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Construction Genius

Aug 20, 2019

Dirk Elsperman is the EVP & COO of Tarlton Corporation, a third-generation company that has been in business since 1946. With 29 years of experience at Tarlton, Dirk has worked in all aspects of the company’s operations including apprenticing as a carpenter, estimating, project engineering & management, and executive management. As EVP & COO at Tarlton, Dirk is ultimately responsible for the successful completion of their projects and partners with his sister, Tracy Hart, on the administration of the company. 

Dirk is also the 2019 President of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), the leading association for the construction industry. AGC represents more over 6,500 of America’s leading general contractors, and more than 9,000 specialty-contracting firms. 

Dirk graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Applied Economics and Business Management. He earned his MBA from Washington University in St. Louis. He serves on advisory boards for the Salvation Army and Olin Business School. In his free time, Dirk enjoys outdoor activities including hiking, rafting, swimming, cycling and running.

Highlights include 

  • Why Dirk chose to get into the construction industry 
  • Lessons learned as a carpenter’s apprentice about how, and how not to, perform at a high-level
  • How his father encouraged him to leave the business, and pursue a career apart from the family business
  • Why he returned to Tarlton, and how he began the journey to senior leadership as a project engineer 
  • How he worked twice as hard to prove that being a family member didn’t give him special privileges 
  • Dirk’s theme for his AGC presidency: “University of Construction” 
  • The challenges and opportunities of running Tarlton with his sister
  • Promoting work/life balance
  • How he learned about leadership by getting involved in the AGC
  • Why diversity of thought is so critical in construction 
  • Why up and coming construction executives have a compressed timeline to learn how to lead
  • The many paths into the construction industry, and the many opportunities available to excel 
  • Dirk’s optimistic outlook for the construction industry as new technologies and safer methods of building are embraced. 
  • The best BBQ joint in St. Louis….