John Janacek, Executive Vice President of Preconstruction and Estimating, has been a part of the construction industry for over 45 years. With his confident and strong leadership, John has helped shape C.W. Driver Companies since starting 31 years ago.
What is one of your earliest memories while working at C.W. Driver?
One of my first memories at C.W. Driver was working late into the night with Dana Roberts stuffing subcontractor bid invitations. Back in those days, when we wanted to announce an upcoming bid to a subcontractor, we had to mail out formal invitations. C.W. Driver tried to differentiate itself by sending out fancy formal bid invites. While these unique invites made us stand out from our competition, it required a lot of extra time and effort to send them out. This kind of attention to detail isn’t necessary anymore in the industry. Nowadays, you can work with the same subcontractor for several years and never know what they look like!
The construction industry has changed dramatically in recent years. How is the industry different now than it was back when you started?
The introduction of technology has been the biggest and best change that has happened to the industry. Researching and figuring out how to integrate innovative and effective technology into C.W. Driver has become my biggest passion. I used to head the Building Information Modeling department when it was first introduced into the company. In recent years, I have made it my mission to seamlessly integrate 5D estimating tools in our estimating department. I believe this is where the future is headed.
On the horizon, I see 3D printing as the next big construction material. 3D printing offers several advantages: lessens waste, reduces carbon-dioxide emissions, shortens the amount of time and money spent on unique structures, and much more. 3D printing is the perfect solution to the rising steel prices we have seen in recent years. I also foresee the continuous rise of LEAN practices and more prefabrication to reduce waste, time and money.
How has it been watching C.W. Driver grow so much while you’ve been here?
So much has changed at C.W. Driver in the last 30 years. When I first started, the company only had six million dollars in backlog. C.W. Driver was exclusively a bidding firm, sometimes bidding up to nine projects a week. This boiled down to about 2 or 3 bids a day! With only about 20 office employees, we all had to work together to get bid days done right. We had to create small teams that all worked in different rooms of the office. It was challenging to get the right bids out to the right teams!
The most rewarding part of my job at C.W. Driver has been to watch the company grow into the industry powerhouse it is today. Even with the over one billion dollars in backlog that we have today, C.W. Driver maintains a small company feel. There is a reason why people stay with C.W. Driver a long time. Everyone who is hired is smart and knows how to do a good job. You are encouraged to explore new and innovative techniques. People stay here for a long time because they know they can thrive and make a difference.
You’ve been in the industry for more than four decades. If you could give advice to those who are just starting out in the industry, what would it be?
My best piece of advice for anyone, regardless of if you are starting out in the industry, is to follow your own path. The construction industry is traditional on the surface, but do not forget that it thrives on change. Always push boundaries and try innovative techniques to get the job done well.
To those just starting out, don’t say anything is impossible. Working hard can make up for any lack of knowledge you may have at the moment. How do you gain the knowledge quickly? The construction industry is full of wisdom! Don’t be afraid to ask questions and say you don’t know something. Don’t be afraid to ask questions on the jobsite to explain some complicated system they are installing. Everyone is happy to teach. You are in control of your future. Learn as much as you can from the intelligent people around you. The only dumb questions are the ones not asked.
Other than the construction industry, what are you passionate about?
My biggest passion outside of the construction industry is music. I am a guitarist and lover of all types of music. My favorite artist of all time is Elvis Presley. I respect how Elvis invented a new and unique sound. You can distinctly hear all of his biggest musical influences in his music. Much like Elvis, I have tried to follow and forged my own path in my professional career. I feel like this is what has made me so successful.
I also love to go fishing. It reminds me of what I do in the office! As an estimator, you’re a hunter. You hunt for the lowest bid or best subcontractors in the game. The thrill of the chase is what makes fishing, or estimating, exciting.
Take pride in the work that you do. The construction industry is a challenging but rewarding industry. No matter what stage of the project you work on, know that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. The most rewarding part of any construction project is to hand off the bouton to the next group of people knowing you are giving them the best possible product. Next time you are on a jobsite, remember to take a moment to appreciate the project taking form before your eyes.