Joe Wagner’s road to becoming a Project Manager and Construction Administrator at ISG began when his father-in-law brought him to the Hampton Fire Station and asked him to sign up as a volunteer firefighter. He did, eventually becoming Chief. Fifteen years later Hampton was merging with nearby Randolph and needed a new facility. ISG answered the call, and Joe worked closely through construction with Bob Mickelson, ISG Senior Project Manager and Construction Administrator, and the rest of the team on the new fire station.
ISG’s work left a lasting impact on Joe. Years later, when Joe ran into Bob at Menards and let slip that he was interested in getting back into architecture, the rest fell into place. Now, Joe has made the transition from client to employee owner and has been bringing his client-centric focus to the office and job site ever since.
So you really became a firefighter just because your father-in-law thought you should?
That may be what got me in the door, but what kept me as a volunteer firefighter for 29 years was the passion and commitment to service that must run in my family—my father-in-law and brother both volunteered as firefighters, and my other brother is a retired Las Vegas Metro Police Officer.
How does your experience as a former client of ISG help you work with clients now?
I think the biggest takeaway from my time as a client was the importance of positive relationships during construction. Even if a design is absolutely perfect for a client, if they don’t feel like the firm was supportive during construction, they’re not going to be satisfied. When I was a client for ISG, I always felt that I was treated with respect made a lasting impact on me that extended beyond the finished final project (which was an awesome fire station, by the way).
Why did you choose to hire ISG for the fire station project?
We felt then, as I still feel now, that ISG having all-disciplines in house is advantageous as it allows for better continuity and communication throughout a project than the alternative of getting multiple different firms involved. That, along with our confidence the City and F.D. had in ISG Vice President Brian Gjerde, made it an easy decision to hire ISG.
Which skillsets help you deliver solutions at ISG?
In my role in the Fire Department, I was responsible for overseeing firefighters and it was extremely important to proactively make sure everyone was sticking to the task at hand. This experience helped me learn the best ways to communicate with different personalities and types of communicators, which helped develop my leadership skills. I still use those skills at ISG.
Because I was in the field as a project coordinator for a number of years prior to joining ISG, I heavily rely on my experience, but I’m always able to consult the multi-disciplinary team around me at ISG to get additional opinions.
Who inspires you? Why?
My dad. He raised four kids as a single parent while working full-time and overtime to provide for us. When we were growing up he worked incredibly hard to provide us a great childhood and to take us on vacations in the summer, and pushed us to make the most of our lives.
How is Project Management and Construction Administration like gardening?
Whether I’m on the job site, or gardening at home, I like to see projects through to the end. My role at ISG offers me the opportunity to do just that, as I get to be involved from planning until the final product, while building meaningful relationships with our partners and clients along the way. There’s perhaps nothing more rewarding than finishing a projects and perennial flowerbeds.
Got any Super Bowl predictions?
My brother’s nephew is the VP of Personnel for the Rams, and it’s been cool to watch the team turnaround from a stretch of disappointing seasons. However, while I would love for the Rams to win 24-17, I think the Patriots will. Frankly I’m just hoping to beat Amanda Thomas in the MSP office’s “Super Bowl Squares” pool.
Speaking of nephews, what’s your other nephew’s availability to join ISG’s slow-pitch softball team?
Probably not very high. He’s currently working to get back into pitching in the Majors. But I’ll let you know.