Tell us about yourself and your career.
Case Swenson: My career started when I was 9 years old…I began working as a laborer on construction sites for my dad during the summers. My next career was bussing and waiting tables throughout college. But even then—construction was in my blood. I was always looking for side jobs, such as painting, construction, and landscaping. After college, my focus was on running a 10-employee maintenance company (that I grew to 90 people). Today, it is my honor to be carrying the torch for the 100 plus year Swenson legacy.
I am a fourth-generation builder and developer from San Jose. My great grandfather was an immigrant from Sweden who started our legacy of real estate development and construction here in the South Bay. I started and managed my own company SDC, prior to joining the SWENSON team in 2013. I was the president of SDC, which is still thriving today. I am so proud to be able to carry on our family legacy by continuing to build and develop in one of the most highly desirable markets in the country.
How does SWENSON innovate?
Case Swenson: SWENSON is always looking forward to new product types that coincide with upcoming demand in the market. We are constantly evolving our construction practices to minimize our carbon footprint, integrate the newest eco-friendly technology and materials while increasing the efficiency of our schedules and costs. SWENSON is excited about building apartments and hotels while adopting innovative methods such as flying in the bathrooms and kitchens with a crane. This saves a tremendous amount of manhours, which will help all the other trades move throughout the building more efficiently…especially vertical transportation.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business, and how are you coping?
Case Swenson: We are coping by focusing on economically viable projects today– even in these difficult times. We are spending this time to become more efficient in our processes…when the economy is rolling again, we will be ready to be at the top! We have confidence in the Bay Area and are looking forward to leading the charge in building its future.
What are the pandemic era lessons learned?
Case Swenson: The pandemic has reminded us how crucial diversification is in our industry. While some real estate market sectors seem to be correcting themselves, other sectors like industrial and single-family homes are showing strength. At SWENSON, we have a blend of healthy projects in our portfolio and our pipeline. The pandemic was a great reminder that you must always be ready to adapt and shift your focus to new opportunities. Just as diversification is important in product type and material, it’s also just as important in the industry. Our family business goes beyond the places and spaces we design, develop, and build. California is home to the best dirt in the country, and we farm everything from rice and nuts to alfalfa and cattle. Agriculture is still a vitally significant part of the California economy.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, and how do you project yourself and SWENSON in the future?
Case Swenson: Now that I have a little more time, I focus on spending time with my family. I also realize how important hitting golf balls, mountain biking, and running are to my mental health and reducing stress. For the future, I know I will not take family time for granted and continue to make it is a priority…it has been such a blessing (one benefit of COVID) to be able to slow down a little.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Case Swenson: Our competitors are other local and corporate real estate developers and construction companies. Even though they are our competitors, they are also allies because we often collaborate and even partner with them. To stay in the game, we will continue to make strategic acquisitions and partnerships that allow us the flexibility to pivot towards the changing market demands. We have been instrumental in the development in San Jose for over 100 years, and it is my responsibility and honor to be able to ensure we are here for the next 100 plus years.
Your final thoughts?
Case Swenson: This pandemic has really shaken up the industry and the world. SWENSON has not only survived but has thrived in numerous economic cycles in the market. I have seen Swenson weather these downturns over the past generations, which has prepared me to look at the long term. To be successful, we must be prepared for these downturns and be equipped to manage diversity. SWENSON will continue to view these downturns as an opportunity to help shape the future of San Jose.
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