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Conversations Around the Corner
90 minutes | May 11, 2020
Bart Ricketts - CEO of Lease Crutcher Lewis
Bart Ricketts is the CEO of Lease Crutcher Lewis. In our conversation today, we talk about growing up with parents as teachers, making company values intrinsic, the most engaging podcasts, and the value of diversity of thought.
76 minutes | Feb 25, 2020
Ryan Maibach - CEO of Barton Malow
Ryan Maibach is the President and CEO of Barton Malow, a general contractor based in Southfield, Michigan. In our conversation today, we talk about developing your emotional intelligence, construction theory vs. practice, the best Will Ferrell movie, and how technology will reshape the built environment.
71 minutes | Jan 5, 2020
Dirk Elsperman - COO of Tarlton Corporation
Dirk Elsperman is the COO of Tarlton Corporation, a St. Louis-based construction company started by his grandfather in 1946. This year, Dirk has also been serving as President of the Associated General Contractors of America. In our conversation today, we talk about running a business with your sibling, competing in adventure races, the child-like instinct to build, and the number one highlight of Dirk’s AGC term so far.
56 minutes | Nov 6, 2019
Kevin McClain - CEO of The Weitz Company
Kevin McClain is the President and CEO of The Weitz Company, one of the oldest architectural/engineering/construction firms in the United States. Kevin, who graduated from Iowa State with a B.S. in Construction Engineering, held numerous positions within Weitz before becoming CEO in 2017. The company ranks in the Top 100 of ENR's Top 400 Contractors List.In our conversation today, we talk about running a cross country meet barefoot, the value of a liberal arts education, the best routes to bike in Colorado, and moving from employee to public ownership.
79 minutes | Oct 20, 2019
Bill Abromitis - CEO of Clune Construction Company
In this episode, Matt and Eric sit down with Bill Abromitis, CEO of Clune Construction Company, at Clune's Chicago headquarters. A Chicago native himself, Bill graduated from Northern Illinois University and has over 30 years of experience in the construction industry. Clune repeatedly ranks on ENR's Top 400 Contractors List.In our conversation today, we talk about growing up on the South Side of Chicago, working during the 1992 Chicago River floor, hunting for pheasants in South Dakota, and being in the right place at the right time.
80 minutes | Sep 9, 2019
Dave Layton - CEO of Layton
Dave Layton is the President and CEO of Layton Construction Company, a business started by his father in 1953 in which he took over in 2004. Layton ranks as #44 on ENR's Top 400 Contractor's List. Dave graduated from Brigham Young University and has attended the OPM Program at Harvard Business School. In our conversation today, we talk about building for the Winter Olympics, creating trust with clients, wake boarding on Lake Powell, and the uses of drone technology for construction.
93 minutes | Aug 14, 2019
Mike Neal - CEO of KAST Construction Company
Mike Neal is the President and CEO of KAST Construction Company. Mike became CEO of KAST in 2011 shortly after the recession rocked the economy in Florida. KAST Construction Company consistently ranks on ENR's Top 400 Contractors List.Mike is a graduate of the University of Florida and has spent his entire career in the construction industry. In our conversation today, we talk about how to keep cool in the Florida heat, the importance of company culture, road biking in the desert, reasons to come out of retirement, and the best rods and reels for fly fishing.
78 minutes | Jun 28, 2019
Jim Swanson - CEO of Kitchell
Jim Swanson is the President and CEO of Kitchell Corporation. Founded in 1950 as a commercial contracting business, Kitchell has since developed into a holdings entity for five companies. Kitchell consistently ranks in ENR's Top 400 Contractors List.With a degree in finance from the University of Michigan, Jim worked in consulting until 2008 when he transitioned to CEO at Kitchell. In our conversation today, we talk about influential teachers, first-year consultants, the strengths of employee ownership, and knowing what you don't know.
