With This Team, We Get It Done.
Jim Santee, President & CEO
As our anchor and fearless leader, with almost 25 years of self-employment, client-relations, and hands-on experience in construction, Jim has drive, persistence and an ethic that’s clear; work hard. Do “whatever it takes”. Sharp and purposeful, Jim has learned to wear many hats and whatever one is necessary to accomplish the task at hand, in the field and in business. His extensive framing and finish carpentry background helps with onsite builds and construction complications whenever they arise (and we all know they do). He possesses unique skills in a production-oriented environment. He’s efficient, effective, and thorough. Jim has targeted focus and can visualize the finish line before the job starts. Remarkably, this guy thrives in deadline situations and will not rest until the desired result is achieved.
Jim really enjoys toys, mainly Fords, and he adores his Boxer rescue, Ava, (a.k.a. Moochie). He has two beautifully grown daughters and visits the Gulf of Mexico whenever time permits. He and his wife have welcomed their first grandchild just this year.
Mike Soful, COO
With a stunning 40-year+ career as a certified public accountant. Mike has worked at Akron’s Lomax, Soful & Foster since 1972. In September of 2012 they merged with Skoda Minotti where Mike retired from in 2016. But his idea of retirement was simply to tackle an entirely new venture in a completely different industry. Mike joined Choice Traditions late last year as one of our two chiefs, and with much weighted experience, his achievements naturally demand respect.
He served in the U.S. Army as a counterintelligence special agent and served in Vietnam for one year with the 1st Air Cavalry Division. A trusted businessman and advisor to Jim, and diligently focused alongside, he now leads our business operations, assertively pushing us to strategize and perform at the next level. With Jim leading our construction division and Mike at the head of our operations, the next level is undoubtedly in sight.
Currently, Mike is serving as a Board member of the Ronald McDonald House of Akron (RMHA), and a member of RMHA HR and Strategic Planning Committees. He is also the treasurer of RMHA foundation. Thank you, Mike, for all your years of dedication and service!
Matt Soful, CFO
Matt is a maverick leader, and has quickly learned what it takes to run and manage a successful business. As a key executive and owner of privately held businesses, his strengths are derived from a combination of his ten plus years in the public accounting world and hands on experience in advisory roles. With a BS from Heidelberg University in accounting, Matt’s broad knowledge and in depth familiarity with numbers, coupled with his passion to serve and achieve unparalleled results, gives him insight and a keen ’inside-the-business‘ perspective. He is directly engaged in our business planning and helps to accomplish our goals from multiple angles. His modern methods and business casual approach tends to add a fresh and contemporary element to Choice Traditions management style and personality.
As a father of four and with a passion for giving back, in 2011 Matt founded ”The Sharing Ground”, a non-profit organization that shares educational programs and learning opportunities for at risk youth within the community. Also an avid sports fan, he is an adventure runner and has competed in several marathons and triathlons in the local Cleveland/Akron area.
Michelle “Elle” McMahon, HR Generalist
Our cheery enforcer by day, Elle is a refreshing addition to the Choice team and our HR department. She has spent ample time and effort streamlining the necessary policies that any successful company must have in play and her valuable insight and professionalism has been instrumental in taking our internal programs and resources to the next level. She’s available, approachable, and a true asset to both the structure of the business as well as its employees. Elle’s previous experience in working for a real estate development company and large payroll corporation has been extremely beneficial in how she’s successfully transitioned into a commercial construction environment.
This gal loves to be outside! Elle looks forward to golf season every year, as well as hiking, biking, and other activities that allow her to enjoy the outdoors.
Matt Rumble, Senior Project Manager
Approaching a 30-year history in the construction industry, Matt is one of our most mission-minded assets. A sure-footed leader who’s resilient, protective and loyal to his team, Matt sets clear and ambitious goals with a total focus on deadlines. As a matter of fact, sometimes all he really wants to know are the start and end dates. He’s got a wide spectrum and rare combination of methods; old school/traditional meets advanced/original. Matt prefers face to face interaction over today’s more expedient ways of communication, like email. But don’t be mistaken, his daily speed is anything but slower. (pretty sure he can’t sit still for longer than 5 minutes!) Matt recently received recognition and an award from Jim for his exceptional dedication and leadership towards our new store program.
Matt likes to be around his son’s motorcross, and thoroughly enjoys spending as much time as he can with his three grandsons.
Mark Bertram, Project Manager
With an astounding 37-years construction knowledge and experience, Mark has seen it all! His commitment to this industry over the years has reciprocated a broad list of connections, close relationships, and professional strengths including cost control, safety, schedule completion and client satisfaction. Mark is our player with the biggest heart and continuously strives to improve overall team work and communication. He is a strong one-on-one motivator and mentor-type guy who tends to take the newbie under his wing. With Mark’s widespread expertise and his appreciation for people and relationships, he proves to be a rare find in this industry and continues to be one of our most capable, versatile, and mission-minded assets. His far-reaching skills with new builds and ground-ups are unprecedented and his abilities, support, and knowledge in construction management continue to make favorable impressions on our clients, and on us. Mark recently received recognition and an award from Jim for his exceptional customer service and client relations, and has also been given what we call a “Pinnacle Rock Award”.
