May 22, 2008

Jeff Stroud


Jeff Stroud

Company: Mountain Construction

Position: vice president, co-owner

Jeff Stroud joined Mountain Construction in 1992 after a 10-year career in what he describes as “pure industrial construction.”

Industrial work is just part of the mix at Tacoma-based Mountain Construction, which also builds commercial, institutional and mixed-use projects around the South Sound.

‘There’s probably nobody that hates change orders more than contractors.’

The company won AGC’s green building award for its Washington Public Utilities Districts Association headquarters in Olympia, which garnered a LEED platinum rating.

Stroud, who has a U.S. Coast Guard master’s license, enjoys piloting tug boats for his father’s marine construction business — at least when he’s not busy devouring Clive Cussler novels.

How did you end up in construction?

It was a summer job for me in high school. I went to Oregon State University in their construction program, graduated from that, and have been in it or related to it the whole time. Guess I couldn’t find a real job. (Laughs.)

What’s most challenging about your job?

I think the most frustrating thing we have is government regulation issues. Permits are just a constant nightmare and everything is getting more and more controlled. And it’s very frustrating to try to stay up and current with everything that’s going on and still be able to service a client and make enough profit to stay in business.

What’s a misconception people have about construction?

It’s like the used car salesmen, that people are out there to take your money and change-order you to death and whatnot.

I think for the most part people are good and reputable, and there’s probably nobody that hates change orders more than contractors, at least in the private sector. We want to put a project plan together and stick to that as close as we can.

Do you consider Mountain Construction a green contractor?

Yeah, I do. The movement for sustainable and green building has been growing significantly. It’s not very often where we’re meeting with a potential client when (green building) is not at some level a discussion at the table. Sometimes we bring it up and sometimes they do. I got a call yesterday from an ex-client that’s actually getting a group together to study how they can utilize (green elements) in their existing buildings and in their new construction.

Is it important for contractors to embrace green building?

We work in the design process either as design-build or team-build, so we’re involved in helping select what systems and products are going into the project. It’s really important for us to be knowledgeable about the technology and the products available.

We really need to help people spend a little more in construction and evaluate how that affects their operating costs. With the energy costs where they’re at now, if it makes sense to do it today it will only make more sense tomorrow.

We try to split that discussion separate from “Do you want to do a LEED building?” Let’s talk about what you need to do to meet your project criteria, and let’s look at what the step is to a LEED building or a sustainable project.

What would you change about the industry?

I wish that the public sector would pay attention to what works from a procurement aspect on the private side, and that’s happening. You’re seeing design-build and other forms of project delivery happening on the public side. I think that the most successful project deliveries are the kind that are done on the private sector, where teams can be selected and it’s not just who can show up with a bond for the lowest price on bid day.

Any advice for a young person?

Our industry is still a little bit dominated by males and gruff field people, and I always tell the new people that we have, the younger ones, that one of the most important things you can do to gain respect of the people in the field is to get to work before they do. You want people’s respect and you want to have credibility, and you do the little things that it takes to get it.

Do you have a dream project?

You know, I’ve never really thought about that. I would love to do something internationally, and I love the tropical areas. If I could do something of an industrial nature in the Caribbean, I’d think I died and went to heaven, probably.

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