Sometimes when his team is working late nights, Sean Thouvenot will visit the work site to deliver cold drinks and food. The vice president of Branco Enterprises Inc. also sometimes stops in to help out with the work – such as unloading trailers or pouring concrete. It’s his way of leading by example.
“I will not ask anyone to do something I would not do myself,” he says.
Thouvenot began his construction career as a carpenter while earning his construction management degree. His first job after graduation was as a manager and superintendent for HTH Cos. Inc. He changed companies once before settling at Branco, where he has been working for the past 22 years as project manager and senior project manager before landing his current role. He was offered ownership in the business that has been family-owned for 85 years, which Thouvenot says was a great honor.
“I have been a major part of making this company what it is today and it makes me proud,” he says. “It wasn’t cheap becoming an owner and it wasn’t an easy road becoming a VP, but you can do anything you put your mind to if you work hard enough.”
Along the way, Thouvenot has learned some keys to being a quality leader. For him, this includes consistent honesty and displaying compassion for one another. Never shying away from a difficult conversation, he helps work through problems with honest solutions. This also entails listening to employees to help solve issues.
“I show my employees and subcontractors by example to take the time to listen and really hear what is going on with people,” he says.
Thouvenot strives to make sure others succeed through mentorships with his employees, area organizations and Missouri State University, following in the footsteps of those who helped him along his career.
“I have been truly blessed with some amazing people who were put in my path,” he says. “I want to be one of those people for someone else – pay it forward, if you will.”
This desire to help aspiring individuals in the construction industry led to his involvement with the Missouri Division of Workforce Development’s preapprenticeship program for low-income people. One of the individuals is even currently in Branco’s carpentry apprenticeship program.
“So far, these young people are flourishing, and one of them is even talking about buying his first home,” he says.
Thouvenot also has set an example for future construction industry leaders. Recently, he says one tradesman went back to school to earn a project management degree after being inspired by Thouvenot.
“(He) is now a PM for us and working his way up the ladder,” he says. “He tells everyone he did it because he watched me do it.”
Outside of the office and construction site, Thouvenot gives back to the community including the Springfield Contractors Association, Associated General Contractors of Missouri, Springfield Business Development Corp. and MSU.
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