Huff Employee Spotlight: Leroy Kinser, Superintendent | 25 Years of Building Excellence

First and foremost, we would like to thank Mr. Leroy Kinser for his hard work, dedication, and determination over the years. 25 YEARS to be exact! That’s half of our company’s existence as we are celebrating our 50th anniversary as a company this year. It is absolutely incredible to have such a great employee like Leroy and we are so grateful to have such a top-notch Superintendent on our team. Without further ado, get to know more about Leroy by reading more below.

Name: Leroy Kinser
Title: Superintendent
Hire Date: September 1996

Where are you from?
I was born in the Netherlands and raised in Tulare, CA.

What do you do at work?
I am a Superintendent

What did you do before working at Huff Construction?
Before working at Huff Construction, I had just graduated from high school and was attending Modesto Junior College.

How did you get your start at Huff Construction?
I replied to a help wanted ad for warehouse work that Duane Huff posted at the JC.

What has changed at Huff Construction since you started?
The main thing that has changed since I started is the growing use of technology.

What makes you excited to go to work in the morning?
Tackling and solving the day’s unexpected issues.

What’s your favorite part about working at Huff?
One of my favorite things is knowing that you have a solid team behind you to help accomplish the project.

How does Huff support you as an employee?
Huff supports me as an employee by trusting that I have their best interests in mind and therefore they help facilitate me achieving my goals.

What has surprised you about working at Huff?
Honestly, I can’t say that anything has surprised me. I have grown up with Huff Construction, and I have evolved with them.

Do you have a favorite Huff quote or mantra?
I have heard subcontractors compare our way of running jobs to other general contractors, and they always state that they need to do their work “The Huff Way.” Although unofficial, I believe there is a “Huff Way.”

What is your favorite project that you have built?
My favorite project that I have built is the Rossmoor Event Center. This project received several awards including:
2015 NAHB Gold Award, Best 50+ Clubhouse, over 6,000 sqft
2014 Gold Nugget Merit Award, Special Use Project
2013 Gold Nugget Merit Award, Senior Housing Community, On-the-Boards

What has been your proudest moment at Huff?
I am fortunate to have had many proud moments at Huff. From completing my first tenant improvement project for Pier One in Vallejo with Brad Ardis as my PM. To my first ground-up project at the Escalon Christian Reform Church with Bob Ott as my PM. Building the Rossmoor Event Center with Bob Ott was a nice feather in my cap and  The Rossmoor Event Center is still my favorite and most complex project I have built to date.

What do you find sets Huff employees apart from people working at other companies?
Huff Construction is the only company I have ever worked for full time so I can’t compare them to any other companies. But from what I hear, other companies don’t seem to have the sense of family or community that Huff Construction has. Our owners, Gary Huff and Brad Ardis, know and understand that life happens and that family always comes first. Because of Gary and Brad’s understanding and relatability, they are willing to be flexible which I believe makes their employees the most loyal around. I consider this company as my other family and would do anything for them, within the law of course.

Are there certain personality traits or skills that do well at Huff?
Being independent and trustworthy are the two most important. Huff Construction puts a lot of trust in our employees that are typically in charge of projects large and small and usually far from home.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I have 3 teenagers at home so we like to get out and be adventurous. We like to take our Jeep out and go rock crawling on a trail followed by camping in the forest or taking the boat out to go wakeboarding and tubing on the lake.

Who or what inspires you?
Always learning new things and my wife, Jennifer. Jennifer has been by my side since high school and as I have grown up at Huff, I have watched her grow as a person while raising our two kids while I’m usually working out of town. During our life together, she has continued to pursue and achieve her education and career goals. She recently graduated with her master’s degree in therapy and soon will be a licensed therapist. On top of all that we became foster parents to help teens find a better path to adulthood. After fostering 6 children over the course of a few years, we adopted our last one, Mr. Hunter Holt. Jennifer’s strength and commitment to family and work are what inspire me to be the best version of myself.

What is on your bucket list?
I have always wanted to fly a plane. I came close one time – Thanks, Duane!

