Marty Hedlund

Marty Hedlund is going to be a busy man this year. Along with his day job as regional vice president of Sundt Construction, Hedlund is on the board of directors of the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Discovery Triangle’s board of directors, on the national board of directors for the Design Build Institute of America (DBIA), as well as being part of the DBIA National Certification Board. To top it all off, he’s taking the reins as the 2018 chairman of the Arizona Builders Alliance (ABA). 

Growing up in Phoenix, Hedlund says his affinity for science and math as a child is what led him to pursue a civil engineering degree at Stanford University. It was during those college summer internships where, by process of elimination, he found his calling. Hedlund quickly learned that the office scene wasn’t for him. 

“What I really liked was being outdoors and near the projects that were being engineered or being built,” he says. 

This realization led Hedlund to pursue construction over engineering. A few more internships later and he crossed roads and bridges off his to-do list. Building buildings was going to be his thing and more than 30 years later, his love for all things construction is stronger than ever. 

After college, Hedlund came home to the Valley and soon found his place with a company that offered him boundless growth, Sundt Construction. 

“I became a field engineer in 1984 and just kind of did all the different operational positions along the way,” he says, a path that led him to his current place as regional vice president of Sundt, one of the largest employee-owned construction companies in the United States. 

When Hedlund talks about the family atmosphere that has kept him at Sundt, he’s isn’t speaking metaphorically. His brother Eric Hedlund is the Texas district manager for Sundt Construction and a former chairman of the ABA. Not only does this ensure that family requests to build backyard playhouses will receive competitive bids, but it makes Marty’s appointment historic. The two are the first set of brothers to hold the volunteer position. 

Hedlund’s turn as chairman of the ABA isn’t going to be a cake walk though. First, he’ll be heading up the board the same year the organization is losing the only president it’s ever known. After 25 years of leading the ABA, Mark Minter is retiring in 2018, leaving a significant hole to fill. Making sure the next president has a big enough shovel to fill it is No. 1 on Hedlund’s to-do list. Knowing such a major transition won’t happen seamlessly on its own, his work as chairman will focus well beyond his one-year tenure. 

“Strategic planning isn’t just about looking at this year or next year, it’s about ‘what are your long term plans?’” Hedlund says. 

Those plans include keeping the ABA’s vision strong, while increasing membership and education for all levels of the industry.   

Another challenge Hedlund will face is making sure his industry utilizes the services offered by the ABA as Arizona continues to grow. Growth is good of course, especially for the construction industry, but it also creates a new set of problems. Most notably, Hedlund says, is not enough workers. Consequently, increasing a well-trained workforce is another top priority for the incoming chairman, as is leadership training. 

“Educating not only craft, but management personnel to run the work, is a big challenge,” he says. Hedlund explains that overwhelmed management can leads to serious, and sometimes fatal, growing pains. For example, the divergence in time between paying employees and getting paid by clients can cause a cash flow problem, from which a company may never be able to recover. This is why encouraging members to take advantage of the ABA training and development programs is another of his top priorities. 

As a man who likes to have a full plate in front of him, Hedlund also hopes to use his time as chairman of the ABA to help improve his industry’s face value. He says he’s well aware of the sweaty-guy-digging-a-ditch image that comes to mind when people think about construction, and he’s not arguing with it, “It is all those things, but it is also about really smart people coming up with incredibly creative ways to build cool things that help serve our communities, and ultimately can change the world.”