Jeffrey Raday, P.E. started his professional career in 1979 after graduating with a civil engineering degree from Valparaiso University in Indiana. Raday was a field engineer doing surveying and layout work on the construction sites for several large industrial buildings, including a structural steel rolling mill, a plant that fabricated large milling machines for the automotive industry and a massive complex that manufactured fuel injectors for Caterpillar. But Raday’s first real exposure to the construction industry was working for his father, who was a general contractor in the south suburbs.
“I worked for him summers and holidays all through high school and college, starting the summer of 1969 when I turned 14,” Raday said, President of McShane Construction Company. “He paid me $1/hour. I unloaded lumber trucks, mixed mortar, swept floors, and eventually did carpentry work. I learned the basics of building construction, but more importantly I learned what a good day’s work looks like, learned how to be a good listener and learned how to work with a group of people with a wide variety of backgrounds to achieve a common objective.”
After more than 30 years in the industry, Raday says it is pretty simple as to why he has remained in the industry.
“I love to build,” he said. “I enjoy the building process and get tremendous professional satisfaction from seeing our plans become reality. But just as gratifying are the relationships we build with our clients. I find it really fascinating to get an inside look at what drives their business, and to understand how the improved working environment that we provide can have such a profoundly positive impact on their business.”
The most rewarding part of Raday’s job is seeing McShane’s young employees develop into well-rounded construction professionals. “We pride ourselves on hiring top talent, training them in all aspects of the design and construction process, and providing them abundant responsibility early in their careers. It’s amazing to see how quickly they embrace the challenge.”
So what sets McShane Construction apart from the rest? “Jim McShane sets the tone for our company culture, and he is unwavering in his commitment to ethical behavior, both personally and as an organization. If we make a promise, we deliver – no matter what. We thrive on difficult projects, and regularly deliver results that others thought were impossible to achieve.”
McShane has delivered a number of outstanding industrial facilities this year, but one that really stands out to Raday is the recently completed build-to-suit for Golden State Foods in McCook.
“We just learned that the project was awarded LEED Gold certification by the U.S. Green Building Council,” he said. “Golden State Foods supplies 440 Midwest McDonald’s from this 157,000 square foot freezer/cooler distribution center and regional headquarters. The building reflects cutting-edge practices integrating advanced technologies such as LED warehouse lighting, shrinkage compensating concrete floors (up to 25,000 square feet poured without a control joint) and a fleet of hydrogen-fueled forklift trucks. Ware Malcomb did an outstanding job designing this premier build-to-suit facility.”
The latest industrial trends that Raday remarked that McShane Construction is seeing include a significant number of industrial opportunities involving infill locations and/or redevelopment of existing industrial properties. “These are usually located in mature industrial submarkets with obsolete buildings, submarkets that are ripe for modern, high bay space with long spans, and plenty of truck maneuvering and parking.”
According to Raday, the single largest challenge the industry currently faces is a shortage of labor, both management and in the trades.
“We lost thousands of trained workers to retirement or career changes during the recent recession, and are losing the potential for thousands more who are choosing careers in other fields rather than design and construction.”
He continued, “The recent recession did some serious damage to our industry’s image as a dependable source of good-paying jobs. If we can’t figure out how to encourage more young people to choose careers in construction, we aren’t going to have the trained people we need to build what needs to get built.”
So how does Raday find the balance between work and outside activities? One of those things includes riding his motorcycle. “I also play golf with my fraternity brothers and hang out with my family. I’m currently in the process of renovating a family lake house near downstate Princeton on weekends. I find pounding nails to be very therapeutic.”
One thing Raday would like to do, that he hasn’t already, in his lifetime?
“I’ve had the good fortune to have been involved in the construction of hundreds of buildings over the course of my career,” he said. “I think it would be fun just once to knock one down. I’d love to be involved in one of those controlled demolition projects, where they implode an old casino or stadium with explosives. I’d like to be the guy who flips the switch on the detonator!”
If he wasn’t working in industrial real estate, what would he be doing? “I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. In 35 years, I’ve never thought for one moment about any other career than the one I have.”
As for Raday’s musical taste, he is a huge fan of 60’s rock! “I usually have Pandora playing my preset stations whenever I’m at home or working in the garage. I also love to read history, especially military history, and am currently halfway through Bill O’Reilly’s new book, Killing Patton. And I’ll admit that I am a rabid fan of AMC’s The Walking Dead. It’s a fantastic story of human survival in the face of a massive natural disaster – in this case, the disaster happens to be a zombie apocalypse!”
His plans for the upcoming holidays include an abundance of family interaction.“Our son, Matt and his wife Briana, had their first child and our first grandchild, a little boy named Theo, on September 21, which happily is my wife Jane’s birthday as well. So I’m pretty sure the holidays will happily revolve around the new baby!”