40 Under 40: Meet the contractors

Learn about the 10 up-and-coming construction professionals to make Building Design+Construction's 40 Under 40, Class of 2013.

May 21, 2013

Of the 40 young AEC professionals to make Building Design+Construction's 8th Annual "40 Under 40" class, 10 make their living as contractors. They include Patti Neal, Senior Vice President of Development at Carter, who once completed the Ironman Triathlon, and Tanuja Shukla, Chief Strategy Officer with ITSI Gilbane, who teaches international dance on the side. Learn about the 10 contractor superstars below.

To view the entire 40 Under 40 Class of 2013, see our landing page.

This year’s winners will be invited to join their 40 Under 40 peers—as well as up-and-coming professionals nominated by their firms—for three days of career development at our Third Annual BD+C “U40 Leadership Summit” in San Francisco, October 9-11, 2013. For more information, contact BD+C's Events Manager, Judy Brociek, at 847.954.7943 or jbrociek@sgcmail.com.

We'd like to thank our 40 Under 40 sponsors for their support of the awards program and U40 Leadership Summit:

           
 
           

 

 

1. NUMBERS JUGGLER

MATTHEW R. VERST

Director, Cost Planning & Estimating
Messer Construction Co., Cincinnati

AGE: 36
BSCE, University of Kentucky

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Joined Messer as a project engineer in 2000, now leads team of 25 cost planners. Focuses on integrating BIM and IPD with cost work. Oversees more than $7 billion in work annually.
Recent projects: $66 million Hoff Academic Quad, Xavier University; $108 million Fidelity Investments 100 Howe Office Building; $135 million Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Location S Research Tower.
University of Kentucky Young Construction Engineer of the Year Award, 2012.
AGC Build Ohio Award, 2010.
ABC Award of Excellence and DBIA Ohio Valley Excellence in Design-Build Award, 2008.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Coaches youth sports (basketball, football, baseball, softball).
Chair-elect of the Board, Holly Hill Children’s Services (residential treatment program for teen girls).
Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Northern Kentucky Class of 2013.

OFF THE CLOCK
Activities: biking, softball, pinochle—“but it’s hard to find anyone under the age of 60 who knows how to play.”

SECRET LIFE
Father had 15 siblings; mom, seven. “I have over 170 first cousins and five kids of my own, with one on the way.”

 

 

2. REAL ESTATE STANDOUT

PATTI NEAL, LEED AP

Senior Vice President, Development
Carter, Atlanta

AGE: 39
BS, Purdue University
MBA, Emory University

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Manages large, multi-phased construction projects for major real estate developer, representing more than $1 billion in construction for the firm.
Recent projects: Highpoint on Columbus (Ohio) Commons ($50 million urban mixed-use project); The Banks, Phase 1A, Cincinnati ($600 million urban mixed-use project); AT&T Metro Plan office development, Atlanta (three buildings, 3.1 million sf); Atlantic Station, Atlanta ($207 million mixed-use project with >1 million sf of retail).
Upon promotion to Senior VP, became Carter’s most senior construction manager.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Volunteers at the elementary school attended by her three children.
Soccer coach, YMCA children’s soccer.

OFF THE CLOCK
Has completed more than 50 running, cycling, and triathlon events, including the Boston Marathon and an Ironman Triathlon.
Favorite reads: Anything about American history; currently, “The Presidents Club.”
Favorite spots: Costa Rica, Alaska.

SECRET LIFE
Can write with both hands simultaneously, in opposite directions.

 

 

3. BUDGET WATCHDOG

JONATHAN COLLINS, CPE, LEED AP BD+C

Senior Estimator
Manhattan Construction Co., Dallas

AGE: 37
BS, Texas A&M University

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Initially hired by Manhattan as project engineer.
Currently oversees preconstruction and estimating for large projects involving places of worship, sports, cultural, and higher ed.
Representative work (Dallas metro): $850 million DFW International Airport Terminal Renewal and Improvement plan; $30 million MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; $87 million Grand Prairie Public Safety Building & The Summit Adult Activity Center; George W. Bush Presidential Center.
Senior estimator for the University of North Texas Apogee Stadium, the only LEED Platinum college football stadium in the U.S.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Teaches “Basics of Construction” at Southwestern Baptist Seminary, helping future church leaders understand facilities issues.
Active in ASPE and AGC.
Volunteers with H.I.S. BridgeBuilders program, a faith-based urban renewal initiative, and Hearts and Hammers.

OFF THE CLOCK
Built a 50-gallon aquarium tank for African cichlids.
Hobbies: biking and triathlons.
Enjoys beach life and wade fishing in Florida.

SECRET LIFE
Was pressed into service as an extra for his little sister’s dance company: “Yes, I wore tights.”

 

 

4. CHANGE MANAGER

TANUJA SHUKLA

Chief Strategy Officer,
Senior Vice President
ITSI Gilbane, Walnut Creek, Calif.

