Press Release: 02.01.2012

Our New Regional President

Meet New McCarthy President, California Region, Randy Highland

Randy Highland, a McCarthy employee for 23 years, recently began in his new role as president for the California Region of McCarthy after a six-month long transition process in California. Randy took over the reigns as regional president from Carter Chappell, who retired on December 31, 2011 after 30 years at McCarthy.

Randy is returning to his roots in McCarthy’s Newport Beach office subsequent to serving as McCarthy’s Nevada/Utah Division president from 2004 to 2011. Before being promoted to president in 2004, Randy gained expertise in a variety of leadership positions for McCarthy’s California operations including: preconstruction director, director of parking structures, TQM director, project director and executive vice president, operations. With a passion for building, Randy brings nearly 30 years of construction industry experience and a bachelor of sciences degree in civil engineering to his new role.

As president of McCarthy in California, Randy is responsible for the financial performance and overall operations of McCarthy’s Southern California and Northern Pacific Divisions. These duties include participation in McCarthy Building Companies’ executive committee and board as well as overseeing the marketing, estimating, scheduling, safety, administrative and financial functions throughout California and the Pacific Northwest.

“Randy Highland was recruited by McCarthy more than 20 years ago because of his skills, passion and leadership potential,” said McCarthy CEO Michael Bolen. “It quickly became clear that Randy was destined for big things at McCarthy, and he has spent the last several years masterfully preparing for this new challenge. We have great expectations for Randy, and I am confident that he will lead the California Region to even greater heights.”

Under Randy’s seven years of guidance, McCarthy’s Nevada/Utah Division won numerous accolades in the region including “Best Place to Work,” “Contractor of the Year,” and “Safest Contractor.” Despite a challenging economy, the division grew from $50 million to $200 million and Randy was instrumental in positioning McCarthy as a top community-based builder with expertise in a variety of markets.

While in Nevada, Randy also held many community and industry leadership roles including vice president for the United Builders and Contractor’s Association, trustee for the Southern Nevada Carpenters Pension “B” and Apprenticeship Trust Fund, and he was a member of the UNLV Construction Management Advisory Board. He also served as the president of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Las Vegas from 2009 to 2010, on the AGC Board of Directors and Committee of Government Affairs and on the Board of Communities in Schools of Southern Nevada. Randy plans to continue his involvement in construction industry and community organizations in California.

Randy currently resides with his family in Dana Point, Calif. While he says he will miss the energetic and talented group of folks in Nevada, he is happy to return to sunny Southern California. “The division has changed a lot since I left California, but in some aspects it’s still the same. The leadership is made up of a talented and diversified group of experienced individuals who I previously worked with in California; yet, the division has grown in terms of staff, projects and revenue. I look forward to working together with my McCarthy partners, clients and other business associates to further our collective goals and move the region to the next level.”

In the Q&A below, Randy was asked to provide some additional insight into his background, the current state of the California construction industry and his plans for McCarthy:

Why did you choose a career in construction?
I always liked to build things, since the time I was a kid. In school, I was always pretty good at math so getting a degree in engineering seemed to be a natural thing. Before I graduated, I was fortunate to intern at an engineering firm and realized that sitting behind a desk doing pure design work was not something that would make me happy. I always liked working with people and enjoy a variety of challenges every day. My career in construction has given me the ability to experience both, and, at the end of the day, see tangible results I know I had a significant part in creating.

How will your expertise and California knowledge benefit McCarthy clients?
The bottom line is always providing value to our clients. I have had the good fortune of working on a variety of project types delivered under numerous procurement approaches in two distinct geographic markets. Those experiences provide a knowledge base that enables me to develop creative solutions to the myriad of challenges our clients face in getting their projects started on time and delivered successfully. Twenty years of building experience in the California market also brings an intimate understanding of how to best position our clients’ projects to take full advantage of the economic conditions and resource opportunities that currently exist in our state.

Describe the transition process for your new role and how that ensures a smooth transition for employees, clients and business partners.
Our goal from day one was to make sure that we maintained a high level of service with our clients and business partners during the transition, and that our employee-owners were confident the leadership transition was well planned over an appropriate period of time. Accomplishing this without missing a beat on our overall business plan and maintaining our recent gains in revenue and market share were critical. We took our time and did it right, with the transition beginning early in 2011 and the gradual assumption of leadership lasting roughly six months. This gave us adequate time to meet and develop working relationships with all of our clients and partners in the A/E and subcontractor community. I’m also excited that Carter Chappell will remain on our Board and continue working with McCarthy in a corporate oversight role.

