October 21, 2021
Skanska marks 75 years in Seattle with a look back by 3 families who were a big part of that history
By YENA WILLIAMS
Little did we know it then, but Oct. 1, 1946, was a very important day for Skanska, which now, 75 years later, is a leading global construction and development firm. That Tuesday was the day that one family — the Baugh family — officially laid the foundation for what has become our presence in Seattle and our standing as the Northwest’s largest contracting firm. It also began our commitment to making a lasting impression on Seattle’s communities by building what matters in the Pacific Northwest.
From the company’s humble beginnings in 1946 when Larry Baugh first hung out his shingle and landed a $933 repair job for a burned out room in the New Richmond Hotel, to the formal acquisition of Baugh in 2000, to the $270 million pegged for construction costs on The Eight, the 25-story, 560,000-square-foot Class A office tower in Bellevue we broke ground on last July, Skanska has come a long way in 75 years in the Northwest.
10 notable Skanska projects
1958 – Ballard High School (first million-dollar job), Seattle
While the size and scope of our projects has changed, one thing has remained steadfast in those seven and a half decades — our commitment to our people. From the first Baughs — Larry and his nephew Bob, who joined the company in 1955 and led the firm upon Larry’s retirement in 1976 — to our newest hires this month, caring for people has always been an important tenant for our company. That principle lives on today as the very first words of our very first core value, Care for Life.
Over 75 years, we’ve had countless people work for the company, including many with the same last name, and in a few cases beyond the well-known Baugh name, those family ties have run both deep and wide. As we celebrate our diamond jubilee in the city, we also celebrate the families who have helped make us who we are today. To honor this special occasion, we asked members of three families — the Bradfords, Jellisons and Stricklings — to reflect on their multi-generational experience with the company, working together and building some of the region’s most well-known structures.
While it is Andrew Bradford who works for Skanska today as a general foreman and quality control manager on a large Skanska job in Redmond, it was his father, Jim, who began the family’s nearly 45-year legacy with the company in 1978. Having just been laid off as a foreman at a small company and with a 1-month-old (Andrew’s older brother, Jorian) at home, Jim was offered a position as a finish carpenter at Baugh. Forty years later, that one-time finish carpenter retired as a senior superintendent, having worked alongside that no-longer-1-month-old and many other family members on several projects along the way.
Five Bradfords have worked for Skanska over the years: Jim, Jorian, Andrew, Kevin (Andrew’s younger brother) and Jessica, Andrew’s younger sister, who joined the field office on a Seattle University project in 2003.
In a conversation with the family, Jim Bradford shared that in addition to having his kids follow in his footsteps, the thing he is most proud of during his years with Baugh and Skanska is the relationships he forged with so many great people. To him, the ability to build relationships and then build buildings with those same people was the ultimate reward.
Andrew Bradford added, “One of the best opportunities I’ve had in my career was working alongside my family to build Jones Pavilion at Virginia Mason. My dad was the senior superintendent on the project, my older brother was the foreman, and my little brother was on the project, too. It was really something special to come to work with them every day.”
Reflecting on the 75th anniversary of the company, both Jim and Andrew acknowledged the major advances in technology over the decades that have improved both efficiency and safety for crews. They also shared their excitement on what’s to come.
“I appreciate how green Skanska is as a company,” added Andrew. “We recycle our construction materials at a very high rate, most of our buildings are LEED-certified, and we’re doing more and more green roofs. We make sure we’re doing what’s healthy for the environment, that we’re using more sustainable materials, and that we’re taking care of our natural resources, and I’m glad to be a part of that, and proud to share that future with my wife and daughter.”
The Jellison family got started with the company in 1979 when Paul Jellison, a carpenter foreman, noticed a Baugh Construction pick-up truck in downtown Salem, Oregon. He stopped and asked Gary Larsen, the superintendent that was visiting the site, if he needed any help, telling him he could bring along an apprentice carpenter (his son, Clint), too.
With work scarce in the spring of 1980 and a young son, Stacy, at home, Clint asked who he could talk with about opportunities in Seattle. After a short call with Gil Toso, general superintendent for the company, Clint promised to be there the next day and promptly moved his family to the Emerald City. Clint’s first job was Bellevue Square, where he worked as an apprentice carpenter. He then moved on to projects including the First Hill Plaza Tower Condominium, the 520 Pike Tower, a Swedish Hospital parking garage, and MultiCare’s Good Samaritan Hospital Daily Tower.
By 1997 Clint had worked his way up to senior superintendent. In that same year, Stacy graduated high school and three generations of Jellisons — Paul, Clint and Stacy — all worked together on the same project for Boeing. It was Stacy’s first job for Skanska, and it would be Paul’s last; he retired the following year. Today, 24 years later, Stacy serves as senior environmental health and safety manager for Skanska.
The Skanska connection grew a lot further in this family. Jerry Cantrell, Clint’s brother-in-law, worked as a laborer for 40 years. Stacy’s uncle, Tom “RB” Dean is celebrating his 30th year with Skanska this year. Clint’s younger brother, Greg, and Stacy’s brother, Justin, also worked for Skanska during their careers.
“In our family, we know this business and we know what’s expected,” said Stacy Jellison. “You get up early, you work hard, you work late. My whole family and I understand that. None of us from my grandpa to my dad to me would be able to do this job without the support of our families. That work ethic is passed down through the generations, and that’s why you end up with families like us, people who work in this industry and for the same company for multiple generations.”
Across three generations and 50 years, seven different members of the Strickling family have worked for Skanska, starting with Marian “Strick” Strickling, who joined Baugh in 1971 on a job at Swedish Medical Center. The heritage that began with him continues today with his grandson, Jamie, who joined the company in 1997 and works on the L300 light rail project running from Shoreline to Lynnwood. Over the years, Jamie’s uncles, Don and Dan; cousins, Andy and Dennis; and brother, Jon, have all put in time on the job.
“I kept hearing stories of the ‘big jobs’ from my grandpa and my uncle Don, and I couldn’t wait to get on one of them,” said Jamie Strickling. “Then it happened, and it happened with them. I got on my first big project, and it was with both of them building the RealNetworks headquarters.”
What soon followed was a series of projects working alongside his grandfather and uncle — Safeco’s headquarters, Museum of Glass in Tacoma, Amgen’s Seattle campus — before moving on to the next generation, where Jamie got to work with both his uncles, his brother, and cousins to build The Bravern mixed-use development in Bellevue.
“I know we all feel very proud to hang our hats on these projects,” added Jamie. “Construction is in our blood. I’ve been blessed to have worked with my grandfather and so many others in my family, and not many people can say that. I’ve loved my job and am excited to pass on my knowledge to the next generation, whether their last name is Strickling or not.”
BUILDING WHAT MATTERS
“At Skanska, when we talk about building what matters, those jobs get built by people — people with the names Baugh, Bradford, Jellison, Strickling and thousands more over the decades,” said Kevin McCain, executive vice president and general manager of Skanska in Seattle. “What Larry Baugh ushered in 75 years ago and Bob Baugh continued to foster is a legacy and work ethic all of us at Skanska are proud to carry the torch for and continue to build upon today.”
Added McCain, “I’ve been lucky to work for Skanska for 25 years and even more fortunate to have known, worked with, been mentored by, and learned from so many great people. Jim, Clint, Don, and many others … these great leaders helped pave the way not only for their own families, but for me and many other men and women who are with Skanska today, and I can’t thank them enough. Here’s to all of them, to the next generation and to the next 75 years!”
Yena Williams is communications director for Skanska USA’s West Region, overseeing communications for Skanska’s Building and Civil operations and its projects in Washington, Oregon and California.