Winners of the 2019 ENR Mountain States Top Young Professionals competition are CEOs, architects, engineers, constructors, virtual design experts and project managers. And they are also deeply committed to improving the industry and their communities.
Some began their careers with larger companies and then broke away to start their own firms; others have been promoted as promising leaders. All have demonstrated a mastery of new technologies and worked hard to teach their colleagues and other young professionals about better design and smart construction practices.
As in past years, the competition was rigorous. Companies or individuals were allowed to nominate more than one person, and individuals could nominate themselves. Nominees must be working full time in some aspect of the commercial construction industry in the Mountain States region, which includes Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Montana and North and South Dakota.
Selection criteria included achievement of or progress toward industry certifications, significant success in creating more efficient systems, designing new processes or managing landmark projects and consistent volunteer work across the industry and within the community.
This year’s judges also are a diverse group. They are: Jacob Beedle, project director, Atkins North America, Denver; Adam Kucera, senior vice president for Western operations, Kiewit Building Group Inc., Denver; Joel Pennick, senior project manager, JE Dunn Construction, Denver; Cathy Rock, project manager, facilities department, Red Rocks Community College, Lakewood, Colo.; and Paul Sweeney, MEP manager, GE Johnson Construction Co., Greenwood Village, Colo.
The following pages contain profiles of the winners, describing their achievements and goals in a tribute to excellence, success, quality, family and community. Congratulations to the class of 2019.
Virtual-building expert sees big productivity gains for industry
EvolveLAB, Disrupt Repeat and On Point Scans
“The future of BIM will not be BIM—and it’s coming faster than you think.” That’s the title of the most-watched presentation on Autodesk University. The video stars Allen, who says the AEC industry is just scratching the surface of technology’s potential to transform it.
Allen started his companies believing in a better way to design and construct buildings. In particular, he’s convinced that computational design and option engineering offer untapped opportunities to enhance projects and automate processes. He says that automating workflows cuts project durations and helps professionals better use their time.
With 14 years of experience managing technology for firms in the AEC sector, Allen knows what he’s talking about. He has spread the word through courses at the University of Nebraska Omaha as well as at conferences such as Autodesk University and the Central States BIM Workshop. In addition, he has served on boards for BIM of Omaha, the Central States Revit Workshop and the Rocky Mountain Building Information Society.
Experienced contractor leads company’s toughest projects
29, Project Manager
A native of Dodge City, Kan., Allen began his career as an assistant superintendent and estimator with Key Construction after earning a bachelor’s degree in construction science and management from Kansas State University in 2013. He joined ICI three years ago and has quickly shown his skills by leading many of the company’s biggest projects. During that time, he has widened his scope by managing projects in hospitality, multifamily, commercial developments and offices and mixed-use spaces.
Allen’s recent Denver portfolio includes British Petroleum’s Lower 48 headquarters; the 255 St. Paul Apartments; the Moxy Hotel, winner of the 2017 award of excellence for commercial projects of more than $1 million from the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry (AWCI) of Colorado; and substantial tenant improvements for Comcast (nominated for another AWCI award).
His boss, Nick Hartline, says Allen typically works 60-hour weeks and often devotes his spare time to football games and fishing trips with clients and other ICI employees. Professional affiliations include not only AWCI but also the Associated Builders and Contractors Rocky Mountain Chapter and Associated General Contractors of Colorado.
Special projects guru fuels success of company’s fast-growing division
33, Project Manager
PCL Construction Services
Tennis aficionados throughout Denver have reason to cheer Block. One of her most recent projects is the new Denver Tennis Park, a 13-court, indoor-outdoor complex operated by a nonprofit that works with Denver Public Schools and the University of Denver. The project transformed a dilapidated and under-used parking lot into a sophisticated educational and recreational facility whose staff furthers the tennis skills of students, college athletes and the public.
A member of PCL’s special projects division in Denver, Block revels in the variety and fast pace of assignments in the division’s range of less than $15 million. Her abilities have been recognized both inside and outside the company; within PCL, she received the Denver office’s 2015 Robert Stollery Construction Leadership Award, and beyond the firm, clients routinely shower her with accolades.
Block is also a member of the Future Leaders Forum at AGC of Colorado and has participated in the local ACE Mentor Program, which encourages high school students to pursue careers in architecture, construction and engineering. In addition, she’s been a friend in Girls Inc. of Metro Denver, which mentors girls and young women ages 6 to 20.
