We’re excited to interview Ian Cronshaw as he’s celebrating his 36th year with Allen Construction.
What do you do at Allen Construction?
My career in construction started in April, 1981…38 years ago. I worked as a laborer, apprentice tile setter, framer and concrete worker. When I started working at Allen Construction there was Dennis Allen, his wife Jenny, and four others in the company. Fortunately, this small group had years of construction experience and I was able to learn from them. Fifteen years later, I became a project foreman/supervisor. The last 23 years I have been in sales, which I love. I help our sales team find work for the company.
Where do you live?
I was born and grew up in Santa Barbara. My wife, Anna, and I live in the foothills behind Summerland with our two dogs, Ozzy and Kiwi. We have two grown sons, Brendan and Tristan, who live in San Francisco and the South Pacific respectively. I designed and built our house in 1983 with the help of Allen Construction employees.
A typical day in the life looks like……
I fell in love with surfing when I was a young boy. At 5 a.m., I go to Miramar, Hammonds Reef or Hollister Ranch. If there is surf, I paddle out in the dark and enjoy the early morning. Often it is usually just me, the pelicans, seals and resident sea otters. I watch the sunrise and catch a few waves. It is very therapeutic. We are lucky to have the Pacific Ocean in our backyard.
On the drive to work, I make a list of all that I need to accomplish for the day. I make and receive lots of phone calls; sometimes I have as many as 100 emails to read and answer. I check in with our Sales Team, check in on our clients, then head out to some of our projects to see how things are going. All day long, I cross off the things on my list. A successful day is when my morning list is all crossed off and, a really good day is hearing about a new potential job, picking up a permit, or signing a new project.
At the end of the day, Anna and I like to watch the sunset from our house, talk about our day, and then cook a healthy meal. After dinner, I take a long walk down our lane in the dark and think about life. Life is an amazing journey. I try to keep my eyes open so as not to miss anything.
Your proudest achievement
My greatest professional achievement is being part of the Allen team and seeing us successfully grow over the last 36 years. We have been the leaders in sustainable building, innovative in our approach to building techniques, and started new ventures like Building Care and Repair. We’ve also been able to help others such as building and donating a house in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, building and donating a home on Coyote Road after the Tea Fire, and helping with Montecito Mudslide and Ventura Thomas Fire rebuilds. I love remembering all the amazing projects and their owners, the experiences we have had, and the help we have given others. Maybe I will write a book.
What’s your passion?
I love traveling, surfing and building in beautiful “out of the way” places. Over the years, I have had the good fortune to buy land and build in some fascinating locations…Kauai, New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, Bali Indonesia, and Hollister Ranch.
Building on Kauai was really a challenge. Hurricane Iniki (160 mph winds and a 24 ft high ocean surge) almost destroyed our first house. In New Zealand, Anna and I built a house in the winter. Even though the house was in the winterless Far North, it was really challenging. Cold and wet. Framing in a raincoat and gum boots made me appreciate Santa Barbara’s climate. But, the summers are awesome in New Zealand
In Bali, I hired an eight-man Javanese crew to build. They built a shack on the land and lived in it. Every four weeks, they took a bus back across Bali to Java to be with their families for a week.
Huahine, Tahiti is my next build and it’s going to be quite a challenge. This month (April 2019), after 22 years, we will start building this house. I have never built a house where my only transportation is a bicycle. I will ride my bike to the job site with a skill saw, sawzall, drills, and tool belt. All the lumber, windows and doors arrived on the interisland freighter a week before I was scheduled to arrive.
Next on my list will be the house in Fiji. It will be a small, but traditional, Fijian style house. I love Fiji and the Fijian people.
I built my home in Hollister Ranch on the weekends for a year and a half. It is an adobe house made from recycled materials from Allen Construction projects. It is 100% solar, on well water, and very remote.
What advice would you give someone starting out in the construction industry?
As I look back at all my experiences in construction, I cannot think of another more rewarding career. The construction industry is so interesting, challenging, fulfilling, and exciting. Shelter, like food and water, is a basic human need. We provide this for people. Being part of a team that not only provides a shelter, but a beautiful, healthy home enhancing one’s lifestyle, is so satisfying.