Mike Cavicchia: Onward + Upward
Mike Cavicchia: Onward + Upward
Feb 19, 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 Mike Cavicchia, a Superintendent at DAVIS with more than 20 years of experience in the field.
Mike took time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about his time at DAVIS, his life, and his adventures in the great outdoors. Keep reading to learn more about him.
LIFE AT DAVIS
Q: How long have you been at DAVIS?
A: Four years! Before DAVIS, I spent some years as an assistant superintendent for some other general contractors, and I also worked on the subcontractor side. So, I've been around.
Q: What's been your most rewarding project in those four years?
A: Definitely Momentum at Shady Grove. It was my first project as a lead, and even though it was a bit of a nail-biter at times, we turned it over ahead of schedule and under budget, which everyone was thrilled about. We implemented Lean Construction and Last Planner into our planning sessions, which was hugely beneficial.
Q: How would you explain your job to a child?
A: The buildings that we live in, the buildings that we work in—they're the buildings that I help put together.
Q: Who has been a role model for you?
A: I pretty much aspire to be like Steve Silcott Sr. and Michael Sendek. They've been mentors to me, and I really admire their mindsets. I look to them for making myself better.
Q: What lessons have you learned?
A: During meetings or the workday in general, you have to work together. I've seen people get defensive and turn debates into arguments, and that is where nothing gets accomplished. No points are made or received—there's no flow of information. I pride myself on keeping an even keel and solving problems in a respectful manner, and that's paid off for me. When I do need to be heard and I speak up, I get more attention because it doesn't happen all the time.
Q: Has that always been a characteristic for you?
A: Yeah, I've never been too hotheaded or known to fly off the handle. I just like working with people. Whenever I'm in the field, I end up repeating to everybody around me "Let's Jerry Maguire this. Help me help you." Overall, to make a successful project, you have to help everybody out. If I can help in some way, that helps me as well, so I have to know what I can do to contribute.
Q: Do you have any advice for those coming up in the industry?
A: Pay attention to your experienced subcontractors. They have as much general knowledge as anyone else, and they can provide more details on their expertise than anyone. If you get the right information from them, you can expand your knowledge and skillset tenfold.
Q: What's your favorite DAVIS memory?
A: Okay, so at the DAVIS 50th Anniversary celebration, I was having a lot of fun. At one point there was a group dance of some sort going on, and I was dared to do a knee slide across the dance floor. And believe it or not, I pulled it off impeccably. Some very deep scuffs were left in my shoes, but I got a lot of cheers from the sidelines.
Q: If you weren't a superintendent, what would you be?
A: Most likely something outdoors—probably some of sort of guide for people going out hiking or camping. I like to hike and camp as much as possible.
GETTING TO KNOW MIKE
Q: Have you always been into the outdoors?
A: Absolutely. Being in the outdoors helps me take my mind off things. I've gone all the way up to World's End State Park, since I live in Pennsylvania, but around the region there's a bunch of smaller areas I like to explore and hike around. I'm also really into mountain biking, and biking in general. Last summer, a small group of DAVIS people figured out that we really like biking, and we got together for some mountain biking sessions. I hit my longest single ride with them – 41 miles.
Q: You live in Pennsylvania?
A: Hanover. There's a lot of open land up there. It's also the snack capital of the world—in town, we have factories for Utz, and Snyder's of Hanover, of course.
Q: What was your first job?
A: Baskin-Robbins, scooping ice cream. They always sent me into the freezer, because all the girls I worked with refused to go into the freezer to get the ice cream.
Q: Do you have a favorite travel spot?
A: That would have to be Colorado, up in the mountains. I've been on two mountain trips, one of them being a hut-to-hut trip.
Q: How does that work?
A: In the summertime, the cross-country ski huts actually don't have snow, so they're open for mountain biking. My group covered 210 miles in six or seven days. The views at the end of the trail were amazing, but the challenge of the ride was incredible. It was like conquering a piece of nature, and we came out on top with a great story.
Q: What would you do if you won the lottery?
A: I would start looking for homes in the mountains, and somewhere on the beach. My wife loves the beach, so I'd try to satisfy both parties.
Q: What are you doing on most weeknights?
A: Helping the kids with their homework, and making dinner. I was a cook in college for a job, and I learned some good skills to bring to the home. My family isn't quite on board with my taste, though. I want to try new things all the time, even things that might be considered weird.
Q: A cook and an outdoorsman. Anything else we don't know about you?
A: I like to rescue animals. All the dogs that we have are rescues, and we're always rotating them throughout the house. We're busy, so we just have two right now, but at one point we had four of them running around. I've also been doing some work for Habitat for Humanity around the area.
Q: Finally, what does "Onward + Upward" mean to you?
A: For DAVIS, it means doing our work while having respect for everyone. For me, it means applying my skills to any initiatives that I'm asked to be a part of, and help push those initatives out to DAVIS employees. I want to help teams set up their plans with Lean Construction and Last Planner, so that we're on the forefront, and ahead of the game.
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