I am willing to bet you have been in the position where I find myself this month – running out of room to work despite wanting to go bigger.

That is what happened with our cover feature on Ross & Baruzzini’s Jim Rodgers, pme’s 2015 Plumbing Engineer of the Year. I picked up so much great information during my lengthy visit with Rodgers, Andre Maue, the director of MEP operations for the Indianapolis office, and Plumbing Designer David Lindley that I could not fit it all in the main feature.

So, with that, I am going to squeeze in a few more interesting nuggets in this space. Here we go:

  • One of the Rodgers’ attributes Maue appreciates is his desire to be a team leader on a project that involves many moving parts.

“He is willing and able to go beyond what our scope is,” Maue says. “He and I share that vision.”

  • Rodgers says the connection between an engineer and a manufacturers rep is invaluable. He stresses young engineers must make those connections early.

“As a young guy you don’t realize how valuable they really are,” he says. “If there is a problem with their product on a project you have to be able to call them and explain what the situation is. A lot of times it’s not even a problem with their product — it may be an installation error. The relationship is very special and very important.”

  • Rodgers enjoys and learns much from the peer review process that takes place at Ross & Baruzzini. Once a month, sometimes more if needed, Rodgers will connect via a Web-conferencing program with the company’s St. Louis headquarters. He will present his near-completed designs or look over other Ross & Baruzzini engineers’ layouts to discuss where things could be enhanced, tweaked or changed.

“It’s always nice to have an outsider’s view,” he says. “When you work on a project for six months, you know what’s in your mind and what you are trying to achieve on these drawings. But when a contractor opens them up for the first time they might say, ‘What are you trying to accomplish here?’

“It always is nice to have a set of eyes, someone who knows nothing about the project, look it over. They are like the contractor. They are trying to figure out what we are trying to achieve and what we are trying to build. That’s good peer review.”

  • Rodgers has been in the industry since before email was readily available and just as office fax machines were coming into vogue. Now, his smartphone quietly chirps when a message is received. Is it easy to unplug?

“I’ll set up a message on my email saying ‘won’t have access to email,’” he explains. “When I am on vacation, I’ll try and not look at it until the last day, just so you know what you’re walking into the next day.”

That’s just a taste of what hit the cutting room floor. My time with Rodgers and Ross & Baruzzini was a great learning experience to see the importance of leadership and teamwork.


 This article was originally titled “All that is fit to print” in the September 2015 print edition of PM Engineer.