April 08, 2004

Roland Van Benten

My first recollection of Ray was when I first took over the office in April 2001. At the time Ray was sitting at the back of the office and was finishing off 899 Howard St and some other interior renovation work. At the time I thought Ray was always very positive and got things done in a quiet sort of way.

I got to know Ray a lot better when were doing the sales presentation for the Brannan St project. When we were putting the team together, Victor Perry suggested that Ray should be the Project manager for the project. We did several rehearsals for the presentation, and Ray, to my surprise, was very comfortable from the start. Most site-based people get very nervous when it comes to presentations, Victor for example was initially very uncomfortable, and consequently his cigarette consumption went up enormously. Ray however was very comfortable and gave a very clear discussion on his role on the project and the use of Prolog (the software we use to control projects.)

I still remember very clearly the day we presented to Lennar, with Rob Hertzfeld who was our client. The whole team did a great job, and Ray did his section in a very confident manner with a broad smile on his face. We as a team felt we had done very well, and we went to the Pied Piper bar at the Sheraton hotel to have a few drinks to celebrate our impending win. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were all very upbeat. Brannan Square was a project we really wanted to win, because we all knew the construction industry was going to go into significant decline because of the economy.

A few weeks later I got the call that we had won the project. The team was very excited and got into action straight away. A few weeks after this, Ray came and saw me and asked me if he could have a superintendentís role, rather than a Project Managerís role. At first I thought this was quite strange, since usually people ask for the reverse. We spoke at length on the topic and Ray assured me that was what he wanted to do. After this I spoke to Victor, the project executive, and he endorsed Rayís wishes and also informed me that Mike Poole, who was a superintendent on the project wanted to be a Project manager. Therefore we had neat switch of roles that everyone was happy with.

After this, we proceeded with preconstruction work, Ray was based mainly in the office working with the team to get the project going. In March of 2002, the team moved to the trailers on site and by this time Ray was also the safety officer for the project, a role he took on with the up most seriousness and dedication.

I remember very clearly one day when the CEO for Bovis Lend Lease, Charlie Bacon, came on site to do a safety walk. Ray escorted the two of us around the job. Charlie would constantly stop to ask questions, and Ray would fire back the correct answer each time without even blinking. After about 20 minutes of this I remember the perplexed look on Charlieís face that was no way he was going to find anything that was going to be able stump Ray.

My last meeting with Ray was in early February, upon his return from Australia (which is where Iím from). He said he had a great time had enjoyed Springboard, but it was great to be back.

Ray was liked by everyone without exception. He was always positive and had a winning smile that always filled you with confidence. To me he was one of the few people that you meet that was totally confident in his own skin, consequently he had no desire to be critical of others. He was a non-cynic in a cynical age. On every project people complain about others, their pay, their bonusís etc. In my whole time running the office Ray, never complained about anything or anyone, he was always focused on doing his job right and learning more & more about the business.

I never knew Ray outside the work environment, but now wish I had, he will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.