Opus Foundation & Associates Launch Future Builders Strategic Initiative

4/26/2018

​After more than a year-long strategic planning process that engaged associates, board members and subject matter experts, the Opus Foundation® identified a priority strategic focus of introducing and preparing youth for careers in the construction industry. As we interviewed many people in the industry who consistently acknowledged the current and worsening workforce shortage in the trades and the construction industry, we also frequently heard about one organization working to address that shortage—Construction Careers Foundation (CCF).

We've chosen to align with CCF as we launch this initiative and awarded them a $149,120 grant in 2017 to support organizational capacity building and further enhancements to their middle school program. CCF is experiencing rapid growth, and we're excited to be supporting them in their endeavors. 

Associates Support Hands-On Introduction to Trades

Our initiative goes further than funding CCF. A group of associates has formed the Future Builders advisory group to support CCF and the Foundation's strategic initiative going forward. This summer, as CCF increases their work with middle schoolers across the Twin Cities metro area, our associates will be with them, volunteering with students and hosting tours of job sites and/or facilities. Additionally, the Future Builders are currently preparing project-in-a-box guides to help CCF and construction and industrial technology teachers introduce middle schoolers to construction and the trades in the hands-on, fun way that will yield the best results. 


Read more about the Future Builders strategic initiative on page 14 of the Opus Foundation Annual Report

How Associates Found Their Careers in Construction & the Trades

The Future Builders are excited to work with CCF and support the strategic initiative. As many people across the nation are celebrating Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, we'd like to share how some of our talented associates nurtured a love of building and found their way to a career in construction or the trades. 


“I grew up in and around the construction industry and seemed to always have summer jobs in which I worked with my hands. As I became older and was deciding what to do with my life, I kept coming back to the same conclusion – I didn't want to be stuck sitting at a desk with a never-ending pile of paperwork. I wanted to be involved in building things and ending each day being able to physically see what was accomplished." 

Charles Kordonowy
Field Engineer

 

“I have always been around construction, even as a kid. My dad was in the trades and it seemed like all of my friends' dads were either in the trades or owned a construction company. It was an easy decision to start full-time in the trades."

Douglas Holmes
Self-Perform Work Supervisor

 

 

“In 2002, I was laid off because my employer relocated. I decided to join the Cement Masons Local Union 633 due to the excellent training, pay and benefits. After receiving my Cement Masons Journeyman card, I enrolled in college. After 10 years as a cement mason in combination with plenty of hard work in the field and college, I obtained my B.A. in construction management.

“Because I had a certificate in Labor Safety and Health, combined with my B.A. and field experience, I felt that safety was the best career path for me. My efforts help ensure that our safety culture pervades through the organization and our dedicated workers make safety a priority on every project every day." Jessica Keeley, CHST
Regional Senior Safety Manager

 

“As a youngster I was always interested in creating and building things—Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, Erector sets, Cub Scout Pinewood Derby, Heathkit short wave radio. My Dad was very handy, so at an early age I learned how to use tools and how to take things apart and put them together.

“As high school graduation approached, I decided that architecture was the right path for me. After two years in the design school at Iowa State University, I realized that I was not right-brained enough to be a good designer. The technical side was a much better fit with my skills and abilities. I switched to the construction engineering program and found that was the right path for me.

“The longer I have been in the business—40 years now—the more I have enjoyed working with a team to figure out building solutions from scratch – from developing overall building concepts to solving the smallest details. There's nothing more fun than tossing around ideas for solving a project with a group of talented people."

Craig A. Larson
Regional Vice President

 

“Having exposure to the woodworking shop class in high school is what made me interested in the trades, and then I went on to vo-tech school or what's called two-year college now. "

Emil Knish
Field Coordinator

 

“I have always had a love for construction and architecture. I think it began by playing with Lincoln Logs and Legos when I was younger and then by drawing buildings and city designs as I grew up. In college, I started in the architecture program and was ultimately inspired to major in construction management for a more hands-on business role in the built environment."

Tayler Matzke
Associate Project Manager

 

“My grandfather was a very influential architect and builder who inspired my father and uncle and eventually me to join the industry. I grew up admiring their work and joined the industry after getting a four-year degree and some field experience during the summers prior to graduating."

Brandon Gray
Associate Project Manager

 

I grew up watching my dad working on projects at home for family and friends, and he was a superintendent at Opus. By seeing what he accomplished both at home and at work, I knew what I wanted to do."

Greg Woelfel
Senior Superintendent

Pictured Above: Associates from Opus Design Build, L.L.C., and Opus AE Group, L.L.C., worked with high school students in the Minnesota Trades Academy sponsored by Construction Careers Foundation last summer. (Read more here.) Associates will volunteer again this summer with CCF.