The Miami native and University of Florida graduate has spent his career with the Jacksonville-based company.
Meet Jim O’Leary, who became the third president of Haskell in the Jacksonville-based firm’s 52-year history, a company his age. The Miami native and University of Florida graduate succeeds Steve Halverson, who served for 18 years after being appointed president by company founder Preston Haskell. The company is a global architecture, engineering, construction and consulting firm with about 1,330 employees.
My plans are to take a deep breath and be as appreciative as I can and accept the honor of being appointed the third president in the history of Haskell. I’ve been here 28 years. I’ve grown up here. I’ve held most positions in the organization.
I went from Miami to the University of Florida and got a degree in business and a master’s degree in building construction, and I went straight to Haskell. It was the right place and it was the right time and they said all the right things. It was the right cultural fit.
Jacksonville was a great location for me because I had just finished graduate school, I was married and we were close to having our first child. My wife liked it here and said this is where we could lay some roots and this is a great company, and let’s see where it goes.
I came to the company when I was 23. I was a field engineer, assistant project manager, and sent straight to a project site in California. That was one of the first projects that Haskell has done for PepsiCo. It was a Frito-Lay plant in Modesto.
I’ve seen it from its early days. I’ve seen the company when it was $100 million (in revenue) and Preston had plans to get it to $200 million. Today we’re pushing $1 billion in revenue. That’s a significant level of growth in 30 years.
I believe in the business model of integrating design and construction and creating a platform where we are providing something different. We don’t just design a building. We get in and integrate with the customer, bring the best talent in, understand their problems and we help solve their problems.
My plan for the company is to drive culture around our corporate values of collaboration and teamwork and excellence and servicing the customer as best we can. That’s what I’ve grown up in, that’s what I’ve helped drive and develop, and I plan to take it to a level this company hasn’t seen before.
As I move into a broader role, my intention is to engage, as much as my time and my interest will allow, in the local community. I will try to carry on that tradition that I know Preston started. Steve has done tremendous work in that area. I’ll never claim to be Steve or Preston, but I will do my best.