How Jay First Got Involved in Construction:

If you ask our Construction Supervisor, Jay, he’ll describe his exposure to construction throughout his youth as “generic,” noting that he would help his Dad or Grandfather build a shed, do deck repairs, or other things along those lines.

As time marched on, Jay “was confronted by a couple different opportunities to get into the business, and that kind of turned into a little bit more high-end trim carpentry, cabinetry, built-ins, libraries, things along those lines.” He defines his journey as kind of going backwards. “I started from the fine stuff and moved back into framing and things of the like instead of the natural progression where you would typically start on a framing type of issue or drywall hanging issue and progress into some of the finer stuff.” Jay’s experience in high end construction came during his time in New York and New Jersey. He mainly worked in the city in New York, so obviously there wasn’t a lot of room for ground-up construction. “There’s no grass, to be blunt,” he explains, “so we focused more on fit-out jobs – both high-end residential and commercial work.”

He spent quite a few years doing this work in the second to none hustle and bustle that is working in Midtown “before redeveloping, re-upping, and moving into the agriculture end with my company, GreatGrow, which brought us out here to Pennsylvania.”

GreatGrow, which develops soil and plant amendments that increase crop yields, improve soil structure, relieve soil compaction, improve soil oxygen, and promotes the use of water while suppressing foliage and root disease, has since turned into an Intellectual Properties firm, as Jay has been “basically selling his inventions off and things along those lines.”

Jay found himself back in construction – only on the other side of the table – as a Building Code Official and Zoning Officer for Kraft Code Services for six years. “From there, it felt like the natural progression was to move away from that and get back into what I spent so many years doing in New York on the construction side of things,” says Jay.

Jay Meets D&B:

Jay describes himself as a learner and a thinker. Although he had an element of sitework experience in the past, it wasn’t quite to the scale of the multi-family projects that he is leading with D&B Construction. “I like learning new things, so moving into the sitework and infrastructure work and these big parts of the multi-family is very eye-opening and exciting,” he explains.

“I’ve only been with the company for a bit over a year, and I have my hands in a bunch of stuff. I think just with as many moving parts that we have throughout all the different projects, that challenge to keep up with the Joneses and to make everything happen and keep everybody happy that’s pretty much what fuels the fire within me. You wake up and hit the ground running 100 miles an hour all day long.”

 

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Jay Outside of D&B:

His main motivation that gets him out of bed in the morning? His family, of course, which he describes as “the most important part of my existence as a whole.” Jay and his wife have two children: Madeline and McLaen. Although his son is getting ready to go away to college soon and his daughter is about to enter high school – thus making things a lot less busy than when they were much younger – the Holmgren family is still very active.

Madeline is described by her father as a “brilliant dancer,” and McLaen, who played a lot of soccer growing up, has since transitioned over to music in his late teen years – following in his Dad’s footsteps. “He’s picked up a lot of my instruments that I held. Once COVID hit, and I told them they weren’t going to be on their screens 24 hours a day, he started running with it. He’s actually moving more towards playing the bass than the guitar like I did. That love for music has definitely been passed down there. He’s quite the guitarist, quite the bassist,” Jay says with a proud smile. A younger Jay used to write poetry and lyrics, and his son is also following in his footsteps in that regard, too, having put his first couple little pieces together, which Jay describes as “well thought out and well done.”

He describes his daughter, Madeline, as the same with her dance and her art – she draws a lot and things along those lines (just as Jay used to sketch and sculpt a bit).

“I like to think that a lot of the artistic stuff that I did when I was younger was passed down to the youngins,” he explains. Obviously – school’s always important. Jay’s wife, Suzanne, helps the kids with homework as much as possible. “It’s a day to day. You know – we’re just a family,” explains Jay, “but it makes it all worthwhile when you come home to a house full of issues – or not – to keep a smile on your face.”

Finding An Extended Family in D&B:

“I think D&B’s support structure overall is – not to throw the word / term ‘team’ around, but there is such a team structure to D&B. I’ve worked in companies and represented companies in the past where they were very fragmented. Everybody kind of worked on their own keel, not a whole lot of cross over. I do really feel at D&B you have solid relationships. If you need somebody to talk to about this, that or the other, there are people here that are genuinely interested and really nice shoulders to lean on here and there. I try to provide the same, but you know it’s definitely a family feel, a lot of support structure. If people need things, we’re there for each other.”

It’s no secret that demolition is a big part of the construction process, so we love when the opportunity arises for us to make good use of a property prior to demolition taking place. More often than not, this comes in the form of donating office supplies, such as filing cabinets, that we may find left behind when we get the keys to begin an office fit-out. Most recently, we were able to provide various hands-on training opportunities for Western Berks Fire Department.

