Darryl Van Grouw ('14)
Foreman, P.W. Feenstra Construction
While attending Dordt, Darryl studied construction management. But, being raised on a dairy farm in Idaho, he always had a passion for milk production. P.W. Feenstra Construction, a company that has made a name for itself building dairy farms, offered Darryl the opportunity to bring these two passions together.
Darryl’s first assignment was a project in Southeast South Dakota where he assisted the operator of a mobile concrete batch plant. From day one, he had an eagerness to learn all parts of the company’s operation and a willingness to help out wherever he was needed. As a result of this open and positive attitude, Darryl quickly became fully responsible for all of the concrete production on the site. This increased responsibility was not without challenges. Besides keeping up with daily maintenance and ensuring that sufficient aggregate, cement, and water were in supply, Darryl also collaborated with the other subcontractors to see that they received ready-mixed concrete at the right time, in the correct quantity, and with the right properties for the slipform paver or static forms.
Darryl found that his Dordt degree equipped him to excel in this work. He attributes Dordt with the problem solving ability, attention to detail, and understanding of cementations mixtures that helped him pick up on plant operations so quickly. He felt confidence in the communication skills that help him relate with suppliers, contractors, and serve as his company’s eyes and ears on the project. What Darryl cites as most important is his understanding that all work is service to the Lord. “In my job, I make day-to-day and minute-to-minute sacrifices that do not put my interests—or my company’s interests—first.” Though such sacrifice can be tough, Darryl finds that coordinating with others rather than putting himself first results in a positive work dynamic and work that is superior. “In the end, the work we do together is completed with high quality and meets the owner’s needs.”
Having demonstrated that he can work effectively under pressure and handle high levels of responsibility, Darryl now travels throughout the Midwest, setting up, operating, and taking down mobile batch concrete plants. Darryl states that “if you embrace pressure and stay calm, it is amazing what you can undertake … and this attitude sets a tone that positively impacts others on the jobsite.” His work has now expanded to serving as a coordinator on other projects. Acting as a communications conduit, he schedules the work of employees and subcontractors to keep his projects on time and under budget. As he develops relationships with tradesmen, contractors, and laborers, Darryl finds that the habits and values he learned at Dordt serve him well. His patience and the practice of putting others first help to ensure that, when unforeseen problems arise, he can develop solutions that benefit all of those around him.
Thomas Brophy ('14)
Quality Control Coordinator, Talon Concrete & Quicksilver Readymix
As one of the first graduates from Dordt College’s construction management program, Thomas Brophy found himself with a few tough choices to make. He was eager to find a job and serve in the construction industry. However, recognizing the level of up-to-date technology involved in modern construction projects, he also wanted to add to his knowledge by pursuing a Master’s degree. In Kansas City, Thomas found the opportunity to do both.
Upon moving to the city, he enrolled in the master of engineering in project management program at the University of Kansas. This program built upon the construction management foundation Thomas gained at Dordt College and equipped him with new skills to ensure projects are effectively planned and scheduled, to keep them on time and under budget.
At the same time, Brophy began his career as an estimator and project manager at Drywall Systems, Inc. As a newly-hired employee, Thomas quickly found himself leading teams that included other people who were far older than himself. Thomas rose to this challenge. He put to work the communication, team building, and problem solving skills his Dordt education had equipped him with. He also drew on the breadth of his Dordt education. Certainly, he had been prepared with a baseline of construction industry knowledge. But Dordt’s Construction Management program also offered him a wide breadth of Business Administration courses, which gave him insight into company operations and finances, and a passion to serve the Lord by serving others in all areas of life.
Recently, Thomas took on a new opportunity, serving as a quality control coordinator at Talon Concrete & Quicksilver Readymix. In this position, Thomas has become a ‘concrete chef’ of sorts; selecting from thousands of mix designs and even concocting new recipes to meet his customers’ concrete pavement needs. In addition to deepening his understanding of cementitious materials, this position also helped Thomas refine his relational and soft skills. Construction tends to move at 110 mph. Thomas has kept up by being hungry and eager to learn and help out in whatever ways are needed. With things moving this quickly, Thomas has found he needs to resolve disputes with patience, empathy, always with an eye on the bigger picture that recognizes the true purpose of the work.
As Thomas continues to rise to the challenges of serving in the construction industry, the value of his Dordt College degree becomes continually more apparent. Rather than simply acquiring construction techniques that would soon be out-of-date, his education equipped him to be a problem solver and life-long learner who could build on a foundation of construction knowledge and use it for service to the Lord.
Joel Veenstra ('90)
Project Manager, The Baker Group
"I graduated from Dordt College and then received an M.S. at Iowa State University. I spent 10 years as an engineer and then migrated to my true passion as a project manager in the construction industry. If a construction management program had been in place when I was a student, that would likely be the path I would have followed. This new program will provide another avenue for technically proficient young men and women to follow their passions and use their God-given gifts to impact our world."