Team Member Spotlight: Karl Schneider

At Optima, our values are present in every aspect of our operations, from our high-level, vertically-integrated business model to our daily work routines. They are embodied in our team members, who exemplify how our values withstand the test of time, and in turn, help foster long-lasting careers. Ultimately, we want Optima to be a place where our talent can have rewarding years of growth and development. Recently, we interviewed Karl Schneider, our Senior Vice President of Construction, about his journey at Optima over the past 28 years: how it’s helped mold him as a leader and dynamic thinker, and what he’s learned over almost three decades.

Tell us a bit about your background and the role you play at Optima.

My current role as Senior Vice President of Construction is to oversee the Arizona construction team. I work with a team of talented construction superintendents as well as train new team members, educate our team on safety and writing contract scopes.  I work with the Sales Office and our Leasing Team to turn over our luxury condos and apartments at the highest level possible.  All while building strong, lasting relationships with the Optima team, engineers and local building officials.

How did you first begin your journey at Optima?

I went to college at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago where Optima founder, David Hovey Sr. was an Architecture professor. When I realized David Hovey Sr. was also the owner of Optima, I  knew that I wanted to be hired as an intern while in school.  I started at 19-years-old as a laborer and customer service rep, caulking baseboards and getting houses ready for move-in. From there, I worked my way up, moving to Arizona in 2004, and have been here ever since. 

What drew you to Optima initially, and what’s kept you working there all these years?

I never wanted to go to college, but my parents insisted. I wanted to work with my hands as a carpenter and I was interested in seeing things built, so I thought architecture was the next best thing to keep me close to building buildings. When I found out David was doing both construction and architecture, I wanted to be a part of the Optima team. As an owner/developer, there’s no red tape at Optima like there is at a traditional practice. Our problems take minutes to solve instead of months, and the excitement of the everyday evolution of a building is so rewarding. 

How do you view collaboration within Optima?

The collaboration at Optima is awesome because you can pick up the phone and talk to all different parts of the operations, whether it’s architecture, sales, leasing, or marketing. You have access to everyone and don’t need to go through a chain of command; everyone is viewed as equal. 

Which Optima values really speak to the work you’ve done at Optima and your methodologies?

“Exceptional design inspires everything” is one that definitely resonates; all of us are encouraged to speak our mind during the design/build process. If we see something that isn’t ‘Optima-esque’, we can speak up and impact change. For example, we have some wood paneling going in on an amenity level and our team has varying opinions on if it looks good. David Hovey Sr. listens to our feedback and personally checks it out. In a lot of organizations, you lose that level of interest from the principals. 

“Building long, lasting relationships” is another; we will forego being ‘right’ to keep our relationships with subcontractors healthy. 

And “there’s a solution to every problem”…there’s nothing more true! Vertical integration gives us vast knowledge through different disciplines that make problem solving easy. Design, construction, or marketing all look at problems through different lenses and we all collaborate throughout the process.

What are some things you’ve learned over the last 28 years? And how do they inform the work you’re doing now? 

Moving to AZ and not having ‘long lasting relationships’ to start was difficult. You never work alone; it’s the whole team that makes a success, and back in 2004, I learned that the hard way. As good as you think you are, you’re only as good as the team around you.  At Optima, we have an incredible team.

Inside Our Team: Property Management

On any given workday, our talented teams at Optima contribute and collaborate to keep things moving forward. Back in November, we got to know our construction team. Today, we’ll dive into what makes our property management team so fantastic. 

As stewards of our luxury multi-family developments, our property management team members are charged with providing the highest quality experience for our residents. Available to meet any need or tackle any problem, teams in both Arizona and Illinois work tirelessly to provide on-site support for our communities. 

Here’s what a few of our team members had to say:

“Each person has a strong sense of accountability and incredible work ethic, but above all else, we appreciate that building and maintaining positive relationships with others is essential. We think of ourselves as genuine and kind people who want to do right by our residents, prospective residents, vendors and teammates.”

“I love recognizing everyone’s accomplishments and celebrating together.”

I’ve really learned the impact of kindness from my team members. I have been so humbled and impressed by the thoughtful, wonderful people I work with and how the extra steps they take can have profound impact. Because we work in the place that our residents call home, we sometimes see them in their most vulnerable moments. At these times, I have seen my teammates go above and beyond for residents who have had illness, loss, hard times or even just a bad day and they do it without being asked because that’s just who they are as people.

“I’ve learned that it’s a privilege to find team members who have a strong work ethic and connect with our values. At Optima we all own what we do.”

With our holistic business model that encompasses architecture, development, general contracting, sales/brokerage, asset/property management, and shared services, each of our talented teams are part of what makes Optima great. Think you would be a good fit on the Optima team? Check out our current open positions to inquire about joining our team. 

Inside Our Team: Construction

To fuel our vertically-integrated business model, Optima is composed of strong, multi-faceted teams that ensure an effective and efficient workflow throughout our projects. Ever since our inception, we have recognized the benefits of harnessing collaborative teams, and we’re not alone. According to Forbes, productive team environments are the new vision for successful and satisfying employment. Adaptability, trustworthiness and openness are key components in coordinating team actions and solving challenging problems. 

Now more than ever, teamwork is recognized as a critical part of successful work culture. Our construction team at Optima is no exception; the team is currently working on two buildings in Arizona, just wrapped up another project ahead of schedule and is growing in Illinois as we prepare for upcoming projects in the Chicago market.  

Construction at Whale Bay House, New Zealand
Construction at Whale Bay House, New Zealand

When asked about what makes their team amazing, here are some of the things our construction team members had to say:

“We understand what the needs of the job are and strive towards a common goal to get things done. If someone makes a mistake, they own the mistake and fix it themselves so they learn and grow from the experience.”

“We all pitch in and help one another. If one of us has a problem, we all have a problem and will work together to find an answer.”

“I love the team we have gathered; they are knowledgeable and willing to learn.”

“I absolutely have learned leaps and bounds! I found my passion. Similar to a child in a sugar shop, my brain is soaking up everything like a sponge! I smile just talking about decking, and vetting subs for new partnerships!”

With our holistic business model that encompasses architecture, development, general contracting, sales/brokerage, asset/property management, and shared services, each of our talented teams are part of what makes Optima great. Think you would be a good fit on the Optima team? Check out our current open positions to inquire about joining our team. 


person name goes here

Maintenance Supervisor

Glencoe, IL

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