After nailing down a degree in construction management from Colorado State University last spring, Sarah Fox had numerous invitations to interview with large contracting firms.
In the end, she decided her best opportunity was to return to the same company that has employed her since middle school.
Fox, 22, works for Fox Construction Inc., one of the busiest private building contractors in Steamboat Springs. And she already wants her boss's job.
"If I have a goal, I definitely make sure it happens," Fox said. "I worked as a construction laborer when I was a girl, and I'd seriously have to work at least twice as hard as all the guys. A lot of people respected me because I worked my butt off. I definitely have a built-in work ethic."
Fox acquired her work ethic from her boss, Tom Fox, 55, who is her father. He's not the least bit threatened that Sarah is after his job. In fact, he welcomes her ambition and plans to increasingly rely on her drive as well as her education in construction management.
"A client might see an exuberant 22-year-old female in the office, but I see a seasoned and energetic business partner with great leadership skills these days," Tom Fox said. "She's way more organized than I am. She's shown a talent for site skills, checking plans against site conditions and saving project dollars with her attention to detail."
Tom Fox and his wife, Karen, moved to Steamboat from Fond du Lac, Wis., 25 years ago. Sarah is the oldest of three daughters. Until this year, she shared campus housing at CSU with her sister Amy, 21, who is interested in law. Jessica, 15, is contemplating medicine.
Fox Construction has 40 employees, and the business is built on custom residential, commercial and institutional projects. Tom Fox deliberately has steered his business away from multifamily housing projects. Fox Construction also has built expertise in historic restoration, having constructed Centennial Hall, which incorporated Steamboat's first power plant, and the restoration of the First National Bank building.
"We're fortunate to have had the opportunity to hand-select some jobs," Tom said. "We worked on the Depot (Art Center) this summer, and we built the Howelsen Hill Ice Arena. It's a class-A facility. We like jobs like that. We don't do these jobs with money as our only focus."
Fox Construction currently is pushing to complete the new Cook Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Jeep and Subaru dealership on Steamboat's west side. Tom is drawn to high-profile projects such as the automobile dealership.
"It's an opportunity to build a prominent structure on a highly visible corner of Steamboat Springs," Fox said. "We like jobs like that."
Fox always has spoken out about his belief that more young people should consider good-paying jobs in construction trades. Naturally, he's pleased that his daughter is interested in taking an increased role in the company. He's so intent on her success that he has contemplated downsizing the company to ensure she can make a good transition into eventually taking over the business.
For now, Sarah seems intent on learning all aspects of the business.
She works with Fox Const-ruction chief estimator Joe Bonny and has enjoyed working with Steamboat Springs-based Struc-ture-Tek to document the progress of a job with specialized software applications.Her boss ad--mires the way she puts her people skills to use in daily contact with subcontractors.
"My best day on the job means having everything show up on time," Sarah said. "Just getting all of the ma-t-er-ials here when I need them. I do a mix of everything. If a hole needs digging, I'll dig it."
Not every young adult who grows up in the Yampa Valley is able to identify and fulfill his or her career choice in their hometown, but Sarah Fox appears to be right on the beam.