Swinerton In the News
Swinerton Builders Colorado: November 28, 2016
Spotlight – Bret Hall, Division Manager, Swinerton Builders
AUSTIN – Bret Hall’s father, David Hall, served in the U.S. Navy as a submarine navigator/quartermaster and the family was stationed in San Diego when Bret was born.
But his somewhat peripatetic life after San Diego can’t really be attributed to a naval family lifestyle, since the family moved to Bremerton, WA. next, where his father retired from the service when Bret was young.
After the stint in Washington, the family moved to Dallas in the mid 70’s, where Bret’s grandfather, Grant Hall, was in the construction business and Bret’s father went to work
Next, the family spent a short time in New Mexico and then went onto Jackson Hole, WY. where David Hall worked through 1986 as a superintendent for a commercial general
After that, the family moved to Colorado and that was where Bret stayed – that is until moving this year to Austin to take over the reigns of the Austin branch of Swinerton Builders.
Tell me about your time in Wyoming.
I graduated from Natrona County High School in Casper. In high school, I played American Legion baseball and high school football. I spent a lot of time outdoors, skiing and hunting while we lived there.
What did you do after high school?
I attended the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley for about a year before running out of money! I went ahead and got an associate’s degree in construction management from Arapahoe Community College in Denver. One of my professors was an operations manager for a commercial general contracting company and he hired me. I worked for him for five years as an estimator/project manager.
What did you do next?
I moved to Ft. Collins, CO. to work with my dad in a construction company out of Loveland. Dad was the regional manager. I was hired as an estimator and project manager. We built many multi-family projects. That was our bread and butter. My grandfather was there, too, as a superintendent. He was 73 years old then. Working with him was an awesome experience I will cherish for a long time.
Tell me about your mom, dad and brothers.
My mom, Ellen, was in the mental healthcare industry during her career. I have two younger brothers, Aaron and Kent. Aaron is a store manager for Walmart in Marietta, CA. and Kent is a chief petty officer in the U.S. Navy and is stationed in San Diego.
What do you think your parents taught you and your brothers about being successful in life?
They held us accountable for being honest and having integrity. We were a tight-knit family. It was always the five of us doing things together. Mom was the frugal one!
Tell me a little about your current family life?
I met my wife, Sharon, at a pig roast at Cherry Creek Brewery in Denver. She had been helping a friend at the Cherry Creek Arts Festival that day. Honestly, it wasn’t even on my agenda to attend that event that night. I was near there with my professor and we just decided to go.
Well, that sounds like fate stepped in!
Yes, it does! We got married in 1997 in Ft. Collins, CO. Sharon is an operations manager for a national healthcare consulting firm. Our son, Grant, was born in 1999 while I was finishing up the project that I worked on with my dad and grandfather. He’s 17 and plays baseball for his high school as well as for a summer club team. He’s a pitcher, catcher and plays some infield. My youngest son is Wyatt. He is 13 and he loves to fish, fish and fish. He also plays baseball and is learning to play the trumpet when he’s not fishing.
What did you do after you married and finished the project you were working on with your dad and grandfather?
Sharon and I moved to Thornton, CO. in 1999 where I worked for a small general contracting company as an estimator. We mostly did office warehouse projects and tenant finish outs. That company was sold and it was a good time for me to leave. I started with Swinerton in January 2002 and I’ll be here 15 years this January.
What did you get hired for at Swinerton?
I was hired as an estimator for a new special projects group. I helped grow that group and in 2011 became the director of special projects, which encompasses tenant finish outs, data centers, clean rooms, courtyard and streetscapes, lobby renovations, building modernizations, ground up builds under $30 million and more. In the summer this year, I was asked to be division manager for the Austin division.
Another move! What was your thought process about moving to Austin
Honestly, there aren’t many places I would consider moving to from Colorado, but Austin is one of them. I love my job and I love Swinerton, so this seemed like an ideal opportunity. My oldest son, Grant, is a senior, so the family is still in Thornton until he graduates. I fly back and forth. Thanksgiving, they’ll be down here and we’ll start house hunting and fishing. Grant was thrilled we are moving to Austin. We are all outdoorsy kind of people, plus the University of Texas is definitely on his top of the list universities, since he wants to major in petroleum engineering and they have the best school for that.
