Sundt Vice President and Regional Director Ian McDowell, who runs our Tucson office, has served many roles in preconstruction and operations during his 22-year career with the company. He has been involved in projects across the country ranging from $100,000 to more than $300 million.
In addition to his work duties, Ian has also worked extensively in the construction industry, serving in leadership roles for the Arizona Builders’ Alliance, American Subcontractors Association and the Associated General Contractors of America.
He earned his undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering from New Mexico State University and his MBA from the Eller College of Management at the University of Arizona.
How did you get involved in the construction industry?
When I was getting close to graduating with my Civil Engineering degree, I was contemplating my career path. A family friend referred me to Sundt. I had several offers, but the one that appealed to me the most was Sundt’s. I liked the idea of getting to work outdoors, and that I could be a part of changing the skyline in various cities during my career. My grandfather also worked as a bridge builder, and my father worked for him in the summers, so you can say that construction is in my genes.
The idea of an Employee Stock Ownership Plan, while abstract, also appealed. I honestly underestimated the importance of the ESOP when I signed on. Now, when I am visiting colleges, mentoring students or teaching classes, one of the messages I deliver is how impactful an ESOP program can be.
What was your reaction when you found out you would be running Sundt’s Tucson office?
I cannot overstate how excited I was. I was ready for a change at Sundt and this was a great opportunity. My parents live in Tucson, my wife’s mother lives in Tucson. My kids were even born here. The company also has a tremendous history in town. Sundt moved to Tucson when the population was 32,000. To put that in perspective, the undergraduate enrollment at the University of Arizona is currently 34,000. It is a lot of responsibility to live up to that legacy, walking in the shoes of a lot of people I admired over the years who are tremendously respected in the community.
Tucson has always been an important place for Sundt. How many projects does the company have going on and coming up there?
I have never seen Tucson busier. On the building side we continue our work on Banner UMC-Tucson, the work for the Tucson Airport Authority, the Pima County Animal Care Center and the Caterpillar project, which also incorporates work for the City of Tucson. In the planning process we have several other projects, including work on the Student Success District at the University of Arizona. Next month we will kick off a senior living project in Oro Valley for the Beztak Companies. We also have two projects in the works for private companies in Southern Arizona that will start this year. We have a really nice balance of public and private work. All this and our Transportation Group has a prominent project at Ina Road and I-10. There are a lot of red and black trucks (Sundt’s colors) running around Tucson right now.
What’s the best advice you’ve received?
If you want to be a hero, bring dinner home. If you bring home flowers, people sometimes think you have done something wrong. But you are always (always) a hero when you bring home dinner.