Where is your favorite place to eat?
At home, I like to BBQ!

Where is your favorite place to travel to?
I don’t travel much but going camping and renting a cabin during Christmas time in the snow with the family is always fun.

Huff’s Summer Intern 2021

Huff’s Summer Intern

We are proud to have had Mason Anson as our summer intern this year. Mason jumped into our internship program in stride as he worked alongside our construction management team while also getting familiar with our marketing and accounting teams.

Mason stated, “As an intern at Huff, you receive the highest level of education on how to be a hard-working individual while learning what it takes to maintain a collaborative team environment. Each employee has an important role within the company, and it was an absolute pleasure to see this kind of work in today’s day and age. It was truly a unique experience that I am sure you will not find with most companies. The conversations and relationships I have made during my internship at Huff Construction have helped me take one more step into becoming the best version of myself to date.”

Mason is currently a senior at Arizona State University and is majoring in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. We are proud of Mason’s work during his time here at Huff Construction and we wish him all the best!

 

 

Happy Work Anniversaries!

Happy work anniversaries to these five #HuffTeam members:

Mike Tolhurst, Superintendent | 5 Years
Adrian Diaz, Superintendent | 9 Years
Bob Ott, Vice President | 22 Years
Will Huff, Superintendent | 23 Years
Larry Nelson, Senior Project Manager | 24 Years

Thank you all for another year of hard work and your dedication to Building Excellence. It’s incredible to note that 3 of these gentlemen have been with Huff Construction for nearly half of our company’s existence! Keep up the great work, team!

 

Huff Employee Spotlight: Connie Ruiz – Building Excellence for 15 Years

Name: Connie Ruiz
Title: AR Administrator
Hire Date: January 2006

Where are you from?
I was born in Santa Cruz, growing up in the Aptos & Watsonville area. My parents moved to the valley my senior year in high school (It was devastating…what are all these cows and no beach?) I met my husband here and we settled in the small town of Gustine.

What do you do at work?
I work in the accounting department as the Accounts Receivable and Contract Administrator but I wear many hats… and I love that challenge.

What did you do before working at Huff Construction?
I worked in the accounting department for a residential contractor. And before that, I was the office manager for a building materials/lumber yard. But my first job was as a cashier at a TA truck stop working my way up to join their accounting team.

How did you get your start at Huff Construction?
I saw a “Help Wanted” ad in the Modesto Bee. I wasn’t looking for a job, as I was already employed but not very satisfied, and I thought, why not? So I applied and I was called in for an interview and hired a few days later as the Subcontract AP admin. After my first year, I then took on a different role as the AR admin. Through all my years here, I have “played” in AR, AP, payroll, and even answered the phone a few times (the hardest role).

What makes you excited to go to work in the morning?
Huff has a great team that I love working with. Everyone has an upbeat and get ‘er done attitude!

How does Huff support you as an employee?
Brad and Gary are “real people”… I don’t know how else to better explain it and I’m thankful for that.

What has been your proudest moment at Huff?
I don’t think I have a “proudest moment” but I do feel gratification when customers and others recognize my professionalism and commitment to Huff. I even had a customer’s lender go out of his way to say good things about me to our controller at the time. Oh yea, and I’ve even received goodies from subcontractors. That’s always a good way to get in my head, with treats.

What’s it like as a woman to work in a male-dominated profession?
I don’t know any different. I’ve always worked in places where it has been predominantly men. I’ve generally felt respected and valued for my contributions to any company.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I enjoy outdoorsy things… BBQ, swimming, glamping, being at the beach or a lake with my family, and of course, being a MeMa!

Who or what inspires you?
My children inspire me… they never stop amazing me. I like to hope I had something to do with that but even so, I never get tired of watching them grow into incredible, kind, compassionate, contributing adults. Reminding me to be the same.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
I’m always up for a good, authentic Mexican restaurant that serves a great Michelada! El Jardin in Turlock is one of my faves.

Any random facts you could share with us?
Something pretty random, it always amazed my husband that I could rap the entire “Rapper’s Delight” song.

