Warmer weather may have been partly responsible for enticing Jim Roherty from his hometown of Janesville, Wis., to Arizona State University in Tempe. But ASU's Del E. Webb School of Construction Management and its reputation most appealed to Roherty, now the president of locally owned and operated Pacific Building Group.
“I guess I developed an interest in (the construction industry) in high school, working for a local lumber company and overseeing the construction of some small residential houses,” Roherty said. “Arizona State has one of the leading construction management schools in the country. My research indicated that they had a high (graduate) placement rate, and that remains the case today.”
Roherty graduated cum laude from ASU with a Bachelor of Science degree in construction and was president of the college chapter of the Associated General Contractors. He also received the Outstanding Senior Award from ASU's College of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
He went to work for Sundt Construction in Arizona after college. In 1990, Sundt acquired a company in San Diego, and Roherty was transferred here.
Roherty joined PBG 10 years ago. He is responsible for the day-to-day management of the company and a staff of about 150, including administrative/professional employees and field laborers. The commercial general contractor is focused on the private market, specializing in tenant improvements, health care and high-technology projects.
“I think every little kid wants to build a skyscraper, right? And so that's kind of the dream,” Roherty said. “Most people relate construction just to the carpenters and laborers and people they see on a job site. But it's actually a very complex business with insurance, finance, legal ... all sorts of issues you'd never think are involved in construction projects, but they are.”
Among other marquee projects, PBG constructed SONY Electronics' North American headquarters building.
“We're most proud of the fact that SONY has been a client for 29 years, the entire length of time (PBG) has been in business,” Roherty said. “That's probably our most notable project, SONY's headquarters.”
Roherty said PBG has also done numerous health care projects for Scripps and Sharp “of all sizes, shapes, complexities. From structural upgrades, from surgery room remodels to large medical office-type build-outs.”
He added that PBG has a lot of tenant-improvement projects currently in the works on behalf of clients such as Sharp, Scripps, Qualcomm and Cymer.
Roherty and PBG are also active in the community.
“I've personally been involved in the Ecke Family YMCA in Encinitas for about 20 years, on the board there. We've been quite involved with the San Diego Rescue Mission as a company. We've very involved with the Sharp Healthcare Foundation. We're very involved with the Scripps Foundation,” he said.
Being locally owned gives Pacific Building Group a distinct advantage, Roherty said.
“Everything happens right here. All the money stays here,” he said. “Everything we give back to the community in the form of charity stays here.”
-Lovitt is a La Jolla-based freelance writer.