This edition of Counterpart pits two young, up-and-comers against one another to decide the future of the construction industry.

Well, maybe the stakes are not actually that high, but then again, these two are the future of the Rafn Company at least. Jered Cottell is the Project Manager on our Northaven Apartments project and Jen Oliver is currently working as the Project Engineer on our Green Lake North Apartments project. So while they do have some similarities, they also each bring a unique and fresh perspective to their project teams. Let’s get this kicked off!

Number of years at Rafn?

Jered: 10 years.

Jen: 4 years. Plus 3 summers interning as a Project Engineer.

What is the best thing about construction?

Jered: There is always some issue or new process to learn and figure out. Nothing ever becomes stale or repetitive.

Jen: You get to put all this effort into solving problems and making sure things are being built right to end up with a beautiful building at the end that you get to show off as “I helped build this.” It’s a really cool feeling to drive around the city and see the work you’ve done.

What sport would you beat Jered/Jen in?

Jered: I would beat Jen in a catfish noodling tournament (noodling, also known as hand fishing, involves catching catfish with your bare hands).

Jen: I would beat Jered in pickleball. Or maybe a giant pumpkin kayak race.

Who would play you in a movie?

Jered: Matt Damon.

Jen: Alexandra Daddario.

What has been your best construction invention?

Jered: The JerCo 3600GT™. An aluminum timer stand for community BBQs and firepits on multi-housing projects.

Jen: The Rover 360™. A mobile tripod with built-in lighting for 360-degree construction photo documentation.

What does the construction industry need more of?

Jered: Implementation of AI in the design to help capture changing codes and environmental requirements.

Jen: Young workers, both in the office and the field. We need a new generation of construction professionals.

Weirdest job you’ve ever had?

Jered: Worked in Alaska on a fishing boat.

Jen: In high school, I worked at Jamba Juice. I gained a few life lessons since this was my first real job, but the most important was how to make a tasty smoothie. The secret… always add a scoop of ice cream or sherbet.

One sport you would never try?

Jered: Base jumping.

Jen: I don’t think there’s any sport I wouldn’t try. I’d give every sport a try at least once.

Funniest construction story?

Jered: My very first project I was walking around the site with the lead concrete subcontractor and I stepped on an eco-pan that was full of concrete that I thought was fully cured, but the top of the concrete was still slick and I slipped and fell right on my butt in front of the entire concrete crew. My pants were covered in concrete slurry for the rest of the day.

Jen: There isn’t one story that comes to mind, but I have fun every day at work. Our team environment is so fun and goofy that I smile and laugh every single day. I think that is a really special thing that not everybody gets at work.

Your favorite food?

Jered: Really good sushi.

Jen: Quesadillas.

Favorite musician?

Jered: Kenny Chesney.

Jen: Shania Twain.

Last movie you liked so much you watched it twice?

Jered: The Tomorrow War.

Jen: Top Gun: Maverick.

Talent you wish you had?

Jered: I wish I was better with 3D design software.

Jen: I genuinely can’t whistle, so I’d like to be able to do that.

Most under-appreciated job on a construction site?

Jered: Sanitary Facility Maintenance person.

Jen: Project Engineers for sure. The PE has their eye on every RFI and submittal that comes through, so PEs are the center of the universe for knowledge of what is being put into a project. We know everything from the concrete mix number to the name of the paint color on your front door to how many toilet paper holders we need to order.

Who was your childhood hero?

Jered: Ken Griffey Jr.

Jen: My dad. He worked for a general contractor and inspired me to pursue a career in construction. He was a hard-working, honest man who loved to build and that’s what he got to do every day. I wanted to love what I do every day too and thankfully now I get to while at work!

Best piece of advice for someone starting out / considering the construction industry?

Jered: There is an intimidating mountain of information to learn about building, take one bite at a time and never stop learning.

Jen: There are no stupid questions. There are a million moving pieces and acronyms in construction so it’s hard to know what you don’t know. The most beneficial thing to me is to ask why, and how we do things a certain way, about everything.