 

Huff Employee Spotlight: Tracy Alicea, Project Manager

Name: Tracy Alicea
Title: Project Manager
Hire Date: July 2017

Where are you from?
I am originally from San Jose, CA, but I moved to the Central Valley with my parents in 1989.

What do you do at work?
At work, I am a problem solver, negotiator, planner, paper pusher, budgeter, and a builder.

What did you do before working at Huff Construction?
Before I worked at Huff, I worked for several different plumbing contractors spanning over 16 years.

How did you get your start at Huff Construction?
I always wanted to work for a builder, so I took a shot in the dark and applied to an open position at Huff Construction. Luckily, I got called for an interview (which made me nervous!), and at the end of it all, they liked me and hired me.

What makes you excited to go to work in the morning?
My job, I love working at Huff! The atmosphere and comradery that our team has is incredible.

How does Huff support you as an employee?
I never have in all the years of working (I won’t date myself) been so supported, heard, trusted, and provided the opportunity to grow by a company. I feel lucky to be here and so very thankful. Huff Construction supports me in any and every way that an employer could.

What has surprised you about working at Huff?
The growth opportunities that have been provided to me by Gary Huff and Brad Ardis. I can’t thank them enough for noticing me, taking a chance on me, and providing me the path to make it to where I am today!

What is your favorite project that you have built?
My favorite, by far, has been building The Enclave at Del Rio. It was quite challenging working with several designers and owners with ever-changing layouts and finishes between each unit. That project kept me on my toes. Everyone was also such a pleasure to work with, and it was so satisfying to build their vision into a reality.

What has been your proudest moment at Huff?
My proudest moment at Huff is when I earned a promotion to Project Manager.

What’s it like as a woman to work in a male-dominated profession?
Oh, it has been challenging at times, especially in the “old days.” Sometimes I have felt like I had to bite my tongue, and other times I’d let them have it. I used to feel like I had to really prove myself. I am glad to be working at Huff Construction. There hasn’t been a time where somebody mistreated me or made my job more challenging because I am a woman. That says a lot about the culture at Huff Construction and the great subcontractors that we work with. A mantra I live by is to treat others with respect, and others will respect you.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I enjoy playing coed softball, doing yard work, and spending time with my family and fur babies.

Who or what inspires you?
My parents will always be my inspirations, but my partner is the one that inspires me the most. She reminds me always to be a better version of myself.

Where is your favorite place to eat?
I’ve got a few favorite places to eat! Dust Bowl in Turlock is my go-to restaurant (I love a great beer). Bistro 234 and LOZA’s are also some of my favorite places to eat.

Any random facts you could share with us?
A random fact about me is that I can always start a song but not finish it.

HUFF EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: MEET MARTA LOPES, CONTROLLER

Name: Marta Lopes
Title: Controller
Hire Date: July 2007

Where are you from?
I grew up in Turlock, CA and I am the first in my family to be born in the United States. My parents are both Portuguese immigrants.

What do you do at work?
I prepare and provide financial reports and data for management use. I also lead and support our accounting staff with everyday tasks.

What did you do before working at Huff Construction?
Before working at Huff Construction, I worked for a general contractor in the Bay Area as an accounting specialist.

How did you get your start at Huff Construction?
I got my start at Huff Construction as a payroll administrator. I slowly learned each role and function of the accounting department while working my way up into my current role.

What’s your favorite part about working at Huff?
I love the people; we have an amazing staff which creates a family-like environment.

How does Huff support you as an employee?
Huff has supported me as an employee by encouraging growth within the company by providing hands-on training as well as outside training.

What has surprised you about working at Huff?
What has surprised me the most is the emphasis on creating an environment based on teamwork and collaboration.

Do you have a favorite Huff quote or mantra?
#BuildingExcellence

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
When I’m not working, I love to cook, travel, and paint.

Who or what inspires you?
My family!

Where is your favorite place to travel to?
I love any place with a warm beach.

