July 6, 2017
June 23, 2017
Jonathan Graham with his wife, Dana, and their 1-year-old daughter, Hadley, at a fireworks show in Heber, Arizona this week.
He’s known as “Unicorn” on Sundt’s University Square job site in Tempe, Arizona. The mythical name came about because Jonathan Graham’s safety badge features a photo of his 1-year-old daughter wearing a unicorn hat.
But the nickname could easily apply to Jonathan himself. Earlier this year, he made the unusual move of going from an office job, complete with air conditioning, to a construction site. He’s part of our concrete crew as a lead man form carpenter.
While he says he’s always been mechanically inclined, Jonathan’s career change was met with some skepticism. After all, it meant working outdoors in Tempe during the hottest time of year. Temperatures in June topped 120 degrees.
“The consensus was that I was crazy to do concrete work in the summer in Arizona,” said Jonathan, who has been married six years. “My family understood and they know the type of person I am.”
Jonathan’s path to Sundt started by working in sales for a social media and digital engagement company in Scottsdale. That’s where he met Jerrin Jaramillo, who’s now a Sundt recruiter. After leaving that company, Jerrin stayed in touch with Jonathan and encouraged him to apply at Sundt. Jonathan eventually did and started here this past February.
“(Jerrin) talked very highly about Sundt and the ESOP,” said Jonathan, who has a degree in business communications from Arizona State University. “I wanted to get back in the trades and use my degree in a different way.”
Jonathan’s father was a sheet metal worker in Michigan, so he grew up around the trades. When Jonathan moved to Arizona in 2007, he did facilities maintenance work for nine United Blood Systems buildings.
A move back to an office environment wasn’t what he wanted in the long run.
“When I got back in the office, I realized it wasn’t for me,” he said. “I didn’t want to sit in a cubicle and be attached to a phone.”
Getting back in the field has had its health advantages. Freed from cubicle life, Jonathan is feeling healthier than ever after “getting away from sodas and doughnuts.”
“Physically, it’s been kind of crazy,” he said. “I’ve lost 45 pounds. It’s good for me.”
He’s seen University Square, a residential and mixed-use development, go from the ground up. In late June, the crew was setting concrete on the sixth floor.
“Every day I come to work, something’s different, the site has changed, the building is growing,” Jonathan said.
Part of the draw of returning to craft work was a good change of pace: No sales calls, no boring meetings and plenty of pride in his work.
He also hopes to work his way up in the organization and there’s plenty of history of that at Sundt. Our two most recent President/CEOs started their careers as craft workers.
“I want to climb the ranks and become a foreman and supervisor,” he said. “I’m a totally different person than I was when I started.”
This blog is part of our series of posts about career-related subjects. For more information about opportunities with Sundt, please follow us on Twitter or visit our website.
June 2, 2017
Sundt Craft Recruiter Jerrin Jaramillo.
Sundt Craft Recruiter Jerrin Jaramillo focuses on hiring craft and administrative workers for our Concrete Division, which performs work in the transportation, industrial and building markets.
A Phoenix native, Jerrin lives in the East Valley with his wife. The two are expecting their first child in October, a daughter.
What qualities do we look for in concrete employees?
The goal is to hire top talent and the best of the best. Obviously we look for people with a lot of skill and experience, and Sundt also does a great job in training and investing in new people who don’t have a ton of experience yet. I think, above all, we want individuals who are going to work hard, strive for excellence and come to work hungry to learn new things every day and improve their craft.
What are the best ways for craft workers to keep up with available jobs at Sundt?
Check our website regularly. We also advertise on indeed.com. Potential new hires can reach out to me and I’ll keep them in the loop with where we are in our need for people.
With craft workers in such demand, how does Sundt set itself apart from other companies?
