We asked the up-and-comers in Louisiana about challenges facing the industry in that state.

Sarah Busch

Sarah Busch
Temporary job hooks her on construction career
Project Manager
Landis Construction Co.
New Orleans

As a girl, Sarah D. Busch remembers visiting job sites with her father, but she never dreamed of joining the family business, until a temporary job answering job site phones convinced her construction was in her blood. She learned everything she could and progressed to project manager, heading up jobs for new and repeat clients.

Time in Industry: 12 years  
Education: Bachelor’s of Science, Political Science, Hollins University, Roanoke, Va., 1998
Hometown: New Orleans
LEED Accredited: Yes
Important Projects: Xavier University of Louisiana, multiple projects New Orleans; Harrah’s Jazz Casino, New Orleans; The W Hotel, New Orleans
Community Service: My House, board member
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Young Leadership Council, member

Industry Outlook: “The main challenges that I feel are currently facing our industry are the increased competition in the marketplace and current lack of private work and the lack of a trained workforce that affects the quality and overall cost of a project. The increased competition is a direct result of the down turned economy elsewhere in the country that has contractors looking to New Orleans as their salvation. This allows companies who otherwise might be out of business to bid projects at or below cost just to keep their doors open as they await the recovery of the industry. I would suggest that we can overcome this challenge by carefully selecting the projects that we bid, focusing on projects that have invited bid lists and chances of higher margins, and by reaching out and networking with the entire pool of available subcontractors to increase our competitiveness on public work.”

Kyle Condon

Kyle Condon
Construction executive by day, crisis intervention volunteer at night
Project Manager
Landis Construction Co.
New Orleans

Several times a month, after a full day as executive vice president and COO of Landis Construction Co., Kyle Condon volunteers as a New Orleans Police Department Crisis Intervention Technician, assisting officers in the field with mental disturbance calls and suicide attempts, providing compassionate, understanding and educated intervention and free transport to local medical facilities for people suffering from a mental disorder or illness. The drastic change of pace from his work has increased his understanding of behavioral health and the toll traumatic events can take on people.

Time in Current Position: 4 years
Time in Industry: 8 years
Education: Bachelor’s degree, Agricultural Business/Ag Economics major, with minors in Business Administration and Construction Management, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 2002
Hometown: Houston
LEED Accredited: No
Important Projects: Temple Sinai 2006-2008 renovations, New Orleans; Lacoste School & Field House, Chalmette, La.; National D-Day Museum, New Orleans
Community Service: Habitat for Humanity, volunteer; New Orleans Police Department Mobile Crisis Unit, volunteer technician
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Associated Builders and Contractors New Orleans/Bayou Chapter, board member 2010

Industry Outlook: “With the industry's current skilled labor shortage, there is no doubt this is biggest problem we have to face in the future. Having worked in the field, I have seen first-hand just how constrained many general contractors and subcontractors are with respect to a scarce qualified labor pool to draw from. Associated Builders and Contractors pushed to grow our apprenticeship and craft training curriculums and course offerings. Recognizing the need to train our future workers, we've gone as far as to establish scholarship funds for students, and we've entered the local high schools to try to get the word out to the students that there are many lucrative and rewarding career path opportunities within our industry. The problem exists within our nation as a whole; younger people do not seem to desire "blue-collar" jobs, and few recognize the value in learning a trade.”

Christian Generes

Christian Generes
Passion for preconstruction determines career niche
Business Development Manager
Landis Construction Co.
New Orleans

Christian Generes joined Landis Construction as an estimator, advanced into project engineering but returned to estimating and business development to focus on budget proposals, contract negotiations and sales. He has become a mentor to young professionals within the company and through NOLA 101, a New Orleans-themed networking lecture series for local young professionals that he organized.

Time in Industry: 10 years
Education: BS, Construction Management, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 2001
Hometown: New Orleans
LEED Accredited: Yes
Important Projects: Whitney National Bank – Carrollton Branch project, New Orleans; Dillard University new Student Union, Health and Wellness Center, New Orleans
Community Service: Young Leadership Council, NOLA 101, organizer
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Associated Builders and Contractors Safety Committee, Construction Industry Advisory Council, Society for Marketing Professional Services Southeast Louisiana Chapter, president-elect

Industry Outlook: “Challenges we are dealing with include non-local companies coming in town and increasing the number of competitors in an already saturated market. Subcontractors are having to take work for below cost just to keep employees working, creating negative cash flow and, eventually, risking the company's financial strength and going out of business. The construction workforce is aging, and the younger generation is going to college instead of pursuing a career as a craftsman. We plan to be more selective with the projects that we go after and focus on repeat local business, and to ensure that the subcontractors that we use are in good financial standing and bond them when possible. We need to educate the younger generation that college isn't for everyone and that they can make a very good living with a career as a craftsman.”
Ryan Gootee

Ryan Gootee
Saw opportunity amid destruction following Hurricane Katrina
President, CEO
Ryan Gootee General Contractors

In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, Ray Gootee seized an opportunity to launch his own company, Ryan Gootee General Contractors, and rebuild his hometown. Long hours, hard work and a can-do attitude earned him a reputation for quality work, delivered as promised. The company has expanded from remediation and restoration to provide new construction services as well.

