Superintendents play a critical role in ensuring a jobsite runs safely and smoothly. That’s why, more than a year ago, LeChase executives and seven senior superintendents came together with a purpose. Their goal was to discuss how to prepare the next generation of field leaders. The result was a new leadership development program called Superintendent Excellence.
The seven superintendents – who became known as the ‘Super 7’ – drew from their experience to help shape the program’s content. As with all LeChase learning, it focused on three key areas: leadership competencies, business and construction acumen and building relationships. They also agreed to participate with students across four two-day sessions. These alternated between LeChase’s Rochester headquarters and the JB Duke Hotel – an award-winning project LeChase had completed in Durham.
Bringing it together
This spring, the program welcomed its first class. It included more than 20 superintendents at various career stages from across nine different businesses and regions. Their first three sessions included presentations and hands-on exercises covering such topics as safety, leadership style and communication, subcontractor management and relationships, and the impact of change orders on financial performance.
The FMI construction training team facilitated the sessions. Senior LeChase leaders – including CEO Bill Goodrich, President Will Mack and Executive Vice President and COO Kyle Sayers – were guests at various points. “The commitment of the leadership team and the senior superintendent group focused us on the right content and on career growth for our field leaders. Our industry partners at FMI provided expert facilitation and experience that was relatable and educational,” noted Cheryl Schmidt, director of Organizational Development at LeChase.
Applying the knowledge
The fourth and final session was a two-day event held in Durham on September 16 and 17. It provided an opportunity for students to use all they had learned. Called “City Build,” the group exercise had small teams work as subcontractors. They had to build a city from scratch while dealing with the competing interests of City Council members – played by Cheryl, Southeast VP Seth London and ‘Super 7’ members DJ Smith, Dan Kramell and Randy Heckman.
The success of the initial program will pave the way for more field leadership courses in the future.
“We could not have asked for a better outcome,” said Cheryl. “Having representation from different regions and having sessions in both the northeast and southeast gave participants a broader sense for the company. It was phenomenal to see their confidence and camaraderie build over the five months. Now they have those connections to call on going forward.”