Once dubbed “the connector” by Seattle Business magazine, Charlie Hafenbrack’s genuine interest in people, our industry, and the community established him as GLY’s resident business development guru. Not to mention, he is a Renaissance man of sorts, always picking up a new hobby and honing his skills in music, cooking, organic gardening, and travel. Needless to say, he can find a topic of mutual interest with anyone.
We are thankful for the impact Charlie made on our business over the past 16 years, but even more so, for his contributions to the community, which range from supporting various programs at his alma mater, Washington State University, to tending a community garden near his home. After many years of leadership in the Washington State chapter of NAIOP and contributing significantly to its annual Community Enhancement projects and Night of the Stars ceremonies, Charlie received a special honor and legacy: the renaming of the Night of the Stars judges’ choice award to the Charlie Hafenbrack Judges’ Innovation Award. GLY is proud to know Charlie, and we suspect we’re not alone in that sentiment.
On December 28, 2018, Director of Business Development Charlie Hafenbrack is putting down the laptop and picking up the ukulele as he begins his next big adventure: retirement. We have no doubt that he will stay very busy traveling, learning, and spending quality time with his family. Before he departs on this journey, he answers a few questions about his career at GLY, shares some fun facts about himself, and offers some final words of wisdom.
WHAT IS THE KEY TO BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT?
Having an interest in other people, the curiosity to learn what they need, and the ability to contribute to their success.
WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE WITNESSED IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY?
The changes in technology have been amazing. Desktop computers were new when I joined the industry and typically only a handful of people at each company had one. There was no general deployment of electronic networks, email, or internet in the industry. A five-inch floppy disk was the standard for data storage and monitors were monochrome. The old brick-like cell phones with about 30 minutes of battery life were a major improvement over stopping at pay phones to call someone when you were out of the office or turning in a bid. Smart phones, watches, and all the AR/VR technology were only in the realm of science fiction then. Why would you ever want a camera on your phone?
WHAT ARE TWO HIGHLIGHTS OF YOUR CAREER?
First, making the initial connections that led to some amazing projects—and meeting all kinds of smart people along the way. Second, creating lasting friendships by serving on committees, industry boards, and community organizations.
WHAT SKILL DID YOU DEVELOP DURING YOUR CAREER THAT YOU WISH YOU HAD AT THE START?
Effective time management. I wish I had the discipline at the beginning of my career to recognize when I wasn’t being productive and it was time to go home.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST STARTING THEIR CAREER?
You have to serve somebody. Find an organization that can use your passion and intellect, and help make it better.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO ABOUT RETIREMENT
The freedom to treat each day as a new adventure—after that first cup of coffee, of course.
I’m also looking forward to having more time for my favorite activities such as gardening and driving down country roads with my wife, Linda.
AS A WORLD TRAVELER, WHAT IS YOUR MOST MEMORABLE VACATION?
Our recent trip to Portugal to visit our son, Andy, and his family in Lisbon, then driving east from Porto into the Douro Valley. Family and beautiful scenery … doesn’t get much better than that!
TELL US ABOUT THE LUCKY FAMILY MEMBERS WHO WILL SEE MORE OF YOU AFTER RETIREMENT.
Between the two of us, Linda and I have four grown children: Holly, Jenny, Andy, and Matt. They are spread out between Seattle, Maple Valley, Hood River and Lisbon. We also have two grandchildren: Kennedy and Angelo. Pets and house plants are on hold until we get more travel under our belts.
IF YOU COULD MEET ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE?
Wendell Berry: farmer, essayist, conservationist, novelist, teacher, and poet who emphasizes the connection between the natural environment and the whole range of human activity.
DID YOU HAVE ANY INTERESTING JOBS WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER?
Farm worker, YMCA summer camp maintenance guy and counselor, auto parts department manager, tugboat deckhand, quality control tech for Cougar Gold Cheese, harvest truck and public school bus driver, fireman, emergency medical technician, accounting clerk, agricultural field representative, barley buyer, malt salesman, member of a state commodity commission, foreign trade consultant, VP Marketing, Director of Business Development. I have lots of stories…
WHAT IS THE BEST CAREER ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED?
During my senior year at Kelso High, my classes ended at noon. I took a part-time job as the parts manager for a small foreign car dealership over in Longview, Washington. One day, after offering my unsolicited and rather lopsided comparison of two cars on the showroom floor to a potential customer, he responded, “Young man, we all have our own ideas about quality.” He then turned and walked out. That taught me to ask questions first, to try to understand the other person’s perspective, then launch respectfully into my own opinions.
WHAT WOULD BE YOUR DREAM JOB IF YOU WEREN’T WORKING AT GLY?
I’d like to find some niche within the Bill + Melinda Gates Foundation that focuses on improving soil health and food quality and production worldwide.
IF YOU HAD TO EAT ONE MEAL FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I don’t seem to tire of my morning oatmeal with lots of fruits and nuts and a splash of kombucha.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOPES + WISHES FOR THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY?
I hope this industry continues to be a place where clients, designers, and craftspeople in all disciplines work together to develop creative and affordable places to live, work, and play.
I wish for continued career paths in our industry that allow future generations to live creatively and have meaningful employment, raise their families, and enjoy our wonderful natural environment.