Sam Blahnik, 1848 Construction

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Sam Blahnik, director of business development, 1848 Construction.

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

Working at 1848 Construction is wonderful in that we help people to create dream projects and allow them to further establish their legacy in the area. I think most people take pride in their jobs and working in the construction industry allows for a tangible, completed result to admire for years. The process can be challenging to gain all necessary approvals, but knowing we are creating a solution to address our clients’ pain points is extremely rewarding.

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

The most influential mentor in my professional career was an amazing person named Stan Shaw. Stan took me under his wing as a college intern and taught me more business and practical life sense than I could have ever learned otherwise. He transitioned employers and actually offered me my first full-time job out of college. Stan was a boss, a father figure, and ultimately one of the closest friends I ever had. I always admired his caring presence, business acumen, and amazing interpersonal skills. He lost a battle with pancreatic cancer years ago, but I still keep in contact with his family and think of his examples often in my professional duties. I hope someday someone may compare me to him!

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

While I have accomplished a number of accolades and individual successes along the way, the highest point of my career thus far is that I have maintained relationships with so many people along the way. We are all influenced by those around us and it is amazing to look back at the many fond friendships that have been created and remain to this day. As one example, my family still visits the first software client I “landed” in 2002, either at their place in Michigan or our place in Wisconsin.

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

At age 21, it would have been 1997. I was traveling the U.S. and playing baseball in college, so I am not sure how forward-minded and receptive to advice I would be. However, I would do my best to convince myself this internet thing was going to be somewhat impactful to the future and that I should register every clever domain name I could think of. On a more philosophical level, I would remind myself to cherish current family and friendships, as life will get more hectic and challenging to share experiences.

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

Having traveled most of the Midwest in an earlier professional role, we should appreciate the unparalleled natural and institutional amenities we have access to in Dane County. This is a wonderful place to raise a family, with great school services and so many activity options. There are many professional entities currently working together to make this an even better place in the future. Dane County is a very exciting scene as the growth trend continues, making it a great location to be in the construction industry.

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

I have five children — four boys and one girl. I provide my own, and my boys’, haircuts. I actually have not paid for a haircut since my freshman year of high school. The purpose and monetary benefits have evolved over time — from saving for gas money in high school to beer money in college and most recently diaper money for the kids. Not sure what I will do with the savings once my youngest becomes potty trained.

What are your guilty pleasures?

I have a passion for the outdoors. Whether it be hunting or fishing, I find myself easily consumed with those activities. I once tried to negotiate a few quick hours of bowhunting while my wife was going into early labor contractions with our second child. It was the deer rut, but I chose (or was eventually convinced) to not miss the miracle of birth — and keep a happy marriage. Good thing, too, as the labor for my daughter’s birth was extremely quick. She was born almost two weeks early, which makes me happy every November as I do not have to miss opening weekend of deer camp to celebrate her birthday!

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