Jeff Askins is in the business of finding out what makes his clients tick.
As a self-proclaimed Lego and Tonka truck addict since childhood, Jeff Askins’s thirst to be part of the construction industry started early. What wasn’t clear to him from the outset, however, was his interest in customer service. As Austin’s operations director for interiors and special projects, he views his work as an opportunity to solve interesting technical challenges by seeing the projects from his clients’ point of view. Excellent service means knowing your customers, and Jeff works faithfully to understand what each client’s touch points are.
Like many college students, it took time for Jeff to find his path. Jeff began college at the University of Houston as a civil engineering major, however, he soon realized that he was more interested in construction management and changed his major. He spent multiple summers as a preconstruction intern for a contractor specializing in heavy industrial and infrastructure construction. While he was sure he liked construction, this job helped him understand that what he wanted was a career where more interaction with customers was possible.
Jeff spent several years working for a large general contractor in Houston. When he was hired at Balfour Beatty as a project manager in 2013, he was already a proven expert in his profession. Balfour Beatty was looking to extend into new markets, and Jeff was hired to help increase our level of service and capacity for clients in Central Texas. When he came on board he was one part of a two-person team. In the past four years, Jeff and his team have successfully developed a government service market sector to serve our Central Texas clients. In January 2017, he was promoted to his current position as an operations director and now manages a ten-person service group for Balfour Beatty.
Always enthusiastic about new and complicated jobs, the proudest moment of his career could’ve ended up being his worst. It was 2014 and the air handler inside an important 1950’s-era building in Austin was edging closer and closer to extinction. The building needed an immediate replacement of an air handler. As strong allies of the building’s owner, Jeff and his team were under contract to finish the job. Only nine days stood between the start and end of the time period given to complete the project. Employees working in the building were sent home for this period of time while the team worked around the clock to complete the air handler’s installation. Three days into the project, the new air handler was delivered but it was too tall for the planned location. The team had an idea that if they could grind down the concrete floor where the handler would be placed, maybe they could make it fit. A structural engineer was called upon to see if this was possible. Fortunately, by studying the original building plans the engineer was able to assure the team that they could grind down the concrete floor while still preserving its structural integrity. Already on a tight schedule before this challenge arose, Jeff and his team pressed on and were ultimately successful in completing the project on-time. Through this accomplishment, they strengthened Balfour Beatty’s relationship with a valued client and kept the building operational.
Chris Davis, vice president in charge of the Austin office, appreciates Jeff’s dedication to client service. “Jeff truly works as part of the customer’s team. He is an expert at complex projects where new systems need to be tied into existing systems. We do very detailed work, and to be successful, the project team and owner have to work together very closely. This is where Jeff excels. He loves a good mystery, and his curiosity at finding solutions to unique project challenges combined with his commitment to helping his clients achieve their business goals make him one of the best in our industry.”
Jeff sees construction as more than just bricks and mortar. He understands that construction projects are born from a need to fulfill a goal, and projects are very personal. He approaches projects from the client’s point of view, and in doing so, he takes on their goals as his own, because to Jeff construction is personal.