 

This was all possible thanks to the thoughtfulness of our Superintendent, Jason Holmgren, and the Vice President of our client, The Commonwealth Group, Don Robitzer. Jason, who has a relationship with the department’s Fire Commissioner, Jared Renshaw, is leading this project on-site day in and day out. It just so happened that Jared was involved in the planning process with the developer awhile back. Jared and Jason were able to connect at the start of the project and coordinated the opportunity for the department to conduct training at the buildings at the former Village Greens golf course in Sinking Spring.

“I was happy and fortunate to be able to bring my past relationship with Western Berks Regional Fire Department in on a D&B project,” explains our Superintendent, Jason. “The training went great! Commissioner Renshaw and his crew were fantastic! We are very lucky to have such a professional department serving the region.”

 

 

Western Berks Fire has answered over 550 calls so far this year, averaging 78 each month and over 1,000 in a year’s time, so this training was invaluable to the department. Both career and volunteer members of the department took advantage of the training opportunity, which took place on multiple occasions over the last few weeks. Those in attendance fine-tuned their skills in the following area: Ground/aerial ladder deployment and placement, deployment and advancement of the 400-foot hose line, cutting garage doors with saws for forcible entry when necessary, and vertical ventilation, which involves using saws to cut through the roof.

“We are always training on these basic, perishable skills, but it’s so much more beneficial to do it at acquired structures, as it makes it more realistic,” explains Commissioner Renshaw. “Hands-on training like this allows us to be able to hone the skills that we will use on fire and other emergency scenes.  We emphasize being proficient in the basics, as they are the building blocks to being great firefighters. The multiple trainings had a great turn out, with 24 people there one evening.

 

“We would like to thank the developer and also D&B Construction for working with us to facilitate this excellent training opportunity,” posted Western Berks Fire Department on their Facebook page.

Western Berks Fire Department was organized and placed in service in 2009. The department serves and protects over 18,000 residents and hundreds of businesses in over 32 square miles throughout Sinking Spring Borough, Wernersville Borough, South Heidelberg Township, and Lower Heidelberg Township. Learn more about their department here, and learn more about what is being constructed at the former Village Greens golf course here on our website.

 

                                     
We’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Luca over the past year as he shadowed members of our team on D&B job sites and in the office. Luca gained valuable hands-on experience from experienced members of our team leading the project for Stratix Systems’ new headquarters in Wyomissing. He also got to shadow members of our residential sister company, D&B Elite Custom, and watch a custom home come to life while also seeing finishing touches to a home renovation.

 

Join us in wishing Luca continued success as he pursues his degree in Civil Engineering at Drexel University! We know he will accomplish great things.

How his days at D&B were spent:

“The majority of my days were spent on jobsites shadowing site superintendents. My responsibilities included communicating with my intern supervisor, site supervisors, signing in on jobs, wearing appropriate safety equipment on site, and completing weekly site inspections when needed.”

 

What he learned:

“A lot of valuable skills and information on how a construction management business runs both in the office and on the site. Some of the skills I learned was the importance of communication on the jobsite and in the office. I was able to sit in on meetings in the office and also saw communication take place on the job site through formal meetings, RFIs, and informal communication when the job superintendent talks with subcontractors onsite.”

 

Some of his favorite memories:

“Some of my favorite memories are coming back to my internship after Winter or Spring break. My supervisors were very excited to see me since they hadn’t seen me in over a week, and it was the best feeling. Another favorite thing to do is to look back at the old photos on Procore and see the progress that has been made on the sites I have been attending the company. I have seen rubble turn into an 8,000 SF home.”

 

What he is most proud of:

“Everything that I was able to accomplish from this internship within the past year. Looking back and seeing everything I have done and learned from this amazing experience has been great.”

 

How this internship impacted him:

“This internship has helped me influence my plans for the future. Before this internship, my plan was to attend college to study civil engineering, and although that plan hasn’t changed I owe the confidence I now have for this major to this internship with D&B. Being at a company almost every day now for the past year has helped me truly understand my passion. This provides comfort to me because I can finally say with confidence that I know what I am doing in my future. I am very thankful for both this internship program and D&B for providing me with this comfort.”

 

Luca with some of the main team members he worked with throughout his internship: Barry, Site Superintendent at Stratix Systems’ jobsite; Jess, Internship Committee Chair; Rachel, Office Coordinator and Bryan, Foreman at Stratix Systems’ jobsite
                                     
Team D&B is thrilled to be working with the Wilson School District‘s Honors Internship program once more! In the 2021-2022 school year, we have the pleasure of working with two talented seniors, Luca and Savanna. Our Construction Intern, Luca, has been shadowing team members working on our adaptive-reuse design-build project for Stratix Systems‘ new headquarters in Wyomissing. He has also been shadowing our residential team, D&B Elite Custom, as we build a custom home from the ground up. This opportunity has allowed Luca the invaluable experience of seeing the differences between commercial and residential construction, which has helped him get a better idea of what he may want to pursue as he heads to college. We sat down with Luca to learn more about his internship experience thus far:

Q: What do most of your days look like on the job-site?

