Mile High Q&A: Jaymes Kralicek, Project Executive, The Opus Group
Jaymes Kralicek, project executive with The Opus Group, oversees a portfolio that typically includes large and complex projects. His responsibilities include leading the sales and marketing, negotiations, design, and construction processes on projects. He also has primary accountability for communicating with external clients, partners and vendors.
Jaymes holds a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from the University of Nebraska. He is a member of the Associated General Contractors of Colorado and the U.S. Green Building Council.
What drove your interest in construction?
Like many who work in construction, childhood experiences and interests foreshadowed my eventual career choice. From an early age, I loved to draw, often designing and sketching my future dream home. I also loved to build, graduating from Lincoln Logs to erector sets, to model cars and trains. I always had a curiosity about how things worked, often taking household appliances apart to inspect the various parts and pieces. Luckily, I could usually put them back together in working order again! Like many who end up with a degree in construction management, I went off to college struggling to choose between architecture and engineering. In the process, I discovered construction management and quickly realized that it was exactly the career that I was looking for. I think my boss summed it up best by saying, “Some of us were just born project junkies.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
There are a lot, but I love that my job at The Opus Group varies every day – new projects, new challenges, new people. Being in construction also embraces my natural curiosity and knack for problem-solving. And last but not least, I love the teamwork element of my job. My last project was the culmination of more than 450,000 hours of effort just on the project site, not to mention the thousands of hours that went into the project development, design, planning, etc.
What are some of the projects you and The Opus team have completed in the Denver area in the past two years?
Projects we currently have underway include Sun Empire, a 3.9 million square feet master-planned industrial project in Aurora; Kalaco Apartments at the intersection of Colfax and Kalamath in the La Alma/Lincoln Park neighborhood; and Cadence Broomfield, a senior living community. Projects that were completed in the past two years include 19Nineteen at Mile High apartments near Empower Field; The Ridge at Dove Valley industrial in Englewood; and North Washington Commerce Center industrial in Thornton.
What are some of the most exciting or challenging projects in Colorado you have worked on recently?
The most challenging and exciting would definitely be 19Nineteen Mile High Apartments in the Jefferson Park neighborhood. We signed contracts and broke ground in March 2020, so from the very first day, we faced extraordinary challenges related to COVID-19. These included worker/employee health and safety, fostering a team environment while being remote, supply chain disruptions, labor shortages and increased costs. In addition, the location was extremely high profile, an incredibly tight site that shared property lines with the Denver Broncos. The end result was an incredible success, and at the heart of it was a great team.
Today, 19Nineteen is more than 80 percent leased. 19Nineteen was one of the first Class A multifamily projects near the stadium and since we’ve completed it, development has begun to the south towards the Sun Valley neighborhood. I am proud of the project because every time I see the finished building, I am reminded of the combined efforts by a tremendous team of individuals working together to get the job done and have fun along the way. And I am relieved that it is a project I can be proud of since I live in the neighborhood and can see it from my bedroom window!
What lessons were learned on this project and are you incorporating these into your business going forward?
I believe that one of the major keys to our recent project success has been our flexibility and resilience. As a multidisciplinary firm with in-house development, design and construction, Opus has always encouraged a culture of adaptability, but I don’t know that I ever truly appreciated its importance until our 19Nineteen Mile High Apartments project, which was launched in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and at a time of unprecedented industry disruption. While many others opted to hunker down, delaying, or abandoning projects altogether, our team never wavered. Instead, we tackled challenges head-on, evaluating, learning and adapting as necessary.
For example, one of the most popular 19Ninteen amenities, The Study, a luxurious co-working space for residents complete with individual private offices, was not originally part of the project programming or design. The vision for the project, and the construction drawings, were completed before the pandemic came along and upended our normal daily lives. But because of our fully integrated one-team approach, we were able to collaborate often and in real-time, sharing ideas about ways to adapt the project in response to the changing needs, desires and daily lives of future residents. And thanks to our design-build model, design and construction were able to work together to integrate changes while we were actively under construction, without creating delays or adverse impacts to the process. So, one of our major takeaways has been a revitalized emphasis on embracing adaptability into our projects and looking for opportunities to turn curveballs into home runs.
What is something people may not know about managing large, complex construction projects?
I feel like people often have this misconception that big and “hairy” construction projects require entirely different management strategies and methods to deliver them on time and on budget. The reality is that the road to success on large or small projects is paved with the same bricks. A project is a project. Regardless of scale and complexity, there exist some basic principles that drive success, such as having clearly defined shared goals, continuous planning, effective communication, attention to detail, adaptability, and excellent project design and execution.