software.

42:28

Like, obviously people were trying to stitch together 360 photos from

42:33

individual photos and I think there was a tool called like "Photo Sphere" or "

42:38

Photo Simple" like that, like tried to do that.

42:40

But like, this period that we're in, I would say the line of hardware and

42:45

software are so close to each other, they're obviously not on top of each other

42:48

One's always going to kind of excel more than the other. But we are in an

42:52

extended season that hardware and software are very much in tune with each

42:57

other.

42:57

Man, I hate the kind of folks that are getting left behind in it. I'm just like

43:04

, "Hey, don't let your missed opportunities of doing retros and asking your team

43:11

, like what could have been helpful or what worked or didn't work,

43:13

like prevent you from getting the value out of these very simple tools." Very

43:18

simple. Like, we're not talking, you know, schedule, altering, you know,

43:23

processes of technology.

43:25

Like, "Hey, these are enhancing the things that you're doing." But yeah, the

43:29

season of hardware and software being as close as they are, I think just bodes

43:34

well for a lot of folks that, really their relationship with technology, maybe

43:39

that's what I'm like, kind of trying to get to,

43:40

is like, "Hey, this is a really exciting season." And obviously you can get

43:44

incredibly overwhelmed with all the software out there. Obviously, there's a

43:48

ton of hardware as well, maybe not as many.

43:50

But yeah, it's just interesting. It's interesting to kind of think of it in

43:54

that sense of like, when you talk about the ground swell and just kind of the

43:58

momentum that's behind it, it's like, that's hand to hand, right?

44:01

Or that's eye to eye, that's like, trailer to trailer. Like, you're going

44:05

around and saying like, "Hey, take these lessons that I learned on this job.

44:09

Don't make these same mistakes. Do these things different." And then that job

44:13

gets, you know, a one and a half X improvement of the things that you just

44:17

learned on the last one.

44:18

For sure. Yeah, that's an awesome perspective, awesome viewpoint on it. And I

44:24

think I'm going to confuse a lot of listeners this season with my pick the side

44:29

of the line, Adam, are you an innovation guy or are you a superintendent? What

44:32

are you, right?

44:32

And I'm going to follow that with, there's also the mentality that I think I

44:36

would caution a lot of people on. And it's like, there's always that if it ain

44:41

't broke, don't fix it too.

44:42

Right. Implementing something for the sake of implementing something isn't

44:46

always that valuable. Right? Yeah, you could force your way to a win in the

44:51

long term. But like, sometimes you just got to let it happen too.

44:54

Right? And so, you know, there's, there are staple processes and staple things

44:59

that I have to do as a superintendent or an engineer or project manager that

45:04

are just inherent to the building process. Those things have to get done every

45:06

day.

45:06

And yeah, maybe today isn't the right day for me to try something new. You know

45:12

, for the innovation folks, don't take that as a loss. Just take it as a let's

45:15

try it tomorrow. Right? And you know, find the right time to put that in place

45:21

or to experiment.

45:22

Yeah, I feel like an indirect theme of this, this like just conversation here

45:26

in your thoughts is like how important and critical timing is and what you can

45:30

control it and what you can't.

45:32

And don't like lose heart in the ways that you can't control it. But man, fully

45:36

take advantage when you can. And that's just something that obviously like your

45:41

background and story shows and lose a lot too. So, Adam, this has been super

45:45

fun. We're going to have a ton of fun this season. I can already envision the

45:49

conversations and hot takes and questions and folks for folks, but anything you

45:54

'd want to leave folks with of just some excitement that you're thinking about

45:57

and the conversations we're going to have with some field folks this season.

46:00

No, man, I'm, I don't think so. Nothing too overwhelming. I think maybe the

46:05

only thought is that, you know, I am, I'm real excited to be part of this now.

46:09

Again, having watched a lot of the last few seasons.

46:12

You know, the emphasis from me being cohost or one of the cohosts on this

46:17

season too is just been how outspoken and loud I've been internally.

46:21

You know, maybe a little look behind the curtain for everybody is that I've

46:25

been barking to product and marketing and everybody internally like, hey, we

46:28

need to be talking to more of the field users. And so, I guess I got what I

46:32

asked for. And they said, cool.

46:32

And now you're the face of this with Grant. So, tell them, let's do it. I'm

46:37

excited to get to get, again, get the boots dirty, go out on job sites, talk to

46:41

the people who are actually building the buildings and listen to them and

46:44

figure out what it is that they want.

46:45

What it is we can do better for them.

46:47

Yeah, totally. It's super fun. I think just to think through a lot of these

46:52

things. And yeah, we just hope that you guys as the listeners are encouraged by

46:56

what we're, you know, wanting to put in front of you and ultimately like that

47:00

there's takeaways.

47:00

There's like tangible things that you year in this that you're like, oh man, I

47:04

really think that that could be something that I can go back to my team or our

47:08

field staff and really share with them.

47:10

I mean, Adam and I are not here to just enjoy a good conversation. We are here

47:15

to put really smart people and really, I think great lessons learned as a part

47:19

of their journey in front of you guys, just to be able to enhance the things

47:23

that you're doing.

47:24

So, Adam, this is going to be fun, man. I'm really excited for the upcoming

47:28

season and want just appreciate you sharing your story, man. It's, it's

47:31

encouraging. I've always neglected to appreciate enough of how much experience

47:37

we have in this space of construction on our team.

47:39

Here at Dronopoy and man, it is, it is going to definitely show itself, not

47:43

only in the conversations that we're going to have, but hopefully the

47:46

improvements we're making in the product. So appreciate your time, man. It's

47:51

going to be a good time.

47:51

And also just appreciate you guys listening in. Be on the lookout for all the

47:56

build different downloads, the things that we've been doing to recap these

47:59

episodes and some other really fun things that we're going to be putting in

48:02

also throughout the season, which is kind of a site visit initiative and some

48:07

things that we hope to kind of further

48:08

show, like, hey, conversations don't just happen in these vacuums. We got to

48:13

get out and get our boots dirty and hear from the folks in the field too of

48:16

what they're seeing value. And so some fun stuff on the horizon with that too.

48:20

But Adam, really appreciate it, man.

48:21

I'm excited to have you on and look forward to seeing you more and having you

48:24

on throughout the season. Sounds great. Thanks, man. Awesome. We'll take care

48:29

team. We will see you on the next one and see you soon.

48:31

Make sure to subscribe to build different on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and

48:35

anywhere you listen to podcasts. Let's build this community together.

48:38

together.

48:39

(upbeat music)

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