It takes a team to build a building. Behind every one facility are dozens upon dozens of men and women who help bring the vision to life.
Brian Teeters, president at Engelsma Construction, Inc., is one of those people. Having worked with HTG on a variety of projects, we caught up with Brian to learn about how he got involved in his career, his preference of toys that helped aid in that, and everything in between.
HTG: How did you come to hold your position at Engelsma, and when did your path into construction begin?
Brian Teeters: I had known Jeff Engelsma for many years prior to joining Engelsma, and we had talked about working together someday, it just took us a while to finally make it happen.
I first got started in construction around age 13 working for my family’s small excavation/crane rental business in Iowa. This led me to my college major of construction engineering at Iowa State University.
HTG: Were you a big fan of Legos and Tonka trucks growing up?
Teeters: Growing up I did enjoy Legos and Tonka trucks, but was more excited about being outside and makeshift building out of logs, material scraps, etc., that the farm I lived on had laying around. I also really learned a lot growing up on a farm about how to improvise and work with whatever materials you had available to fix and build needed farm related structures.
HTG: Roughly how many construction projects have you been a part of in your lifetime? Do you have a favorite?
Teeters: If I were to guesstimate the number of projects I have been involved with, it would be in the thousands. My favorite project would be the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona. It is a state-of-the-art 200,000 square-foot museum that includes a performing arts theater, and is the first of its kind in the world on how it showcases exhibits.
HTG: What is your favorite aspect of your job?
Teeters: It has to be developing relationships with our customers.
HTG: What is your least favorite?
Teeters: Trying to control owner cost expectations in a very volatile labor and commodities market.
HTG: Talk about your relationship with HTG Architects
Teeters: HTG and Engelsma have had a great relationship on the past projects we have partnered on. Our teams have worked well together, proven with our successful track record.
HTG: When did you guys first begin constructing multipurpose facilities (like Vadnais Heights Sports Complex)?
Teeters: Our first multipurpose facility was VHS, so we had to learn quickly. HTG was instrumental to the whole team with this effort considering their long resume of past successful multipurpose projects.
HTG: Is it a wonderful feeling to create spaces that are designed for both living purposes (like apartments) and recreation/entertainment?
Teeters: What I love about being a builder is that I have to really understand each owner’s and architect’s goals, and then also understand each projects functionality before breaking ground. By being diverse in what we build, I feel it gives us an advantage to where we can take bits and pieces from each product type and get better with each project.
HTG: What’s your favorite tool in a toolbox? Why?
Teeters: A laser measurer—it takes away the manual error!
HTG: What’s one of the more challenging things in a building an ice facility? What did you learn from that?
Teeters: It’s the mechanical systems coordination, especially the refrigeration component.
HTG: Best piece of advice in this career that you’ve been given?
Teeters: Cherish and grow the relationships you have in this business. Without them, we are just another service company.