Otto Construction is one of the largest, woman-owned commercial general contractors in Northern California. With almost 75 years in the business and family-owned for three generations, Otto Construction attributes its success to its philosophy of nurturing long-standing collaborative relationships with project owners based on hard work, honesty, integrity, and compassion for others.
Allison Otto is president & CEO of Otto Construction. She is the third generation of the family to lead the company. Founded in 1947, Otto Construction is the largest family-owned general contractor in the Sacramento and Monterey regions of California. Before taking the reigns as president, Allison served the company for 21 years, most recently as executive vice president. As an integral part of the executive team, she shares the company’s passion and vision and adheres to the company’s core values—hard work, honesty, integrity, and compassion for others.
As president & CEO, Allison oversees the strategic direction of Otto Construction, including client outreach and negotiation, identifying and acquiring new clients, maintaining relationships with current and past clients, and overseeing projects from an executive standpoint. She has a proven track record of maintaining and expanding relationships with clients, architects, consultants, and other business and community organizations. Allison’s leadership role includes focusing on setting and achieving financial goals, implementing strategic planning objectives, and successfully positioning the company well within the communities where Otto Construction operates.
MCS had the opportunity to do a Q&A with Allison as we celebrate Women in Construction this month. Below is an excerpt of our exchange.
MCS: What is your current job?
OTTO: President and CEO of Otto Construction
MCS: When did you realize you wanted to work in construction?
OTTO: As a third-generation family member at Otto, construction has always been in my blood, but my love for construction really took off in college. I’ll never forget that, in one class, I had to write a letter to my future self, knowing 5 years later that the professor would send it back to me. What’s funny is that I’d actually forgotten that I wrote the letter when it arrived in my mail years later. In college, I wrote that I’d like to try a few jobs first on my own, because apparently, I predicted that once I started working in construction, that’s where I would stay. And that letter came true!
MCS: Who inspires you?
OTTO: All of the employees at Otto Construction—from those who have been here longer than me to those who started this year. They all bring so much value and integrity to what we do every day.
MCS: What has been the most surprising part of being a woman working in construction?
OTTO: The incredible network of support from both men and women in the business. Everyone has been so helpful, willing to listen and give advice, and of course share in all the successes.
MCS: What is your favorite part of your career?
OTTO: I love that every day is unpredictable and different. One day is filled with calls and meetings, while the next is filled with jobsite visits and planning. It makes waking up for work every morning exciting.
MCS: What is your most memorable moment so far working in construction?
OTTO: The incredible role models that I have had. From my grandpa John F. Otto, who started the company, to my dad Carl Otto who took it to the next level, and then to Carl Barrett who continued to lead with the values of hard work, honesty, integrity, and compassion for others—I was lucky to work for three really passionate leaders.
MCS: What is the biggest challenge of being a woman working in construction?
OTTO: To get more women in construction. It is such a great industry to work in and we need more diversity.
MCS: What is the biggest change you have seen in the construction industry since you started?
OTTO: Technology—the smart devices, programs and apps that all come with it. But I’ve learned that what must go along with these advances is a renewed sense of teamwork. New technology works best when there is a good team behind it, fostering communication, follow through, and problem solving.
MCS: What advice would you give a woman starting a job in construction?
OTTO: Find a great company and team to work with who invests in training you, supports your growth, and encourages you to be heard.
MCS: What would surprise us about you?
OTTO: I always carry a deck of cards. It’s fun to pass the time playing a game while waiting for a table at a restaurant or checking out a new brewery.
Check out BuildCalifornia.com if you want to work in the building industry!
For More Information:
Otto Construction was founded in 1947. Since 2013, revenues have more than doubled. In 2020, the company reached $190 million in annual revenue, the largest in company history. The services provided include design/build, lease/leaseback, lean construction, integrated project delivery, preconstruction/construction, sustainability, BIM, and self-performed work. Offices in Sacramento and Monterey, California. For more, visit ottoconstruction.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2021
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