This year's ENR Mountain States Top 20 Under 40 winners are architects, engineers, constructors, college professors, planners and project managers, but also green gurus, technology experts, attorneys and accountants. The professional diversity of this year's honorees is matched only by their desire to be leaders, mentors and pioneers of new and better ways of doing things.
"The winners (and the nominees) are an amazingly talented and dedicated group of professionals. Their over-the-top achievements are a positive sign that our industry remains in good hands as we move toward a generational shift," said one of the competition's judges.
As in past years, the contest was rigorous and thorough. A panel of regional judges selected 20 professionals under the age of 40 based on their achievements, contributions to the industry and community. Companies or individuals were allowed to nominate more than one person, and individuals could nominate themselves. Nominees must be working full time in some sector of the commercial construction industry in the Mountain States region, which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah, and our extended reach of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas.
Other judging criteria included achievement of or progress toward industry certifications, including professional licensure or LEED Accredited Professional, and significant success in creating more efficient systems, designing new processes or managing landmark projects and volunteering in the community.
This year's judges are also a diverse group. Some are past Top 20 Under 40 winners; others are marketing specialists and industry veterans. They are: Nancy Kristof, senior marketing and communications manager, Mortenson Construction, Denver; Christine King, director of marketing, Martin/Martin Inc., Lakewood, Colo.; Courtney McRickard, principal, Three Sixty Design, Denver; Jared Scarbrough, lead systems engineer, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Salt Lake City; Jeb Morgenegg, division manager, ACM Panel Division, Douglass Colony Group, Commerce City, Colo.; and Jake Watson, project manager, Michael Baker Jr. Inc., Midvale, Utah.
The following profiles of the winners reveal what matters most to them: excellence, success, quality, family and community.
Spencer Allen, 37
Sharing his design-build experience
Layton Construction Co. Inc.
Spencer Allen joined the Layton Construction Co. team in 2002 and was promoted to project manager after just three years with the company. In addition to carrying a full-time work load, he returned to school to complete his MBA. Allen has overseen completion of more than 1 million sq ft of tenant improvements, including retail, medical, restaurant, office, call-center and school spaces. "My greatest challenge is figuring out and meeting the specific needs and expectations of each individual owner on multiple construction projects," Allen says. He is a team leader and trainer on the BIM 360/Vela software programs used for creating logs and checklists. He has earned Design-Build of America accreditation and serves on the General Advisory Board of the BYU-Idaho Construction Management Program. He spends time working with students and faculty at BYU-Idaho to improve the academic experience for future construction managers. He has also dedicated many years of service to the Boy Scouts of America.
Adam Ambro, 38
Combining a passion for design with numbers know-how
Adam Ambro started his career as a certified public accountant. However, while working with clients that included historic preservation nonprofits, real estate developers and building-material manufacturers, he realized his real passion was in design. The discovery led to his earning a master's degree in architecture from the University of Colorado-Denver, where he graduated in 2002 as that year's Outstanding Graduate Student in the College of Architecture and Planning. In 2003, the American Institute of Architects Denver Chapter honored Ambro as its Young Architect of the Year. He is the current AIA Denver treasurer-elect. Ambro worked for 11 years with Denver's Humphries Poli Architects; then, in 2012, he combined his architectural experience with his accounting background in joining Gensler and the team working on Denver International Airport's $544-million Hotel and Transit Center project. "Young design professionals today know they have a lot to share but should realize they have even more to learn. My appreciation for my past mentors becomes greater and greater as I progress through my career," Ambro says.