2020 Hero: Bryce Raleigh, Dempsey Construction Principal and Vice President of Operations  

January 15, 2021 Alyssa Jaber

“Lift where we stand.”

Bryce Raleigh, a Principal at Dempsey Construction and Vice President of Operations, knows that so much more can be accomplished when it’s done together. If he’s learned anything throughout the past year, it’s that this is more true than ever before. It’s this team-first mantra and leadership with compassion and empathy that has helped land him on our 40 Under 40: Champions of Construction 2020 list. We’re proud to recognize Bryce as a “2020 Hero” – and not just for what he’s been able to do on the construction side of things, but for how his entire team at Dempsey rose up for their community.

For example, one of the first things Dempsey Construction did when the COVID-19 pandemic engulfed North America was to establish its own COVID Relief Fund to help any of its employees that had been significantly impacted as well as members of the community. This initiative came in the middle of also trying to find solutions to many of the challenges that its projects now faced amid pandemic fallout. Bryce and Dempsey were both able to rise above the challenges, facilitate positive results, and set the table for a promising future. 

We recently caught up with Bryce, a 15-year industry veteran, to chat about how Dempsey Construction has navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, how lessons learned during this time can benefit the company moving forward, the COVID-19 Relief Fund, and more. Here’s a look at what he had to say:

Can you describe what Dempsey Construction specializes in and talk about your role with the firm?

Dempsey Construction is headquartered in Carlsbad, California, and specializes in the design-build and design-assist delivery methods, particularly when it comes to ground-up and heavy renovation projects. The markets we work in include Office, Industrial, Automotive, Healthcare and Life Science, Retail, Education, Senior Living, and Hospitality. We like to say that we build differently, as we don’t just pride ourselves on being great builders, but on building with enthusiasm and loving what we do. 

My role as Principal and Vice President of Operations is wide-ranging in its duties and includes managing our Project Management team, implementing systems and processes, financial planning, strategizing and securing new work opportunities. 

Why do you believe you were nominated for the “40 Under 40: Construction Champion of 2020” list?

I believe I was nominated due to the continuous effort that my team and I put in to make Dempsey a better overall company. I consider my team extended family members, and I’d do anything to ensure their success. When you build such a strong relationship and do everything with integrity, good things are bound to happen on the business side of things. 

One of the first things that Dempsey Construction did when the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in America was to establish a Relief Fund for your employees. Can you discuss why this was important for the company?

It was really important to support our employees that needed it the most amid the challenges that we’ve all faced this past year. The COVID Relief Fund was actually the idea of our President, John Dempsey, as a means of making sure we were giving back to our team and our community. We didn’t just support our employees who needed help, we also shared gift cards and resources with community members who had been adversely impacted by the pandemic. The Fund provided each Dempsey Construction employee with resources to help others or their own households. Each employee received a letter stating the Relief Fund’s intention along with a check and gift cards totaling $1,400 per employee. Employees used the funds to “pay it forward” through random acts of kindness, helping to support small business owners, people struggling to make ends meet, and essential workers putting themselves at risk every day.

It was a special thing to do in a very challenging time for all of us, and a lot of really good things came from it.

The year 2020 has certainly been one with a lot of challenges. How have you and your team responded to them?

We know that we cannot shoulder the weight of the COVID challenges in our organization as individuals. As a result, it has truly taken our entire team to evenly carry the weight of these challenges and move forward. We’ve had to “lift where we stand.” Collectively, we dug in and organized to adjust as best as we could to the challenges, while still maintaining our efficiency and commitment to completing projects with our clients. Through concentrated efforts, we were able to minimize impact to jobs by creatively working with our design teams, clients, and partners to source alternate materials, maintain safe work environments, and ensure a job well done. 

How do you continue to stay creative, dedicated, and empathetic on the job?

It takes all of us – it takes a team. As individuals, we may be able to make some difference, but it’s so much more impactful and lasting if we do it together. While we may have different views, ideas, and solutions, working together is what makes us great.

At Dempsey, we’re comfortable working with each other, which allows for innovation and a high level of collaboration to take place.

Our team’s working relationship also carries over into how we work with our clients, design teams, and other partners. We’re all able to feed off of each other in a positive way to facilitate a truly creative environment where ideas can be shared and tested without any judgment. Compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude are what makes for a successful workplace.

Despite all the challenges that 2020 has brought, have there been any silver linings or key takeaways that will help you personally and Dempsey in the future?

I was always confident in our abilities as a team, but after 2020, I’m even more confident in them now. We’ve been battle-tested and we’ll continue to be tested, but so far the results have been good and we’re optimistic about what the future holds. This year has taught me that you can never do too much planning. Our President John Dempsey reminds us often that it’s just as important to plan in bad times as it is to plan in good times. I have seen the value of company process and procedure, the consistency and focus that comes from following a game plan and sticking to it. I have also learned that there are a lot of amazing people in our world and we have a lot to be grateful for. Life might not ever be perfect, but we can always be grateful for something. In turn, that positive focus will change our perspective and the way in which we engage with others.

Who have you admired this year?

I always admire my wife Tara, but she’s been my hero this year. She remains steadfast through all of these challenges, never complaining, just moving on and focusing on the positives. She has always been an inspiration to me, especially throughout COVID as she is working and homeschooling our three kids. She’s also been there to support me through this time, as I’ve been working a lot due to the circumstances.

Looking ahead to 2021, what needs to happen for construction professionals like yourself and construction firms to stay relevant and resilient?

We need to have a plan and stay focused on executing that plan. Every company is faced with different circumstances, but we need to follow that plan. We have to systemize the 80 percent of our business that is predictable and humanize the 20 percent or so that is exceptional. By systemizing the majority of our business, we have the capacity and opportunity to really set ourselves apart when focusing on the exceptional parts of our business.

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