As the world gradually reopens to more travel, ENR editors and writers are venturing out to see projects and attend industry events.  This brings back the richness of in-person points of contact among the many ways we engage with our audience. 

A lot of my in-person activity has been informal observation of local construction and flood damage in the New York City metro area. But Midwest Editor Jeff Yoders recently dropped in on the Council on a Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat meeting in Chicago. Technology Editor Jeff Rubenstone traveled to Liechtenstein on a visit to toolmaker Hilti’s headquarters. Editor-in-Chief Jan Tuchman attended the National Academy of Construction conference in Colorado Springs and the Society of American Military Engineers awards gala in New York City. “SAME was one day after the infrastructure bill passed the House. You can imagine the buzz!” she says.

ENR is hosting 12 in-person regional Best Projects Awards events across the country this fall—excellent networking venues for editors to meet sources and hear about news. 

Of course, any pause in physical travel no longer cuts editors off from people and events as we now take advantage of virtual technologies. Last week I watched the webcast of the Construction Safety Research Alliance summit in Boulder, Colo., where I learned about the group’s iconoclastic research about safety programs and statistics.

As ENR’s opinions editor, I also use the submissions I review to better understand issues that industry members face. That process can lead to important introductions. A viewpoint submission reached my inbox from Michael Volpatt, on behalf of his older brother Ray, president of Volpatt Construction, a Pittsburgh-based contractor. Ray told the story of how Volpatt distributed safety monitoring devices to staff on a project, what company managers learned about the benefits of the devices and how to win the confidence of jobsite staff with a carefully explained privacy policy.

The viewpoint details seemed fresh, but it was the type of company story that was ripe for development. Instead of accepting the article, I invited Ray Volpatt to participate in a webinar. That gave me a chance get to know him better. Although he makes appearances as part of his firm’s marketing efforts, Ray admitted he wasn’t in love with the spotlight, but he was refreshingly honest and incisive at the webinar.

I love stories about family businesses, and what I learned about Ray Volpatt and Volpatt Construction made me believe their story would interest ENR’s audience. So just a few months after Volpatt’s initial rejected viewpoint submission, Ray Volpatt was on the cover of ENR’s Nov. 1 print edition and at the top of

It wasn’t the first time ENR has “met” people and companies in brief or informal dialogue or encounter. Our inboxes are brimming with messages, and we ask your patience as we sift through all of them. The emails and phone calls have something you feel is worth telling ENR, and we appreciate the contact. While we can’t talk to everyone or share every idea, we enjoy meeting and learning about you. You can seek out an appropriate editor by reviewing who does what on Our eyes, ears and mailboxes are open, and you never know what the final result will be.