Huff Employee Spotlight: Meet Larry Nelson, Project Manager

Larry Nelson Huff Construction Project Manager
 
Name: Larry Nelson
Title: Project Manager
Hire Date: March 1997

Where are you from?
I grew up in Salinas, CA and moved to the San Jose area right after graduating from high school. I have since moved to the Turlock area and have been living here with my family since 1987.

How did you get into the construction industry?
Well, right out of high school, I got a position as a carpenter at one of my friend’s construction companies. One of the most memorable projects working as a carpenter was a remodel for one of Alfred Hitchcock’s homes. I also worked on schools, banks, stadiums, and medical facilities.

What makes you excited to go to work in the morning?
I am always excited to come to work but what makes me most excited is working with our clients and fixing any issues or changes that come up on a project.

Aloft Hotel Ground Breaking: Huff Employees, Owners, Community Members, and Government Officials

What’s your favorite part about working at Huff?
One of my favorite things about my position is having the ability to problem solve. I like to work on large and complex projects because of the amount of problem-solving that is involved. I enjoy accomplishing goals as a team and working with our repeat clients.

What is your favorite project that you have built?
It’s difficult to choose one project but I really enjoyed building Samaritan Village in Hughson, CA. I have always wanted to build a mall and Samaritan Village is in a sense, a mall. It has a post office, movie theater, chapel, stores, barber shop, salon, assisted living space, and more. I also enjoyed working on the Mercy UC Davis Cancer Center in Merced, CA because it involved building a room for a linear accelerator. Some of the walls were 7 feet thick of solid concrete!

What has been your proudest moment at Huff?
I have had a few moments when I felt really proud. One proud moment is when I earned a promotion from a superintendent to a project manager back in 2005. Another proud moment working here is when my son, Kyle, started working for Huff in 2014. Anytime a project that I am working on comes to completion I like to take a step back and appreciate all of the hard work done by the Huff Team and the great subcontractors that work with us. It’s truly a team effort when it comes to building.

What sets Huff employees apart from people working at other companies? Are there certain personality traits or skills that do well at Huff?
What really sets us apart is that the owners of Huff Construction, Gary Huff and Brad Ardis, are deeply involved in every aspect of the company and they truly care about their employees and clients. They shape our company culture by setting high standards and leading by example. Their leadership translates to employees with an incredible work ethic and attitude. We truly work as a team and nobody is trying to climb over somebody else to get to the top which is prevalent in larger corporate settings.

What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I like to work on things around my house, fishing for bass, and I also love traveling with my wife. We really enjoyed traveling to Thailand for one of our son’s wedding and also traveling to Italy which we visited last year. I look forward to going on many more trips.

From left to right: Gary Huff (CEO), Duane Huff (Founder), Dave Royalty (Retired Superintendent), Larry Nelson (Project Manager)

Employee Spotlight: Bruce Carrade

Employee Spotlight: Bruce Carrade

As a leading general contractor, we understand the importance of having a solid team who instill our core values and qualities in their everyday lives. For this employee spotlight, we sat down with Bruce Carrade who is a Project Manager based at our office in Truckee, CA.

How did your career start at Huff Construction?
Bruce was introduced to Huff Construction during his sophomore year of high school. He continued to work at Huff during his summer vacations while he attended college at the University of Colorado Boulder. After graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Bruce was a corporate sales intern for the Oakland A’s. Bruce later came back to Huff Construction in 2013 to work full time as a Project Engineer. After working as a Project Engineer for four years, Bruce was promoted to Project Manager.

What is your role as a Project Manager?
As Project Manager, Bruce is responsible for bidding on projects, creating budgets, facilitating the field crew, superintendents, and the interactions between the architect, design team, and building department.

How has Huff Construction helped you in your career development and what have you gained?
Huff Construction has provided Bruce with the opportunity for growth and taking on new roles within the company. Bruce has gained confidence in his ability to manage large projects and develop his project estimating skills, communication skills, and management skills.

What types of training have you done for your position?
The company encourages optimal performance and growth opportunities by providing Project Managers with innovative project management software training which allows them to manage projects efficiently.

How would you describe Huff in three words?
“Collaborative, Accountable, and Excellence.” As a leading general contractor, it is important that our employees possess the qualities and skills that contribute to our mission and vision of providing clients with personalized construction services built on quality and integrity.

