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One-on-one with Rick Marquardt

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When Rick Marquardt interviewed for a Jaynes Corp. internship in 1983, he went with his customary

plainspoken approach.

One day, he said to the company’s then-president, I want to have your job.

And, some 20-plus years later, he wound up with it.

Marquardt – who grew up working alongside his dad in the elder Marquardt’s homebuilding business – is the consummate man with a plan. He entered college in his early 20s with a clear motive: Get the education necessary to run a large construction company. He took the Jaynes internship with the same mindset: Start here and work up to the top.

“I look to the future, set goals, all that kind of stuff,” Marquardt says.

It’s not that he prefers to look forward; it’s that he seems hard-wired to look only forward.

And now that the native Midwesterner has achieved much of what he wanted to, he’s setting his sights as far out as 2040. As president and CEO of Jaynes, he sees his charge as helping map the company’s course for the next 25 years. Things look pretty good at the moment. Though hard hit during the recession, Jaynes continues to ramp back up. With a staff of about 285, and offices in Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces and Durango, the company stays busy with construction throughout the region, including major projects at Winrock Town Center and Taos Ski Valley.

Q: Describe yourself as a teenager.

A: As a teenager, I was a rebel. I was moderately uncontrollable. I … was able to graduate, got out of high school – actually graduated as a junior. I took an accelerated program because I didn’t want to be there. Main reason. So, as a teenager, I was a bit uncontrollable (and) also an athlete – played lots of baseball, some football, but multiple baseball leagues and teams and all that kind of stuff. Then being from a small community – like 7,000 people where I grew up (Rhinelander, Wis.) – there was also a lot of outdoor stuff right there. (We) lived close to a lake.

Q: What did your parents do?

A: My dad was many things: plumber, carpenter. He and I built houses when I was small. When I first started out, he was a plumber and I remember as a very small kid going along with him on service calls, like on weekends, and I’d take my (toy) trucks, and I’d mess around and he’d fix stuff. Sometimes I’d take him his tools and I started doing that stuff very early. I’d say 5-, 6-year-old range.

Q: Did he take you with him for a particular reason – out of necessity or did he want you to learn?

A: I was interested in that kind of stuff. There would be certain weekends where he’d be on call for service calls. I’d go along. I liked it. So that’s probably why he took me. Probably when I was around 10, he got out of the plumbing business, and started his own little homebuilding and carpenter kind of thing and that’s when we started building houses. I started doing stuff for him probably at 10 and maybe officially worked on getting paid for it starting at 12.

Q: So you took to that stuff?

A: My mother would always tell stories about me and my grandfather because he had little shop he worked (at) in the garage. She would say at (age) 2 he would ask me to get him tools. Phillips-head screwdrivers, this kind of thing, and this kind of wrench, and I would get them for him. So he would ask me particularly hard ones to see if I could do it. I don’t remember any of this, but she would tell me stories that they would do it just to see what I could do, so it’s maybe just a natural aptitude.

Q: Do you remember the first thing you built on your own?

A: Yes, it was some freestanding shelves. (It) sat on the ground, had four legs (and the) shelves went across – maybe four shelves. … I can’t tell you exactly how old I was. I was young still. Eight or 10?

Q: What was it like spending so much time with your dad? Were you guys pretty close?

A: That’s a hard question. We worked together well, and I think we probably worked together well because he always had high expectations and I always kind of met or exceeded the kind of things he thought I could do. So I think, from that standpoint, we worked well. I like to work and I like to do things, so he would give me lots of responsibility and I liked it. But then there were other times when it was not so good because I liked freedom and he would tell me “You’ve got to do this” and “You’ve got to do that,” and I’d think he was wrong. So it wasn’t actually something I would recommend.

Q: You didn’t immediately go into college.

