News & Press

Jerome Di Padova Takes Reins as AGC of California Turns 99

For as long as he can recall, AGC of California 2019 President Jerome Di Padova knew he wanted to pursue a career in construction. 

He grew up visiting jobsites throughout California with his dad, Tony, a heavy construction industry veteran who had a hand in building some of California’s major infrastructure projects while working for E. L. Yeager Construction Co., Kasler Corp. and Washington Group. His early introduction to such iconic projects as the Vandenberg Air Force Base space shuttle launch complex inspired Jerome to choose construction for his own career path. 

“There was a real feeling of pride growing up seeing some of the work my dad had been involved on, like the 101 freeway in Hollywood, or the space shuttle project at Vandenberg, which was an amazing project at the time,” he said. “I always knew this is what I wanted to do.”

Career Path in Heavy Civil Construction

A lifelong resident of Riverside, CA, Di Padova started out attending college at the University of California at Riverside following high school. When the school dissolved its pre-engineering program, he switched to Cal Poly Pomona, where he received his degree in construction management in 1995.

He worked for Kasler for a year between schools as well as in the summers, at the same time that his father worked there. After Washington Group bought out the company and, following an economic downturn, Tony Di Padova went to work for E. L. Yeager. Jerome followed in 1994. In 2002, Skanska bought out Yeager and officially established a west coast office for its Civil Construction division. 

Today Di Padova continues at Skanska USA Civil West as Senior Estimator in charge of estimating an array of projects throughout the Western United States, spanning a region from San Diego to Seattle and from Denver westward to the Pacific Ocean. The company is currently constructing a number of high-profile transportation projects, including a $1 billion subway project in downtown Los Angeles, the iconic 6th Street Bridge replacement project in downtown LA, and work at San Francisco International Airport, to name just a few.

Active Involvement in AGC

Di Padova first got involved in AGC of California around 2004, stepping up to serve as Skanska’s representative at AGC. He recalls walking into his first event (the Riverside/San Bernardino District holiday party) not knowing anyone – and quickly being greeted by Tom Brickley, Brickley Environmental, who introduced him around and made him feel welcome.  Di Padova soon became active at the District level, serving on the Riverside/San Bernardino board, the Union Contractors Council and in other capacities while also attending statewide functions. 

“Through AGC I’ve made incredible friends and business contacts and learned so much about many facets of the industry,” Di Padova said. “I’ve not only developed some great professional business relationships but made a lot of good friendships there as well.” 

In 2016 he accepted the invitation to start moving through the officers’ ranks, culminating in his role as President this year. It was not a decision he made lightly, Di Padova noted. 

“Because I’m not the CEO or owner of my company, I struggled initially with whether I was the right person for this job,” he said. “I see myself more as a kind of a “servant leader,” serving as a spokesperson for our entire membership. I do have a strong vision and a desire to see us succeed and be better than we are. And I will be second to no one in my passion and pride for this industry.”

Fostering A United Voice

Di Padova leads the association in a pivotal time, as AGC of California marks its 99th year and prepares for its Centennial celebration in 2020. The association continues to thrive under CEO Peter Tateishi, who took the reins in 2018, and has embraced a new strategic vision centered around three pillars of shaping policy, improving industry relationships and developing the future construction workforce. It is coming off a year of some big legislative “wins” for the construction industry as a whole – most notably the November 2018 defeat of Prop 6, which ensures a long-term funding stream for California’s current and future infrastructure needs.

Di Padova points to the Prop 6 win as a prime example of what can be accomplished when the industry works together to speak with one united, more powerful voice. Fostering such a cooperative approach is one of his key goals in the year ahead. AGC of California plans to join together with other organizations and industry groups to tackle big issues such as workforce development, water infrastructure issues in California, ongoing regulatory and legislative issues and myriad other common challenges. 

“Too many of the people who put obstacles in front of us from a regulatory and legislative standpoint are unified,” he said. “I think it is important that we as an industry start trying to do a better job of truly acting as one industry, one group with one focus. We need to be more consolidated, more intentional in our efforts to try to keep our industry alive and working and doing what we need to do.” 

Addressing the Workforce Challenge

Di Padova is also committed to keeping both the association and the industry indispensable for the next generation workforce. “Construction has kind of fallen out of favor with some of the younger generation, so I think it’s really important that we try to do something about that,” he commented.

To address the workforce challenge, AGC of California plans a major rollout this spring of a new workforce program dubbed “Build California.” 

“Keeping our association relevant to the next generation for the next 100 years is something I believe is extremely important,” Di Padova said. “Not only in California but every AGC chapter across the country is saying the same thing: there is not enough workforce to fill our current or future needs. This affects every part of what we do, from safety to project management to staffing projects. It is really important we try to do something about it, so I’m truly excited about our upcoming rollout.” 
 
(Stay tuned for much more on the rollout of Build California in the upcoming May/June issue of California Constructor.)

Celebrating 99 Years in 2019

Even as he gears up to help AGC of California embrace future challenges, Di Padova said he also looks forward to using the occasion of its 99th anniversary year in 2019 to “celebrate some of the monumental achievements we’ve had as an association and as an industry here in California. I hope that will help us show our industry in a positive light, and maybe some of our younger generation will take note of it.”

Moving into his role as 2019 President, Di Padova is supported by his three children – Antonina (Toni), 22, Nicholas, 21, and Michael (Mikey), 18, as well as parents, Tony and Angela. His family was well represented at the installation of Officers banquet held in Anaheim on January 25.

He enjoys strong support from Skanska as well. “They have been 100 percent supportive and really encouraged me to do this, which is a huge help,” he commented. 

On a final note, Di Padova said he hopes he will serve as an example that leadership is accessible and achievable for all levels of industry professionals who are willing to devote their energy and positive voices to help shape the future of the association and the industry.

“I don’t think I’m the youngest person to become president of AGC of California, but I’m probably on the younger side,” Di Padova added. “Hopefully it demonstrates to the younger people coming into our association, and to our mid-level management members, that (AGC’s top leadership) is not just an exclusive club that you can’t get into. It takes being devoted and active, and participating and working hard to make a difference. I truly look forward to the year ahead.”