When March Madness and Spring Break were raging on campuses around the nation, a select group of student project managers were measuring their future the way a 3-point shooter studies a wide-open jumper while everyone is yelling, “shoot”. It took place on the beautiful Purdue University campus in Lafayette, Indiana. 23 students from around the nation, professor Kirk Alter and guest speaker Tom LeDuc gathered for a few days to ponder questions of education, technology and success. It was part of a National Foundation program sponsored by PHCC.
With their futures in the construction industry wide open and squarely in front of them, they took advantage of this opportunity to ask Tom LeDuc, “How did you get where you are today?” LeDuc was concise, “It takes total commitment…in my case, total commitment to my partner Art Dexter and both of us being totally committed to our employees and our company being totally committed to our customers. And you have to stay focused on that commitment.” This informal talk took place on the night of arrival over dessert and LeDuc said it set the tone for what he described as, “one of the highlights of my career in this industry.”
The next day featured exercises in pre-planning for construction projects and then the topic turned to future technology and innovation. The group reviewed websites of construction companies, including CAD design and electronic applications that are being used in communications. Professor Alter stated that while much of the construction industry is behind in marketing, some companies are extremely advanced in technology that highlights promotion and sophisticated means of sharing information. LeDuc pointed to one construction company he was aware of that handled all purchasing of materials, estimating, inventory and project plans electronically. One of their requirements was that companies that worked with them had to have the capability to communicate with them solely through electronic means. The topic that drew the most surprising responses from LeDuc’s perspective was English as Second Language training. Students from Arizona and Texas, areas of thriving Latino communities, were very interested and somewhat awed by the ESL program LeDuc & Dexter has developed for their growing Latino workforce. LeDuc was somewhat surprised that his company was perhaps the only one in the industry with such a program. Later as he was sharing this experience he down played it, “It’s really not that big of a deal, it’s just another form of education”, and a slam dunk is just another form of a lay-up.