Meet the Project Manager: Jeff Kirby - "Leave Your Mark."
My paternal grandfather was a plant engineer at Chrysler in Detroit.
He built cars, tanks during WW2 and The Vietnam War, during the Space Race, Chrysler sub-contracted him out to NASA.
He worked on Apollo Missions 9, 10, 11, and 14.
When I was young and trying to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, I asked him for advice, he said...
“whatever it is that you decide to do, do something that leaves your mark on this world. Build something amazing, design something that has never been made before, invent something that changes the way people live or work, but leave your mark.”
I have never forgotten his words and they have been an inspiration for me and the way I have set my career path.
I have a strong work ethic, I go hard every day.
I attribute that to him and my parents.
How'd you get into the industry?
I was pursuing a degree in Architecture and studying at The New York Institute of Technology in New York City and working for an architectural firm in SoHo.
I originally had a grandiose vision of becoming the modern Frank Lloyd Wright or I.M. Pei.
In the course of my studies, the classes became very philosophical and too artsy fartsy for me.
I was riding the subway home one night after a class where the professor told me that I “didn’t really express my vision statement” with the basswood model I had spent hours and hours perfecting.
I had a moment to myself...
And said, “what the hell am I doing?”
The next day I was on a job site walk-thru with my boss.
It wasn’t the first time I ever been on a construction site by any means.
But the smell of the drywall and the sound of the chop saw and the feeling of being in the middle of all that production.
On the site, not sitting in a cubicle, that did it for me.
I knew that this was the right fit for me.
I changed jobs and became an assistant superintendent.
Transferred to NYU and changed majors to Real Estate and Construction Management.
And now I am a Senior Project Manager for a builder in Southern Coastal Delaware.
We build amazing custom homes, commercial tenant fit outs, and stand alone commercial buildings.
I love my job and I get up in the morning excited to go to work.
What makes you excited about the future of construction?
One of the unique things about my profession is that robots will never be able to do what I do.
There will never be a program written that could manage a construction project with all of its challenges and obstacles.
But innovations and technologies as tools that help me do my job, that excites me.
A lot of colleagues my age and older than me call themselves “computer illiterate” and carry actual luggage to bring files and binders with them to the site.
I don’t understand it.
I can carry all of the plans for all of my projects with me on my tablet.
I have all the files, submittals, change orders, scopes of work, meeting minutes, photos, literally everything I need is on my iPad.
If there is an easier and faster way to do things, why not embrace it?
Do you have a mantra?
I have 4 principles that I like to live by:
1. Get after it, every day.
2. Do the best that I can to strive to improve.
3. Treat myself and others with kindness and respect.
4. Be conscious of my impact on the environment.
Where can people connect with you?
Jeff Kirby // Senior Project Manager at Graulich Builders
Hammr Profile @JeffKirby