Steve Peterson joined GLY in 2002 and played an important role at the company for the past 13 years as CFO. Everyone at GLY would characterize Steve as hard-working, thoughtful and measured—the voice that says “we need to be responsible about the risk.” Steve also filled the role of lead guitarist in GLY’s house band, the uGLYs. We will not forget the impact he had on the company, and his humble presence and musical talent in the office will be missed.
Steve turns off the lights in his office one last time and celebrates retirement on October 5. We’re excited for him to spend more time perfecting his guitar playing, traveling with wife and best friend, Tami, and tinkering with his hobby cars instead of crunching numbers. As he departs on this journey and passes the torch, he answered a few questions about his life and career at GLY.
WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO GLY?
Before GLY, I spent 11 years as Division Controller for SDL, a private, locally-owned general contractor that was eventually acquired by McCarthy Building Companies of St. Louis. During the latter part of 2001, McCarthy closed its divisional office here in Bellevue. I was the last person to exit that office, turning off the lights in March of 2002. It was a tough time for me personally. My father passed in January 2002 and I had the weight of unemployment on my shoulders with a young family to support.
In the midst of it all, I was fortunate to meet Van Hardy, GLY’s CFO at the time. Van was looking for his replacement so that he could retire in a few years. We immediately hit it off, and the same was true for the rest of the Principal leadership at GLY. Ted Herb, Chief Estimator at the time and now President, asked me to do push-ups in my final interview session. I appreciated the good sense of humor and we still laugh about it to this day. I knew right away I wanted to work for this great company.
WHAT CHANGES IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY HAVE YOU WITNESSED?
The industry is much more complex today across all spectrums: operational, legal, contractual risk transfer, the level of transparency required to support a project, speed of delivery, increased technical requirements and capability of project team members, and speed of information.
WHAT IS A HIGHLIGHT OF YOUR CAREER?
My entire career has been a great experience. I suppose if I had to choose one highlight, it was being recognized by the PSBJ as CFO of the Year in 2009.
WHAT SKILL DID YOU DEVELOP DURING YOUR CAREER THAT YOU WISH HAD AT THE START?
I often have those “if I only knew then what I know now…” moments. My analytical skills and ability to digest complex information quickly and efficiently developed over time. There’s nothing like doing something for 30+ years to help provide a certain clarity and skill advancement.
WHO DO YOU CONSIDER A MENTOR DURING YOUR CAREER?
Certainly Van Hardy. I was privileged to work with him for three years, and it could have been longer from my perspective. I enjoyed it very much.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR THOSE JUST STARTING THEIR CAREER?
Work hard, inspect what you expect, meet your promises, don’t assume you can change the world overnight [instead, think long-term], be disciplined in your work approach, have a sense of humor, use modeling to test recommendations and logic, don’t over-delegate where you can become a subject matter expert, communicate crisply, take care of your family and community, treat people well and with respect, and finally…
…don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT DO YOU ENJOY DOING MOST?
Anything involving guitars, hot rods, or muscle cars. Perhaps a Porsche thrown into the mix, along with cigars, manhattans, or martinis. Did I mention that I’m a Seahawks fan? GO HAWKS!
HOW LONG HAVE THE UGLYS [GLY’S HOUSE BAND] PLAYED TOGETHER?
We’ve had a variety of lineups since forming in 2002 as a group of three. It was primarily a guitar club back then. We shared ideas, learned from each other, and simply enjoyed each other’s company. After realizing other people at GLY shared a similar passion and wanted to join in, the club expanded into the uGLYs. The band morphed over time into its current form, and we’ve been together for about eight years. It’s been a blast!
DID YOU HAVE ANY INTERESTING JOBS WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
I was a laborer for my father’s residential construction company, Ilandia Construction, during my high school summer breaks. We specialized in design-build, high-end custom homes built on or around the San Juan Islands, Bainbridge Island, Port Townsend, etc. I worked on several cool projects and paid my dues along the way. The superintendent threw rocks at me in an attempt to motivate me to work faster. The superintendent also referred to my car, a 1970 Cuda, as a “meat grinder.” Despite the periodic abuse, it was generally a good experience. I learned about the industry and what techniques were not necessarily the best for motivating people.
AS A MUSICIAN YOURSELF, WHO WOULD YOU LOVE TO SEE IN CONCERT?
I would like to see Jeff Beck perform some day, preferably in a small venue … Jazz Alley perhaps. He’s a great guitarist [one of the greatest, in my opinion] with a unique style and approach to the instrument.
WHAT IS ON YOUR RETIREMENT AGENDA?
The list continues to grow: 1. Live my life in ways that stimulate my mind and improve or sustain my physical health; 2. Stay socially connected to all my friends at GLY; 3. Give back to the community; 4. Attend guitar school and record music; 5. Continue to play with the uGLYs; 6. Manage my investments; 7. Travel; 8. Look at, work on, and drive cool cars; 9. Try not to irritate my wife, Tami.
WHAT ARE A FEW OF YOUR HOPES + WISHES FOR GLY AND THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY?
I hope GLY continues to have opportunities to be involved in projects that use both proven techniques, and new innovations that push boundaries and add value. I hope for ongoing prosperity in our region, and our industry.
Join us in congratulating Steve and wishing him the best!