Co-owner, On Point Construction Services, LLC; Age 36
Most people plan a day or a week ahead. Imagine planning a detailed, multi-year, multi-million-dollar, heavy civil construction schedule from start to finish. Then consider the road rage at stake if the plan goes awry.
Well, Keith Locke and his partner are the driving forces behind a company that’s in many ways like aspirin for the headaches everyone has experienced with road, building, and bridge construction.
They started their business to streamline project scheduling and improve elements critical to the success of construction contracts. They met working on the replacement of Northampton’s Calvin Coolidge Bridge in 2001. Locke was an intern, studying civil engineering at UMass Amherst.
“The project’s scope and overall value more than doubled from the original bid throughout the course of construction,” said Locke. “I learned first-hand about the importance of accurate project planning.”
After he graduated, he went to work for the contractor that replaced the bridge, Cianbro Corp., and, while with the firm, worked on many large, multi-year projects in the area, including the fish lift over the Holyoke Dam, as well as the Mt. Tom Power Plant. He gained experience juggling multiple projects simultaneously on his next job, at Baltazar Contractors of Ludlow. “This really honed my time-management skills and introduced me to a lot more industry contacts,” he said.
By 2010, Locke said, there was a noticeable shift in the culture of construction planning. “Project demands were increasing, and resources were decreasing. State agencies wanted projects completed faster and cheaper, but there were fewer available people and resources to plan and execute the work.”
Thus, On Point was launched to improve project controls. “My partner and I saw a need in the industry to provide more efficient solutions, from constructability reviews and contract-time determinations, to schedule compliance, claims preparation, and general project management,” he explained.
Locke also lends his planning expertise to his community, serving on the Southampton Planning Board and volunteering with the PTO at his children’s elementary school — he and his wife, Juliet, have three children, Livia, Kameron, and Jesse — where he’s currently leading a drive to build a preschool playground. He’s also coached his son’s soccer team and his daughter’s softball team.
Locke says On Point has helped him find the right work/life balance. “Seventy- to 80-hour work weeks are common in the construction industry. By specializing on just a few key aspects of the industry, we can fit a lot more in our days.”