At the end of January, Siena Construction’s President Terrence Hayes celebrates his work anniversary with Siena. Terry’s father Patrick Hayes founded Siena in 1991, when Terry was still just a teenager. Terry has worked his way up from a novice day laborer to the company’s President, fostering an inclusive, family-like atmosphere at Siena very much like his father. To commemorate Terry’s anniversary, and celebrate his tireless dedication to the company that he has helped grow into one of the Boston area’s most respected construction management firms, we thought we’d ask Terry some questions about his experience. As is true to his character, Terry provided thoughtful, humble, and humorous insights about the history and future of Siena, how he got started in the construction business, and the state of the industry in Boston. Thank you, Terry, for everything you do for Siena, your employees, your clients, and the community in Cambridge, Boston, and beyond. Happy Anniversary!

How did you decide to follow your family’s career path to construction? 

My parents were very supportive and let us make our own choices in education, so I followed in my father’s footsteps and studied literature and philosophy at Siena College in Albany. After graduation, I decided to pursue a master in Architecture. Not being able to live with reckless decisions like that, I moved to construction management, the best parts of architecture with practical applications. Following in my father’s footsteps once again.

What do you remember about your first job at Siena?

My first job at Siena was for a crank of a project manager named Hank Mosca. He did his best to keep the young set out of trouble so he put a few of us on nighttime renovations of Symmes, Maini, & McKee’s offices in Cambridge. That plan ended in failure the first night when we retaliated against the electricians hazing the green kids all night which resulted in a full ambush of them with fire extinguishers in the sub-level parking garage. They looked like ghosts, and we had a long night of clean-up.

You’ve performed many different roles at Siena. What’s harder, being a laborer, project manager, or company president?

Trick question. Each of these positions presents individual challenges. Starting on the ground floor as a laborer (or underneath when cleaning out flooded sun-water table pH pits) lends to the practical experience needed to advance to field engineer, coordinator, APM, and PM. You build on the knowledge of each role to keep developing professionally, and you have the opportunity to spend more time in the field than the office, one of the best ways to be educated.

The challenge of being President is that the goals are the same – build spaces, relationships, and continue to grow – but the job is much more generalized. Instead of focusing on a few individual projects, you maintain a presence in all the projects. Instead of watching one budget, you have many jobs to consider. Added to this are staffing, business development, community involvement, long range planning for infrastructure and growth, and keeping up with emerging technology both in our industry, and our clients’ unique considerations.

I’m very fortunate to have fantastic coworkers who have helped us operate as a company where the title of president is less important than being available to provide support, advice, and collaboration to all roles whenever required from the field to the office, the client and the community.

What’s your take on the current prolonged building boom in Boston and Cambridge?

We’re proud to be based in Cambridge, and just across the river from Boston. This is one of the most vibrant, interesting, and sometimes challenging areas in the country.

Because of the diversity of economic interests from commercial to educational, life sciences to advanced medical care, and a strong financial market, Boston is well-suited to take advantage of a growing national economy, but is also resilient enough due to this variety to weather economic downturns, especially if they’re based on an individual sector. Combine this with a young, highly educated workforce who are building opportunities of their own, as well as providing companies with an influx of well qualified people, and you have a city and state that is a model for the rest of the country. I’m very optimistic about 2018 and the continued expectations of a stable market.

Siena seems to be growing despite the so-called construction labor shortage. What’s the secret?

The labor shortage is real. With the economy as robust as it is right now, it is increasingly difficult to find great people. Our approach is to identify and recruit individuals who fit in with our company culture. We take pride is providing an open and supportive work place. We allow people to grow with that support at their own pace, and encourage taking on responsibility with the reward of advancement. The approach works, we have very little attrition, and more often than posting for project positions, we are referred directly to people we have later hired and who have excelled.  Our reputation and word of mouth allows us to attract some of the best people in the industry from a variety of seemingly non-related backgrounds.  We take our work very seriously; ourselves, not so much.

Siena is very active in many community initiatives, such as City Sprouts, and Razia’s Ray of Hope. Why is that important to you?

We are active in the community. We’ve been based in Cambridge since inception and take great interest in ways to improve the community with volunteerism, participation in city initiatives, and education. In addition to our own backyard, we’re active in planting learning gardens used in STEM education in every public school in Cambridge, and a number in Boston that is constantly growing. We are incredibly proud of our support of Razia’s Ray of Hope which has helped the local founder build the first all girls school, and now the first all girls college in Afghanistan, and watch their growth with joy as they continue too thrive and partner with American universities.  Education and equality are primary tenants for Siena.

Last year we added our first Pan Mass challenge team, a team of six Siena riders, and a friend of Siena, rode 180 miles from Sturbridge/Wellesley to Provincetown and raised of $50,000 for cancer research.

We’re in a position to be excellent at our day jobs, and remain reflection of how fortunate we are and do our best to find ways to give back.

What are you proudest of in your work? What keeps you coming back for more?

There are a lot of things. I take great pride in our reputation for sophistication, quality, and honesty. I am very proud of my co-workers who reflect our company’s attitudes in the best ways, and who are advancing in their careers faster than I could have imagined. I’m proud of our clients who we’ve established long term relationships with, and also of the groundbreaking work they do in their fields. I’m also proud that while we are growing, we still maintain the closeness of this family company.

What do you enjoy in your spare time?

Home: Annoying Wife, child, and cat. Work: Annoying each department in the company in unique ways. Free Time: Gardening, running, biking, practicing kung-fu, championship origami.

Terry’s Favorites:

Favorite movie/binge-watch show: O Brother Where Art Thou / Dateline

Favorite book/last book read: The Stranger – Camus / The Ministry of Utmost Happiness – Roy

Favorite band/last concert: Elliot Smith / Sia

Favorite place in Boston area: Bates Hall – Boston Public Library

Favorite restaurant: Oleana

Favorite vacation spot: Tie between Nauset Beach – Cape Cod National Seashore or St. John’s USVI, maybe any beach.

Favorite sports team: THE Boston Red Sox