Holder Construction: A Career Conversation with John Touchstone and Emily Waldron

What motivated you to join Holder Construction? 

John: I interned with Holder three times throughout my undergrad career at UGA and I worked on the STEM building that recently opened. Throughout these internships, I experienced firsthand what a career in construction looks like, while also getting to work with some of the best people in the industry. One of my favorite parts about working for Holder has been getting to be part of some amazing projects, including Mercedes-Benz Stadium and, of course, the UGA STEM building. Being able to see a physical representation of your hard work and dedication that can change the skyline of a city is an incredibly rewarding experience. 

Emily: For me, construction was the perfect in-between of architecture and engineering so I attended the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga to get a construction management degree. In searching top construction firms in the country, I came across Holder and submitted my resume and was interviewed and ultimately hired! I chose Holder over other firms due to the family feel that came across throughout the interview process and the amount of opportunities that could be provided to me. 

How does Holder Construction convey to employees a sense of belonging? 

John: Holder prides itself on its culture. We make sure that every associate receives the same warm welcome and comprehensive training to prepare them to hit the ground running. Holder also believes that innovation can come from anyone, whether they have been with the company 20 years or six months. 

Emily: I second what John said about culture. Even with all of Holder’s growth since I started 10 years ago, Holder still feels like a tight-knit family and has kept their culture at the core of all they do. They truly care about their people. 

In what ways has Holder Construction supported your professional development and growth? 

John: In my time with Holder, I’ve been able to obtain certifications that have furthered my development, including a commercial drone license and LEED and STSC certifications, all covered by Holder. Additionally, Holder hosts weekly training sessions on a wide variety of topics, from CPR and First Aid to personal finance and retirement planning.    

Emily: Holder has created core skills sheets for each position within the company and does a great job of setting expectations and guidelines to advance your career. They are always ready to let you take on more responsibility to get you exposure for the next step. 

In what ways are you supported in maintaining a healthy work-life balance? 

John: Holder supports associates’ extracurricular activities and understands that a life outside of work exists. Our teams work together to ensure that associates take personal time to accommodate time off for vacations, extracurricular activities, and other life events. 

Emily: Holder has been incredible to work with as I’ve had two children and continued to stay in project management. They are understanding and work with everyone to help balance getting the work done to accomplish a project’s deadlines, while also allowing time away to spend with your family or doing things you enjoy outside of work. 

How do you know that you’re making a difference/having an impact with the work that you do? 

John: The nature of our work means we usually have multiple stakeholders. We’ve diversified into a variety of markets including aviation and transportation, corporate and commercial office, cultural and performing arts, data and telecom, higher education, interiors and adaptive reuse, public assembly and hospitality, and science and technology. All our projects will have touchpoints with the public. Without the data centers we build, we wouldn’t be able to browse social media and the internet. If it weren’t for the university labs or dorms we build, students wouldn’t have top-of-the-line facilities. And, most importantly (ha!), the Atlanta Falcons wouldn’t have a place to play without Mercedes Benz Stadium. While these projects serve different purposes, the universal reward of a career in construction comes from watching communities benefit from these buildings.   

Emily: Similar to what John said, the facilities that we are a part of make direct impacts on the communities around us. We are honored to be a part of these communities and help provide places where people will live, work, and play for generations to come.  

What makes you proud to represent Holder Construction? 

John: I’m proud to be at Holder because we do whatever it takes to deliver for our clients. 91% of our clients hire us again to build additional projects. These repeat clients are the result of the relationships and hard work that Holder associates create across the country. Luckily for me, I get to work with some of the best in our industry! 

Emily: I’m proud to be a part of an organization that cares about its people, clients, and the communities we serve. In addition to providing quality buildings, Holder finds a way to give back to organizations and participate in charitable activities throughout the year. 

In what ways do you feel like you’ve grown since working for Holder Construction? 

John: I feel I’ve grown the most in my leadership and communication skills. I’ve been constantly challenged to learn and take on new roles throughout my career and I think the challenges have only made me a better leader and teammate.  

Emily: I’ve had the honor of working alongside so many influential men and women in this industry and it has helped shape me into the manager and leader that I am today. I’m able to juggle being a mom and a project manager with everything in between. I’ve grown my confidence and presentation skills along with all the knowledge I’ve accumulated about many different building types and markets.

What do you wish you had known about the professional world when you were a student? 

John: Sometimes you must take a leap of faith. Before I came to Holder for my first internship, I had no intentions of working in construction. However, once I completed my first internship, that all changed. I love what I do and can’t see myself doing anything else, and that’s all because I was willing to try something new.  

Emily: Hard work pays off. By continuing to work hard in your classes, in your extracurricular activities, and in your job, all these things build valuable skills and open doors that you probably didn’t know existed.

In thinking about emerging young professionals, what advice would you share to those seeking their first opportunities? 

John: As students, we tend to focus on the technical skills associated with our degree, which are important, but can lead to a lack in soft skills. Practicing these, and getting comfortable with difficult conversations, will take you a long way in your career. Being able to clearly explain your thoughts to your team or a client is one of the most important skills you can learn.    

Emily: Don’t be afraid to try new things. Join a club you’re interested in, stop by a meet-and-greet with a company, send your resume out to a company you’ve been looking into. By reaching out and taking the first step, you will be amazed at where it can lead. 

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