Stephen Allen

Brian Jones
Internship leads to professional career
Regional Manager, Southeast Regional Office
Gray Construction
Lexington, Ky.

During his tenure at Gray Construction, Brian Jones has risen through the ranks from intern to Southeast regional manager. In 2010, Jones’ alma mater, the University of Kentucky, named him Young Construction Engineer of the Year, which is given to a graduate who has been out of school between five to 15 years and who exhibits outstanding ability, integrity, service, ethical behavior and significant achievement.

Time in Industry: 14 years
Education: Bachelor’s of Science, Civil Engineering, University of Kentucky, Lexington, 2000
Hometown: Jackson, Ky.
LEED Accredited: No
Important Projects: Kronospan USA, expansion, Oxford, Ala.; Toyota vehicle manufacturing facility expansion, Princeton, Ind.; V-Vehicle-Monroe, La.; Yachiyo Manufacturing of Alabama, plant expansion, Steele, Ala.
Community Service: Ronald McDonald House Charities of Alabama, Birmingham, young leadership board member; StandUp For Kids Birmingham Chapter, volunteer
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Alabama Chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Vistage, Gray’s Project Managers’ Association and Gray’s Quality Management Committee

Industry Outlook: “One of the biggest challenges I think the construction industry is facing today is attracting and retaining the next generation. Younger professionals of any industry have different goals, communication styles and attitudes about work. The new generation of industry professionals is the most connected. They have the resources to learn about any topic, and they learn things faster. More emphasis needs to be placed on understanding the needs and quirks of each generation of workers. In addition, both older and younger professionals need to recognize that they have much to learn from each other in the way of mentoring and transferring knowledge. Although this challenge has been recognized by our industry, it obviously won't be transformed overnight.”

William Gully Yates, III

William Gully Yates, III
Growing the family business
President & CEO
W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co.
Biloxi, Miss.

Once William Gully Yates III joined the family business, W.G. Yates & Sons Construction Co., he quickly assumed leadership responsibilities, tackling a $450-million resort project within his first year with the company; starting a new, successful business unit; and taking the reins as president at age 30, later assuming the role of CEO of the company, which has $1 billion in annual revenue and more than 1,000 employees.

Time in Industry: 15 years
Education: Bachelor’s of Business Administration, University of Mississippi, Oxford; Master’s degree in Construction Management, Arizona State University, Tempe, 1995
Hometown: Philadelphia, Miss.
LEED Accredited: No
Important Projects: Keesler Air Force Base Housing Project, Biloxi, Miss.; Armed Forces Retirement Home, Gulfport, Miss.; Hurlburt Field, Visiting Quarters & Consolidated Club, Ft. Walton, Fla.; Mitchell Properties Historical Restorations, Galveston, Texas
Community Service: 2011 American Heart Walk Mississippi Gulf Coast, chairman; Pine Burr Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, executive board member; United Way of South Mississippi, board member and Tocqueville co-chairman; First United Methodist Church, finance and building committees member; Boys and Girls Club of the Gulf Coast, board member
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Mississippi Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, past chair; Trustmark National Bank, board member; Mississippi Partnership for Economic Developmen, vice chair; Mississippi Economic Council Board of Governors; Millsaps College Board of Trustees, member

Industry Outlook: “There are several challenges ahead of us as an industry but, overall, I am very optimistic about the future. However, I am concerned about one area in particular — a sustainable, skilled workforce. The lack of skilled craftsmen will continue to be a primary challenge for our industry. Due to the current economic environment, we don't see this challenge as clearly as we did a few years ago, but it is still there. We may not see an obvious workforce shortage today. But I believe we still have a skilled workforce shortage, and it will become obvious again as economic conditions improve. Of course, a lack of skilled workers is significant as it affects the quality, timeliness and cost of projects. At Yates Construction, we are addressing the challenge directly. We have a separate department that is focused on workforce development/training, and we continuously drive home the need for a skilled workforce throughout our company.”

Matt DeVries

Matt DeVries
Legal eagle trains sites on improving others� knowledge of construction law
Stites and Harbison
Nashville, Tenn.

An attorney with Stites and Harbison, Matt DeVries is committed to sharing his knowledge about the law—through his construction-related blog, teaching at industry conferences and writing for trade publications. The Nashville Business Journal selected DeVries as a 2010 Commercial Real Estate-Most Valuable Player in the legal professional category.

Education: JD, University of Richmond School of Law, Richmond, Va., 1998
Hometown: Albuquerque, N.M.
LEED Accredited: Yes
Important Projects: Founder of, a construction-related blog that focuses on green building, technology, project management and legal trends
Community Service: Lambscroft Ministries, Nashville, board member legal counsel and volunteer; The Exchange Club of Nashville, Downtown Chapter, board member and secretary; Martha O’Bryan Center, volunteer
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Associated General Contractors of Tennessee, Construction Leadership Council, member

Industry Outlook: “As a construction lawyer, I would say the greatest challenge for the construction industry is managing current economic risks in project design, development and performance. There has been a lot of litigation over the past few years, largely attributable to economic factors, whether the issue has been the fallout from the loss of construction financing or an overwhelming increase in lien claims. In the future, public contracting will continue to see growth, but I think we will also see more bid protests stemming from increased competition, as well as more claims asserted by contractors and suppliers. Another area of growth will be sustainability and green building, where parties will need to be prepared for new legal pitfalls, such as the LEED certification process or energy performance issues.”

Craig Eckert

Craig Eckert
Attending to detail and exceeding health systems� expectations
Senior Vice President
Skanska USA Building
Nashville, Tenn.

A strong communicator, Craig Eckert knows how to motivate Skanska team members to achieve or exceed health facility owners’ goals, which has earned him a reputation for attention to detail and allowed him to develop strong relationships with health systems’ leaders and clinical staff as well as designers and subcontractors.

