ENR Southwest’s 2016 Top 20 Under 40
This year’s honorees possess the technological savvy that defines the young talent working in the region. They also display the skills and work habits that are a hallmark of the construction industry.
Drive, determination and leadership are just some of the key traits exhibited by ENR Southwest’s Top 20 Under 40 winners. The annual competition recognizes young leaders and top performers.
The honorees’ skill at using cutting-edge technologies defines this year’s winners. Luis Cruz-Martinez, Cody Flamm and Lourdes Lopez drive innovation through the use of building information modeling and stand out in their fields because of it. Aaron Parenica not only led his firm’s adoption of construction modeling, but also created a new digital filing system to limit paper use.
The winners also excel at performing traditional roles such as day-to-day project work and business development. Project manager Ryan O’Donnell is credited with laying the groundwork for landing a $40-million project, while Devin Hunsaker is credited with developing relationships with community leaders.
ENR solicited nominations from, or on behalf of, people under 40 years of age who work within the construction industry in Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico.
Special thanks go to judges Arnold Canales of ARC Consulting, Chandler, Ariz., and Craig Randock of DLR Group, whose tireless work on this project was critical to the success of the competition.
The criteria used to evaluate the nominees included their professional achievements, involvement with the construction industry, contributions to the Southwest’s built environment and service to their respective communities.
Water expert finds success in Southern Arizona
34, Water/Wastewater Section Manager
As water/wastewater section manager for HDR in Tucson, Jonathan Boitano is responsible for the Tucson Water Reservoir Rehabilitation Program’s 68 potable water storage facilities. With a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Arizona, he was recognized for his graduate work on the leaching of arsenic from spent water treatment residuals in non-hazardous landfills. He joined HDR in 2010, and in 2014, he participated in the firm’s year-long career skills program designated for future leaders. He serves as co-chair of the Southern Arizona AZ Water Technical Luncheon Committee and participated in the Pima County Regional Wastewater Reclamation Dept. Design Standards Committee.
Mentor and hospitality expert also pursues international projects
39, Architect/Senior Designer
With more than 16 years of experience working on projects in Las Vegas as well as assisting on other high-profile projects in San Francisco, San Diego, Denver, Houston, Sao Paulo, Costa Rica and Singapore, Kevin Burke fulfills a mentorship role in Gensler’s hospitality practice. His high-profile clients include the Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Waldorf Astoria, Hilton Hotels and Resorts and MGM Resorts International. Most recently, as the senior designer of the 6.3-acre Metropolis Los Angeles hotel and residential development in downtown Los Angeles, Burke managed the project’s design from concept to construction administration. A native of Long Beach, Calif., he was inspired to pursue architecture after taking a drafting class in junior high school. By high school, he was competing in regional and statewide architecture competitions in California and won gold medals three years in a row.
Engineer follows father’s footsteps to become builder
34, Project Manager
Gilbane Building Co.
An Arizona native with a lifelong connection to the construction industry, Clay Creaser leverages a lifetime of learning as vice president at Gilbane. In addition to his project management and leadership responsibilities, Creaser is also part of the core local leadership team responsible for business development. Growing up, Creaser worked for his father’s civil and geotechnical engineering firm, Speedie & Associates. Joining Gilbane after graduating from Northern Arizona University, Creaser became a field engineer in 2004 and ascended to project manager in less than four years. Creaser recently completed a 91,000-sq-ft expansion of the Student Recreation Complex at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.
“I try to never bring work home with me. Work is work and home is home.”
Leader embraces technology while also teaching students
38, Senior Associate
Born in Puerto Rico, Luis Cruz-Martinez tackles multiple roles in Gensler’s Phoenix office as senior associate, project architect, technical leader and signatory professional in charge of projects. A seven-year veteran of the firm, he led the Phoenix office’s adoption of Revit in the development of complex projects including the NAU Skydome Arena Renovation. Through his work in BIM, he developed methods of using Revit to perform automatic occupancy calculations and exiting diagrams to study various code-compliant options. He also served as the project architect for the Maricopa City Hall Complex and Great Heart Academies projects. He received his master’s degree from Arizona State University in 2002 and has taught interior design concepts and a fourth-year interior design studio course. Cruz-Martinez was also the co-recipient of the top prize in AIA Arizona’s Imagination Cube contest.
