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I’m a third-generation Montanan from Great Falls, about two hours north of Bozeman. I started my career in our family concrete business with my mom and uncles. After a few years, I joined my dad, who worked for a general contractor in Great Falls. We mostly built government projects across Montana and Tacoma, Wash. My boss then was a developer who built and owned hotels and restaurants. So, on top of the government projects, I was building out those developments. I was finishing a development in the oil fields and wanted to take the next step, so I joined a general contractor out of Billings. I was out in the Bakken oil fields of western North Dakota, building hotels and shopping malls and stuff like that. I really went wherever that adventure took me.
At some point, my boss said he had some Big Sky projects and asked if I wanted to go. I was definitely ready for a change from North Dakota. The oil fields and military bases are hard to build in, but it wasn’t like going from those to Big Sky was going to be an easier place to build. I don’t know if easy places to build exist in Montana. Logistics and scheduling are a challenge because nothing is coming through here on its way to somewhere else, so everything is a special shipment. And that doesn’t even touch on the challenges the limited resources and weather conditions provide. We get 400 inches of snow here a year. Snow will hang out here until probably early June, and we could see it as soon as September, so our building season is very short.
The Suffolk team here has been through the wringer of what Montana will dish out, so everybody's pretty seasoned in that aspect. The Spanish Peaks chairlift runs right through our job site. We see bears and all sorts of other animal guests. But as far as seeing the folks that are flooding into the area from different parts of the country, it’s a little bit of shell shock for them to experience their first winter and the adventures of getting around here.
I really went wherever that adventure took me.
This lifestyle keeps a guy pretty busy, but I hunt, fish, snowmobile, and ski as time allows. I'm also a photographer, so I spend a lot of time behind the camera shooting landscapes. Being outdoors in Montana is pretty conducive to that. My photography passion started after a little thought. I told my wife that I wanted to buy a camera and start taking photos and selling prints. She kind of laughed and said, “OK, sweetheart, that's nice, have fun.” Sure enough, I got a camera and started taking pictures and selling prints. It's a stress reliever and allows me to use the creative parts of my mind. So, that's worked out pretty well.
In Bozeman these days, there aren’t a lot of people from Montana. Having lived here and worked in this area for quite a few years, it's been nice to be able to share contacts and make connections for the rest of the team. Sometimes it’s a way to break through some of those walls.
Jason Richerson is a project manager at Suffolk’s Spanish Peaks jobsite, where he explores how technology and 3D modeling can help the project and the construction industry as a whole. To see more of his photography of his home state, click here.
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