June 26, 2020

CONTRACTOR SPOTLIGHT: Russell Tafoya, Project Executive, Weifield Group

Contracting Planning, Time Management, and Effective Communication Equal Trust


Russell Tafoya identifies trust as that corporate ingredient that has a bottom-line impact on results. This applies not only in professional relationships with customers, business partners, and team members but also in personal relationships.

“It’s the Weifield way,” Russell says. “Our people are our most precious asset which is why we are committed to building trusting relationships, community, and advancing process.”

Russell has been with the Weifield Group for almost 16 years. He started as their only project manager, at the time. As the company grew, he stepped into leadership and training. Throughout his day, he’s in the field at Weifield’s largest jobs to ensure process procedures are being followed and best practices are shared.

Russell serves on the IECRM Board of Directors, and has brought leadership to the Membership & Events Committee. In addition to his professional life, Russell is a musician, performing since he was in high school on guitar. During the past few years he’s picked up base guitar and keyboards. Pre COVID-19 he would occasionally perform at bars and clubs on Open Mic Night. His repertoire ranges from heavy metal to Gordon Lightfoot.

For IECRM’s graduation ceremony, Russell did his rendition of the song, “Don’t Stand Too Close,” by The Police. “I’d never played that song before and genre-wise it’s not really in my wheelhouse,” he says. “But I know a bit about music theory, so I was able to do it in a different key and with tweaks on some of the lyrics from an IECRM staff acquaintance.”

The Pandemic…

“Like a lot of contractors, we’ve seen project start dates pushed out, the cadence of virtual meetings increase, and communication overall become stronger,” Russell says. “The silver lining in all this is truly for the industry. The construction industry talks a great deal about the skilled labor shortage so there’s an opportunity when things slow down a bit to catch your breath and sharpen your skills. When the economy opens up, we will see a lot of demand for services and as a construction industry will need to be prepared to bring our best as a team.”

Favorite Project…

The 13th Command Aviation Battalion (CAB) Hangar at Fort Carson was Russell’s favorite project. The Hangar was a design-build project for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District and Weifield Group was tapped to be part of the team. 

“This project was very challenging,” he says. “But even though we struggled at times through this project to get it done, it totally made me better at what I do.”

Most Successful Work Habits…

Russell believes that planning and communication are his most successful work habits. “If you can’t manage your own time, how can you manage anyone else?”

When he trains staff, he emphasizes that time management is a tough thing, yet it’s key to the DNA of good planning. “In project management, we are dealing with a plan, and we manage our time to that plan,” he says. “That said, project management involves dealing with challenges, managing risks, and heading problems off.”

Russell tracks what he calls ‘unscheduled events’ that happen with day to day affairs and at the project level. “Charting those unplanned events helps me to create opportunities by allowing me to be able to get ahead of them before they are in front of me.”

Best Business Books…

Russell recommends The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker that reminds us that the measure of the executive is the ability to “get the right things done.”

Stephen Covey’s Speed of Trust is another book he recommends. “The main idea is that trust is not something that is merely touchy-feely or nice-to-have. Rather, trust is a hard-nosed business asset that can deliver quantifiable economic value,” says Russell.

Words of Inspiration…

“It’s essential to have a good work ethic and always develop yourself,” he says. “Learning and finding mentors is a personal responsibility as well. You have to seek it out.

“You get out of life what you put into it,” he concluded.