There are a few things that make Sundt unique. The company provides our craft people with an immense opportunity for growth. We do a great job promoting from within and put effort into advancing deserving people who work hard and show growth. The second thing is the emphasis we put into training. Not only do they receive direction and guidance in the field, but we put an emphasis as a company on getting our people nationally certified through the National Center for Construction Education and Research curriculum. The person who oversees the program, (Craft Workforce Development Manager) Sean Ray, is a great guy and has a passion for people and teaching. Also, right now we are building relationships with high schools, community colleges and trade schools to help develop our future workforce.
Plus, our concrete workers get to build complex, award-winning projects like Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, West 7th Street Bridge in Fort Worth and the San Diego International Airport Rental Car Center, which is the largest concrete building in the city.
The benefits are excellent, too.
Yes. Since Sundt is employee-owned, our craft workers get to share in the company’s success. We were the fifth-largest employee-owned construction company in the U.S. last year. We offer a comprehensive suite of benefits for our craft, including medical, dental, vision, life, disability and 401(k). We also provide employees with access to a medical plan without a monthly premium.
Work must be incredibly busy these days. What are your favorite things to do away from the office?
I am a family man. I come from a very unique dynamic with five brothers and one sister. We get together regularly and I like to consider them my best friends. I like to coach, too. I coach my nephew’s flag football team. Go, Titans! I like to travel with my wife as well. In the last year, we have visited Denver, Portland, San Francisco and New York. Outside of that, you will find me at home fulfilling my honey-do list to get ready for the arrival of my daughter in October.
April 21, 2017
Concrete Foreman Alex Martinez is a second-generation Sundt employee.
Alex Martinez’s story is one of persistence. After honing his skills in the field for several years, he recently was promoted and is playing a key role as a Concrete Foreman in our work at University Square in Tempe, a mixed-use project near the Arizona State University campus.
His father was a Sundt employee in the 1970s, even keeping his original hard hat years after leaving the company. After a little more than three years as an employee-owner, Alex was promoted to his current position last month.
What’s the most enjoyable project you’ve worked on and why?
I’m working at University Square, where they have asked us to participate in an amazing mentorship program. When I was out working in the field as craft I was invited into morning safety meetings. They brought me in and I was able to ask a lot of questions and was given more direction. It’s building me as a team leader.
What is Sundt doing to make this a better workplace for craft employees?
Our leadership instills that safety always comes first. That makes our people feel secure to come in and work and return home as safe as they came in.
Anyone on the jobsite has the ability to stop work if he or she believes safety could be an issue, right?
That’s always promoted. They instill it from laborers up the chain. We assess the situation and create a different plan if we have to for everyone to be safe. We also use a buddy system where we work in pairs and watch out for one another, take water breaks and get into shade when it’s hot.
How much of a role did the Employee Stock Ownership Plan play in your decision to work at Sundt?
When I went through orientation and they talked about the ESOP, it was really attractive. A lot of people jump companies for money. Sundt considers us employee-owners and has created a whole different atmosphere. We take more pride in the work. When you retire you can do so comfortably. The ESOP inspires people to do better.
What are some of the things craft workers do on jobsites to encourage teamwork and camaraderie?
When you come out in the field, you see the camaraderie. It’s more of a brotherhood. We look out for each other. At the end of the day, you see a lot of handshakes. There are people who give each other hugs. We look forward to working together the next day.
April 14, 2017
Sundt Senior Corporate Counsel Matthew Meaker.
Matthew Meaker recently started work with Sundt as Senior Corporate Counsel at our Tempe, Arizona headquarters. Before joining the company, he practiced law as outside counsel for approximately 14 years with a focus on construction law.
Matthew was born in Mission Viejo, California and holds bachelor’s and law degrees from the University of Arizona. He is Chair of the Construction Law Section of the State Bar of Arizona.
How much did you know about Sundt before you got your job?
Prior to joining Sundt, I had represented a number of general contractors, subcontractors and suppliers over my 14 years of legal practice. I knew Sundt as a company of high ethical standards that always got the job done. When I told my clients I was going in-house with Sundt, general and subcontractors alike acknowledged I was joining one of the “good guys.” I am proud that our peers and our subcontractors see Sundt that way.
