To say that Ray Schieferecke hit the ground running when he started working at Burns & McDonnell would be an understatement. Schieferecke, who joined the firm in 2002 as a project manager in the Construction Group, had not even finished orientation on his first day before he hopped on a flight to Plano, Texas, to meet his first client.
Now manager of construction operations and director of food and consumer products construction for the Burns & McDonnell Denver office, Schieferecke hasn't stopped running since.
That first trip grew into an extended field assignment in Frankfort, Ind. Schieferecke planned to be on the job site six weeks. He was there six months. Once he returned to the Kansas City headquarters office, Schieferecke spent much of the next six years traveling to project locations. For Schieferecke, going to the work is just a part of the job.
"Very seldom are we doing local construction projects. We've worked from Canada to Mexico and from New York to California. Travel is a part of the deal," he says. "But the nights away from home can be tough. Luckily, I have a fantastic and understanding wife who keeps things under control at home."
While moving around the continent, Schieferecke built an impressive résumé managing construction projects primarily in the food industry. His dedication to his work was not unnoticed.
Don Greenwood, Burns & McDonnell president and general manager of construction, says Schieferecke is a natural born leader with a desire to be successful.
"He will do whatever it takes to make the project and the client successful. He's very good at listening and understanding the client — and delivering what he says he will deliver."
Built to Last
Schieferecke earned a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from Kansas State University in 1997. He started his career in Wichita as a project engineer for Koch Industries, where he helped build a flour mill and bakery. Seeing the facility developed from the ground up led to his interest in construction.
"I realized the satisfaction you get from actually seeing things built, as opposed to designing them on a piece of paper or a computer screen," Schieferecke says. "It makes all that time spent working in a steamy plant worth it to see the final project built."
When he joined Burns & McDonnell, Schieferecke began working on projects in the food industry. There was chemistry immediately with his project team.
"The foods industry can be very difficult — rigorous schedules, high stress and long hours. You have to have a team of people you can rely on," Schieferecke says. "In the foods group, we developed good friendships, got to know each other's work styles and understood the work. I'm most proud of how we built a bona fide group that is now known in the industry for our work."
One of Schieferecke's most notable projects involved installation of new equipment on 12 production lines for Frito-Lay's potato chip brand, Lay's. Ray Riley, Frito-Lay's principal engineer who managed the project, says Schieferecke's leadership and familiarity with the job sites enabled him to work through some difficult scheduling issues.
"Ray (Schieferecke) worked with our staff and the subcontractors with integrity while keeping an eye on the bottom line," Riley says. "When Ray is on site, he gives immediate direction and issues are immediately resolved. He brings a level of responsiveness that raises confidence. He is a great leader and has the technical knowledge to lead the team."
Schieferecke attributes his success to the values he gained working on his family's farm in Studley, Kan. The small community in the northwest area of the state has a population of just 33 and shares a ZIP code with a neighboring town.
"It's a grain elevator and a few houses," Schieferecke says.
Schieferecke spent most of his youth working alongside his seven siblings, raising wheat, milo, cattle, pigs and chickens.
"I pretty much grew up farming," he says. "I started driving a pickup when I was 4. When I got older I'd come home from school, change clothes and go straight to work. I developed a strong work ethic that helped me become who I am today."
Mark Lichtwardt, vice president and general manager of Burns & McDonnell's Denver office, says Schieferecke is dedicated to coming through for his clients, developing his staff, and now growing the construction group within the Denver office and across the company.
"Ray is extremely knowledgeable in all aspects of construction and management of projects, and provides excellent value to our clients," Lichtwardt says. "He's built a great team of people, helped expand our capabilities and opened up a lot of opportunities for construction in all of our global practices."
Schieferecke's passion for construction has extended into his home life. He has designed and is building a pirate-themed playhouse for his three daughters and says his 6-year-old may be his most demanding client.
"There's been a tremendous amount of scope creep on this project," he says. The project includes an 80-square-foot deck, a swing set and a loft. But in between project visits around the country, Schieferecke is able to keep on schedule with what may be his most rewarding project yet.
Contact Ray at 303-474-2246.