The future of the St. Louis construction industry was the only agenda item Monday (Dec. 21) when the first meeting of the Construction Forum STL Young Leaders Group was held at the Forum’s offices.
Topics such as mentoring the children who will be tomorrow’s construction industry workforce were discussed in a broad-ranging discussion of the possibilities for the group’s activities.
Forum President Joe Blanner gave the group an overview of Construction Forum STL and its programs and initiatives. Executive Director Tom Finan called to mind a TED Talk “Everyday Leadership” by Drew Blaylock, in which he refers to “lollipop moments”. The talk addresses the kind of impact one individual can have on another person in a single interaction, and suggests a new paradigm for leadership.
Brock Piglia, project development director at SWT Design, said that his “lollipop moment” came when he was leaving HOK. He was recruited from New Orleans to St. Louis by the firm, but had his position eliminated in the recession. “Chip Crawford (then senior vice president at HOK, now senior principal with Forum Studio) said to me, “Whatever you do, don’t give up on St. Louis.”
After returning home with his wife to regroup, Piglia came back to St. Louis, because he loved the area and its potential.
Ryan Carlie, real estate manager with the Opus group, said that his firm, based in Minneapolis, is having issues attracting young people.
Cameron Wies, estimator at his family’s company TJ Wies Contracting, Inc., said that his experience working for a contractor in Germany and London had given him a unique experience on the best way to do apprenticeships that he would like to see adopted here. Wies is rehabbing a home in Benton Park, having moved there from Lake St. Louis where his family lives. He said that he is concerned that when he has children he might end up moving to the suburbs because of schools.
Jen Kissinger, preconstruction manager at Paric, said that her interest in construction began playing with Lincoln logs. She headed to the University of Kansas on an architectural scholarship, “which was the only way I could have gone to college.”
When she was into her architectural program she realized that engineering was her passion and switched to architectural engineering. She interned with Paric through college. She graduated as only the second person in her family to finish high school and the first to finish college.
Today, after several years in the field, Jen’s lollipop moment has come as she is being mentored by the legendary Rebecca Wall, vice president at Paric, who is helping to develop her career path while she juggles raising young children.
Jake Banton, architectural staff at Mackey Mitchell, grew up in Fenton, the son of professionals and attended John Burroughs School before studying at the University of Kansas at Lawrence, where he received a Masters in Architecture. He returned to St. Louis because he wanted to make a difference here. His lollipop moment came when he was in school in St. Louis and his class made a field trip to Delmar Boulevard, where they walked East from the loop.
Attending Monday’s meeting were:
- Jake Banton, architectural staff, Mackey Mitchell Architects
- Christie Brinkman, business development, Horner & Shifrin, Inc.
- Ryan Carlie, real estate manager, Opus Development Company, LLC
- Alex Chambers, project manager, icon Mechanical
- Brian Douglas, associate attorney, McCarthy, Leonard & Kaemmerer, LC
- Jen Kissinger, Navigate Building Solutions
- Brock Piglia, project development, SWT Design
- Cameron Wies, estimator, TJ Wies Contracting, Inc.
- Dan Wies, vice president, Wies Drywall and Construction Corp.
- Garret Watson, commercial loan officer, The Business Bank of St. Louis
Also in the initial group, but not in attendance at Monday’s meeting were:
- Michael Carter, project manager, Rhodey Construction, Inc.
- Ashlee Peno, structural engineer, Oates Associates, Inc.
- Alex Sherfy, project manager, Don C. Musick Construction
The Construction Forum STL Young Leaders are reviewing the Strategic Vision document of the Forum and will reconvene in a month to begin planning how they can begin to bring “lollipop” moments to their city and industry.