By Kimberly Felton
David Andersen, president of Andersen Construction Company, joined the George Fox University Board of Trustees in 2008. With offices in Washington, Idaho and Oregon, Andersen takes on multi-million-dollar projects, such as the 14-story, 340,000-square-foot Peter O. Kohler Pavilion at Oregon Health & Science University. While Andersen’s projects make an impressive mark in the Northwest, his wisdom, business acumen and deep faith are making their mark at George Fox.
Your dad built the business in the 1950s. Did you always plan to step into his shoes?
Not at all. I was going to be a rock star. It came out of seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show when I was little. I started in a band in high school. My first year of college, I had a 1.67 GPA. My dad was paying and said, “No more.” That was fine. I went full time into music. The last band I was in, Airborne, toured the West Coast, playing at clubs and colleges.
So what changed?
Our drummer returned from his dad’s funeral and began the conversation of, “What really happened to him, and is there a God?”
'I burst in and announced, "There really is a God!" That cleared the room within five minutes.'
I asked the question honestly, and one night after a gig, God revealed himself to me. There was a big party at our house when we got home, and I burst in and announced, “There really is a God!” That cleared the room within five minutes.
My grandmother had taken me to Sunday school when I was a kid, but it never dawned on me that Jesus was real. I asked him into my life and never did drugs again. It took me a while to know rock n’ roll was not where I needed to be.
Then my question was, “Who is God?” I kept asking God, “Show me what to do.”
How did you transition to construction?
I got a job washing skyscraper windows. Dad had started the engineering program at Oregon State University. I was interested and graduated with a BS in business with a construction engineering management minor. In 1980, one of dad’s guys offered me a job in the accounting department. I moved up to chief financial officer, and in 1988 became president.
How does being a Christian affect business?
Our nine values came right out of the Bible. Our decision-making comes from those values. Our vision is to be the builder of choice. Our guiding question is, “If our client found out about this, would they choose us?” When you do it like that, people aren’t just thinking about getting paid. It’s about building a better future.
Your graffiti at Shriner’s Hospital is one example?
I heard from a Fox board member about a similar project in Boston, where kids got involved. I talked to our project team and steel workers. They went to the nursing staff and asked for kids’ names, and spray-painted them on the steel beams. The names remain there, in memorial. Everyone got involved, from employees to subcontractors, the hospital staff and parents. That’s the power of setting the mission and vision out there so people can run with it. That’s exciting to me.
Your company is involved in everything from hospitals to higher education. What projects do you most like?
Projects that involve organizations with a similar mission and values – organizations that look to help other people, not just put money in their pockets. That’s why I like George Fox.
Why did you choose to serve on the George Fox University board?
George Fox is making a very real difference in our world. Serving with the board puts me in touch with a group of godly men and women, and gives me a way to influence our next generation of leaders.
David and his wife, Glenda, have been married 33 years. She was his band girlfriend. They have three children and six grandchildren.