While Clune operates as one company with the overarching goals of growth, profitability and employee satisfaction nationwide, each region celebrates a unique personality and portfolio. The West Region, managed by Randy Starbird and Peter Bahruth, thrives on a family environment and open door communication. They specialize in a wide range of projects including retail, entertainment and gaming, law firms, data centers and more. And they love a team happy hour.
Get to know Randy and Peter and stay tuned to meet more of Clune’s regional leadership in future posts.
What is the best bar or restaurant in LA?
Peter: It’s a whiskey bar called Seven Grand, named after the location the corner of 7th Street and Grand Avenue, about a block and a half away from our office. That is by far my favorite bar. It looks like a hunter’s lodge on the inside and has nice outdoor space to enjoy cigars.
Randy: Not to copy Peter, but it is a phenomenal bar with a great environment. They have at least 50 different whiskey options and as many or more scotch options to choose from.
Both starting as interns, how did that experience shape your path in the company and your perspective?
Peter: So I started as a field intern and I believe I was the first field intern in the West Region. My thought process was that I was going to learn the field side of things and then I could become a more effective project manager, understanding what the superintendent did. The problem is I never left the field. I really like the environment and the camaraderie, and never wanted to leave that. It was challenging because there wasn’t really a set path or program, but we all learned together as we went. Starting at Clune as Interns, we can still remember what it was like to feel like a brand new employee. This helps make us accessible to all our staff from Interns to Project Executives.
Randy: When I started there were 34 of us total in the company. To see the growing pains and struggles of becoming what we are today, really shapes my perspective. There were times it was hard to get work and a lot of struggles in the early days. Now to see how we’ve grown from those struggles to a place where our office can make a significant contribution to the company and really instills our One Clune mentality and family culture.
Peter and I hold true to the open door policy. In my office I have an Alder Graf schedule as a discussion piece to highlight where we came from. When I started we barely had computers. You could spend a whole day faxing a bulletin out to subcontractors. Seeing how we have intentionally progressed to where we are today and knowing our commitment to technology has been a main factor, gives me confidence in our ability to adapt to whatever comes next.
What are each of your favorite memories at Clune?
Randy: One thing that comes to mind, that’s more than one memory, is my early experiences with Mike Clune when he was involved in the day-to-day operations. The level of dedication and commitment that he instilled is something that has really stuck with me. Mike is such a unique individual and that’s a thread that has been woven through the expansion of the company.
Peter: One thing that sticks out to me as well, and also has to do with Mike which is interesting, has to do with some early Planning Sessions, which is our annual all-company meeting. I believe it was a Planning Session in Miami, early in my career. Mike really spilled out his heart and told his life story and explained how Clune became Clune. To me it was really inspirational, and I think really got everyone rallying around him as such a dynamic leader. He was an easy person to like and work for. A similar example was another planning session in 2008, where everyone stood together and shared our determination to stick together and survive a hard time. We again were rallied together and worked through that to come out bigger and stronger on the other end of the economic downturn.
With Randy’s career mainly on the project management side and Peter’s in the field, what is the biggest thing you’ve learned from each other and how does this perspective benefit your employees?
Peter: I look at it as the perfect balance. We look at things with two different perspectives and there’s complete mutual respect for those. By focusing on communication and showing each other what we see from our standpoints, we’re able to take a situation and reach the best decision for our office as a whole.
Randy: The team approach is really the right way to go about things for us. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us this at an even greater extent. Peter and I have been able to rely on each other and get through this together.
With multiple regions, it’s easy for anyone to fall into a place where they’re working with blinders on or in a siloed environment, just focusing on your region. We’ve seen those boundaries get broken down through COVID, because we all needed to quickly adapt and once again, rely on employees across the country to get through a hard time. We feel very confident with our team approach and building a regional strategy while taking unexpected challenges one at a time.
What is the best thing about working in your market?
Randy: One of the top things that comes to mind is how diverse our marketplace is. Not only the types of business we work for, but also the makeup of people we work with. This diversity affords our employees the opportunity to be challenged on a wide range of projects throughout their careers.
Peter: I agree; I think it’s the diversity as well. We work on projects that range from a 7,000-square-foot retail bank to a 500,000-square-foot office, and everything in between. There’s varying degrees of difficulty within each of those, such as interconnecting stairs or high-end finishes. The diverse types of projects that we have the opportunity to get involved with here and learn from is what makes our jobs exciting.
How do you approach co-leading the West Region and what do you think makes a good leader?
Peter: We touch base daily, whether it’s just for 10 minutes or in a lengthier meeting. We have our areas and projects that we each focus on but we’re very open communicators. It’s definitely a team sport: that holds true for our leadership style and the whole office. We empower our leaders to have their own goals and to seek out projects and new team members that will help them achieve those goals. Each team has their own nuances but it all works well together as a big picture. To us it’s about being open and empowering the great culture and staff that we have. During our weekly meetings we ask, what do you need from us to be more successful and we do everything we can to provide the help that’s asked for.
Randy: We lead by example. Giving our teams the tools and the encouragement they need makes a difference. They put their hearts into their projects and their team members, and they really care about other teams as well. Staying on the same page and being accessible to everyone shows team leaders they can be that way too.
What do you see for the future of the West Region?
Peter: I think with the people we have and the culture we have, I don’t see any reason we don’t continue to grow and become even stronger. We have really great people and everybody pitches in and works hard, and it pays off. To me the sky is the limit, it’s just a matter of continuing to grow and getting more great people that fit into our culture, while still having fun together.
Randy: We haven’t even come close to tapping out on the resources of the Los Angeles marketplace. Even if you just look at the simple tenant improvement opportunities, there’s so much more that we can be exposed to. In San Francisco we have smaller group now, but their growth has the potential to be exponential. We’re very excited to help that unfold.