Andrew Dudka – Criterium Dudka Engineers
At Criterium-Dudka Engineers, President and Owner Andrew Dudka has built work-life balance into the foundations of his firm. An affiliate of Criterium Engineers, a national engineering-consulting company, Criterium-Dudka has been family-owned since 2017. And if anyone knows how important it is to have a life outside of work, it’s Dudka.
“The thing about my office is we really try to respect the balance between your personal life and your work life,” Dudka says. “We’re very adamant about creating a support structure for our employees so that they can operate at their highest levels.”
Dudka also offers competitive salaries and benefits. During the holiday season, he takes a group of staffers out for a Christmas dinner with their families to celebrate the spouses and partners. As a result, he’s seen very low turnover—and a strong esprit de corps.
“We just really try to make sure we have an open-door policy, where people can talk and tell us what’s going on, and see how we can support one another,” he says.
Given the number of entities he owns—the Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based Criterium-Dudka; Criterium-Lalancette & Dudka Engineers, a Criterium affiliate in Rutland, Vermont; as well as two Elements Massage franchises in Massachusetts—Dudka doesn’t have a hard time staying busy. But the workload at Criterium-Dudka alone is enough to keep him on his toes.
Current projects there include work at the Windslowe’s View condominiums, a 500-unit condominium complex in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The $16.5 million facade replacement grew out of the condominium association’s discovery that the building envelopes, siding, windows and door slides were failing, had suffered water damage or otherwise needed to be replaced.
Dudka and his team put together a project manual of CAD drawings, solicited bids on their behalf and then worked with the association and the unit owners to determine which contractor would be the best fit for them.
“Their work was going to be very disruptive; it’s a two-year project,” Dudka says. “So we really needed to make sure the fit was good with the contractor, and that they would be patient and cooperative with the unit owners and do a good job.”
Once the association board awarded the contracts, Dudka and his team monitored construction, showing up once a week or more to take pictures and inspect the quality of the work. They review pictures daily and participate in construction meetings weekly—all to ensure that every element (exterior walls, flashings, windows, doors, trim and deck attachment assemblies) has good workmanship and matches the specifications.
They also provide weekly inspection reports and gather data on any damage they find to help the board with planning. Dudka says the contractor is doing an excellent job and has been responsive to any concerns he and his team have raised.
While Windslowe’s View involved townhouses, another project for which Dudka’s services were sought out—the Fairfield Apartments in Milford, Massachusetts, encompassing nearly 200 apartments across a four-building complex—entailed tall buildings.
On the latter project, Dudka’s team is responsible for ensuring the exterior building envelope is assembled with good workmanship and to specification. On some days, Dudka and his engineering team have had to climb into a cherry-picker and ride up four stories to get a closer look.
Dudka and his team perform weekly and biweekly inspections of the building envelope as it goes up. They also take photos, hold weekly meetings and help subcontractors who need some extra guidance.
“Construction engineering service is one of our signature offerings,” Dudka says. “Criterium Engineers have several national accounts like this one, where we provide construction monitoring on new construction of buildings all over the United States.”
Dudka attributes his eye for detail to his education, including ongoing seminars that give him credit toward maintaining his professional engineering licenses. He tries to stay abreast of all the latest building science developments to provide the best service to his clients.
A diverse background
A graduate of the University of New Hampshire in mechanical engineering who went on to receive his MBA from Boston University in 1995, Dudka launched his career in the high-tech industry. He started working for companies like Lockheed Martin and Sylvania.
“I really started to learn about two things: processes and operations, as well as how to run businesses,” Dudka says. “I was an operations executive, and my big focus was implementing lean safety policies to try to improve the bottom line as well as improve the employee experience by enhancing a safe working environment.”
Now, having developed a reputation for running companies across the manufacturing spectrum (including in the textile and medical-implants spaces), he’s applying what he’s learned to his own businesses.
“I was able to get a very diverse background on the different cultures and techniques and requirements for each of those manufacturing industries,” Dudka says. “I think that’s gone a long way toward shaping who I am today, allowing me to run companies the way I think they should be run.”
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. III 2023 Edition here.
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