Tom Haney, Project Manager, has been with C.W. Driver for 24 years and has become our resident education market specialist. He has worked for a variety of clients including Santa Ana USD, El Segundo USD, Sweetwater UHSD, and is currently working on Irvine USD’s Measure E projects.
What was your most memorable day on the job at C.W. Driver?
There is no single day that stands out to me above the rest. The most memorable part of my job is watching the students and faculty move into their new education facilities. I have worked on over 20 education projects during my time here at C.W. Driver. At the end of every one of these projects, I get to witness the joy and excitement of the end users seeing the space for the first time. My most memorable project was Irvine USD’s Woodbridge High School, new aquatic center. I had the privilege of speaking to the head swim coach after the project was completed. For over 15 years, she had to go to other schools in the district for every practice. She was so thankful to not only have a brand-new pool, but the pool was large enough for the school to start hosting its own meets, generating some revenue from ticket sales and concessions. It brings me so much joy to know that my hard work has made so many people’s lives better. While education projects may not be the most glamourous market in construction, it is by far the most rewarding.
The construction industry has changed a lot in recent years. What do you think is the most underrated trend in this industry?
There have been so many changes in construction since I first started. The introduction of technology has allowed for more efficiency and innovation, but this change is a double-edged sword. Face-to-face interaction has become underrated and underappreciated. Now that everything has gone digital, we have lost our connections and emotions. This industry is all about who you know. To build these strong, long-lasting relationships, consider setting up a face-to-face meeting rather than texting or sending them an email. In person interactions can go a long way in building beneficial relationships!
What is your biggest achievement at C.W. Driver thus far?
The Claremont University, Peter F. Drucker Graduate School of Management was the most challenging and iconic project I have ever worked on. Completed in 1998, the two-story, 43,000 SF academic building housed classrooms, lecture halls, and offices for the graduate business program. This project was unusual compared to most education projects because of the unique architectural elements around the building’s exterior. It contained numerous elements of exposed steel and Alaskan Cypress wood canopies. A dramatic courtyard was also constructed around a 400-year old native oak tree. The challenge with this building was to build a functional yet architectural structure within a limited budget. I had recently been promoted to Project Manager and the pressure was on. This project allowed me to grow and develop skills that I still use today.
What’s the biggest challenge in your current role?
As a Project Manager, it is important to keep up with the growing technologies that help us do our jobs more efficiently. I struggle to keep up with the ever-changing systems. In college today, students are taught not only about construction but the various technologies available. Assistant Project Managers are so knowledgeable, and they understand the ins and outs of all of the new technology much quicker than I do. I did not grow up with technology, and it is a challenge to speak their same language. This tech savvy generation is giving me a run for my money. I find them teaching me as much as I mentor them! At C.W. Driver, we all treat each other with respect and understand that we all have something we can learn from one another.
You’ve been with the company for more than two decades. What has made you stay so long at C.W. Driver?
Here at C.W. Driver we treat each other like family. I have seen a lot of changes in the company since I first started here. Back in those days, we would be able to fit the whole company around a conference table for monthly meetings. We have grown a lot since then, but the core thread of compassion and respect has stayed strong. I will never forget the kindness that Dana Roberts, Chief Executive Officer, has shown his employees over the years. When a long-time labor foreman named Manuel retired, Dana surprised him with a brand-new truck. It is neat to see a company treat everyone like family. I know that C.W. Driver will always have my back.
What’s the best advice you have ever received?
John Janacek, Executive Vice President of Estimating and Preconstruction, would always tell us, “Make sure when you go home to your family, leave work at the office.” Work will always be waiting for you. It is important to maintain a healthy work/life balance. C.W. Driver understands that we work to provide for our families. Our lives outside of work are prioritized as much as our work in the office.