It was the wild, wild, west. Mitch Tharaldson with an electrical background found himself trying to help a brand-new niche DoD general contractor get off the ground. The GC was called Rogers-Quinn Construction, affectionately known now as RQ. Mitch was there when RQ won its first Navy project. Today RQ is the largest Navy contractor in the world. When Mitch started, design-build wasn’t even a thing. Today RQ is a design-builder of significant notoriety with the largest architectural staff in all of North County San Diego. At the beginning, Mitch and company sounded like Dr. Evil, chasing contracts of $1 miiiiiiiillion dollars. Today our average pursuit makes that sound as ridiculous as when Dr. Evil ransomed it. RQ started with a little family housing job. Today we are wrapping up a new Navy Seals base. Quite the bookends for a career.
If you asked Mitch what has changed over the years at RQ he would tell you, “Gosh, everything.” We’ve gotten smarter and smarter, as have the sophistication of the projects we now win and execute. But if you pushed him on his answer, he’d have to admit that not everything has changed. From those very first days it has been consistent that RQ has filled its halls with people who care about people. “I love the people here” is the number one answer given to the standard onboarding question “Why do you work here?” asked by new employees. It’s been the number one answer the past 12 years I’ve been around. Mitch, a founder and once owner of RQ, helped forge that into the DNA of this place long before I (or most any of us) ever got here.
When we were sitting around the table having breakfast over Christmas, George asked Mitch what kinds of things he’d be willing to continue to do for RQ even in retirement. His answer was classic Mitch: “Whatever you guys want or need.” That is the kind of guy Mitch was and is. A whatever-you-want-or-need kind of guy. RQ needed help in the recent past overseeing a unique project at Andros Island, a place we had to Google to even know where that was. Mitch volunteered to go over. I more recently was spouting off about my family’s garage door that wouldn’t shut. Mitch volunteered to come over. Those two examples encapsulate for me just what it means to be the whatever-you-want-or need kind of guy that Mitch is. Andros was RQ work. My garage wasn’t RQ work. But Mitch popped over on his way home because I am RQ family and Mitch has always gladly cared about his family. Andros or my house, it’s all the same. He’s willing to do whatever the RQ family wants or needs, on or off the clock.
Imagine a world where we all had the same attitude as Mitch. Where we all looked after the interests of each other and not just our own interest. Where we weren’t so concerned about clocks. You want to talk about what has really driven RQ apart from our competitors? You want to know what has taken us from a single Navy contract to the biggest Navy contractor in the world? It is this kind of Mitch-attitude. Only this kind of attitude can generate the selflessness required to result in genuine teamwork, and genuine teamwork in this industry is what is required to accomplish special things. To make him feel better about reading this I will admit Mitch isn’t perfect and I don’t mean to paint that picture. After all, none of us are. But what is your life perspective? How do you view the nature of your work and workplace? Is business just a means to profit and paychecks? Or is business a place of community where we can support each other and serve others? Mitch has always made RQ a great place to come because, flawed as he and the rest of us might be, he looks at it as a community to share life…and work… with. I/we thank you, Mitch, for your years of service to RQ. We thank you for the journey between bookends you helped bring us through. And more than anything, we thank you for your caring attitude making genuine teamwork and special results possible. You’ve woven a DNA into us that looks to outlive us all. What a trail you’ve blazed!
– Eric Taylor, RQ Construction