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Start to finish: Bush Construction VP enjoys seeing projects take shape
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Photo: Paul Colletti/pcolletti@qconline.com
Jerod Engler, vice president of construction for Bush Construction in Davenport.
Ask Jerod Engler, vice president at Bush Construction, what a typical day on the job looks like for him, and he's quick to tell you there's no such thing as a "typical" day.

"Every day is completely different," said Mr. Engler, and that's one of the things he likes about what he does. "I enjoy how it's constantly changing. It can be stressful, but it's rewarding, too."

Bush Construction, based in Davenport, specializes in commercial construction projects that cover a range of styles, sizes and complexities -- and in his position, Mr. Engler keeps tabs on the projects throughout the various stages of development.

On any given day, Mr. Engler could be going over a project design and working on an estimate. Or he could be checking in with superintendents and project coordinators at various sites to make sure everything is moving along. If need be, he can help handle any problems that might arise.

He even could be arranging for the owner of a nearly completed building to meet with the technicians who can demonstrate how to operate the various heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical systems in the building before handing over the keys.

Or, as is most likely, he could be doing a bit of all of the above, managing multiple projects at once.

His position, said Mr. Engler, requires him to "kind of be like a quarterback. We have all these people who have to get along, representing sometimes 40 or 50 different trades, all working toward a goal.

"Margins are tighter today than they were 10 years ago. The time it takes to build a building from start to finish is shorter, too. But we still have rain, still have snow, still have manpower issues to deal with," he explained.

At the end of the day, Mr. Engler said, the goal is still the same: "To get every project done on time and on budget."

As for the rewards, "You get instant gratification in seeing something built every day," he said. "Sometimes you go back to a site you haven't seen in a week, and it's amazing what's there that wasn't before."

His love of seeing a project go from concept to creation to finished product is something he came by at an early age, thanks to a father Mr. Engler describes as "a very hands-on, do-it-yourself kind of guy."

"Growing up, I was never a 'sit on the couch and watch cartoons' kid," Mr. Engler said. Instead, he much preferred to be helping his father with various projects around the house.

"I enjoyed working with my hands and getting dirty," says Mr. Engler. "My dad instilled a strong work ethic."

That drive to build not only inspired Mr. Engler to pursue a degree in construction management with a minor in business management from the University of Northern Iowa, it also led him to join the team at Bush Construction more than a decade later.

"Basically, starting a business from scratch attracted me," said Mr. Engler. He previously had worked with another construction company for 10 years, "so it was a big leap," he said, to leave that secure position and try something new — not the least because this was in 2008, and the faltering economy was taking its toll on the construction industry.

But, said Mr. Engler, he was "intrigued by the opportunity to craft new procedures and new policies, to take a fresh look at things, to build a business that treats people fairly at every step of the process."

After a three-hour conversation over a kitchen table about the kind of company Bush Construction could be, Mr. Engler decided it was worth the risk. He was the second employee hired by the newly formed company.

Now, five years later, Bush Construction had almost $50 million in revenue in 2013, and Mr. Engler recently has been promoted from project manager to vice president of construction.

So what's a recent Bush Construction project Mr. Engler is particularly proud of? "Ambrose Hall at St. Ambrose University," he says. "That's an 1890s building. We put in all new windows, fixed limestone and brick that was deteriorating, rebuilt the clock tower, put slate and copper on the roof. To return a historic building like that back to its original construction, it's just really neat."

Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 22, the 265th day of 2014. There are 100 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: The board of education has granted Thursday as a holiday for the children, with the expectation that parents who desire to have their children attend the Scott County Fair will do so on that day and save irregularity the rest of the week.
1889 -- 125 years ago: The guard fence around the new cement walk at the Harper House has been removed. The blocks are diamond shape, alternating in black and white.
1914 -- 100 years ago: The Rev. R.B. Williams, former pastor of the First Methodist Church, Rock Island, was named superintendent of the Rock Island District.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Abnormally high temperatures and lack of rainfall in Illinois during the past week have speeded maturing of corn and soybean crops.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Installation of a new television system in St. Anthony's Hospital, which includes a closed circuit channel as well as the three regular Quad-Cities channels, has been completed and now is in operation.
1989 -- 25 years ago: When the new Moline High School was built in 1958, along with it were plans to construct a football field in the bowl near 34th Street on the campus. Wednesday afternoon, more than 30 years later, the Moline Board of Education Athletic Board sent the ball rolling toward the possible construction of that field by asking superintendent Richard Hennigan to take to the board of education a proposal to hire a consultant.

(More History)