SALT LAKE CITY — Due to the planned retirement of CEO Douglas C. Welling, Jacobsen Construction Company, Inc.’s board of directors voted unanimously on Wednesday, November 4 to promote Jacobsen President Gary Ellis to the dual role of president and CEO, effective January 1, 2021.
Welling is retiring effective January 1, 2021 after 33 distinguished and visionary years with Jacobsen, including 14 years as company president and the last nine years as president and CEO. Welling will continue serving on the Jacobsen Board, a role he has admirably filled for many years.
This leadership change is the result of Jacobsen’s closely followed succession plan that has been in place for several years at the company.
“Gary is very well-prepared for his new responsibilities and brings a clear vision for Jacobsen’s future and has a great team to support him,” Welling said. “I have full confidence and faith in Gary, and I know he feels the same passion I’ve had for Jacobsen’s values and priorities: wowing every client, emphasizing accountability and problem solving in our work, championing employee ownership and empowerment, fostering a culture of caring and jobsite safety, and dreaming big about every project’s potential to make our communities better.”
Ellis was named to the president’s role in June of 2020 and will also continue in that position. He has been with Jacobsen for 20 years, previously serving as chief financial officer (CFO) for six of those years. As he takes on the role of CEO, Ellis brings with him his vast experience in building meaningful, productive and trusted relationships with Jacobsen employees, clients and trade partners.
“I feel profoundly humbled to be asked to represent all the great people of Jacobsen Construction Company in this new role,” Ellis said. “I am grateful for the Jacobsen family that entrusted us to carry on their name, for brilliant mentors, and for all those that have led and directed Jacobsen for the previous 99 years! Our people make this organization what it is, and I am passionate about the consistently outstanding work of our hundreds of dedicated and talented employees. Their skills, diligence, and goodness will play an important part in the continued growth and success of every community touched by Jacobsen’s work.”
Chairman of the Board Lonnie Bullard wholeheartedly endorsed the leadership transition that is underway. He points to the thoughtful succession planning put in place several years ago as a solid and steadying component of the company’s five-year business plan.
“The Board is completely confident that its unanimous vote to elect Gary Ellis as president and CEO puts our company in the best possible position to thrive for years to come,” Bullard said. “Gary is a proven leader, and we look forward to the great things he will accomplish as the head of the company. He is a relationship builder, and is known for being smart, thoughtful, capable and innovative. He lives and understands Jacobsen’s values, and has an excellent grasp of the company’s long-term strategic goals and how to achieve them.”
Lonnie is continuing in his role as chairman of the Jacobsen Board.
Doug Welling’s enduring legacy.
Under Welling’s leadership as CEO, Jacobsen’s influence in the industry grew considerably with such landmark projects as the Utah State Capitol restoration and base isolation, City Creek Center in downtown Salt Lake City, Provo City Center Temple restoration and Salt Lake Temple renovation.
“Doug’s strategic vision and leadership has been critical in turning the focus of our organization to truly meeting the needs of our clients, while at the same time understanding that our people are truly our most important resource,” Ellis said. “He has not been satisfied with the status quo, and accordingly, the company has grown dramatically in both size and sophistication under his caring leadership.”
Welling said that in his retirement, he is most looking forward to enjoying outdoor sports, spending quality time with his family and looking for ways to make life better — a personal mantra and Jacobsen tagline developed during his tenure that he will take to heart in all future endeavors.
“At every step and in every role, I have immensely enjoyed the work I do,” Welling said. “I have loved working alongside the most outstanding people in the vast construction industry. I am thankful for the opportunities I’ve had to work closely with these people, and for the success and value that we have created together. We have improved lives and the success and happiness of our communities with every project.”
Jacobsen’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) retires.
Chief Operating Officer John Fortuna has also announced his retirement, effective January 1, 2021.
Fortuna’s long and successful career at Jacobsen began as a project manager and estimator in 1992, and from the start he was a steady hand and driving force in ensuring day-to-day operational excellence — something that remained his hallmark as his responsibilities and influence at the company grew considerably over the years. Under Fortuna’s leadership since officially becoming COO in 2012, Jacobsen’s operations teams have successfully navigated several of the most complex and challenging jobs in company history.
Welling stated, “John has been a friend and trusted manager as a very competent operations director for Jacobsen. Under his leadership, all project teams were guided, and projects were completed successfully. We’re a much better company because of John’s excellent work.”
Added Ellis, “John has fostered an environment of excellence and a culture of an unyielding drive to help our clients be successful. Under his leadership we have become more efficient in our operational processes and better able to deliver and exceed the expectations of our clients.”
Fortuna’s very greatest pride in his work came from his efforts to strengthen jobsite safety.
“The thing I’m most proud of is changing our safety culture and building up our My Attitude Can Help Others (MACHO) safety initiative as a daily driving force within the organization — keeping our people safe and sending our people home safe and sound for many years,” Fortuna said.
Other operations leaders to remain in current roles.
With strong operations leadership already in place, Construction Manager (EVP) Matt Radke, Strategic Risk Manager (EVP) Levi Clegg and Self-Performed Work Manager (EVP) Scott Braithwaite will continue directing construction project efforts. Under the new structure, they will now report directly to Ellis.
New top leadership. Same Jacobsen principles.
Ellis will continue to emphasize the core values that drive Jacobsen’s success as the company navigates the start of a new era in its history. With the new Jacobsen headquarters set for completion in December 2020 and the approaching 100-year mark of the company’s founding in 2022, the next few years are filled with opportunity and excitement.
“Even as Jacobsen continues to seek ways to strengthen its impact on the construction industry through thoughtful innovation, the bedrock principles that have made Jacobsen successful for nearly a century will continue to guide both the company’s day-to-day work and its long-term aspirations,” Ellis said.