In honor of Careers in Construction month, we sat down with Pat Wendricks, director of construction management at Manhard Consulting, for a Q & A to discuss his profession. Pat’s interest in construction began at a young age and has grown over his 40-year career. He shares his story about his start in the engineering and surveying field and what makes his position so fulfilling.
What is the earliest memory you have of being interested in construction?
Construction has always been an interest of mine; I have always found it fun. When I was young, I would help my father with house reconstruction projects. I always liked building things, taking things apart, repairing them, or constructing new things.
How did you get into the field?
Right out of high school, I was approached by my cousin who asked if I wanted to come to work with him at an engineering firm outside of Grayslake as a rodman for a survey crew. I spent the next few years at different engineering and surveying firms until the housing market crashed in the early 80’s and the firm I was at went under. Soon after I got a position as a lot boy at a nearby car dealership. That position lasted about 6 years before my cousin once again convinced me to work for another civil engineering firm, Donald Manhard & Associates. My first day was April 16th, 1986. I have been working with the Manhard family for the last 34 years.
What steps did you take to get to your current role?
I started at Manhard as a rodman/instrument man for a construction layout crew. After that crew chief decided to leave, I was promoted to crew chief. Over the next 15 years, I moved into a role where I could help run the survey crews. From there, I was promoted to survey and construction department leader and then to construction manager. I currently serve as the director of construction management.
What does your average day look like?
I am usually awake at 4:50 am and at the office by 6:15 -6:30am. My mornings consist of meetings over the phone, usually with contractors. Being in construction means being available early in the morning, all day, and sometimes Sunday nights and on vacations. There are occasions where I must be present on project sites early in the morning to help solve issues with contractors or projects. I work closely with land development companies as their eyes and ears in the field. Helping clients understand the impact of costs associated with problem solving in the field, especially when issues do arise, is a good portion of what I do. Hopefully, my team can pass along cost savings associated with the daily tasks that arise from field operations.
What would you say is the most interesting part of your job?
I really enjoy taking a piece of raw land through the construction process and watching as it progresses into a subdivision, an industrial site or a retail center. Having the chance to coordinate and correspond with all the different entities that work on these projects is another interesting aspect of my job. Seeing a completed project that has been through the acceptance process is really fulfilling.