Mark Schuster

Consultant

Started at Berg: 2018
mschuster@bergconst.com

Q: What do you do here at Berg Construction? What are your typical responsibilities?
A: I’ve been with Berg since October 2018, and I’m the division manager and project manager for the paving division. I estimate the work and plan the work. I get the guys going on each project and I make sure they follow through on the plan. I also keep in touch with the owners regarding billing and I file requests for materials. Basically, I’m the guy who makes sure everything gets done.

Q: What challenges do you encounter on a regular basis in your role?
A: The hardest part of my job is trying to get everyone on the same page. That includes the owners, our crews, materials suppliers — everybody. It requires a lot of coordination to make sure everyone knows what they need to be doing to make the project a success.

Q: What were you up to in your career before you joined Berg Construction?
A: I spent 19 years at another paving company. I worked as a supervisor in the field for 16 of those years, and then I worked as their general superintendent for another three years, running the whole company. I was also the general superintendent for a highway contractor. I hired everybody and fired everybody, I helped estimate, and I managed manpower, equipment, and materials.

Overall, I’ve been in this business ever since high school. I worked as a laborer, as an operator — I’ve done all those jobs that lead up to a supervisor position.

Q: What sets Berg apart from other companies you’ve worked for in the past? What makes them special?
A: For much of my career, I’ve basically been on call 24 hours a day. One thing I like about working here is that I work a more typical 40-45 hour workweek. I like having some time to myself, and not feeling like I need to be available all day every day. Don’t get me wrong though, I still work my ass off for 40 hours a week!

Q: What excites you about your job? What do you enjoy?
A: I just love construction. What excites me is the planning and organizing that goes into building a project. That’s why I’ve done this my whole life. Being the one who takes care of the organization for each job is enjoyable for me.

I also like working in paving because blacktop is the most expensive thing in construction these days. It’s a high-end service, and that puts a lot of pressure on the people doing the work, along with the guys setting up that work. Some people can’t handle that pressure, but I don’t mind it at all.

I’m currently training Shea Czekai, the guy who will eventually replace me when I retire in September 2020, and I’m also really enjoying that process.

Q: How long have you been training Shea for that transition?
A: I had known him for several years before I came to Berg, so we already had a good relationship. I started training him in March 2020, and he’s made great strides. Hopefully, I can teach him everything he needs to know and he can take my spot.

He’s a young man — he’s only 31, and I was 40 by the time I got my first superintendent job. These days, things move a little bit quicker than they did in the old days, but I really think he’s going to do a great job. He’ll be fine. He’s a hard worker, he’s a nice young man, and he has talent.

Q: How do you think the construction industry could do a better job of appealing to young people?
A: I think companies need to not be afraid of spending a little extra money to give young people a shot. Maybe you’ve got a five-man crew and you add him as an extra sixth guy. Of course, that costs an extra 20% to have that additional man on the crew, but it’s not like you can send him to college to learn how to shovel blacktop or pour concrete. The only way you learn that stuff is with experience, and you can’t get experience if no one gives you a shot.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: My wife and I got married in 1978, and we have three kids. Being with my family is the most important thing for me. Almost every Sunday, my wife and I have our kids, their significant others, and their kids over for dinner. Back when I was a kid, we used to go to our grandmother’s house for dinner. It’s important for me to share that tradition with my kids.

In my own time, I love sitting in the backyard by my swimming pool — to me, that’s therapy. I enjoy working around the house, and I’m a big sports fan. I also like to play golf as much as I can.