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Jeff Whaley
Corporate Secretary/Treasurer
Orion Construction | Wasilla, Alaska

How did you end up working for a construction company in Alaska?

My background is in business administration, including finance and accounting as well as a variety of entrepreneurial pursuits. When a close friend began a residential construction company and asked me to be a partner leading accounting and administration, I took the opportunity. Two years later, that company merged with another commercial contractor to form Orion Construction Inc. Orion’s focus became federal contracting and other public-works projects. The business began with eight employees and has grown to over 45 employees performing commercial and industrial work throughout Alaska and Washington State.

What do you like most about your job?

Business development, maintaining the budget and working in a collaborative team environment. We have a great team of project managers, quality control, safety, superintendents, craft labor and administrative staff. We’ve encouraged an environment of open dialogue, and this benefits the clients and all personnel.

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side dish?

My favorite holiday of the year! My wife’s homemade French green-bean casserole mixed with cream of mushrooms.

Do you have a favorite project that your company has worked on?

Wasilla High School pool renovation—complete demolition and rebuild of Olympic-size swimming pool for the local high school. The general public utilizes the pool, so when it reopened on schedule it was quite a celebration.

How are you handling the industry-wide shortage of skilled labor?

The labor shortage has had moderate effects on Orion, mostly through subcontractor and supplier availability. Fortunately, Orion itself has utilized the apprentice program through Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC of Alaska) and word-of-mouth hires, as well as promoted upward mobility within.

What was the first concert you ever attended?

Van Halen, 1984, Phoenix, Arizona. Rock on.

Have you had a mentor in your career?

My two business partners have been inspiring and educational. Orion’s president, William Dishon, has developed a vast diversity of construction knowledge, which has helped me understand the in-field dynamics as well as the tracking of schedule, quality control, safety and cost-control measures through the life of a project.

Patrick Merow is Orion’s vice president and lead estimator. Patrick’s interpersonal skills, cost estimating and solution-based approach continues to educate me on the benefits of relationships, research and integrating experiences into the next project.

Lastly would be Mom, who brought me into business administration, organizational structure and accountability from an early age.


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