It takes one of the more interesting men working on the 49ers stadium project to make his particular work, well, interesting.
Meet Rich Boyd, the senior project manager for Anning-Johnson, a 70-year-old nationwide company with San Francisco offices, hired to construct and connect some of the bare bones of Levi's® Stadium: metal decking, thermal insulation and fire-proofing.
"Most of the time people ask what I'm doing, I tell 'em and their eyes kind of glaze over," Boyd, 60 and a 35-year veteran of his field, said, "The three non-glamorous parts of the structure – they're necessary in just about every building, but nobody thinks about them."
That is why we'll tell you about this ex-Rugby star and current ropin' and ridin' cowboy. His story is more interesting.
Start with Mikey, Boyd's Belgian Mustang cross-beed for a horse. Six weekends a year in the spring and fall, Boyd takes Mikey away from his Portola Valley shelter and toward a given friend's ranch.
For the payment of free barbecue at the end each day, Boyd brands calves.
"Head and heel, drag to the fire and bring 'em back to momma," said Boyd, a lifelong 49ers fan born in San Mateo and raised in Burlingame.
At 6-foot-4 and 255 pounds, Boyd requires the stout Mikey under his saddle. Boyd is actually not much smaller than San Francisco's defensive tackle, Justin Smith, who stands 6-foot-4 and 285 pounds and also answers to the nickname "Cowboy."
Does Boyd talk 49ers football on the range with his fellow 'boys?
"At a branding," he said, "we're focusing on trying to get a rope over something."
This is Boyd's favorite pastime now that his rugby-playing days are over.
Schooled at USC, he played the sport for 15 years, starting in the 1970s, winning four national championships. When a then-Los Angeles Raiders team doctor repaired one game-induced injury, his knee, he was often around Raiders players. It took him re-injuring the knee and 49ers then-team doctor Gordon Campbell, M.D., to get him healed – in more ways than one.
"I have to admit I went over to the dark side and was a Raiders fan for a little while," Boyd said, "but for the most part, I grew up with the 49ers."
Boyd recalled his first game with his folks at Kezar Stadium, which hosted the team from 1946 to 1970.
"But the best memories are the Joe Montana days and the Super Bowl at Stanford," Boyd said of San Francisco's 38-18 drubbing of the Miami Dolphins in 1985. "It was cool and foggy. I've never been to a Super Bowl since."
It was all the more meaningful when he returned two decades later, when Boyd and Anning-Johnson started work on Stanford's new ballpark. The 50,000-seat stadium opened in 2006.
Boyd returned to the site that November to watch Stanford take on his alma mater. The Cardinal was walloped by the Trojans, 42-0.
"I spent more time walking around the stadium than watching football in that particular instance," he said. "It's always fun to work on something different than the normal, everyday office building.
"You don't get to build football stadiums very often. And you don't get to build pro football stadiums ever, at least in northern California."
Which brings us back to Levi's®. Boyd and his three crews, comprising as many 75-80 workers, are just one small part of the giant project. Boyd estimated late last week that his staff, 14 months after getting started, is 99 percent done.
"I've been doing this for 35 years, and I can't remember any billion-dollar jobs in the Bay Area," Boyd said. "So for that scope of job and the complexity of it and the logistics of it, it's been coming together very fast.
"The guys in the field all love to be there, to be involved in the growth of the Niners. Our part of it is just about over."
Here's their contribution:
Metal Decking – 1.2 Million Square Feet of It
"The metal deck is the corrugated steel decking that the concrete goes on," Boyd explained. "You have a steel skeleton for the building, and then we put the metal deck on top of the steel beams to form a base for the concrete, so anywhere you walk around the building that's not actually on the dirt, you are walking on concrete that is sitting on our metal deck."
Thermal Insulation – 700,000 Square Feet of It
"Almost all of our insulation is underneath the metal deck," Boyd explained. "Whenever there is a conditioned space above it, which means a space that is occupied on the floor above, we have to put insulation underneath the floor to keep it losing too much heat and costing too much energy just like with the insulation in your house.
"The insulation that we're using on the Niners' stadium had changed quite a bit (from the Stanford Stadium project). It's thicker, semi-rigid and finished in black. If you walk around the concourse level of the stadium, you look up and see this black coating, that's the insulation. It's made that way so that it doesn't have to be painted. It's also moisture-resistant."
Fire-proofing – 60,000 Sacks of It
"If you see the skeleton of a building, it usually has a sprayed coating on it, sort of like real think, gray oatmeal kind of texture," Boyd explained. "That's the sprayed fire-proofing and that gives fire protection to the steel.
"There's different ratings. There's one-hour ratings and two-hour ratings and so forth. Depending on what the rating is, it protects the steel from melting for whatever length of time the rating requires.
"To give a frame of reference, fire-proofing – the you have to do with a pump. There's a big set up where you have a mixer that pours the material into a pump, it pumps it through a hose and then it gets sprayed onto the beam. The biggest fire-proofing job I've ever been on or seen is maybe six pumps. That's a lot. At one point, we had 11 pumps on this job, running all day every day. We were getting two semi-truck loads of fire-proofing materials every day when we were going full-blast out there."