68 minutes | Jun 23, 2019
Jim Johnson - CEO of GE Johnson
Jim Johnson is the President and CEO of GE Johnson, a general contracting company founded in 1967 by his father, Gil Johnson. GE Johnson consistently ranks on ENR's Top 400 Contractors List.A graduate of Kansas State University, Jim started out at GE Johnson as a laborer before eventually becoming vice president and later president and CEO. In our conversation today, we talk about growing up in a family business, running marathons, servant leadership, trends in the millennial workforce, and the best trail in Colorado.
89 minutes | Mar 25, 2019
Jeff Hoopes - CEO of Swinerton
Jeff Hoopes is the CEO of Swinerton Construction, a $5 billion construction firm. In 2018, Swinerton was ranked #19 on ENR's Top 400 Contractor's List. In our conversation today, we talk about what not to do when hunting Elk, the best way to waste an MBA, construction supply chain innovation, how to avoid boom and bust cycles as a general contractor, and the most important things to work on as young construction professionals.
89 minutes | Oct 21, 2018
Jim Donaghy - Executive Chairman of Structure Tone
Our guest today is Jim Donaghy, Executive Chairman of Structure Tone, a $4 billion construction services firm headquartered in New York City. In 2018, the company was ranked no.16 worldwide on Engineering News Record’s Top 400 Contractors List. Jim learned the business from the bottom up, holding various positions in operations, estimating, and management. Jim is a graduate of Hofstra University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, and has completed the Columbia Business School Senior Executive Program. Jim lives in Old Tappan, NJ, with his wife and son. In our conversation we talk about building for the Olympics, strategic planning, and the best way to waste a million dollars. We hope you enjoy the conversation. Conversations Around the Corner Welcome to Conversations Around the Corner where we talk to construction executives about who they are and how they got there, inspiring the next generation of construction leaders. Conversations Around the Corner is Produced by Wallprotex, the designer and manufacturer of wall protection products for healthcare, hospitality, or any commercial building. Visit us at www.wallprotex.com. For questions or comments, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. F
98 minutes | Jul 9, 2018
Bob McCleskey - Executive Chairman of Sellen Construction
Our guest today is Bob McCleskey. Bob was the CEO of Sellen Construction for 10 years and recently moved into the role of Executive Chairman. In our conversation today we discuss the 60 window failure that almost ended his career, the back of a napkin calculation that moved him into leadership, and the heart attack that helped a healthy man plan his next move. We hope you enjoy the conversation. Thanks for listening to Conversations Around the Corner produced by Wallprotex - the designer and manufacturer of wall protection products for healthcare, hospitality, or any commercial building (https://www.wallprotex.com. Be sure to subscribe in iTunes, Google Podcasts, or Stitcher and tune in next week when we will have another conversation, around the corner.
75 minutes | Mar 9, 2018
Cleve Whitener - CEO of Lauren Engineers and Constructors
Cleve Whitener, CEO and Lauren Engineers & Constructors. Since 1984, Lauren Engineers & Constructors has been designing and constructing highly specialized facilities in the chemicals and polymers, power, oil and gas, and refining industries. Cleve has over 44 years of experience in ownership and management of engineering, procurement and construction companies. He took his B.A. at Southern Methodist in Mechanical Engineering and did graduate coursework in business administration at University of Texas at Arlington as well as Dallas Theological Seminary. In our conversation today we discuss building power plants, hunting dogs, and the problems with 5 year plans. We hope you enjoy the conversation. | Transcription | Interviewer: So how long have you been in Abilene? Cleve: Let's see, 24 years. Interviewer: And you grew up in Dallas, is that correct? Cleve: Yes. Interviewer: Tell us a little bit about your family like, what did your father do? Cleve: Well, my dad was an attorney and my mom was a stay-at-home mom. We grew up in the '50s and '60s so that was a different time. We, you know, moved to Lake Collins when I was eight years old. We'd lived down the coast for a little while and then we lived another close by Lake Collins, but Lake Collins was a new school. It was part of Richardson Schools, and we moved out there, we all moved there in the third grade, or before the third grade. So my mom still is lives in the same house that was, you know, 60 years ago. And dad lived there until he passed away three years ago. Interviewer: So, that's kind of like typical post-war boom area, right? New developments, new schools, expanding neighborhoods eras, is that right