Employee Spotlight: Jake McLees, Superintendent

By Joe Riedel, Director of Business Development at Straub Construction

Jake McLeesStraub is excited to welcome Jake McLees as a full time superintendent with our Field Supervision team.

A recent graduate of Central Missouri University, Jake is not actually new to Straub. October marks his one-year anniversary when he started working as a part-time intern with us. While in school, he spent his days away from the classroom (Fridays and holiday breaks) doing everything from general labor to assisting the superintendents with supervisory and management tasks.

An Early Start

Jake began his life in construction at 12 years old, working on his grandmother’s farm near Kearney, Missouri. During his high school years, he built several barns for ranchers and farmers in the area and enjoyed the work. He knew early in life he wanted a career in construction. Problem solving and the opportunity to work with his hands are what he finds most rewarding. He also spent a summer working for a large concrete contractor, where he was tasked with surveying, forming, finishing and eventually ran small crews. Jake believes this experience will be highly valuable as a superintendent because he will be able to see jobs from the subcontractor perspective.

Why Straub?

There’s a unique story behind how Jake connected with Straub Construction. His father, a retired Kansas City Missouri police officer, is now a security consultant for a nearby, large school district. He contacted our Director of Field Services as a reference for the security technology Straub uses at our job sites. Both have the gift of gab, so the conversation went further. One thing led to another, and Jake started working part-time at Straub shortly after.

The family atmosphere and opportunity to run projects right away are what enticed Jake to join our team. In fact, he has already completed his first project as a superintendent – a renovation of Sacred Heart Church in Shawnee.

Please join us in welcoming Jake McLees to the Straub Family!

Employee Spotlight: Jeff Simmons, Project Manager

By Hannah Morrey Brown, Project Manager at Straub Construction

Straub Construction: Jeff SimmonsStraub is excited to welcome Jeff Simmons to the team as our newest project manager!

Jeff recently moved to the Kansas City area from Arlington, Virginia, and was born and raised in Northern Virginia. He attended Virginia Tech and pursued a degree in construction before working for a large firm building K-12 schools in the DC area. He later switched to a much smaller company which enabled him to do a little bit of everything from estimating to project management to closeout.

Straub was an easy choice for Jeff after receiving recommendations from family in the area and finding a company that was a nice medium size between his past two experiences. After visiting for an interview, Jeff really hit it off with our whole team and was excited about the quality workplace atmosphere.

Outside of work, Jeff is married to Anamarie whom he met in the DC area while she was working on Capitol Hill. Anamarie is originally from Lee’s Summit, and they’re both looking forward to being back around family. Jeff’s favorite hobbies including spending time with their two dogs, home brewing craft beers, and performing as a choral singer.

Please join us in welcoming Jeff to Straub and the KC area!

Employee Spotlight: Ben Lutz, Estimator for Straub Construction

By Hannah Morrey Brown, Project Manager at Straub Construction

Straub is so excited to welcome Ben Lutz to the team as our newest estimator! Ben was born and raised in the Kansas City area, but left for college at Baylor where he pursued a degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Commercial Real Estate. Upon graduation, he returned to Kansas City and has worked for the past eight years as a commercial real estate appraiser. This background has given Ben a unique perspective on projects from their initial concept to final design.

Why Straub?

Ben was always more interested in construction and development and was thrilled to make the change to Straub. The culture has stood out to Ben as one of the biggest benefits of working here: “I enjoy learning and working as a group with the ability to bounce ideas off one another.  The people have definitely been my favorite part of working here!”

The Personal

Ben is married to his college sweetheart and together they have a 10-month old daughter, Samantha. Outside of work, Ben can be found tearing up the disc golf course or enjoying the great outdoors hunting and fishing. We’re so glad to have Ben be a part of Straub!

Ten Years in the Office, Time to Hit the Field

By De Nell Morris, Project Assistant at Straub Construction

Straub Construction: De Nell's Field ExperienceI’ve been with Straub Construction for almost ten years, and I’ve spent the majority of my time working in the office as a Project Assistant.

As a Project Assistant, I act as support on every project from issuing work orders, change orders, assembling operation maintenance manuals, analyzing job costs, managing our project management software Procore, and much more. Most of the time, I’ve been working in the office. For many years I have wanted to spend some time working in the field. So, about a month ago, I finally decided to go for it and asked if I could spend some time out on a project, and my boss agreed.

