Innovator Spotlight - Josh Kappel

A man in professional wear stands in front of a whiteboard. Another man with a computer sits at a desk in front of him.

At DAVIS, we’re constantly looking for ways to stay ahead of the curve. This industry is always evolving, and the only way to succeed is to innovate. This year, we’re featuring people at DAVIS who help us continue to break new ground—in more ways than one.

As Project Manager, Josh Kappel has helped DAVIS build some of the region’s finest residential spaces. He also likes to bake in his spare time! Read below to learn more about Josh and the incredible work he does at DAVIS.

Josh, how long have you been with DAVIS?

I started in 2018—I interned with another company, and then with DAVIS, and I stuck with DAVIS. 

Can you take us through your path on the way to this role?

In middle school, I thought I wanted to be an architect—then in high school I started to explore my engineering and math side. I figured I should try and tap into my creative tendencies while doing something with engineering, and that’s when I found the Architectural Engineering program at Penn State. I ended up job shadowing someone who had been through that program, and he showed me what the day-to-day work was like. Then I got into my internships, and eventually made my way here.

What was the DAVIS internship experience like?

The people I met in my program were what set it apart. I made great connections with other interns, and the culture at DAVIS was something that solidified my love for the job. 

Can you tell us about the project you’re on now?

I’m on my first project as a Project Manager, which has been such a cool experience. I’m at the Ashby Ponds 3.5 project, and DAVIS has already built two buildings on that campus, which is a senior living community. With that work in place, I’ve been able to step into the role with a nice foundation set up. 

As a Project Manager, what are your big challenges? 
I have more tasks and responsibilities now, and I’ve had to learn how to delegate work while being the main point of contact. I’m also learning how to deal with different personalities on the job.

However, I think I’ve always been a people-person, and I get along with a lot of different personality types. I try to keep a positive mindset, even with the stress of the job, and I think that helps a team dynamic succeed—when some things are out of your control, you can’t get worked up about them, and you just need to focus on what you can control.

Your projects have all been residential ones. What draws you to building these types of spaces?

I’ve always been interested in the residential aspect of construction. In college, I even participated in residential construction management competitions. These are the places you spend most of your time—you create memories in residential spaces with your friends and family. So, when I’m in the thick of a project and we’re doing something difficult, what motivates me is that someone is eventually going to be moving into the space and making it their own. That’s so exciting to think about.

Outside of the daily work, you’re also involved with a few organizations, right?

I’m part of a group that started a DC chapter of Architectural Engineering Institute about five years ago, which is a committee within the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) National Capital Section (NCS). We organize social gatherings, professional development, community service, and more. Our next event is ice skating at the National Sculpture Garden on February 22nd, reach out to me for details!

Also, I’m pretty involved with Washington Building Congress (WBC)—I’m part of their Hammerheads Committee for people under 40, so I help plan events, and last year I was the Vice Chair for WBC’s DE+I Committee. As part of that role, I helped put together an LGBTQ construction panel for Pride month, which was one of the first of its kind in the industry—a panel discussion about people’s experiences. We even had Julia Malitoris from DAVIS as one of the panelists.

This year I’m the Chair for the WBC DE+I committee, and currently planning a panel event on Friday, March 8th for Women in Construction week.

That’s awesome—you like to stay busy!

Yeah, I think I’m one of those people who gets restless with too much free time. I love getting out of the jobsite and interacting with people that I don’t see every day. Some DAVIS colleagues and I hiked Old Rag recently, which was awesome. My favorite part about working at DAVIS is the opportunity to do all these things outside of the typical work day.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in this industry?

I would definitely open up a bakery/coffee shop with cakes, cookies, all types of desserts. I’ve always liked baking—in college, I would do it when I was stressed out or had too much work to do. I called that “procrasti-baking.” One of my favorite new recipes is a pumpkin-and-cream cheese muffin.

Impressive! Any other secret talents we should know about?

I was on a hip-hop dance team in college! I decided to try out just because I’ve always liked watching dance videos and playing Dance Dance Revolution/Just Dance growing up, and I ended up on the team for four years.