AGE: 35
BA, University of California–San Diego
MBA, The University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
After serving as Director of Finance for ITSI (formerly Innovative Technical Solutions Inc.), helped manage the firm’s 2010 acquisition by Gilbane. ITSI is a global contractor primarily focused on work for the military market (construction, environmental, fuels, energy).
Leads corporate integration and transition strategies, market entry plans for new ventures, and international expansion efforts.
Trilingual (Hindi, English, Spanish).
Youngest staff member on Gilbane’s committee for Vision 2017, a futures planning initiative.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Helps lead employee volunteer efforts with the Contra Costa and Solano County food banks, the Salvation Army, Wounded Warriors, the Red Cross, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and Habitat for Humanity.
Helped lead an ITSI Gilbane team in upgrades for the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center, Newport, R.I.

OFF THE CLOCK
Activities: dancing, painting (acrylics). Teaches international dance.
Enjoys cooking Indian food for big dinner parties.

SECRET LIFE
Grandfather was an Indian journalist who interviewed and later befriended Mohandas K. Gandhi and participated in the Mahatma’s funeral ceremony.

 

 

5. GREEN BUILDER

CHRIS HERMRECK, PE, LEED AP BD+C

Project Manager
JE Dunn Construction,
Kansas City, Mo.

AGE: 28
BS, Architectural Engineering, University of Kansas–Lawrence

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Has managed >$110 million of healthcare and federal construction projects for JE Dunn.
Recent projects: LEED Silver commercial border station, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Yuma, Ariz.; $55 million hospital in Wichita; $20 million engineering lab at KU.
Guiding a national knowledge initiative at JE Dunn, with the task of improving efficiency and knowledge sharing across 20 offices nationwide.
Co-founder (with Dr. Oswald Chong) of the International Conference on Sustainable Design & Construction.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Helped KU Continuing Education develop courses on green building construction and LEED.
Advisory Board Member, KU Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering Department.
Technical Panelist, UL Environment Sustainability for Lighting and Sustainability for Thermal Insulation Standards.
Keynote Speaker, 2012 Future City Competition, KU.
Volunteer, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas; Co-chair, CCNEKS Young Patrons Group.
Outreach Chair, ASCE-CI Young Members Directorate.

OFF THE CLOCK
Hobbies: hunting, skiing, working out, traveling, and following Jayhawks sports.
Favorite spots: Italy, Croatia, and the mountains of Colorado.

SECRET LIFE
Grew up working on a family farm in Kansas. Father received the National Outstanding Young Farmer award in 1984.

 

 

6. PROBLEM SOLVER

BENJAMIN JOHANNEMAN, LEED AP, EIT, CHC

Vice President/Operations
McCarthy Building Companies, Houston

AGE: 34
BS, University of Kentucky

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
One of firm’s youngest-ever project directors, recently promoted to VP; responsible for preconstruction and construction services for large-scale projects.
Recent projects: $240 million University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Alkek Expansion; MD Anderson Cancer Center Pavilion Expansion ($75 million); University of Texas Medical Branch–
Victory Lakes Specialty Care Center Expansion ($52.3 million).
Overall Best Project, Engineering News Record Texas/Louisiana, 2011.
AGC/Aon Build America Award, Design-Build Renovation, 2011.
AGC Texas Building Branch Outstanding Construction Award, 2011.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Active in the American Society for Healthcare Engineering, Greater Houston Partnership (Green Building Subcommittee), Rice Design Alliance, ABC, DBIA, and AGC.
Volunteer service: Habitat for Humanity (Honduras, Brazil, and Fiji), Houston Food Bank, Boys and Girls Club, MD Anderson’s Sprint for Life, and the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo.

OFF THE CLOCK
Hobbies: travel, skiing, wake boarding.
Favorite movie: “Saving Private Ryan.”
Favorite food: Texas BBQ.

SECRET LIFE
In 2008 during Hurricane Ike, led a ride-out team of five employees to Alkek Hospital, Houston, helping prevent damage to this large, occupied facility.

 

 

7. HEALTHCARE CONSTRUCTION PRO

MAJA ROSENQUIST, LEED AP

Vice President, General Manager
Mortenson Construction, Denver Operating Group

AGE: 38
BS, University of Washington

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Healthcare construction specialist. Has progressed from field engineer to project manager to general manager of healthcare for firm.
Recently promoted to VP in Denver, supervising more than 400 field and office personnel and overseeing projects generating more than $300 million in annual revenue.
Recent work: $386 million, 830,000-sf Exempla St. Joseph Replacement Hospital; $199 million, 695,000-sf Ralph L. Carr Colorado Justice Complex; $137 million Exempla Good Samaritan Medical Center (AGC ACE award).

