Texas is currently experiencing significant population growth that doesn’t appear to be stopping anytime soon. For those of us in the construction industry, particularly the infrastructure sector, this creates a lot of exciting opportunities to work on transformative projects that directly impact our communities.
I’ve been very fortunate to be a part of several iconic projects that are helping to reshape the state and bring value to the surrounding communities, like the Kemah/Seabrook bypass and the expansion of US Highway 290.
Building a clear career path
My interest in construction goes all the way back to my childhood. Growing up near Houston, I was always very interested in creating things. I would spend hours with my Legos, building castles and all sorts of other structures.
I’m also an active, outdoors type of person, so when it came time to choose a career, I knew I didn’t want to sit in an office all day. The desire for a profession that would allow me to actively be a part of creating something that would have a lasting impact for people eventually led me to study Construction Science at Texas A&M University. I started working at Webber after graduation and have been building projects here in Texas ever since.
Just like with any big project, I’ve built my career up gradually. I started out in field engineer and project engineer roles, then spent a few years as a superintendent before moving on to project management. From there I became an area manager, and eventually I took on the responsibility of overseeing our South Texas region. All of these steps led up to my current position as the Vice President of Heavy Civil Operations in Texas.
During the 16 years of my career so far, I’ve been proud to play an active role in many memorable projects all around the state.
A once-in-a-lifetime project in Houston’s Bay Area
One of the most exciting projects I’m helping oversee now is a bypass project in the Kemah/Seabrook area, which is a very big tourist attraction, especially in the summertime.
The project consists of reconstructing and widening the existing highway that runs through this area, as well as adding a roughly 2.5-mile-long bridge that will allow people to bypass all of the local traffic. This will ease congestion for people trying to get through the area while still providing access to the local businesses and places below the bridge. The completion of this project will be a huge benefit for both local traffic and people coming here for recreation.
The project is going very well, although it has presented some unique challenges along the way. For one, the oil and gas industry is a big part of the economy in this part of the state, so we have to work around pipelines and other different utilities running through the project that go to the ports and other areas. There’s also a lot of work over the water, which always creates a variety of access challenges.
Visually, this is one of the most impressive projects that I’ve personally been a part of. If you’re lucky, you get to participate in a project like this maybe once in your career.
Anytime you get to be involved in creating something that is this unique, this complex, and this iconic for the community it’s incredibly special.
Supporting Texas’ rapid growth
Another huge success we’ve had is with the Highway 290 Segment 5 project for TxDOT. This project was one of several along the US 290 corridor that was intended to increase the highway’s capacity for commuters going in and out of Houston.
We took this project over from another contractor that had defaulted with TxDOT. The project had been stagnant for over a year, so the first thing we had to do was figure out what exactly had been done, and whether it had been done correctly or incorrectly. Then we got right down to work. Since the project had sat idle for so long TxDOT was under a lot of pressure to have the project completed in conjunction with the other projects currently ongoing along the corridor. In true Webber fashion, we actually finished before our competition adjacent to us completed their project, so we are very proud of that.
There’s around 7 million people in the Greater Houston area right now. There’s been a huge influx of people over the last several years, which obviously creates a big demand for infrastructure. Having grown up in the Houston area and continuing to live here today, it’s been very rewarding for me to be able to make the world move for my community. It feels good to be involved in these infrastructure projects that allow for better mobility and faster commute times to and from work, which ultimately helps improve people’s lives.
I love telling people, “Oh, you know that job over there, I worked on that.” I’m proud to have been a part of so many incredible projects in my community.
Creating strong teams
I spend a lot of time traveling around the state in my truck, whether that’s going down to Laredo, up to Dallas, or over to Waco. I don’t mind the long drives, I just drink my coffee and listen to the radio or music.
I try to visit the projects as much as I can because it’s definitely more fun than sitting in an office all day. The teams know their business very well, they know what they’re doing, so my main focus is making sure that each team has everything they need to be successful. That’s what I’m here for. In fact, one of the things I find the most enjoyable about my job is building teams and putting people together.
Webber is a very diverse group. I work with people from 10 or more different nationalities, but diversity is not just about where you’re from. The way I view it, we are all different — each person’s individuality is what makes us diverse. The key to being successful working with a diverse group is to be able to understand that it’s okay to be different, and that our differences can actually make us stronger. As managers, I feel it’s our job to identify people’s different strengths and weaknesses, and then put them in situations that allow their strengths to positively impact the big picture.
It can be challenging sometimes when you’re dealing with so many different people and trying to make sure everyone’s on the same page, but in general, we’re all part of a team and we do a very good job of working together.