then? Cleve: Yeah. Very much middle class, you know, neighborhood. Difficult house was, you know, three-bedroom, 2,000 square foot, two bath-house I think, probably every house in the street was… while, they were individually built and custom homes, I think they were all just about the same. In our house, I have four brothers or, you know, four brothers and sisters. Two brothers, two sisters and for a long time my grandad, because my grandma died when we were… I guess was about 12, and my grandad came to live with us. So, in one room, I had two brothers and grandad that shared a fairly small bedroom. Interviewer: All right. Cleve: That was a different time in the US. You know, certainly we always have fine memories of childhood but I actually think that was the best time for America. Interviewer: Do you remember learning anything from having your grandad live with you? Cleve: Well, all of us learned patience. I mean, grandads, you know, especially then they were, you know, you had to be patient with him, all three of us. Interviewer: There was something about intergenerational living that I find fascinating, that, it seems as though, our culture has gotten a little bit away from these days. And sometimes I mourn that we don't do that that often. Cleve: Yeah. Well, you know, my grandparents were… my grandad was a farmer. And so, he lived on the farm, and me and my dad grew up on a farm which is pretty typical especially in Texas. You know, back in the '30s that's what people did was they farm, and so my brothers and I we spent every summer on the farm until grandad moved in with us. Interviewer: And where was the farm? Cleve: It was near Waco, Texas, you know, small farm but we didn't recognize that as kids. We had a great time. Yeah, we worked and, of course, played, and we were already used to my grandad and that we spent the summers with him and, of course, my grandma until she passed. Interviewer: Yeah. So then, did your dad farm as well or what did he do for a living? Cleve: No, he was an attorney. He went to Baylor and got his law degree and that's where I was born while he was still in law school. I don't remember that part, of course, because I was just small. I started to remember the farm well, there was a lot of fine memories of, you know, doing stuff with granddad and working. And they had a garden that was just really for their use, but it was large enough where they had a lot of extra produce. And so, we'd take it to town nearby, which is this town called Mart. We'd sell it, you know, behind the pickup, just drive around the streets selling it, and we got to keep some of the money and go get an ice cream or something, so. Interviewer: Do you think spending time on the farm as a child gave you kind of a primer for wanting to understand how things work, and like the mechanical nature of things? Cleve: Well, certainly it helped, you know, because the farm, you have to do everything. Interviewer: Right. Cleve: So, if the tractor needed fixing, you didn't call mechanic, you'd fixed it. You know, if a fence was broken you fix it, and certainly. So it was a… it's very much manual labor so you learned a lot about manual labor. So, yeah, I'd say that it certainly was a good experience from that standpoint. Interviewer: And you got to keep a little bit of the money of the produce that you sold, so you learned how to enjoy the spoils of your labor. Cleve: Yep, yeah. It wasn't much, but, yeah, you know. Interviewer: What do you think your… what was your favorite job on the farm when you were a kid? Cleve: Driving the tractor. I'd tell you the worst, a lot of times you remember the worst job. The worst job was picking cotton. You had a lot of… you gain a lot of respect for the man and woman who came to pick cotton because that was a terrible job. You know, you got your hands bloody, and we weren't very good at it compared to them. Of course, they got paid by the tow sack full of what they picked. And so, they were, you know, much better at it, but, yeah. The best job was driving the tractor either plowing or bailing hay. As a kid, you know, that was a pretty nice job. Interviewer: You ended up going onto be an athlete. So, my guess is you were built strong and able to handle the manual labors, is that right? Cleve: Yes. Interviewer: About how tall and what was your weight when you were at your peak playing days? Cleve: Well, I'm 5'11 and I weighed about 210. So, I was small for a linebacker, large for a free safety, so I played both positions. And about the same weight. I didn't put on a lot of weight when moved to linebacker. Interviewer: Were you fast? Cleve: Well, for that day in time, you know. It's a whole different game now than it was in the '60s and '70s, but... Interviewer: How did you get started in football? Do you remember your very first time playing? Cleve: Oh, sure, you know, I love athletics from the time I can remember. I had a football when I was probably four or five years old, and carried it around, and