One of the greatest values we bring to clients is our multidisciplinary one-team approach. With a full staff of development, architecture and construction experts under one roof,
our integrated design-build model increases speed and reduces costs without compromising quality. We simplify the process for clients by providing one point person who manages the entire project – from initial design, throughout construction and all the way through to completion. With 23 years of experience at Opus, delivering more than $300 million in projects totaling over three million square feet, Jeff Smith has experienced many times how well our model works.
“Opus is unique within the industry because our project managers are experts in managing every phase of the project, including design," said Jeff, vice president of Opus Design Build, L.L.C. “It's a benefit to clients because they have one main contact – there are no hand-offs from one department or individual to another. And our project managers are experts in design and construction, which is something very few design-build firms can offer."
Finding His Calling
Jeff started at Opus in 1995 as an associate project manager. It was his first job after graduating with distinction from Iowa State University with a Bachelor of Science in construction engineering.
“While I was growing up in Northeast Iowa, family friends owned a highway construction company," Jeff said. “During high school, I worked for them on heavy civil projects and caught the construction bug. I attended Iowa State University and the Construction Engineering program felt right. That led me to Opus."
Jeff's career progressed at Opus from associate project manager to senior project manager—learning to take on larger and more complicated projects along the way. His spectrum of experience continued to widen, leading him to a director role, and then to his current role as vice president, responsible for construction in Iowa and Nebraska.
Pre-Construction through Hands-On Delivery
Jeff spends a lot of time on the pre-construction side, working on business development and pursuing projects. Once awarded work, he leads a team of project managers. He stays involved, supporting projects as they move from concept to getting started in the field, managing budgets, schedules and strategies for putting it all together. All the while, providing guidance, support and hands-on learning for his team.
“Every once in a while, I get to put my project manager hat back on and manage projects beyond pursuit, through design, construction and activation. I enjoy solving problems on a project and seeing our projects come to life in the field," Jeff said.
Optimizing Design, Bringing Value
Jeff brings value to clients by optimizing designs and helping them make informed decisions. “I want clients to get the most bang for their buck," he said. “I think about it this way: if it was my money, where would I want to spend it and what would I focus on? We help clients be intentional about how they spend their budgets to get the most value."
He says a good example is the structural steel required for building support. Overdesigning the steel does not add value to a customer. It's expensive and uses precious dollars and resources that could be used somewhere else in the project.
“When a client expresses appreciation, you know you've hit the mark," says Jeff. “It's the most reliable evidence that your guidance and hard work paid off."
“Time and again, I've observed how Jeff looks out for clients and establishes great relationships with them," said Jeff's manager Craig Larson, regional vice president for Opus Design Build, L.L.C. “He treats people with respect and his open and honest style creates trusting partnerships."
Jeff is still active in Iowa State's program, where he presents at events, provides Opus jobsite tours and is a guest lecturer for the Construction Engineering capstone class. He is an active member of Design Build Institute of America, Iowa Commercial Real Estate Association and U.S. Green Building Council.
Pictured: Jeff Smith (on the left in all of the photos) participating in past Founder's Day events