Clark Project Executive Michael Rechnitz’s career in construction started with a thunderous crash. He was six years old and his masterpiece – a tower comprised of Erector Sets, Legos, and blocks, augmented by household chairs, plates, and glasses from the kitchen – had collapsed on the floor. When his mother chastised him for the broken glassware, he responded, “Don’t worry, mom – I can build it better.”
Since that moment, “I can build it better” has been his driving force.
We sat down with Michael, who was recently named to the BD+C 40 Under 40 Class of 2019, to learn more about his passion for delivering exceptional results on complex projects.
What is your current role at Clark Construction?
I am currently leading teams and construction on the International Arrivals Facility (IAF) at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport project. The project will nearly double the airport’s international wide-body capable gates. Our team is also constructing a 900 linear feet pedestrian bridge that will connect the new IAF to the South Satellite.
I also chair Clark’s regional operations group to spur operational improvement in the Pacific Northwest.
Did you always know you wanted to work in the construction industry?
From a young age, I knew I wanted to build and work with my hands.
During my teenage years, I spent summers working for an automation company building some of the fastest packaging machines in the world. From grinding and bead blasting to final assembly, my passion to build grew as I learned from mentors and floor managers.
During college and after graduation, I transitioned to a new role working as an apprentice carpenter. At the time, my teachers urged me to study medicine. Pushing back against those expectations, I pursued construction and haven’t look back.
Where did you attend college?
I attended Duke University and chose to study psychology and mathematics. Through my years as a carpenter, I knew that I wanted to understand people as much as I wanted to build.
I recognized that any successes on the shop floor or in the field were driven by people and relationships. When I graduated, I was ready to build and join a team.
While pursing my M.S. in Construction Management from Colorado State University, I was introduced to Clark Construction Group.
What do you enjoy most about working in the construction industry?
The people and the opportunites.
I never cease to be amazed by the hard working, dedicated people we are fortunate to be surrounded by. Everybody has a story, and our collective experience is the foundation for our success and brilliant execution.
At Clark, the opportunity to grow personally and professionally is second to none. Whether tackling a new discipline, responsibility, geographic location, or technically unique and challenging project, the opportunities for growth and continued education are boundless.
What is your greatest professional accomplishment?
Taking home two National DBIA Awards in New Orleans with the WSU Digital Classroom Building project team. That night was the culmination of years of hard work by a great team of people.
What would be your advice to a young engineer at Clark?
Be a sponge. The Clark family is full of industry experts, business strategists, operational specialists… and the list goes on and on.
Be observant, spend plenty of time in the field talking with the trades, and stay on the hunt for opportunities because they are everywhere.