started playing organized football at about seven. You know, I played baseball too and basketball. So, you know, I mean, athletics was a big part of our growing up, there's no doubt about that. Interviewer: And did your dad encourage that? Did your dad play with you? Cleve: Oh, yeah, he was our little league coach, and then, of course, he played, you know, catch with us and he was a good athlete himself. He had gone to a school on a football scholarship at Howard Payne but the work came along and so that cuts short, because he was only there a year and then when off to Europe, got wounded and came back, and went to school and got a law degree. Interviewer: Do you have kids? And did they play any sports? Cleve: Well, I have a daughter. When she was in high school she ran track and played basketball, but she was also a cheer leader. Her talent and passion is more on the art side. She sang jazz for a good while because she was really quite good at it, but we just have one child. Interviewer: Do you have like an incredibly memorably game from high school football where you were the star or something big happened? Cleve: Yeah, we…you know, unfortunately it didn't work out well for us, but the game I remember most, we had a good team, I was a quarter back, I was the free safety. We actually went undefeated, but we didn't get out of our district because our big rivalry was McKinney High School. And we tied them six to six, we played in this terrible weather, it was muddy, kind of snow storm so neither one of us really had much offense, but we tied six to six, and, you know, there was some kind of rules back then where, you know, the winner of the district went out. And they eventually got beaten by the State champion late in a playoff. So, that game was probably the most memorable just because it was my senior year. Also played basketball, and we did win the State basketball that year so that was a pretty big deal, and along went baseball too. So, you know, Lake Collins was kind of a new school and lot of kids moved in, and so we had good athletic teams. Interviewer: One of those power house up and coming schools at the time. And then a really good history and tradition since then, right? I mean, I looked at the notable alumni, and it seems there a handful of very successful football players that had been out of there. Cleve: Yeah, no question. I think, they still do well, not quite as well as they did. Even after I left they actually did even better, won several State championships and all...
85 minutes | Jan 16, 2018
Dr. Dean Kashiwagi
Dean Kashiwagi is a professor in the Arizona State University’s Del E Web School of Construction. He is a specialist and researcher in “best value procurement” and has conducted over 900 tests totaling $4.6 billion with a 98% success rate.He took his undergraduate degree from University of Hawaii in civil engineering and his Master’s and Ph.D in industrial Engineering at ASU. He served 14 years in the US Air Force and has written over 100 articles and 11 books including his most recent, “How to Know Everything Without Knowing Anything.”
50 minutes | Nov 17, 2017
Rob Burton - CEO of Hoar Construction
Our guest today is Rob Burton, President and CEO of Hoar Construction. A native of Alabama, he attended Auburn and then worked his way through many positions at the company. Hoar Construction is consistently among the top of ENR’s top Contractors in the US. In our conversation today we talk about Rob’s dream hunting gun, developing a leadership training program, and the #1 thing to do to move into upper management. We hope you enjoy the conversation.
79 minutes | Sep 20, 2017
Brian Acton - CEO of BMWC Constructors
Our guest today is Brian Acton, CEO of BMWC Constructors. He went to Purdue University where he studied Construction Engineering and Management. Brian has worked at BMWC for 32 years and has been the CEO since 2010. BMWC is consistently an Engineering News Record’s top contractor. In our conversation today we talk about Indiana basketball, the importance of fraternities, and the best strategies for recruiting young project managers and superintendents . We hope you enjoy the conversation.
41 minutes | Jul 11, 2017
Glenn Granger - CEO of Granger Construction
President and CEO of Granger Construction, specializing in higher educating, commercial, industrial, K-12, healthcare and public sector/corrections construction. In our conversation today, we talk about wakeboarding, Harvard MBAs, building for Zaha Hadid, and strategies for developing executives.
48 minutes | Feb 14, 2017
Keith Carlson is the Regional Sales Manager for the M. Holland Company, a distributor of plastics resins. Keith is a talented salesman, experienced manager, a Corvette enthusiast and all around plastics industry legend. In our conversation today, we talk about his upbringing, Tiger Woods' return to golf, Corvettes and the pitfalls of building a custom home.
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