Barry Chasse builds structures with his business, and builds community with BGCGS
By Alison Bailin Batz
Barry Chasse believes in sticking with things over the long haul. Take his college internship, for example.
“I was a sophomore at Arizona State University in the early 1990s, studying construction, and had the chance to intern with a contracting company to earn some experience,” Chasse says. “It was a small company, but it had just merged with one of the biggest contracting firms in the country right as I was graduating. They hired me on as an official employee – actually their first employee as the new business – when I graduated.”
He would go on to lead the company for 17 years, growing it to 150 employees and eventually into one of Arizona’s largest contractors. During that time, Chasse had a client who was involved in the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Scottsdale (BGCGS).
“It was around the same time I was becoming a parent myself (in the early 2000s), so I tagged along to a board meeting and a few events with him,” Chasse says. “Beyond after-school programs, I quickly learned that the clubs provided mentoring, school readiness, art programs, STEM and even digital workshops for kids from the Airpark to Fountain Hills and on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community reservation.”
In 2005, he joined the Board of Governors. As his role within the organization grew – serving as Chairman of the Board, Chairman of the Annual Giving Campaign and even on the Board of Trustees – his desire to chase a new professional dream grew as well: opening a company of his own in Chasse Building Team (CHASSE).
There was just one problem – Chasse made the decision to go out on his own in 2007, about six months before Arizona fell into its deepest recession in history, especially when it came to commercial real estate projects. “Talk about timing,” Chasse says with a chuckle. “Thankfully, clients were willing to give us a shot based on past experiences.”
Though small, Chasse earned a tenant improvement project for Vestar at Tempe Marketplace, and then a $4 million retail center project. Opportunities in the education realm soon followed.
“School and community center projects became a niche for us, and still remain a passion of mine. Everyone involved in the process is often doing it as a labor of love, and it shows,” says Chasse, who has now done hundreds of school projects, including the recently completed $76 million Canyon View High School in the Agua Fria Union High School District. Chasse utilized the Lean Construction process (visit leanconstruction.org to learn more) to reduce cost, materials and time so the school could open its doors and welcome more than 450 freshmen this semester.
In addition to schools, Chasse found similar success in multi-family, office, retail centers and nonprofit work. Today, CHASSE is a 125-member team averaging more than $200 million in client engagements each year. “We have grown to the point where this fall and into the winter we are expanding into new, bigger offices here in the Valley and in Tucson,” Chasse says. “We should be into both new spaces by early 2019, just in time to celebrate our 12th anniversary – is that a thing?”
While prepping for the move, the BGCGS continues to keep him busy. “I take on any role where the BGCGS needs me, so that we can help the more than 20,000 youth at nine clubs located within the communities of Scottsdale, North Phoenix, Fountain Hills, Mesa, the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the Hualapai Nation. The clubs’ outcome-based programming assures that success is in reach for all kids and teens who enter the doors of a club, no matter their circumstances,” Chasse says.
This time of year, that role includes the return of one of the largest annual events benefiting the BGCGS: Live & Local, presented by GoDaddy in November.
According to Chasse, the 21-and-older event will take place Sunday, November 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. at The District at Desert Ridge Marketplace and will feature dozens of area restaurants sampling their menus, mixologists, wine and beer tastings, and live music from DJ Miss Mixx, Nate Nathan & The MacDaddy-Os and many more.
“I am out here chasing my dreams, one day at a time,” Chasse says. “I just hope by supporting the clubs and events like this, I can in some small way help the kids in this community to chase theirs.”