January 2022 Staff Spotlight: Philip Butkowski, Project Superintendent
Philip Butkowski’s construction journey began during his early days as a carpenter, acquiring hands-on skills that have helped him build an extensive career in construction. Three decades later, Philip brings a wealth of experience to Eastman Cooke. He has worked closely with clients representing a range of industries – from hospitality to healthcare – while demonstrating a deep knowledge of building techniques and historic New York architecture. As a Superintendent, Philip helps to oversee frequent meetings with subcontractors, while ensuring continuous communication with owners and architects. His meticulous coordination with engineers and building managers has been instrumental to successful infrastructure upgrades, and he continuously demonstrates outstanding problem-solving skills to keep projects running safely and seamlessly. Philip’s past estimating and project management experience, along with his sharp eye for detail, also help to keep ECA projects on track.
-What are the most important skills and traits to have as a construction superintendent, and the keys to running a safe jobsite?
Planning and communication are the most important factors when running and maintaining a safe and successful project. As a Superintendent, it’s also important to have a keen sense of awareness. Recognizing potential problems before they arise and making sure proper safeguards are in place at all times will keep your jobsites and your teams safe.
-One of the major factors that have contributed to Eastman Cooke’s success is the firm’s Work Smart System. Can you give an example of how this innovative system has helped you and your team to continuously maintain an effective workflow, and to keep projects running smoothly?
Work Smart helps our team plan a job thoroughly from the very beginning. With effective collaboration, we carry out specific, step-by-step protocols that generate increased efficiency and help us meet the needs of our clients. From a technology perspective, we make sure we’re equipped with the necessary tools to successfully perform every task. Work Smart also helps to eliminate any hiccups that are encountered along the way, particularly when it comes to long lead items.
-What Eastman Cooke projects are you most proud of and why?
I am proud to be a member of the ECA family, and therefore, I am proud of all of our projects. However, I am partial to the JLR Glen Cove project. These days, you’ll often find me at that jobsite, where we are building the first Jaguar Land Rover dealership on Long Island’s North Shore. Using state-of-the-art drone technology helps us to capture bird’s-eye views of the site, enabling us to monitor the job’s progress from an aerial perspective. The terrific teamwork that is exhibited each day fills me with pride.
-What significant factors do you rely on when it comes to successful collaboration and building strong relationships with your project teams, subcontractors, and clients?
Honesty, integrity, and humility are the ones that quickly come to mind. Without these simple things, you can’t have a relationship, and successful projects rely on relationships.
-How has your early career experience as a carpenter helped to enhance your work as a superintendent and contribute to the success of your projects?
My career as a carpenter and foreman has given me the ability to “see the future.” Being able to know what comes next to keep jobs moving in a single direction has been essential. I like to think of it as being on a conveyor belt – starting at one particular point and moving all trades in the same direction – from electricians to plumbers to mechanical contractors.
-How have advancements in technology helped to fuel productivity in construction?
We’ve come a long way from plumb bobs, thanks to innovative tools like laser levels that help us gain more precision and productivity on the job. When it comes to the paper management portion of a project, Procore has helped to reduce the need for paper since the software enables us to share information electronically with our teams, resulting in more efficiency and successful project outcomes.
-With 30 years of experience in construction, what advice would you give to someone starting out in the field?
My advice to anyone would be the advice I have given to my three sons: whatever it is you want to be in life, you must have a true passion for it and always do your best. Do what you love to do and you will be happy.