ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A young Cynthia Schultz always took pride in what her father did for a living, and it helped that she could literally see the results of his work.
Whether it was the city aquarium or her school’s library, she could point to her dad’s construction projects all around Albuquerque.
“When I was a kid, (I thought), ‘What’s cooler than a big building (and) being able to say you had something to do with it?'” she remembers.
Schultz decided early that she wanted to follow in her dad’s footsteps at Bradbury Stamm Construction. She worked teenage office jobs there and even spent a summer as a laborer.
Dad, however, wasn’t so sure.
“For a long time, he really discouraged it, because he knew the stress that went with it,” Schultz says of her father, Jim King. “He’s been through down economies and up economies, all those kinds of things. I would say he certainly never said ‘no’ (to that goal), but he definitely wanted me to look at a lot of other options.”
Armed with an economics degree, she flirted with becoming and investment banker.
It just didn’t hold the same allure.
She earned a master’s in construction management and returned to Bradbury Stamm, working her way up until she formally succeeded her dad as president in 2011.
The company did $119 million in volume last year and is currently working on a number of other big projects, including the Albuquerque Convention Center renovation and a new Albuquerque Public Schools preK-8 school near Atrisco Heritage.
Q: You’ve been around construction all your life. Do you remember your first trip to a construction site?
A: No. (Laughs) There’s some photos, like one when my parents were building their first house and stuff like that. And then every year, my dad was pretty busy, so he’d set aside a couple “special days” is what we would call them, where he’d take me out to all the job sites, like all day during the summer. (I’d) get to hang out with everyone. I always thought those were very cool.
Q: You once spent four months working as a laborer?
A: It was just over the summer, mostly for the experience. I had been working in our mill – we had an architectural woodworks mill. Honestly, I wasn’t really convinced they really needed me. I asked our general superintendent one day (when) he came by. I think everyone was nervous to stick me in the field. I was like, “Is there anywhere you guys could use me?” He was like, “Well, we definitely need a laborer on that job site,” so he took me up there (to the Woodmark assisted living community in Uptown). I think I was a pretty good laborer. I was very efficient. A lot of it is just sweeping, cleaning, putting a lot of stuff in Dumpsters, that kind of stuff. I think I was pretty efficient, trying to develop systems to try to improve it and so forth. It was kind of fun. Definitely a lot more fun than I had in the mill. I felt I was actually contributing.
Q: Were you the only female?
A: I was definitely the only female, and I would actually have to run to the mall to use the facilities. We had porta potties on site, but they were pretty nasty, and sometimes I think they purposely made the seats really nasty, honestly.
Q: What project have you worked on with the company that you’re most proud of?
A: That’s kind of a dangerous one, but the Metropolitan Courthouse. I was out there for two years with our team on that and that was an incredibly challenging project in many respects. And, unfortunately, it got mired in some controversy after that. We had nothing to do with any of that, I can tell you, we were just trying to get the thing built with all the parts. That was really exciting, because I was on site (as a project engineer) with a cohesive project team trying to work through everything, every day and really contributing to trying to make that project happen. It was a very complicated project (with) lots of changes. Obviously, (it was) in Downtown Albuquerque (and) it was almost $50 million in construction costs. It’s still one of the bigger projects the company has completed.
Q: In what ways are you and your dad alike?
A: That’s a good question. We’re alike in a lot of ways.
Q: Is it easier to ask in what ways are you different?
A: (Laughs) Maybe. … I think we share a lot of the same goals and when it does come to decisions – how you balance financial considerations versus the community, or what’s right or what’s exciting and those kinds of things – I think we’re both pretty conservative folks when it comes to taking risks. But also we’ll take a calculated risk if we think it makes sense. … I think we have a lot of similar mannerisms (which) is probably what you’d get from people around here. Some of that is (that) he’s who I’ve worked with forever and you kind of adopt some of those things.
Q: What’s your life like away from work? A: It’s really great. I’ve got a family with kids at really fun ages. At the same time, they aren’t too busy yet, so we actually get to hang together on the weekend. We go up to the Pecos a lot.
Q: After going to school in Chicago and Arizona, did you ever consider living somewhere else?
A: Living in both those places – they were both great places, but I did go, “Wow, we’ve just got such great weather (in Albuquerque). We’ve got the mountains.” So, if anything, it probably reinforced to me that this is where I wanted to live. You just can’t beat the temperature, and I’m definitely a person who needs the sun to stay perky.
Q: What’s on your bucket list?
A: Going to the Alhambra in Spain. … There’s a book by Washington Irving that talks about it, so I’ve always wanted to go there. I’ve been to Spain, but we didn’t make it to Granada (to see the Alhambra).
Q: What’s your most prized possession?
A: Probably just my books. I still have a pretty big library. Not that I get around to ever reading them anymore.