In this on-going Q&A series, go Inside Baldwin General Contracting to get a closer look at the dedication and attention to detail that goes into each individual project, while also recognizing the talented individuals – Project Managers, Project Engineers, and fellow staff members – who have helped build Baldwin General into an industry leader throughout the Pacific Northwest.
This time, we shine a spotlight on Randy Patterson who came on board with Baldwin in December of 2021 as a Project Manager after working in the industry as a Project Manager and Project Engineer. Yet it was through Randy’s life experiences growing up in a military family and eventually joining the Navy himself as a jet engine mechanic that unknowingly helped shape his career journey to Baldwin.
“I was drawn to the team approach to building unique and complex projects and it is no different today,” Randy said looking back.
“There is a great satisfaction of accomplishment when you see the light at the end of the tunnel on a project.”
For Randy Patterson and Baldwin, that “end of the tunnel” could lead to an Olympic size pool if all goes well. Baldwin’s currently bidding on the Nehalem Pool Building in Nehalem, Oregon and if the project is approved, Randy would find himself as Project Manager.
Until then, he’s content knowing Baldwin’s on the rise with a number of opportunities on the horizon.
The life of a Project Manager can be very hectic at times managing and overseeing a construction process. What’s your approach to managing a project? What makes each project unique?
I believe a successful project is one that safely completes with all of the relationships intact, where owners are giving out good recommendations to prospective clients and subcontractors are preparing their streamlined bids they plan on sending to us for the next project. Good upfront planning, doing deep dives into the bids, and buyout is critical to heading off future scope holes. Each project has challenges and issues and the way I deal with those challenges is through partnering and collaboration – getting the right people to the table to problem solve. (*Takena Hall renovations at Linn Benton Community College pictured above).
Is the title of Project Manager more about managing the actual project or people and their expectations of a project?
Project Managers primarily manage the multiple personalities with some oversight on the actual building of the project.
Growing up, did you always envision overseeing and managing construction projects? What drew you to the profession and your position?
I grew up in a military home and we traveled a lot. I wanted to be a fireman up to the age of nine years old, but wanted to follow in my dads footsteps after that, which is what I did. The same year my dad retired from the Navy, I went in. I too was a jet engine mechanic (*pictured below). After seven years in the military, I got out and went back to school for Aeronautical Engineering and worked part time in a lab for a geotechnical firm out of Fresno, California. I switched my focus to Civil Engineering (Fresno State University) and continued working in the geotechnical side of construction. After five years with Kleinfelder, I went to work for a Construction Management outfit working on an airport project, as a Project Engineer at 32 years of age. Like it is in the military, I was drawn to the team approach to building unique and complex projects and it is no different today.
Can you share the name of the airport project? What did you learn the most about being a 32 year old Project Engineer that you still rely on today?
The airport was Fresno-Yosemite International. The geometry of the building was unique and the curtain wall system in that building was massive. It was one of a kind. Organization and consistency is something that was pounded into me as a new Project Engineer that still resonates with me today – doing the same thing the same way each time, always.
Growing up in a military family, did you have favorite (or not) places to live or visit?
Well, I think I need to follow my heart on this and share the first thing that came to mind. My dad was stationed in Grand Prairie, Texas and we lived in a small town 30 minutes southeast called Hutchins. I was in seventh grade and I had a very difficult time in this school because I was only one of a handful of caucasian kids. I fought constantly it seemed like. I did end up making a few friends within the year and a half we were there but my memories from that time in my life are not so pleasant. On the other side of the spectrum I really loved Whidbey Island, Washington. It was so green. We went on several camping trips and I remember the trees being so tall.
This year Baldwin celebrates 25 years as a company. When you hear that, what comes to mind? What makes this year and upcoming projects special compared to others?
Baldwin is on the rise, with a lot of growth opportunities on the radar. There is some good talent in the current employees at Baldwin and the sky’s the limit.
In your experience, do you have a favorite (or favorites) when it comes to construction projects you’ve managed?
All projects are generally the same to me. You go through some bid process, contracts, and buyout and then execution and closeout. Delivery of the project varies because the teams and personalities vary. I have been on design-build projects, as the CM/GC, and those are exciting in that you can have some input on the design of the project. With that said, I would have to say that my favorite project to date is The Red Building at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California. This one million square foot shell and core building did not have one right angle in the exterior envelope, it is shaped like a ship and the lower tip at the west end extended over the popular Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood.
Projects can take months of planning and preparation, but what does it feel like to actually see something come to life? How would you describe that feeling?
There is a great satisfaction of accomplishment when you see the light at the end of the tunnel on a project. This moment typically comes when you are discussing final cleaning and planning for punch list walks with the client. Suddenly, all of the past issues and stresses that lead you up to that point are forgotten and clients and the design team seem to share the same excitement that the project is nearly complete.
Baldwin remains an industry leader in many ways. What do feel helps keep the company ahead of the competition?
Baldwin values relationships.
How do you keep getting better as a Project Manager?
I like to train so it is through the training process I develop for others that I grow myself. I like being challenged on projects as well so diving into the plans and collaborating with the design team is always a learning opportunity.
It’s already a few months into 2023, but when you look ahead to the rest of the year, what are some projects you are excited about leading at Baldwin?
We have a good shot at getting the Pool Building in Nehalem, Oregon and this one is very exciting to me because of the complexity with the Olympic size pool, equipment and site constraints that make this one an attractive challenge. I love the all-hands on deck approach to bidding larger projects and if we are successful there will be a lot of pats on the back rather than just a couple estimators. If we get this project I am slated to be the Project Manager.