November 17, 2020

Project Executive Zach Zelms Talks Growth and Opportunity in Nashville

We sat down with Zach Zelms, a project executive who joined the Clark team two years ago, to hear his perspective on working in the Nashville market as the city continues its ambitious development of its downtown area.

What is your role at Clark?

As a project executive, I help oversee several of Clark’s projects in Nashville to ensure our performance meets and exceeds our client’s expectations. I am also focused on fostering a positive team dynamic on the project sites and developing and maintaining client relationships that hopefully help us continue to grow our portfolio in Nashville.  

What are some of the challenges of building in Nashville?

The labor market is stretched thin, largely a result of how fast the city is growing. As a result, it can be challenging at times to meet productivity goals when the number of experienced craftworkers is limited. Likewise, there is limited subcontractor capacity for certain trades, which can make it harder to get competitive bids.

How can Clark meet the trends of the Nashville market?

As the city continues to attract new residents, the demand for housing is incredible. We’ve actually seen some hotel and hospitality developments being converted to residential projects.

Clark is well positioned to meet these demands with our Nashville team’s residential experience. Having just delivered the Grand Hyatt project, the team is increasingly familiar with the city and is excited to leverage their expertise on the recently awarded Albion Residential project in the Gulch neighborhood.

This will be Clark’s fourth project with Chicago-based Albion Residential, and its first in Nashville.

Which has been the most challenging project you’ve worked on in the city?

The Grand Hyatt was certainly the most difficult, but it was ultimately the most rewarding. The original hotel started out as a Hyatt Regency, and the switch to the Grand Hyatt brand was made just as the foundation was being poured and we were finishing coordination. I can’t think of something that didn’t change, from finishes to millwork. The team doubled down to keep the schedule on track, and the hotel opened on October 1, one day ahead of schedule.

You’ve been at Clark for just over two years now. What attracted you to the company?

Prior to joining the company, I was with Jacobs Engineering for 18 years, and I’d worked with Clark on four projects. From that experience, I came to regard Clark as more than a general contractor, but a true builder, which is also what I have always considered myself.

What are some of your goals for the next five years?

I’d like to build a mega project and finish it successfully. I find it particularly rewarding to work closely with one project for five or six years and have the opportunity to manage and mentor a large team. I really enjoy building great teams –– building the building is exciting, but building up the team who can build the building is even more rewarding.

Is there anything unique about your background that has influenced who you are today?

My father was in the Air Force, and I moved around a significant amount in my childhood and adult life. I’ve probably lived in twenty cities by this point. I would say that has all made me very adaptable, flexible, and energized by change.