10 Questions with Devin Koopman

06/11/2024

At Perlo, our people are the secret to our success. Whether at a jobsite or in our office, we have a culture that encourages open dialogue and collaboration. This dedication to the spirit of partnership is reflected throughout our company and is a major reason Perlo is consistently recognized as a top place to work in Oregon.

Today, we sit down with the incredibly driven and passionate Devin Koopman, Senior Vice President and Partner at Perlo. Devin has been with Perlo for nearly 30 years, starting fresh out of college as one of our Project Engineers and moving his way up to Senior VP through hard work and a belief that good things will happen. Join us as we talk more with Devin about his time in the construction industry!


What is your role at Perlo?

I’m the Senior Vice President & Partner, which means I handle everything from operations to staffing to just about anything under the sun. Whether it’s answering a question, hand-delivering a check, helping with a bid, projecting future growth, or working through an issue on a jobsite, I’ll be there.

How did you get started in construction?

My father was in construction, and as a kid, I would meet him in the driveway after work and bring his briefcase into the house. I remember the smell of the old-school blueprints and his leather pouch of pens and mechanical pencils. It left an impression on me. Construction has always been my path. I studied Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado-Boulder, interned at McCormack Pacific (now Perlo) the summer before graduating, and was offered a job before graduation. My first project was being on site at the Alderwood Corporate Center out by the airport. Chris McLaughlin was the Project Manager, Tim Kofstad was the Superintendent, Fred Lutz was the Foreman, and George Trice and Mark Helling were carpenters. All of them are still with Perlo today. As the years have passed, I’ve learned they were all messing with the “Rookie” during that first project. The right of passage I guess

What do you consider to be our most important “Perlo Practice” and why?

I have always believed in #4: To be heard, you have to say something. It’s a great reminder personally, but also for anyone at any job. One of the really amazing things about Perlo is that our leadership truly believes everyone has the opportunity to change the course of our company. Good ideas aren’t restricted to any level or department, and we’re not good mind-readers. If you have a way to improve a process, the company, or a project, speak up. We will always listen.  

How do you see the industry evolving in the near future and what can Perlo do to adapt to these changes?

The trending term is “aging workforce,” and you’ll hear it over and over again because it’s vitally important to the future of our industry. We need young people to get involved, and that means we, as an industry, need to foster the next wave of workers and leaders. For us, this requires getting out there, talking to students, and changing the dialogue around skilled-trades and construction in general. I love the saying, “Train someone to be better than yourself.” You must be comfortable and confident to not be threatened by this. Technology is also changing at a rapid pace. How we build will change, and we have to trust the next generation to learn these skills and carry the torch. I think it’s important to take pride in not just training a peer, but, hopefully, your successor.

What is your pet peeve?

Lack of belts. Why would you ever not wear one? I’ve been “educated” by a former logger that the only acceptable exception to this rule is suspenders. More seriously, a lack of sense of urgency. This is a very rewarding job, but it’s also a very difficult one. Moving with speed and purpose shows you care. We’re all working towards the same end goal on a project, and when you show that drive to push, your team feels supported. I don’t need to see it all the time, but enough to know you care and that we’re all rowing in the same direction. We all have the ability to affect the team and the outcome.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love being active and playing sports. Basketball, golf, and softball are some of my favorites to play. My kids are getting older, but when they were younger, I enjoyed coaching them in baseball and basketball. Now it’s fun watching them play and grow up. I also enjoy just getting outside and doing yard work or anything involving food with my family – a winning combo.

What or who inspires you?

I’m inspired by people who are able to “overcome,” or who have to earn success without a free handout. I think a lot about a buddy of mine from college who lost both his parents at a young age. He graduated with me in Engineering, realized he had a high calling for medicine and helping others, and went back for med school. He followed his passion, didn’t give up, and is now a successful orthopedic doctor. It’s easy to get high-centered when the going gets tough. You have to dig deep through grit and determination to persevere. We like to make references to the movie “Rudy” from time to time, because it embodies this idea so well. It pulls at my heart strings every time.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the construction industry?

As I mentioned before, this line of work can be very rewarding, but enter with eyes wide open: It’s not an easy path, and there will be long nights and early mornings along the way. Passion plays a big role to being successful. The people here care a great deal about what they do. You have to see this as more than just a job. You spend a lot of time with your “work family,” so you better enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with to make it all worthwhile. If you stick with it, you get to see the physical fruits of your labor. You’re making something that will stand for years; that you can point to and say, “I helped build that.”

How do you handle high-pressure situations or heavy workloads?

I’ll admit, it’s not where I thrive. The way I’m wired, I need to call a time-out, map out my thoughts, get everything out of my head onto paper, and talk it out with a co-worker. I get teased for always having a legal pad with me. Don’t be a hater. Writing it out lets me see the bigger picture. Then it becomes easier to cut out the noise, examine the options, and make a decision with confidence.

Why Perlo? What makes us unique?

You could say I’ve only known Perlo, but I’ve been in this industry long enough to see how other companies do things, and Perlo is just so much more than a job. The saying goes, you see your work family more than your real family, and I think that’s a big reason we push so hard to keep the family feel around here. Working here is interactive and collaborative. It’s one of the reasons I love Perlo Practice #4 so much, because it doesn’t matter where you are on the company ladder, you have a chance to influence the outcome. As we’ve gotten bigger, we’ve strived to keep in touch with every aspect of the business and all employees. We won’t concede on the family feel – it’s just a bigger family now.

Final Thoughts

Thank you, Devin, for taking the time to share more about your career and path to Perlo.

If you’re interested in opportunities to work with Perlo, check out our Careers page today.