For the last four weeks, I’ve spent two days a week on job sites doing all kinds of jobs from finish carpentry to cleaning. These few weeks have been such a great learning experience and I’ve really enjoyed the work that I have gotten to do.

The Physical Work

I love my position as a project assistant, but what I have learned from being out in the field is that when you spend so long in an office, it’s easy to become detached from the physical work being done every day. We spend so much time looking at plans, that we see projects through that lens and don’t see the day to day operations.

Straub Construction: De Nell's Field ExperienceI’m married to an iron worker, so I have an idea of how difficult this kind of work is, but you don’t truly understand until you’ve done it yourself. We take a lot of things for granted being in the office such as having clean bathrooms right down the hall, getting fresh coffee whenever we want it, having all of our equipment handy, and turning on the AC or heater when it’s hot or cold. Being out in the field, you’re not afforded these kinds of luxuries.

Despite the many challenges of being in the field, all of the people that I worked with really love their jobs and being out in the field. The experience has given me a greater appreciation for the work that’s done every day on our job sites. Also, it has given me a more personal connection to these projects; bringing them to life for me with a personal connection.

I am excited to be back out in the field two days this week continuing to learn. I will be working on job sites two days a week for the foreseeable future. Thank you to all of our field employees for all of the hard work that they do, and a special thanks to Jeff Walters, James Mowdy, George Dinneen, and Rodney Pullen for their training and guidance. Also, an additional thanks to Dan VanDonge and Doug Heinen for putting their confidence in me and giving me this opportunity!

A New Set of Responsibilities for Scott Grover

Straub Construction: Scott GroverBy Matthew Straub, Marketing Coordinator at Straub Construction

Scott Grover has been an employee at Straub Construction for three years as a superintendent. But he has recently taken on a new role. He has become the fourth member of our estimating and pre-construction team.

Personal

Scott is a born and bred Kansas City, Kansas boy. He’s been married for 24 years and has two daughters, Mikala and Sarah. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family and taking frequent trips to their lake house at Grand Lake in Oklahoma where they spend lots of time out on the boat.

Prior to working at Straub Construction, Scott was a longtime employee for DST. He spent a total of 28 years working for them, 12 of which were on the construction side and the other 16 were with the IT department.

Projects

During his time as a superintendent at Straub, Scott has worked on multiple projects from the historic renovation of the old Swinney School, new construction of Liberty at Shoal Creek apartments, new construction of Phil B. Curls Manor senior living, and rebuilding of Building 8 at the Edge at Olathe apartments.

Scott spent a lot of time working for a very large corporation and said that he enjoys working for Straub because of the family feel and very close-knit team. Moving into the office will be quite the change of pace for Scott, but he is excited to learn new things and utilize his 30 years of field experience where it is most needed.

This will be a great fit for Scott because he is great with numbers and has a very keen attention to detail. This work ethic came from his father who said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”.

We’re excited to welcome Scott into his new estimating position and know that he will do a fantastic job.

Joe Riedel Joins Straub Construction as Director of Business Development

By Joe Riedel, Director of Business Development Development, talking about coming to work for Straub Construction.

Joe RiedelFamily.  Relationships.  Ownership.  Personal Accountability.  Loyalty.  Winning as a team is fun.  Those principles are what drive me – not only in my career, but in my family life as well.

I am Joe Riedel.  And, I am the newest and already one of many proud members of Straub Construction.

About me

Born in Denver, CO, I spent my formative years growing up in Central and Western Kansas – close to where my parents were born and raised.  I graduated from Kansas State University in 1999, where I worked my way through college.  The jobs I had in Manhattan prepared me for my career just as much as the classes I took.  I am a firm believer in “hands on” learning and the School of Hard Knocks.

After graduation, I began my professional career as a recruiter for Aerotek in Kansas City.  I continued my career at Aerotek for the next 17 years.  While there, I worked with world-class individuals and held a variety of positions, including overseeing Business Development for Aerotek’s Federal portfolio across a 6-state region.  I am grateful for the crazy amount of experience I gained in those 17 years.

Leaving a company after that much time is not at all something I took lightly.  I wouldn’t have left for just any job.  I had done plenty of research on Straub Construction well before I met with the Leadership team.  And it was those people who made me very confident it was time to start a new chapter of my life.  Straub is an organization of highly talented people, and I was hooked from the beginning.  I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a part of, and WIN with this team!

