Constructive Conversations #4: Scott Jacob of British Columbia’s Jacob Bros
Spend a few minutes with Scott Jacob, one of the co-owners of BC-based Jacob Bros Construction, and one thing you will immediately notice is he loves his job and the construction industry. In fact, he considers it “one of the greatest industries that a person can be involved in.”
Scott believes that construction is “either in your blood or in your heart or it’s not,” and for Scott it certainly is. He started splitting wood for his father (who was a carpenter) from an early age and from that point there was no looking back. He often says he “grew up in the construction industry.” Eventually, Scott started his own career working in civil infrastructure and his other brother managed his own crew in the residential building sector. Scott has a third brother who worked for both of them at some point, and then eventually tossed out the idea that the three brothers should come together and build their own construction firm – at which point Jacob Bros Construction was born.
While it may seem like Scott naturally fell into his successful business, it took a lot of work along the way. He credits a lot of his success to strong mentorship and counts himself lucky that he has only held three jobs for most of his life. Scott believes each person he worked for contributed something that has helped him become a better construction leader. However, at the end of the day it was his father who he describes as a “simple man, but a true construction person” that he credits as the main influence on his life.
He has joined various construction associations throughout his career including acting as the chair of the Victoria Construction Association. Today he will openly say he probably wasn’t quite qualified to do this at the age of 27 but it offered him “an early look at what it means to give back.” Scott added that this is the most important message and “the best-kept secret in construction” that he would convey to any youngster currently looking into the construction industry- that you “get back way more than you put in.”
Interestingly enough, the Jacob Bros firm started around 2008 when things were booming and they planned to be more of a private, value-added contracting business, but then the market crashed and they had to adapt. As Scott said, they “quickly pivoted and decided that we have to get the work we could get.” This led to a successful bid for the reconstruction of Gravel Street which Scott still refers to as one of the “most memorable” and transformative experiences of his career noting “whatever we were when we started that project, we ended as a very different entity.” The lesson of flexibility and adaptation is still ringing true today as the business has been forced to pivot once again.
In 2008 they pivoted from the idea of private construction to civil construction, and now as COVID has slowed many infrastructure projects they are once again seeing more growth in the residential sector. Despite this fact, Scott is looking ahead and ready to tackle both opportunities as they arise noting “our strategy certainly is to work both areas” which their original merger allows them to do.