Dream ‘Chasser:’ Barry Chasse makes heart-based leadership the key to his career

Dream ‘Chasser:’ Barry Chasse makes heart-based leadership the key to his career

By Alison Bailin Batz

For 15 years, longtime Airpark resident Barry Chasse has worked to build Chasse Building Team into one of the preeminent general contractors in Arizona.

The business — which leads new construction and renovations in K-12 education, higher education, multifamily, municipal, commercial, health care and nonprofit — has completed dozens of projects in the Northeast Valley, including Formation Scottsdale, Cheyenne Traditional School, the Hohokam Elementary School rebuild and Novel Midtown.

In the industry for 30-plus years, Chasse is celebrating the business’ success by giving it all away.

 

Pouring the foundation

 

The ASU graduate is a member of the Sun Devil 100 that celebrates the achievements of Sun Devil-owned and -led businesses across the globe, and a life member of the Arizona Builders Alliance.

He got his professional start in 1988 with a large national contractor looking to put down roots in the Valley of the Sun.

He spent 17 years with the business, growing it to more than 150 employees across Arizona. He built a reputation as a teambuilder, team player and innovator.

“Those were special years, as much meeting and marrying my wife of 26 years, Rikki, and having our two daughters, Rylee and Sydney,” Chasse adds.

By the mid-2000s, Chasse dreamed of building his own business.

“I wanted to do things differently than was the norm at the time in our industry,” Chasse says. “Certainly, I wanted to responsibly build projects across Arizona, but I also wanted to help my teammates build lives they could be proud of, build up our community and make clients’ loftiest of visions a reality.”

Armed with ambition, great relationships and a handful of colleagues who believed in him, Chasse founded Chasse Building Team in 2007.

“Just in time for the Great Recession,” Chasse says. “No one could have guessed what the next five years would look like for our industry. Every single person who worked for us, with us or around us was impacted.”

And while those first years were far from smooth sailing, they helped Chasse to understand that company culture — especially morale — were more than just part of a mission statement or “dream;” they were essential to moving from surviving the thriving.

“You cannot run a business in a silo, especially one that requires so much interconnectivity to fire on all cylinders,” says Chasse, who developed what he calls a “heart-based” leadership mentality. “Every single person willing to give our team eight to 10 hours of their day away from their families deserves a voice, both in what we build and how we do it.”

 

Connecting the dots

 

Chasse’s leadership style clicked. Despite the recession, they earned business. And loyal team members.

“There were just a handful of us during those first years; and I am proud to say many of them are still with us today,” says Chasse, who has grown the business to more than 200 employees and $420 million in construction projects annually.

By leading with his heart, Chasse is constantly improving processes and working to keep morale high at the company, hosting everything from ’80s-themed proms and annual staycations for every single employee to family-friendly campouts and group volunteer projects.

Chasse also mentors team members to get chase their passions outside of the office, many who as a result have taken on key leadership roles within the community chairing golf tournaments, chairing the Scottsdale Charros and earning “volunteer of the year” kudos from the Scottsdale 20-30 Club.

“Thanks to input from our team, we’ve also been able to invest more than $3.5 million in donations and sponsorships to critical causes in this community that mean something to them on a personal level,” Chasse says.

When developing his new headquarters in 2019, he took ideas from his staff and, as a result, it enhanced the building’s sustainability. He also added games, installed relaxation chairs, built a full bar, and designed a fully stocked kitchen with cold brew on tap.

 

LEANing in

 

“Insight from our team, meaning actually sitting down and talking one on one versus an email or text now and again, also help us get better every day,” says Chasse, noting one of the key initiatives developed through meaningful exchanges is Chasse Lean.

Chasse Lean is a collaborative process to achieve maximum value on all of the organization’s projects while minimizing project waste such as cost, material, time and effort.

“This approach starts with identifying and creating a project community,” Chasse says.

“The community is everyone involved in successfully completing the project, including the owner, architect, us, trade partners, consultants, inspectors and more. The community adheres to Chasse’s Lean culture by being respectful of each other, collaborating by asking instead of telling, and striving to get better every day.”

Next, from the baseline construction schedule prepared during the design phase, Chasse invited the entire project community to participate in a Pull Planning Session. Using a graph schedule and sticky notes, community members can map out their task, what they need to start, how many days the task will take, and how many team members are involved.

Chasse then facilitates weekly meetings between community members to ensure milestones are being met and the project schedule remains on track. During weekly meetings, partners present the previous week’s progress, their scope of work for the upcoming week and a look ahead for the next six weeks based on the master schedule.

“Through this, we’re able to be very proactive rather than reactive in identifying delays and the corrective actions needed in order to reduce rework and waste,” Chasse says.

Beyond that, every morning all trade foreman actively working on the jobsite attend a Daily Huddle. Daily construction activities, any constraints, and safety are covered during this brief meeting.

“Chasse Lean also succeeds by using technology and software effectively to benefit the entire community,” Chasse says. “From Building Information Modeling and project fly throughs to 4D construction schedules, everyone is able to communicate successfully in exciting and effective ways.”

Several projects using this methodology — the John S. McCain Elementary School, U-HAUL Health and Wellness Center, Pima Community College Automotive Technology and Innovation Center, Arizona State University Alameda Warehouse and the Hohokam Elementary School Rebuild — were recently honored with 2022 Real Estate Development Awards.

 

What’s next

 

Chasse celebrates Chasse Building Team’s 15th year.

As a surprise to the staff, Chasse recently announced Chasse Building Team was a becoming a 100% employee-owned firm by launching an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP). Under the plan, all eligible employees will earn a yearly allocation of stock and their value will increase as the value of the firm increases along with all other benefits already in place.

“We want our employees to act and think like owners and directly benefit from Chasse Building Team’s continued success as participants,” says Chasse, who is staying on as president.

The plan is designed as a long-term retirement benefit for all employees as owners.

“Team is in our name for a reason,” Chasse says. “I’ve always led with my heart, and this time it led me here, to an amazing long-term and sustainable solution for us while simultaneously providing a significant wealth-building benefit to all of our teammate owners.”

Chasse Building Team

chasse.us

 

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