Senior Project Manager Ken Cooper Reaches 30 Year Milestone
Charleston, West Va., February 19, 2019 – Halfway through his first job at Pray Construction, Ken Cooper thought he may not make it with Pray. Thirty years later and he is a Senior Project Manager and a shareholder of the Charleston‐based design build firm.
“They gave me a big challenge for my first job, particularly as I had to transition from an engineering firm to a construction company,” Cooper explains. “Right after I was recruited to Pray, my prior employer asked if we were interested in building a monument at the entrance to the City of Rock Hill, South Carolina,” Cooper recalls. “We said yes,” he continues, “and the million‐dollar budget for the complicated granite monument was not close to what we needed to accomplish the task, and starting out with an unprofitable job was a scare.”
Cooper started with Pray Construction as an Assistant Project Manager in 1989 where his attention to detail and engineering mindset allows him to tackle the most complicated projects. Cooper can claim he has had an impact on the local landscape based on the projects developed under his leadership. He enjoyed the Bible Center in Southridge with its complex rooflines and The University of Charleston’s Pharmacy School with a working pharmacy inside. He ran the highly energy efficient MVB bank project, that is the largest application of a closed cell spray foam insulation system in this market. Three large medical office buildings; Riverview Medical Center, Pulmonary Associates and the West Virginia Medical Building are on his resume.
He considers the complex projects his favorites. If he had to pick, his favorite project would be the renovation of Greenbrier Valley Medical Center. “We were challenged by the CEO to execute a small project to prove ourselves because the home office in Texas did not believe a local contractor could be successful, particularly not at the price we quoted,” Cooper reminisces. “We surprised them and they awarded us the next four phases,” he recalls. Over a five‐year period, Cooper led the renovation of and addition to the hospital under the constraints of the nascent HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and ICRA (Infection Control Risk Assessment) requirements, adding a layer of complexity to the $21 million project. “The complex projects intrigue me and challenge me,” he confesses.
It is not a wonder he is a thrill seeker when not running a multi‐million‐dollar construction project. Outdoor pursuits in the realm of kayaking, biking and skiing are among his favorites out of work. Like at work, the more challenging and riskier, the more enjoyment he derives.
After thirty years at Pray, he has not tired of the complexities he faces day in and day out as a Senior Project Manager. He became a shareholder in 2009, when the founder sold the company to six employees. Cooper still prefers to manage the complicated projects, many of which involve hospital or medical office building renovations.
Cooper is the second shareholder to hit thirty years. Mark Grigsby, President, celebrated the milestone in 2017.