What do you like most about Huff Construction and how do you help make Huff Construction a great place to work and play?
Bruce enjoys the company culture and his coworkers. Bruce makes Huff a great place to work by bringing a positive attitude and outlook every day. Bruce also has a great sense of humor and is fun to pass by in the hall.

What are some upcoming trends or challenges that you see in your field?
Some upcoming trends or challenges Bruce sees in the construction industry is the increase in material prices, a shortage of skilled labor, and increasing interest rates.

What do you feel is the most important aspect and challenging aspect of your job as a Project Manager?
The most important and challenging aspect of Bruce’s job as a Project Manager is holding and maintaining budgets and schedules for projects.

What piece of advice would you give to a new employee?
If Bruce could give advice to a new employee, it would be to document everything and keep your paperwork in order.

What do you like to do for fun outside of the office?
When Bruce isn’t in the office he enjoys skiing, mountain biking, sailing, golfing and traveling.

The Man Behind the Camera

Employee Spotlight: Fernando Arteaga

At Huff Construction we thrive on quality, commitment and having a solid team of people who instill these qualities in their everyday lives. For those of you who do not know the man behind the camera, let me introduce you to our Marketing Coordinator, Fernando Arteaga.

Fernando was born and raised in Modesto, CA where he attended Modesto High School as an IB Student. After graduating Modesto High, he attended MJC for two and a half years and transferred to Stanislaus State to finish his college degree. Originally, Fernando started college with the mindset of becoming an engineer, however, after taking an economics class, and further discussions with his professor he decided to become a business major. In 2016, he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Stanislaus State and graduated Summa Cum Laude.

Where did you work before joining Huff Construction?

Prior to joining the Huff team, Fernando worked as a Service Specialist and Concierge at Save Mart Supermarkets. There, he had the pleasure of meeting his girlfriend and gaining two and a half years of customer service experience. While working at Save Mart, Fernando was also attending Stanislaus State University full time.

What is your role as a Marketing Coordinator?

The role of the Marketing Coordinator is everything marketing – all marketing material is created in-house. Fernando oversees internal & external website management, brochures, proposals, e-blasts, newsletters, social media, vehicle & job site signage, photography, videography, and more. He is also in charge of creating and organizing fun events for Huff employees to enjoy in and outside of the office.

How did you first hear about Huff?

The Stanislaus State Business School webpage displayed a list of local companies looking to hire students to fill a position. Once Fernando filled out the application, Naomi Layland (Director of Marketing & Business Development) reached out to schedule an interview which led to his career at Huff Construction.

How has Huff Helped you grow within your career?

Huff has helped Fernando start his career as a Marketing professional, gaining marketing experience in the architecture, engineering and construction industry, working with different age groups, ethnicities, and economic backgrounds.

How would you describe Huff in three words?

“Building Excellence & Quality! The most important aspect of his job is keeping the company brand consistent. When you think of Huff, you think of a quality general contractor that is a regional leader in construction.”

What types of training have you done for your position?

Fernando has learned to use software such as Adobe Photoshop, In-Design, Illustrator, Premiere Pro, Mail Chimp, Hootsuite and more. To create the highest quality of marketing content, Fernando stays up to date on new software, applications and has completed courses needed to become a certified drone pilot. He has also acquired HTML editing and coding skills while working on our company intranet, Huffnet.

What has been your favorite Marketing project at Huff Construction?

Fernando has worked on several Marketing projects but his favorite project he’s has worked on would be Huffnet. Huffnet was designed and built to support our team today and as we continue to grow and expand in the future. Fernando worked with the Developers at Tiv Branding and the managers at Huff Construction to ensure that the platform made processes more efficient while reducing labor time. Fernando was the idea behind the manpower scheduling and the weekly safety meetings, implementing these resources on Huffnet was a way to create accessibility for employees at any given time.

What is the coolest thing you have posted on Huff Constructions social media?

