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April 7, 2022

UW Hall of Fame inductees show the value of ‘staying power' in construction

  • Hall of Fame honors three who give back to the community and industry.
    Special to the Journal

    Mike Holmes began sweeping the warehouse floor at his grandfather's business as soon as he was old enough to work.

    The year, 1977, marked the beginning of a decades-long path that Holmes has taken at Holmes Electric — from sweeping floors, cleaning trucks and sorting parts in the warehouse to becoming president of the company.

    His newest title, inductee into the University of Washington Construction Industry Hall of Fame, is the culmination of a lifetime of dedication and, what Holmes would call “staying power” in the construction industry.

    Holmes will be honored May 6 at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, along with Elaine Ervin, a partner at Moss Adams; and Mark Webster, executive vice president and COO of MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions.

    The new inductees have made exceptional contributions to industry practices and education, within their communities, and through philanthropic endeavors, according to the UW.



    Holmes said his career highlights include working with Holmes Electric on the Experience Music Project, Space Needle remodel, LeMay Auto Museum, Flying Heritage Museum, Seahawks Training Center and University of Washington Stadium remodel (low-voltage systems).

    “I have been very proud to work on some of Puget Sound's iconic structures,” said Holmes. “I enjoyed working for Paul Allen to make his vision a reality. Large challenging projects pushed the company to new levels. We have been lucky to work in an area of consistent growth for four generations.”

    Upon his father's retirement in 2000, Holmes became vice president. In 2007, when his partner Mike Richards retired, he became president and sole owner.

    “We have always strived to bring respect and loyalty to every project we work on,” said Holmes. “The best projects returned the sentiment. When respect happens, everybody involved is successful. That is what a good job looks like.”

    Holmes is involved in Electri International, an industry think tank organization that promotes industry learning. He has been involved in the Construction Industry Advisory Council since 2000 and participated on the Sand Point development committee, actively fundraising and personally financing a portion of the project. He has volunteered to work with students and professors on multiple research projects.

    “I like building structures,” said Holmes. “If I were not in the electrical field, I would probably be doing something for the construction industry. It started very young. Lots of construction in my neighborhood growing up. Got to know the local builders who let us pull scrap lumber from their debris pile when there was such a thing. We built several tree forts. My grandfather had taught me simple circuits with batteries at an early age. As a result our tree forts had 12-volt lights.”

    He said working with the right people and having plenty of cash on hand to weather the hard economic times are essential for longevity in construction. “The construction industry is dynamic, never without challenge and you get to physically live with the fruits of your labor.”



    As partner and national practice leader at Moss Adams, Elaine Ervin said she is responsible for understanding the company's clients, its business and its strategies.

    “As a national practice leader, I focus on the development of talent and the growth of our practice,” Ervin said. “My role is to ensure that we provide training and career development for the professionals that participate in the construction practice throughout the firm. I also focus on understanding the needs of our clients and to recruit and develop the depth of talent to assist our clients with solutions. In addition, there is a focus on the development of content that provides technical and industry updates and education for our clients.”

    Ervin said she helped with the development of the AGC/Moss Adams Community Service Award given at the Build Washington Awards event. The award highlights construction companies and their culture of giving back to the communities and work celebrating companies that embrace the spirit of community.

    Ervin serves on the executive committee of the AGC Education Foundation, whose mission is to be an education resource for the construction industry throughout the state. “My time with this organization,” she said, “has been very rewarding as it helps students pursue careers in construction as well as providing education once they are in the industry.”

    She said Moss Adams focuses on outcomes that support clients. “Moss Adams believes that the best way to serve our clients is to provide industry-focused service that supports our clients' future opportunity,” she said. “We make sure we listen and learn to develop the depth of knowledge about the challenges, opportunities and the market forces occurring in the industry. We participate in construction organizations on a local, regional and national level to further our integration in the industry. The most important aspect is that we focus on collaboration and forward-looking perspective that support our clients' short- and long-term strategies.”

    Having worked with construction companies since 1985, Ervin said construction methods, the use of technology and the market forces have changed over the years.

    “What remains the same is the complexity they encounter on a day-to-day basis, the dedication to excellence and the pride of a job well done,” she said. “When I have the opportunity to walk jobsites, I am in awe of the scheduling, the collaboration among the general contractor and the variety of trades, the collaboration with the owners, the entrepreneurial and innovative mindset that needs to be present every day to complete the job. Construction continues to spark my intellectual curiosity.”



    Webster has been part of the Pacific Northwest construction landscape since 1982 after graduating from Seattle University with a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. He worked briefly with a local engineering firm prior to joining MacDonald-Miller Facility Solutions in 1985. He has been with MacDonald-Miller since that time, holding several key roles within the organization over 37 years. He is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer, responsible for all MacDonald-Miller's field operation teams.

    At MacDonald-Miller, Webster has been responsible for mentoring many of the project managers who now make up the core leadership team.

    In the mid-2000s, Webster said he inspired a new construction and manufacturing culture throughout the project management and field operations teams. This effort began with a massive reorganization of the fabrication shop resulting in a reduction in waste, increase in productivity and improved quality execution. His implementation of lean principles in the field revolutionized how the firm plans and organizes its project execution. His focus on lean construction and manufacturing principles in the early 2000s drove MacDonald-Miller to lead the way when it came to prefabrication of mechanical systems.

    Webster said he continues to support and improve upon a project management rotation program within MacDonald-Miller that has entry-level project managers rotating through estimating, detailing and engineering to round-out their project management development. This prepares project managers to run their own work with higher confidence and better overall understanding of the design and scope.

    He has been a guest lecturer at the U.W. and supported several affiliate instructors that have and continue to develop and deliver courses on mechanical systems in the construction management program.

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