Disaster Kleenup International president speaks to BCM students
Dale Sailer speaks to BCM students Feb. 10, 2011.
Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, mudslides. One look at the nightly news and it becomes evident that there is a growing need for professionals who are trained in managing the restoration, recovery and reconstruction projects following man-made and natural disasters.
The Department of Building Construction Management is taking the lead in providing this training through a relatively new concentration in disaster restoration and reconstruction management. The program offers enhanced skills and knowledge of typical restoration requirements, equipment, techniques, and management concerns.
Last week, students in BCM 355 were able to hear from a leader on the frontlines of this growing field as guest lecturer Dale Sailer, CEO and president of Disaster Kleenup International, shared his perspectives on the industry and the growing need for skilled contractors who can lead the rebuilding processes.
We had a chance to speak with Sailer and with Randy Rapp, associate professor who directs the DRR program, about how Purdue BCM students can be leaders in this field.
Why was Mr. Sailer brought in? Does he have a relationship with the college/Purdue?
Randy Rapp: His company, DKI, is one of a select group of disaster restoration and reconstruction firms, each of which has pledged $15,000/year for 10 years to sustain the concentration. DKI is the first restoration firm to attend the BCM Career Fair. They have begun a scholarship for DKI employees and their family members; the scholarship is available to any who comes to BCM to complete the DRR concentration.
Why is it important to bring in industry leaders to talk with college students?
Rapp: Credibility and current knowledge spring to mind. The speakers are commonly doing the “real thing” then and there, and that is of interest to students—especially to Technology students.
Why is it important to you to share your experiences with college students??
Dale Sailer: The disaster restoration industry has developed over the years around the traditional, American mom and pop business model, the same model upon which the corner drug store, local grocery, and quaint book shop were developed. Each of those markets was ultimately exploited by larger, well-financed, classically trained organizations that have effectively killed the mom and pop end of those markets. The best way to ensure that this does not happen in our industry is to generate interest in a truly fascinating industry and create an infusion of talent that transforms the industry from the inside rather from the outside, and in a manner that recognizes the historical traditions that made this industry special.
Why is the field of disaster restoration so important today?
Rapp: Natural and man-made disasters grow in frequency and intensity. Not really a climate change thing, just that we encroach on less-desirable, more naturally disaster-prone regions all the time. At least locally, people often change natural conditions, and that can lead to disasters. Technologically we push the envelope, and that contributes to disasters, too.
Why is it important for Purdue’s BCM program to offer a concentration in disaster restoration?
Sailer: Disaster restoration is the most recession-resistant end of the construction industry. Setting aside that disaster restoration is faster paced than standard construction, requires greater critical thinking, delivers more satisfying results to its customers, and fills a more necessary societal need, it is important that students feel that when they graduate, their ability to find gainful employment is not solely tied to economic conditions. Disasters, whether a hurricane or a burst pipe, are not dependent on the current status of Wall Street. They are always occurring, which means there is always a need for competent restoration professionals.
What opportunities are there for trained BCM students in disaster restoration jobs?
Sailer: BCM students represent the cream of the crop within the construction management field, and the disaster restoration concentration is the only one of its kind in the industry. Students coming out of school with a Purdue degree and disaster restoration concentration have a leg up on their peers when seeking meaningful roles in our industry. The #1 challenge facing a restoration company owner is one of exit strategy – how will I successfully reap the rewards of my toils, whether in three years or 30? That can’t be achieved without having a stable of highly capable professionals who have the background necessary to be nurtured as the future leaders of the industry.
How can Purdue’s BCM students contribute to the industry?
Sailer: The greatest impact BCM students can have is one of perspective. While our industry is full of innovators, inertia is often a stronger force within our companies and we need folks who aren’t afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. The environment that has been created at Purdue emboldens its students to take intelligent risks as a means of moving the larger construction industry forward.
Why has the area of study been added to the BCM curriculum?
Rapp: Industry sees value in enhanced professionalization, so an array of disaster restoration firms have agreed to donate $150,000/year for 10 years to sustain the concentration. Historically, some people have looked down their noses at restoration, since they are unaware of the challenges and opportunities that the subsector offers its practitioners. When Purdue University’s CoT offers a concentration in a subject, one can know it is not a casual, haphazard endeavor, but instead is study meriting discipline and respect. We graduated our first students last May and completed some useful research for the industry, so one hopes the value of the concentration is confirmed.
How are our students being prepared to make a difference in this growing field?
Rapp: The typical Purdue Building Construction Management student preparation, coupled with the specialized knowledge and skills of disaster restoration and reconstruction, offers rigor and breadth of relevant knowledge. The BCM graduate who completes the concentration has more intellectual tools in his or her management skills box by which to take on a bigger variety of projects successfully.
Any other thoughts you’d like to share about the industry, student opportunities or your presentation?
Sailer: DKI is delighted to have aligned itself over three years ago with a great institution like Purdue, and believe our $150,000 contribution to the BCM program to develop the next generation of leaders in the disaster restoration industry is an investment that will benefit our industry many times over, and we look forward to future opportunities to share information with the BCM student body.
Did you receive any feedback from the students after the presentation?
Rapp: It was very favorable. Students with whom we spoke said it was one of the best guest lectures they had heard. I noticed as I looked around the classroom they were all bright-eyed and awake, due to Dale’s very engaging talk. When you have the president and CEO of a billion dollar enterprise giving you a devoted segment of his precious time to talk about an interesting and relevant subject, you tend to appreciate what he says.