Fernando has created several cool social media posts, but he would say the coolest one he has done is the time lapse of Huff’s Jelly Belly project in Fairfield, CA. It was one of the first time-lapses Fernando did for the company and the time lapse showcased the concrete pour process. The post has gone viral, with over 98,000 views!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajM8cU9RJ6E

What do you like to do for fun outside of the office?

Outside of the office, Fernando enjoys camping, mountain biking, hanging out with his dog, playing Xbox, working on cars and drinking a citrus IPA.

 

The Huff Commitment to Safety

Commitment to Safety

At Huff Construction, we recognize the need for a comprehensive safety program and we believe our commitment to safety benefits both our employees and our clients.  I am thrilled to be back at Huff, after a short tenure away in health care. As our Safety Manager, I bring my 20+ years of experience to the table. My job is to make sure we have the right safety program implemented to ensure we are performing at a high level of safety that we always expect.

I think Gary Huff, our CEO, said it best, “Safety and health are a top priority at Huff Construction and are every bit as important as productivity and quality. In fact, they go hand in hand. We want our employees to observe our safety program to stay safe, healthy and able to work, play and enjoy life to its fullest.”

Over the years, I have learned that safety can only be achieved as a team, and my job as our Safety Manager is to put the ingredients in place to help make our team successful, to create individual accountability and then to cheer on our successes.

Here are some of the key areas we focus on at Huff, when it comes to safety:

Communication

In my experience, every successful safety program I have seen has included a strong communication system, meaning every employee must know how we are doing when it comes to safety.  This communication can be as simple as sending out an update on how many days we have gone accident free, celebrating when we reach milestones like 50 days/100 days/150 days accident free, and posting updates on job sites and at the office or on our intranet site.

Communication should also be encouraged back from employees to management. As our Huff Safety Policy states: Safety demands cooperation on everyone’s part. Thus, it is important that communication is kept open at all times between management and employees. Workers who notice hazards or potential safety problems, or feel that they need additional training must notify their supervisor.

Safety Committee

The commitment to safety must come from the highest levels of the company. Our Safety Committee is comprised of our Executive Team, a couple of key field members and myself. We meet regularly to discuss our Safety Program and policies, any injuries, any on-site issues, any upcoming training and more. As the Committee’s Charter states: The primary objective of the Safety Committee is to provide support to enhance the Company’s Safety Program. In addition to this primary mission, the Safety Committee encourages Employees to participate in the safety process for the betterment of all concerned.

Safety Inspections

Safety inspections at our project sites with appropriate documentation and follow-ups are an ongoing part of our Safety Program. These inspections can be carried out by on-site personnel, Executive Team members, myself or outside resources.

Safety Meetings

There are several meetings that are part of our Safety Program including but not limited to our safety tailgate meeting which happens once a week with a different topic and our quarterly safety meetings. Our quarterly meetings give us the opportunity to bring our employees together to discuss a specific topic in depth and give an update on our current safety program results.

Individual Accountability

At Huff, we know that the entire team must be committed to safety for our safety program to succeed. At the same time, we also recognize the need for individual accountability. As our Safety Policy states: Everyone is obligated to be knowledgeable of the standards applicable to their area or job, and just as important, to abide by them… It is the duty of all employees to perform their work with maximum regard for the safety of themselves and co-workers.

To recognize the need for teamwork and individual accountability in order to reach our safety goals, we have built in celebrations at key milestones so that we can honor the hard work put in to stay accident free for 100/150/or more consecutive days. It is always our pleasure to reward our employees for a job well done, safely.

construction-saftey

When I think about our Safety Program at Huff, I am proud to see how the hard work that goes into it benefits both our employees and our clients.  As our President, Brad Ardis says, “Huff is committed to providing a safe, accident-free and healthy work environment for everyone. Safe, healthy working conditions do not occur by chance. They are the result of diligent work and careful attention to all company policies by each Huff employee.  That’s why our clients can count on Huff when they are looking for a quality commercial contractor to build their next project.”

To find out more about Huff Construction or our Safety Program contact us today!

The Huff Commitment to Safety
By Larry Gilbert, HR & Safety Manager