Business Intelligence — June 2021
What has been your most career-defining moment?
President and COO
MacKenzie Contracting Company
I have two career defining moments.
The first was at the inception of my construction career. I worked as a timekeeper for a firm out of New York. I always wanted to be a mason. To this day, I can watch brick being laid and to me it is like a symphony. A simple rhythm of the trowel to the mortar pan, then to the brick, set the brick, tap tap and on to the next brick.
My longing to be a mason was deterred by a raspy-voiced superintendent from Brooklyn, New York. One day, he walked me through the job site introducing me to the various masons along with their ailments of bad knees, bad backs, elbows, hands, etc. — all due to years in the trade, hot summers and cold winters. The moral of the story from the superintendent was to “use my head, and not my back to make a living. Go to school and make something of yourself.” I took his advice and it helped get me to where I am today.
Fast forward 24 years and I came upon my second career defining moment when I was provided an opportunity to run MacKenzie Contracting as the President/COO and partner. Hard work, getting my education at night while working during the day, and having been extremely lucky to have worked with some awesome people in the industry that took a chance on me helped get me where I am today.
Senior Project Manager
I’m relatively young in this industry. So I don’t know if I have yet had a moment that will ultimately define my career. But in 2016, I competed in an Ironman Triathlon — a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run — in Lake Placid, New York. I revert back to that experience a lot when I deal with challenges at work.
I trained for the Ironman for an entire year. I would swim before work and then after work, I would bike or run or both. It was an entire year of putting my body through hell. Race day was one of the most intense days of my life. You start out at 6:30 am by jumping into a lake with 2,500 of your newest, closest friends. Everybody is kicking, punching and swimming. You’re getting hit from all angles and it’s easy to panic. But I completed the swim and the long bike ride, when sometimes you’re totally alone, and at end of the run I was getting delusional. Getting across the finish line was a high like nothing I had ever experienced.
In my professional life, I revert back to my Ironman experience a lot. In our business, people are always saying that something can’t be done because of the schedule or project requirements. But yes it can. Nothing is impossible if you put your mind to it. You can do anything if you are resilient and push hard every day.
Vice President – Sales
Swirnow Building Systems
A career defining moment for me was early in my career with Swirnow back in 1989. I was faced with the opportunity to join the big leagues and go after a project with the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. It was a large office building called Gateway International by BWI Airport. This was my big chance to prove to a major player in the industry that Swirnow could perform at this level. It is one thing to say you can do it, but it’s another thing to come through for the contractor.
We want to be viewed as a reliable and dependable material supplier to our customers. On Gateway, we got involved on the front end of the project to make sure that we laid out the Hambro joists efficiently and effectively in our shop drawings. We also worked diligently with the team to assist in coordinating the subsystems around the structural joists. As the job was being installed, we were right there supporting the subcontractor to ensure a successful installation. It is this kind of proactive interaction that separates us from other suppliers, creating repeat customers.
The results proved out. The project manager Tim Regan (now president of Whiting-Turner) had the confidence to go with us and sent a letter of appreciation to me and my co-workers for a job well done. I carry that experience as a game changer for me in the way I approach every project.