San Francisco
Relentless Ally
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Superintendent Erik Russell “owns it” every day, in every situation

Erik Russell is a guy that was born with the Relentless Ally gene in his DNA. As superintendent on the 801 Brannon mixed-use residential and retail project located in heart of San Francisco, he’s constantly motivated by a simple conviction: Set expectations and then hold people accountable for those expectations. This work ethic stems from his father and grandfather—who both instilled parallel values that include working hard for what you want, and to never accept handouts if you have pride in what you are doing.

With over two decades experience working in the construction industry, it’s easy to pick-up on Erik’s sense of responsibility and accountability upon first impression. It’s when you dig a little deeper that you learn where all of that gumption comes from.  He’s had his share of adventures, starting at the age of 17 when he joined the Navy, like his family before him, and his brother who became a Marine.

While serving, Erik was charged with ensuring all of the electronic navigation and communication systems onboard multimillion dollar fighter jets were properly maintained so that the pilots flying them could successfully accomplish their missions, and safely land on the flight deck of aircraft carriers.

Sounds easy enough, especially when you are learning all of the highly technical tricks of the trade during the height of the technology boom in the ‘80s from some of our nation’s best experts. Not only did he travel around the world during his tour of duty – three times—he was also part of a Navy Karate team that would go off-ship for international competitions that took place in several countries including Australia, Kenya, and the Philippines, to name a few. “What I learned during this time period has helped me overcome some of the most challenging moments in my life,” says Erik.  “I learned a lot about how people communicate, how different cultures operate, and how to stay in control during situations that are seemingly out-of-control. I also learned about respect— in order to get it, you must give it.”

Flash forward to his career after the Navy—where he spent a 12 years utilizing his engineering expertise working for large, multi-country corporations as a network engineer—one in particular invested in specialized test labs, built specifically for his team to find deficiencies and limitations of hardware prior to active corporate backbone investment and deployment.

When the “dot.com” era slowed, Erik kicked it into gear to find the next emerging economic cycle – residential building.  He joined a builder, who was building fast cycled homes at a rate of 230 a year. It was a profession he not only enjoyed, it was one that also ran in his family—his grandfather was a carpenter and his father was a civil engineer who retired after running the Department of Water Resource Engineering for an area that spanned everything North of Sacramento to the Oregon border. “I became addicted to the fast-paced schedule, and a sense of ownership that came with each home I built,” said Erik.

When the housing boom slowed down, Erik kept moving fast.  He went on to commercial building working for Balfour Beatty Construction Northern California’s office where he works today.  During his tenure with the company, he’s moved from the Special Projects Group, managing six or more projects at once, to the Major Projects Group where he is now one of four superintendents overseeing work at 801 Brannon which involves the construction of 480 apartment units in one large building with five wood floors on top of a concrete podium.

It’s blatantly obvious that Erik craves responsibility.  He’s proven to be an expert at not only taking it on, but instilling it everyone who works with and for him.  He’s also responsible for the safety, quality control and fire prevention of the entire 801 project and says, “I would never ask anyone do something I wouldn’t do myself.  I’m constantly putting myself in the shoes of every worker, and for that matter, in the owner’s shoes.  I take pride in seeing that even the smallest details are done right, and everyone is always on the same page.”

It’s also no surprise to learn that Erik is a scuba diving instructor, advanced snowboarder, and has studied martial arts for more than 30 years. It’s truly in Erik’s fiber to always be the top of his game, delivering projects in a way that only a true Relentless Ally can.