Key Points

10 Questions for Chief Operating Officer, Steve Hansen

In this leadership interview, learn more about Legence’s Chief Operating Officer, Steve Hansen. Steve shares his career path from the boiler room to the board room, and his experience has influenced his leadership approach at the corporate level. Gain valuable insights on the essential principles for effective leadership, strategies for managing a portfolio of companies, trends in the data center industry,

1.      Can you share with us your career journey and what led you to your current role as Chief Operating Officer at Legence?

I guess you could say I went from the boiler room to the board room. My career started in 1988 as a Local 104 sheet metal apprentice in Northern CA at a residential HVAC company. I have always felt a need to fix things and quickly moved to the service side of the business. I came to Therma in 2001 as a Special Projects General Foreman, a division that did not exist at the time. It was with Therma that my career path changed from the field to Project Manager to Labor superintendent to Ops Manager and eventually President of the business. In 2021, I joined the Legence corporate team and took my current role as the COO.

2.      What is the most valuable piece of advice you've received in your career, and how has it shaped your approach to leadership and operations?

A valuable piece of advice that has stuck with me throughout the years actually came from my father. As far back as I can remember, whether it was regarding school, sports, or relationships, he would tell me “You get what you give”. I believe if we give our employees the tools, respect, and bandwidth to do what they do best, they will, and the company will, thrive as long as we as leaders are doing the same.

3.      Given how the industry has changed, what qualities do you think are most important for someone just starting out in the built environment?

Responsibility (own it every day), resilience (don’t let the bad days drag you down), tenacity (attack everything you do with passion), and the willingness to listen and grow (try to learn something new every day).

4.      Having worked at a Legence company before transitioning to the corporate level, what do you see as the common thread that ties the experiences together, and how has this perspective influenced your approach at the corporate level?

We are all the same! I think too often there is the perception of a divide between corporate and the business units—said differently, “it’s us against them”. Legence is a people business and I truly believe that “our power is our people” and that without the ~6,000 amazing employees performing for our customers daily, we would have nothing.

5.      What are the core principles or values that you believe are essential for effective leadership?  

Honesty, integrity, humility, and open-mindedness are a few that come to mind. However, I believe leadership is a privilege, not a right, and one has to lead by example and earn the right to do so. I am honored and humbled daily by the responsibilities placed on me as a leader in this great organization.

6.      Managing a portfolio of companies working towards decarbonizing the built environment is a significant undertaking. What strategies do you find most effective in ensuring operational efficiency and alignment across diverse business units?

Communication and patience. In a relatively short time, we have amassed an incredible team built to take on the decarbonization challenge. That said, it is important that we do not try to “boil the ocean” all at once and lose sight of the objective. I am impressed every day with how this legion of companies have come together as a team and the progress we have made to date.

7.      How do you prioritize and promote safety within the workplace, and why is it so important in the operations of a company like Legence?

It is and always will be our number one priority and has to start with leadership at Legence and the business unit level. Coming from the field, I appreciate and understand the dangerous nature of the work our crews perform daily. Our goal at Legence is to send each and every one of our employees home safely to their families at the end of each day.

8.      There has been an uptick in the need for data centers recently. What are some emerging trends or future outlooks you foresee in the data center industry, and how is Legence positioning itself to stay ahead of these trends?

To say that the data center industry has exploded would be an understatement. Between AI and work-from-home requirements, data centers cannot be built fast enough. We have seen a push toward modularization of data center components and have been working with our customers to meet their ever-changing needs. Additionally, we have leveraged our fabrication facilities across geos to assist with keeping schedules where demand is highest. To meet future needs, we have also approved the build-out of an ~80K sq. ft. fabrication facility in Phoenix AZ that should be up and running by Q1-25.

9.      What are some projects you are most proud of, whether in your previous role with Therma or from a cross-collaboration perspective of Legence companies?

Let’s go with a recent Cross-Sell win driven by the great work being done with a confidential client by Legence companies VarcoMac and Bel-Aire. Therma, a Legence Company, was also recently awarded a large-scale fabrication project, the largest in the history of the company, that will be fabricated in the Bay Area and shipped to Fayetteville, GA.

10.  Outside of work, what activities or hobbies do you enjoy that help you maintain a work-life balance?

Pretty much anything outdoors. I am an avid backcountry archery hunter and fisherman. Ultimately, spending time with my family (wife, children, and dogs) keeps me grounded.

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