Although he began working in construction with his father once he was big enough to “reach up and open up the door of the truck,” Steve Jones didn’t start out with Carl A. Nelson & Company looking to build a construction career that would span more than 30 years.
With the first of his two daughters on the way in 1989, though, he needed to start making more money than he was earning as an electrician for a boat manufacturer. And in those days, an hourly bump from $5 to the $7 wage of a beginning carpenter was significant.
Once at CANCO, the mentorship of foremen and superintendents he respected and whose footsteps he followed in helped see Jones through a succession of projects and promotions that ultimately led him to a position where he’s now doing the leading and the mentoring.
“It’s been a good career,” said Jones, who added he is eyeing retirement, but didn’t know for sure when, if or for how long.
The variety of the work keeps him learning how to tackle new challenges. That keeps the work interesting.
Being assigned as superintendent this year on a steam tunnel reconstruction job at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, Iowa, marked a career first in a career full of them. At the outset of his employment, Jones said, CANCO mostly built buildings with four walls and a roof. And while the company still does that, it also handles a lot of industrial-type construction where one job often is not like the one before or the one that comes next.
A successful superintendent, he said, is one who can see the challenge in the construction documents, figure out how to make it work based on problem-solving experience on past projects, and knows he can count on the project management around him to answer questions.
How to be that kind of builder, Jones said, really clicked for him about 15 years ago, not long before his promotion to superintendent.
That progression was the result of working for the field leaders who helped bring him along. Like Superintendent Carl Lindstadt, who worked for company founder Carl A. Nelson, and whose name is mentioned frequently by members of CANCO’s current roster of long-term superintendents for his importance in their career development.
There now is satisfaction in seeing that same growth in some of the young field leaders who work on his projects.
“It makes you feel good when that kid can go out and see things beyond what you’ve seen,” Jones said. “That’s great. If they can do that, they’re a step ahead of everybody.”
Away from work, Jones said he’s always thinking about work. To distract him from it, he and his wife, Molly, like spending time with their two adult daughters, Hailey and Alicia, and going out to eat. Molly Jones, who is a universal banker at Oquawka State Bank, in Oquawka, Illinois, enjoys tending flowers and gardening; while Jones enjoys target shooting and working in his hobby sawmill on their 25-acre timber outside of the Henderson County town, cutting oak and pine for firewood but also making lumber, which he mostly shares with others.
— Craig Neises, director of marketing