Ian McDowell has served in a variety of roles in both preconstruction and operations during his 18-year career with Sundt. Currently he is the Preconstruction Manager for federal government construction projects and for building projects in the Southwest. In addition to his corporate duties Ian has also worked extensively in the construction industry, serving in leadership roles for the Arizona Builders’ Alliance (ABA), American Subcontractors Association (ASA), and the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC). Ian has also been active in supporting education by teaching both graduate and undergraduate level classes at Arizona State University and the University of Texas at El Paso.
What are the current trends in preconstruction with relation to costs, availability of materials, etc.?
While materials costs have continued to rise slowly over the past several years, overall pricing for construction projects has remained below the peak pricing of a few years ago. Recent pricing, however, has indicated that as the construction market stabilizes, pricing is starting to slowly rise and lead-times for materials are starting to increase.
Do you foresee any changes on the horizon over the next year or two?
During any down market, it is typical to see the recovery led by projects in the private sector. The good news is that we have seen the number of projects in the private market rise dramatically in recent months, and Sundt has been fortunate to be selected for several of them. I am very optimistic that this is the front end of the recovery we have all been hoping to see.
How does the preconstruction process differ between building projects in the Southwest and projects for the federal government?
Right now, Sundt’s work for the federal government comes primarily in the design-build format or through select bid opportunities. Work in the Southwest comes primarily from the Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR) model, although we do see our fair share of design-build and bid opportunities as well. The delivery method of a project determines how we provide preconstruction services, with more active and prolonged involvement in the design-build and CMAR methods.
What might you be doing if you weren’t working in the construction industry?
Working at Sundt has afforded me the opportunity to be guest lecturer at the university level, and also to teach in industry training programs like the Project Management Certificate Program through the Del E. Webb School of Construction. I could easily see myself continuing that involvement.
Where would you most like to travel?
Anywhere with my family. I always remember the family vacations we take.
What’s the best book you read in the last year?
“Death, Taxes, and Leaky Waders : A John Gierach Fly-Fishing Treasury.” It is a series of short stories about life in general, with a common thread of fly fishing.
How do you like to spend your free time?
As indicated in my book choice above, I started fly fishing a few years ago and have enjoyed the hobby quite a bit.