As a student at the University of Arkansas, David Ross was faced with two career paths: going into banking or working in finance with Morelock-Ross Builders, which was co-founded by his father, Kenny.
Midway through his senior year, the younger Ross began interviewing with other companies, but a meeting with his dad and business partner Wayne Morelock changed his course.
“They said, ‘We’d kind of rather you start here from the ground up,’” David Ross recalls.
It turns out, they meant that literally, putting Ross to work swinging a hammer and pouring concrete at job sites when he joined the company in 2003.
“Being on site from day to day and actually watching projects built from foundation to finish, it made it all kind of come together,” he says.
He also gained some valuable insight to the jobs of the workers he now supervises.
“I didn’t know what I was getting myself into in terms of out in the field,” Ross says. “Those guys work hard and sweat every day. It was not what I expected to do after four years in college, but there’s no way those four years in college could replace what I learned in the field.”
He says he still spends a lot of time learning – a necessity in an industry where things often change.
As a project manager, Ross is responsible for managing all phases of commercial construction projects that have budgets ranging from $200,000 to $8 million. Among the company’s recent projects are Legal Services of Southern Missouri’s $1.2 million headquarters, the $2.5 million expansion of Great Southern Bank’s operations center and Southwest Missouri Humane Society’s $3 million facility.
When asked to pick his favorites, Ross points to two Springfield projects completed in 2010 that define the industry in general because they were Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design projects: a $1.8 million Arvest Bank project at 730 N. National Ave. and a $1.7 million Houlihan’s restaurant at 2110 E. Republic Road.
Ross, a LEED-accredited professional since March 2009, ranks paperwork near the bottom of the list of what he likes about his job. He says the people he interacts with daily are by far the best part.
“I feel like I’ve had a lot of people help me get to where I am,” says Ross, who was one of Springfield Business Journal’s 2010 40 Under 40 honorees.
Ross lists as his mentors – besides his father and Morelock – Jamie Sivils and Kirk Elmquist, who work at Morelock-Ross; Tom Rankin, of Sperry Van Ness/Rankin Co.; and John Griesemer of Springfield Underground.
“My parents, Wayne and some of my other mentors in the community – they trust me in business and personal relationships,” Ross says. “I feel obligated to give back in any way that I can and try to be a good person.”
To that end, he serves on the boards of directors of Leadership Springfield, the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools and Lost & Found, a grief support group. For more information on the 12 People You Need to Know series, click here.