Bernie Lange, National Construction and JG Development
IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Bernie Lange, project development manager, National Construction and JG Development.
What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?
A big challenge is helping prospective clients understand the variety of approaches and processes in the commercial construction industry. I/we prefer a consultative approach — listening to our clients’ needs and fears and then recommending a process that they are comfortable with. The right process allows the client to be as involved as they want to be. The rewarding part of my job is that no two days are alike, and no two clients are alike. I have enjoyed being in the industry in Madison for a while. When I get a call from a past client or the next generation of a previous client, it really makes my day!
Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?
My answer is twofold. My wife, Amy, has been a teacher with the MMSD for many years. She enjoys teaching special needs children and has so much patience. She is a great resource for me when I am dealing with a challenging situation, working with me to break it down into manageable pieces. Also, I work with a friend, consultant Mike Kutchin, owner of See Change Management. Mike continuously challenges my way of thinking in our strategic planning discussions in a manner that promotes growth and understanding beyond my current knowledge.
What has been the high point of your career so far?
My construction path in Madison began years ago with The Renschler Company. My current employer, JG Development and its division National Construction, is a similarly positive, culture-driven company where the mission is to enhance communities. Both companies have enhanced their communities based on the projects they have built, but also by the relationships built during a positive process. When I am driving in southern Wisconsin, I see so many projects that I have been involved with. Each project brings back a memory of the client or the team that was involved, a special challenge that was overcome together, or a fun story. It’s a collage of unique pictures, memories, and people that only time can build.
Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Enjoy the quiet times. Listen and learn. Work hard on — and in — your business. Build your network with people who push you to be better. Stay true to what you know is right. Love your family and friends. Life is a series of tradeoffs — don’t look back.
There was one particularly dark period of self-doubt in my career, and I cannot see one positive outcome that came from it. I would tell my younger self to look for affirmation in what you do.
What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?
The best thing about Dane County and Madison is that I recognize a friendly face almost everywhere I go. Madison has grown, along with many of the businesses that I have had the pleasure of working with and supporting through the construction industry. We are all part of each other’s continuing successes.
Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?
I like to collect bar lights and bar mirrors and asses their quality, age, and value. It started when my dad brought home a Michelob light when I was a teenager. Something about the metal, glass, light, and advertising became part of my DNA. It’s a fun hobby. My wife and I are always on the hunt antiquing. My collection is ever changing and never complete.
What are your guilty pleasures?
I really like to go fishing — there’s a reason it’s not called catching! I love the water and the promise of a fun, quiet, and sometimes surprising time. You cannot take yourself too seriously because a fish you cannot see controls your destiny. Most often, I use a fishing kayak, and keeping your balance in that is an extra challenge when you catch a big one! I’ve learned a good metaphor for life the hard way: Tether your most important gear, just in case.
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