Q&A: Keith Sabia

Keith Sabia
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Keith Sabia

Keith Sabia is a Principal-In-Charge at Willmeng. He brings the experience of delivering hundreds of public and private development projects on time and within budget for the clients he serves. This year, Keith’s goal has been to establish Willmeng as a preferred contractor of choice for aviation and fire station clients in Arizona. Learn more about him, his philosophies, and projects:

Provide a synopsis of your leadership role at Willmeng.

As the team leader within my division, I am the one who inspires team members to meet and exceed Willmeng goals and objectives. My leadership qualities readily identify the strengths and weaknesses of each member, and inspire them to do their best work in an effective manner. Being able to make decisions, being familiar with each member on my team, leading by example, and solving challenges are the foundation of any leader, and it carries my team’s attention and respect from project to project.

What professional accomplishment gives you the most pride and what makes it so rewarding?

Over 25 years, I have built many public projects in Arizona, and a sample of my accomplishments include being selected as the design-build team leader by the Phoenix Fire Training Academy and for over 35 stations from 2003 to 2016. Additionally, I’m proud to have been the team leader on fire station #50, which became the first LEED certified project in the City of Phoenix’s history. And, I played a key role in the construction of bio chemistry laboratories at Northern Arizona University. Lastly, in 2004, I won the Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Eagle Award for a project that was the second fire station in the country to be built to a LEED standard.

What is No. 1 on your commercial construction bucket list? Why?

As a Principal-in-Charge at Willmeng, my No. 1 bucket list item is to bring to the table a unique blend of new public works opportunities and to create a division that delivers public safety projects such as police stations, fire stations, aviation projects, community projects, schools and all other publicly funded opportunities.

What is the toughest professional challenge that you have faced and how did you overcome?

At a previous job, I took over a challenging construction project when the project was nearly halfway complete and severely behind. My plan was to:

  • Reassign a team of dedicated and reliable employees that could complete the project and work with the owner, user groups, and project designers.
  • Develop a plan and secure “buy in” from the entire project team.
  • Meet individually with each subcontractor and supplier that would impact the outcome of project completion.
  • Follow through on our commitments.
  • Over deliver from the first day I stepped in as the project lead.

What advice do you have for the next generation of leaders in this industry?

Have patience, and understand what everyone under your leadership is capable of. Take ownership of what your team does.

What is your best advice for succeeding, but also having fun in the workplace?

I tell my kids this saying all the time and I hope it sticks… “You haven’t learned to live until you’ve learned to give.” This does not only mean how much you donate, but it is about the time you give to others when they need you.  It’s about the gratification of giving and not receiving.

What is the best advice you ever received?

The best advice was from my father.

  • “Work hard every day and be the best at what you do”
  • “If you have to work longer to figure it out, so?”
  • “If you do it and do it right, you will never have to worry about a pay check.”
  • “Why do it the easy way when the hard way works?
  • “Why do it the hard way when the easy way works?”

Growing up, what did you aspire to be?

A meteorologist.

What fact about you or your talent would surprise people?

I am a very talented wood trim carpenter.

What is your anthem? 

“Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty

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