People who learn and ask questions go far. With his communication skills and drive he clearly has a bright future ahead of him.

I have worked with Ryan for around 6 months remotely, having him in the coast office while he is living with his family in eastern Oregon. Taking on a remote, mixed-style role has really helped him embed and integrate himself into a wider array of projects and collaborate with new teammates.

Ryan is a man who chases things down, not afraid to put his bags on, jump in, and do whatever is necessary to get the job done. He embodies the core values of O’Brien through his consistency and dedication to the work. 

-Derek Salo, Project Manager, Coast Office

Q&A with Ryan

I just enjoy building, and I like getting into the details and the minutiae of projects.

It’s fulfilling to be part of something large that you can be a part of all the way through. There are times when it can be not as fun, but seeing projects through is very rewarding.

Being able to collaborate across distances, being involved in construction innovation, helping other offices and managers, and sharing knowledge.

Working with Joel Braun at Stephanie Inn, coming into a job partway through and doing whatever needs to be done to keep it on track and moving forward.

In Bend, Spork is my go-to for a carnitas sando. Mt. Bachelor and Elk Lake for snowmobiling.

Having the opportunity to work with and learn from the Coast team. It’s a big team that works on a wide array of projects.

You never know when opportunities are coming.

Be ready, learn, get challenged, and get the job done. Jump in there and do! Your drive will take you as far as you are willing to go.

Joel and I grew up in the same small town, Banks, and became friends in our teenage years while driving around listening to music on our car stereo systems. Our first jobs together were at local gas stations and now here we are both at O’Brien, continuing to work together. I joined O’Brien about 13 months ago when Joel told me that I should come over here because I would be treated better than at our previous employer. Joel likes to keep me handy.

Joel is a great match for O’Brien because he is super honest and if he says he will do something, he will do it – you can trust him. As a superintendent, problems come up every day and you must be creative in how to deal with them. Joel handles his problems, and we rely on each other to figure out solutions, talk to our subs, and make sure that everyone is on the same page.

He has great communication skills, which are the core of collaboration. Also, Joel is a go getter who faces problems head on, tackles stuff, and is always in a good mood. I can see Joel work his way up over the next few years with our team. He is great with people and is an organizer. Joel would be really good at operations and even a management role once he has more O’Brien time under his belt.

Go have a beer with Joel and his partner who own Crooked Creek Brewery in St. Helens – I can’t miss the chance to give him some free publicity!

-Will Salser, Superintendent

Q&A with Joel

I have been around the construction industry through family members for a good part of my life. I did sales for 20 years and I was always on the road and not seeing my wife and kids nearly as much as I wanted to see them. So, for the last 8 years I have worked in the construction industry. It is a lot of fun watching buildings transform and I get to be home most every night with my family.

I like the fact that every project and each client is different. Even though there are some similarities from job to job, the goals are different, the location is different, and the view is different. It is exciting to go into a new place and to change the place. I also enjoy working with a variety of different people with different backgrounds. One of my favorite things about the industry is that I go home every night and see my family.

I am most successful at communication. I enjoy meeting owners and clients where they are and helping them to move their projects forward. I find that my extensive background in sales is helpful in communicating with all kinds of people. It’s awesome being able to use that skill set to all my interactions with clients and team members.

Originally, I started in the Portland office/market, but I was transferred out to the coast department working in Cannon Beach to wrap up the Stephanie Inn. My next project is in Knappa, and it looks like the coast is my future department.

I moved back to Oregon from Seattle back in 2010 and landed in St. Helens as I had family members lived in the area, initially. My wife and I, with our business partners, recently purchased commercial property and last year co-founded Crooked Creek Brewery.

Crooked Creek Brewery in St. Helens – that is my favorite local spot! Portland airport is another favorite local spot because it means that we are going on an adventure. Otherwise, we are usually working on the house and if we are not at home, we are traveling. This spring we took the kids on a historic tour of Washington DC, also my first time there–it was fun!

Communication is front and center, always. Remember that you are not on an island by yourself. Include team members and have open communication with a variety of people–not just one or two people. The more people you invite in, the more experience you have access to and the more possible solutions you find. It is easier to overcome obstacles when you include more people through communication.

I achieved a goal that I have had for a while, which was to purchase commercial property. The building will be the new location for our taproom, include a full restaurant and the upstairs will be a 1-bedroom Airbnb.

Have a goal that you are working towards in your career path, communicate that goal with your team, and ask them how you can achieve your goal.

Welcome to our third Employee Spotlight post! We hope that you are enjoying learning more about members of our team through this new format. Please reach out to us if you have people in mind for future Employee Spotlight posts.

Today’s post features Chrisi Cover, who has been promoted to the position of Accounting Manager here at O’Brien Design+Build. Our CFO Paul Strassmaier told me that Chrisi came to mind right away for an Employee Spotlight because she embodies our core value of trust; I have your back and you have mine.

