By Alison Bailin Batz
Photos by Claudia Johnstone
Rewind to 1991. Barry Chasse had just graduated from Arizona State University and was hired on full time by the small construction company he interned for during school ... for $6 an hour.
“My fabulous salary might make people laugh now, but back then I was thrilled just to have a real job after college,” says Chasse, noting the firm would quickly merge with one of the largest building contractors in the country, making him their first Arizona employee.
Over the next several years, he put his head down and learned all he could about building and construction intricacies in Arizona, steadily rising the ranks at the firm.
He did, however, make a little time for a social life when a colleague offered to set him up with a friend of his, a girl named Rikki.
The only problem? The colleague’s plans to introduce them happened to be at an Arizona Cardinals game they would all be attending.
“I not only had an unkempt beard at the time, but had been tailgating all day in the heat, wearing, of all things, old swim trunks and flip-flops,” Chasse says. “After the game, I handed Rikki a beer and tried my best to make small talk, but didn’t exactly give off the George Clooney vibe.”
Thankfully, Rikki gave him a second chance, meeting him at an Arizona Cardinals charity event. Chasse – this time shaved and suited up – redeemed himself. After dating for two years, they married at McCormick Ranch’s wedding pavilion in Scottsdale in 1996.
“For all intents and purposes, I had started to build my adult life with Rikki. So, it was time to really build the business side at a faster clip,” says Chasse, who, over the next 10 years, would be named the senior vice president of the firm while growing it into the largest division nationwide.
During this same time, which was around 2005, a client asked Chasse to join him at a Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale board meeting, eager to bring him into the fold.
“I was a father to two little girls – Rylee, who was three at the time, and Sydney, who had just turned one,” Chasse says. “So the mission of the club, which is to provide a positive, safe and fun environment for youth of all ages, pulled at my ‘new dad’ heartstrings in a major way. I was in.”
And while Chasse quickly found his place within the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale, he began to question his place at his firm.
“In church one Sunday, a pastor said that everyone was created to make a difference. It really resonated with me, driving me to take the ultimate chance by starting my own business, one focused on building – literally and figuratively – to make a difference in the lives of my team, my clients and my community,” Chasse says.
There was just one problem. He opened Chasse Building Team in 2007, just in time for the recession.
“Talk about timing! Thankfully, 17 years in the industry earned me a solid reputation, and we were able to take on smaller jobs while waiting out the worst of it,” Chasse says. “And hey, it gave me more time to volunteer.”
And volunteer he did, taking on the role of chair for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale’s annual end-of-year giving campaign, then-called Angels for Kids, and eventually signing on as chairman of the board for the entire organization.
“Our firm also worked with the club to build their administrative building next door to the Virginia G. Piper branch near Shea Boulevard and 105th Street, as well as their massive on-site teen center over the past 10 years,” says Chasse, also known in Scottsdale for building Overture at Kierland (a 55-plus active community), Cicero Preparatory Academy and Cheyenne Traditional School, among others.
Since weathering the storm of the recession, Chasse Building Team has grown to an award-winning, 125-person business with projects not only in the nonprofit and education space, but also in the retail, multifamily housing and industrial sectors. Altogether, Chasse and his team oversee more than $200 million in construction projects across Arizona annually. To date, they’ve also given back more than $3 million to charitable causes, including, of course, donations to the Boys & Girls Clubs, but also to more than 100 other organizations in need.
So, what’s next for Chasse? Mentoring a new generation of Boys & Girls Clubs volunteers.
“As a past board chairman and current member of the executive council, I am really proud to see our young guns – the associate board – taking such an active role in helping raise funds for the club,” Chasse says. “In fact, they are hosting Live & Local this month at Desert Ridge, and the entire Valley is invited.”
A 21-and-over event, Live & Local will take place Nov. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. and will feature live music; small bites from more than 20 local restaurants; and fabulous beer, wine and cocktail samplings. Tickets start at $150 per person and are available at www.bgcs.org.
To learn more about Chasse Building team and its projects, visit www.chasse.us.