His expertise in water, wastewater facilities is widely recognized
30, Project Manager
Raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, Bormann has worked in construction for more than 11 years, primarily on water and wastewater facilities. He earned his master’s degree in construction management and business in 2012 from Colorado State University and since then has participated in several award-winning projects.
Recently, he led construction on a $19.7-million wastewater treatment plant for the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico. The project received the 2018 Construction Risk Partners Build America Award from AGC of America and the 2017 award for excellence in construction from the ABC New Mexico Chapter.
Bormann’s work on a biosolids process expansion project in South Syracuse, Utah, contributed to a 2016 Best Projects award of merit from ENR Mountain States. And his efforts on a regional water-resource recovery facility in Piedmont, S.C., helped secure an ENR Southeast award of merit in 2013.
Bormann also wrote an award-winning publication that he presented before members of the Associated Schools of Construction (ASC). He’s currently managing a $74-million improvement project for the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District in Denver.
Manager, former intern mentors young builders nationwide
37, Operations Manager
Hensel Phelps Construction Co.
During his 14 years with Hensel Phelps, Brooke has worked on nearly $1 billion worth of construction. He started as an intern and traveled coast to coast while climbing the ladder to his current position as operations manager.
Along the way, he worked on numerous military housing projects, the Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel and Hensel Phelps’s interior remodel of the Bank and Boston Lofts in Denver.
For the past several years, Brooke’s main focus has been the meticulous preconstruction work on the Gateway Center project for Lockheed Martin in Littleton, Colo., one of the most complex projects in the state at this time.
As a former intern, Brooke was the logical choice to head Hensel Phelps’s internship program. He’s devoted to mentoring young people in the industry and has worked on ASC’s design-build student competition since 2012. He’s also served as the national chair of ABC’s Construction Management Competition for students.
His community involvement includes volunteering with Junior Achievement, Colorado Youth Outdoors and the National Sports Center for the Disabled. Brooke also enjoys mountain biking, rock climbing, backcountry skiing and traveling with his wife and young daughter.
Civil engineer leads colleagues to adopt all-electronic documents
29, Project Manager
Fort Collins, Colo.
After earning a civil engineering degree from Colorado State University, Burrell joined Ditesco seven years ago as a project engineer working on water, wastewater, utility, transportation and building projects.
Within four years, she was promoted to project manager and leads Ditesco’s $32-million upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant in Loveland, Colo.
She has led the company’s office-wide transition to all-electronic project documentation, testing numerous document-management platforms along the way. In the words of her supervisor, Keith Meyer, Ditesco principal, Burrell also “can routinely be seen instructing younger staff on practical ways of solving engineering and construction problems.”
Outside work, Burrell serves as the incoming president of the Northern Colorado Chapter of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and is active in the Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the Construction Management Association of America (CMAA).
In 2014, she was one of 30 up-and-comers selected for the Leadership Fort Collins program, sponsored by the local chamber of commerce.
Technical education proponent pushes importance of STEM
34, Vice President
A civil engineering graduate of Montana State University, Erickson leads the 37 professionals in HDR’s transportation business group in Montana. The team specializes in transportation-related projects for state DOTs, municipalities and railway freight clients in the U.S. and Canada.
Across the Intermountain area, Erickson is known for his technical leadership. An expert on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), he has developed plans for ADA-improvement projects throughout Montana and also has helped other states fully implement the ADA and create construction best practices for complying with it.
Regionally, he has served as a subject matter expert on transportation projects, including highway and interchange geometrics, bike and pedestrian facility design and design-build execution as well as the development of CM-GC projects.
Erickson’s key projects include the first public compressed-natural-gas fueling station in Montana; reconstruction of a technically challenging old wagon trail that traverses steep terrain; and design of roundabouts to improve mobility and safety at intersections and along roadways.
Within HDR, Erickson has won peer-nominated awards for leadership, process improvement and client service.
An advocate for technical education in local schools, Erickson often volunteers in classrooms and says he has found himself inspired by students who are immersed in the study of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
His growing specialty firm takes on challenging tenant-finish work
Growing up in Southern California, Hartline inherited an early interest in construction from his father and grandfather, who operated a dirt mine.
