University of Oregon Q&A
Posted on February 13th, 2013 - 12:00 am
Andrew Colas ’04
Q&A with UOAA Board Member, 2004 graduate of the Lundquist College of Business, and president of Colas Construction, Andrew Colas
Where did you grow up and how did you choose the UO?
I was born and raised in Portland. I visited the University of Oregon when I was in middle school to watch my cousin run for the Oregon Ducks track team at Hayward Field. At that time I was really into track and I was confident that I would be a star for the Oregon track team someday. While my passion for business and construction replaced my track dreams, my love for the University of Oregon has remained strong.
Please tell us a bit about what you studied at the University of Oregon and what did you do for fun (clubs, student unions, intramurals or otherwise).
I was a business major at the Lundquist College of Business and spent many hours at the Knight Library studying. I was also a member of the Black Student Union and competed in intramural flag football and basketball. I took a couple of salsa classes, but my wife thinks I could use a refresher course.
What was your future career goal at that point and does it align with where you’re at now?
My career goal was to be the President of my father’s construction company and help the company grow to be one of the largest General Contractors in the Portland area. After a lot of work and my sister’s vote of confidence (she joined the company prior to my graduation), I’m President of Colas Construction and feel good about the direction we are headed. Construction is a competitive industry and experience is the key to growth. After sixteen years in business, we pride ourselves on the quality of our work, our solid collaborative relationships and our constant focus on the three pillars of sustainability: environmental, social and economic. We might not be the largest firm yet, but we’re committed to having a meaningful and lasting impact in the construction industry. Check back with me in another fifteen years!
Can you describe your role as President of Colas Construction? What does a “typical” day look like for you?
Every day is different in the life of a busy construction company, but my wife makes sure I have some form of green juice in the morning to get my day started off “healthy.” My phone starts ringing early. After a quick scan of emails, I typically set aside time to review contract documents. I read my share of industry periodicals for the day with my morning coffee. At least once a week, I analyze the profitability of ongoing projects and address any positive or negative outcomes that might be occurring with our project managers. I typically have two or three meetings throughout the day with either current clients or potential clients. Responding to emails is a constant task that starts early and ends late. We’re a growing company so making sure that every job we complete leaves a positive impact on our clients is one of the largest and most important responsibilities that I have on a daily basis. Every job is an opportunity for us to make a lasting impression.
As a member of the UO Alumni Association board of directors and Duck living in Portland, how do you stay connected to the UO? And why is staying connected to the UO important to you?
I joined the UO Alumni Association to forge a formal connection between life in Portland and the University of Oregon. The Alumni Association does a great job helping to foster relationships between Ducks across the business community. These relationships have been beneficial to me professionally and personally. I’ve made some great new friends and have enjoyed the experience.
When the opportunity to join the UO Alumni Board presented itself I was extremely honored. Now I get to help further the great work that the UO Alumni Association has already done with a group of incredible board members. It’s a privilege to attend events and talk to current University of Oregon students to help educate them about the advantages of staying connected. My experience at the University positioned me for success, and I’m always eager to celebrate that and advocate for others.
And finally, what is your favorite UO memory?
I have a lot of great memories from my time at UO. Watching the Duck football team nearly go to the 2001 national championship game and the basketball team make it to the Elite 8 in the same year was pretty exciting. Oregon sports were great during my entire run, and I’d like to think it’s because I was such a great fan! Because we’re so dominant today, it’s pretty obvious I can’t take all the credit.
That being said, my fondest school memory was the sheer joy I experienced after completing one of my accounting finals. The class was the stuff of legends at Lundquist. I remember preparing for the final for three weeks straight and still feeling like I didn’t know a thing. When I sat down to take the final, I remember the anxiety, but the studying paid off. I knew when I finished the test I had aced it! Of course, I celebrated in true University of Oregon form at Taylor’s!