“Chrisi has made a great difference in getting things done as a team because she is constantly looking for ways to help other team members. Promoting Chrisi to Accounting Manager is recognition of the work that she is already doing to help others and make them better at what they do. To be effective, her role is about being both a policeman and a servant, so you are alternating between roles as you want to both help everyone get things done while at the same time follow the guidelines we’ve set up. Chrisi handles this duality very well. She has tons of experience in all aspects of accounting and what really differentiates Chrisi is her willingness to step in and to do anything for the benefit of the team – so she also exhibits collaboration. She has the tenacity required in the billing role to push, push, push to get to the heart of things and not give up. This is particularly important on the billing side because if we give up, we don’t get revenue. Chrisi’s insights and thoughts bring our team value well beyond accounting. I look forward to how she will continue to add to people’s knowledge and success here at the company.” Paul Strassmaier, CFO

Q&A with Chrisi

I love that it is fast-paced and all projects are different– keeps you on your toes.

I love working with others and working in a fast-paced environment where there is always something to be done and wearing many hats is regularly required.

I work in the Portland office. I have always worked in the Portland Metro area; living previously in Milwaukie and now in Oregon City.

I absolutely love visiting anywhere on the Coast. My other favorite local place is my Mom’s farm in Boring.

Listen and then speak; and most importantly, ask questions! I believe all questions are good questions when it comes to learning and growing in your respective positions. 

I was promoted to Accounting Manager! I am so excited to take on this role with the company and hope to help grow our accounting team to be the best we can possibly be for O’Brien. To succeed, we all need to work together as a team and continue to grow and learn in all accounting aspects. As always, communication is key.

Utilize all the tools and software O’Brien has to offer and ask questions if you are unsure or if you do not understand something. 

Understanding the significance of biophilic sustainable initiatives.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” -Edmund Burke

With numerous O’Brien and Open Concept projects on the boards and in construction along the Oregon coast, several are noteworthy for their emphasis on direct connections to nature. Projects such as the Lloyd Hotel Astoria, the Whaler Hotel, Lincoln Sands, and the Hull Residence all incorporate the design strategy of connecting to nature.

Designing and constructing buildings with a direct connection to nature is called biophilia. Biophilic design enhances human-nature relationships.

These design strategies have many implications. On a smaller scale, their impact can be seen in the way they affect an individual occupant, and on a broader scale, with its direct impact on the environment.

Studies have shown that biophilic design contributes to improved physical and mental health, productivity, and overall well-being.

Below are several biophilic design strategies:

1. Providing access to, and views of, nature.

2. Incorporating passive heating and cooling.

3. Incorporating natural lighting.

4. Incorporating natural materials and colors.

5. Use natural shapes and forms.

Biophilic design benefits the individual occupant in a variety of ways; below are just a few:

1. Helps sharpen your senses.

2. Improves mindfulness.

3. Reduces stress and blood pressure.

4. Increases creativity.

5. Improves overall mood.

Benefits of biophilic design for the environment:

1. Helps increase biodiversity.

2. Reduces the carbon footprint and energy consumption.

3. Aids in natural resource conservation.

4. Helps manage stormwater runoff and reduces pollution.

5. Improves the air quality.

While the projects listed here may not be entirely biophilic or totally sustainable, the incorporation of biophilic design strategies such as those listed above on projects like the Lloyd Hotel Astoria, where reclaimed natural materials are incorporated, and views of the ocean are celebrated, can have a profound impact on the building’s inhabitants and the environment.

As stated in the above quote, let’s begin by making a small difference instead of risking doing nothing. Small initiatives can have large implications.

“Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” -Edmund Burke

With numerous O’Brien and Open Concept projects on the boards and in construction along the Oregon coast, several are noteworthy for their emphasis on direct connections to nature. Projects such as the Lloyd Hotel Astoria, the Whaler Hotel, Lincoln Sands, and the Hull Residence all incorporate the design strategy of connecting to nature.

Designing and constructing buildings with a direct connection to nature is called biophilia. Biophilic design enhances human-nature relationships.

These design strategies have many implications. On a smaller scale, their impact can be seen in the way they affect an individual occupant, and on a broader scale, with its direct impact on the environment.

Studies have shown that biophilic design contributes to improved physical and mental health, productivity, and overall well-being.

Below are several biophilic design strategies:

1. Providing access to, and views of, nature.

2. Incorporating passive heating and cooling.

3. Incorporating natural lighting.

4. Incorporating natural materials and colors.

5. Use natural shapes and forms.

Biophilic design benefits the individual occupant in a variety of ways; below are just a few:

1. Helps sharpen your senses.

2. Improves mindfulness.

3. Reduces stress and blood pressure.

4. Increases creativity.

5. Improves overall mood.

Benefits of biophilic design for the environment:

1. Helps increase biodiversity.

2. Reduces the carbon footprint and energy consumption.

3. Aids in natural resource conservation.

4. Helps manage stormwater runoff and reduces pollution.

5. Improves the air quality.

While the projects listed here may not be entirely biophilic or totally sustainable, the incorporation of biophilic design strategies such as those listed above on projects like the Lloyd Hotel Astoria, where reclaimed natural materials are incorporated, and views of the ocean are celebrated, can have a profound impact on the building’s inhabitants and the environment.

As stated in the above quote, let’s begin by making a small difference instead of risking doing nothing. Small initiatives can have large implications.

Do you know we need to double the number of our buildings in the next 40 years to support our growing population, that a majority of people now can’t afford a decent house or that 50% of our landfills are construction waste? How do we solve such issues? Prefabrication!

At O’Brien we have the technology, the collaboration, the right projects and mindset, so let’s push into prefabrication and learn how to be smarter, more economical and create higher quality and energy performing buildings. Attached are a few slides from the Prefabrication conference this year to show you where the industry and we are going.