Jeff Richards joined Absher Construction Co. directly after graduating from UW-Seattle’s Construction Management program and to hear him recount the past 14 years, he’s been learning ever since. That interest in growing places him on the 2017 list of “40 Under Forty” honorees.

Steady growth of skills and advancement in responsibility through the ups-and-downs of a recession buffeted construction industry has led him to his current role as Chief Operating Officer of the 77-year-old Puyallup firm with over 200 employees. Though he claims to be an introvert, it is people that Richards is most passionate about.

“My biggest challenge to date … has to do with staffing. During the Great Recession, we unfortunately were forced to make some hard decisions and downsized staff,” he says. “Today, as we ramp up to follow the construction boom, we continually need more staff.” The solution incorporates both rapid training for existing employees, and intensive recruiting and retention of new hires.

As the family business looks ahead to succession planning, Jeff Richards will likely be an ever more important young leader both within the firm and in its home communities.

Described by her nominator (and boss) as something of a marketing “rock star” before she joined Evergreen Eye Center last year, Kristy ‘Indi’ Rooney has already “had an outsized effect” on her new organization. And now, she is impacting others through her recognition as one of 2017's “40 Under Forty” honorees.

This director of marketing brought experience from Swedish Hospital and GE Healthcare, along with her graduate degree from USC, as well as entrepreneurial learning in her own business.

“I love helping small companies get their marketing sorted out,” Rooney says. “I have created some wonderful brands that helped organizations win new clients and grow. But personally, I would have to say having my two sons” (five and three years old) are what makes her most proud.

A volunteer with Childhaven for nine years, Indi is also a board member for Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce, and she regularly participates in Career Day events with her local schools. Rooney has also sponsored middle school robotics teams because she believes STEM learning is so important.

Meet Jeff Richards and Kristy Rooney, plus 38 other remarkable members of 2017’s 40 Under Forty cohort at the celebration of their honors on Wednesday, October 11, at Foss Waterway Seaport in downtown Tacoma. It begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and the recognition program will conclude before 8 o’clock.  Tickets are available at this link.