EXTRACURRICULAR
Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce: Leadership Denver Class of 2010; Impact Denver Class of 2008.
Board positions with Aurora (Colo.) Economic Development Council, Exempla Lutheran Medical Foundation, Susan Duncan YMCA, Downtown Denver Partnership Economic Development Committee, and LoDo (Lower Downtown) District.

OFF THE CLOCK
Can’t live without: secret stash of chocolate-covered acai berries.
Favorite hobbies: skiing, camping, scrapbooking.
Favorite spots: Maui, Costa Rica, San Diego.

SECRET LIFE
Grew up in a family salmon fishing operation on the Bering Sea. “One day my father and I caught 18,500 pounds of salmon in 18 hours, just the two of us. Almost sank the boat. I have incredibly high standards for seafood.”

 

 

8. WOMEN AND CHILDREN FIRST

ROB BLALOCK

Vice President, Division Manager
Brasfield & Gorrie, Kennesaw, Ga.

AGE: 38
BS, Auburn University

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Oversees management of projects in the Mixed-Use Division for firm’s Georgia regional office. Since 1998, has managed more than $1.1 billion of construction totaling ~8.5 million sf of commercial buildings.
Projects include the 825,000-sf Omni Hotel in Nashville, the $267 million 1075 Peachtree mixed-use office/hotel project, and Perkins+Will’s new LEED Platinum office in Atlanta.
Led division’s implementation of mobile technology and cloud-based document control systems.
AGC Award, three ABC Awards, and Build Georgia Award.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Citizens Medal of Honor from the Atlanta Fire & Rescue Department for pro bono renovation of a fire station.
Member, NAIOP’s inaugural Future Leaders Class.
Volunteer with charities that support women and children: Atlanta Day Shelter, United Way, Atlanta Dream Center, No Longer Bound, and Habitat for Humanity.

OFF THE CLOCK
Hobby: Spending time outdoors, especially in the mountains.
Favorite flick: “Man on Fire.” “The main character’s transformation and love for a little girl is pretty close to my heart, as a father of four girls.”

SECRET LIFE
Spent a year as a ski bum in Vail in his early 20s, skiing six days a week; split his head open twice.

 

 

9. GAME CHANGER

FRANK L. CIMINELLI II

Senior Vice President
LPCiminelli Inc., Buffalo, N.Y.

AGE: 39
BS, Marietta College
MS, The Catholic University of America

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Wrote undergrad thesis that paved the way for the company’s ISO 9000 certification.
Leads the firm’s Gaming and Entertainment division, representing >$2 billion of gaming work in the past decade.
Recent projects: $360 million Mount Airy Resort & Casino, Mount Pocono, Pa.; $65 million Wheeling Island (W. Va.) Hotel-Casino-Racetrack; $33 million Saratoga (N.Y.) Gaming and Raceway; $22 million Hamburg (N.Y.) Casino at the Fairgrounds; $38 million Tioga Downs, Nichols, N.Y.
Leads implementation of BIM and VDC at his firm.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Co-founded Jog for the Jake, an annual family fundraiser that has raised >$800,000 for Buffalo’s Jacobs Neurological Institute.
Developed co-op educational program with Erie Community College; serves on the ECC foundation board.
Serves on boards and committees for numerous educational, arts, civic, and healthcare institutions.

OFF THE CLOCK
Renovating a home in Buffalo at the gateway to the 1901 Pan American Expo.
Hobbies: squash, working out, reading Tom Clancy novels.
Favorite spot: Tuscany, for its “simple lifestyle, beautiful landscape, wonderful people, and of course food and wine.”

SECRET LIFE
Self-confessed sci fi dork, particularly “Star Wars.”

 

 

10. RIGHT-MINDED BUILDER

CESAR RODRIGUEZ

Procurement & Construction
Service Manager
Make It Right Foundation,
New Orleans

AGE: 32
BA, University of Houston

ACCOMPLISHMENTS
A second-generation contractor, this political science major ran his own small construction/roofing firm and was headed to the Peace Corps when Hurricane Katrina hit.
Signed on with Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation, which builds LEED Platinum-certified, Cradle-to-Cradle-inspired homes for people in need. As of spring 2013 the organization had built 90 homes in the Lower 9th Ward.
Works with product manufacturers and suppliers to determine if their materials meet sustainability criteria. Negotiates on procurement, oversees contractors and subcontractors, and trains local laborers in green construction practices.
Assisting Make It Right outreach projects in New Jersey and Kansas City.

EXTRACURRICULAR
Serves as a media spokesperson for Make It Right.
Conducts numerous site tours for VIPs and major donors to view homes designed by “starchitects” (Thom Mayne, Shigeru Ban, David Adjaye, Frank Gehry).
Coordinates scheduling of volunteer events.

OFF THE CLOCK
Hobbies: running, cooking, motorcycle riding.
Can’t live without: text messages from his eight young nieces.

SECRET LIFE
Building a beach house in Huatulco, Mexico.

         
 

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