Chad Yount on Being Named ENR Top Young Pro: “It’s about the People”

As one of the leading up-and-coming construction professionals in Sundt’s expanding Transportation Group, Chad Yount is paving a path to success in more ways than one, and for more people than just himself. With experience in CM at risk, design-build, and design-bid-build projects ranging from $25 million to $480 million in California, Arizona, Oregon, and Texas, Chad is currently serving as Area Manager for our South/Central Texas region.

Chad sat down with us this week to discuss his recent honor of being named a Top Young Professional by Engineering News Record (ENR) Texas and Louisiana.

First of all, Chad, congrats on the award. How did you feel after hearing you were named a Top Young Pro?

Grateful! It feels like recognition not just for recent work, but for the past 14 years. It also reinforces the importance we place on mentoring people and building teams, which I’ve been a product of myself and am now carrying forward. So, I can’t take all the credit—it feels less about me, and more about our teams. It’s about the people who build the work. I can think of several in Texas who would be just as deserving of this award, so this is recognition for them as well.

Fourteen years is a long time to stay with the same firm. What brought you to Sundt originally, and what has made you stay?

I was lucky enough to secure a Sundt internship while studying at the University of Arizona in Tucson. It allowed me to work full-time and gain real experience. From there, I worked my way up to field engineer, worked in estimating five years, and then became a project manager—and I was able to work on some amazing projects, including the Sellwood Bridge in Portland, Oregon.

What’s kept me here is the balance Sundt offers. On the one hand, we get to build major projects and solve high-level challenges. On the other, there’s still a small company feel in the right places. People know and care about each other, and the company takes care of its people. On top of that, we really do get to impact the communities where we operate.

At this point in your career, you’ve built projects in aviation, light rail, bridges and more recently flood control and public parks. How have these experiences shaped you as a construction professional?

Seeing how different cities handle their transportation needs, I think it’s made me more well-rounded as a builder and as a person. Cross-market experience helps you innovate. For example, having worked on the light rail system in Phoenix, I can take that perspective to a city like San Antonio that doesn’t have a light rail, and potentially help them develop their mass transit program. The same applies for in-water work experience; having built in-water structures like coffer dams, I can better address challenges on flood control projects here in South Texas.

night time view of san pedro creek water fall feature with people walking in linear park

“At San Pedro Creek, the owner wanted a major portion of the project built in time for San Antonio’s tricentennial celebration. We had 13 months to hit this deadline, facing issues with excessive rain and flooding, USACE permitting, right-of-way’s, easements, and utilities. So as a team with the owner and designers, we came together and made a solution. Failure wasn’t an option. Using phased GMPs, we were able to successfully hit our deadline and host a huge celebration for the city.”

Speaking of Texas, you’ve grown six project teams here that have tripled the region’s annual revenue and gained client praise. What’s behind your region’s success?

It starts with hiring the right people. We host several internships and hire straight out of school. Beyond that, one of our strengths is that we treat training primarily as a project responsibility, not a corporate one. We hold monthly lunch-and-learn events; we rotate engineers among different disciplines to expose them to different skills; we just do several minor things well that lead to big results.

Also, in addition to our larger projects here, we’ve picked up a few smaller ones in the $5-10 million range where younger project leaders can scale up their skills. I think giving people opportunities in the right environments allows for real, meaningful growth. And we’re seeing amazing results.

Outside of the jobsite, you’re very involved with the community. What are some highlights from the past year?

I was honored to be selected this past year as part of Leadership San Antonio’s Class 46. Our group includes everyone from bankers to real estate developers to nurses—a diverse group of people with different skillsets and backgrounds. I’m getting an inside look into how different public and private entities operate and interact with each other, and I’m learning a lot.

For nonprofit work, our Sundt Foundation members continue to make an impact across the region. We recently partnered with an organization called S.M.A.R.T (Supporting Multiple Arts Resources Together) to transform an under-used space at St. Henry’s Church into an education garden. Now that it’s finished, the garden is serving as an outdoor classroom for Briscoe Elementary students.

chad yount and fellow Sundt transportation employee-owners build briscoe elementary garden in San Antonio

“The community garden was a big undertaking with of a lot of volunteer hours on the weekends. But now these kids have a space to learn about raising and eating healthy food. And just as importantly, I think it teaches them: hey, somebody has to go out there and weed the garden and water the plants. Some students are actually going after school or on the weekends to take care of the garden. It gives them a sense of responsibility and pride.”

What are you most looking forward to in 2022?

I think it comes back to: Why do I get up and go to work every day? And for me, it’s seeing young engineers and superintendents learn and grow and build cool things, while experiencing how successful projects can serve the client and the public’s needs. So, in a nutshell, I look forward to seeing how far these teams can go. We just started a new job for the City of San Antonio in Zona Cultural, so I look forward to getting that project team to really mesh well and be successful.