Message from George
Success is an interesting concept. If viewed in narrow sense, it is pretty easy to grasp. You have a goal, and if you achieve that goal, you have achieved success. If viewed dynamically, success is a process that isn’t ever fully achieved unless viewed over enough time. The concept of the 20 Mile March illustrates this. The short term goal of a team was to achieve 20 miles of progress in a race to the South Pole. The real goal was winning. In the case of the 20 Mile March, which was the story of two teams racing to get to the South Pole, two teams set daily goals: one to go 20 miles, one to go as far as the weather would allow them. Each achieved their daily goals. One achieved their long term goal: getting to the South Pole first. The other not only lost the race, but the entire team died about 10 days before making it to the South Pole.
There are so many principles in this true life story. One of them is having the discipline to focus on the long term. Here at RQ, we have achieved a short term goal, that of growing our backlog close to 1 billion dollars. Our dynamic goal is to create a sustainable organization based on growth of our markets, people, and capabilities. For this Flywheel, there is a focus on us, the people of RQ. Execution of the work we have won requires growth in us as professional design and construction individuals and also growing our capabilities. But this isn’t enough. It requires growth in numbers. Growing numerically has its challenges. We need people who can mold to the RQ Culture. We need people who are self-motivated. We need people that want RQ to be their last company before retiring. I could go on and on. We need, as a collective whole, to understand that our success is enhanced by alerting HR and other senior people of those who fit the RQ profile. We are our best recruiters because we essentially pre-screen, we do preliminary “due diligence,” and therefore our chances as a company to grow numerically with quality. RQ is greatly enhanced when we are all recruiting.
As I have said before, the best decision in the long term is almost always the best decision. All of our careers at RQ will be enhanced by adding great people. This Flywheel is all about growing pains and opportunities to all of us and how we intend to grow for sustainable growth and winning the race.
George H. Rogers, III
PRESIDENT AND CEO
Kevin Bacon and Patrick Lencioni
What is going on?! Last year RQ won a bunch of work as we all know. We won a bunch of work the year before too. To perform this work from 2019 to 2020 we had to hire a bunch of new teammates. And it is no different for the work from 2020 to 2021. On top of that we have grown our self-perform work capabilities and logistics group from ’19 to ’20 to ‘21. More teammates. Kathy Wokas sends out Employee Updates and it feels like every single week right now we are adding 15-20 new teammates, the fastest pace of new hires I’ve ever seen in all my years at RQ.
Tatiana James keeps up with our employment stats every year. In 2019 we hired 74 new employees, not including our awesome TCNs that largely come through an employment agency. In 2020 we hired 79 new teammates, 174 when including our awesome TCNs. For 2020 that comes out to about 15 new employees per month. 174 in a year. Wow. It wasn’t that long ago that RQ didn’t even have 174 total employees, let alone hiring 174 in a single year. With a big-time awards record in 2020, the hiring isn’t slowing down in 2021 as jobs move from design to mobilizing and pushing dirt in the field.
Where in the world (literally and figuratively) do we get all these people? We have several sources. These sources led to 3,789 candidates in 2020 for the 79 we hired. 2,917 of those candidates were legitimately qualified for those positions after a personal, second layer of review. Connecting the dots, you can see there is a lot of competition to get an open position at RQ.
The most significant source for finding our new teammates is from employee referrals. That means you. 35% of our new hires in 2020 came through employee referrals. One in four new hires in 2019. Employee referrals continues to out-pace any other recruiting source we have. Why? Two reasons: 1) Kevin Bacon; and 2) Patrick Lencioni.
Per Wikipedia: In a January 1994 interview with Premiere magazine Kevin Bacon mentioned while discussing the film The River Wild that “he had worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone who’s worked with them.” Following this, a lengthy newsgroup thread which was headed “Kevin Bacon is the Center of the Universe” appeared. Four Albright College students invented the game that became known as “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” after watching two movies featuring Bacon back to back: Footloose and The Air Up There. During the second, they began to speculate on how many movies Bacon had been in and the number of people with whom he had worked.
They wrote a letter to talk show host Jon Stewart, telling him that “Kevin Bacon was the center of the entertainment universe” and explaining the game. They appeared on The Jon Stewart Show and The Howard Stern Show with Bacon to explain the game. Bacon admitted that he initially disliked the game because he believed it was ridiculing him, but he eventually came to enjoy it. The three inventors released a book, Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, with an introduction written by Bacon. A board game based on the concept was released by Endless Games.
In the summer of 2012, Google began to offer the ability to find an actor’s Bacon number on its main page by searching for the actor’s name preceded by the phrase “bacon number.” I tried it and it works. I found out Kurt Russell was in The Mean Season with Andy Garcia in 1985 who was in The Air I Breathe in 2007 with Kevin Bacon. Kurt Russell has a Kevin Bacon number of 2.
