Meet Your Builder
How did your interest in construction develop?
It started with my grandfather. He was a carpenter for 60 years and first exposed me to construction.
Did you like to build or demolish things as a child?
As a child, I always enjoyed building and creating things, but my grandfather helped hone that interest.
What drew you to the construction business? What made you stay in the industry?
That first job was working with a retired businessman who was building his own home, stick by stick. It was a great learning experience for me and showed me the satisfaction granted when your labor and energy go into creating something substantial, useful, and beautiful.
By setting realistic expectations of budget and schedule from the beginning, maintaining constant dialog with the client, and diligent project management we can deliver projects that meet or exceed our clients expectation and do so in way that is enjoyable, because it should be.
You have many years in of experience working with concrete. What is appealing about concrete that has driven you to expand your talents with it?
From there I would begin to specialize in concrete and even opened up my own business, Clark Concrete, at the age of 18. I began by doing small slabs, driveways, patios, and slab on-grade foundations in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, but the company began to evolve to offer decorative concrete work too. This skill has followed through my entire career, as we are still making concrete countertops and exploring the immense potential it possesses.
Tell me about your mentor? What was the experience with him like?
One of my former professors at LSU, Dr. Jerry Householder, really helped expand my knowledge about construction. Dr. Householder worked on construction litigation cases as an expert witness and working with him turned out to be unique and eye opening experience for me. During that time I got to see all types of problems and mistakes other people had made, and I soaked was able to soak up information that would help me later in my own work.
You received your Masters at Auburn. How did you begin putting these new skills to use?
After graduation I worked for about eight months as a consultant with the Auburn University Facilities Department. We developed a comprehensive set of design and construction guidelines to help standardize important construction aspects campus wide. An updated version of this is still used today. Following this project, I began to work on home building and renovations, which has now grown into Compass Construction.
You mentioned majoring in construction management at LSU and attending Auburn, tell us more about your formal education?
I received a bachelor’s degree in construction management from LSU, then pursued a Master’s Degree in Building Science from Auburn, which is what brought me here. One thing I am proud of regarding my education is that I only had to pay for one year of school, my fifth at LSU. Everything else was paid for by scholarships.
I know you currently teach at Auburn University, how did this opportunity arise?
Well, my Master’s Degree was paid for based on a GTA (Teaching Assistant) position, so I got a little exposure to it there. They apparently thought it went okay, I got a good recommendation from one of the most demanding professors and a year after I graduated the department head called me and asked me if I would be interested in teaching a couple of classes as an adjunct instructor. I taught my first classes in the fall of ’06 and have been doing it ever since.
What do you teach?
I teach a few different classes. Plans and Specs, teaching pre-building science students to read technical specification and interpret drawings. It’s an interesting class; you can see a lot of light bulbs turn on in that one. I also teach a construction information technology class which covers various info tech used in the construction industry presented in an industry specific format. Materials and methods is the other one. This class presents the technical aspects of actual installation techniques and materials used in the industry.
What about teaching do you enjoy?
I enjoy interacting with the students. We get some bright kids through that program. There is also a feeling of accomplishment similar to that of building. It’s leaving something better than you found it.
How has your teaching affected your business?
Well, the biggest thing is it has honed my ability to present detailed building concepts and information in a simple way and most cases, in multiple ways.
What makes Compass Construction different from other contractors?
Well first I’d say that we are more a full service construction firm than traditional general contractor. We can do building troubleshooting, inspections and reporting, develop unique design drawings, work with architects to develop realistic budgets and review design concepts for constructability and efficiency, work with owners to develop conceptual budgets with little or no drawings and design, maintenance and repairs, and of course general contracting services. Also, it’s the way we deliver the project. It makes the process smoother and more enjoyable for the owner. By setting realistic expectations of budget and schedule form the beginning, maintaining constant dialog with the client, and diligent project management we can deliver projects that meet or exceed our clients expectation and do so in way that is enjoyable, because it should be.