Chief Executive Officer
Bill Dutra, CEO of The Dutra Group, is the fourth generation of his family involved in the dredging business. However Dutra Construction Company, the forerunner of the Dutra Group, which he established in 1972, is his creation.
Bill’s knowledge of the business was gained from the deck up. It began in 1961 when he went to work as a deck hand, then tugboat captain and ultimately as dredge captain. In 1965 he joined the National Guard, serving on active duty for 2 years. With the inspiration of a mentor, Claire Lopez, of Leslie Salt, as well as by his fellow servicemen, he decided to seek a college education. He received his degree from Oregon Institute of Technology. Married and with two young children at the time, Bill worked hard to complete college early, earning his bachelor's degree in 3 and one-half years. His areas of concentration were civil soils and metallurgical engineering as well as business management. He ventured out on his own after college. Returning to California, he obtained a contractor's license.
Dutra’s first projects involved reclaiming land in California's Central Valley for large farming companies. In June, 1972, a major levee in the Sacramento Delta broke at Isleton, flooding Brannan/Andrus Island, a major highway, hundreds of homes and 12,000 acres of farm land. With a contract to repair the levee and pump out the flooded ground, Dutra was able to obtain several large pumps from farming giant J. G. Boswell. Although the task was estimated to require 18 months, Dutra dewatered the island in 110 days. That successful effort, which restored water flows to the south and allowed for planting and harvesting a corn crop on the island, earned the Company contracts with reclamation districts for levee maintenance and later for the reclamation of 10 flooded Delta islands.
Ready access to materials was a key ingredient in Dutra's capacity to affect both emergency and routine levee and harbor reclamation and repair. To achieve that, the Company arranged a rock distributorship with Basalt Rock Company, which operated the quarry in San Rafael. In 1986, Dillingham, Basalt's owner, looked to sell the quarry, along with two others. Dutra and Syar Industries agreed to purchase the package and distribute the quarries and personnel between them. As a result, Dutra acquired the San Rafael Rock Quarry, the only Northern California quarry with direct waterside access. In the same year, the Company enhanced its derrick barge and dredging capabilities with the purchase of Smith Rice Company of Alameda.
A notably successful emergency response occurred in 1989 when the Loma Prieta Earthquake brought down a section of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Dutra removed the damaged section and installed a new section within 30 days. This quick action restored the vital transportation link in one quarter of the time estimated by Caltrans engineers.
In 1991, Dutra took on a key element of Boston's "Big Dig" project. Using its largest dredge, Dutra drilled, blasted and excavated a three-quarter-mile-long trench 110 feet deep across Boston Harbor for the Ted Williams Tunnel connecting downtown Boston with Logan Airport.
Bill, along with his partner Harry Stewart, has been actively involved with the recent acquisition of the Hopper Stuyvesant, one of two Hopper dredges operating throughout the west coast and locations throughout the United States. To date, some of Dutra’s accomplishments include and presence along San Francisco’s waterfront and Crescent City.
Mentoring people is a key role for Bill in his position as Chairman and CEO. Among those he has mentored is Harry Stewart, a Dutra employee for 28 years, who now serves as president and is a shareholder in the firm.
Bill is proud of his three daughters, Denise, Aimi and Patty. Each is directly involved in the construction industry. Denise is the Business Development Director for Dutra. Aimi is involved with Dutra property entitlement approvals and is the Community Relations Director and Patty works on safety, communications and manages the Dutra family dredging museum.
One of Bill’s greatest supports comes from his beautiful wife Pamela. Often, you can see the two of them visiting job sites, including what was one of Dutra’s most challenging locations St. Paul Island, Alaska. Bill has three step children, Adam, Joy and Christine. He also enjoys his eleven grandchildren.