Springfield, MO

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2022 Day in the Life: Sean Thouvenot

April 11, 2022

Posted online

Branco Enterprises Inc.’s Sean Thouvenot has a soggy start to his workday. Even before arriving at the company’s Springfield office, Thouvenot checks in amid a thunderstorm on his 45-cattle operation on 250 acres across two farms in Republic and Hurley.

With all well on the farms, Thouvenot gets to the office at 6:30 a.m. Normally the first at work, he uses the quiet time to read and reply to emails. Hitting the ground running in early mornings is his norm.

“I was raised on a farm, so we were always up early,” he says. “In this industry, it’s just natural that you always start early.”

As vice president and one of the owners of Branco, which turns 90 next year, Thouvenot regularly logs 12-14 hours per day on the job. Now in his 26th year at the company and 11th as co-owner, he accepts the long days as part of being on the management team.

Roughly 350 emails fill his inbox each day, he says, adding roughly 80% require a response. Thouvenot says answering them promptly is a source of pride.

“My rule is everybody that sends an email that needs an answer gets an answer the day they sent it,” he says, adding he usually responds to as many emails between 6-8 a.m. as he does the next eight hours. “I don’t let the sun set on something that needs to be answered.”

In between emails, Thouvenot fields several phone calls, including one with Charlyce Ruth of Associated General Contractors of Missouri. The two discuss Build My Future, a one-day interactive construction career day for high school students, which was held April 13. Both had been concerned about attendees navigating outdoor activities as rain was forecast – and ultimately fell – throughout the day.

At 10 a.m., he meets with April Planck, a project manager in the office. They review two ongoing bridge repair projects for the Missouri Department of Transportation. The day’s rain won’t help progress on those jobs, as Thouvenot says some of the company’s 130 employees will be shuffled to indoor work.

“Getting a rain day like this messes things up. It puts you a day behind,” he says. “We’ll usually work another day to make it up. We’ll move people to different indoor jobs if we need to because everyone is struggling with manpower right now.”

Being shorthanded on several crews has made it a challenge to stay on schedule for projects, Thouvenot laments.

“I could probably take 20 if they walked in today,” he says of Branco’s hiring needs.

The company is currently working 44 projects in three states – an average number, he says. One of those jobs is for Jordan Valley Community Health Center. Branco is general contractor on a two-phase, $6.8 million project to renovate a former Price Cutter grocery store at Grand Street and Kansas Expressway into a new clinic and an Ambulatory Surgery Center.

Following a working lunch in his office – a common occurrence as Thouvenot frequently packs a lunchbox – he arrives early to a 1:30 p.m. walk-through at the Jordan Valley project. He says job site visits are still a regular occurrence, but less frequent than preferred.

“I like to get out to at least two jobs a week but that doesn’t always happen,” he says. “I used to go to a job every day but the demands with the workload and backlog we’ve got, I’m lucky to get out as much as I do.”

Thouvenot meets with Project Superintendent John Bledsoe and Project Manager Mike Coan. The trio first do a walk-through of the 15,000-square-foot surgery center, which is down to the final punch list. However, Bledsoe and Coan point out leaks in the floor that will need to be addressed prior to the center’s planned May 1 opening. The project’s second phase, which includes medical exam rooms and dental suites, is expected to wrap by December.

Clinic side activity is just a few weeks in progress and has dozens of workers on-site between Branco and its subcontractors. Thouvenot admits during the tour he had to do some careful walking to avoid leaving footprints in the freshly poured concrete.

Following a 3 p.m. project meeting with Jordan Valley officials and BRP Architects, Thouvenot heads back to the office to chip away at his inbox and catch up with staff on troubleshooting other job sites. That includes reviewing pricing requests for Renew Jordan Creek, a city of Springfield project that combines placemaking and new downtown amenities with flood mitigation and stormwater improvements.

“Part of my job is training the project managers how to solve problems. There’re still some things that surprise me, but there’s not much I haven’t seen,” he says with a laugh.

With some downtime before a 6 p.m. Zoom call with an undisclosed client planning to open a restaurant in Republic, Thouvenot tidies the office, which still looks brand new even though it opened in 2019.

As he exits Branco’s doors around 6:30 p.m., Thouvenot heads back to the farm, checking on his cows in Hurley before heading home to Republic for some needed family time with his wife, Siohban, and their three visiting grandchildren.


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