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Thought Leadership
Colorado Springs Denver

20 Over 20: A JE Dunn Story of Retention

JE Dunn Construction Company has had a long history of tenured employees throughout its 100-year existence and their Rocky Mountain office is a shining example.

In the dynamic landscape of modern employment, where career shifts and job transitions are increasingly common, longevity at one company is rare. JE Dunn Construction Company has had a long history of tenured employees throughout its 100-year existence and their Rocky Mountain office is a shining example of achieving what many companies might find impossible – 20 people that have been with the company for over 20 years. After interviewing these employees to deep dive into their journeys with JE Dunn, three themes rose to the top when asked why JE Dunn: the people, the families first mentality, and a commitment to doing the right thing.

Mark Reilly, President – West Region, is among the dedicated individuals who have built their careers at JE Dunn. After graduating from Kansas State University in 1984, he applied to work at JE Dunn’s headquarters in Kansas City, Missouri. Reilly quickly rose among the ranks, most notably helping JE Dunn expand outside of Kansas City. In 1997, Reilly was asked to relocate to Oregon to act as the Senior Project Manager on the Oregon State Prison Two Rivers Correctional Facility project. This was the largest project for JE Dunn at that time and set many standards for how the firm delivered work outside of their home base in Kansas City. Reilly said, “the Two Rivers project was the most impactful project of my career because I had to prove myself and do it without the comfort of being in Kansas City. It wasn’t easy but was one of my favorite projects because we had such a great project team from JE Dunn, the owner, design teams, and trade partners.” After the success of that project, the sky was the limit for new JE Dunn offices to begin emerging across the United States.

Two prominent team members that have worked alongside Reilly their entire careers at JE Dunn include Scott Pashman, General Superintendent, and Jason Crookshank, Group Manager. Pashman and Crookshank understand that this industry can be demanding, but also very rewarding when the effort is put in. Pashman said, “I’ve worked in seven states within my 34 years at JE Dunn and I understand that your reputation needs to be earned, not inherited. We are on a collective journey and I know we will all go through difficult challenges, but what keeps me here is knowing we will always get through it together.” Crookshank has worked in multiple departments within the company from Project Management, to Self-Perform, to serving as a process improvement champion. When asked why he has stayed with JE Dunn, he replied, “The integrity of the company. I have never been asked or put into a position that would be considered unethical, which is really important to me.”

JE Dunn’s local Rocky Mountain office lead, Dustin Liljehorn, has also spent the entirety of his career at JE Dunn. Beginning in Kansas City, Liljehorn transferred to Denver in 2001 to work on a remodel project for GSA Building 25 at the Denver Federal Center. Since then, he has led some of the firm’s largest and most complex projects, including the Spire Condos in Denver and the Wyoming Capitol Square project. When asked about his mindset behind leading one of the largest offices for JE Dunn, Liljehorn responded, “I hope I’m making it a place where people want to come work and grow their careers. I’ve found that each generation brings a different and valuable perspective, so effectively guiding and growing multiple generations is an important focus of mine.”

The main theme that rang true throughout all of the interviews was that the people at JE Dunn are what make it a great place to grow your career. Michelle Ott started as a Marketing Coordinator in 2002 and is now Vice President – Marketing Operations Director. Ott summed up her colleagues as “genuine and humble people.” Adding, “I’ve had a number of great mentors and managers throughout her career and have benefited from the confidence gained when people believe in you before you even believe in yourself.” Jason Thomas, Senior Superintendent, agreed with Ott about the culture and people at JE Dunn, saying, “JE Dunn has a solid reputation, they treat me well, pay me well, and are always thinking about my family when I’m asked about a remote assignment. The people are great, and we’ve all grown together. In general, I have just lucked out, JE Dunn is a great company to work for.”

These and similar sentiments were echoed by all 20 of the employees that were interviewed, from superintendents to supporting departments and after two decades of dedicated service with JE Dunn, it is evident that the bond among these team members extends far beyond mere colleagues; they have become a tightly knit community. Through countless projects, challenges, and triumphs, they have forged a collective identity rooted in shared experiences and mutual respect. Their enduring commitment speaks volumes about JE Dunn’s culture and the rewarding nature of their work. In an industry characterized by constant change, their steadfastness serves as a testament to the enduring power of loyalty, dedication, and friendship.

 

The employees interviewed for this article include:

  • Bob Zanzig, Senior Superintendent, 41 years
  • Mark Reilly, President – West Region, 39 years
  • Scott Pashman, General Superintendent, 34 years
  • Jason Crookshank, Group Manager, 30 years
  • Marty Rickett, Senior Project Manager, 29 years
  • Dustin Liljehorn, Rocky Mountain Office Lead, 27 years
  • Brian Holthaus, Senior Project Manager, 27 years
  • Jason Thomas, Senior Superintendent, 27 years
  • Jason Oltman, Group Manager – Healthcare, 26 years
  • Matt Bilstein, Project Director, 25 years
  • James Anderson, Preconstruction Services Director, 24 years
  • Judy Freeman, Senior Project Coordinator, 23 years
  • Jennifer Eng, Learning and Development Manager, 23 years
  • Brandon Moore, Vice President – Healthcare, 23 years
  • Casey Wolf, Senior Superintendent, 23 years
  • Tony Scovel, Senior Superintendent, 22 years
  • Rose Lovato, Executive Administrative Assistant, 21 years
  • Michelle Ott, Marketing Strategy and Operations Director, 21 years
  • Lissa Shaw, Project Manager, 21 years
  • Mike Tilbury, Advanced Industries Director, 21 years
  • Vince Stellino, Senior Project Manager, 20 years

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