Why you need to know him: Because he’s at the helm of The Beck Group, one of the nation’s largest design-build companies. Perpall, 38, was named CEO in January, after 13 years with Beck. “How many companies hire a 24-year-old and turn him into a CEO?” he asks. “That’s a statement about the company more than it is about me.”
Still, early success is nothing new to Perpall, who began college in his home country of The Bahamas when he was just 15. Two years later, he moved to Texas to play basketball and run track for the University of Texas at Arlington. By the time he was 22, he had a master’s degree in architecture.
At Beck, his natural curiosity was unleashed, and he was given an opportunity to work on both the creative design side and the more technical “building buildings” side. He opened up an architecture group for Beck in Atlanta, then oversaw that market’s operations before moving back to Texas to replace Peter Beck, founder Henry C. Beck Sr.’s grandson, who’s now serving as executive chairman.
About 40 percent of Beck’s business comes from design-build projects; the rest is third-party general contracting and other work. “The world is becoming very gray,” Perpall says. “It used to be that competition was black and white. But some days we may compete, and other days we may be collaborating on a building another architect designed.” He calls that space between collaboration and competition “collaboratition.”
The 101-year-old Beck has been experiencing rapid growth. Last year it added 150 employees, bringing the total to more than 500. It expects to create 150 to 175 new jobs this year. Throughout it all, Perpall says he aims to maintain Beck’s corporate culture. “When people say you have a good culture, what they’re really saying is that you have good people,” he says. “I want the best and brightest to feel like their dreams can come true here, and that they’re going to enjoy it along the way. I don’t know if anything is more important. You could have the best strategy in the world, but it won’t mean anything if you have the wrong people. The right culture trumps strategy every time.”