Ask Houston General Foreman Jose Rubio what he values most about DPR, and he’s quick to mention the countless learning opportunities offered to DPR team members. It’s fitting, then, that he should be working on the renovation and expansion of a center devoted to hands-on learning—the Conrad N. Hilton College of Global Hospitality Leadership at the University of Houston (UH). As the only hospitality program in the world where students work and take classes in a full-service hotel, students learn while on the job, just as Rubio has done at DPR.
Q: What is your role at DPR and describe the path you took to get there?
Rubio: I’m a general foreman working on the Hilton College renovation at the University of Houston. I’ve been at DPR for 10 years. I started as a carpenter and really applied myself to work efficiently and responsibly. Four years later, they gave me the opportunity to take on this role with more responsibility and an expanded focus.
Q: What are some interesting aspects about the project you are working on right now?
Rubio: One interesting feature of the building is its structure. It doesn’t have conventional columns in the corners; it’s supported by Y-shaped columns in the center. It’s a total of about 64,000-sq.-ft.—70 rooms on eight floors, along with the hallways and a five-level sky bridge that connects the new tower to the existing tower. Another interesting aspect is that it’s an occupied facility with students and university staff on-site while we work. We’re careful to maintain their safety. It’s limited space, so we check the site, fence, streets and gates frequently.
Q: What have you learned from your team members?
Rubio: I’ve learned how to communicate with my team members with respect. I’ve also learned practical building skills—how to operate different types of machinery, from scissor lifts, boom lifts and forklifts, to Bobcats. I’ve learned how to read blueprints and taken OSHA 30-hour training courses to learn how to avoid safety risks on site. If you want to learn something at DPR, you have the opportunity.
Q: What is one thing you think everyone can do to make the industry as a whole safer for everyone?
Rubio: There are a lot of things we can all do, from physically making sure handrails are secure to operating machinery and tools properly. Don’t take shortcuts when performing a job. Always use the proper PPE and safety equipment. I also think it’s important to take time early to walk the job and check that everything is safe, and then do the same thing when the team is about to leave.
Q: If there was a language barrier, how did you overcome it? What were some things you did to help others overcome that barrier?
Rubio: I haven’t overcome it 100%, but I am still learning. DPR provides ESL classes online, and I use a phone translator when I need to. If there is someone who needs help, I step in to help when I can. You’re never alone here; there’s always someone to support you.
Like me, there are many people who don’t speak English well. In an organization like DPR that supports you with training, classes and great communication with people of all experience levels, if you have a drive to get ahead, you can advance in your career and achieve your goals.
Q: What would your advice be for the next generation of builders entering this field?
Rubio: If you aspire to be a superintendent or project manager, go after that goal. It’s an excellent career. It not only helps you financially; it helps you grow as a person. And if you oversee a team, instill in them that safety comes first. Communication is so important, too. Perhaps most importantly, proper training and good communication make for a better workplace.
Q: What do you love about your project/your job?
Rubio: DPR has helped me have a better position, both economically and with my family. Having a job with more responsibility and security positively affects your home and your family. It changes the way you see things.