Published on November 1st, 2013 | by UC&D Magazine0
DFCM of Utah Looks to Benefit from New Director Haines’ Unique Background
AGC of Utah welcomed Hainesat a ‘meet-and-greet’ event Oct. 3.
By Brad Fullmer
After spending the past four-plus years working as a general contractor overseas in places like Afghanistan and Mongolia, Joshua Haines is looking forward to working in a more familiar – and far less hostile –building environment. Haines was hired September 10 as the new Director for the State of Utah’s Division of Facilities and Construction Management (DFCM). He brings to the table an enviable and diverse background in construction management and is looking forward to making a positive impact on the state’s A/E/C industry.
“It’s an honor to serve in an environment where excellence is simply the way business is conducted,” said Haines, who had a chance to meet with members of the Associated General Contractors (AGC) of Utah October 3 at AGC headquarters in Salt Lake. “I look forward to serving the people of Utah by optimizing the State’s existing building infrastructures and increasing our focus on energy efficiencies both now and in the future.”
“Josh’s ability to accomplish significant results in challenging private sector and government environments coupled with his energy and enthusiasm will benefit the State of Utah and enable the DFCM to fulfill the Governor’s challenge to improve efficiency of operations by 25% over the next four years,” said Kim Hood, Executive Director of the State’s Department of Administrative Services.
“We are excited about the opportunities provided to Josh and confident his experience working with AGC members will be a positive experience,” said Rich Thorn, AGC President/CEO. “Josh brings a great background with diverse challenges and the unique ability to problem solve, seek out others’ opinions, and move a project forward. Many owners, both public and private look to the leadership of the DFCM on how construction can be delivered.”
Haines attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he played football, and also studied Management Science at the University of Maryland in addition to Construction Management at Montgomery College. He earned a Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate from the Project Management Institute.
He spent 20 years in Washington, D.C. working in the construction industry before being appointed in 2009 as the Afghan National Director of Construction, Procurement, and Operations where for three years he successfully managed daily operations for remote, large-scale projects throughout Afghanistan.
He then worked for 18 months with Asia Pacific Investment Partners (APIP), a Mongolia-focused operating group primarily engaged in property development and cement production. He actually learned through a recruiter about the director position for the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), of which he was a finalist before the State interviewed him for the DFCM vacancy.
“The DFCM job was more in line with my experience so I jumped in from there,” said Haines, who said working overseas gave him incredible job experience with all phases of construction activity. “In Afghanistan I learned more in three years than in 20 years in the U.S. We had to mine our own sand, do blasting for our own gravel. We worked on a lot of remote project sites all over the country. Afghanistan isn’t as bad as you hear. They have people who want to learn and we worked with a great group of guys who would do anything to learn about modern methods of construction.”
He was amazed at how the Afghan natives could perform building tasks with the most rudimentary of tools.
“They were using rocks for hammers,” he said. “They could bend sheet metal ductwork with rocks. We had to work hand-in-hand to teach them how to work with basic tools.”
During his nearly three years his crews completed 54 projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, including a 6,000-man base, a power plant for the city of Kandahar (which he said was built from start to finish in three months), a wastewater treatment plant, a modern prison, among other complicated projects. He also had to immerse himself in the nuances of logistics and in getting materials and supplies flown into remote areas of the country.
“Typically you specialize in one thing; there I had to learn everything,” he said. “It was a huge amount of knowledge to gain. It’s broadened my horizons and given me a general background of everything, which helps me understand different kinds of construction projects.”
During his two-plus months on the job thus far he has been familiarizing himself with DFCM staff and procedures, in addition to meeting with contractors and legislators to determine how to best go about implementing goals and policies.
“I’ve found the DFCM to be a great division; the employees are fantastic to work with,” said Haines. “In general we’ve been spending time reaching out to our customers. Once I get done with my initial assessment, there will be changes that will help us better serve our customers and create better relationships with other branches of government. Our job is to be a facilitator. I’m not as big into the politics – we want to paint a true picture so the executive branch can decide the best way forward. We want to present facts and keep politics out of it.”
Haines wants to improve upon the electronic plan submittal system (EDMS) that was implemented by his predecessor, Gregg Buxton, and also send out a performance metric to contractors, architects and engineers looking for their feedback. He also wants to push the envelope on building life cycle costs, in addition to having projects that will function at high levels even after 50 years.
“The more feedback I get, the better we will be going forward,” he said. “We want all our partners and stakeholders to be part of a partnering process rather than be at odds with each other.”
He’s excited about the upcoming 2014 Utah Legislative session as well and believes by then he’ll be well prepared to deal with Utah’s legislators and key decision-makers on all types of construction issues.
“After dealing with the Taliban and the experiences I had with people in Mongolia,” he said, “I’m pretty sure I can handle working with the state legislature.”