A Day in the Life of a Superintendent

What does it take to be a Superintendent?

In the construction industry, it takes a capable team of project managers, pre-construction estimators, and on-site superintendents to successfully complete a project from conception to close-out.  Each project team member plays a vital role to keep a project moving forward.  Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a Superintendent?  Getting a glimpse into the life of a construction manager on the jobsite is the best way to understand what the job entails.

A Day in the Life at Pleasant Park

The sun is barely peeking over the North Carolina pines as a dark green JMT truck pulls alongside the main gate at Pleasant Park.  The birds are chirping and the slow rattle of cars on Pleasant Plains Road drowns them out for only a moment.  A man wearing dusty work boots from the day before, and a bright yellow vest makes his way to unlock the gate.  At seven in the morning, when the majority of people are enjoying their first cup of coffee, Cade Honeycutt, Assistant Superintendent at J.M. Thompson, is already starting his day on-site.

For the first task of the day, Cade hops in a John Deere Gator and zips around the jobsite, stopping periodically to inspect each section of work for quality workmanship and mentally planning out the day’s tasks.  Pleasant Park is a new 92-acre park for the Town of Apex which will include four tennis courts, six pickleball courts, two basketball courts, six artificial turf fields, and multiple playgrounds that will include a splash pad an inclusive play for children of all ages.  Cade carefully inspects each aspect of the park during his morning walk through.  “As I walk the jobsite in the morning, I’m planning out the day in my head.  There is a lot of coordination involved being a Superintendent.”

Once he returns to the jobsite trailer, Cade catches up on any late night emails and fills out the trailer whiteboard with the tasks of the day.  Some of these tasks come from his meticulous walk through of the jobsite, while others may be scheduled concrete pours, inspections, or new subcontractor arrivals.

The jobsite trailer at this project is perfectly situated to see the sloping park from its small hilltop perch, but it is also conveniently located by the main gate.  Cade can see each subcontractor coming through the main gate and is able to touch base with them about their section of the project before they proceed.  At this jobsite on an average day, Cade can have 25 to 30 subcontractors on-site.  For any new subcontractors who arrive on the project, Cade leads them through rigorous jobsite safety training to mitigate any injuries on-site.  “Knock on wood, I have never had an illness or injury on my watch during my time at JMT,” Cade said proudly.  He has an entire bookshelf full of binders that include OSHA laws, JMT’s safety manual, and signed forms by all the subcontractors stating that they understand and will adhere to the safety guidelines.

“I would say 70% of my job is out in the field while the other 30% is the paperwork side of things,” Cade surmised.  Part of the day will be spent poring over architectural drawings, the specifications, and other project documents, in order to utilize that knowledge out in the field.  The careful study of the project documents helps Cade assist subcontractors with multiple things including the lay out of their materials.  This could mean making elevations with lasers measurements, marking up areas to coordinate with drain lines, plumbing, or curb and gutter, or verifying that the subcontractors work will not conflict with another aspect of the plans.  “Whenever I’m out here, I’m planning ahead.  What are we doing next week that we need to prepare for now?  That’s always the question in my head.”

Working Closely with Subcontractors

On this particular day, Cade was preparing different sections of the jobsite for a massive concrete pour.  This past week, they were prepping the footings for the picnic and bathroom shelters throughout the park.  Cade checks in with the plumbing and mechanical subcontractors as they wrap up their underground pipes in and around the concrete footing holes and trenches.  Cade asks them for a status update, and jokes with the subcontractors, saying, “Smile,” as he snaps a picture for his Daily Log.

Afterwards, he saunters over to the playground to check on the footings for an impressive rope climbing piece.  The subcontractors walk Cade through their process and asked some clarifying questions.  Cade, cool and calm, listens to their concerns and addresses them based on the drawings and offers his assistance where needed.  Cade’s easy-going interactions with the subcontractors makes him approachable with those he works with.  By the end of the conversation, everyone was laughing about the work ahead which was a complete shift in attitude than before Cade stepped in.  “The best part of being a Construction Manager and Superintendent is being able to work closely with many different types of subcontractors.  It provides diversity in my work which makes it enjoyable.”

Finally, Cade inspects the footings for a large park shelter that will go near a pedestrian bridge that connects the sports courts to the children’s playground.  A geotechnical inspector was DCP testing the compaction and bearing pressure of the soils for the column footings.  Cade documents the work with a few more pictures for his Daily Log to not only track the progress, but to also show the inspection was underway.

The day is not finished until Cade fills out his Daily Log on JMT’s construction project management software Procore.  In the log, he details the activities for the day including which subcontractors were on-site and what they were working on, project progress pictures from the day, and detailing any inspections that occurred.  Finally, the day ends with locking up the gate to await another day of construction.

About J.M. Thompson

A family-owned and operated company, J.M. Thompson brings together vast construction knowledge to each project they take on. The team is comprised of experienced professionals in the industry, as the company is only as good as its employees. The staff assumes full responsibility for the successful projects found in the company portfolio.

If the life of a Superintendent piqued your interest, we have an open position for you!  J.M. Thompson is seeking qualified, experienced, and eager Superintendents to lead projects throughout the Triangle.  For more information and to fill out the job application, please visit our Career Opportunities page.