Steven Dodge is one of Eastman Cooke’s incredible Project Engineers, which is a hybrid role of a site superintendent and assistant project manager. He has successfully established strong relationships with subcontractors and clients by utilizing his leadership and organization skills. Some of his many positive attributes include an open mind, a passion for learning, and a dedication to both his personal and professional growth that shine through. In his role, Steven is involved in several projects from pre-construction to punch list, ensuring that things run smoothly and according to schedule. He places a high priority on clear and consistent communication, as well as delivery of high-quality service, to help manage client expectations.
In his time since joining the ECA team, Steven has quickly worked his way up to project engineer. Steven’s project list is impressive, including UR Vet and Bond Vet. When he’s not on a job site, Steven enjoys giving back to his community and is often doing volunteer work with The S.L.A.T.E. Project, a nonprofit that he founded to support young people impacted by drug abuse and alcoholism.
What are the most important skills and traits to have as a construction superintendent, and the keys to running a safe job site?
The most important skills and traits to have as a construction superintendent are coordination, communication, and job site awareness. With these traits practiced daily, you can keep a safe and productive job site.
One of the major factors that have contributed to Eastman Cooke’s success is the firm’s Work Smart System. Can you give an example of how this innovative system has helped you and your team to continuously maintain an effective workflow, and to keep projects running smoothly?
With Eastman Cooke’s Work Smart System, effective workflow and a smoothly run project becomes second nature. We can implement open lines of communication with trades, team members, and clients, which leads to all parties involved having a full understanding of expectations, scheduling, quality, and effectiveness.
What Eastman Cooke projects are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of the project URVet Care at 200 Chambers Street. This is a project that I take a lot of pride in being a part of due to being able to manage client expectations and completing the job on time in a tight schedule. There are many sides of this project which proved to be challenging, however, I was able to adjust and overcome each challenge with solutions and ideas that led to a successful project.
What significant factors do you rely on when it comes to successful collaboration and building strong relationships with your project teams, subcontractors, and clients?
When it comes to successful collaboration and building strong relationships with my project teams, subcontractors, and clients, I rely on my problem-solving skills. As a construction project engineer, my day consists of different problems from multiple angles that need to be addressed. My philosophy is to always remain calm no matter what the situation is, to be able to think rationally and produce the necessary solution for the project to continue at a steady pace. I also always seek guidance from my team and those around me who can offer ideas and insight into problems or scenarios that I may not have seen.
How has your early career experience as a carpenter helped to enhance your work as a superintendent and contribute to the success of your projects?
My early career has helped me immensely to enhance my work as a superintendent and contribute to the success of my projects. I can implement my skill set and apply it to my projects to be the best version of myself at work that I can be.
How have advancements in technology helped to fuel productivity in construction?
Advancements in technology have helped fuel productivity in construction in many ways. The use of Procore and having a central hub for team members, subcontractors, and clients has proven to be a major asset to the day-to-day workflow and to support accountability. Being able to walk a jobsite with plans and correspondence at the tap of a finger is a beneficial way to improve production.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the construction field?
My advice for someone starting out in construction is to always remain teachable. No matter what your experience is, there is always room for growth. On the other hand, even with a lack of experience, never doubt yourself. Stay vigilant in learning and gaining knowledge. We all have the same tools for success, and it is up to you to use them.
What are the keys to ensuring that construction projects always stay on target?
The key to ensuring that construction projects stay on target is communication. Projects and schedules can change for many reasons. If you can communicate correctly with your client and subcontractors, you will be able to navigate through the changes while keeping client satisfaction and job productivity.
What are some of the most important elements of bringing a construction project to life?
To bring a construction project to life, you need a multi-faceted approach. I find following the critical path of the schedule, while making minor adjustments along the way to cater to the specific job, is key to ensuring steady workflow. Thorough planning throughout the preconstruction phase is key to a successful outcome in bringing the project to life. The collaborative development of a critical path method schedule, trade scope reviews, and page turn meetings with the field team are important aspects of precon planning. With good preparation and ongoing communication, field coordination will assuredly run more smoothly. I was told early on in my career that the smartest person in the room is the person who knows the plans. With this knowledge you can take the client’s vision and bring it to life with their specific finishes and requests. Constant coordination and communication with all parties involved in the project are two important aspects of building a project. However, nothing supersedes safety. At Eastman Cooke safety matters and, as the site superintendent and an SST supervisor, it is my responsibility to ensure compliance with safety codes and take a proactive approach in developing predictive solutions to hazards before they occur.
How do you help to ensure that a project continues to run smoothly?
I have been given the unique role as a project engineer which consists of fulfilling the roles of both the site superintendent and assistant project manager. This gives me the opportunity to manage my job from preconstruction to punch list. I can run my project on site, as well as manage the backend of the project with my team members and clients. Not only am I able to constantly learn and grow, but I ensure all parts of my project are in order and managed properly. As an SST supervisor, I can train other individuals on a job site with safety techniques and prevention. When these are implemented, the project is clean and free of hazardous obstructions, with a set plan in place daily to avoid injury, which leads to a smooth-running job site.
What are some activities that you enjoy when you’re not working?
When I am not at work, I enjoy going to nice dinners and trying new foods, traveling to new areas to explore local cuisines and cultures. I love to spend time with family and friends, and recently have been getting my life and house ready for my daughter, who is due to be born in April 2023.
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