He watched in fascination as mere soil became fill for big buildings. Eventually, he sought out a college program in construction management. After graduating in 2011 from Kansas State University, he began his career as a junior estimator for KHS&S, an international design-assist specialty building company.
His work at KHS&S frequently took him to Colorado, where he spotted an opportunity in the current building boom. Hartline opened ICI in 2014 with a team of five, specializing in small tenant-improvements at shopping centers.
Today, the interior, exterior, framing and sheathing construction firm employs more than 300 people at peak times and reports revenue of more than $30 million. ICI has worked for clients such as Children’s Hospital Colorado, the Moxy Hotel in Denver and the British Petroleum Lower 48 headquarters, also in Denver. Hartline has led ICI into active membership in industry organizations such as AWCI, ABC and AGC.
Engineer pushes VDC technology to improve schedules, delivery
32, Project Director
Hudson is all about using technology to solve the construction industry’s nitty-gritty problems on real-world projects. On massive jobs such as the Atlanta Falcons’ Mercedes Benz Stadium and design-phase existing conditions for the Hudson Yards West complex in New York City, he has used virtual design and construction (VDC) technology to shorten timelines and help the construction manager and trades work through a maze of redesign and schedule constraints.
On Hudson Yards West, for example, his team produced a complex existing-conditions model from multiple data sources that’s being used by more than 35 stakeholders, including railroad and city officials, engineers, architects and developers. In the words of his supervisor, VIATechnik founder and CEO Danielle Dy Buncio, “He isn’t just using ‘cool tech,’ he’s also finding ways for this technology to solve some of the industry’s most pressing problems—for example, the skilled-labor shortage.”
A graduate of the University of Iowa with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and master’s degree in structural engineering, Hudson is active in numerous industry organizations, including ASCE and the Stanford Center for Integrated Facility Engineering.
Seasoned constructor advocates lean lessons for project savings
29, Project Manager
Even in high school in Kansas City, Koncak was industrious. He competed in basketball and track and placed in the top 30 at the national robotics competition. After graduating from the University of Nebraska Lincoln with a degree in construction management and a minor in business, he joined CRB as a project engineer and quickly rose through the company’s ranks.
Today, he’s responsible for managing large projects and recently completed a key job on time and $500,000 under budget. An expert in construction specs for the Food and Drug Administration, Koncak is currently leading design and construction of a $37-million, fast-track project for a new food plant.
Koncak belongs to the Lean Construction Institute, the International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering and the Design-Build Institute of America. Last spring, he addressed DBIA on one of his specialties—keeping projects on scope, on schedule and on budget.
His community work includes volunteering with the Ronald McDonald House Charities in the Denver area, collecting suitcases for foster children and building homes with Habitat for Humanity.
Oil and gas industry leader extends mentoring into community causes
32, Manager, Oil, Gas & Chemicals Dept.
Burns & McDonnell
Mahobian leads an eight-person team to deliver safe and environmentally sound oil and gas facilities and pipelines. Named department manager in 2017, the mechanical engineering graduate of the University of Kansas is credited with helping to increase sales and establish Burns & McDonnell’s solid position in the oil, gas and chemicals market.
Mahobian is a graduate of the firm’s emerging leaders program and a founding member of the Rocky Mountain Pipeliners, a group that promotes the oil and natural gas industry. His interest in mentoring extends to Colorado Young Leaders, a nonprofit that teaches students leadership skills through adventure and service.
Founded in 2014 by Mahobian’s wife, the organization has worked with scores of schools and community organizations in the state to create volunteer opportunities for students.
Those include working with the African Community Center of Denver to welcome refugees as they enter the U.S., taking at-risk students from the Denver-based Colfax Community Network on trips to the mountains, building and repairing trails for local state parks and volunteering at the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, Colo.
Experienced jobsite leader tackles challenging high-altitude projects
35, Senior Project Manager
PCL Construction Services
Odell specializes in managing high-altitude projects in the difficult weather conditions of the Rocky Mountains. Shortly after joining PCL in 2007, he was assigned to analyze the complex geometry of a roof at the $200-million Ritz-Carlton Residences in Vail, Colo.
Odell figured out how to connect the intricate web of steel members, all while avoiding adjacent mechanical systems. His work contributed significantly to a Ritz-Carlton quality award for PCL.
