PMA People

Q&A with our People

Rob Collins

, Boston

What are you passionate about and how do you pursue that passion at PMA?

I have two passions. One is being an owner’s representative on a project and the other is claims analysis. The assignments I am given at PMA allow me to pursue these roles. Basically, my career is my passion and it’s what I enjoy doing.

What current project(s) are you working on?

I am currently working on an underground transmission line project that extends 7.7 miles and carries 115,000 volts of electricity. It includes four trenchless crossings, two are horizontal directional drills, each under a different river, and the remaining two are jack and bores, one underneath a train station and the other under 7 sets of tracks. It is a very challenging project.

Who/what inspires you to push yourself? (Personal heroes, family members, ideas)

I would say family in general, as opposed to a specific family member, inspires me to push myself. It is important to me to be a good role model for my family.

What are the most positive aspects of working at PMA? Or Share your impressions of PMA’s culture.

The fact that I have been here 30 years says that PMA provides a great working environment with great people. I would say the people are the most positive aspect. Everyone works collaboratively to get the job done and values a team mentality. This creates a culture of shared success, and everyone works to create the best outcomes for the team and client. You are also given the opportunity to pursue your passions if they fall within the envelope.

What is your career highlight so far?

The highlight of my career is a tie between the MassDOT Central Artery/Tunnel Project (CA/T) aka the “Big Dig” with PMA, as well as my time at the Naval Base in Adak Alaska before coming to PMA.

For the $15 billion Central Artery Tunnel Project in Boston, I worked with a fabulous group of professionals in the claims and changes department where I got more “claims & changes” experience in just a couple of years than what most people get in a lifetime.

While I was in the service, one of my assignments for the Resident Officer in Charge of Construction (ROICC) Office was at the Naval Base in Adak, Alaska. Adak was a very close-knit community of about 5,000 people where all residents were military related (no civilians.) The construction season there was from about March to November. From November 1983 to May 1986 (my tenure on base), I and one other officer were the Project Managers for approximately $100 million of work completed in place. Some projects included:

  • Building three, 2-million gallon, underground fuel storage tanks designed to withstand a 10’ interior wave in the event of an earthquake.
  • Rehabilitation of an active weapons compound that was “rumored” to store nuclear weapons (talk about tight security).
  • A design-build project for 405 family housing units. The 2 and 4-bedroom houses were constructed as complete units (everything done but installing the appliances) in Portland, Oregon and then barged to the island (a 4 bedroom weighted 84 tons).

Apart from the interesting projects I helped to manage while at Adak, I also got to experience the island’s very unique climate. During the 30 months I was stationed there (Adak is located about 1200 miles from Anchorage, 500 miles off the coast of Russia and 700 miles off the coast of Alaska), I saw the temperature reach a high of 70 degrees once, saw a low of 17 degrees, observed winds of up to 133 miles per hour (the island’s nickname is “birth place of the winds”) and rode out many, many earthquakes.

The largest earthquake I experienced was an 8.2 on May 7, 1986, complete with tsunami warning, which required us to evacuate to high ground. During the week after the 8.2 earthquake, we had over 400 aftershocks, some as high as 6.4. Daylight during the winter in Adak, Alaska was from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and during the summer was from about 5 a.m. to midnight.

Could you tell us more about your time in the Navy?

I spent about 24 years in the US Navy Civil Engineer Corps—11 years on active duty and 13 years in the Reserves. During my 11 years of active duty, I had assignments in:

  • Public Works—I was the Assistant Public Works Officer at the Naval Air Station Willow Grove in Pennsylvania
  • The Seabees—I was assigned to the Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) FOUR—a 570-person, self-contained (with its own doctor, dentist, chaplain, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, steel workers, equipment operators, equipment mechanics, engineering aids, equipment, weapons, etc.) deployable construction battalion.

During my first deployment (8 ½ months) to Naval Air Station, Sigonella Sicily in Italy, I was the S-2 (Plans & Training Officer) which included Plans, Training, Weapons, Communications and Security. During my second deployment (7 ½ months) to Naval Station Roosevelt Roads, Puerto Rico, I was the C-6 (Charlie Company Commander) where I was responsible for about 70 carpenters and steel workers acting as a construction company. I had two tours as an Owner’s Rep managing civilian construction projects for the Navy.  The first was as an Assistant Resident Officer in Charge of Construction (AROICC) in Adak Alaska and the second was as the Assistant Officer in Charge then the Officer in Charge/Warranted Contracting Officer of NAVFAC Contracts at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York.

What led you to PMA?

Destiny maybe? While I liked all of the three different assignment types I had in the Navy, I liked the Owner’s Project Management assignments the best.

In 1984 I was involved in a “large” (by Navy standards at that time) $2 million claim while in Adak, Alaska. I was so busy working on my day to day assignments that I did not have time to work on the claim. As a result, the Navy hired a PMA competitor to analyze the claim and provide me support. I remember sitting in my conference room listening to the claims consultant running through their analysis and thinking to myself, “I could do that. And if I did, where would it be? It would probably be in Boston because that would be the closest to home (northern Maine). I could get a job like that.”

When I was getting out of the Navy in January 1993, I answered an advertisement PMA placed in ENR to work on the Big Dig in Boston and the rest is history.

What is something innovative happening in your industry that makes you excited about the future?

Although not really a “new” concept, Lean Construction is definitely becoming more prevalent.

What university or college did you graduate from?

I received my bachelor of science in civil engineering (BSCE) from the University of Maine and a master of science in civil engineering (MSCE) with a geotechnical focus from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

What is your favorite local establishment/feature (restaurant, museum, stadium, etc.)?

I would say Bretton Woods Ski Resort in northern New Hampshire is my favorite.