Building People, Not Buildings

Christian Burrup, a BYU student starting his own construction business, shares some wisdom he’s picked up along the way
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Christian Burrup is a Project Manager at Killowen Construction in Heber Valley, Utah. Burrup started his construction career in the Construction Management program at Brigham Young University and will receive his bachelors in April 2020. His very first job in construction, however, came in high school: his parents hired him to demo their home for a remodel. Though he originally planned to go to medical school, he caught the construction bug when a mentor taught him that construction was about building people, not buildings.

Burrup brings a great variety of skills to construction management. He’s fluent in Spanish, enjoys cracking jokes with subcontractors, and generally loves working with people. He coaches and plays lacrosse, enjoys basketball, hiking, and fishing, and spends weekends as an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician in Summit County, Utah. An all-around interesting and personable guy, Burrup spoke to the Bluebeam Blog about his experiences and thoughts for the future.

Built Blog: What got you interested in construction? Had you worked in the industry before you started at BYU?

I became interested in construction when my parents decided to remodel their home and I demoed almost 3,000 square feet. I started in the industry with an internship. I had never worked previously.

Built Blog: Construction executives frequently talk about a crisis in construction: there’s a shortage of young people who want to work in the industry. Do you believe this is the case? If so, what do you think are the reasons behind it?

I do, and it’s because the way my generation was taught growing up. All of my family decided to pursue higher education degrees and become lawyers, dentists, physical therapists or physicians. When I chose construction management as my career path, I received a lot of flak from family and friends. I remember several experiences where I felt bad or almost frowned upon for choosing construction management. I had some people tell me I was “wasting my potential.” That’s because when people think of construction they think of long, sweaty days with zero rewards. And while there are plenty of those days, the reward is tremendous.

I think another reason is the misconception that you can’t make “good money” in construction.

Built Blog: What’s your area of concentration? Why did you choose that area, and how you see yourself working in the field in this area in the future?

At BYU, there’s only construction management and facilities management. I chose the construction management route. Our program is awesome. We learn everything from finance and accounting to framing, market analysis, and construction law. It helps prepare us for business and have an understanding of almost everything from the management and business owner perspective. I love the program because it’s prepared me to be able to communicate with anyone in the construction process in an educated way.

My first three years I worked in tract homes, and the past year I’ve done custom. When I graduate, I hope to start my own company. I love small companies because of the excitement of every day. We get to wear almost every hat: framing, scheduling, estimating, building cabinets, entrepreneurial ideas, business growth. Every day we get to learn something new. I also love the relationships that can be created. A big reason why I chose construction is a phrase a mentor once told me: “Build people, then build buildings.”

Built Blog: How important is technology to your studies? And in your opinion, to the future of Architecture, Engineering, and Construction?

I think technology is huge for the construction industry. We see these older, experienced builders getting slowly pushed out of the market due to their stubbornness of not incorporating technology into their business. Success in the construction industry (residential, commercial, or industrial) will be largely dependent on usage of technology.
I think we’re going to see huge leaps and bounds in technology. First in the actually building process, and then as an integral part of marketing and advertising.

Built Blog: Have you used Bluebeam® Revu®? If so, how? What are the greatest benefits of using the software?

I use Bluebeam almost every day. For me, it’s very helpful with making edits on documents we need to change, i.e. submittals and selection sheets. I also use it for estimating purposes.

Built Blog: Do you think mastering tech will give you a leg up in the future?

Absolutely!

Built Blog: Can you tell me about one or two of your favorite projects you’ve done at BYU? That could be conferences, class projects, internships or externships.

My favorite project was a national competition team. It’s the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) competition, which is basically a real estate development competition. Each year they give us a new problem. Last year we had 152 acres in Oklahoma, and we had to develop the land for the best use and highest profit. We did everything from design, to estimation.

My second favorite project was my estimation course. We mastered Microsoft Excel and were able to estimate and take off every aspect of the building progress.

Built Blog: Finally, are you currently looking for a job? How can prospective employers contact you?

I’m currently in the process of starting my own business but am always looking for networking opportunities! They can use email or my LinkedIn.