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Conversations with the Council featuring Allen Gast

“When I was in third grade, I wanted to be an architect.” However, just as designs evolve, so too did the plan for Allen Gast’s future. “When I got to the University of Florida, I discovered the premier ME Rinker Sr. School of Building Construction, and everything changed.”

After graduation, he returned to Orlando, his hometown, to work at a prominent designbuild firm. By the age of 25, he had become a Project Manager. However, the dream was to hang his own shingle, and in 2011, Allen and his wife Jodi began Gast Construction Group. “My wife is a critical part of our success. We’ve figured out how to merge our life with the kids successfully and grow it together much more than I could have had on my own. We both have areas of expertise that mesh very well.”

They have two sons, Timmy and Tyler. “They are our pride and joy.” When not being a dad or working, Allen enjoys golf, fishing, and watching Gator sports. He’s also very involved with several nonprofits and industry affiliations. He joined the Economic Council of Palm Beach County almost two years ago. “The Economic Council is a wellknown and respected organization, with respected members, that makes a difference. Since the onset our company has been all about being a part of the community. We look to be involved in organizations that aren’t afraid to fight for what is right. The Economic Council fits that bill.”

His membership has also benefitted him professionally. “Beyond the relationships built with other members that positively affect our business, that access to knowledge and the opportunity to provide insight into our industry’s perspective are all benefits. Together, different industries with different perspectives coming together for the betterment of Palm Beach County sets the Economic Council apart, making this organization a force to be reckoned with.”

Along with his peers, he’s hopeful they can address policy issues affecting the business community. “Taxes are too high. Palm Beach County is highly taxed compared to other counties in the state. We need to keep a close eye on that to remain attractive to prospects looking to set up camp here.” Finding and retaining talent is another obstacle. “In simple terms, we must make sure not to lose our workforce to more affordable areas. We are out of balance in terms of affordability, especially housing. Counties to the north are looking very attractive to the workforce right now, and as there is an influx of people to those areas, the infrastructure to serve those new residents creates jobs there, and who wants to commute to Palm Beach County when there are jobs right next to home? It’s definitely been an issue. We are a growing company trying to attract talent from outside the state and there’s no question we’ve missed out on potential team members because of the affordability. We’re not talking low dollars. We’re talking professionals making six figures who can’t afford to live here. We’ve had staff move to Martin County, and we’ve had to make adjustments in salary so we don’t lose them.”

However, Allen is optimistic about the future. “I believe that we are in a special place at a special time. Our business has thrived doing work primarily in Palm Beach County for the last 12 years. I believe with the right leadership and economic policies, this county can continue to thrive for the next decade and push through the inevitable economic downturns better than most.”

Gast Construction Group focuses on commercial and residential projects as well as estate management. As President, Allen oversees a team of twenty-seven employees. As he has matured, so too has his leadership style. “I am a recovering micro-manager,” he joked. “I’ve learned that I can’t control everything, and I need to trust that my team will make smart decisions. As we grow, it’s not viable for me to be a part of every decision. I have to delegate and trust in our top-notch staff, which is critical to our growth and success.”

Managing personalities can be challenging, but Allen says one key to his success has been incorporating techniques learned from former President Ronald Reagan.” True Reagan. This book is a fantastic memoir written by James Rosebush that gives great insight to behind the scenes of one of the greatest leaders of our time. His ability to have humility garner the respect of even enemies, all while keeping his faith at the forefront of his life, has guided me through my journey in business.” Like the “Great Communicator,” he uses stories and humor to make and sell a point. But he wasn’t always that polished. “In our industry, you go in heavy-handed as a younger person trying to make their way and their name. I’ve learned you can be much more tactful, and that approach will take you much farther.” When asked, “What would he tell his younger self?” Allen’s wit was on full display. “How long is this article?” he quipped before poignantly sharing his perspective while providing a glimpse into his character. “Fully trust that God has a plan for you, and while it may not be what you expected or could have ever dreamed of, the winding path you are led down will lead you to your best use and purpose.” Despite not becoming an architect, it sounds like Allen has created the perfect blueprint for his success.

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