By Betsy Simon
Aug 15, 2019
Brian Kooistra, ’99, is inarguably a busy man.
He serves as this year’s board chair for the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce, is a YMCA board member and serves on the Wabash Valley Community Foundation finance committee.
But the married father of three and Chief Operations Officer for Garmong Construction Services decided to take on just one more thing when he returned to Indiana State this summer to begin work on his second degree – a Master of Business Administration.
“As I’ve climbed the ladder at work, the challenges I deal with have become bigger and the opportunities more complex. I felt a need to catapult my capabilities to the next level,” he said. “I definitely wanted to take classes in-person and the convenience of having it right next door made the MBA at Indiana State too good to pass up.”
Kooistra has been in the construction industry for 20 years, 19 of which have been at Garmong Construction Services, a full-service general contractor. Founded in 1923 in Terre Haute, Garmong has grown to include offices in Indianapolis and Evansville.
“Right after college, I took a job with a company in Cincinnati and spent a little over a year there,” he said. “Then, I came to Garmong as a Project Manager in May of 2000. I’ve progressed through the company over the years and have had opportunities placed before me that allowed me to develop as both a business and civic leader. Giving back to my employer and my community is important to me and I’m genuinely grateful for those opportunities and experiences.”
Kooistra worked his way up to become the company’s Chief Operations Officer. He oversees all of the firm’s construction activities, project management, estimating, safety, equipment management.
“When I started school, I wasn’t set on a particular major but I had friends in the construction program so I took an introductory class and thought it really fit my personality and interests well,” he said. “I didn’t come from a family of constructors, per se, and didn’t have any real background in it, but I found the classes I took as a student interesting. I like the variety that the field of construction brings because it’s ever-changing.”
That requires Kooistra to be on his toes to pursue projects that come the company’s way.
“From day-to-day, my job is a lot about problem solving, troubleshooting and trying to be forward-thinking and proactive so we can anticipate issues before they happen,” he said. “Then, there’s pursuing new jobs, relationship building and the closing of deals. They are all a team effort and I am fortunate to be surrounded by talented people who are just as hungry as I am for the win. It’s also exciting to pursue new projects and see them through to a successful completion when you can hand over the keys to the satisfied owner of a new building. Every day is a new opportunity waiting to happen.”