The Past and Future: Connecting with the LA Construction Industry

When you’ve been in the industry as long as I have, it seems that I keep running into folks that I have some past connection to. Forget the “six degrees of separation” – it’s feeling lately more like one or two degrees, at most. It helps that the construction community is small, despite the large size of our markets, and that I tend to remember faces – but still, I always get such a kick out of recognizing a face from the past.

It happened again recently. I got a call from Steve Smith, asking to meet with him to review a contract. The name itself didn’t ring a bell at first.  An early bird like I am, he agreed to stop by our office a few days later at 5:30 am.

Now a Senior Vice President and General Manager with Hathaway Dinwiddie, I recognized Steve’s face when I saw him. It took us some memory-jogging to figure out when we had last worked together, but finally we figured it out. The last time we had worked the same jobsite was over 20 years ago, right before the Rodney King verdict set the city on fire.

I was a foreman working on what is now the Omni, but was then the California Plaza Hotel, in downtown L.A. At the time, I was heading the project’s glass installation for Foothill Glass (which is no longer around), and Steve’s company was the general contractor on the project, called simply “Dinwiddie” back then. It took us some tossing around of years and projects we’d both worked at for a little while until we hit on when the connection happened. Steve was an executive who visited the Cal Plaza job site, on several occasions, while I was there daily throughout the completion of the glazing work. He walked the site a few times, we may have spoken, but realizing that common project is what clinched it. Further, it turns out we had recently completed a small tenant improvement project with them at CalTech, the first Giroux – Hathaway Dinwiddie project in years.

We proposed getting together over lunch to talk over old times. Since then, we have met for a few lunches to mull over many mutual friends and associates, and past projects. Steve attended our event to celebrate our newly-named CEO, Nataline Lomedico, this past January. He was kind enough also to invite in a few of our partners to the Hathaway Dinwiddie offices to “meet and greet” the H-D team, and to present our capabilities to some of their project managers. It’s been great to get the chance to do all of this.

This is the stuff I thrive on. I love to rediscover those old connections, strengthen the old relationships, and build new collaborations. That spark of recognition really can open—or re-open–the door to new opportunities with the same people I’ve worked with or whose paths I’ve crossed in the past. And I say, “Bring ‘em on!”

I would enjoy hearing from all of you. I know there are many more of you out there.

by  Bob Burkhammer, Giroux Glass, Inc.,  Executive Vice President

Robert (Bob) Burkhammer has worked at Giroux Glass for over 19 years and has worked in the glazing industry for over 37 years. He invites you to connect with him directly at: [email protected].