Project manager recognized for tenacity, attention to detail
37, Senior Project Manager
During his 14 years in the industry, Mike Fitch has managed $656 million in construction projects, including the $97-million Dignity Health St. Rose-Siena Campus Tower project in Henderson, Nev., which is currently in the running for the 2015 Project of the Year award from the Las Vegas chapter of the Associated General Contractors. During construction of the Rose-Siena tower, the client recognized Fitch and his team for both the attention given to the project and for treating the facility and client with respect. A proponent of sharing best practices, Fitch initiated Knowledge First meetings, which focus upon field and office technology that can best help contractors and trade partners in their day-to-day activities. He also facilitated numerous lean best practices seminars. Fitch has also volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, First Tee and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Young professional deftly manages team, projects
32, Project Manager
Layton Construction Co.
After graduating from high school, Cody Flamm discovered his love for construction after landing a job building custom homes in Park City, Utah. Ever since, Flamm has enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment that comes with construction and the satisfaction of being able to point to a structure and say, “I built that.” While at Arizona State University, Flamm continued to stoke that passion by working full-time for Layton Construction. After earning a bachelor’s degree in construction management, Flamm earned an MBA. He also earned the LEED AP BD+C credential and DBIA certification. Now a Layton project manager, Flamm has taken on a larger role, managing three projects—all for the same owner. Layton also entrusted him to manage its first project using BIM 360 Field technology. Known as an adept leader, Flamm manages five superintendents, an assistant project manager, an intern and a carpenter.
Construction industry is a lifelong passion for project superintendent
39, Project Superintendent
Todd Gantter may only be 39, but he has already been in the construction industry nearly two decades. The Moorhead University graduate held his first construction job at 14 and has always had a passion for the industry. He joined Sundt in 2001 as a project engineer before eventually becoming a superintendent. In the course of his career, Gantter worked on a variety of construction projects including office, government, military, banks and schools totaling more than $344 million. His signature projects include the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, the Bill of Rights Monument at Wesley Bolin Plaza and the ASU Sun Devil Stadium Renovation. Gantter also lectures at the ASU Del E. Webb School of Construction and volunteers at the Mission of the Good Shepherd and André House.
“There is no better builder than Todd Gantter.”
Architectural designer advocates for a sustainable future
28, Architectural Designer
Gensler of Nevada
Esther Garcia says her ultimate goal is to further “tenable, green solutions to ensure a sustainable standard for answering human needs.” She earned a bachelor’s degree in architecture and a master’s degree in architecture with an emphasis in hospitality design from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She was a member of UNLV’s solar decathlon team for 2013. Prior to joining Gensler, Garcia served as an architectural designer with KME Architects and as a research assistant with the Downtown Design Center, where she led multiple international design competitions and projects to revitalize Las Vegas’ aging downtown core. An active member of the American Institute of Architects, Garcia is also LEED BD+C accredited. Though still early in her career, Garcia received two AIA Unbuilt Citation Awards in 2014 and was a finalist in the Sands Eco 360 Sustainable Hospitality Challenge in 2014.
Design director gains industry recognition
37, Design Director/Senior Associate
Melissa Holm began her career with Gensler as junior interior designer in the Newport Beach, Calif., office in 2003. Over the past 13 years, she has shown a dedication to remaining on top of industry trends by pursuing relevant certifications, including NCIDQ and LEED ID+C. She is also pursuing WELL certification. Holm has assembled a diverse portfolio that includes office, retail, hospitality and senior living projects across the country. Recently, she led the design on the Sun Devil Marketplace in Tempe, Ariz., which received an award of merit in the ENR Southwest 2015 Best Projects competition, and the Fennemore Craig headquarters in Arizona, which was honored by the International Interior Design Association and NAIOP. Holm leads internal projects, including both the technology and professional services practice areas as well as data collection and benchmarking initiatives.
