DPR Construction: History

Written by Phin Upham

Doug Woods, Peter Nosler and Ron Davidowski decided to start their own construction firm in 1990. They began with the idea that construction was not a process, like manufacturing, it was a service. The three men pooled roughly $750,000 in money from their own pockets and set out to try their hand at a business.

They decided not to be a “hard-bid” contractor. Hard bids are based on existing knowledge, like tract housing where the same design must be manufactured multiple times to achieve the desired result. This allows companies to price projects based on a hard price, or one that doesn’t change. DPR decided to be a negotiating contractor who would listen to the needs of its customer base and design a plan accordingly.

Within its first ten years, DPR had reached $1 billion in assets, and has ranked in the top 50 for general contractors in North America.

The company’s first real client was Argo. Prior to Argo, the company made its small profits from consulting gigs. The recession had just hit, so work was all but dry. When Argo called it was like an oasis in the desert. DPR set to work on building out an elevator, refinishing bathrooms and work in the lobby and HVAC systems. It was considered to be the company’s first major milestone.

The next was a $43 million contract in Los Angeles, doing wafer fabrication for a company called Rockwell International. This was also the first time the company was doing technical constructions, including clean rooms and gas systems. DPR is still a technical construction company, and was voted one of the Top 100 Companies to Work For by Fortune.

Phin Upham is an investor from NYC and SF. You may contact Phin on his Twitter page.

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