The latest Build Me Up podcast features a two-part series with Kraus-Anderson Construction Company President and COO Al Gerhardt, and APi Group Inc. President and CEO Russ Becker. The two leaders have a candid discussion about their individual approaches to innovation, leadership development, and challenges facing the industry.
Check out the Build Me Up Podcast for a more in-depth discussion of these topics!
Meet Al Gerhardt and Russ Becker
Al Gerhardt is President and COO of Kraus-Anderson Construction. He has been part of KA since 1980, where he started as a project manager. Under Al’s leadership, Kraus-Anderson has been consistently ranked among the top 20 Construction Management firms at Risk in the Midwest by Engineering News-Record. He oversees KA’s six construction offices throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
Al currently serves on the boards of the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT) and ACE Mentor Program; and is a past board member of Cornerhouse, a non-profit child advocacy organization. He is a member of NAIOP and past presenter at their national conference. In addition, he has served the State of Minnesota Building Code Advisory Board, Construction Specification Institute, Minneapolis City of Lakes Rotary Club; and as past chair of the Minnesota State University-Mankato Construction Management Advisory Board. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from Minnesota State University-Mankato; and holds General Contractor licenses in Minnesota, Florida, Mississippi and New Mexico.
Russ Becker is the President and CEO of APi Group Inc., one of the largest specialty contractors in North America. APi Group is the parent company to over 40 independently managed life safety, energy, specialty construction and infrastructure companies in over 200 locations worldwide. Russ has served as CEO since 2002, where has created a culture of leadership and grown the family of companies to over $3 billion in sales.
He previously served as a member of Dunwoody College of Technology‘s board of trustees. He is the former chair of the Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota board of directors and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota Foundation board of directors. He currently serves on the Children’s Governance board of directors, the Liberty Diversified Industries board of directors, and the Marvin Companies board of directors. He also serves on the advisory board for the Construction Management Program at Michigan Technological University and the board for the Construction Industry Round Table (CIRT). Russ is an active member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, Minnesota Business Partnership and Greater MSP.
The Hype Behind Innovation
The term “innovation” has become a buzzword in the industry, often synonymous with flashy technological advancements. The two leaders discussed the implications of technological trends such as modular construction; and sensor-based technology. But both Al and Russ acknowledged that some of the greatest innovations are those focused on the human element.
Addressing the Workforce Shortage
It’s difficult to avoid the topic of the workforce shortage when discussing the construction industry. Al and Russ discussed proactive approaches to addressing these challenges, from opening up awareness, building training and education opportunities (with a nod to liberal arts majors), to automated construction tools, and the importance of employee retention.
Creating a Culture of Change-Makers
Both leaders discussed the importance of encouraging new ideas and creating a positive company culture with robust diversity leading to a stronger company. APi Group Inc. is known for its efforts in hiring veterans, women in construction, and cultivating leadership. Kraus-Anderson’s approach encompasses continuous professional development opportunities provided through Kraus-Anderson University.
Listen to Parts One and Two
Check out parts one and two of the Build Me Up podcast with Russ Becker and Al Gerhardt to find out what industry innovation takes their breath away, how they encourage employees to bring ideas to the table, and much more! You can subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.