Shawn Holycross was studying accounting at Wright State University when he had a change of heart. Raised on a farm in Logan County, Ohio, he realized office life was not for him. “I wanted a job where I could be outdoors and thought construction would be the best way to get me outside with good pay,” Shawn recalled. So, he pivoted. He attended welding school at the Hobart Institute of Technology and became a certified welder in 1998. Shortly after, he saw a classified ad for Miller Valentine Construction in his local paper. “I believe it’s the first time they put out a classified ad,” Shawn said. “I happened to look at the paper at the right time.”
Shawn started as a laborer/welder, at first working primarily on office buildings. However, his willingness to dig in and get the job done led to rapid advancement within the company. In short order, he was promoted to foreman, then supervisor, and finally superintendent. “The best advice I received early in my career is to work hard because people are always watching. If you put in the hard work, you will be recognized in due time,” Shawn noted. “That has certainly been the case with Miller Valentine.” Shawn’s projects included several expansions for long-time client Pratt Industries in Valparaiso, Indiana, and Wapakoneta, Ohio. He also ran the NorthPoint V project at Dayton International Airport for repeat client NorthPoint Development. Trusted with high-profile projects, Shawn delivered every time. Then COVID-19 hit. As the economy slumped and project signings were delayed, Shawn was asked to help out in the Preconstruction office. He didn’t know it at the time, but his career was about to take another turn. “Once I got here, I realized I really enjoyed Preconstruction,” Shawn said. “It is fast-paced, detail-oriented, and the work can change daily. It keeps you on your toes, and it’s fun.” Shawn applied for the role of Assistant Preconstruction Manager in 2020 and has been with that team ever since. Now as Preconstruction Manager, his duties include helping clients define their vision, developing preliminary budgets, collaborating with clients to align their vision and budget, and bidding out the work to trade partners. His hands-on experience in the field makes him an invaluable asset for Miller Valentine clients.
“I know first-hand the challenges that can come up, such as supply chain disruptions or weather setbacks, and I use this knowledge to set expectations and help our clients make more informed decisions about their projects, budgets, and schedules,” Shawn said. For example, electrical gear components like panel boards and switch gears are currently experiencing delays of up to 50 weeks. In response, Shawn will work with clients to get an early release for certain materials so they can be ordered as soon as possible. Unsurprisingly, Shawn believes adaptability is a necessary trait for success. Clearly, it is a characteristic that has served him well throughout his career. “You’ve got to be flexible. There are no givens for what you’ll do in a day. You might think you know what you’re going to do at the start of the day, but it can change in a minute. But that can also make it fun.” Another core value that has defined his career is loyalty. There’s a reason Shawn is still with Miller Valentine 25 years after answering that classified ad. “When there was a slowdown during the pandemic, Miller Valentine kept me working,” he said. “When COVID hit, they put their trust in me so that I could provide for my family. I want to give back as much as they have given me.”