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Inaugural Legacy Award Goes to ABC Chapter Founder

Northwest Construction's first Legacy award goes to the contractor who championed non-adversarial relationships, education for craft workers and devoted his career to the industry.

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Northwest Construction launched the Legacy Awards at the 2009 Best of breakfast, to recognize individuals who have made a lasting change in the local construction industry. The 2009 award went to Jack Rafn, Rafn Co., Bellevue, who sat on the original steering committee that contacted Associated Builders & Contractors (ABC) National and requested chapter-in-formation status.

Jack Rafn worked to maintain cooperative relationships with all project team members, a controversial idea when he started his company in 1978.
Photo Credit: ABC
Jack Rafn worked to maintain cooperative relationships with all project team members, a controversial idea when he started his company in 1978.
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Rafn Company lost a job they had been low bidder on, solely because of their open shop status. This discrimination energized Rafn Company and its subs to seek assistance from ABC National. The electrical contractor on the bidding team was an at-large member of ABC. Now the company is a merit-shop general contractor delivering a broad range of construction services and products to the metropolitan Seattle area. The majority of Rafn’s work is negotiated, commercial projects ranging from $1,000 to over $35 million.

Rafn served as chapter president in 1984. “He has done virtually every volunteer activity that has been asked of him,” says Kathleen Garrity, ABC of Western Washington executive director since the chapter beginning.

Rafn served on several National committees: the education committee for many years, various strategic planning committees and task forces, and most recently on the budget and finance committee.

He is a member of the Beam Club, ABC National’s new member recruitment group. He has recruited more new members to the chapter than any other member.

“Needless to say, Associated Builders & Contractors of Western Washington would not be the same without the leadership, wisdom, guidance, influence and hard work of Jack Rafn,” says Garrity. “Around here he is like many world-renowned celebrities (think Madonna). He only needs one name. When you say, “Jack” everyone knows whom you mean.”

Rafn has an extensive background in the construction trades and graduated from the University of Washington in 1967 with a degree in Construction Management. Upon graduation he worked for a local construction/development company as construction manager and vice president. He founded the Rafn Company in 1978.

“He was driven to a collaborative process in which shared goals and mutual commitment to the development process by all the essential roles could achieve a successful, high quality, cost-effective outcome and continue to remain great friends. It was a novel and visionary idea then,” says Garrity.

In addition to his work with ABC, he is a member of the University of Washington President’s Club and has served in the College of Architecture on the Dean’s Advisory Council, on the Construction Management Advisory Council, and the Architectural Professional Council.


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Blog: Evergreen
Tim Newcomb is a newspaper and magazine journalist based in Western Washington, covering design and construction in buildings and transportation around the Northwest.
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