Kevin Bacon isn’t even the most central actor in Hollywood. Every film made has the potential to change who that is. It is wild to me that there are people out there who are seriously figuring it out (as if it matters). In 2020 Angelina Jolie was the most central or interconnected actor. What is relevant, at least to me and to RQ, is the idea that human beings are interconnected. We at RQ could create our own game. How about Six Degrees of George Rogers? Or as you’ll see later, how about Six Degrees of Jeff Holmes? I think you could plug in almost any name at RQ and play the game because of the interconnectedness of people.
That explains Kevin Bacon (human interconnectedness); why Patrick Lencioni?
Per Wikipedia: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team is a business book by consultant and speaker Patrick Lencioni first published in 2002. It describes the many pitfalls that teams face as they seek to “grow together.”
Is RQ not significantly seeking to grow and “grow together” at that?! The five dysfunctions Lencioni describes within a team include:
1) Absence of trust
2) Fear of conflict
3) Lack of commitment
4) Avoidance of accountability
5) Inattention to results
As you read the book it becomes clear that these dysfunctions largely build on each other sequentially. If you don’t have trust between teammates, how are you to engage in healthy conflict to ensure effective communication and necessary commitment? Trust is something earned, right? Of course. So it is only logical that as we go to bring in new teammates, we want teammates we can trust. We obviously want people with the right skills and abilities, but we want to be able to trust these people too. Our own people know people they trust who know other people they trust. Trust is a powerful thing. If I trust you and you trust someone else, I’m prone to trust that person is good for the team because I trust you. It is the fastest way to a sure foundation of trust between old and new teammates.
Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon reminds us that we are interconnected to a whole lot of people. Patrick Lencioni reminds us how powerful and important trust is to any team.
RQ has a lot of hiring to do in 2021. We’re going to keep digging into a number of sources because that’s what we do and there are good people outside our six degrees of separation. But we’re asking you to bring us a shortcut to trust by bringing forward names we can interview with whom you already have a level of trust. And it often isn’t a direct connection, per Mr. Bacon, but rather you know somebody who knows somebody who wants a place to work like RQ and is perfect for RQ. We all care who we are working with and who wears the RQ logo. Have a direct hand in it yourself. We’re not only inviting you to, but we’re encouraging it. With the prerequisite of skills and trustworthiness in mind, play the game: Six Degrees of You.
Six Degrees of Jeff Holmes
It’s no surprise that in Jeff Holmes’ decade of working for RQ, he has made a lot of connections. What most people might not know is that he was only a single degree separated from RQ before he joined the team! Jeff has been good family friends with Sam Kirchmeier for years, and his wife, Mickey, had an interview with RQ a few years prior to his own employment. Yet neither of these connections are how Jeff was referred – it was through a former manager of Mickey’s who was working at RQ at the time and passed his resume on.
Jeff has made his way through being a PE, working in Estimating, to his now current position as Small Business Program Manager. Over this time, he has not only referred new blood to RQ (hi Mickey and Chad!) but has known several other employees through various life connections. Jeff met Peter Hamre at an outreach event and he knew Katy Ventre through church (who also previously worked with Tatiana James’ sister – small world!).
This may, however, just be the story of Jeff’s life. He can recollect numerous memories of running in to acquaintances at random airports, meeting his cousin’s colleague and his daughter-in-law’s schoolmate at two different outreach events… The list goes on. Perhaps we really should consider changing the game to Six Degrees of Jeff Holmes!
Debra Smith‘s daughter – Brittany Smith – has made the president’s list at James Madison University. Students who earn president’s list honors must carry at least 12 graded credit hours and earn a GPA of 3.900 or above. Brittany is a junior studying Hospitality Management. Great work, Brittany!
Laura Hendershott recently welcomed twin baby boys named Luke and Logan! Congratulations, Laura!
Kyle Youngdale‘s youngest daughter, Maeve Youngdale, turned 1 year old recently. She has recently begun walking and saying her first words…”Momma” ,“Dada”, and “Let it go”!
Oliver David Carlson, nicknamed Odie, born on October 30th, 2020 at 20:46, weighing 8lbs 14oz and 54cm long. This Guantana-babe is happily enjoying all that island life has to offer. Toes in the water, diaper in the sand, not a worry in the world, warm milk in his hand. Life is good today.
Richard Ellinger married Ria Encarnacion on February 20th. Best wishes, Rich and Ria!
Cybil Florence Rogers was born at 7:32a on Feb 7th. Cybil is the Rogers family’s 5th child and the 4th Rogers baby born in Guantanamo Bay. Congrats, Mack and Lizzie!
