During production of our last print edition of ENR Southwest, there were much more people announcements than we had room to fit.
Sure, it happens every issue.Typically we cut based on significance and time. Those that are "cut" are added to the "people" listings on the ENR Southwest website. After all, there are more people movement is the Southwest construction industry than is possible to print.
This go-around, however, we personally sought out each and every one and asked for photos. So, when one had to be cut, it necessitated us having to make apologies to one firm in particular: Borderland Construction. The people announcement was that Steve Shepherd had been promoted to replace Toby Allen as the new president.
The heavy engineering and construction firm has built hundreds of projects around the southwest and is particularly engaged in the firm's headquarters in Tucson. The fact that a 31-year-veteran was replacing a 20-year veteran was especially interesting to me — and that it is at a firm that has grown up around them — made me expand the announcement from a people entry into a full fledged blog post.
With thanks to Jennifer Pirro at Borderland, she setup up a quick, five minute interview to get a feeling about what is a rather unique transition at a very family oriented firm.
I first delved into how he got into the construction industry and finally landed at Borderland Construction and like most beneficial pairings, serendipity played a major role: a college summer job spurred a major change and birthed a career.
“I decided I love this kind of work so I stayed. I worked my way up from a laborer to a foreman to a general superintendent to vice president to today," Shepherd said.
Regarding how he has stayed at one firm for 31 years even though there is so much mobility in the industry, he said there was never a good reason to leave even though the opportunity had presented itself.
“It is uncommon (to stay at one firm) but this has always been a family atmosphere here where I have always felt comfortable, like this is home,” Shepherd said. “I have always seen room for me to rise in the company and it has always been made clear to me that as long as I worked hard, the opportunity would be there to move up.”
About replacing someone he has worked with for 20 years and very closely recently, he said a great previous working relationship made the transition relatively smooth.
“They are big shoes to fill. He is a very knowledgeable man who brought a lot to this company. I am certainly sad to see him go. He has been a mentor to me. But he has decided to move on," he said. “I have worked side by side with him for the last 11 years so we have a relationship that goes far past work. We are friends. He shared enough with me over the years so there are no blind spots.”
Congratulations to both Shepherd and Allen and the employees of Borderland Construction.
And thanks for the editorial gift.