Meet Our New Program Director, Daniel Rodriguez for Southern California Inland Empire at Kitchell!

Throughout his career, Daniel has honed his skills in program leadership, learning and growing through various roles. These include his beginnings as an Assistant Project Manager, followed by his tenure as the Assistant Director of Facilities for the Riverside Unified School District, and his recent role as the Director of Construction for a General Contractor.

To gain deeper insights into our newest Program Director for Southern California Inland Empire, check out his interview with Marketing Executive and Communication Director Veronica Delgado.

Veronica: Thank you for joining us today, Daniel. Let’s start by discussing your role at Kitchell. Can you tell us more about your position and what you’re most excited about in this role?

Daniel Rodriguez: Of course, I’m the new Program Director for SoCal, Inland Empire. I’m excited to work alongside the teams and see what we can accomplish together. I’m particularly looking forward to the business development aspect of the role and expanding our Inland Empire portfolio.

Veronica: That sounds like a great opportunity. Now, what initially inspired you to work in the construction industry, and what do you love most about it?

Daniel Rodriguez: My journey into construction was quite accidental. I originally went to school to become an architect, but I decided to get a job in construction, thinking it would make me a better architect. However, after just one year in the construction field, I was hooked. I realized that construction offered something new and exciting every day, with fresh challenges and opportunities for success.

Veronica: It’s fascinating how your career path evolved. As a Program Director, what do you view as the strongest asset you bring to a project team?

Daniel Rodriguez: I strive to provide engagement and guidance as a team lead. Building strong relationships with the team, both professionally and personally, is crucial to me. I also aim to offer mentorship wherever possible, fostering growth and collaboration.

Veronica: What is your favorite type of project to work on, and why?

Daniel Rodriguez: My favorite type of project is when we are both the Program Manager and the Construction Manager. Being involved in the design kick-off and seeing it through to the Dedication Ceremony is incredibly rewarding.

Veronica: Can you share an example of a significant challenge you faced on a job and how you handled it?

Daniel Rodriguez: One of my biggest challenges was being the CM on three new ground-up elementary schools during the 100-year storm in 2005. We lost three months due to the rain, and it was a tight construction schedule. It came down to managing the expectations of the District and site Administration. It was a tough conversation to let them know they couldn’t get what they wanted due to the weather. We had to make creative decisions, like using CAB instead of concrete walks, which we had to replace repeatedly. Despite the challenges, all three schools opened on the first day of school, which was a big relief.

Veronica: Those sound like memorable experiences. What do you believe are the characteristics of a team member that contribute to the greatest level of project success?

Daniel Rodriguez: Passion is the main characteristic I look for. Regardless of experience, if someone has passion and truly cares about what they do, the experience will follow. It’s hard to teach someone who doesn’t care, and you can’t teach someone to care.

Veronica: That’s a great insight into team dynamics. In your opinion, what are five key factors that make a project successful?

Daniel Rodriguez: The five key factors that make a project successful in my view are: 1. Client satisfaction, 2. Staying on budget, 3. Staying on schedule, 4. Achieving profitability, and 5. Fostering community pride.


Chris Kirch named President of Kitchell Contractors

Chris Kirch was recently named President of Kitchell Contractors Inc., taking the reins of one of the oldest commercial building contractors in the Southwest as it moves into a new era of leadership.

“We are experiencing unprecedented innovation and growth as it relates to how and what we build,” said Kitchell President & CEO Wendy Cohen. “As someone who has lived this industry since he started as a laborer on one of our hospital projects, Chris understands firsthand how to meet the challenges of increasingly complex projects while mobilizing teams to perform at the highest levels. I look forward to working alongside him as we chart a future that builds on our long legacy and uses innovation to bring our clients’ visions to life.”

Kirch has been with Kitchell since 2003 and since 2010 has been with the company’s Texas region, helping to grow the company’s footprint in the Austin and Houston markets. He began his journey with Kitchell as an intern while working toward his Construction Management degree from Northern Arizona University, moving through an entry-level Project Engineer position in Las Vegas to Operations Manager in Texas, where he most recently served as Texas Market Sector Executive. He is known as an accessible, supportive leader who is unwavering in his dedication to Kitchell’s projects, clients and employees. Chris is a founding board member of the Lean Institute of Houston and Vice President of Cyclist for a Cause, benefiting MS research.

Kirch is the second leadership appointment at Kitchell in recent weeks, following the appointment of Don Haase as the new President of Sacramento-based Kitchell CEM. The leadership changes are part of a strategic succession effort at the diverse company, which consists of four distinct operating companies: Kitchell Contractors Inc., Kitchell Capital Expenditure Managers (CEM), Kitchell Development Company and American Refrigeration Supplies. Through these companies, Kitchell provides a wide array of building services ranging from real estate development and program management and construction management to general contracting and facility management, as well as wholesale refrigeration and HVAC supplies.