Tim Ryan Construction builds on 45-year mark

POULSBO — Building. Tim Ryan has done it all his life in one form or another. But while the numerous structures, houses, offices and commercial enterprises are certainly important to the founder of the Poulsbo-based Tim Ryan Construction, the 69-year-old seemed more proud of the relationships he has maintained than the fact that his business has been around since Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the Oval Office.

TRC may be celebrating its 45th year but for Ryan, every day at the job seems new and exciting.

“I feel like I just started,” he explained with a laugh.

Although Ryan’s career may have started in 1957, his connections to the Capitol Hill community in Seattle and eventually Kitsap County were much earlier. He attended St. Joseph’s Grade School on 19th Avenue and Prospect and Seattle Prepatory High School before graduating from Seattle University with a degree in business administration in 1955. That same year, he also had the same delusions that plague most college graduates.

“I thought everyone would want to hire me,” Ryan said, noting that because he was married, had one kid and another one on the way, finding some type of income was essential.

After some odd jobs, Tim Ryan Construction appeared out of the woodwork.

“I started out doing anything,” he said with a smile.

Ryan’s first job, he recalled, was a kitchen remodel on Capitol Hill’s 21st Avenue. The client? A man named Frank Brown. The pay?

“Gosh sakes,” Ryan said scratching his head. “I don’t know, probably less than $1,000.”

While TRC has come a long way since Brown’s kitchen — recently completing a 16,000 square-foot tenant space in the Harlow Medical Building at Harrison Hospital and being chosen by Courtesy Chevrolet to build an 18,500-square-foot structure on Viking Avenue — he still maintains the simple ideas that have made his business so successful.

Ryan’s ties to North Kitsap go back to when he was a kid spending summers at a cabin near Kiana Lodge. Over the years, he watched the region grow as Highway 305 and the Agate Pass Bridge brought more and more people here. Seeing this, he said, has given him a greater appreciation for the area and the community.

In the early 1970s Ryan’s family was doing quite well and had moved to the Kirkland area. They also had a summer place in Kingston, a little city by the bay his wife quickly fell in love with.

“One day she asked me, ‘Why are we moving back (to Kirkland)?’” Ryan explained. He didn’t have much of an response, so they relocated here.

The peninsula was a better place for his kids, Ryan quickly discovered and not a bad spot for TRC as things turned out.

The company has contributed enormously over the years, not just to the region’s skyline but to the greater community as well. Buildings created by Tim Ryan Construction house employees of all trades.

A perfect example can be found at Poulsbo Village, a project that he said probably “stands out” more than any other the company has completed. The first phase, Albertson’s supermarket, was built about 17 years ago. Even then the red tape was getting thick, Ryan pointed out, noting that the rezone on the property took five years.

“More paperwork,” was what Ryan said has been the biggest change in the industry over the years. But he keeps a sense of humor about it, nonetheless. “We probably use more timber on paperwork than we do on the job site.”

When asked about his greatest accomplishment, Ryan did not point to any one building.

Instead he indicated the, tight family “structure” that is encompassed in the business. His children, Colleen, Dan and Kevin all work at TRC as office manager, president and vice-president respectively.

“All my kids worked here since they were old enough to push a broom,” he said with a laugh before explaining that he encouraged each to do their own thing. Kevin and Dan both attended Washington State University and earned degrees in construction management but they weren’t simply hired at TRC on those merits alone.

Their father urged them to get their own jobs. They did but they came back to Poulsbo — something that Tim Ryan is proud of and the construction company is better for.

“They found out that dad wasn’t so bad to work for after all,” he said with a smile. “It’s just part of their education but what they have given us is a mix of old time experience and computer experience to keep us as modern as we can be.”

With two businesses, including Tim Ryan Properties, eight kids and now 30 grandchildren, Ryan may have his hands full but he’s still a ways from calling it quits.

“I have no plans to retire. I at least want to celebrate 50 years,” he said. “I guess I always liked to do this — build things. It’s a nice feeling.”

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