October 12, 2010
Spotlight: Football led Doerger to engineering career
After you play pro football, what do you do next? For Jerry Doerger, vice president of member company PEDCO E&A Services, the choice was simple: engineering.
The skills he learned in preparation for football have influenced Doerger's working career over the past 25 years. "Football provided me with the organizational framework to accomplish what needed to be done, whether it was running, weightlifting, or studying at the University of Wisconsin library after practice until 10 p.m. each night," said Doerger.
An offensive lineman is level-headed, yet intuitive; thinking, not reactionary - the same skillset Doerger and other PEDCO project managers offer to engineering and architecture clients.
"Dedication in any profession is vastly important," he said. "Team sports emphasize reliance on accountability. In football, you are accountable to teammates and coaches, just as you are to fellow employees and managers in business. You learn to do what it takes. You're not going to let them down."
A graduate of LaSalle High School in Cincinnati in 1978, where he was All-City in standout football and basketball, Doerger was drafted by the pros after college graduation in 1982. He played offensive lineman for the Chicago Bears and San Diego Chargers, retiring in 1986. He also played two years in the U.S. Football League.
One of the first mechanical engineers to play football at the University of Wisconsin, Doerger is now vice president and client manager for PEDCO corporate clients P&G & Fidelity Investments. The firm also serves customers that include General Electric, Toyota and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
"In football, you have to anticipate, adjust and change within a moment's notice," said Doerger. "It's just like that in business. As a project manager, the role I play is head coach, assigning responsibilities to different team members to execute their jobs at a professional level. At the end of the day I hold them accountable, communicating externally and internally, which is important to solving problems if you come to an impasse. You have to bring in the best resources to solve any issues."
Agility has been required in nearly all businesses over the past couple of years. PEDCO, which had aggressive growth goals three years ago, feels it has done well despite the recession. The company anticipates 10 to 15 percent revenue growth annually for the next two to three years.
"PEDCO had to adjust its growth outlook and look at markets it hadn't traditionally pursued," said Doerger. "Over the past few years we focused on diversifying and applying that philosophy to other clients."
That pursuit of diversity and commitment to innovation led to PEDCO's recent successful design of a chilled beam cooling system for a major financial services firm in Kentucky. The project was the largest of its kind in North America, and PEDCO is now working on a similar project for another corporate client. A case study Doerger co-authored with PEDCO's Steve Weidner and Michael Walsh on chilled beam technology appeared in the December 2009 issue of the ASHRAE Journal (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers).
Doerger says he sometimes misses the sense of community that comes with playing on a football team and socializing with players and their families off the field, but he's managed to simulate those bonds through teamwork and philanthropy at work and in his personal life.
Now 50 years old, Doerger has been married to his wife, Rita, for 28 years. They are the parents of four grown children who have each volunteered on overseas missions. Doerger maintains a daily routine balanced by work, family life and a philanthropic schedule that includes: the NFL Alumni Assn; First Step Home, a nonprofit dedicated to helping the families of incarcerated mothers; LaSalle High School's principal's advisory board member; head of an 80-member men's support group at St. James Catholic Church in White Oak; 40-year festival volunteer for St. Rita's School for the Deaf; volunteer coach for the Tower Titans, a football program for overweight and underserved boys; and Utilities and Infrastructure Committee member for PLAN CINCINNATI, a working group of 12 committees dedicated to create a visionary master plan for the city for the next 30 years.
"Our industry is changing, and we need to be as versatile as our clients," said Doerger. "Football and business are similar in a few key ways: You use the resources you have, and continually scout for better talent. The right talent in the right positions, coupled with the right attitude, makes for a successful team."