A: “I spend most of my days shadowing and working closely with the commercial Site Superintendent, Barry, at Stratix’s job site, as well as shadowing John, the residential Superintendent.”

 

Q: Tell us about a day / task that you enjoyed most at your internship so far and why?

A: “I enjoy looking over project submittals the most because I get to see how different applications on the job were approved.”

 

Q: What are some things you’ve learned throughout your internship so far?

A: “I learned the importance of safety on a job-site is by far the most important aspect. OSHA safety requirements are the guidelines for construction job-sites. I’ve also learned that everything must get approved before even starting and this can hold projects up for months. I’m learning about what is on the drawings and how to interpret what is on them. I also have been sitting in meetings and participating in weekly site inspections to really get a grasp of things.”

 

Q: What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself so far through your internship experience?

A: “That I know more about the construction industry than I thought I did.”

 

Q: What would you say is the most important skill you developed / strengthened at your internship so far?

A: “I learned the importance of listening.”

 

Q: What  are your internship goals for the rest of your time with D&B?

A: “To continue to be able to complete individual tasks and be trusted at completing these tasks.”

 

 

                                   
At the beginning of January, we sadly said goodbye to Savanna, but we are so excited to hear about her experience interning with our friends at RE/MAX of Reading for the second half of the school year. Savanna shadowed our Marketing and Business Development department to learn the ins and outs of this field, both for our commercial side of the business and our residential side, D&B Elite Custom. After completing her internship experience, Savanna reflected on her time working with D&B and how it has prepared her for attending college as a Business Major. Here’s a Q&A from Savanna so you can learn more about her experience:

 

Q: What were your responsibilities throughout this internship?

A: “My responsibilities included researching, writing, and editing articles for blog posts and newsletters. I learned about graphic design and how to create things in design programs like Canva and Adobe. I also learned how to navigate WordPress and the back end of a website, as well as MailChimp. I completed Benchmarking analysis and learned the differences between preparing copy for social media and blogs/newsletters.”

 

Q: Of all your responsibilities, which did you enjoy most and why?

A: “I enjoyed creating things for D&B on Canva. It gave me a chance to be creative and really understand branding. Besides that I also really liked coming up with research for articles and gathering information in general. I liked interviewing people and getting quotes and information. Interviewing people was a great way for me to learn more about some of the staff here at D&B.”

 

Q: How was your overall experience interning with D&B Construction? 

A: “I was lucky to come into a business that was not only friendly and accepting, but that also had knowledgeable people who I could learn a great deal from, especially since this was my first internship experience. I rate my experience 10 out of 10 because coming into this, I had no idea what my internship was going to be like, but being here for a semester allowed me to learn more than I ever expected to about what goes on in a business. I also strongly believe that I gained a lot of hands on experience, from having my own computer and my own documents to work on in the office, to being able to go out to the job sites and take photos.”

 

 

Q: Do you feel this internship enabled you to apply knowledge and skills to prepare for college?

A: “Yes! Since I am in high school, I don’t have a focused major just yet, but my internship coordinator, Angela, went through a list of different tasks at the start of my internship. I was able to voice my opinion on what I thought I would be good at, what interested me, and what I wanted to learn more about. This allowed me to use my skills to the best of my ability throughout the internship. For example, I took Honors English all four years of high school, so I was able to write a lot of blogs and articles during this internship. I was given support and encouragement throughout training during my internship. If I didn’t know something, that was alright because then I was taught it, and that allowed me to learn new things and gain new skills. I really feel that this internship confirmed that I am on the right path. Through this internship experience I even realized that I would like to do some sort of marketing in my future career.”

 

Q: Do you feel this internship helped prepare you for your future career?

A: “Going into my internship I knew I wanted a business career, but I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do in the business world. This internship helped me gain knowledge about the business world and what really goes into marketing. It not only gave me an idea of what I want to go for in college, but I also gained experience and have a leg up compared to to my peers since I have an internship on my resume already. Not a lot of high school kids get this experience. This experience is valuable because it not only looks great for future jobs but will help me with getting into college.”

 

Q: What did you learn throughout your internship that you did not expect would be so important?

A: “I learned many things at my internship, but one thing that I didn’t think would be that important is branding and how we have the same colors and logos for everything. Another important thing I learned is the importance of having your business being a thought leader in the industry, not just as a company that does construction. I learned so many workforce skills that a classroom can’t teach me.”

 

Q: What are you most proud of from the work you produced throughout your internship and why?

A: “I am most proud of the blogs I wrote and posted with the help of my internship coordinator. It is something that I can say I worked on from start to finish and can add to my portfolio.”

 

Q: How would you describe D&B Construction’s company culture in three words?

A: “Innovative, thought-leaders, and welcoming.”