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HAVEN:
Q+A WITH JUSTINE SEARS OF MOROSO CONSTRUCTION
18 March 2021
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This month, we sat down with Justine Sears, who together with her business partner, Ron Bond, owns Moroso Construction. Breaking glass ceilings in our industry, Justine is a well-respected and dedicated business owner, mentor to other women in the industry and philanthropist. Personally, Justine is someone I love spending time with, learn a tremendous amount from, and feel grateful to call a friend.



Tell us the story behind you becoming a builder.

It may sound strange as I come from parents who worked in media, but I grew up wanting to build custom homes. I went through high school and college thinking I wanted to be an architect, but something didn’t seem quite right when it came time to making that commitment. In my last year of college, a family friend introduced me to the concept of Construction Management. Back then, they only did it on a public scale for large infrastructure projects. The concept of construction management seemed to encompass many of the things I was interested in pursuing.

I moved to San Francisco and sent a letter to the four Construction Management firms listed in the Yellow Pages. Amazingly, one agreed to interview me and hired me as their receptionist. That year they won the CM contract for the SFO expansion project. At that time, it was the largest public construction contract in the U.S., and I got picked for that team.

About a year after that, a mutual friend introduced me to Paul Ryan at Ryan Associates. I remember walking into their office for the first time and feeling like I had found my place. Paul took a huge chance on me. I had no building experience at all, but he thought I might acquire that experience through estimating. Paul was right – I learned how buildings went together, the materials, the assemblies, etc. from estimating (and through a lot of expensive mistakes). I eventually convinced him to let me manage projects.

I left Ryan Associates to have my children and was looking for full-time work again. I found Moroso through a friend of mine who at the time was a partner. Moroso was a small company when I met them. The people were wonderful, and they were doing some really interesting projects. I was excited at the prospect of full-time work again and at the opportunity to grow a company. I joined Moroso in 2008 and became an owner in 2015. It has been one of the best decisions of my life.

I am a strong advocate of women helping women. I firmly believe that the women in this industry should be allies and sponsors of one another.


How do you love spending your time outside of work? What’s important about that to you?

Well, I have two teenagers, so most of my spare time is spent trying to get them to pay attention to me. Which usually involves hanging around until someone needs some money, their hair done, or a ride somewhere.

Other than my kids and friends, over the past five years, I’ve spent a lot of energy developing and growing SheBuilds. We are a women-led volunteer group. It consists of women from all aspects of the construction industry. It falls under the umbrella of Rebuilding Together SF, of which I am a board member.  I am a strong advocate of women helping women.  I firmly believe that the women in this industry should be allies and sponsors of one another.  SheBuilds helps women homeowners and women-centric facilities in our community with much-needed repair work.  Volunteering also serves as a vehicle for women in the construction industry to grow their networks.  SheBuilds has been a huge success and is something I am tremendously proud of.

In your business, how do you stay inspired?

The people at Moroso inspire me daily.  I am fortunate enough to work alongside some of the most talented men and women in our industry.  We are all extremely hard-working individuals who enjoy what we do, and we appreciate one another.  This is a very difficult business, and when things get tough, it’s nice to feel supported and know that you have a few friends in the trenches with you.

Our projects are exciting and challenging, and staying involved with them helps me continually learn and get better at what I do.


What are some daily habits/rituals that keep you in excellence in your field?

I have no habits/rituals that I can think of, but I strive to stay close to the actual work we do.

Our projects are exciting and challenging, and staying involved with them helps me continually learn and get better at what I do.  My business partner and I like the building part of our business, and we spend much of our day steeped in the complication of our projects and the strategies around building them. We are very close to the actual work and problem-solving. I believe that is what makes us different from our competitors.

 

What do you love most about the city you live in?

I have always loved the geography of San Francisco.  While I don’t always appreciate walking the hills, I enjoy the fact that we can get a glimpse of the water from so many vantage points around town.  I spend much of my day driving all over this city and seeing the bay. The ocean makes me happy and frequently reminds me of how lucky I am to live here.

Favorite restaurant?

Zuni

Favorite coffee joint?

Trouble Coffee in the Outer Sunset

Favorite museum?

The Randall Museum, I have fond memories of my children there.

Favorite outdoor activity?

Playing soccer at Beach Chalet or watching the sunset at Ocean Beach.

Favorite place that no one knows about, until now?

Seward Slides in the Eureka Valley. They are concrete slides tucked away in the Castro/Eureka Valley area.  They were a favorite spot for my kids when they were young, and they are a great SF secret.

What is a fun fact that most people don’t know about you?

I play soccer in a local women’s soccer league.

 


Q+A