“Sarah is part of the lifeblood of our company. She truly embodies our core values of trust, collaboration, and innovation.
Sarah’s honesty and transparency assures that you can trust she has your best interests at heart. She is constantly looking at ways we can improve as a team and deliver the best product to our clients. She elevates those around her with an enthusiasm that is unmatched and makes it a pleasure to collaborate with her on any project.
Sarah and her friends learning to sail in England.
Sarah is a born leader with a strong passion for the Design-Build world. Her effusive personality draws people to her, and her ability to develop a strong team culture both horizontally across owner, consultants, and contractor, and vertically through her support team and management is vital for success in this industry.
— Wayne Corrick, Director of Preconstruction, Portland Office
Sarah and her mom at the Chinese Garden in Old Town.
Q&A with Sarah
I grew up working with Habitat for Humanity and volunteering my time to similar organizations. The time I spent with others building things had an outstanding effect on who I am, although it took me some time to realize it myself. I am in this industry because I want to change spaces for the better, in ways that are felt by those who inhabit them.
Collaboration! (Surprising answer, I know.) I love learning from others and working on a team that values respect and transparency. I love going to site visits and seeing the tangible reality that was born from lines on a page. It’s been ten years, and that magic has not yet worn off. I hope it never does.
Cho Wines – our full team has struggled through some learning lessons. Even though there is always a reason for something being missed or adjusted, we talk it through and try to find a solution for the betterment of the project rather than pointing fingers. I cannot understate how much I have enjoyed working with (and learning from) Carol and Andre the past few months. Even when we disagree, we find common ground and that is a success in my book.
I work mostly from the Portland office but travel over to the valley office pretty regularly. I ventured over to this side of the country after living in New York for 8 years. During Covid I was let go from one of the largest Architect of Record firms in the city and it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. I didn’t know where I would go next, but my mom and brother had just moved up to the PNW from Texas for school, so I thought I would give it a shot. I applied to a number of places along the west coast, but this company checked all my boxes. I packed everything up and booked a one-way ticket from NYC. It was love at first sight when I saw Mount Hood out of the plane window, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else.
I’m always looking for more suggestions for swimming holes or kayak river access. Top spots for a walk near the office – Redwood observation deck in Hoyt Arboretum and the cloud forest path in Washington Park. Bhuna for some great Indian food, Limelight for drinks and billiards, Pepino’s for cheap delicious tacos.
Ask. Questions. I have to remind myself of this every day. It’s okay to let someone know that you don’t know, then find who may have the answer or experience with whatever the issue is.
Oh goodness – there are so many good things. I got to travel around Southern England with my best friends, got soaked visiting Stonehenge, and became a very amateur sailor on the Solent around the Isle of Wight. Also, enjoying the simple pleasures of hiking around Portland and spending time with my mom.
Learn as much about Design-Build as you can. This company is unique – you will be offered as much runway as you want as long as you take the initiative and use the tools offered. Our process is in constant development and is not perfect, we need input from those invested in order to adapt it to where it needs to be.
We’re working with the Nicholas family to construct their new tasting room, the SkyTerrace + WineCaves.
Spanning over 15,000 sq. ft., club members and guests will enjoy premium and intimate wine and cave experiences while taking in the breathtaking views of the 32-acre single-vineyard estate, the Willamette Valley as well as the Cascade Mountain Range. Upon opening in the Summer of 2024, guests will enjoy truly elevated experiences such as interactive vineyard tours, cave barrel tastings, club member tasting lounges as well as enjoying the game room and bocci ball court.
O’Brien Design+Build has opened a new office in the heart of Newport!
A full remodel of the office space included the addition of new walls, doors, and blinds, as well as all new electrical. The double garage is used for equipment storage, and tools can be checked out of our tool room, run by Jim Bennett of the equipment team.
The remodel was led by Shane Curl and Stephanie Phillips with the help of the coast team. Shoutout to Andrew Adams for doing a lot of the remodel work, and Heriberto Velazquez who did much of the finish work, the cabinetry, and the doors.
We’re subleasing a part of our downstairs office to Inland Electric, one of our subcontractors. They did all the electrical in the new office.
We also just joined the Newport Chamber of Commerce! Rian Martinsen will be leading the way in getting us more involved with the Newport community. Rian is a former board member, and this effort will give us great visibility and more opportunities for work in Newport.
We have two office rooms that are fully set up and stocked with supplies and printers. Anyone in the company is welcome to come work at our new offices!
There is a large conference room, a new kitchen area with a fridge and microwave, lots of storage, and 3 bedrooms for employees to stay in when they travel to work in Newport.
Suicide Rates in the construction industry are twice as high as the national average.
It is important we address the stigmas surrounding mental health, and always do our best to show up for those in need. It can be extremely difficult to let someone in when going through hard times, so taking the extra effort to check in on your teammates’ mental health and show empathy for those around us can make all the difference.
Every person has to navigate the highs and lows of our lives, but no one should have to do it alone.
Thank you to Elly Carroll and Rian Martinsen for helping highlight the importance of open communication about mental health.
“I have worked with Shane for almost four years now, and that entire time he has been my primary mentor, and a great one at that!
Shane has done it all, and his loyalty is unmatched. He has been working with the O’Brien family for the last 25 years, and in that time, he’s built everything from high rises, tilt-up warehouses, schools, hotels, restaurants, breweries, and more.
