Paul Grahovac remembers helping his dad shingle a roof when he was barely big enough to climb the ladder. As he grew up, so did his experiences in all kinds of hands-on jobs – working with gravel, sand and cement, putting up hay, over-the-road trucking, carpentry and concrete flatwork. These experiences also prompted Grahovac to realize the importance of going to college “to avoid a lot of digging and shoveling in later life.” In law school and in his early years practicing law, he worked on cases in commercial real estate development, including a failed pour of a shopping center deck and a defective foundation, all of which exposed him to the design and construction details of this type of project. According to Grahovac, “This taught me how to predict the long-term result of current actions simply by ‘playing the film forward’ to analyze the probably sequence of things.”
One day, the senior partner of his law firm asked Grahovac to go visit a client to help them prepare for new OSHA and EPA requirements. The client was a manufacturer of construction chemicals called PROSOCO. A few weeks after spending the day with them, he was offered a job to join PROSOCO as its first General Counsel, and he accepted. At PROSOCO, he implemented a series of new disclaimers in product literature to ward off misuse cases. “The lawyers I worked for in my early years told me that your client needs always to be the one wearing the white hat, as in the old Westerns. I’ve always counseled that PROSOCO go out of its way to help, and I like to think that has contributed to our motto, ‘You. Us. The project.’”
After five years with PROSOCO, he took a job as an environmental lawyer for a national lab at the U.S. Department of Energy that specialized in nuclear reactor development, radioactive waste processing and disposal and general industrial research and development. “I was the lead environmental lawyer for the contractors, and learned how big, sophisticated companies are run, and a lot about how the federal government operates.” Grahovac moved over to the lab’s technology department, where he initiated a collaboration with an Italian pipeline lay barge company – the largest licensing deal seen at the DOE at that time. Six years later when he returned to PROSOCO, that experience was parlayed into a collaboration between the company and a building repair contracting firm that resulted in a family of silyl-terminated polymer products made and marketed commercially by PROSOCO as the R-Guard brand.
Since facilitating that collaboration in 2005, Grahovac has given more than 120 AIA presentations to architects on air barriers, standards and codes pertaining to wall assemblies and building envelopes. Since 2015, he has also worked for PROSOCO’s sister company Build SMART, a prefabricator of high-performance wall and window assemblies.
Grahovac is a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity and is also active in the Air Barrier Association of America and other industry associations. His article, “Building science helps defeat coronavirus,” is published in Interface, the technical journal of the International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants (IIBEC).