Rudy Monterroso: Onward + Upward

insight

Rudy Monterroso: Onward + Upward

Jul 8, 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 Rudy Monterroso, Senior EHS Manager and crucial member of our Safety department.

We sat down with Rudy (over a video chat) to talk about his rise from a carpenter to a senior manager and hear stories from DAVIS' past! Keep reading to learn more about Rudy.

LIFE AT DAVIS

So how long have you been at DAVIS?
Oh, let's see...27 years.

And at first, you were in the field.
That's right! I was a carpenter--building drywall, installing doors, the whole thing. 

What was that like?
When you're in the field, you can see each piece of your production throughout the day. You end the day tired, but you can see the progress you made. At the office, you get tired after just sitting around, and you ask, "What happened? Why am I so tired?" It's a different experience.

You must have some stories from back in the day.
One day, I was in a ditch cleaning out mud with some other guys. Suddenly we see this young man with a briefcase walking around. He then sees us, puts his briefcase down, and jumps right into the ditch to shake our hands. I just remember him saying, "Thank you very much. We really appreciate it," and jumping back out of the ditch, dirty shoes and all. The other guys and I had no idea who it was, but our superintendent came over to us and said, "By the way, that was Jim Davis." 

Soon, I met the rest of the team--people like Carl Hillinger, Jim Dugan. They had positive attitudes, and treated us well in the field. It was really nice to have that relationship, and it made us productive. The DAVIS leaders have always treated people equally--in my position, that's really important, because no matter who you are, job safety affects you equally.

How'd you make the move from the field to the office?
After spending some time in the field, I was building scaffolding and railings on certain projects. Then, I started helping out with safety inspections, and I was sent to our office in Virginia to work on safety surveys and reporting.

What's it like being a leader within our Safety department? 
Working with our teams is great. DAVIS superintendents are eager, calm, and they keep their jobs in tip-top shape. When projects are in great shape, we can concentrate on planning for the future instead of writing reports on the present.

The thing I'm most impressed with at DAVIS is the younger workers, because they're always eager to learn. They come out of school with a lot of knowledge about books and computers, but they're still figuring out what it means to be on a jobsite, and we help them out. I always tell them, "Just keep working hard and being honest with everyone on the jobsite, and you'll learn everything you need."

Safety is extremely important in 2020--how do you ensure DAVIS projects are safe during the COVID-19 pandemic?
It's a unique time to be a safety manager. You can see most jobsite hazards, but the coronavirus is something you can't see, so we have to be prepared every day. The first step is making sure every single person is wearing  the right protective equipment--we're usually wearing PPE to protect ourselves from breathing in dust or silica, but now we're protecting each other. Our jobsites are also marked all over with color codes to make sure workers are staying at least six feet apart from each other. Additionally, everyone has spray bottles and bleach with them, and we provide a lot of sinks with soap and water so that everyone has a place to wash their hands.

What would you be if you weren't in construction?
When I came to America, I was 18 years old, and I was thinkkng of joining the Air Force. I always loved airplanes, and it was something I thought I'd be good at. So, I told my mom, and she immediately told me she would never let me. So I had to use my little bit of knowledge in carpentry for a job. If my mom let me, though, I might have joined the military.

LET'S GET PERSONAL

What was that adjustment to working like as an immigrant?
I had to learn English and get a job as soon as possible--it felt like I got out of the plane in DC and immediately went to work. But I had a good home life, too--my mom lived right in front of the National Zoo, which was awesome. 

Have you been back to Guatemala recently?
Yes, my wife and I were there 5 years ago. She and I love to travel south to places like Cancun--that's another place with rich Mayan history. 

One of the best things about Guatemala is the food--paella, tapas, stuff my grandma used to cook. Her key was to use a lot of green tomato, which makes the dish kind of sour, but delicious.

Is there anywhere you want to visit?
My wife and I would love to visit Rome soon. However, I have a young daughter who needs a lot of time and attention. I've been teaching her martial arts and soccer, which takes up a lot of time-and she loves playing the violin, too. So I'm concentrating on being a dad for the time being.

Did you have any hobbies growing up? 
I played soccer for a long time, it was always my favorite sport. After that, I studied martial arts, and my team would travel up and down the East Coast to perform and show off our fighting skills. We even traveled all the way to Taiwan for full-contact fighting.

One last question  - What does “Onward + Upward” mean to you?
To me, it means we have to learn from our experiences. However, there are many different people who work at DAVIS, and we all have different experiences with valuable lessons. So, we need to share our experiences to be able to move forward together--positive or negative. If someone has found a way to innovate, let's share that with others--and if we need to learn from a mistake, let's share that lesson with everyone else so we learn together.