Shane embodies O’Brien’s Core Values in all manners. I can trust Shane to do his job and to do it well. He always provides help and solutions when asked, even outside of work.
Shane is one of the biggest advocates for collaboration and delegation, as he tells me all the time, ‘You can’t do it all, you have to delegate.’ At the same time, if I need help or advice with a task, especially in regards to completing physical work or estimating, Shane is the first person I speak to.
Shane is innovative, and he has a truly brilliant mind. He’s still learning and using new tech every day, while I’ve seen so many others show so much hesitation to adapt. Also, if there’s any sort of issue that requires a creative solution, like how to shore up a building from the exterior to perform interior beam and joist repairs, he’s my man! His experience combined with the mind he has developed throughout his life is truly amazing.
Shane’s future is rock solid, and largely up to him. Shane has worn a lot of hats, including senior project manager and general superintendent, so I know he can do whatever he sets his mind to!”
— Tim Welsh, Project Engineer, Cannon Beach Office
Shane and his dog Havana, enjoying the beach air.
Shane displaying the torso-sized fish he caught.
Q&A with Shane
My great-grandfather was a machinist who worked for all the railroads, and a lot of people in our family have always liked to build things. I’ve always really enjoyed building and working with my hands. As a kid growing up, I used to tear things apart to rebuild them. It’s that interest in seeing how construction works that carried me from high school woodshop class to working as a laborer until an apprenticeship opened up.
I’m a problem solver, and everything I do in this job is something new. I love working through challenges and that’s what this industry brings. It always keeps your mind moving in a new direction at all times. Everybody says they think I have a photographic memory, but it’s not, it’s just that when you’ve got the passion for it you remember it as much as possible because you want to learn. That’s how I’ve always felt about building. I remember the first wall I ever framed because it meant something to me.
I’ve had some serious challenge projects in the past. One of them was the Portland Relief Nursery in Saint Johns. It was for parents who were recovering drug addicts, people with 2-year-old kids who needed a chance to get themselves on a better path. The job was lacking in funds and put together on a very tight budget. I worked around the clock, reaching out to all our suppliers and vendors about donations and doing anything I could do to get the job to be successful. We even got the union involved to donate a play structure for the kids through the apprenticeship. I got them to build it, bring it over, and crane it in! Sometimes you get these jobs that are doomed to fail, but we got the job done and turned it into a success for the kids and for the community.
Cannon Beach, where the company started. I built this complex under Pat’s company, and when Keeley branched off we took over the top office and that was our starting point.
I came to the coast for a job with Pat in 2004, and really fell in love and wanted to be here. I did the project and we kept getting new ones. I was working hard and turning over jobs early, and we were doing everything we could. We got a really good reputation and pretty soon we just took over the whole coast. And we never left.
I live in Garibaldi on the Miami River. We always like to try new eateries when they open up, and we like to go to the beach and enjoy the scenery and go on hikes. We’ve got an RV and we like to go on road trips. I’m a workaholic and I drive by it every day, but I never really take the time to look at the beach. You gotta stop sometimes and take the time to appreciate it.
We do a little bit of everything here, so you learn a lot. In Portland on those big jobs you never really get to be involved in the community, but here on the coast I enjoy marketing with all the different smaller towns because everybody talks. With projects like schools and fire stations and hotels on the coast you really get to be a part of the community and get to know the owners more.
This year I’ve been trying to just enjoy life and find more time to spend with my wife between a busy schedule and a lot of work. I’ve been trying to separate more from work and find that quality home life balance with my family. Then on the work side it’s great knowing that we’re getting into the JATC Program, after I’ve always been pushing for more involvement in apprenticeships. I really like to educate our new kids and different people coming up and show that we’re here for growth as well as bringing employees up like I did. I started at the bottom as a laborer and worked my way all the way up, and it’s great to see more people do that. You learn a lot along the way.
This is a great company that you can grow with as far as you want to take yourself. It’s up to the individual. We have all these tools, education, training, and great leaders that can mentor you. Take advantage and reach out. Don’t just sit idle and wait for it to happen. Be involved, go after what you want, and sky’s the limit.
Safety – Create a safe culture where team members feel safe to speak up and ask for help
Training – Providing resources to recognize warning signs
Awareness – Sharing information
Normalizing – making suicide prevention and mental wellness a health and safety priority
Decreasing – work together to decrease the risk, and provide plans with preventative services
September is National Suicide Prevention Month and during the 1st week of the month industry partners come together to emphasize the need for awareness unique to construction. Construction Suicide Prevention Week (Sept 1st-4th) brings discussions, resources, and education to the forefront in hopes to break the stigma surrounding mental health.
Why build awareness? Why is the Construction Industry the most at-risk industry for suicide deaths? The construction industry has the second highest rate of suicide in the United States at 53.3 per 100,000 workers, according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In the U.S. there are approximately 123 suicides per day which breaks down to one death every 12 minutes. (SafeBuild Alliance). Irregular hours, intense demands on the physical body, jobsites requiring travel far from home, unpredictable economic shifts and, of course, machismo, all can lead to mental health conditions.
We will be holding an event on Wednesday, September 13th, in the Portland office and broadcasting live; watch for an invitation. Please encourage all your fellow team members to join us. Please see the links below and take the pledge today! Break the Stigma and STAND UP!