Eric Wittmann joined Haskell as a temporary employee on a project in his native Chicago in 2013. That employment arrangement was definitely temporary.
Lauren Iglio was an Assistant Project Manager on the job and recalls that she and her team were so impressed by Wittmann that they strongly advocated his joining Haskell as a full-time team member.
“He was such an asset to that project that we all knew he would be a great addition to the Haskell team as a whole,” said Iglio, now a Project Manager II. “He is a team player, a problem solver, a creative thinker and a self-motivated individual who works to make any project a success no matter his role.”
On their recommendation, Wittmann was hired permanently as an Assistant Project Manager. While he enjoyed learning the project management side of the business, he quickly realized his passion was in the field and shifted his sights to becoming a superintendent.
Upon his return to the field, Wittmann continued to impress project teams as an assistant superintendent on some of Haskell's largest and most complex projects. Following the successful completion of the Big Lots Distribution Center project in California, he was promoted to Project Superintendent. He is currently one of several superintendents on one of the company’s largest projects to date, for a confidential Consumer Packaged Goods client.
Travis Taylor, a CPG Director of Construction, first worked with Wittmann several years ago at the Torani Interior Fit Out. While the project posed challenges, Taylor praised Wittmann’s attitude as he worked within contract restraints to get the job done.
“Eric is a team player and did a good job,” Taylor said. “He stepped up and did his part regardless the hour or if the job was difficult or easy. He’s always on the site owning his part of the job.”
Wittmann made a significant contribution just days after arriving on the site. The customer had purchased storage tanks to be installed. Just prior to pouring the tank foundation, Wittmann looked over the plans one last time and compared them to the tanks, which were already onsite. He discovered that that the tanks were too large to fit on the proposed slab. He immediately contacted the engineers, design manager, and subcontractors to work out a fix, then rescheduled the inspection so the pour could proceed.
“His catch allowed the team to stay on schedule and avoid added rework costs,” Iglio said.
“He was a saving grace having caught that before we poured the concrete.”
Wittmann downplays the incident when asked about it.
“There was just a lack of communication to the design team letting them know what was purchased,” he said. “I got a couple attaboys for the catch, but the important thing was to quickly get a design and put it in place.”
Wittmann was in his mid-30s when he went to work on the Chicago job, recalling that it was winter and job opportunities for carpenters were scarce. The decision to join Haskell full-time was an easy one.
He calls himself a problem-solver and says that not only does he enjoy a challenge, he sometimes performs his best when the pressure is on.
“He is relentlessly committed to the team no matter what is going on. You never have to worry about Eric getting too upset or taking anything personally,” Taylor said. “Things can be crazy, and he keeps on going. What is that Mike Tyson quote? ‘Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth?’ Some take a while to recover, but Eric is not built that way.”
On the job site, Wittmann makes it a point to talk with all the team members, from superintendents to laborers. He’s not there to tell them how to do their job but rather seeking their input on how best to plan and execute the work. He said laborers are sometimes the quickest source of information if a challenge is developing.
“Maybe it’s my personality, but I like to get the feel of everybody on the site,” he said. “I ask them if they like coming to work. Is everything OK with them?”
Unlike many project superintendents, Wittmann travels with his family. His wife, Laura and, their three children, ages 17, 16 and 8, moved with him to Apple Valley, California, during a previous project, and they all remained rooted when he took on his present assignment.
“They like the Southern California lifestyle,” he said. “In April, you can go snow skiing on Saturday and go to the beach on Sunday.”
Haskell delivers more than $1 billion annually in Architecture, Engineering, Construction (AEC) and Consulting solutions to assure certainty of outcome for complex capital projects worldwide. Haskell is a global, fully integrated, single-source design-build and EPC firm with over 1,800 highly specialized, in-house design, construction and administrative professionals across industrial and commercial markets. With 20+ office locations around the globe, Haskell is a trusted partner for global and emerging clients.
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