Jim Golding didn’t plan on working in the construction industry. In fact, at age 16, the southern California native had narrowed his professional aspirations to geology, dentistry and civil engineering.
While civil engineering seems like a natural transition to a career at Geneva Rock Products, it was his father’s career as a civil engineer in the aero- space industry that sparked Golding’s interest.
However, after four years at BYU (with an LDS Church mission to Argentina mixed in), Golding settled on civil engineering and a career in building.
Now in his fourth year as the president of Geneva Rock Products, Golding shares insights into his life and career — and how his dad shaped him.
How did you decide on a career in construction?
GOLDING: A wise man — a professor at BYU named Reed Bradford — didn’t tell me what to be, but he said I should do some- thing that would be of service to my fellowman. My father was a civil engineer — in aeronautics — and that influenced me.
Coincidentally, the first class I took at BYU was in the Clyde Engineering Building. Little did I know then that I would spend the majority of my career working for the Clyde Companies.
How did you find your way to Clyde and Geneva Rock Products?
GOLDING: When I graduated, I had two job offers — one in southern California and one in Evanston, Wyo. My wife was less excited about moving to California, so I spent the early years of my career in Wyoming. I worked at Rocky Mountain
Engineering & Surveying and then was a civil engineer for the city of Evanston. I always tell people I earned my graduate degree in Evanston, Wyo.
Eventually, the economy in Wyoming turned and I looked for opportunities to come to Utah. In March 1984, I went to the BYU placement center and called Al Schellenberg and got an interview. I started at Geneva Rock Products on April 1, 1984. How’s that for an April Fool’s joke?
Your dad was a big influence in your life. what are specific lessons you learned from him?
GOLDING: My father designed the mechanical and computer systems that assisted in the fatigue testing of well-known commercial and military aircraft such as the DC-10 and the F-15 Eagle Air Superiority Fighter. He then led the teams that performed the fatigue tests before the aircraft ever flew. His team included union machinist that he solicited input from through the design and testing process.
This approach is a big part of my leadership. Leadership starts with yourself. You have to be able to work in teams. My dad could work with anyone. I have a picture of my dad on my credenza and part of it is to remind me of how he would work with people. He was a problem solver.
Plus, he taught me how to work. He had eight children and kept us busy by working on many rental units he owned. When people would ask why he owned these multi-unit apartments, he said, “You can’t buy a farm in Southern California, so I bought apartments to teach my children how to work.” We would load the station wagon and go paint, or mow, three nights a week.
He taught us how to play hard, too. He was right there with us when we were learning to surf. He would take us on excursions to Mexico.
What Geneva Rock Products experience illustrates how you approach your work?
GOLDING: One such challenge was working with residents and government officials on the rehabilitation of the South Weber gravel pit we purchased in 1990. Geneva Rock Products was new to that area and people didn’t know us. When we would talk to city leaders about our plans, people would show up in opposition to us.
I needed to restore the city’s confidence in that location.
We worked to prove to them that we do what we say we’ll do. We came up with a reclamation plan and, for more than two years, we worked closely with the city planning commission, city council and a citizen pit commit- tee to fulfill every promise.
At the same time, we were working on high-profile road projects in the area that went well and further established us as an important part of that community.
Some of those people I worked with are still really close friends of mine. I still live in that area. However, it came down to us getting people’s feedback, developing a solid plan and then coming through on that plan. They learned that our word was our bond.
How did your job change when you became an executive vice president in 2007?
GOLDING: It was a new beginning for me. I am a hands-on person. I wanted to be part of the bids and estimating. However, that job meant I had to take a 30,000-foot view of things. I had to adjust my thinking and develop a broader view and perspective of our company, people and vision.
I also oversaw the concrete side of things — which I didn’t have experience with — so I was all ears ready to learn in that area. It was an adjustment.
Plus, we had the recession right then, which also gave me a chance to learn a lot in the last couple of years when Al was still the president.
Now that you run Geneva Rock Products, what do you hope to accomplish?
GOLDING: In the old Orem board room, there are pictures of the past presidents of Geneva Rock Products. It’s almost surreal to think that I’ve joined that group of amazing presidents.
While thinking of that responsibility is daunting, I hope that I bring a new set of unique skills and talents that will serve this company well in my time. I hope those who have preceded me respect what I bring to this title of president of Geneva Rock Products.
Those who are close to me know that I’ve taken this role seriously during these tough economic times. We’ve made it through on our core values and I believe we’re through the worst of it.
We’re working on preserving our right to mine at our gravel pits. We’re being challenged on every side on our ability to mine, which is our livelihood. We need to preserve our right to our resources from challenging residential growth.
We also need to overcome the challenges that come from regulations in our industry. Specifically, I want to bring a resolution at the Point of the Mountain with the hang gliders and the Division of Air Quality, so we can take care of our needs, but do it in a partnership. That’s the biggest challenge of the next six to eight years I have left here.
I believe this state is going to continue to grow and we need to be in a position to provide the quality goods and services in the same manner we have in the past to meet the needs of the growing state.
What does the future hold for Geneva Rock Products?
GOLDING: I’m looking forward to the growth we talk about in 20 years, when I’m one of the old guys looking back.
One of my greatest responsibilities as a leader now is to develop future leaders so they can succeed myself and others when we’re done.