Behind the Build: Interview with Tim Kelleher, Operational Standards & Innovation Manager at Brinkman Construction

Construction is all about the shared goal of getting a project done. But buildings under construction have many moving parts and a lot of people put those parts into action.

Tim Kelleher, Operational Standards & Innovation Manager at Brinkman Construction, is all about knowing where those parts are. Equipping people with the right tools to keep them on track to achieve their common goal of project completion is key. He shares a bit about his philosophy with us here.

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Tell me a little bit about Brinkman Construction and what you specialize in.

We’re a 100% employee-owned general contractor working primarily along the Front Range of Colorado. We focus mainly on multifamily, healthcare, office, restaurant and brewery, industrial, and tenant finishes.

One of the things we pride ourselves on is having robust quality and safety programs. We even won a national award for our safety program through the Associated General Contractors of America.

Walk us through your career and what led you to your current role.

I started in construction when I was in high school, working for a residential dirt excavator and digging basements for houses. I then went to Colorado State University and got a degree in construction management, and I worked on jobsites while I was in college. I was the guy that would go to school in the morning in my work clothes, then go straight to work – or vice versa,  sometimes I’d come to class after being at work all day, maybe kind of dirty!

When the recession hit in 2009, the company I was with at the time didn’t have a lot of work for me in the field, so I transitioned to the office. Because of that, I ended up piloting and taking over their BIM program. Soon enough I was a full-time BIM Manager. My role has evolved through moving to Brinkman Construction and wearing a variety of hats, including Project Mangement, BIM VDC and QA/QC.

What is your proudest accomplishment in your career at Brinkman Construction?

Currently, I think my proudest moment is being able to help standardize and grow the way we attack our projects. I get satisfaction from making sure that we're equipping teams with the right tools, processes, and workflows so that they can execute their jobs better.

Autodesk Build has been a complete game changer for a lot of our processes. Not only is this a huge help for us with closeout, but we also use it for commissioning, startup checklists, punch lists, and more. We’re able to deliver a higher quality product because of those things.

As construction evolves, how do you see your role changing?

I think that our roles are becoming more integrated with what happens in the field. BIM and VDC started as office-based specialty roles, but increasingly these tasks can take place outside the office on iPads, where work is actually occurring. My main goal is to get as many of our processes and technologies as close to the work as physically possible because that’s where we can drive a lot of the impact.

What are the biggest challenges you face in your role? How does technology help you overcome those challenges?

Adoption is our biggest challenge, especially with people who aren’t tech-forward, or English is not their native language. When we have a communication barrier and a technology barrier, that can be challenging.

One of the things we like about Autodesk Build is there's so much flexibility. A punch list is a great example of this. We can go through it with our iPads and we’ve refined the process to the point that between 80 and 85 percent of our punch list is completed without typing. We place a pin on a sheet, take a picture, and move on. This can be digested in many ways after we have created the punchlist- So if someone isn’t comfortable on an iPad or doesn’t speak English as their first language, they can still be successful.

Are you using Autodesk Construction Cloud on any unique or challenging projects?

The sheer quantity of tasks we’re able to manage with Autodesk Construction Cloud is staggering, even on very large projects. For instance, we’ve got a 450,000-square-foot, 325-unit apartment complex that we’re keeping track of in Autodesk Build, encompassing everything from preconstruction through warranty.

The platform has been really impactful to the way we're turning that job over because we have so much more visibility to what's going on, what's done, and what's not done. And we can do it using such a range of devices. Now instead of a cart and a computer, our field engineers are walking the job with a phone and a roll of tape. It’s so much easier.

When you think about the future, what are your plans to advance innovation and productivity at Brinkman Construction?

Right now, our big initiative is to combine our project management systems with our performance evaluation systems. Our goal is to measure key data points on our projects and provide real-time feedback to help people perform better, stay accountable, and advance in their careers.

Autodesk helps us to do that, and we’re leveraging the power of the platform every day. We’re finding ways to drill down to employee satisfaction, mental health, and other end goals. It’s a big idea, but we’ve got a plan to execute it.

What advice would you give to the next generation of men and women entering and preparing for the future of the industry?

Take every opportunity to learn everything you can about your field. There's a lot of amazing technology on the market today, but it really boils down to this: we're still building things, and having a foundational knowledge of construction makes technology much more beneficial. If you don’t use it in a way that makes buildings go up more quickly and effectively, then you’ve lost its benefit.

Kelsee Campbell

As a Senior Customer Advocacy Program Manager at Autodesk, Kelsee has the privilege of working with Autodesk customers to champion their stories on the Digital Builder Blog. Kelsee strives to create an engaging experience that amplifies customer perspectives, fostering a sense of community and connection.