David Uffelman Joins Forrester as VP of Operations
David Uffelman joins Forrester Construction in the role of Vice President, Operations. With nearly 30 years in the industry and $2 billion in completed construction projects during his career, David has a diverse portfolio ranging from large office building, commercial and government projects to educational facilities, interior renovations and historic preservation work. This experience, combined with his passion for and knowledge of field operations, complements Forrester’s mission to offer clients high value-added general contracting, construction management and preconstruction services.
President Steve Houff said “By adding David to our team, we are adding experience, knowledge and a resource to support Forrester Operations. His style is very collaborative, which will only help us continue to offer best-in-class client service and help Team Members who work with him to grow.” Houff and Forrester’s Executive Committee note that David shares a strong commitment to the company’s core values – teamwork, doing the right thing and making it happen for clients, business partners, Team Members and the community.
Q & A with David Uffelman, VP, Operations
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Fairfax County, VA and have lived Loudoun County, VA for the past 25 years.
Tell us a little about your family background.
I have been married to my wife for 29 years and our daughter Hayley is 22. We live on a small farm with four horses, dogs, cats and various other animals.
How did you get started in construction?
All through high school and college I worked summer jobs in construction. I started off building residential custom homes and moved into commercial construction. I quickly grew to love building. When I got to college, I realized construction was the profession that I wanted to pursue so, I enrolled in the Building and Construction program at East Carolina University. I had an internship with a general contractor during my last few years of college and went right to work for them immediately following my graduation.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Golf, fishing, music and yard work keeps me busy.
What do you like about being a builder?
I like the satisfaction of working with a team to accomplish our goals by solving problems and overcoming challenges.There’s something very rewarding about changing the skyline and having something tangible to show for your work. One of my proudest moments as a builder was being a part of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center project, a 580,000 square foot addition to the Capitol building. The coordination and logistics involved in performing work while Congress was in session was incredible. We even coordinated work through a presidential inauguration. It was a historic project and a major success. Communication, planning and coordinating with all stakeholders played a huge role in that success.
What does it mean to be a great builder?
Well, first it all starts with safety. That’s the most important part of everything we do as builders. Putting safety first.
After that, being a great builder is about completely understanding your client’s objectives, expectations and wishes. That happens through communication, planning and focused execution. In the end, we call ourselves great builders when we deliver quality results while continually improving. We should always be asking, “What can we do better?”
Why is Forrester a good fit for you?
I was attracted to Forrester because of the company’s reputation and culture. Through the years, I have known several Forrester Team Members, and I have frequently heard that Forrester has a great, committed team. I recently attended the DC Courts C Street Addition and Renovation topping-out party, and I met a number of members from the client’s team. They were truly excited, not just to be celebrating this milestone, but at the work that the Forrester project team is doing. It’s really impressive because it is continuing work for a long-term client, and it speaks volumes about Forrester’s performance and commitment to meeting the client’s expectations.
I have also found Forrester to be a company with strong leadership, unique and challenging projects and a proven track record of performance. I am also impressed with the strategic vision and values. It was a great fit for these reasons.
What is your impression of the Forrester Team and the company’s culture?
So far, I’ve been very impressed with everyone. When I joined the company, I made an effort to introduce myself to each and every Team Member, because it’s all about the people. I have found that in each group there are experienced professionals with a strong commitment to the company’s core values. I think the long-term tenure and comradery says it all, and I am excited to have joined the team.
What will be your main focus, short and long-term?
In the short term, I will focus on getting to know the Forrester Team, our clients and business partners. I want to build on the existing strong, trusting relationships there. Long-term, I will be very focused on achieving our strategic goals, making sure Forrester is known as a great builder with strong client and subcontractor relationships and an outstanding team.
What skills are going to be an asset in your new role?
I would say that my strengths are in scheduling, budget and cost control and quality management. My role is to support our Operations project teams. Being a resource for planning, monitoring and executing work with particular attention to people, processes and tools.
I like to help teams continue to grow so, I focus heavily on training and process improvement. So, that’s what I really hope to add.
What makes a project successful?
- A proactive approach to safety, like Forrester’s People-Based Safety program.
- The client having a strong desire to wants us on their next project.
- Subcontractors and suppliers who can’t wait to team together again.
- Zero lingering quality issues.
- The collective team had fun.
- All parties involved have made a reasonable profit.
What takes client service from good to exceptional?
Exceptional client service is when the entire contracting team exceeds the client’s expectations, in all aspects of the work. You do this by beginning the project with meaningful dialog that clarifies and aligns the client’s expectations and with the project team’s goals. Once these are set, develop a plan to exceed. Constant feedback sessions, communication and collaboration are essential.
What are the most important ways contractors can add real value for their clients?
Contractors can add value for their clients in a number of ways. Having clarity to the stakeholder’s objectives, expectations and risks is a good start. From there, preparing the budgetbid and then planning and executing the work with the goal of taking the pain out of the client’s life. The key is bringing a constant sense of urgency while making the project enjoyable and fun.
What role does building relationships with business partners and subcontractors play in being successful?
Construction is very much a people business. Subcontractors are our life blood, and without them we don’t exist. That’s why it’s imperative that we develop strong relationships with our partners. I prefer to just talk to people, and talk as frequently as possible. I want to make a personal connection. You don’t develop relationships through emails and texts. This opens the door for future opportunities which creates more chances for continuous improvement.
Did you have a mentor? What did you learn from them?
I’ve been lucky to have several mentors that I learned many valuable lessons from that shaped my career. The most important ones are having strong but flexible process, pay attention to detail because the little things make a difference and accountability starts with yourself. You can’t lead a team without setting the example.
Another important lesson… This is an ever changing and fast pace business. It requires constant communication, clarification and adaptability to be successful.