A: (I was) self-employed for a while. Right about the time I graduated early from high school and then right after that time, (my father) decided he didn’t like the idea of building houses. I don’t know any of the details – if he didn’t do so well on some of the houses he built to sell himself or what – but I continued on and did remodels, a lot of remodels, enclosed people’s porches, changed out their windows, you know, remodeled their kitchen, a lot of that kind of stuff.

Q: How did you end up in New Mexico?

A: (Because of) the kind of things you’d have to do to (get through) the winters. I decided when I was 21 that it didn’t make any sense to be doing that. What would happen is I would work during the summers when you could work (in the weather) and then I’d try to get something where you could work inside for a while, but winter comes there in mid-November. Even if I could get something where I could work inside for a while, it was typically done by January and then there’s snow on the ground until mid-March or April 1, so there would be a three-month time frame during which I traveled. It was my thing. I would head out to the West Coast and down the West Coast, and then go through Albuquerque a couple of times, and Houston and Phoenix and San Diego, and over to Florida … anywhere where it was warmer. And so whatever money I could make and build up, I would spend it during the three months. I thought “I’m not going to get anywhere doing this,” so I decided to go some place warmer. And so, having had traveled through it – I think there were three years where I did that winter thing traveling around and had been through Albuquerque a couple of times – my final decision points were I had narrowed it down to where I wanted to go to Albuquerque and San Diego. I decided San Diego had too many people, so I tried here. I thought I’d be here one or two years and then go do something else. That was 1979.

Q: You started at University of New Mexico a year later. What were you planning to do with a civil engineering degree?

A: Work in construction – management and construction. I never had any intention of becoming an engineer. I just thought it was a really good background education because you deal in different structural designs and concrete designs, and water systems and all kinds of things, engineering economics. Just a good, broad spectrum of the things that I was interested in and would get exposed to through the years.

Q: What would like to see Jaynes accomplish under your leadership?

A: Continue to grow. Grow back revenues. Certainly, the recession was really tough on the construction industry in general and then New Mexico has been a challenge because it’s been the slowest state anywhere to recover from the recession, which can be quite frustrating when you see some of the things that are going on around us. But at least we’re on the right track. So (the goal is to) recover to pre-recession levels, build a leadership team that will be in place well beyond when I’m gone, and just strategically focus (and) position us for the next 25 years. That’s about the most I can hope to control.

Q: What are some key projects you’ve worked on that you’re really proud of?

A: I think when we did the parking structure at the Albuquerque Sunport, that big parking structure there. … That had to have been in the late ’80s, but it was a big step for Jaynes to do that size of a job. That was a $20 million project way back then. I don’t know how big it would be in today’s dollars – three or four times that big. It was a big step for Jaynes to do that. It was a significant step, I think, for the company as far as us doing bigger jobs and bigger things, and I think in the community it brought up our reputation as far as what we could do. Jaynes, when I started here, was quite a bit smaller (and) did a lot of the small, retail shopping centers. We did a lot of metal buildings back then. So, through the years, the company has grown a lot.

Q: What’s on your bucket list?

A: I would like to spend a couple of months in the summer going coast to coast in Canada, just because I like the northern part of the (U.S.), and the woods and the wildlife. I spent some time in Canada when I was young. I used to travel around Lake Superior and go up into Canada.

Q: What are your pet peeves?

A: One of the pet peeves I have is people that are so busy talking that they can’t listen. They miss half of life. So, people who talk too much.

Q: What is one food you can’t live without?

A: My favorite food is green chile chicken enchiladas – flat. And my wife makes awesome ones. She makes the best.

Q: Do you have any guilty pleasures?

A: My guilty pleasure is ice cream. I gave it up about – mostly gave it up. I never totally gave it up. I gave it up because I was getting too fat. I tell my wife: “Do not buy ice cream. Just don’t buy it.” If it’s not there, I’m good . (But) she’ll buy some half gallon of ice cream (and) I’m going to eat it.

Q: How would you describe yourself in three words?

A: As much as I talk, you think I could possibly do three words? Let me throw out a few words: humble, but insightful and confident.

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