Brian Malich, J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Brian Malich, senior preconstruction manager, J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

A large part of what I do involves delivering budget news that our clients aren’t always excited to hear. We work through multiple design scenarios with various cost impacts and the challenging part of it is relaying the process in terms that everyone can understand and hopefully appreciate.

The flip side to this is that when I’ve done my job well, our clients can look back on the process and recognize that they’ve received the best product possible. It’s that moment that I find most rewarding in what I do — a client, who may or may not be construction savvy, realizes the value in the preconstruction process, that wasn’t always good news, and takes that moment of realization to genuinely thank us for what we do.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

Along my career path in the construction industry, in either a general contractor or construction manager role, I’ve had the pleasure to meet many entrepreneurs who are running their own businesses — many of them small or even solo outfits. I have a lot of admiration for these individuals. Taking this avenue is a daunting one, fraught with uncertainty. It takes a bold and confident individual to tackle that path. Individuals with these traits are the type of people I really enjoy working with, and there seems to be a high percentage of these types within the construction community.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

While I’ve been blessed with personal success and promotions along my career path, and I’ve had the awesome pleasure of working on some very exciting iconic projects (first new hospital facility, first nine figure project, etc.), they aren’t quite what I would list as a high point in my career. The high point of my career is easily having found, at a relatively young age, a manager and employer that so strongly support and allow me the freedom to push my professional abilities as far as I can.

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

I spent the early years of my career focusing on consuming and learning as much technical knowledge as possible. I wanted to know the nuts and bolts of what I was doing. In part, it’s those finite details that I enjoyed most about my role in the construction industry. While important to have this technical base, I spent those years not thinking much about the “personal” side of the business — the soft skills. I’ve discovered along the way that there’s so much value I can bring to my role and to my company through communicating what I know and how I do my job, not just with our clients and industry colleagues but with those within our own organization, as well. If I could go back and share some advice with my 21-year-old self, it would be to make sure I'm honing all of my skills, both technical and soft.

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What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

Dane County is such a fantastic merging of great places to live and work. On one hand, we have the State Capitol and the University of Wisconsin right in the heart of the county and then on the same hand we have such features as the Yahara Chain of Lakes (Mendota, Monona, Waubesa, Wingra, and Kegonsa) and a short drive away we have attractions like Cave of the Mounds and the Lodi Marsh. We have such a professional opportunity to engage in a vibrant downtown business district, and at the same time, if we’d like to get away from the hustle and bustle, we have an amazing selection of outdoor activities to enjoy year round. I couldn’t be happier to be raising our family here in Dane County.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I have to say the one thing about me that people seem the most surprised to hear about is that I was an accomplished swimmer in my pre-professional life. While you may not know it based on the volume of Badger gear that exists in my home, I’m an Ohio State alumnus, where I spent four years on the varsity swim team. During my career with Ohio State, I accumulated three individual Big Ten titles, one Big Ten relay title, and multiple NCAA All-American accolades. That, and the fact that at 6’5” I’ve never played organized basketball. Those are probably the two biggest surprises people discover once getting to know me.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I’m a This Old House and general DIY-project junkie. Between work and family life, I don’t currently have a lot of dedicated “me time,” but anytime I can I’ll resort to one of those two guilty pleasures. If the kids are in bed and I need to be quiet, it’s This Old House time (the PBS app on the Roku is a great resource). If I can find some time on a weekend or evening when I can make some noise, I’ll start ripping the deck off the back of the house to create a patio for a basketball court or start framing in space in the basement to add another bathroom to the house. Spoiler alert, I’m now eyeing part of the basement to build in a small batting cage!

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