David R. Boyd
Chairman Emeritus and Co-Founder
For his outstanding leadership in the civil engineering construction industry.
It was basketball that first brought David Boyd to the Purdue campus. In 1955, spectators from all over the state flocked to West Lafayette to watch the semifinals of Hoosier Mania. “The tournament was single elimination and included every high school in Indiana,” Boyd remembers. “The whole of Indiana was crazy about basketball back then.” Boyd joined his high school basketball team at Purdue for the tournament: “I was a junior then, and all I could think was ‘wow, this is big.’”
He didn’t realize at the time that he would be coming back to Purdue in a couple of years. “I was interested in engineering,” he says, “and when I found out how highly Purdue’s engineering school was ranked, it became my first choice for an education.”
After graduating from Purdue, Boyd, a native Hoosier, interviewed in Los Angeles with Peter Kiewit & Sons, a large general contractor. “I knew I wanted a construction career at that point,” he says. “The challenge and the ability to work outdoors part of the time appealed to me. I didn’t know anyone in California, not a soul, but I packed up my stuff after graduation and went west.”
In 1964, Charles Pankow, another Purdue graduate, broke away from Peter Kiewit to start his own company. “He kept urging me to come to the new company,” says Boyd. “I didn’t want to leave Kiewit, but I eventually decided the move would be best for me in the long term.” In his work for Pankow, Boyd traveled across the country. “Charlie built projects all over the United States, so when he had a new building opportunity, I would be packing my bags.”
The experience he gained at Pankow was invaluable, but the constant moves were taking a toll. “I was working on a project in Washington State,” Boyd recalls. “We had a family and purchased our first home there. A year after our big purchase, I was told I needed to be in Toledo, Ohio, in less than a week. We packed up and moved again. Our kids had started school, and moving was more difficult each year. The concept of starting my own company and settling in one place became more and more appealing.”
That opportunity presented itself a year later when Boyd joined Ross Edwards, a fellow Purdue graduate, and co-founded Webcor Builders Inc. in San Mateo, California.
The Foundation of Success
Since its founding in 1971, Webcor has become the leading general contractor by volume in the San Francisco Bay area and is now listed among the top 10 in Los Angeles. “I think what made us successful is our approach to working with our private clients,” Boyd explains. “We are hands-on builders who use our experience to collaborate with the project architects and engineers to assist in the preconstruction of a building with analysis of design and recommendations that can make the structure more efficient and less costly. That produces low-cost, high-value projects for our clients.”
Located in Silicon Valley, Webcor uses technology to help reduce cost and increase the speed of production. “We are one of the most technologically aggressive general contractors in the industry and have raised the standard of construction technology usage to an unprecedented level,” says Boyd.
Teaming with Pro-Shore LLC to implement cost-effective construction methods, Webcor has helped develop a modular deck-forming system that led to productivity gains of setting 12,000 square feet of concrete forms a day—up from 6,000. Webcor also is one of a dozen companies—and the only contractor—that recommends research topics and issues to the Center for the Build Environment, a Berkeley research and development organization focused on new building systems and their effect on productivity. The company works with Stanford ’s Center for Integrated Facility Engineers as well to continue the advancement and use of smart virtual building tools.
Passing the Torch
Since retiring in 2000, Boyd continues to consult and occasionally works on projects. He and his Purdue partner have initiated the “Webcor Founders Series,” a 15-session program through which they share their knowledge and experience, beginning with building foundations and moving on through all building design elements. “These classes allow our young engineers and project managers to understand the design process which created the plan that they are going to use to construct their project,” says Boyd. “We discuss everything from constructability to economics.”
The classes have become a favorite for Webcor employees. “They love to hear the horror stories,” Boyd says, laughing. “As an example, we tell true stories of what has happened when soil engineers or foundation contractors make mistakes in the field.”
Through his work in the Founders Series, Boyd continually encourages the next generation of engineers. His advice to new engineering graduates is: “Apply yourself and give your full measure. In business always fulfill your promises. It’s all about integrity.”
|2000–||Speaker, Webcor Founders Series|
|1998||Civil Engineering Alumni Achievement Award, Purdue|
|1971||Chairman and Co-Founder, Webcor Builders|
|1965||Project Manager, Charles Pankow Inc.|
|1964||Engineer, Charles Pankow Inc.|
|1960||Engineer, Peter Kiewit & Sons Construction|