What are your new responsibilities here?
I’m responsible for strategic planning for the Austin market and strategically targeting the right clients and project opportunities. Overall, Swinerton has more than 2,400 employees at its 14 locations across the nation. In Austin, we have 22 employees and it’s a young group. Part of my job here is making sure we have the right people and coaching them. We have made some cuts since I came and I’m happy with the team that’s in place. The theme of the day is “win and execute”. The team here in Austin is so enthusiastic and eager to make a difference and be a part of the bigger company.
Tell me a little about the company culture.
It’s about the people and taking care of the clients. It’s about personal growth and opportunity. I’m the perfect example of that – a poster child for opportunity in the organization. Swinerton Builders is 100% employee owned and that’s an important perk. There are about 400
What do you look for when considering a potential employee?
I look for a desire to be part of the best team. Honesty, a desire to learn and to be accountable. If they have those things, we can teach them the rest.
Do you have a mentor that helped you along the way?
Yes. His name is Scott Conrad and he was division manager in Colorado at Swinerton for the past five years. He’s now a regional manager of our Northwest region. He’s very brilliant in strategic planning and he really impressed on me the value of finding and recognizing great talent. He taught me that once you have that talent in place, you can rely and trust that they will perform for you at a high level. We still talk today.
What current projects are you doing?
We typically have anywhere from six to 10 projects going on at any one time. Some of our projects right now include an administrative office for Austin Community College, a design center for another client, work on the new Apple campus, a call center for Louis Vuitton in Dallas and an office renovation for Humana Healthcare Insurance in San Antonio.
How is Swinerton doing overall?
The craft side is growing each month. All of our markets are flush with work with good clients right now. All of our divisions build different product types, such as multi-family, high-rise, aviation, medical. Most of our offices have special project units that lead to sharing corporate services account work with Fortune 1000 companies like VISA and Bank of America when they build in different locations.
What advice would you give someone who aspires to be where you are?
Learn as much as you can about the business and networking. Understand the business and where you can add value. We hire people and the job description comes with, for example, 12 items they are expected to do. You rise through the organization by doing 24 items. Take initiative and have a “want to win with a team” attitude. This is a tough business. There’s a lot of competition, a lot of risk and the economy impacts us every quarter.
You’ve said you love working for this company. Why is that?
The thing I am most proud of is the leadership. It starts at the top and goes to every division. There is a lot of enthusiasm, passion and the time invested by the executives is very unique. The president of the company could walk into the office in Austin and address the employees by name. That means a lot to all of us. Our leadership has long-term vision and they communicate that to the employees. There’s no hidden agenda. They can look beyond the day-to-day and know there is a purpose for the next 15 years. It’s a great, great company. They’ve been really good to me and I’ve had many unique experiences here. The next five to 10 years will be a really fun time
That’s great to hear! So, when you aren’t working, what do you and Sharon like
We spend a lot of time on baseball fields! We’ve traveled to Nebraska, Arizona, Puerto Rico for Grant’s baseball games. I love to golf and we both love to cook. We do a lot of grilling and Sharon gets my attention when she cooks her Italian and Mexican dishes. We do home projects together in our downtime (winter).
When you travel on vacation, where are your favorite places?
We go to Mexico a lot. We like Puerto Vallarta. We like the Old Town, the food and culture is phenomenal. We took the boys this year to learn to surf. That was a pretty funny experience. We also like Arizona and we visit there quite often. We are thinking about going back to Hawaii this summer for Grant’s graduation present.
Who would you buy a beer for?
I’d love to have a beer and talk to President Harry Truman right after the end of WWII and how he felt about using atomic weapons. He had to make that decision himself and live with it forever. I’d like to talk to him and see if he thought he made the right decision and why. –cw
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