Thank you, Kevin, for this great capture of a rainbow at our P921 project.
Craig Shadle and his wife, Lise, welcomed their 2nd granddaughter, Dodie, to the world on February 3rd. Welcome, Dodie!
Six Degrees of James “Jimmy” Elder
Jimmy was born in Pittsburgh and spent the summers in Nags Head, NC. After graduating with an Associate Degree in Electrical Technology, he went to Nags Head on vacation over 28 years ago. Family members who had a small electrical business in Virginia Beach also spent a lot of time there. That led to a working relationship just to make some money to get through the summer and to enjoy it. Jimmy ended up staying almost 16 years with this family business (Blackwater Electric), during which he completed his electrical apprenticeship program.
It was after he had just recently been married when Jimmy was offered an opportunity with a different company who was completing the Pier #7 Double Decker construction project on NS Norfolk and they were just awarded the Pier #11 Replacement project. He accepted the position as Assistant Project Superintendent and CQC Manager for the electrical and mechanical portions of the project. That opportunity led Jimmy down a much different path from electrical work. He was now working on waterfront pier projects, bascule bridges, and suspension cable stay structures. He worked his way up the chain to a Project Superintendent position.
Then Jimmy received a call one day a couple years ago from David Hart, the Vice President of Blackwater Electric. He said that Blackwater Electric and RQ had recently created a joint venture to bid on the P-610 Electrical Repairs project and asked Jimmy if he would help with some of the bidding, wanting to know which subcontractors were used with the other Piers, and any recommendations he might have of who to use on this project. Jimmy being Jimmy, he was happy to help. Several weeks after the bid was turned over, Jimmy got another call from David, suggesting that the JV had a good feeling they were going to win the project. He asked Jimmy if he would consider working on the JV if they won the project. Jimmy responded, “If you all win, we can talk.” Jimmy was currently working with Helix Electric as the Project Superintendent on a large 34.5 & 15Kv distribution project at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard. As Jimmy tells it, “I had heard of RQ through the projects in North Carolina. David called me in mid-September 2017 and asked me if I would come into the office one afternoon and meet with him and James Brown from RQ, and that the JV had won the P-610 Project. I met with them that afternoon and our conversations started. James and David both asked about possible CQC Managers and who might be a good fit. David asked me if I thought Paul Ailiff might come over since we have all worked on numerous projects throughout the years. I thought he might. We also discussed Troy Stephens and Eric Heath. Currently, all of us are working for RQ.” In the game Six Degrees of Jimmy Elder, those guys have a score of 1!
In putting this article together, Jimmy explains how NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic is different to work for than other areas of NAVFAC. As he says, “Everyone knows everyone, from Maine, to Mississippi, to Florida. If they are contractors, subcontractors, NAVFAC ETs, CMs, Contract Specialists, we all know each other, and probably have worked with one another. It is great that RQ is hiring and utilizing the local people and contractors who know one another. The government knows who they are going to work with and the contractors have the local people who know the government and the subcontractors. It is a win for both sides.” Indeed. It is a win for both sides. With Jimmy admitting that “everyone knows everyone” tied to NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic, I can only imagine how many more future RQ teammates will be tied with a score of 1 or 2 to our very own Jimmy Elder.
Six Degrees of Joanne Vasquez
You may know Joanne Vasquez as the Sr. Project Administrator for the East Coast. She is also married to Allan Vasquez in Estimating. These two met as students at Point Loma Nazarene University while Allan was also working for campus security. Fast forward a few years of dating, and they have now been married for 15 years and have three cute kids! But that is beside the point.
In 2013, Joanne became only one degree separated from RQ without knowing it when she and Allan got a new next-door neighbor… none other than Travis Nichols! A couple years after this fateful situation, with Travis relaying nothing but great things about RQ, Allan joined the team and absolutely loved it. Naturally, when a PA position opened up in 2016, Allan suggested Joanne apply, to which she replied, “Nope. I don’t think it would be a good idea to work in the same company as you, and I don’t like construction.” Little did she know, she’d discover she loved it too. Joanne had a separation score of 1 to Allan and 2 to Travis.
Joanne has some other interesting connections with RQ people: she and Kristina Brown both grew up in the same small hometown, and she met a former FA through a program run by Travis Nichols’ mother. Another fun fact: Joanne has actually seen the man himself – Kevin Bacon.
As Joanne told us, “Speaking of Six Degrees… I have seen Kevin Bacon in person by the way. He and his brother are in a singing group called The Bacon Brothers. Allan and I went to see them when they played at The Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, gosh, years ago. There was a moment during one of his songs, where he looked right at me and I think we made a connection. Allan says that Kevin winked at him. So, in a way, you are all connected to Kevin Bacon too.”
