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Leadership Spotlight: Charles Cadenhead, Vice President, Transportation Market Lead

Charles Cadenhead family

We recently spoke with Charles Cadenhead to learn more about his new role as Vice President and leader of our transportation market. We asked him about his background, what he enjoys about working at Braun Intertec in his new role, and his advice for those just starting their career.

What is your current role at Braun Intertec?
I’m a vice president and the lead for our transportation market, which means I am responsible for collaborating and engaging with clients and professionals in our organization to grow transportation projects and our transportation business. I work closely with Scott Beadleston, our senior vice president of markets and accounts, to help facilitate growth in our transportation market.

What is your professional background?
After earning my bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, I worked for the Minnesota Department of Transportation in a variety of positions. I enjoyed delivering all types of construction projects, including I-694 lane addition (TH 100 – Fish Lake Interchange) and TH 101 NB Mississippi River Bridge. After finishing my master’s degree in infrastructure systems engineering, I gained a better appreciation of how our entire infrastructure works together and was able to apply that learning on the TH 212 Design-Build project, and I’ve been involved with design-build projects consistently ever since. After 15 years at MnDOT, I had the opportunity to be the construction manager for Anoka County, where we delivered the first municipally led design-build project in Minnesota. About eight years ago, I took my first foray into the private sector and have been leading transportation business for clients all over Minnesota.

What made you want to get a degree in civil engineering?
I have an uncle who is a chemical engineer and I was always amazed at how he could explain and fix things. I’ve always been intrigued by the engineering that takes place on man-made achievements in the world – like the Great Pyramids, Golden Gate Bridge, or the Hoover Dam. Building something that’s going to last for a long time and benefit others is something that’s always been a passion of mine. I like the fact that civil engineers build things that are used by everyone in society, something that’s useful now and in the future.

What is your favorite aspect of your role or most rewarding part of what you do here at Braun Intertec?
When I first started at Braun Intertec I was amazed at how many clients we serve consistently. It’s fun to be in an environment where we can pull from people’s talents across the company to help our clients deliver their most important projects. When we help our clients solve problems and deliver projects for the people they serve, I consider that a victory. It’s rewarding when you can help somebody out, help make them feel good, and be of benefit to their community or client.

What is your favorite thing about working at Braun Intertec? What do you feel makes it unique?
There’s a can-do attitude here. Obviously, being employee-owned is somewhat unique, I think it gives us a mentality where people understand we need to work together and do the best for the client. There is a camaraderie amongst employees of an employee-owned company that is hard to beat.

What technical specialty services do we offer that you feel differentiates Braun Intertec from other firms?
Braun Intertec has services that build on one another, are multi-faceted, and bring consistent excellence for our clients. We have some wonderfully talented staff in our pavement services group that help our clients uncover what lies beneath the pavement and consult different pavements and construction methods to give them the best product for their roadway. Our special inspections for non-standard materials is another area that makes Braun Intertec the best choice for many of our clients when they are looking for the best solutions to their project challenges.

How do our different technical specialties interact with one another?
Our technical specialties can really complement one another with how they work together to deliver a project. Our environmental services help projects run smoothly from the beginning to end and help build a relationship that can foster us performing other services for our clients. Transportation projects often need our environmental services from planning stages all the way through construction. We provide falling weight deflectometer (FWD) testing and ground-penetrating radar (GPR) to further the understanding of the subgrade for many of our clients to build quality and long-lasting pieces of infrastructure. These services both provide big picture information to help guide decisions being made with ever-growing constraints on public agencies to deliver their programs.

What is your approach to client problem solving?
Listen more and ask thoughtful questions. Our clients deal with complex issues and we need to actively listen to better understand the differences between what they see as a symptom or a problem. Once we have a clear understanding of the problem, it’s our job to fully understand the scope and complexity and deliver quality solutions that meet our clients’ needs.

What traits do you look for in your team members?
Beyond the basics of having some of the technical ability, I really think it’s important to find someone who believes in and can carry out the company culture. I love working with people who communicate effectively, offer support to their fellow employee-owners, challenge each other, have curiosity, and above all, be able to have fun!

What should new Braun Intertec employees know about working here? Do you have a piece of advice for someone entering your profession?
We’re an employee-owned company, and while that itself is great, there’s a lot of responsibility that comes along with the benefits of that model. They should know that Braun Intertec thrives on new ideas and provides great opportunities for people to grow their careers. It’s okay to fail when you learn and grow from it. The thing I like best about Braun Intertec is that people are very supportive, you’re allowed to take new steps, and if you trip people are going to help pick you up.

My kids often give me the ‘eye-roll’ when I try to impart words of wisdom, but I would say listen more and talk less. Ask thoughtful questions and engage in meaningful dialogue.

What are some of your hobbies or interests you like to do outside of work?
I have three kids, all born within a year of each other, so they’re all teenagers. I try to take advantage of the time I can get when all of them are together. I’ve been trying to get them to enjoy playing golf, but the jury is still out. Our family also likes to travel, visiting relatives in other places and seeing some American history along the way. I’m also looking forward to getting out in the field with my new dog, Harli, for some pheasant hunting next fall.