Time in Current Position: 5 years
Time in Industry: 22 years
Education: BS, Construction Management, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, 1996
Hometown: New Orleans
LEED Accredited: No
Important Projects: Jesuit High School, multiple projects since 2005, New Orleans; Zoofari Café at the Audubon Zoo, renovation, New Orleans; Joseph A. Craig Elementary School, renovation, New Orleans
Community Service: Kingsley House, board member; St. Martin Little School, board member
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Louisiana Associated General Contractors, New Orleans District chair; Construction Industry Advisory Council at LSU, member; American Institute of Architects New Orleans chapter, member; Priestley School of Architecture and Construction, committee member

Industry Outlook: “We seem to be climbing our way out of the end of 2009/beginning of 2010 hole we were in. The good news is that our local construction industry continues to be robust with billions of dollars in public funds remaining to be spent on some significant projects. The bad news is that our local market is still extremely saturated with out-of-town contractors fighting for the same work as the local companies. The increased competition has driven down revenue, backlog and profit margins. However, we have seen an increasing number of established local contractors increase their backlog and commence work on several private sector projects. This is always a good sign and a leading indicator of market stabilization. To face the challenges the recession has presented us, we need to be innovative and ready to adapt when the environment changes for the good or bad. We have to be willing to cut back on costs and basically do more with less.”
Jason Manson

Jason Manson
Employing technology to increase productivity
Vice President
Durr Heavy Construction

Jason Manson leads Durr Heavy Construction’s Technological Advancement Committee, ensuring that Durr embraces and utilizes technology to increase communication and productivity at all levels within the organization. He led the integration to electronic bidding and project management and has placed laptops in the hands of all field supervisors, giving them real-time updates of plans, scopes and payroll.

Time in Industry: 15 years
Education: Bachelor’s of Science, Industrial Technology, University of Southwestern Louisiana (now University of Louisiana – Lafayette), Lafayette, La., 1994
Hometown: Baton Rouge, La.
LEED Accredited: No
Important Projects: Guste Housing demolition and revitalization project, New Orleans; Tulane University, primate breeding colony expansion project, New Orleans; Pan American Life Insurance building, abatement and interior demolition, New Orleans
Community Service: Parishioner of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Mandeville, La.; Young Leadership Council, member; Special Olympics “Olympic Town USA,” volunteer; Habitat for Humanity in St. Tammany, volunteer
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: Associated Builders and Contractors New Orleans/Bayou Chapter Board of Directors, member and liaison for the Safety and Management Education committee; LSU, Construction Industry Advisory Council, mentor and member; West St. Tammany Chamber of Commerce

Industry Outlook: “The most notable challenge is overcoming an aging field workforce. We must tackle this challenge head on by training the younger generation. This includes providing internal mentoring, strengthening local trade associations that provide training, utilizing vo-tech institutions and offering high school internships. These methods will provide the opportunities to educate and employ the younger generation, ultimately replenishing the field workforce as we continue to lose valuable tradesmen. Another challenge is the demand to do more with less.  Owners are demanding more work, services and attention — all at less cost, margins and overhead. To address this challenge, the industry must remain on the technological cutting edge and require employees utilize technology to the fullest, both in the office and in the field.”
J. Dyke Nelson

J. Dyke Nelson
Clear vision and community involvement lead to success
Partner, Chief Operating Officer
Chenevert Architects
Baton Rouge

Believing you are only as strong as your community, J. Dyke Nelson is committed to supporting Baton Rouge professional organizations, charities and the local university. Nelson’s a clear vision, passion for his work, and ability to pull his peers together as a team leader has brought him career success and permitted him to rise to principal in short order.

Time in Industry: 18 years
Education: Bachelor of Architecture, Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., 1996
Hometown: Montgomery, Ala.
LEED Accredited: Yes
Important Projects: Kress, Welsh – Levy & Knox Building, renovation, Baton Rouge, La.; 232 Third Street, Baton Rouge; Terrebonne General Medical Center – Mary Bird Perkins Oncology Center, Houma, La.; LAARNG Field Maintenance Shop No. 12, Slidell, La.
Community Service: Arboretum Board, member; Knock Knock Children’s Museum, building committee member; Lamar YMCA, board member
Professional Affiliations, Memberships: AIA Baton Rouge, U.S. Green Building Council

Industry Outlook: “Though the popularity of sustainable design is on the climb among the architectural world, Chenevert Architects still feels the industry faces challenges with the public's notion of sustainability, or lack thereof, especially in the South Central area. Chenevert Architects has completed three LEED-certified projects and seven projects in the process to be projected as LEED certified. The firm plans to tackle these issues by continuing to inform the public of sustainability through educational seminars, advising potential clients of the green design opportunities and showcasing our LEED certified projects.”