Joe Family PicOutside of work, I am all family, all the time.  My wife, Marcy, and I have 3 crazy, wonderful children –  Reece (10), Joey (7) and Reagan (3 ½).  Life is NUTS at the Riedel household.  Our kids are very (oh, what’s a positive word for it…) “active”.  Toys and sports equipment all over the house, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.  #Blessed.  Marcy is a pediatric Occupational Therapist and at the top of her game – both in her career and at home. At times, she feels as though she is raising FOUR children in our household.

What it means to be the Director of Business Development at Straub Construction

I am now a little over a month into my role as the Director of Business Development.  The greatest challenge so far has been wrapping my arms around Straub’s 97-year legacy as a General Contractor in Kansas City.  But, luckily for me, this job comes with a “Phone A Friend” card that links me directly to Ernie Straub III who can bail me out when needed!

For any Business Developer to be successful, you must be passionate and truly believe in your product or service.  That is where my job gets easier.  It didn’t take long at all to realize the quality of Project Managers and Superintendents we have here.  At the end of the day, it’s that group of people who are going to deliver on our promises to our customers.  I have full confidence in them, as well as the outstanding people that make up our Pre-construction team.

The Future

I am so honored and excited to be a part what the future holds for me and this great company.  If you are an Owner, Architect, or Engineer… be prepared.  I will be calling you (if I haven’t already.)  I look forward to sharing Straub’s history and capabilities with you.  And gratitude, for any opportunity where you trust us to be a part of your projects.

A Year in the Life of Hannah Morrey Brown

By Hannah Morrey Brown, Project Manager at Straub Construction

HannahThis week marks exactly one year since I started as a project manager for the S2 group, and it has definitely been one for the books. From closing out my very first project, to adding two new superintendents to our team, and throwing our inaugural “First Friday” event, I’ve been challenged and overwhelmed in more ways than I previously thought possible. My definition of busy has certainly changed, and I’ve finally found the appeal of coffee, but I wouldn’t change a thing about working with this quirky, honest, and dedicated group of people.

The Straub team offers a lot more than quality construction and is truly invested in bettering each of their employees. A year ago I was secretly Googling the meaning of “ASI” on my phone and now a day filled with contracts, OAC meetings, and hours of vendor phone calls doesn’t begin to faze me. The only reason I was able to learn so much so quickly is due to the fact that no question is treated as unnecessary or stupid and that feedback is offered often and in useful tidbits.

And while it’s no secret that there aren’t many women in the construction industry, this fact still had me all sorts of nervous before starting.  I worried people wouldn’t take me seriously and that earning respect would take a whole lot more than hard work.

Did Barbie get Lost?

Straub Construction - S2 TeamThough I’ll never forget being asked “Did Barbie get lost?” while walking one of my projects or the time someone (legitimately) complimented my “costume” while I was carrying my hard hat the day before Halloween, these once uncomfortable situations have become some of my most amusing memories. And I have to attribute that attitude to my amazing group of co-workers and bosses who have taught me how to strike a balance between laughing off the misconceptions and still demanding the respect necessary to complete a project to the highest Straub caliber.

What’s Next

I’m so honored to have spent a year with this company, and I’m genuinely looking forward to the challenges of the next few.  If you want to learn more about Straub Construction and all the capabilities of our S2 team or want to discuss the challenges and opportunities of working as a woman in the construction industry, find me on LinkedIn or email me – I’d love to tell you all about it and how S2 can work to meet your specific project needs!

Meet Matthew, the Newest Straub to Join the Team!

Matthew StraubMy name’s Matthew. As the newest member of the Straub team, I thought I’d take a minute to introduce myself.

I joined in March as the marketing coordinator. But the truth is I’m no stranger to Straub Construction. My full name is Matthew Straub, as in son-of-Ernie-Straub.

Back in the early days, my siblings and I also got recruited to be the cleaning crew for my dad. I grew up coming here, treating the office as more of a playground as we cleaned on Saturday mornings.

Now I get the honor of coming here every day. It’s a fun change of pace, seeing familiar faces and Straub employees I’ve known my whole life—getting to call them co-workers.

My role in the company…

I’m getting to know this organization in a new way as I transition into my role as marketing coordinator. It’s really cool, going out to the jobsites and seeing the incredible work our guys are doing. One of the things I’ll get to do in my role is help highlight work on the jobsites. Which means that while I’m out on the sites, I’ve been taking quality photos with our drone, getting a bird’s eye view of each site.

