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January 27, 2020
Sometimes it's who you know that sets your career path. For Curt Gimmestad, it turned out to be who he married.
Gimmestad wed the youngest sister of Dan Absher, whose family has owned Absher Construction in Puyallup since 1940.
“It's funny how some doors open,” Gimmestad said about the day 26 years ago when Dan Absher asked him to join Absher Construction. At the time, Gimmestad was working in sales management for Rudd Co., a maker of surface coatings. He joined Absher as a project engineer, then became a project manager, a division director and now is an operations director.
“I feel very lucky to be in this industry,” he said. “It means a lot to me.”
Gimmestad can add president of the Associated General Contractors of Washington to his list of career accomplishments.
His top goal as 2020 president is to continue promoting construction as a career opportunity.
“It's not just a job, it's a pretty dang good profession,” he said, pointing out that many in the industry have six-figure incomes.
Gimmestad is also big on education, serving as an instructor and executive committee board member on the AGC Education Foundation. He also is working with the AGC to expand the Core Plus program into the construction industry. Core Plus is a two-year written curriculum for high school industrial arts teachers.
Then he's getting behind a local AGC program that's about to go national: the Culture of Care initiative. This program was started nearly two years ago by AGC of Washington Executive Vice President David D'Hondt and his team to promote workplace diversity. It's being adopted by the AGC of America.
Another priority for Gimmestad this year is to make sure the construction industry is being treated fairly. He said there is a bill in the Legislature that would require contractors to list every subcontractor on public projects, as a way to stop bid shopping. The challenge, he said, is there are hundreds of bids from subcontractors on big projects, some coming minutes before a bid opening. The proposed law would leave little time to vet nuances in bids, he said.
Gimmestad also wants to make sure members are getting value from the association at all levels: local, regional and national. As an example, the AGC is pushing for transportation funding on the national level.
Gimmestad said the construction industry is facing some challenges other than the elephant-in-the-room worker shortage. One is modular construction and its effectiveness and impact on labor. Another is robotics on the jobsite.
Local construction activity will continue to be strong this year but may retract somewhat in 2021, according to Gimmestad. Slowing in the private sector could be offset by gains in public work, as there are a lot of school bonds out now, he added.
Gimmestad said the long-term outlook for local construction is optimistic, as more people are expected to move into the area over the next 20 to 30 years.
Over the years at Absher Construction, Gimmestad has helped build many projects. He said his favorite projects are those that benefit the community, such as schools and recreation centers.
“When you walk into a brand new or renovated school you see a difference, it's pretty special,” he said.
One of those community projects that stood out was a skilled nursing facility in Walla Walla for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Gimmestad said veterans were shedding tears during the opening ceremony.
Gimmestad spends his spare time outdoors, where he likes to fly fish, hunt and golf. He said he could have been a cowboy. “I could easily work on a farm,” he said.
Benjamin Minnick can be reached by email or by phone at (206) 622-8272.