Time in Industry: 17 years
Education: Bachelor’s of Science, Building Construction Management, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., 1994
Hometown: Jasper, Ind.
LEED Accredited: Yes
Important Projects: Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, Ohio; Atrium Medical Center, Middletown, Ohio; Franklin Woods Community Hospital, Johnston City, Tenn.; Aventura Hospital and Medical Center, Aventura, Fla.
Community Service: Habitat for Humanity, Dayton, Ohio; St. Luke’s Community House, serving meals during 2010 flooding
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: American Society of Healthcare Engineers

Industry Outlook: “Owners, particularly in the healthcare field, want to be in their new facilities as quickly as possible, so the pressure to find innovative solutions to minimize errors and cut time off the schedule, in a safe manner, is high. One solution we have found to speeding up the construction process and creating much less waste is prefabricating major building components, such as overhead corridor utility racks, patient headwalls and bathroom pods--in an offsite warehouse while the shell building is under way. On a $150-million hospital project I was involved with, this process cut months off the schedule and saved on overall construction costs.”

Amber Fournier

Amber Fournier
Mentor of younger design professionals
Associate Architect
TRO Jung|Brannen
Memphis, Tenn.

Approachable and willing to share her knowledge, Amber Fournier has become a leader for the young generation of design professionals at TRO Jung|Brannen and a guide to building information modeling software to everyone in the office. This LEED-accredited professional also voluntarily heads up the firm’s recycling effort.

Time in Industry: 12 years
Education: Bachelor’s of Architecture, University of Detroit Mercy, Detroit, Mich.; Master of Architecture, University of Detroit Mercy, 2005
Hometown: Traverse City, Mich.
LEED Accredited: Yes
Important Projects: University of South Alabama, women’s and children’s patient tower, Mobile; Memphis Mental Health Institute, replacement hospital; Henry County Medical Center, bed tower addition, Paris, Tenn.
Community Service: Kid City, volunteer

Industry Outlook: “The largest of the many challenges this profession is facing in the current economic climate is the low volume of work. Fewer clients requiring architectural services leads to more competition for the work that is available. Diversifying, improving our skill sets, learning new programs and working more efficiently will let us make the most of the jobs we have and the fees associated with them. The individuals and firms that make it out of this downturn will have learned how to work smarter.”

Jim Greene

Jim Greene
Innovator leads Richland to ranking as one of America�s fastest growing companies
Pulaski, Tenn.

Since assuming the reins of president of Richland five years ago, Jim Greene has grown the company, landing it on Inc. magazine’s list of the country’s 5,000 largest companies for the past four years. His focus on growth prompted the firm to launch Outpost Solar, a startup creating solar power solutions for commercial, industrial and military customers. Greene holds several patents on new solar panel implementation designs.

Time in Industry: 10 years
Education: Bachelor’s, Mechanical Engineering, University of Alabama, Huntsville; MBA, Belmont University Jack C. Massey Graduate School of Business, Nashville, Tenn., 2004
Hometown: Pulaski, Tenn. 
LEED Accredited: No
Community Service: Giles County Board of Education, Tennessee Technical & Vocational Advisory Board, Giles County; Giles County High School Vocational Advisory Board; “Lead The Way” Program for Giles County High School
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Tennessee Society of Professional Engineers; National Societies of Professional Engineers; American Society of Civil Engineers; Society of American Military Engineers, life member and Nashville Awards Committee chair

Industry Outlook: “Construction and engineering depends on the knowledge and skills of people planning and executing the work, which is why attracting and maintaining a qualified workforce is critical to the industries’ futures. However construction, and to a lesser degree engineering, is typically viewed as being one of the least desirable professions in which to work. Surveys among the nation's youth show construction and engineering at the bottom of the list of professions that they would enter. As a local school board member, I have had the pleasure to introduce school students to Project Lead the Way, where students develop critical thinking skills through hands-on project-based learning, preparing them to take on real-world challenges. Students can create, design and build in a manner that is similar to our industry. By introducing them to the professions at a early age it helps improve the industries’ image and could assist in workforce creation and training.”

Matt Padgett

Matt Padgett
Increasing revenues 45% in a down economy
Vice President
Broadway Electric Service Corp.
Knoxville, Tenn.

Matt Padgett possesses the positive attitude, drive and entrepreneurial spirit it takes to help a company grow and succeed. Since joining Broadway Electric Service Corp. in 2007, company revenues have increased 45%. Padgett was instrumental in spearheading the creation of the company’s national division and leads its Alternative/Renewable Energy Division, elevating the firm into a regional leader in green energy installations.

Time in Industry: 5 years
Education: Bachelor's, Accounting and Business Administration, Troy University, Troy, Ala.; MBA, Troy University, 1998
Hometown: Knoxville, Tenn.
LEED Accredited: Yes
Important Projects: West Tennessee Solar Farm; Knoxville Convention Center Photovoltaic System; City of Knoxville Energy Efficiency Project
Community Service: Young Professionals of Knoxville; Young Professional Democrats of East Tennessee, co-founder and charter member; First Baptist Church of Knoxville
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: East Tennessee Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council; Entrepreneurs Organization; Construction Leadership Council, Knoxville Chamber of Commerce

Industry Outlook: “The environment has changed in the past year, with the financial meltdown. The challenges are not much different than what we faced before. Our company is still focused on the priorities of the past 60 years, providing a safe working environment for employment. [Losing focus of that] can put a company out of business. We spend time on policy and training. Another challenge is producing a profit. If not, we won’t stay in business. As long as we provide solid work results, clients will be happy. You have to keep them happy. We’re trying to maintain client and vendor relationships and looking to build new relationships. Companies willing to adapt to the changes in the industry will lead the industry in the future.”