Alberto Sandoval-Renteria joined DPR Construction in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014, but he knew he wanted to be a builder since he was six years old. His passion for carpentry started when he was first introduced to woodworking on his family’s ranch in Mexico, and he saw the joy his hard work brought to the people around him.
He brings that same enthusiasm to his work as a carpenter foreman every day. Sandoval-Renteria is also one of five siblings, whom he credits for teaching him leadership and consensus-building skills.
Sandoval-Renteria recently discussed how he got started in the trades, how work at DPR has influenced his life at home and his advice for people looking to work in the trades.
Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?
Sandoval-Renteria: I’m a carpenter foreman for our self-perform doors division. When I started, I was considering going to art school, but I lived close to the union hall and I stopped in and asked if they were hiring. They told me to come back the next week as they were staffing up. When I did, they sent me out to a project.
I came to DPR the same way. I just happened to call a friend of mine who used to work here and asked if DPR was hiring. He called back five minutes later and, next thing I knew, I came over as a carpenter and a year later I became a foreman.
Q: You used to build toys as a child. Have you always been building?
Sandoval-Renteria: The place I grew up was pretty poor, so if you wanted a toy or something, you had to build it. When I was a kid, I made my own toy top and little things like toy cars. The funny thing is that it takes a few hours to build a toy and then you play with it for 15 minutes. For me, the fun part was building it.
My grandpa used to be a bricklayer, so I could always help him. Depending on how skilled you were, you were either carrying things for him or helping him put things it in place. I figured out that it was better to learn things and work than to carry stuff.
Q: What’s your favorite thing to build/type of project to work on?
Sandoval-Renteria: I love doing aluminum frames because everything has to be cut, and there are a lot of mitered corners. Fast-paced work is the most fun. You have to “go go go” and make sure you’re doing it to the right quality and appearance at the same time. It’s fun when you first see the schedule and think it doesn’t look possible, but when the work is done, it’s on time and looks amazing.
Q: What’s the most technical thing you’ve worked on?
Sandoval-Renteria: The doors for a customer focused on audio technologies, which needed to meet a certain FCC rating to limit sound. It was very technical, and we had to do everything little by little, taking the time to make sure everything was just right. When we were done, our work exceeded the rating the customer was looking for.
Q: How have you grown since you started here?
Sandoval-Renteria: DPR puts a lot of effort into growing and training people, asking us what we need and where we want to go. My people skills have really grown, especially from the Crucial Conversations course. That’s been a big help at work, but at home, too. My girlfriend tells me all the time how working at DPR has changed who I am! I think a lot of that has come from DPR trainings and learning how to express myself.
Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?
Sandoval-Renteria: People in high school who want to pursue this career should get into it as soon as they can. Instead of going to college and accruing debt, you basically make that amount and put it into your pocket. I was 19 when I started. Everyone I have met who started right after high school, they’re all very happy.