ENR Southwest's 2015 Top 20 Under 40
Construction lawyer rises fast
Sacks Tierney P.A.
In his collegiate career at the University of Arizona, Matthew Meaker acted as the first-ever student regent to serve a two-year term on the Arizona Board of Regents. Meaker's construction law practice serves a wide array of companies on residential and commercial projects in the public, private and Native American sectors. He has litigated on issues including the defense of claims for construction defects, Registrar of Contractors disputes, payment disputes and mechanics' lien foreclosures. He coordinates with company leaders on growth and risk prevention strategies and serves on the board of directors as legal counsel for the American Subcontractors Association of Arizona. He also serves as vice-chair for the ConsensusDocs Public-Private Partnership/O and M Working Group, which focuses on the development of template language for such agreements.
Commitment to sustainability drives 'go-getter'
39, Registered Architect
DWL Architects + Planners
For a decade, Athavan Rajasundaram was known as Arrington Watkins Architects' go-to guy for sustainability projects. For the last two years, he has assumed that role for DWL Architects. The AEE-certified energy auditor and LEEDaccredited professional taught sustainability and LEED for a semester at Arizona State University's Del E. Webb School of construction as an industry expert. Rajasundaram chaired the Regional Priority Credits task force for the Arizona Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council for LEED V4.0 as well as serving as programs committee chair for two years.
Safety training is paramount for project manager
38, Project Manager
Eric Simmons has been working in the construction industry since his uncle allowed him to work as his electrician's helper while he was still in high school. Before entering college, Simmons was already running small projects for his uncle. Twenty years later, Simmons is still working in the industry and remains eager to lead and learn. Working as a foreman, superintendent, estimator, project engineer, department manager and field operations manager before transitioning back into the office in his current role as a project manager, Simmons' versatility has been recognized and utilized by Helix. Simmons credits his field experiences with imposing a firm belief in a safe work environment, which has led him to participate in a multitude of safety training programs and become a trainer himself. Projects he led or managed have won safety awards in his division four times.
Earned master's degree while working full-time job
32, Assistant Project Manager
Archer Western Contractors
Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
While serving as a full-time construction manager, Eric Vechan also found the time to earn a master's degree, and he is nearly finished with a Ph.D. in engineering. In his nine-year career, Vechan has worked in nearly every part of the construction industry, and he is currently the assistant project manager on the F-35 academic training center at Luke Air Force Base. Vechan has been actively involved with the American Institute of Constructors, serving on the Candidate Qualifications Vetting Subcommittee for several years. In 2014, he was elected to the AIC's Constructor Certification Commission's board of governors.
College recruit delivers projects ahead of schedule
29, Project Manager
The Penta Building Group
The Penta Building Group recognized the potential in Jeff Walker while he was still attending Northern Arizona University, which led to his selection for the firm's internship program the summer before his senior year. Walker's performance as an intern led Penta to hire him straight out of college the following summer. Since joining the firm, Walker has worked on projects that include the Hilton Grand Vacations Club Parking Structure, Golden Nugget Rush Tower and the Monte Carlo 32nd Floor Suite Remodel. As the project manager on the $24-million Chelsea Event Center at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Walker helped to deliver the project ahead of schedule and under budget.
Out-of-the-box ideas are hallmark of a career which began as laborer
38, Operations Manager - SW Region
For two decades, Katherine Watson-Cruz has been making her way in the construction industry, having worked her way up from sheet metal worker to the operations manager for Kinetics. Since taking on her first position with the Phoenix-based contractor, Watson-Cruz has focused upon innovating. As Southwest region operations manager, Watson-Cruz is responsible for all aspects of the organization, including safety and operations for several advanced technology commercial and industrial projects. As project manager at Optima Camelview Village, a $70-million, LEED-certified mixed-use development in Scottsdale, Ariz., she developed a specialized system of ductwork kits for the luxury high-rise complex. Her experience also includes major projects such as the American Express TRCW Data Center in Phoenix and the Arizona Science Center central plant expansion in Phoenix.