3 Important Lessons from Lou Palandrani:
- Become adept at the art of listening.
- Do not neglect the importance of balancing professional and personal responsibilities.
- Have fun with your projects and teams!
On this episode of the Construction Dream Team Podcast, host Sue Dyer welcomes Lou Palandrani, Senior Vice President of Clark Construction Group headquartered in Maryland. Lou has been with Clark Construction for 34 years and has been in the construction industry for 38 years. He has worked on $5 billion worth of award-winning projects in his career. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a civil engineering degree, and now he is Lead Certified and holds a California Contractors License.
The following show notes are a transcription from the audio interview available at constructiondreamteam.com and everywhere podcasts are hosted (iTunes, Stitcher, etc.). If you like this podcast, please leave us a 5-star review! 🙂
Lou’s Career Journey
As mentioned previously, Lou graduated from the University of Delaware with a civil engineering degree. After that, he worked for a large engineering firm but quickly realized that sitting at a desk and doing calculations was not what he had in mind for a career, so he wanted to look into different opportunities. Luckily, his boss at the time saw a lot of Lou’s strengths and personality, especially Lou’s communication skills. He asked Lou what he thought about handling the design and construction ends and Lou was interested. Lou then went to a more construction-oriented company and shifted his focus to Construction Management.
Lou mentioned how it helped to have someone that had an interest in his career early on. Again, his boss at that time saw his strengths and personality and focused him towards a focus where he was dealing with larger teams and where he was on the field. The construction industry is very people-oriented, so it is important to have people skills as well as technical knowledge. Lou thinks it is essential for experienced managers to take an interest in newer employees because it helps maintain the strength of the teams.
Lou started with Clark Construction in Philadelphia, and 5 years in the company decided to expand and open an office in California. Lou thought he was going to stay on the East coast, but has been on the West coast in California for almost 30 years.
Favorite Career Moment
Lou’s favorite and most valuable moment in his career was when the company afforded him an opportunity to work on a job in Colorado with a high-end architect. He saw it as an opportunity and decided to try it. He found it was pretty different from Philadelphia. He was then afforded another opportunity to move to California for a project and again it had been very valuable for him. It gave him the opportunity to grow, see different things, learn, understand different methods of construction delivery, and it has enhanced his career and life.
West Coast Vs. East Coast Project Approaches
Lou had noticed some differences with how projects are delivered between the 2 coasts. He says that on the West Coast he had noticed a more collaborative type effort and a focus on developing a team. Back East, Lou says they seem to protect their boundaries a little bit more.
Changes In The Industry
Lou has noticed how the expertise of the subcontracting community has gotten better. They are now experts and are vital to bringing in ideas and vision to projects. On the other hand, Lou has seen technology limit some of the coordination and thought processes of some of their designers. The other thing that has changed is it is very hard to get young people interested in the trade, and he has seen a thinning of the construction trade field.
Lessons Lou Has Learned
Lou shared with listeners that the one lesson he has learned that he wishes he could share across all projects is to be a better listener. Lou says he has become a better listener by gaining experience, biting his tongue more often, and mellowing out over the years.
Biggest Career Challenge
Lou believes that balancing your work life with your personal life can be very challenging. You need to have a successful personal life to support a successful work life. Lou remembers for a long time, work was his focus. He remembers one instance where he had a father-daughter dance that he was supposed to go to, but he got involved in a meeting that went on longer than expected and he was cutting it close to when he needed to leave. He realized he wasn’t going to be home on time, and his daughter was very upset. He then had a bit of an epiphany and realized that he needed to do a better job respecting his family and personal life as he does with his work life. Lou also says with technology, it does give us a little more flexibility to balance the work and personal life.
Lou shares that the company he works for started as a family owned business and was originally called the George Hyman Construction Company. There are many Clark Construction offices located throughout the country, with a total of 4,500 employees nationally, and they bring experience, creativity, and teamwork to the projects they are involved in.
The best advice Lou ever received was, “It doesn’t matter if a job is $1 mil or $100 mil, there are 100 things to do and you are expected to do them 100% right.” So no matter how big or small a job is, always be on your game and do your best. Be ahead of the curve and keep your eye on the goal from start to finish.
It is important to have some fun when delivering a job. You need to enjoy your job and like what you do. Enjoy being able to see the fruits of your labor.
Resources for Listeners
Managing By Influence (book). It teaches you that you manage and influence people by what you do, and what you don’t do, which Lou keeps in mind daily.
Contact Info for Lou Palandrani
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