Q & A – Mike Rief

Mike Rief is our Senior Vice President of Construction Services. He plays a critical role on our construction team by driving projects forward through his leadership. In this Q&A, Mike reflects on his experiences at WSB and shares his vision for the future.

Q: You’ve been with WSB for almost 15 years. What aspects of WSB make you excited about work?

I really enjoy the people I work with not only in the Construction Services Division, but throughout WSB. We have a lot of talented, motivated and passionate people and it’s fun to draw from their excitement and energy in our daily work, pursuit of work and development of plans and projects.

Q: So far during your time at WSB, what has been the most memorable moment?

There have been many memorable moments during my time, but a couple that stand out are the collapse and reconstruction of the St. Anthony Falls 35W Bridge. That project presented a lot of firsts for WSB. We were brought in to provide two to four staff for Contractor Quality Assurance. Because of our efforts, we eventually had more than 50 staff providing field support in the construction of the $234M project. We had a great team who delivered the contract administration, inspection, testing and documentation. We worked 24/7 for nine months through one of Minnesota’s coldest winters to successfully deliver the project. The other memorable moment, still very special to me, is winning the 2012 TH 90 Dresbach Bridge and Interchange Contract Administration and Oversight. This project was a significant milestone for our firm.

Q: How are our clients involved throughout the construction process?

Involvement varies significantly depending on the client. Every project is unique, and we take that into consideration. We welcome client involvement and engagement as part of our process. We work to find a balance with the client to ensure their needs are met and that they are satisfied with the administration of the project, the final product and resident perception.

Q: Our culture drives our curiosity. How does curiosity drive the construction team?

The people who are most successful in the construction industry are problem solvers by nature. That creates a certain level of curiosity in the way we perform our jobs. We ask questions and are not afraid to ask why and provide recommendations on better ways to address a challenge. It’s our staff’s curiosity that drives our innovation and improvements. We are constantly pursuing improvements to our process and the way we work and this has been the foundation of many enhancements throughout WSB.

Q: How do you think WSB stays innovative and inspired in times of uncertainty?

I think in some cases, it’s the uncertainty that creates the inspiration and innovation. Our staff is good at finding opportunities to expand services or develop new technologies. If you look back to the Great Recession, our firm grew by adding new services and exploring new markets. We’ve faced uncertainty recently when navigating the challenges surrounding COVID-19, but I’ve admired the ways our staff are identifying new ways to perform their work, deliver projects and stay engaged.

Q: What makes our construction services offerings unique?

We offer a broad range of services that complement each other. We also have become specialized in the areas of Contract Administration, Surveys, Pipeline, Environmental Compliance, Project Controls, Geotechnical, Materials, Pavements and Geohazards. All of these service areas work together by sharing knowledge, resources and lessons learned. We have strong relationships with all divisions in WSB and work collectively to deliver projects.

Q: How do you think our construction services are set up for future success?

We have become very competitive over and continue to meet the needs of our clients. We are making significant investments in our staff, training and technology. We are investing in other service offerings, new markets and new industries. Continuing to evolve and explore new markets both geographically and from a service offering perspective will help position us for continued success in the future.

Q: What are you most excited for in 2020?

2020 didn’t start the way we had hoped. The COVID-19 situation has created some uncertainty for everyone in all industries. Moving forward, I’m most excited for our season to progress and our staff to get out on projects. How we do work in the future will look different to us and it’s exciting that we are able to help define what that will look like.

Q: Inspiration is paramount to our work at WSB. What inspires you?

I draw inspiration from a lot of different areas. First, I tend to be a little competitive so, I enjoy the pursuit for projects. I also draw inspiration from our staff. Seeing our staff experience success, solve a problem or learn something new is a motivator. After 30 years in the industry, I’m still learning and sharing knowledge with others and it is really rewarding to have others do the same with me. Seeing staff, clients and contractor partners get excited about their jobs is something that should inspire all of us.

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