April 30, 2012

Meet Jerry Overaa: SF Business Time’s CEO Profile.

Jerry Overaa CEO,C. Overaa & Co.
Premium content from San Francisco Business Times by Blanca Torres, Reporter Date: Friday, April 27, 2012, 3:00am PDT BlancaTorres Reporter – San Francisco Business Times Email  | Twitter
HQ: Richmond.
Background: When Jerry Overaa went to college, he planned tobecome an aeronautical engineer, but switched paths to construction by his senior year and ended up going into the family business. C. Overaa & Co., was founded by Jerry Overaa’s grandfather, Carl Overaa, a Norwegian immigrant, in 1907. Jerry Overaa joined the firm in 1966 and rose through the ranks until becomingCEO. The firm has about 350 employees and operates throughout NorthernCalifornia with revenue of $235 million in 2011.
First job: Drawing plans for his father’s construction projects when he wasin high school.
Education: M.S. in civil engineering and construction engineering from StanfordUniversity. B.S. from U.C. Davis in civil engineering.
Residence: Lafayette.
First job: Drawing plans for his father’s construction projects when he was in high school.Education: M.S. in civil engineering and construction engineering from Stanford University. B.S. from U.C. Davis in civil engineering.Residence: Lafayette.

Business strategy
How’s business: It’s better, but construction is still tough – There’s moreinquiries and more opportunities shooting up, but commercial construction isdown 30 percent in Northern California, and that is considered better than therest of the nation.
Biggest challenge for your business: Acquiring new projects.
What will change at your company in the next year: We’re doing more workright now that involves the laboratories, quite a bit of education and doingless in municipal infrastructure.
Goal yet to be achieved: We have to compete on so many fronts and in so manyways, the goal is just to meet the challenges every day.
How will you know that you’ve achieved it: You really never know, you alwayswant to have a little bit of concern, anxiety that you can do it. You have to keeplooking to tomorrow.
Management philosophy
Guiding principles for good management: You have to take a bit of a longerview to make sure you are keeping good opportunities for the people who workfor you and not just look at the project that’s right in front of your eyes.
Best way to keep competitive edge: Have a skill, something you can do thatothers can’t do.
Why people like working for you: Maybe they don’t know any better. They knowwe really care about them, we know it’s important to keep them employed. Wedon’t have many levels of management, so we know most people on a first-namebasis. And our ethics, we’ve kept our blue-collar ethics – It’s important torespect dedicated people.
Mentor: Originally, it was my grandfather Carl, who came from Norway, myDad, and our longtime chief estimator Dick Wilkens. Now, it’s the people who are 20 and 30 years younger than me who have different ideas, skills and wonder about life.
Judgment calls
Best business decision: To try to keep our core people working even in thehardest times and try to find new work for them even if we didn’t make money.
Hardest lesson learned: You can’t take anything for granted. You really haveto make sure that you follow all the little details.
Toughest business decision: Reducing staff, laying people off, and dealingwith people.
Biggest missed opportunity: Not being more concentrated in Silicon Valley.
True confessions
Like best about job: I get energized by the people. In construction, there’sa certain down-to-earth-ness, a certain sincerity; the people are real. Gettingto doing something with people you trust and like.
Like least about job: I get particularly frustrated by things that waste timelike useless meetings, there’s a bunch of them, and endless email chains.
Pet peeve: When people avoid dealing with a problem or make excuses.
Most respected competitor: Nibbi Brothers, DPR Construction, HathawayDinwiddie, Kiewit Corp. and Lathop Construction.
First choice for a new career: Something in the arts like drawing orpainting.
Most influential book: “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand.
Favorite cause: Education.
Favorite movie: “Moneyball,” and more recently, “Hunger Games.”
Favorite restaurant: The one that will take my family for pizza night everyTuesday for 12 to 20 people.
Favorite way to spend free time: Running, reading, hanging out with friends,skiing, hiking.
On your iPod: I haven’t been able to find it for a while. I basically listento sports talk and NPR.
Automobile: Audi Q7 with a lot of miles on it.

Andrew KrimstockConstruction Employers’ Association1646 N. California Blvd., Ste. 500Walnut Creek, CA 94596-4171Phone: (925) 930-8184Fax:(925) 930-9014