Chad Oursler: Onward + Upward

insight

Chad Oursler: Onward + Upward

Apr 28, 2020

The DAVIS logo was created with the onward + upward ethos in mind. It is both our legacy and our vision for the future. We're interviewing 20 people in '20 to find out what onward + upward means to them (along with some other interesting details you might not pick up on at the jobsite). Keep up with this series to get more insight into the DAVIS team!

Meet Chad Oursler, Senior Project Manager and valued part of our Education Group.

We sat down with Chad (over a video chat) to talk about everything from his favorite DAVIS project to his childhood job at a Christmas tree farm and what he would be if he wasn't in construction--the answer to that may surprise you! Keep reading to learn more about Chad.

 

LIFE AT DAVIS

So how long have you been at DAVIS, and in the construction industry?
Three years now at DAVIS—wow, three years. Honestly, you kind of forget sometimes. And I’ve been in construction since 2007.

Has construction always been your passion?
Yes, but I actually spent some time away from construction in college to study something else: astrophysics.

Astrophysics? Wow.
It was huge for me. If I wasn’t in construction, I would be an astrophysicist working for NASA.

What led you to come back to construction?
I had to make a decision as to what I wanted to pursue for a long-term career. Astrophysics was exciting and I loved learning about it, but I just couldn’t give up building. I love finishing a project and starting another one, and that’s what brought me back to it. Outside of work, I read and learn about physics, so I’m continuing to explore that side of me while doing what I love. It didn’t seem like I could fulfill both of those passions in an astrophysics career, so I chose construction, and I’m glad I did.

We’re glad, too. How has your time at DAVIS been?
It’s been so rewarding, especially on my current project, Georgetown Day School. I’m so proud of our DAVIS team. Everyone else involved with the project has been so great, too, from the client to the design team. We all work through issues together and keep the process moving. GDS has been so invested in the project—if you’ve seen their Instagram, you can tell how excited they are, and that’s so encouraging.

They’re definitely excited. I’ve seen them post a lot.
And we’re trying our best to accommodate that passion. We’ve been doing site tours for the school, just to let them feel the building as we’re building it. I’ve never done so many tours. We also make sure they get footage of the biggest moments of the process, because they’re able to capture that story that you sometimes can’t see after it’s all said and done.

What’s your favorite part about DAVIS?
Our people are truly what makes us unique. Everyone here is just so passionate about construction, and there’s a drive to be the best in the industry. We’re all committed to improving ourselves and bringing that value to our trade partners, which to me is so special. We all get along, too—DAVIS is a family.

Who is a role model for you at DAVIS?
This might be a cliché answer—it is a cliché answer—but it’s Jim Davis. He has this way of making you feel like you can be the best version of you. His positive energy is infectious. I’m a positive person by nature, but the job can be very challenging, and it can affect you. Jim has an ability to re-energize you, because he believes in you. It never feels like those moments when you’re a kid and someone’s putting you down for not being good enough, either—he knows how successful we can be as a team, and he lifts us up because he recognizes our success.

Chad and his family posing in front of a Christmas tree at the local farm.

LET'S GET PERSONAL

So, do you have any role models outside of DAVIS?
I guess it’s another cliché, but my personal role model would be my dad. We still do things all the time together—for instance, I’m doing a total reconfiguration of my house, and he’ll come over and help. He’s my best friend. The way he raised me really stuck with me, and it influences how I am with my family. Having him in my life to teach me things and support me was so valuable, and now that I’m a father, I make sure that I’m the role model my son can learn from.

How has fatherhood been?
Incredible. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it’s been so cool—and it’s hard to convey how you view life differently after having a child. There’s a moment I’ll never forget, which is when I came home one day, and he was able to see far enough to recognize me coming home. He had the biggest smile on his face when I walked in the door, and that was an absolute gamechanger. My whole ride home, I’m excited to see him and my wife.

Where do you call home?
I grew up just outside Frederick, and I actually live 10 miles from my childhood house. It’s a great place—there’s a big lake nearby, and some trails, plenty of places to get away.

Did you have any cool odd jobs growing up?
There was actually a Christmas tree farm right around the corner from where I lived, and I worked there for 10 years, seasonally. In the springtime, I would help plant the seeds, and in the winter, I would help cut down trees and bale them up. It was so cool to be a part of that process.

Any favorite travel spots?
I’ve been to Cape Cod several times with my wife’s family, which I really, really enjoy. I didn’t realize how different it would be than just going to the beach, but it’s cool there.

What would you do if you won the lottery?
I’d do the sensible things first—pay off my house, set up a college fund for my son. And then I’d buy an RV to take trips with my family. My wife and I have a goal to go and see as many national parks as we can.

One of those RVs with a grill attached to it?
A TV, a grill, it would be completely over the top.

We’re living through the coronavirus pandemic now, and it’s changed our world for the last several weeks—how are you adjusting?
We’re all doing things and living life in a way that’s much more different than what we’re used to. It’s on everyone’s mind, including my own, and it’s changed the way I operate and communicate with others. Since you can’t rely on people seeing things and being around, we’re forced to overcommunicate with each other. I have to send more pictures and emails to make sure people are on the same page with me. What I try to do is stay focused and keep bringing positive energy to others throughout the day, because we all can use some.

One last question  - What does “Onward + Upward” mean to you?
I’m so analytical, I have to see it as two words—Onward is the idea of progress, and Upward is the ability to evolve. So, to me, we have to ask ourselves: how do we operate to the best of our ability as we move forward in the industry? How can DAVIS be cutting-edge, and the best version of ourselves?  We just need to keep that question in our minds, and we’ll succeed.