This guy’s also a drummer. How cool is that!?
Steve Obertanec, Project Manager
Steve is a natural diplomat and his communication skills and highly organized demeanor work together to make him by far, one of our strongest leaders on all our kiosk builds and new stores. He’s very mechanically inclined and as a veteran electrician, understands the ins and outs of the trades’ scopes. Steve has spent most of his 23 years in the construction industry in residential project management. He brings a healthy energy (and comedy) to the production arena and consistently seeks out ways to improve our methods. Steve’s interaction with any client or partner is always a positive one. He is an acute problem solver in all facets and his broad common sense and practical knowledge is unmistakably valuable.
On summer weekends and into the fall, Steve spends many nights racing an AMC Gremlin at Norwalk in Ohio and competing at other local races.
“I just wanted to pass along that Steve who was in charge of our remodel was amazing…. They helped us out so much also, they cleaned up after themselves daily and kept everything as neat as they could and made areas for the customers to sit daily…. He really cares about doing a good job and serving us as his customers.” – Janice, Starbucks
Tim McCready, Production Manager
Acutely aware of the details in his environment and in tune with the people that surround him, Tim is our lead project coordinator and Production Manager. Skilled with almost a decade of office/field management with an electrical union operation, Tim clearly understands scopes, deadlines, and budgets. He has a Bachelor’s in Business Management from Kent State University. Thankfully, he’s sarcastic and funny, and brings a lighthearted comedy to our high-performing production team.
Anticipating the reveal of the answer to daily “movie trivia”, nearly every one checks Tim’s desk first thing in the morning. It’s a little harder than you’d think it’d be, but for some reason, we’re all sure we’ll know the answer to the next one! Collectively, at least we’re persistent and optimistic.
Charlene Catlin, Production Coordinator
Charlene (a.k.a. Char), has been with us from the beginning. Transforming to an Assistant PM, Char supports our project team and our PMs, mainly Jim. She’s incredibly dependable, persistent, and highly communicative. Char is very familiar with multiple production positions as she was tasked with wearing several hats previously. Versatile in her role and extremely detail oriented, she came to us with an impressive 23 years’ experience and knowledge in the administrative field! She’s dedicated, principled, and has a keen understanding of urgency and the need for immediate response. Char is compassionate to everyone’s needs and accepting to all personality shapes and sizes. Her extreme and genuine commitment has also been acknowledged with what we call a “Pinnacle Rock Award”.
Char has passion for writing and has had her stories and articles published in the local papers such as the Medina County Gazette, The POST and a popular magazine sold in stores.
Kristy Carter, Assistant Project Manager
Spending several years in the manufacturing industry, Kristy possesses a unique skillset and big-picture understanding of our total operation from an administrative and project management perspective. She’s exceptional in areas of communication, organization, and efficiency. Kristy keeps a sharp eye on even the smallest of details and holds a sure foot in supporting her project managers as well as the field team. Kristy is alert, quality-minded, and very systematic. Her total focus on quality and client satisfaction is off the charts!
Kristy relocated from Chicago recently. She’s very passionate about supporting our troops whenever an opportunity arises and expressing love for her fury, four-legged friends. She’s got a bunch of ‘em!
Damon Kruszewski, Warehouse Manager
Hyper-aware and assured in his role of warehouse manager, Damon is extremely meticulous. He knows where every single item is in our shop. He’s reliable, incredibly hard-working, and consistently goes above & beyond to ensure Jim, our PM’s, and our field team have what they need. Damon’s daily responsibilities include inventory, shipments, loading & unloading, maintaining shop & tools, and any necessary road trips & deliveries. He has also received our MVP award for 2016.
Approach Damon with caution first thing in the morning and mid-afternoons…he’s usually hangry (hungry + angry) and craving sweets!
Jason Teehan, General Construction Manager
Having spent 17 years as both a residential and commercial plumber, Jason is no stranger to the construction industry. Prior to his coming aboard Choice Traditions management team, he performed the plumbing scope on multiple projects for us and has always been known to give 100%.
In his field management role, Jason looks after his team providing excess trade knowledge, specific skill sets and the necessary discipline to all aspects of our various projects. He carries each one successfully to completion. Jason consistently receives complements from our subcontractors for an impressive management style and job well done.
Jason lives for motocross…still races, and rides with his boys whenever he can.
“We would like to personally thank Jason for all the hard work he performed to make our job run as smooth as possible… there are very few superintendents that stand out above all the rest, Jason is one of them!” – Adam Ferkatch, Pittsburgh Custom Tile
Don Helms, Construction Manager
Residing in Florida’s panhandle, Don travels all over this side of the U.S. managing projects of various size and difficulty for us. He’s meticulous, client focused, and very efficient with a schedule. He’s been known to shave considerable time from a schedule, sometimes by half! Don has been in construction management since the early nineties and is still never afraid to learn something new. He’s mentoring to our other staff and subcontractors and somehow manages to miraculously pull everyone to work together in the field. Don is our airport and motorway guru and has exceptional abilities and skills to maintain strong construction management on projects of a larger magnitude, or specifically on big box stores. He has also been given what we call a “Pinnacle Rock Award”.