What valuable lessons did you learn in Nevada and how will you use that experience in your new position in California?
Going to a market where McCarthy was not as well known as we are here in California can be a humbling experience. I quickly realized that you can’t take anything for granted and that you must make every opportunity count. To be successful, we were not going to be afforded the luxury of being just as good as the competition. We had to be better in just about every phase of the business — preconstruction, project execution, quality, safety, team approach, etc. As we grew our team in Nevada, everyone embraced the idea that it was not good enough to meet our clients’ expectations. We had to exceed them.

As we look to increase our market share in our core markets here in California and expand into several others, it will be absolutely essential for our California team to take the same approach. This market is extremely competitive, and we will continue to find ways to differentiate ourselves and exceed expectations through technology, innovative delivery approaches, great relationships and being great builders.

What are your goals for the California Region?
There is still a tremendous opportunity for McCarthy to grow throughout California. To accomplish this, first and foremost we need to continue to increase our market share in our core markets of healthcare, education and parking. We are adding some key resources and infrastructure capabilities that will allow us to expand and improve our design management, modeling and preconstruction capacity. The goal here is to provide more value to our clients on a bigger scale.

Second, we have plans to increase our focus in several other markets that have tremendous growth potential in our state and the Western U.S. We are going to be smart about our growth, but we have already identified key individuals in our organization who have been tasked with development of these markets, and we’ve already had some early wins.

Third, I want McCarthy to be considered the clear leader in the use of technology in the construction industry. And that’s not the use of technology for technology’s sake, because there’s plenty of that going around. We will continue to focus and expand our modeling capabilities and their application to enhanced preconstruction and design management.  

What does the community-based builder philosophy at McCarthy mean to you?
Being accountable to the community you live, work and play in. We do this by treating our clients, the design community and our subcontractors fairly and with mutual respect and integrity. We build really exceptional projects, but ultimately our success comes down to the quality of relationships we make in our people-driven business. Most of our work comes from repeat clients, and I believe that’s because our employee-partners, from top to bottom, are committed to developing meaningful, long-lasting relationships with everyone we touch.

McCarthy is also serious about our responsibility in giving back to our industry and the community where we live. Everyone in our management team is actively participating in local industry organizations, continually sharing their talents to make our industry better. We also enjoy contributing to and participating in local charitable causes where we can make a significant impact. We’re big on people power and contributing in ways that allow our folks to engage personally with those who we assist. I’m proud of our folks and the passion they have for helping others who are less fortunate. In 2011, our employee-owners were able to assist dozens of different charitable organizations in the region.

What do you see on the horizon for the construction industry?
The world has significantly changed over the past several years. Many of our clients simply can’t afford the cost model that their projects were delivered at several years ago. It’s requiring a more integrated approach between design and construction teams to deliver more efficient and cost-effective projects. That’s why we’re so excited about design-build and design-assist. These alternative delivery models are allowing owners to achieve lower budgets with certainty earlier in the process. Delivery approaches that promote this integration between the design and construction teams are becoming the norm. Companies who don’t get on board quickly will be left behind.

We’re also seeing huge advances in the application of technology to our industry. In fact, I’m convinced that we are about two to three years into a 10- to12-year period where we will see more technological advances in design and construction than we have in the past 40 years. The challenge here will be to figure out which applications are adequately developed to provide real value.

One long term issue that faces all contractors is the dwindling pool of qualified tradesmen in construction. We are slowly losing a generation of highly skilled workers who learned their trade through years of training and hands-on experience. Learning a craft is not promoted adequately in our schools and our industry has not been paying enough attention to this potential shortfall. If not addressed in the near future, the result will be higher costs and more outsourcing of local jobs.

What are some of the greatest opportunities in the construction industry today?
It is an exciting time in the construction industry. Green design and construction is becoming more prevalent and methods more streamlined, adding long-term value without significantly increasing up-front costs. Advancements in technology, such as Building Information Modeling and on-line project collaboration tools, used in tandem with the latest procurement methods such as design-assist and design-build, have significantly increased cohesiveness among project team members, and are proving to shorten project schedules, decrease budgets and produce higher quality projects. McCarthy is on the forefront of these advancements, and we are continually looking for new methods to bring value to our clients and to improve our business.


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