2020 40 Under 40: Zebadiah Hutchison

Aug. 18, 2020
Zebadiah Hutchison, Construction Manager, Stacy and Witbeck
  • One word to describe yourself: Blessed
  • Alma Mater: Arizona State University – The Sun Devils
  • Favorite hobby(s): Being a father and husband and spending time in the ocean or the wilderness.
  • Fun fact about yourself: I grew up with four cousins and nine siblings in a one-bedroom house in rural Alaska, it was such fun. Our childhood makes others jealous.
  • Favorite station or stop that you have ever visited or frequent (and why): The stop on College Ave in Tempe, Ariz., right in front of Sun Devil Stadium. I used to bartend across the street. You get out and you are right there.
  • Favorite route you have ever ridden or frequent (and why): Munich–Garmisch-Partenkirchen railway. With some of the alignment built in the 1850s it is one of the oldest lines in Germany and quite beautiful. Taking passengers from the bustle of Munich to the peaceful Bavarian Alps through beautiful scenery. It ends in a quaint town that hosted the 1936 winter Olympics, Garmisch-Partenkirchen; I traveled it with two other Stacy and Witbeck employees who happen to be good friends of mine and that made it all the more special.

Zeb Hutchison joined Stacy and Witbeck in 2007 and has gained experience in all aspects of rail transit construction including earthwork, utilities, bridges, walls, trackwork and systems. He has been involved in projects from the estimating and design development phases through project closeout. His work can be seen among the new transit options in Phoenix, Denver, Sacramento, Seattle and San Diego, where he is currently the construction manager on the Mid-Coast Corridor project.

Hutchison started on the project in 2014 as project engineer during the pre-construction phase where he was involved in planning the complex scheduling and phasing required to double track the existing lines and rearrange the railroad to accommodate the new light-rail alignment, all while maintaining operations for the 50 freight and commuter trains that traverse the second-busiest rail corridor in the U.S.

His efforts are credited with some of the innovation incorporated into the project, including the design and use of precast counterfort walls, which saved five months on the schedule and $4.5 million on the budget, and establishing weekly Critical Path Meetings where project decision makers discussed and found a resolution for any situation that could impact the schedule’s critical path. These Critical Path Meetings were rolled out across the project as construction ramped up. Stacy and Witbeck explains Hutchison’s ability to implement project-wide systems, without losing sight of the day-to-day minutia, has benefited the project.

Hutchison’s altruistic spirit is exemplified in his willingness to host project tours for various industry associations or setting up a GoFundMe campaign for a project subcontractor when a non-project related incident negatively impacted the subcontractor’s family.

Stacy and Witbeck notes Hutchison has earned the respect of management teams, project owners, craft workers and subcontractors for his fair dealings, strong work ethic, ability to identify and implement solutions to difficult issues and a willingness to “get his hands dirty.”

Is there a specific experience that led you to where you are today?

Stacy and Witbeck is such a great company. During my undergraduate degree at Arizona State, a project manager from the company gave a presentation about the work SWI does in the transit industry that was very inspiring. He was right: Building these diverse transit projects that leave a positive lasting impact on a community or even an entire city is a little bit addictive. I have also been very fortunate to spend much of my career working with some amazing people and have learned from exceptional leadership and worked with some wonderful transit agencies.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Being a builder and working around such talented people. It is amazing to watch skilled construction workers use their experience, technique and detailed hard work to build such amazing things and in a remarkable amount of different ways. I never stop being impressed by those professionals that work with their hands using sweat, tools, material and machinery to bring technical designs to life. I have also been very fortunate to have worked for Terry Martin most of my career. People that know Terry, know what a great mentor and outstanding leader he is – always making those around him stronger.

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Two things jump out at me. The first would be prioritizing time. It is difficult to always put your effort in the right place when there is so many competing tasks one faces when building these large transit projects. The second is being patient. In CM/GC projects we often work side-by-side with owners on some of the common challenges that face these projects such as permitting, property acquisition and negotiation, interagency agreements and design. There are not always quick solutions and finding alternatives and other work arounds can be challenging and take patience. However, it is great experience for a construction manager and builder to see what challenges agencies face. 

Accomplishment you’re most proud of and why?

Helping to construct and establish the 20-mile Valley Metro Starter Line in Phoenix-Tempe-Mesa, Ariz. We had such a fantastic team on Line Section 4; it was a great project to start on and the ridership has been fantastic. It also passes right through the ASU campus in Tempe, so I get to ride and see it every time I return to my Alma Mater.

Best advice/tip/best practice to share from your area of expertise?

What we do is really cool and there is a lot to learn along the way. Work hard, be humble, be thankful and have fun!

Why do you like being a part of the public transit industry?

We are building America! How cool is that? When you return to a finished project and see the impact a new transit system has had on a city it is such a cool feeling.