Spending time with… Brad Oliver, Hoefer Wysocki

Brad Oliver, Hoefer Wysocki

The Vice President and Director of Construction Administration at Hoefer Wysocki on why the mornings are the best time to get things done, the magic of John Prine and why a little hard work never hurt anyone. 

What is the most cherished item in your home office?
My most cherished items are three custom clocks. All three of my children went to out-of-state colleges, and as a way to have them with me and remember what time zone they are each in, I had three clocks made with each of their photographs on the face. Now, I look to those clocks to remind me that they are off making their own way and help me time our visits via the phone.

What is your favorite time to get things done?
My favorite time to get things done is definitely the quiet of the early morning. If there is one thing the construction industry taught me early on, it is that a productive day starts early.

Brad and his wife, Anna

What is the soundtrack that plays in the background of your office?
We have a family tradition of making Spotify playlists for road trips. We each get to contribute about 20-25 songs, depending on the length of the trip. So, most days, you will find me listening to one of the Family Road Trip Playlists. They are definitely eclectic.

What does a typical workday look like?
A typical workday for me starts in the office for quiet strategic planning and connecting with my team. I spend the remainder of the day addressing the challenges, or what I like to call “opportunities” — be it client meetings, internal strategic planning or job site visits.

Ultimately, as Vice President and Director of Construction Administration, my responsibility is to provide the calm voice of leadership, while empowering our team to use their respective strengths to problem-solve and address those opportunities. Each one of our projects is unique and presents its own set of opportunities. My goal every day is to safely “land the plane.”

How are you staying connected with your team? Customers?
Throughout the COVID quarantine, connecting with my group via daily Teams or Zoom calls was vital. Now that we’re back in our office, we have “Mask-to-Mask” — formerly known as face-to-face meetings. Zoom has been an essential tool to keep in touch with clients, too. Recently, we have resumed in-person meetings, albeit with social distancing, masks and other prevention protocols. While the new elbow-to-elbow greeting works, I must say, I sure miss a good handshake.

What is the craziest thing that has ever happened to you on a job site?
Early in my career, when working on a suburban hospital expansion site, a 20-ton mobile crane turned over. Thankfully, nobody was hurt, but it taught me a good lesson: We can never let important details become mundane. Even though the construction industry is full of repetitive tasks, we have to treat every task, every day, with the same attention to detail. Safety is not a wash-rinse-repeat scenario.

Name the band you cannot take off your playlist.
Right now, John Prine (rest his soul) and Robert Earl Keen, Jr. are my “on repeat” favorites.

What are you binge-watching right now?
Right now, my wife and I are binge-watching “The World’s Toughest Race” on Netflix. The grit and determination of these athletes is inspiring.

What is the coolest thing you have done since the pandemic hit?
Four years ago, my wife was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. We had a freshman in college, and a senior and sophomore in high school. We had just started a big deck and fire pit project that had to go on hold. With the help of friends and family, we got the deck project completed. But the fire pit, while appearing finished on the outside, still needed to have the gas piping, fire glass and lid completed. So, for our 25th wedding anniversary, my wife and I finished it during the quarantine. Now, we’re just waiting for the cool fall evenings to enjoy it.

Favorite comfort food.
When I think “comfort food,” I think of my Grandmother. Being the youngest grandchild, I was possibly a tad spoiled by her. She knew whenever I visited, I’d want her homemade fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes and cherry pie. That meal is still unrivaled.

Best advice you ever received?
It was from my parents and my wife’s oncologist. For as long as I can remember, my parents always infused gratitude and the value of hard work into our lives. My Dad used to say, “Reach as high as you can, and then reach a little higher.”

At a pivotal time during my wife’s treatment and recovery from her third bout with cancer, her oncologist, Dr. Siddhartha Ganguly, said, “ I have news, not necessarily good news, not necessarily bad news. It’s just news. We will make a plan to address it.”

While very different, these perspectives guide my approach to life. Every day, I remind myself the sun’s up.

Biggest influence in your life?
My parents have been my greatest influences. My Dad, a salesman by trade, taught me my interpersonal and relational skills. My Mom, who, at the age of 14, in the midst of the Depression, built her own car from the ground up, taught me the virtue of hard, physical, do-it-yourself, work. I am, to this day, happiest when I am outside working with my hands.

What trait do you most admire?
It is definitely accountability. Accountability encompasses so many other traits, such as honesty, ethics, integrity, and many others.

What advice would you give your younger self?
If I had the opportunity to advise my younger self, I’d say: “View all obstacles as opportunities,” and “There are no shortcuts; do the work.”

What is the first thing you are going to do when you are able to get back to some sense of normalcy?
My wife and I are looking forward to time with friends and family. When our last child went to college in September 2019, we thought about how we would spend our time as empty nesters. Spending time with friends and family is something we identified as a way to fill the quiet of the empty nest. COVID has obviously put a hole in those plans, so, like many people, we are really just looking forward to those nights around the fire pit with friends and family.

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