Odell’s work on the Grand Colorado resort and residences in the ski town of Breckenridge, Colo., typifies his innovative approach to mountain projects. His team collaborated with several key players to redesign the exterior wall, allowing various elements to be panelized and built out of sequence. The strategy reduced risks posed by extreme weather and shortened the project by three months.
Odell also has led some of PCL-Denver’s most challenging recent projects, including the $15-million Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center at Mesa Verde National Park in southwestern Colorado and the $75-million Commuter Rail Maintenance Facility for Denver’s Regional Transportation District, which won an ENR Mountain States Best Projects award in 2015.
Regional office leader spearheads new training, placement program
38, Vice President of Operations
McCarthy Building Cos.
When Peterson was six years old, his grandfather showed him his woodshop. Peterson was captivated, and a career in construction seemed almost preordained.
He was hired by McCarthy in 2002, straight out of Willamette University in Salem, Ore., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and mathematics.
Since then, he’s worked on nearly $900 million in construction projects. Recent endeavors include Banner Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Kaiser Permanente, Silicon Ranch and Greenbacker Renewable Energy.
In 2015, McCarthy chose Peterson to open the company’s Denver office, which has grown to 36 salaried staff and 100 tradespeople. Since his promotion to vice president in March, the office has secured $114 million in sales and executed $45 million in projects.
Responding to Colorado’s shortage of skilled tradespeople, Peterson in 2017 helped create McCarthy’s training within industry program, which places unemployed and underemployed workers into construction jobs. The program to date has trained more than 150 new job candidates, many of whom have joined McCarthy.
Off the job, Peterson enjoys coaching youth lacrosse and flag football and devotes time to various community organizations.
Skilled manager spreads project know-how to younger colleagues
39, Construction Manager
At any given time, Reuter is responsible for $200 million worth of projects at Saunders Construction. That includes everything in the construction cycle, from procurement to final warranty.
Recent successes include Pearl Place Campus in Boulder, Colo., built for a Fortune 50 technology company; the luxury residential St. Paul Collection in Denver’s Cherry Creek; CU Denver’s student commons; the multi-college Auraria Campus library renovation in Denver; and the new Adams County Government Center in Brighton, Colo.
Throughout his career, Reuter has focused on coaching young professionals, and his mentorship has influenced more than 70 members of the Saunders staff. All the while, he has continued to grow his own skills through the Executive Leadership Academy at AGC of Colorado.
Reuter’s work has been praised by clients such as Todd Akey, project manager for CU Denver. “I’ve been in the construction industry for 25 years, both on the owner’s side and general contractor side,” Akey says. “Saunders and Tony are among the best I have worked with.”
Insightful environmental specialist wins kudos from clients, colleagues
28, Project Environmental Engineer
Terracon Consultants Inc.
Wheat Ridge, Colo.
A 2012 environmental engineering graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder, Safulko has risen steadily through the profession. Even before graduation, he started his career as a field and lab technician in 2011 with CU Boulder’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. Since then, his work in environmental remediation, site characterization, vapor mitigation, construction dewatering and environmental assessments has earned the respect of colleagues and clients.
“He has a very inquisitive mind and always wants to learn and be challenged, which is exciting because I can provide him with interesting projects that push the envelope of his learning,” says Mark White, his supervisor. Adds a client in the banking business, “Not only is he extremely knowledgeable, he is astute at understanding the concerns of owners as well as the finance industry…. He has definitely become top-of-mind for us when it comes to environmental matters.”
In his spare time, Safulko serves as vice president of the Rocky Mountain Association of Environmental Professionals. He also has mentored students at Terracon and CU Boulder, where his environmental engineering team won top honors for a senior project.
Preconstruction expert becomes firm’s go-to leader on renovations
37, Preconstruction Manager
PCL Construction Services
When he graduated from the University of California Berkeley, Sanghvi envisioned a career in real estate development. He had been interested in architecture since childhood, and a degree in business administration with an emphasis in real estate finance seemed to be the ideal preparation for his goal. He thought a short stint in construction would offer some real-world experience.
Now, 16 years later, he’s still hooked on building. As a preconstruction manager, he is exposed daily to the complex architecture that’s always fascinated him. At the same time, his job lets him see the big picture and ensure that the parts of each project are properly aligned.
