Academy Approach Develops Construction Careers

Academy participants engage in hands-on learning activities.

This summer we’re excited to kick off our 18-month-long Project Manager and Project Superintendent Academy. As a concrete contractor with an eye toward the future, we realize training is critically important for individuals who want a construction career. And training is as important for unskilled workers entering the workforce for the first time as it is for employees seeking leadership roles. The Academy is a result of efforts to develop leaders from within our organization and advance our employees in their construction career.

Why an Academy?

We believe training at every level is one of the most important missions for a concrete construction firm today. (If you’d like to read more about our commitment to training at every level, read our previous blog on the topic here. To focus on developing our leadership workforce, our parent company Heico Construction Group developed the Project Manager and Project Superintendent Academy for Ceco and its sister companies. This intensive program accelerates the skills and abilities of those looking for key roles in the field such as Superintendent and Project Manager.

Now in its third year, the Academy provides more than 100 hours of course-specific training to develop our employees’ skills so they can meet our customers’ demands. And it puts these employees on the fast track to advance within our organization. In our first Academy season, 32 percent of the 71 participants were promoted immediately after graduation or during their training. It’s a model that’s working to meet the challenge of building leadership from within our ranks.

How It Works   

The Academy program is a component of our School of Professional Development, which besides the Academy, provides specific skill set training such as our Leadership Studio for Regional and our mid-level managers, individual skill training such as organic technology training, blue print reading, sales and estimating training, and more than 164 other training programs.

Employees desiring a leadership role who have been with the company for a year or more can apply for the Academy program, with the recommendation of their supervisor. At seven locations around the country, two full days of training are provided every 6 to 8 weeks. While participants typically pick a “home base” to receive most of their training, we encourage them to attend at least one training session in a region outside their local area to gain experience in various project environments and build their peer networks.

Once they begin training, employees are immersed in the soft skills and business-based skills they need to ensure continued success in a leadership role. The training style is multi-model combining classroom, hands-on, site visits and self-discovery in the form of homework.

The Academy’s four core units include:

  1. Communications and Professional Development — communicating more effectively both verbally and in writing; changing learned behaviors in communication that may not be effective with today’s workforce; public speaking and communication organization skills; managing conflict on the job; and anger management and stress reduction.
  2. Leadership and Employee Development — examining leadership principles, including building trust and relationships that inspire and motivating team members; and the Positive Management Leadership model. This module also covers basic employment law, Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors and goal setting for direct reports.
  3. Job Cost and Risk Management – providing an in-depth understanding of the construction business model, including estimating, job cost and coding, correct data on project reporting, billings, cash flow, change order management, and project risk management.
  4. LEAN Pull Scheduling – covering key topics such as planning, scheduling and organizing work; creating buy-in from customers, subcontractors and work crews; and pre-mobilization planning utilizing the LEAN system of construction management.

Academy participants also must take an additional 24 hours of skill-specific training and be STOP (DuPont’s Safety Training Observation Program) trained to complete the program.

The program concludes with a graduation celebration attended by senior leadership, the Academy participants and their significant family member of choice. It encompasses a two-day event celebrating the employee’s success, team-building time with company presidents and vice-presidents, and free time for the employee and their guest.


Over the past three years, we’ve received positive feedback from employees who’ve been through the Academy. They’re telling us how much of what they learn in the Academy affects everything they do on the job. Our employees are excited about the training they receive, and our clients are taking notice. The firms we partner with on projects are able to work with people who are more prepared to lead and participate in important project activities such as progress meetings and pull scheduling – something that sets us apart in the industry.

We look forward to a great year with our 70 participants in the 2017-18 season. If you’d like to learn more about our Project Manager and Project Superintendent Academy, contact me at