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Executive Q&A: Boldt chief finds best of all worlds in Oklahoma

Illinois native Steve Olson, southern operations group president of The Boldt Company, is at home in Oklahoma
by Paula Burkes Published: June 16, 2013

In their nearly five years in Oklahoma, Steve Olson, southern operations group president of The Boldt Co., and his wife, Laura, have become enthusiastic patrons of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, supporting its Prix de West art exhibit and Western Heritage Awards annual events.

The latter is “like the Academy Awards for all things western,” said Olson of the recent spring show. “Only there are no wardrobe malfunctions — only wholesome values coming from the stage.”

Olson said he's found Oklahoma offers the best of his former worlds — from the Midwestern values of his Illinois roots to the innovative, can-do western mindsets in California, where he started his 30-year career in construction.

For the 125-year-old, Appleton, Wis.-based Boldt, Olson oversees operations across a dozen southern states, which generate more than $100 million in annual revenues. Oklahoma, which has Boldt offices in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, accounts for 70 percent of that business, Olson said.

Past projects include the Bricktown ballpark and canal, the redesign of Will Rogers World Airport, expansion of Edmond's Nestle Purina plant, Oklahoma State University's new alumni center and architecture school, the University of Oklahoma's engineering college and high school renovations under the Oklahoma City MAPs (Metropolitan Area Projects) initiative.

The company has been asked to rebuild the tornado-ravaged Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, upon ratification by the school board.

From Boldt's 40,000-square-foot environmentally friendly “green” offices and warehouse at 101 W Hefner, Olson, 53, sat down with The Oklahoman to talk about his professional and personal life. This is an edited transcript:

Q: Tell us about your roots.

A: I grew up in Aurora, Ill., in northern Illinois. There were farmlands to the west of us; suburbs to the east. I was blessed to have parents — childhood sweethearts — who put family first. My dad, who holds a master's in music education and still lives in the area near my two younger sisters, once played the trumpet, cornet and French horn in a dance band. But after I was born, he — to be close to home — shifted to sales and customer service for All-Steel Inc. office furniture company, where he worked 35 years. My mother, who died two years ago, was a third-grade teacher and, after she had a family, a substitute teacher and a homework tutor for us. We spent many summer vacations in a log cabin on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin.

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by Paula Burkes
A 1981 journalism graduate of Oklahoma State University, Paula Burkes has more than 30 years experience writing and editing award-winning material for newspapers and healthcare, educational and telecommunications institutions in Tulsa, Oklahoma...
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Position: southern operations group president, The Boldt Company

Family: Laura, wife of 31 years; sons Joshua, 25, of Houston and Caleb, 22, of Birmingham, Ala.

Education: Bradley University, bachelor's in civil engineering, magna cum laude


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