John Platon
Vice president and Pacific Northwest regional leader for Adolfson & Peterson Construction

With 30-plus years of construction management experience, and expertise in both the operational and strategic sides of the industry, John is the go-to resource for all aspects of the industry. His extensive background spans everything from estimating to business development and sales, and sectors from strategic business partnerships to large-scale project completion. After leadership positions with several West Coast construction companies, followed by 13 years as a senior vice president and partner with KHS&S Contractors in Anaheim, California, he joins Adolfson & Peterson in our region. Here are some of his thoughts on the construction industry, and its future.

You have worked on all sides of construction for more than three decades. From your perspective, where has that industry changed the most during that time?
We basically build with the same materials we have for years; the delivery has changed. Pre-fabrication and BIM/modeling have allowed us to build better products faster and more efficiently.
You also were a partner with a contracting company in California. Is the industry different in this region — and if so, how?
No, it’s basically the same in all regions. The cycles of product type, though, varies from region to region with regards to timing: i.e., government, healthcare, commercial and residential, depending on the local needs and economy.  
Construction was one of the industries that took the biggest hit during the recession. Where do you see recovery happening now?
It appears to be coming back in all of the regions that I have worked in and all of the product types that we provide. Hopefully, this cycle will be a controlled recovery.
What are your favorite types of project to work on and/or manage? Why?  
I enjoy design/build or design/assist projects. It allows us to put together a team of consultants that have experience with us and the product type, so that we can provide a great experience for the owner in the areas of design, functionality and cost.
How much traveling will you do for work on an annual basis in your new position, and why?
Travel now is much lighter, I’m dealing with the West Coast currently. It’s nice to be home on a regular basis now. It’s very different from my previous position over the past 12 years, which had me traveling throughout the United States, Canada, Asia and the Middle East.
What type(s) of educational tracks are best for high school and college students looking to work in construction?
Architectural was always my passion, but construction management and financial backgrounds are important as well.
In your eyes, is this a good time to start a construction business? Why or why not?
Starting a new business is always going to be a personal decision. Some new businesses are started because of lack of work at a large company, and some are started because of a robust economy. The important part is to have a solid plan in place to eliminate as much risk as possible, and to love what you’re doing.
Several years from now, where do you see construction booms? Meaning, what’s on the horizon for 2020 and beyond; or is it too early to speculate?
(Laughing) I wish I had a tool that could speculate that far. It would make planning a business model much easier.
What’s one piece of advice you would share with anyone wanting to break into the construction industry?
It’s an incredible business and has provided me with great friends and wonderful life experiences. As with any career, make sure it’s your passion.
What’s one lesson you learned early in your career that you still use on the job today?
Keep your word. People depend on it, and plan around it.
If you have one, what is the mantra or motto you live by in general every day?
Treat everyone with respect. Also, there are no bad ideas!