Employee Spotlight: Joel Braun

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.