Sundt preconstruction project manager Dylan Rogers has been honing his skills in design-build projects for the last thirteen years. His latest achievement was leading the preconstruction efforts for the $200 million collaborative design-build student housing project for Cal Poly Humboldt.
Dylan graduated from Penn State in 2006 with a degree in business administration and management, beginning his career with Sundt the same year. His construction experience is well-rounded having held the roles of field engineer, project engineer, superintendent, project manager and estimator. We sat down with Dylan to discuss his journey and why he loves navigating the challenges of preconstruction.
You’ve worn many hats at Sundt; what made you stick with preconstruction?
I love the energy of a project that’s just getting underway. In preconstruction, you have the ability to impact the design and approach of the project; you can really influence the project’s success. Most of the projects I work on are design-build, which means I’m able to collaborate with the client, architect, subcontractors and Sundt teams to make sure everyone’s voices are heard. Then, the ideas that are put on paper come to fruition months, or years later. It’s satisfying to be part of the initial steps in that process.
What do you consider to be your greatest area of expertise?
By working with the design-build method numerous times, I’ve been able to refine my skills in bringing many points of view from project stakeholders together during the preconstruction process. In my role, I’m able to be the “hub” of collaboration and get everyone working towards the same goal. Internally, I consult our Sundt employee-owners, receiving their varying opinions on the constructability of the design.
Externally, I approach the preconstruction process with an open mindset, conscious that there’s always something new to be learned. Our subcontractors, for example, give valuable feedback on how we can achieve the look and feel of certain details more cost effectively or with a higher level of quality. In the end, my responsibility is to give everybody a voice, from the subcontractor to the client. Once all parties share their expertise, we figure out the right approach to the project.
What unique considerations are there in preconstruction on a progressive design-build project?
Collaborative design models allow you to approach design with a construction mentality, and still achieve the intended form and function of the building. The team gains so much value when you find the fastest, most economical, most logical way to design and, ultimately, build the project. Making one material switch could save a project thousands of dollars, which is just one small example of how involving the builder from the get-go can serve the client.
What do you think engages young people in our industry?
I think it’s the same concept that brought me into the industry: the results are tangible. About four or five years ago, I was traveling in Ireland and I visited a 5,000 year-old tomb. The people who built it brought materials from 200 miles away. That’s when it dawned on me that building the built environment is in our DNA. We still gravitate towards making structures that are built to last, and that becomes a passion and a career. Conveying that passion to new generations is crucial to bringing them into the industry.
What has made you stay with Sundt for over 15 years?
Cumulatively, I’ve been with Sundt for 15 years. I had to leave for a short stint when I wanted to be closer to my family, but my leaders at Sundt let me know the door was always open. When I left for that short amount of time, quite frankly, I really missed Sundt’s culture. In my time here, I’ve had the opportunity to feel as if I’ve made an impact. It’s the right size company: large enough to build really cool projects, but small enough to know that my voice is heard and I can influence day-to-day operations.
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