Built into his blood
Jansen Tredway found his passion in construction as a child and never looked back
Times Staff Writer
Originally published 2013-02-28
It takes the average person a little trial and error before deciding definitively what they want to do in school, and ultimately what they want out of a career. But for some, that decision comes naturally.
One Gunnison native knew from the time he was young what he wanted out of life.
Jansen Tredway started out building storage sheds with his dad when he was a kid. Now he’s a project manager for a premiere contracting company in San Francisco.
“I got really lucky,” he says. “People tell me that all the time, ‘I can’t believe you decided to do something and it’s working out.’ I got ahead of the curve.”
According to Jansen, his Gunnison upbringing contributed largely to his career in construction management.
“I guess, as everyone would say, there wasn’t a whole lot going on in Gunnison, so I spent a lot of time outdoors, and that’s led to my lifestyle in general,” he says. “I started working construction with my dad and my grandpa when I was pretty young.”
His father Doug Tredway, the principal of Gunnison Middle School, confirms that he often brought Jansen onto construction sites when he was a boy.
“We did a remodel on the Johnson building, and before his teenage years, he would be there and just be around to sweep up and clean up,” remembers Doug. “I tried to pick up a (construction) job every summer so he could help. When he was in high school, he really tried to carry that on and he was involved in all aspects of it. By the time he got to the end of high school, he was running the show.”
When Jansen was a senior in high school, he helped his mom and dad build their current home in the Castle Mountain subdivision, where he was involved in design, planning and construction.
Doug owns a storage shed construction company, Tredway Rentals. Jansen was heavily involved in that venture as a teenager, as well.
“He would manage the storage building projects and apply for permits. I kind of worked as a laborer for him,” Doug recalls. “He dealt with the inspector, he hired people. He got a good shot in Gunnison seeing projects through.”
Often, Doug and Jansen were joined by Jansen’s grandfather, Dan, and three generations of Tredways would work on projects together.
“My dad used the same model when I was a kid,” said Doug. “Basically, I was just following my dad’s example and passing it on to Jansen.”
When Doug started working as principal, Jansen and Dan did the “lion’s share” of the work together. Jansen’s grandfather was his mentor as a child. Whether chopping wood or breaking ice together, “he had a big impact on me,” says Jansen.
“He had a really good connection with his grandfather,” said Doug. “It hit him as hard as anyone when he passed away. A lot of times it was just him and his grandpa.”
Building seems to be in the Tredway blood. When Jansen was young, Dan remodeled a house on Denver Avenue — after he cut it in half and moved it from Main Street. Doug also points out that Jansen has an uncle who’s a cabinet maker and another in the concrete business.
Another advantage Doug observes in his son that he attributes to his growing up in a small town is his ability to communicate with people on every level. Whether he’s dealing with a building inspector or on-site laborers, he has the ability to “slip back and forth between groups,” says his dad.
When Jansen graduated from high school, he moved to Fort Collins to attend Colorado State University, which has a well-regarded construction management program.
“I think in high school I had the idea that I would go into architecture, but when I found out there were programs out there in construction management, I declared my major right away,” Jansen recalls.
With his extensive experience in construction from childhood, Jansen says the transition to college was easy.
“There was a noticeable gap with people who had the hands-on experience compared to those who just got into the major,” he says. “Working with my dad and grandfather absolutely helped me in my career. There’s no way to measure it, but coming in you just have a leg up on everybody else.”
After graduating in four years from CSU, Jansen took an internship in Los Angeles. But he still helped Doug build a deck during the summer. After that, he accepted a job with WEBCOR Builders in San Francisco.
For his first job with WEBCOR, he helped build a 60-story residential skyscraper called the Millennium Towers, which is the tallest concrete building in San Francisco, and the fourth tallest in the city overall. He also worked for a time on San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center, which, still under construction, is being touted as the “Grand Central Station of the West.” He helped build the University of California-Berkeley football stadium and is currently working on twin 10-story residential projects.
He’s a project manager, so his job consists more of oversight duties than hands-on work. But he and his dad still get their hands dirty together whenever they can.
Jansen and his wife Ja Nielle, who married over the summer, recently bought a house. Over spring break, he and Doug have plans to “build a big old deck together.” Just like they always have.
(Laura Anderson can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org)