At age 25, Sanghvi took on his first big project—rehabilitation of the 1920s-era Balboa Theatre in San Diego. The complex renovation won more than 25 awards, including ENR California’s 2008 Project of the Year for the region.
Recent projects include the $90-million Aspen Club Residences in Aspen, Colo., and the Regional Transportation District’s $18-million Park-n-Ride facility north of Denver. He is currently leading PCL’s preconstruction plan to expand the Colorado Convention Center.
Manager earns a solid reputation for planning theater complexes
37, Preconstruction Manager
During his 11 years in construction, Sherwood has distinguished himself within the complex niche of building performing arts centers. He has contributed significantly to three major projects—construction of the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater in Salt Lake City; the Hale Centre Theatre in Orem, Utah; and Noorda Center for the Performing Arts at Utah Valley University, also in Orem.
On the Eccles Theater, Sherwood collaborated with world-renowned designer Cesar Pelli to take an open-cost vision and create a budget-wise project. Among the challenges at Hale Centre Theatre was the innovative stage automation, which included 47 pieces of moving machinery powered by 130 motors. Moreover, the original design called for 35- to 50-ft-deep piles, but soft soils required piles up to 95 ft deep.
Technology has been Sherwood’s ally in his rise from a junior-level estimator to his current position as preconstruction manager. In particular, he is credited with helping move Layton from traditional 2D-estimating methods to robust 3D-modeled estimating, which provides owners with faster updates on budgets.
Tylor J. Slauter
Energy engineer shares his diverse education, skills with the industry
36, Project Manager/Resident Field Engineer
Greenwood Village, Colo.
Describing his passion for engineering, Slauter quotes author James Michener, who said, “Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them.”
At the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colo., he received a bachelor’s degrees in both mechanical and electrical engineering. Then, while working full time, he earned a master’s degree in engineering systems, electrical engineering, energy systems and power electronics.
Since joining AECOM, Slauter has worked with clients in the mining, water, oil-and-gas, nuclear-waste, power and defense industries. At present, he’s a resident field engineer on the Silver Basin Reservoir project, which features one of the first asphalt-core dams in the U.S.
Slauter’s professional service includes ASME, IEEE, International Society of Automation, Society of Petroleum Engineers and the Project Management Institute. In the community, he coaches students on a low-budget, automotive-endurance racing team, which stimulates their interest in engineering.
Civil engineer specializes in complex transit, municipal work
39, Vice President
A civil engineering graduate of Colorado State University, Valentine joined Kimley-Horn in 2006 and has won a legion of industry awards on his way to becoming a top young leader.
He began his Kimley-Horn career in California, where he was twice honored by APWA for his work on the city of Santa Monica’s first green street and “complete street” projects. Since moving to Denver, Valentine has been named Kimley-Horn’s local office practice lead and heads an eight-person engineering team.
He is working with the city and county of Denver on its Enhanced Bike Master Plan and improved bike parking and is engineer of record for the Denver Premium Outlets project. He also serves as city engineer for Cherry Hills Village, Colo.
Valentine’s off-work hours are consumed primarily by his family, which includes three children under 29 months old. Even so, he finds time to coach YMCA basketball and has participated in the ACE Mentor Program.
Determined young software expert inspires his colleagues
19, Project Engineer
Salt Lake City
As a 3-year-old, Ward watched the popular “Bob the Builder” cartoons. When he reached high school, he was inspired to sign up for woodworking and architecture classes and invest in software that helped him analyze blueprints of homes and office buildings.
But there’s something else inspiring about Ward. He has muscular dystrophy, which keeps him in a wheelchair. Still, he hopes someday to have his own construction firm. Ward plans to call the company Mineral Basin Construction, and its focus would be building homes for people with physical disabilities. He has even created a logo for it.
Ward also volunteers with the National Ability Center, which is committed to helping people of all abilities develop lifetime skills through affordable adaptive sports, recreation and outdoor activities. His tenacity and ambition have greatly motivated his Big-D colleagues.
“The executive team and employees at Big-D Construction have learned more from Jared than he has learned from us,” says senior vice president Michael Kerby, who hired Ward. “Jared is a role model for employees. He demonstrates that anything is truly possible, despite limitations. This is a lesson that can’t be taught in a classroom. Jared’s determination also demonstrates that those with disabilities can help firms succeed, and these individuals can teach all of us a thing or two about patience and persistence.”