Embracing client service leads to high-profile projects for engineer
38, Senior Project Manager
A graduate of Brigham Young University with a major in construction management and a minor in business management, Devin Hunsaker joined Mortenson as a field engineer in 2001. During his tenure, Hunsaker has received multiple Pinnacle awards as part of Mortenson’s employee recognition program. Hunsaker oversaw the construction of the $100-million Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the Cactus League spring training home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies. As project manager, he managed more than 150 office and field personnel during construction of the ballpark. Hunsaker was recognized by the client for respecting the culture and traditions of the Salt River Pima and Maricopa community members during construction.
Mentor and project team leader broadens diversity
33, Project Engineer
While a student at Arizona State University, Yuma-native Lourdes Lopez took an internship with PCL as a field engineer, working as a crew member, laborer and project engineer. PCL hired her immediately after graduation. In her current role, Lopez implements PCL’s quality control initiatives, including on the $22-million improvement project to the Union Hills Water Treatment Plant in Phoenix, where she also manages onsite subcontractors, PCL’s self-perform work and overall project execution. She also assisted in implementing technology such as AutoDesk BIM 360 Field. She serves as Phoenix chapter president of the National Association of Women in Construction, as AZ Water Association Young Professionals Committee chair and mentors young professionals through Advancing Women in Construction at ASU.
Stephen E. Kovach V
Family man builds legacy on high-profile projects
34, Vice President
Kovach Building Enclosures
At just 34 years old, Stephen E. Kovach V serves as vice president of Kovach Building Enclosures. The grandson of the founder of the company, Kovach’s high-profile work includes the Sky Harbor International Airport Terminal 3 Renovation and PHX Sky Train project. Kovach has more than 18 years of experience in the industry and grew up in the construction and subcontracting business. He joined Kovach in 1997 after graduating from Arizona State University, spending three years as a sheet metal apprentice and 10 years as a project manager before assuming his current role in 2013. He dedicates his spare time to volunteering with organizations that “resonate” with his desire to strengthen and serve his local community, such as Banner Health’s Cardon Children’s Medical Center, Drug Free AZ Kids and his local church.
Site-design engineer gives back to the community
35, Project Engineer
Sterling Margetts has spent almost half his life in the industry and has become an integral part of Kimley-Horn’s land development team. A graduate of Arizona State University with a master’s degree in engineering, Margetts specializes in commercial and residential site civil design and AutoCAD Land Development Desktop as well as various design software utilities. His extensive resume includes the Desert Sky Transit Center, where he led site plan preparation, preliminary grading, drainage and utility, and the Cirrus Global Rehabilitation hospital facility, where his team provided entitlement, construction documents and construction administration services. Margetts volunteers weekly for his church as well as the Boy Scouts of America. His racing team donates proceeds to families of fallen firefighters and police officers.
Multitalented manager strives to help people, solve problems
36, Group Accounting Manager
Yvonne Nguyen, who hails from Glendale, Ariz., quickly made a name for herself by providing accounting, analysis and financial support for Mortenson’s Southwest operations. Helping people drives Nguyen, according to her colleagues. Her ability to solve problems and find solutions has led to multiple Pinnacle awards from Mortenson throughout her career for her role as a resource. As a 14-year industry veteran at the firm, Nguyen also serves as a mentor to a number of young professionals. She also enjoys volunteering with charitable organizations such as United Way, Phoenix Children’s Hospital and St. Mary’s Food Bank.
“Yvonne Nguyen’s willingness to gain knowledge in construction taxation law for the state of Arizona has led her to become an expert in the field.”
