A look at the people behind the numbers in area business:


Title: President

Age: 39

Sam Riesgraf is directing construction and renovation of commercial and multifamily housing properties as president of the newly formed Synergy Builders in Minneapolis.

The new entity merges Riesgraf's Synergy Builders Inc., which he launched in 2010, with SR Construction Services, the in-house construction unit of Schafer Richardson, a commercial real estate, development, management and leasing and investment services company founded in 1995.

The two companies had worked together before last month's merger on projects, including the $4 million renovation of the historic machine shop at the former Pillsbury Mill site.

Both companies have similar values and business models and get a lot of repeat business from clients, so joining forces made sense, said Riesgraf, a co-owner of the new entity.

"We share common values in terms of having an honest approach, integrity and being fair with people," Riesgraf said. "When you work with us once, you tend to come back and work again with us."

Synergy Builders is looking for commercial construction projects of $5 million to $10 million, with a focus on the office sector, Riesgraf said. The company also handles construction, renovation and build-out services for office and industrial space that Schafer Richardson manages and for third-party clients.

Riesgraf traces his interest in construction to growing up on a Wisconsin farm with a father who also did residential building. He has a degree in construction management from Dunwoody College of Technology and worked for Kraus-Anderson Construction for a decade before starting his own company.

Q: How would you characterize the construction market today?

A: People realize that from 2008 to 2011 hardly anything was built. The interest rate market being what it is, is driving a lot of money into real estate. In the multifamily housing sector, the inventory was down for three years so there's still a recapturing period that we're seeing. The senior housing market continues to be strong, coming up on the peak of the baby boomers retiring.

Q: What propelled you to pursue a degree and a career in construction management?

A: What a lot of people in construction like is that you can see what you've done every day. You can look at a given property, project, building or site and see how it's changed after two months or two years and say, "I was a part of that."

Q: What prompted you to start your own construction ­company?

A: I drank the entrepreneurial Kool-Aid and couldn't get it out of my system. I felt like I needed to do it on my own, be my own boss. It was an outgrowth of that spirit in me.

Todd Nelson