Lewis “Lew” Ayers, is Vice President and Director of Operations at AFG and brings more than 40 years of extensive construction management experience. He has worked successfully on federal, laboratory, biomedical, and commercial projects while coordinating multiple projects simultaneously, meeting aggressive construction schedules, and running well-managed and safe construction sites. A retired Master Chief with the US Navy Seabees, Ken recently celebrated his 15th year of employment with AFG, so we thought we’d ask him a few questions about his experience in the AEC industry and at AFG.
Congratulations on 10 years with AFG! How did you come to work with us?
In 2009 my employer was a CM firm whose portfolio of projects was dwindling, and I saw my co-workers being asked to take a few days off per week without pay. Things were looking bleak after the mortgage collapse of ’08.
My good friend and co-worker at NYC Parks and NYC DDC, Louie Rueda, asked me if I was looking for a job and considering my current situation, I went on the interview at AFGs NYC office and soon after was hired.
How did you become interested in Construction Management?
After several years working on Wall Street and a year at the US Postal Service, I decided that I would go to college. Not sure of what I wanted to study, I remembered a drafting class I took in high school that I enjoyed and that started me on my road to an Architectural degree.
What has been your favorite project?
My favorite project would have to be the South Beach Houses roof and Masonry restoration. This seemingly simple project ended up tapping into all of my previous experience. Even though there were design documents, AFG had to re-evaluate all existing masonry facades and produce revised drawings for the contractor to use to execute the work.
Since the was a unit price contract, AFG was able to use funding for items that were not used and fund those items where the quantity exceeded the original estimate.
My favorite thing about working in AEC environment is the people that you meet and get to work with. That includes co-workers, owner representatives and contractors. When I look back on my 30 years in the industry, that is what comes to mind, those people working towards a common goal.
What has been the most challenging project that you successfully managed?
The most challenging project I worked on was the Super Storm Sandy Rapid Repair project. The challenging elements were the shear number of contractors and sites that were working simultaneously each day and due to the urgency inherent in the project, there was initially a lack of planning on the owners part as to the contractual elements to be used for performing the work and paying for it. After some adjustment, things came together, and we put a system in place of checks and balances so the contractors could be payed fairly and the owner could be sure the payments were accurate.
The real challenge here was seeing my hometown devastated by the flood. Neighbors and relatives that lost everything. Having to speak to them and console them in this difficult time and assure them that we would get them back into their homes as soon as possible.
Outside of your work, where can we find you?
I spent many years coaching my two sons at West Shore Little league. I plan on returning to coaching baseball when I retire. I enjoy tennis, racket ball and bowling. I tried playing golf but…well let’s say I could use some coaching myself on the links.
I enjoy playing guitar and love traveling and taking photos. (sounds like a dating site ad).
Do you have any advice for those just starting out in AEC?
My advice would be, like anything in life, give it your all. Don’t cheat yourself. Life has a funny way of switching the script on you. That drafting class in high school didn’t mean too much at the time, but it ended up being the catalyst for the rest of my career. Some things don’t seem important at the time but don’t disregard them. Try and treat them with the same intensity as seeming more important tasks.
My career path took me into the design side of AEC then into the construction side. Being exposed to design and construction gave me a well rounding knowledge on a project.
I got some good advice from the Director of Construction at NYC Parks who said, don’t be afraid to make a decision. Once you are given a responsibility on a project, don’t be afraid to ask question and to make decisions. This will help the project to move forward.
To learn about new career opportunities with AFG, visit our careers page