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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."

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