Q&A with JHL’s James Torres

JHL Constructors along with Cherry Creek School District and DLR Group, recently celebrated the official groundbreaking of the new 117,000-square-foot Innovation Campus.

By Liz Gibbons

JHL Project Manager James Torres

In May, JHL Constructor’s James Torres was awarded Project Manager of the Year by the American Subcontractors Association (ASA) Colorado at their 33rd Annual Construction Industry and Excellence in Safety Awards.

Facts about James:

  • James grew up with his grandfather, father and uncle all working in the construction industry.
  • James earned a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from Colorado State University.
  • James was a general superintendent at Kiewit Building Group in Denver from 2006 to 2014. There he had exposure to a variety of projects, including parking garages, the Denver Zoo, multifamily and Union Station.
  • James became a superintendent at JHL in 2014 and a project manager in 2017.
  • James and his wife have two boys, who they take swimming and camping.
  • James is a Denver Broncos fan.

What drew you to JHL?

When I met with Ben and Brad I was surprised with the youth of the company. They explained the hand-over to new leadership, the direction JHL is headed and the type of people they were looking to add to the team. I could tell that I would be involved in the company’s success and would not just be a number or body. I knew this was a unique opportunity where I could be a part of a company that was striving to move to the next level, and I would be surrounded by high performing individuals.

How would you describe your leadership style?

I always bring the team sports philosophy to my project teams. We find success by focusing on one common goal then ensure that whoever is responsible for contributing toward the goal has
the tools and information they need to succeed. Additionally, I strive to make my team feel empowered to complete the job – I think this contributes to a positive atmosphere on and off
the job site.

Who has been a mentor?

Senior Project Manager Mario Cappella has been helpful as I transitioned from superintendent to the project manager role. I know I can depend on him as he has made himself available to
answer questions I have and provide guidance. Our President and CEO Ben Stellor has also been influential. Not only is he knowledgeable, but his open-door policy makes JHL more collaborative.

What have learned in your career thus far that has stuck with you?

We are only good as the people who surround us. At JHL we have a great team internally and we have incredibly strong relationships with our subcontractors; treating them fairly, as
partners, is ultimately what allows us to exceed our customer’s expectations. Related to that, the industry may seem large, but is it actually pretty small. There is a lot of cross over so you will work with others again so do not step on people’s toes. This is why integrity – always doing the right thing no matter who’s looking – is such a huge value of ours.

What support has JHL provided for you to be successful?

JHL takes a flexible approach to making our employees successful. We are a family so we have our employees’ best interests at heart. To move up within the company there is not a rigid structure; you do not have to stay in one position for X amount of years to move into another position. Our leadership team not only ensures that the right people are in the right positions,
but also ensures that they are flexible to individual accommodations.

What would you consider the most rewarding moment working at JHL?

I think there are two different things that contribute to a successful project and leave me feeling rewarded. The first is being a good team mate and giving my team the resources to win.
The second is the satisfaction of knowing and seeing that the end-user is going to take pleasure in a unique project. I can actually see my team’s accomplishments, and we appreciate that
someone is going to use the end result of our hard work.

What advice do you have for prospective JHL candidates?

First, it’s not a race to the top. Be open-minded, not set on one aspect of a position. Instead be flexible and willing to do what is in the best interest of the company and the team.
Second, take advantage of learning and understanding what goes on out in the field, including coordination and scheduling – that will make you more successful in the office when you are
managing the work globally. Third, ask a lot of questions and push yourself out of your comfort zone – if you are comfortable you are probably not doing enough.

Which projects standout to you that you have completed with JHL or that you are currently working on?

Mosely P8 in Aurora
Mrachek Middle School
Red Rocks Community College
Arapahoe Community College Castle Rock Collaboration Campus

Photos courtesy of JHL 

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