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ON THE LEVEL:Ostovich committed to making his mark at J.M. Brennan.

Byline: Dan Shaw,

Although Matt Ostovich got a taste of construction work at a young age, it didn't exactly prepare him for the job he has now.

Ostovich, a project manager and architectural mechanical engineer at the mechanical contractor J.M. Brennan, grew up around the residential side of the industry. For years, his grandfather and father ran a homebuilding company, David Rudolph and Associates.

When Ostovich was in high school, he was enlisted to help build a new house for his parents in Greenfield, where they still live.

But although that project did certainly involve construction, it had little to do with mechanical work. Ostovich found himself mostly doing rough carpentry for the house's walls and roof. Plumbing and electrical jobs were contracted out. What the project did do, though, was reconfirm Ostovich's predilection for the trades.

While his taste for architecture and engineering came from his grandfather, who also went to MSOE, it was furthered by his wrestling coach who strongly recommended that Ostovich consider the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

"Once I was there, I found I really enjoyed the math," Ostovich said. "And kind of ended up taking it from there."

Ostovich got an internship at J.M. Brennan in 2012 and began working there full time the following year. The past seven years have seen him do a wide variety of work, everything from designs to estimating to project management.

Some of the biggest projects he has worked on so far include a pharmacy and distribution center at Froedtert Health's Integrated Service Center in Menomonee Falls, a clinic in Mequon for the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, the four-story Meadowland Research & Technology Center built for the developer Irgens near the Zoo Interchange and the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care's Bucyrus Campus on Milwaukee's north side. Perhaps biggest of all, Ostovich was recently enlisted to help with managing the heating and plumbing work at the 25-story office building BMO Harris Bank is having built across the street from Milwaukee City Hall. He is also working on designing the heating installation for a 17-story luxury-apartment building for St. Camillus in Wauwatosa, next to the county zoo.

Ostovich said his job at first seemed a bit overwhelming. In recent years, though, he has learned how to set priorities.

"I do have a list of tasks and I put ratings on it and things like that," he said. "Early on, I would be overcome with all these different tasks and feel that everything had to be done the next day. But over time, you realize what the important things are and try not to get too stressed out."

That's not to say there haven't been bumps.

"You learn best by your mistakes, and I've had some mistakes already," Ostovich said. "But that's how you learn. You understand what the mistakes are and how to figure out solutions. And then you get it on the next one."

Ostovich said his job has him in the office quite a bit. But he still managed to get out in the field once or twice a week.

"It lets you keep a thumb on it, since you are trying to see how a project is going and what struggles there are," he said. "It's good to have that instead of being in the office, and you don't know if you are meeting your project goals or not."

Ostovich said it never hurts to try to learn from people who might be more familiar than he with a certain type of work.

"There are things that you are going to have figure out as a manager and a designer," Ostovich said. "With those guys in the field, it can help you think on your feet a little bit and figure out solutions that aren't always in front of your face. But people who around the office might have had those issues before."

Having got his engineering license, Ostovich said his main goal now is simply to become better at the work he's doing.

"I want to keep making my designs better and I always want to keep increasing my project volume," he said. "Those are two of the major tasks that I want to keep going for in the foreseeable future."


The Daily Reporter: What surprises you the most about your job?

Ostovich: In engineering through college everything is black and white, right and wrong. It's mathematics, there is only one way things can work. However, in the real world it's not like that. You have to be able to adjust on the fly, adapt, and accommodate others to make your project successful. In which case, while it was the thing I was most surprised about it, it is also a very enriching part of the job.

TDR: Which living person do you most admire?

Ostovich: There are many people I admire in my life. My parents for instilling the great valves I live with. Malcolm Brogdon and Chris Long for the drinking wells they are building for less fortunate people in third-world countries. My wrestling coaches Keith Morin, Kevin Morin, and Mario Trafficante for providing me with the tenacity and dedication I still use to this date. Finally, my engineering coworkers Travis Nehring, Justin Harer, and Mark Riehle for all the skills and knowledge they know and have passed down to me.

TDR: What other jobs have you considered trying?

Ostovich: There really isn't any other type of job that I have considered trying. As a youngster if I couldn't be a professional athlete, I knew I wanted to do something in construction and design. Maybe at the end of my professional career I might try the other spectrum of the industry and become a city plan reviewer or inspector.

TDR: What is your greatest fear?

Ostovich: My greatest fear is if someone would get hurt working on or from a job that I was a part of. That's why I make sure I am overly diligent and safety conscious on everything I work on.

TDR: What's your greatest extravagance?

Ostovich: I am a pretty practical person by nature, so I don't have many extravagant purchases. So my most extravagant purchase was my Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV. Even though it is somewhat extravagant, it is also practical for when I need to be on job sites.

TDR: What would you never wear?

Ostovich: A Chicago Bears, Minnesota Vikings, or Chicago Cubs jersey.

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Publication:The Daily Reporter
Date:May 23, 2019
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