Paul Christensen, H&H Industries Inc.
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Paul Christensen, owner/CEO, H&H Industries Inc.
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1. What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
I would have to say “people.” That may sound like a funny response but it’s the truth if you really think about it, and here’s why — I challenge myself everyday with, “How do I impress our employees or how do I impress our clients and people throughout our industry?” How can H&H Industries continue to improve our existing relationships or grow into new relationships, whether that’s with employees, clients, or people throughout our industry? This is a very challenging task as it can be quite the balancing performance at times, but it is the reward that drives me to take on the challenge every day. A company is rewarded by the people it’s made up of. H&H Industries is blessed with dedicated employees, and our clients and the people throughout our industry are the finest of the fine. It is very rewarding and brings great joy to have the opportunity to work with all of these people.
2. Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
The person I have looked up to and admired the most in business is my father, Mike Christensen. I have not only looked up to and admired this man in business, but also as a father and friend. I grabbed a passion for construction around the age of 4, which is when my dad started taking me to the office with him back in Indianapolis, Ind., where I grew up. I loved seeing the machinery and equipment, and would just stare when I saw work going on in the shops or jobsites. My father has taught me a lot about business, life, and keys for success. Some of the best golden nuggets from him have been the simplest one-liners, such as “always surround yourself with good people” and “always be willing to work harder than anyone.” These words of wisdom turned to golden nuggets for me when seeing my father follow and succeed from his own advice.
3. What has been the high point of your career so far?
Five years ago, when I became the proud owner of the same company I started working for as a freshman in high school — mowing the lawn and doing odds and ends around the shop — was definitely a big high point in my life and career. It’s kind of the old school “American dream” — start at the bottom and keep working hard to reach your goals. Working through all the different aspects of our company has been a true asset. It is great to be able to relate to all the different divisions throughout the company. I am able to understand the rolls and appreciate what each individual is actually going through and what value each person adds to the company. I have great respect for all of our employees at H&H Industries. Over the last couple years, H&H has been exceeding my high expectations by breaking records in the history of H&H, which was established in 1901. This would not be possible without the people we have in place.
4. Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
I would give myself the same advice my foreman gave me when I was 21 years old, which was “always respect anyone you work with, as it’s possible someday you may work for them.” This could not be truer in the construction industry. I have not only seen but have experienced the many different hats that are worn by people in the industry, as well as the career changes or transfers that create changes and opportunities to work with someone, work for someone, or have someone work for you. It is very important for all of us to respect one another, as we all need to work together in order to successfully construct projects.