Robert A. Ornst, Jr.
President and CEO, Selzer-Ornst Co.
6222 W. State St., Wauwatosa
Family: Married to Mary, daughter Allison, son Matthew
What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year?
“We promoted two well-deserved long-term employees to the position of vice president. Their dedication and expertise throughout the years has enabled us to provide our clients with a high degree of quality service that remains the hallmark of our company. They have demonstrated exceptional commitment and dedication to our clients and staff through their incredible work ethic, knowledge and experience.”
Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?
“Throughout our 88 years in business, Selzer-Ornst Co. has survived the tumultuous tides of the economy by adjusting our company size and strategies to maintain our competitiveness. This was evidenced back in 2008 when the Great Recession hit the construction industry and we had to better utilize the talents of our staff in order to remain competitive in a lean construction environment. We are always looking for qualified and talented project managers and field personnel to add to our growing team.”
What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?
“We will be very busy in the upcoming 12 months and finding qualified field carpenters could be an issue. We have great leaders in our field staff and we provide very high-quality work. We like to promote from within, so we are always looking for people that have the skill to move up the ladder.”
Do you have a business mantra?
“Listen, have integrity, work hard, be kind and success will follow.”
From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?
“Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to work with some great clients. There are two in particular that we have worked for on several projects that pay attention to detail, learn trends and treat people with respect. From each of them I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and insight and, in so doing, have adopted many of their business practices.”
What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?
“About two or three times a year I have a ‘secret office outing.’ I line up some activity and no one knows what it is until they get there. Recently, I took everybody to a karaoke bar and everybody took a turn. It was more than funny!”
What was the best advice you ever received?
“When becoming president, a very smart and successful man told me to ‘Be your own boss.’”
What do you do in your free time?
“I enjoy spending time with family. I also play tennis and racquetball and am always reading a book.”