There you have it. Through Allan and Joanne Vasquez and an important look and wink, we are all connected to Kevin Bacon! RQ has a Kevin Bacon score of 1… sort of!
It Is A Spiderweb For Sure
By: Eric Taylor
The web started in a hotel room in Chicago. Kristen and I were living in Denver, but we were visiting her brother now known as Mack Rogers in Chicago. He was known as Mack then too. But he wasn’t in the hotel room. It was George and Pat Rogers’ hotel room. Kristen and I communicated that we wanted to start a family (aka kids) and we wanted to live near family as we raised them. We were looking to network to find employment opportunities. George said, “Come to work for RQ.” I said, “No. I won’t work for family.” I guess Joanne and I are kindred spirits that way. George said, “No. Come work for RQ. Learn the business and then go set up your own. I’ll have nothing to do with you while you’re at RQ.” That was the bait I needed. I bit. For all kinds of circumstances, I’m still at RQ. And I have a George Rogers score of 1.
Early on in my time at RQ, after I had determined I should stay and dig in, I hired two of my wife’s very best friends. Andrea Yorkey (now Andrea Zublin) was her best friend in high school, and Tatiana James was a best friend she met in her final semester abroad in Rome. They actually met on the airplane from London to Rome. Because Tatiana has had a hand in recruiting from early on, it seems like everyone is directly or indirectly tied to her coming to RQ. But a lot of you do not know Andrea because she left several years ago after getting married and wanting to support her husband (dang it! Just kidding!). Andrea and Tatiana have an Eric Taylor score of 1. Kevin Kurz has an Eric Taylor score of 2.
Kurz was weighing a tough life decision. The company he had spent his entire career at had just sold and he did not like the prospects and demands of the new company as it would not support commitments he had with his family. If you know Kurz at all you know how important his family is to him. In a social setting it was actually Andrea’s parents who overheard Kurz talking to someone else, telling of his predicament with the new company and the choice before him. They jumped in, acknowledged they had totally eavesdropped, and went on to tell him all about this company called RQ that their daughter could not stop talking about how great it was. That led to an interview. We were to meet at Starbucks. We met, but about as soon as we shook hands (you were allowed to do that back then), he got a call, apologized, and had to leave to deal with a safety issue on one of his jobsites in support of his team. So funny. He thought that had to be the worst interview ever. For me, it was one of the best. He demonstrated a care for his teams and safety better in leaving than any poetical answer to a question he could have given me at Starbucks. George to me to Andrea to Kurz. The web was growing, and that’s just one strand.
Low and behold, there were other proverbial soldiers at Kurz’s old company that found themselves in a similar predicament. He didn’t call them at first, but when he determined that RQ was a better place for them than where they were at, Kurz started making phone calls. That led to Jason Felton, then Brandon Kinney and Clint Petit. And Jason grabbed yet another of the old gang, bringing over Jonathan Pate. If you added up all the dollars of projects and profits that have ran through names like that, it’s certainly significant. I could say those guys have an Eric Taylor score of 3, but that’s just silly. I won’t take any credit for those studs, but I will admit to how interconnected we are.
Most know that I am George Rogers’ son-in-law. Now all of you know if you didn’t already. When DPR bought into RQ there was concern of even the perception of nepotism. If you ever want to get me riled up, claim I got where I’m at because of that word. It seems especially ridiculous to me because of how interconnected I know we all are. Nepotism is only an appropriate term if merit is not present. But the same is true with all of our interconnectedness. If a Project Manager was irresponsible and cheating subcontractors and achieving poor project results but kept getting promotions, that’s the same as nepotism. But of course that’s not the case. We aspire for our Project Managers to have their picture next to the motto: “Safely Producing Quality Work” – and with good results for the company I might add. RQ believes in its mission, and that demands merit. It also demands teammates who are trustworthy, and that’s why so much interconnectedness. 1 in 3 were directly referred last year. 1 in 4 the year before that.
For the rest, the 2 out of 3 last year who weren’t directly referred or the 3 out of 4 the year before that – what I would say to you is this: we are interconnected now. Thanks to Joanne we are already interconnected through Kevin Bacon. It might have taken a little longer for you to gain the trust of your teammates without a direct connection, but the fact that you are at RQ means you have that trust now and you are as interconnected as they come.
Whether you have many threads to your spiderweb at RQ or just a single thread, my challenge is the same to one and all: Spin another thread! Help us to find trustworthy teammates who can help us toward our super mission to create the best built environment while being the first choice of all stakeholders. We won a lot of work the past couple years. We have a lot of people to bring on, and we’re only as good as our people. Bring some winners on board! Play the Six Degrees of You game! The bigger the better!
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