Greg Woelfel on His Career in Construction

After over 40 years in the industry, Greg Woelfel, General Superintendent, retires at the end of June. Here he reflects on his time in construction.

How did you get started in construction? 

I grew up around construction. My dad was a Carpenter and then a Superintendent for Rauenhorst/Opus, my older brother was a Carpenter Foreman for Opus and I also had other family in the industry. I can recall riding with my dad when I was younger to jobsites on weekends to check heaters. My brothers and I also spent many weekends helping our dad with at-home projects and projects for others. 

I have always enjoyed working with my hands. I guess you can say it is in my blood. 

What roles have you had along the way? 

I started in the industry with Rauenhorst as a laborer in 1979. I didn't see much of a future for me as a laborer so I moved on. After I left Opus I worked residential around my hometown until 1984. Then one day I received a call from then Rauenhorst General Superintendent Vic Bucholz who convinced me to join the Carpenters Apprenticeship which I did. After my Apprenticeship (4 Years) I spent the next 35 years as a Journeyman Carpenter, Carpenter Foreman, Carpenter General Foreman, Associate Superintendent, Superintendent, Senior Superintendent and now General Superintendent.

What have you liked most about your work? 

The constant challenges of projects, the feeling of accomplishment after a project is completed, and the many people that I have been lucky enough to work with and who mentored me. If I had to choose one, it would be all of the amazing people I have crossed paths with over the years in both the field and in this office.

What advice do you have for people starting out in the construction industry? 

Stay Focused and Stay Safe. Keep your ears and eyes open. Ask questions, don't pretend you know everything. Absorb as much knowledge as you can from those that have already been there and done that. Own up to your mistakes and learn from them. Try to learn something new every day. Construction is a very rewarding industry and the knowledge you gain on how to build things can never be taken away from you.

Through email and likely in-person communication, you were a reassuring voice throughout the pandemic, and you're retiring three years later, about a month after the Public Health Emergency declaration has ended. Is there anything you hope we take from this experience – either on the jobsite , in the office or in our personal lives? 

With the right people and the right plan, you can accomplish anything. Working through the pandemic was an example of what a TEAM can do when faced with adversity. It was quite an accomplishment for all of Opus to work through the pandemic with really only a few hiccups. At the end of the day, it was just another challenge that Team Opus faced head on, and we came out stronger from it in the end.

Throughout your email messages you exemplify true leadership – reassuring, thoughtful and compassionate while reinforcing the importance of safety on the jobsite in all its forms. How did you develop your leadership skills? 

During my time in the industry, I have been very fortunate to work with a lot of very smart people – many of which took time to mentor me. My leadership skills are a combination of everything I learned over the years. I have seen things done many different ways, some I agreed with and some I didn't. You take a little bit from everyone. I tried to end up somewhere in the middle. 

Congrats and best wishes, Greg!

Filed Under: Construction