Don and his wife love the water and simply enjoy the pleasure of each others company as they approach their empty nesting years. They are thankful to have seen their youngest daughter graduate high school recently, and this guy, well….he loves to dance! He actually used to compete in dance competitions years ago.
Tom Hessler, Construction Manager
Previously an HVAC contractor, Tom joined us in spring of 2015 and has proved to be a real ring-leader in the field. Excelling in communication and knowledge of subcontractor scopes, he has become a real asset on new store projects, and has been known to occasionally assist Jim with estimating. Tom is consistent, a natural problem solver, thinks outside the box, and applies his detail-oriented skills to every project. He’s also entrepreneurial-minded, educated, and very funny.
Mike Koeth, Construction Manager
A 40-year career in construction, with 30 of them in management, Mike excels in project tracking and reporting. He has an almost militant detailed approach to his projects, carefully coordinating a plan of attack on every jobsite. Mike’s not impulsive when making decisions. He has foresight on the job, and strategizes accordingly.
Mike has two dorkies, an adorable mix of a Dachshund and Yorkie. Whenever time permits, he takes them to the local fishing pond to chase geese while he fishes with his son. Camping, hunting, 4-wheeling…outside time with loved ones is a true passion for Mike.
Steve Hirsh, Construction Manager
Very personable and easy to get along with, Steve manages his projects with thoroughness and extreme follow through. His clear and communicative management style is recognized on a per project basis and is considered a highlight to his overall field performance. He’s persistent, detailed, and has an exceptional sense of humor.
Larry Holmes, Construction Manager
A skilled electrician and a real people person, Larry is excelling in his new role of construction management. He is consistently aware of his surroundings on his project sites and is undoubtedly dedicated to the cause of total project completion. Larry projects an eager-to-please attitude. He’s diligent, exceptionally hard-working, and really doesn’t stop until a mission has been completed. And, the cleanliness of Larry’s jobsites is quite impressive.
Brad Mealey, Laborer
Diligently focused and acutely aware of his surroundings, Brad is newer to the team. He was working at a basement waterproofing company previously and is a truly hard worker. A fast learner to our methods and programs in the field, Brad always applies what he has learned and is quickly developing his skills and capabilities. He’s very adaptable and respectful and a true help to our field operations.
Jessica Tetlak, Finance Manager
Diligent and focused, and with a consistent strive towards continued improvement, Jessica was the winner of our 2015 “Pinnacle Rock Award”! She has been with us for a little more than a year and comes with more than several years’ experience in financial administration +. Previously working with a large retail fixture company, she’s quickly gained knowledge of the commercial construction industry. Innovative and systematic in her daily approach to her position’s responsibilities, Jess keep’s a keen eye on every dollar. She is immediate and reliable; enjoys being part of a team; is naturally competitive, and very driven.
Many times this gal gets up at 4:30am to run before work! Also a proud mom of two, Jessica is very active and dedicated to her role as “Mom” and enjoys posting and sharing her latest comical moments with the kids on FB.
Sarah Santee, Marketing
With an extraordinary passion for unique branding and design, and previous experience in construction administration and production, Sarah best serves as a catalyst to our team. She searches for new innovative ways to highlight some of our originality and helps to implement necessary organizational change when needed. Her and Kali plan and manage all our company events, marketing, and team-building initiatives, and they continue to tackle new projects together every year.
Sarah dabbles in anything and everything revolving around gifts, event planning, home décor, and then some. She has a passion for artistic expression and originality, and loves to visit the Gulf of Mexico with Jim whenever humanly possible.
Megan Santee, Accounting Admin
Newer to the team but not to the environment, Megan came to Choice Traditions to offer support to the company her dad started. She joins the team as one of our Administrative Assistants where she’ll be able to learn processes and procedures while in a supportive role. Megan is evaluating which path she would like to explore more as she grows with the company, and with her fresh eyes and frugal methods, we’re confident she’ll develop into an even bigger asset in our administration and financial departments.
Megan spends her time raising and enjoying her adorable young son, Vinnie; he is her heart and true joy, and on weekends, she visits with her friends and family to share and take part in this enjoyment.
Nikki Bertram, AP Admin
Fresh out of college, Nikki brings a renewed eye to the financial team. Her perspectives are valuable to processes already in place. She is brand new to the construction industry, but is quickly learning how her role fits into the team’s success. She’s eager to learn more about the business, grow with the team, and interested in seeing where different paths in her career may take her.
Recently engaged, Nikki is beyond excited in planning her wedding for Spring. She’s an avid fan of any website offering crafty ideas for brides-to-be, and busy making center pieces already, Nikki continues to search for the perfect decorations. She enjoys having girl’s nights with her two beautiful step-daughters-to-be and can’t wait for them to be part of the big day!