Inside Seven
Current Issue: September 2014
Roy Fisher, District 7's newly appointed Deputy Director of Construction

District 7 welcomes Roy Fisher as its new Deputy Director of Construction
by  Maria Raptis
Issue Date: 03/2009

It’s a big job. New Construction Deputy Roy Fisher is responsible for, well, everything in the Construction Division including five office chiefs, 34 senior managers and 292 rank and file employees. And District 7 is the home of not just any construction division but one that boasts 100% delivery for the past five years. This is a Construction Division whose projects are completed on time, even early, and on-or-under budget.

His first month as part of the District 7 executive management team focused on extraordinary budgetary issues and furlough scheduling.

“It’s been hectic, but fun. It’s a great team, many whom I've known for most of my career. I am looking forward to working with them,” says Fisher of his new co-workers, peers and staff.

Fisher comes from the Construction Division’s Office of Engineering Services, Structure Construction, where he was previously the area construction manager in District 7 for the last eight years. Fisher has 25 years of State service, as he began his career in 1983 in District 7 Structure Construction as a Junior Civil Engineer.

He has known our District Director, Doug Failing, since they were both junior civil engineers in the Design Division. They both began their illustrious careers at Caltrans District 7 and have never strayed elsewhere.

“We were so young. Though only 22 or 24 years old, we knew that civil engineering and transportation were our calling in life,” says Failing. “Now, so many years later, I’m very pleased to have Roy as part of my executive team. I am confident that Roy will succeed in his new role. He is an extraordinary manager and engineer, respectful to all, and confident in his decision-making. I look forward to working with him.”

Most people would agree that Fisher has taken on a big job at a time when state and federal eyes are on economic stimulus and recovery, infrastructure construction and job creation in California State government. He has his priorities in line.

“We have a lot of work coming up for us in the district. The Sepulveda Pass project went to bid last month, on schedule; the northern I-5 projects from State Route 118 to State Route 134 are coming up the pipeline, as are the southern county projects near the Orange County line. With all the challenges, we need to stay focused on delivering what we have committed to,” he says of what is in sight for the next 12 months.

“My prior work on bridge structures was so homogenous; I did one kind of work for so many years– and that was to build structures,” he says.

But that is not entirely true. He has a breadth of experience as a bridge engineer, involving interesting projects with other agencies such as the Department of Fish and Game, the California Highway Patrol, the California Division of Mines and Geology, the Federal Highway Administration, Cal OSHA, the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles and Metro. And, of course, he was busy after the Northridge Earthquake. He taught at the Resident Engineer Academy and worked on updating and editing the Caltrans Construction Manual for the Office of Structures Construction. Fisher is a graduate of the University of Southern California and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

And now Fisher has enormous fiscal responsibilities as well as overseeing the Materials Lab, construction administration, capital costs and outlay (CCO), construction claims and the Office Engineer. He is setting new goals and plans to focus on reducing construction support costs, that is, to reduce the dollars we pay out for field office space, equipment and materials, among other things.

“It’s a hot topic. We are going to focus on managing our support costs at 32%,” he explains as a way to measure how much a project costs Caltrans to build. “I’m looking forward to meeting with all units in my division to find ways to achieve this goal.”

Those units include five Construction Division Office Chiefs: Mark Archuleta, construction field north; Ghassan Dagher, construction field southwest; Scott McKenzie, construction field east; Greg Farr, Office Engineer; and Fedake Mesfin, construction engineering management. James Burt oversees Storm Water Pollution Prevention, (SWPP) commonly known as “Sweet Pea.”

From those who were here before him and from those he left behind, all are complimentary of his work and his management skills.

“Roy was selected to his new position from what I’m sure was an outstanding group of well- qualified, deserving candidates. I had mixed-feelings with his selection because I lost a capable manager that I enjoyed working with and could always rely upon to get the job done,” says Fisher’s previous manager, Robert Stott, Deputy Division Chief, Structure Construction, Division of Engineering Services (DES), at Caltrans Sacramento Headquarters. “But I also gained a new partner in District 7 with the same, outstanding qualities and a keen understanding of how this office can be an effective part of District 7 delivery effort.”

Peter Chan, District 7’s former Deputy Director of Construction who recently retired after 29 years of exemplary service, gave Fisher this sage advice: “You will have plenty of headaches, but you will also have a lot of fun. Just stay cool.”