Anthony Dukes, RRC, RRO, PE, is a senior associate at Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates Inc. (WJE) in its Washington, DC-area office (Falls Church, VA). He is a Registered Roof Consultant (RRC) and Registered Roof Observer (RRO) as well as a licensed professional engineer (PE). He started his career with a roofing consulting firm in metro Atlanta, GA, after finishing his undergraduate studies at Clemson University, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. Prior to graduating college, he worked summer jobs that included being an industrial engineering intern in his rural South Carolina hometown and an electrician laborer in Atlanta, where he got his first taste of being on a construction site. Additionally, Dukes worked as an undergraduate assistant at the Asphalt Rubber Technology Service (ARTS) at Clemson, which researched the use of recycled tires in asphalt concrete mixes.
How did you get involved in IIBEC (RCI)?
After I graduated college I worked for Raymond Engineering, a roof consulting firm near Atlanta. They made it clear to me that it was important for me to get involved with RCI (now IIBEC) and encouraged me to get my RRC and RRO credentials.
I have been a member since 2010, and have attended chapter educational courses, chapter meetings, and my first IIBEC International Convention and Trade Show in Houston in 2018. Currently, I am serving on the IIBEC Task Force on Diversity and Inclusion.
What do you do during your typical day-to-day?
The fun thing about our industry is no two days are the same! My day usually starts and finishes with answering emails. The in-between time normally includes some combination of generating design documents; performing peer reviews; review submittals; writing reports; failure investigations; researching systems; field performance testing; construction observations; conference calls; and a number of other things. I do try to dedicate as much time as possible to just chatting with my colleagues, be it knowledge sharing or anything else.
What are some of your favorite projects that you have worked on professionally?
At Raymond Engineering, I’ve had the opportunity to work on several projects at Lockheed Martin designing roof replacements, fall protection systems, and rooftop storm drainage systems. A particularly fun project was a huge production hanger! With over 2 million ft2 of roof area, it was essentially an indoor city and literally had streets. One of the roofers I was working with at the time said, “You should enjoy this project because you will probably never work on something this big again.” So far, they were right!
Another one of my favorite projects is a rehabilitation design I am currently working on with WJE. It’s not cookie-cutter, and we are touching all sides of the building enclosure. We are recladding an existing facade with a curtainwall that requires structural retrofits. We are also restoring an existing window wall as well as replacing exterior doors, waterproofing at a terrace, and through-wall flashing at masonry relief angles. In addition, we’ve had to install new below-grade waterproofing where it’s missing! The building is relatively young, so having to touch so many areas of the building enclosure is unfortunate and challenging but also stimulating.
Have you had any mentors in the building enclosure field, and what are some of the important things they have taught you?
Right now, Martina Driscoll here at WJE is not only my unit manager but definitely a trusted mentor. She is constantly encouraging me to trust and be true to myself. When you join a firm like WJE with such a rich history there is always some type of anxiety about how you are going to fit in. She stressed that I needed to be comfortable being myself, that my biggest asset is my knowledge and experience, and it’s important to share that with the company. On the technical side, she has also taught me so much about curtainwalls, doors, louvers, storefronts, window walls, and glazing—basically all things fenestrations.
Another mentor has been Raymond Ramos, RRC, PE, at Raymond Engineering. Ray introduced me to this industry and immersed me in all things roofing! He has also taught me so much about business in general and has always been an open book regarding it. A piece of advice he’s given me that sticks out is, “You don’t always have to fix what is there. Make it into what you want it to be.” For me this means sometimes we get so focused on trying to fix something as is that we miss an opportunity to make something else that will work even better.
There are a host of other mentors I have, and I don’t mean to disrespect anyone by leaving them out!
What core values do you aspire to live by?
Simply do what’s right regardless of whether anyone will ever know. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to that. I have a lot of core values, but I believe they generally all fit under that umbrella. Additionally, I have always believed you need to be kind to people and treat others how you want to be treated. Uncomplicated lessons that I’ve learned from my parents.
What is your greatest accomplishment both personally and professionally?
Professionally, it was getting my PE and RRC, which I did the same year! Both of those things have been priceless in my growth and ability to show others I’m knowledgeable in this field.
Personally, I’m usually most excited about being debt-free. One of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life was the month immediately following paying off my auto and student loans! It’s truly liberating to have a plan and execute it; I’m constantly trying to encourage and work with others through their own personal finance journey.
Do you have a favorite IIBEC convention memory?
A little recency bias, but the fact we were able to get back together in Phoenix this year was incredible. Everything about it was great. A return to normalcy. My favorite part? Having a good group of diverse students interested in our industry. It gives me hope that our future is bright. Some of the questions they asked were very insightful, complex, and challenging. I didn’t know this industry existed at their age, so the fact that they are learning about this while they are still in college is exciting.
What advice would you give today to someone starting out in the industry?
Get a mentor and make sure they know they are your mentor. Then set aside time with your mentor to talk about your career advancement and your personal circumstance. Be very intentional about that.
What is the most important goal you hope to achieve in your life?
An overarching goal is that I want to leave things better than I found them. I hope that is everyone’s goal.
For our industry, to me, this means technical advancement, progress in diversity and inclusion, and gaining exposure with the youth so they know building enclosure consulting exists. I hope I am doing my part to assist our industry in continuing to move those areas forward.
What do you do when you are not working? What are some of your hobbies and interests?
I really enjoy road bicycling and playing golf. When the weather is good, I’ll road bike a few times a week and try to golf as much as possible. I also love live theater. Not necessarily a particular type of theater, but I appreciate the production aspect of it. While at Clemson, I worked for the Brooks Center for the Performing Arts (our on-campus theatre) and worked on several productions, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I remember one of the biggest productions we did was for the Future Farmers of America (FFA) and they shut the place down! There was all sorts of special lighting, confetti, and music. It was a big undertaking but a very rewarding experience.