What’s the most interesting part about being involved in the construction industry on the legal side?
The variety of issues that arise. I have had the chance to learn a little about a lot of things, as my clients over time have built single-family homes, skyscrapers, casinos, office buildings and military facilities, to name a few. I have had a chance to work with companies as large as Sundt to companies with just three employees. Depending on the day, I could be focusing on payment issues, employment issues, government advocacy and more
What advice would you give college students who want to enter the legal field?
The field is so much more than being a litigator in the courtroom. While I have handled my share of litigation, I have had the opportunity to do other things. I have testified to government leaders about the use of Public-Private Partnerships, been an adviser to my clients while they grappled with strategic company decisions and now I serve on a team supporting Sundt’s employee-owners. None are things I would have guessed I would have had a chance to do when I was in college.
What’s the most interesting thing that’s happened to you?
I saved a man from drowning 13 years ago after his car crashed into a manmade lake in Ahwatukee. I pulled over after watching him run a stop sign, hit a curb and have his SUV go airborne before landing in the lake. When I got out of the car, I heard him yelling that he could not swim. I swam approximately 30 yards to the SUV. He had gotten himself to the back bumper. He fought me the whole way back. Halfway back, I looked and the SUV was underwater. That was when I got nervous and for the first time realized what I had done. By the time we got onto the shore, police and fire had arrived.
Where do you like to travel?
I prefer places where I have the opportunity to slow down. I’ve been to Hawaii a few times and the pace there suits me just fine. A couple of years ago, my family and I went to Bar Harbor, Maine for part of the summer. When I arrived, I discovered I had no cell signal all week. That was a vacation! I like traveling to places where I feel like I have truly escaped from the day to day.
If you could only have one type of cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This is an area where my Midwestern roots typically show. If all I could have was good, all-American food the rest of my life (hamburgers, French fries, steak, mashed potatoes, spaghetti), I would be a happy guy.
Sundt Senior Project Manager Brian DeMartino.
Senior Project Manager Brian DeMartino brings nearly 20 years of experience in the construction industry to his new position with Sundt. He has worked on retail, themed entertainment, dining, housing, offices, manufacturing, recreation, K-12 and higher education projects.
Brian, who is working in our Irvine, California office, has a degree in architectural engineering from the University of Texas and is LEED-Accredited by the U.S. Green Building Council.
What has been the most interesting thing about working for Sundt these first few weeks?
Its people. Construction companies are defined by a few things like values, leadership and technology. But one thing I have learned in my time in the construction industry is that the biggest factor in how a company feels and how it performs are its people. The people I met during the interview process were great – smart, professional, engaging. But I knew it was going to be hard to know how the company as a whole would be until I started to meet everyone on my first day at work. What I have found is a range of tenure – employee-owners who have been at Sundt for decades, some who are new just like me and everything in between, and all of them are driven, friendly and incredibly helpful.
How important was the employee-owner culture when you were considering whether to work at Sundt?
Moving to a company with a strong retirement plan was key. I started my career at an employee-owned company. I transitioned to another company after a few years with the hope that it would eventually offer some kind of retirement benefit but that never developed. So this move for me was targeted at a solid, well-run, well-respected construction company with an ESOP.
What’s your favorite movie?
“The Usual Suspects.” What drew me in when I saw it and what keeps me going back is the depth and variety of the characters. That cast is amazing. But then add in the plot with its twists and the writing and it’s hard to find a better film.
What do you do away from work?
I spend most of my time outside of work with my wife and kids. Having a 12 year old and a 5 year old means full-time playing, homework, sports and after-school events and parties. We like taking road trips as a family. Last year our trips were to Santa Cruz and Monterey on the California coast and Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks in the Sierra Mountains. We are planning our next trip to Yellowstone.