Dedicated project manager builds solid relationships
34, Project Manager
Balfour Beatty Construction
Having spent nearly all of his 12-year construction career with Balfour Beatty, Ryan O’Donnell has become an integral part of the company’s team. While O’Donnell has worked on projects in just about every sector, he developed his leadership skills in the hospitality space. Some notable projects he has managed include the addition of 102 guest rooms and ballroom at the Fairmont Princess Resort; upgrades at The Royal Palms Resort; and ADA upgrades for The Phoenician Resort. In addition to managing high-profile hospitality projects, O’Donnell also functions as a business development asset for Balfour Beatty due to the lasting relationships he develops with clients. Recently, the company credited those relationships with helping it win the $40-million Mountain Shadows Resort project.
Early tech-adopting engineer shapes his company’s local office
34, Project Engineer/Vice President
Aaron Parenica joined Bury in 2004, achieving his vice president position at the company in less than 10 years. Currently working to expand Bury’s new office in Phoenix, Parenica has worked with the company’s operations committee for more than three years. In his leadership roles at Bury, Parenica focuses on the future and does what he can to implement new technology at the company, including creating a digital-based filing system for his office to reduce paper waste. He also spearheaded the office’s conversion to Civil 3D—software that promises to help streamline the design process. He is currently involved with the redevelopment of the Arizona State University Athletic Facilities District.
Hospitality expert leads national sector division for her firm
34, Project Director
While Chandra Reilly has only been with Sundt for two years, her experience in the industry dates back to before she graduated from Arizona State University. While still in school, she took a job as a construction project coordinator for 3D/International, and the firm created a position for her upon graduation. After joining Sundt in 2013, Reilly became the second-highest ranked woman in the firm, and the highest in the Southwest at the time. Last year, Sundt created a practice focused exclusively on hospitality on a nationwide scale and designated Reilly to lead the endeavor. One of her more notable projects is the Hayden Flour Mill Redevelopment in Tempe, Ariz.
Young partner manages numerous high-profile Arizona projects
39, Partner/Senior Project Manager
After joining Suntec Concrete in 2003, Matt Rogers quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a partner in the 700-person firm after just three years. In addition to providing leadership in his current role, Rogers wears several other hats. He focuses much of his energy on project management, overseeing multiple high-profile efforts including the Phoenix Convention Center’s Phase 2, the CityScape in Phoenix and the Marina Heights State Farm project in Tempe. Previously, he led Suntec’s marketing and branding efforts. Rogers also teaches at Arizona State University’s Del E. Webb School of Construction and participates in a year-long leadership program through the Arizona Builders’ Alliance.
Water resources expert displays vision and willingness to share knowledge
34, Senior Water Resources Engineer/Team Leader
After just 10 years in the industry, Brian Rowley leads a team of water resources professionals responsible for executing a wide variety of projects ranging from flood hazard identification and mitigation to levee evaluation. As project manager and team leader, he mentors and trains staff so that they are prepared for the challenges of the job. Rowley has led several major projects in his relatively short career. He was a lead technical reviewer on the $110-million Central Valley Floodplain Evaluation and Delineation. He also helped perform the Statewide Bridge Scour Evaluations and Plans of Action, commissioned by the Nevada Dept. of Transportation.
Award-winning project manager pegged as future company leader
31, Project Director
McCarthy Building Cos.
Daniel Ward, a Bowling Green State University graduate, joined McCarthy in 2007. Since then, Ward has worked on numerous projects valued at $760 million and was part of the team that expanded McCarthy into numerous states. Recently named project director for the infrastructure team, Ward’s leadership skills and drive led to his nomination by the Southwest region president and senior executive vice president of infrastructure to enter McCarthy’s Foundations of Leadership program. Ward’s managers and colleagues also recognized him with the 2013 Planner of the Year for his successful completion of a complex, multi-phase and high-profile public water treatment project. The project also won multiple industry awards, including the Arizona Public Works Project of the Year and the Arizona Water Re-use Project of the Year. Ward has worked on other award-winning projects, including a water reclamation facility for the city of Chandler. He has worked on pro bono projects, including building a mobile shower trailer for the homeless.
“[Daniel Ward] has the technical aptitude to analyze, price, sequence and construct complicated water and wastewater treatment plants coupled with amazing leadership qualities.”