For Jenna Kendall, the Construction Industry is ‘All in the Family’

Jenna Kendall, junior construction manager, St. John Properties. Inc.

With her father and grandfather heavily involved in the construction industry and having mastered the art of reading blueprints at the tender age of 10, there was little question about the eventual career path of Jenna Kendall, who recently joined St. John Properties, Inc. as junior construction manager in the firm’s Denver office. Her brother also fell under the family spell and now owns a general contracting firm in Crested Butte.

“I have a lot of childhood memories of helping my dad build various things and make improvements to homes, so my brother and I became extremely comfortable using our hands to hammer nails, measure materials, cut trim, paint and help subcontractors decipher drawings,” explains Kendall, who brings more than 24 years of experience to her new role. “Working in construction requires a tremendous amount of discipline, skill and mental alertness and I enjoy challenging myself that way. My father always stressed the importance of hard work and having a clear set of goals. I experienced and understood all those principles at an extremely young age, and these lessons helped me become a detailed and passionate person in all phases of my life.”

The family’s construction lineage goes back multiple generations, and Kendall’s grandfather was a civil and structural engineer.

Kendall entered the industry as an estimator for a commercial paint company at age 20. She subsequently worked in project management for several general contracting companies and subcontractors before joining St. John Properties to handle tenant build-out and construction activities, as well as assist with ground-up construction management, including at the firm’s newest project, Simms Technology Park.

As a woman in a male-dominated industry, Kendall admits she has been the subject of bias and differential treatment. She diffuses these situations “by showing those people how educated and helpful I am,” while also implementing lessons and guidance drilled in by her father. “There are still a handful of people I encounter from time to time that don’t believe women belong in construction, but I do not let that bother me anymore. The most important thing is to demonstrate confidence, don’t get rattled, laugh about things, and stay focused on the bigger picture,” she says.

Her advice for women interested in entering the field is “be confident and remember that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to.” Entering the construction industry is a smart career choice as it rarely slows down, is always challenging and rewarding, and provides many options for growth and advancement. Also, it is special to construct something and see the project fulfill the goals of the end-user. There are few industries where you can say that.”  

Kendall says that her favorite part of the job, even after more than 20 years, is learning. “It is fun to learn new things constantly, and that is also what keeps the job interesting,” she explains. “Learning comes in the form of getting familiar with new building codes, or gaining a different perspective from a peer or mentor on a better or more efficient way to build something. I wake up every morning and don’t know exactly what the day has in store for me or what challenge I will be faced with. That feeling keeps me energized because I am never bored in the construction industry.”

Joining St. John Properties, with its national portfolio and track record of speculative construction and development activity, represents the next natural evolution in Kendall’s career. “After working as an estimator and project manager for subcontractors, I feel I am ready to tackle the next step in my career, and wanted to work with a full-service commercial real estate developer,” she says. “The more I investigated the company, with its innovative leadership, current pipeline, and goals for the future, the more I believed it was the perfect fit. It was extremely important to have the opportunity for growth with the company, and St. John Properties offers those opportunities.”

Kendall is truly grateful for her mentors and the opportunities she has been given throughout her life. “My father raised two children on his own and stressed the value of hard work,” she says. “Tom Thomas at Shamrock Painting gave me confidence and made everyone laugh along the way. Now, I have Allen Rutherford, St. John Properties’ director of construction, and Regional Partner Brandon Jenkins, who both gave me this tremendous opportunity and who provide guidance and support every day.”  

“This is the place where I want to work for a long time, and I am truly grateful,” says Kendall.   

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