I have a heart for connecting with people. It’s one of the reasons I majored in business management at Benedictine College. After graduating in 2013, I worked as a property manager in the Kansas City area. Managing offices for apartment complexes, I had the opportunity to hone my skills of problem solving, coordinating the needs of residents with the services we provided. I am excited for how these past experiences will help me continue to grow at this people-first organization.

When I’m not at work…

Starting my job at Straub has been a big change, but it’s one of many changes in my life right now. The happiest day of my life was in last October, when I married my best friend and love of my life, Kathleen. We just bought a house in Overland Park, and have been enjoying the process of making the house our own, with a few renovations and repainting. And probably the biggest news is that we’re expecting our first baby in August!

 

When I’m not at work, I love spending time with Kathleen. Whether it’s watching Netflix together (We’re on our second or third round of watching The Office), hanging out in our backyard (I love to grill almost as much as my dad!), or checking out some of the restaurants in Kansas City (I’m especially a fan of the ones with a wide selection of craft beer).

 

I also love playing soccer. I’ve been kicking around a soccer ball since I was five and even played in college for two years. My dad was my soccer coach early on. I was often the focus of his frustration during games. Yes, he yelled at me a few times when I was going the wrong direction, but he pushed me to get better and develop a strong work ethic. I just hope he doesn’t yell at me in the office!

What I love about being a part of this team…

Ever since graduation, my dad has hinted that there would be a place for me at Straub Construction. It had always been a possibility in the back of my mind, and when I was looking for a change in jobs, the timing seemed perfect to join at Straub. While I’m grateful for the experience and expertise I’ve gained through the other organizations I’ve worked with, the decision to work here has felt like a good fit from the first day.

There truly is a sense of collaboration and positivity at Straub. I recognize that isn’t always a given in the workplace. I’m excited for the ways I can contribute to the amazing team at Straub Construction as we continue to grow and add to the skyline of Kansas City.

Employee Spotlight: Angela Tunnell, Payroll Administrator and Compliance Coordinator

Angela TunnellAngela Tunnell has been with Straub for 11 years and currently serves in our accounting department.

Originally from Wichita, KS, she has known since junior high school that she wanted to work with numbers. She majored in accounting at Emporia State University.

Angela’s been married to Doug for 22 years. They have 3 children… Jonathan just started an electrical apprenticeship with Heritage Electric, Madison is a Senior at Olathe Northwest, heading to K-State next year and Jackson is a 4th grader at Cedar Creek Elementary.

When asked what she likes best about being a part of the Straub team Angela said; “I really enjoy my job as Payroll Administrator/ Compliance Coordinator. Everyone feels like family and I love helping them take full advantage of Straub’s great benefits.”

In her spare time, you might find Angela traveling with her family, watching kid’s activities or binge watching shows on Netflix. Her kids even got her hooked on Pokémon GO! Angela’s favorite movies are Top Gun, for the awesome soundtrack, and Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, because it just makes her smile.

Angela brings a positive, can-do attitude to her work and is always willing to help someone.  It’s great to have Angela on our team.

Employee Spotlight: Kip Gibler, Superintendent

Kip GiblerKip Gibler is one of our veteran superintendents at Straub Construction having recently completed his 13th year with us. Originally from Blue Springs, Missouri, Kip now calls Lee’s Summit home with his wife and three kids.

No stranger to large and complex projects, Kip is currently finishing up Liberty at Shoal Creek, a massive 277,000 square foot, 185 unit active senior living community in the Northland.

Kip is a graduate of Kansas State University and has always been interested in construction as a career. He says “I enjoy the process of building and being part of a company that wants to make a difference”.

One co-worker said of Kip, “I can’t stress enough his attention to detail, ability to see ahead, the working relationships he develops with subcontractors and just his flat out ability to get the job done.” Another said, “He’s a straight shooter, if you ask for his opinion, be ready for a thoughtful and truthful answer. He’s quiet but confident, in control and sees the big picture well. Team player.”

In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, watching his kids play soccer and skiing. A little-known fact about Kip is that he could swim at 3 years of age! His favorite movie is Gladiator, because you “can’t go wrong with Russell Crowe.”

Kip’s favorite quote, “Just when I thought you couldn’t be any dumber, you go and do something to completely redeem yourself”. That’s from Dumb and Dumber by the way…

It’s great to have Kip on our team!