May 21, 2009

Wade Perrow

Wade Perrow

Company: Wade Perrow Construction

Position: CEO


Tacoma native Wade Perrow is the head of his namesake company, which he founded in 1979, and is based in Gig Harbor.

The company works on projects of all types, from parks to museums to military facilities.

“We embrace any project that is unique and challenging,” Perrow says. He tries to avoid anything he considers “cookie cutter.”

Interesting projects get the creative juices flowing, Perrow says. “Creativity and problem-solving kind of all fit into the reason we like to take on unique and different-type projects.”

Wade Perrow Construction won AGC’s environmental award for its Sha Dadx habitat restoration project in Fife.

Perrow says his company doesn’t do a lot of environmental construction beyond the wetland mitigation work that attends most projects, so the Sha Dadx work offered another chance to try something new.

What did you do before starting your company?

I actually grew up in construction all through high school. And that’s why I chose to go to college, so I wouldn’t have to work in construction.

I went to college on a ski scholarship at University of Puget Sound, and after graduation I went to work for K2 ski company in the early 70s. When I got laid off, I said, well, I could go work construction until I figured out what I want to do when I grow up. And I guess I’m not very smart because I still don’t know when I’m going to grow up or what I’m going to do other than work construction.

What’s your most memorable project?

The sewage treatment plant at Stehekin, up in the north end of Lake Chelan.

The only way it’s accessible is by boat or plane. It was earlier in the company’s career, and it was a stretch in the sense that you were taking on a job that really required a lot of pre-planning, logistics and organization. It kind of was a unique project.

So you figure out how to get all the materials up the lake on a barge, and do the work with equipment that was not really suited for what it was doing, but you made do with what you had.

What’s one thing you would change about the industry?

If I were to wave the magic wand, no hard-bid project would be awarded unless the entire team sat down and had a mutual understanding meeting. The lack of trust and teamwork that’s propagated by the hard-bid approach to contract delivery could be mitigated by each team member having a better understanding of the goals and objectives of each team member.

Do you have a dream project?

Most likely something industrial on the waterfront involving a mixture of marine and marine construction design-build. Time and tide waits for no man. Working around the water just adds that sense of urgency because you have certain milestones that no matter how much someone wants to tell you, “I just need a little bit more time,” the tide’s not going to wait for you.

See any projects you wish you built?

There’s one I was just recently at, the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center (in North Cascades National Park). I just love that facility, the way it fit into the landscape, and the materials that were used, and how it was carried out. I look at it and say, I’d love to do that.

Do you see a silver lining to the recession?

Yes, I do. What it does is it cleans house. And there are some people in the business that will not survive this, and that’s regrettable, but necessary.

What are you reading?

Right now I’m reading a book called “The Art of Command,” written by a professor at the University of Puget Sound, Jeff Matthews. It’s just an interesting book on leadership styles from George Washington through Colin Powell. Each one is just very interesting.

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