If my face looks familiar to you, you can count yourself a member of a very small club in the St. Louis construction industry. If we haven’t met yet, you may be surprised to know that I took the reins of St. Louis Construction News and Review magazine in 2009, when long-time publisher Tom Finan set out to pursue other endeavors.
Over the last nine years, I’ve been working behind the scenes, managing the print publication, the weekly e-newsletter and our website. My intent was not to be mysterious, but rather to let the publications speak for themselves. It’s just my nature. When our new Editor, Kerry Smith, joined our team last year, she launched a relentless campaign to bring me out of the shadows, and here we are. I am Mike Chollet, owner and publisher of St. Louis CNR.
In the interest of full disclosure, the magazine was founded in 1969 by my late father-in-law Thomas Finan Jr. I met his youngest daughter, Teri Finan, when she was editor of another trade publication held under the Finan Publishing banner. I became an official member of the Finan family when Teri and I got married in 2003. Although I never had the pleasure of meeting her father (he passed away long before we met) it has been an honor to carry on his vision for this magazine – to serve as “The Voice for the St. Louis Construction Industry.”
I am a lifelong St. Louisan who grew up in U-City, but it’s important to note that I came into my role as publisher with absolutely no background in the construction industry. The bulk of my working career was in hospitality management, including 30 years as General Manager of the Noonday Club, a private dining club on the 40th floor of the Metropolitan Square Building. In that role, I learned a great deal about the personal connections that are such an important part of this city’s DNA.
This second act has been a learning experience on many fronts. While I’ve managed to stay out of the spotlight, I have been in the background observing, and what has impressed me most is the remarkable generosity of the St. Louis construction community, even through the recession when times were tough. The word “hero” is tossed around a lot in the news these days, enough so that the definition is sometimes diminished, but it rings true when used in reference the St. Louis building community.
Next year, we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the publication of St. Louis Construction News and Review magazine. It is humbling to be a part of such a long history and I am proud to continue the tradition of serving this great community. To mark the occasion, we’ve designated 2019 as “The Year of Giving Back.” Every issue of the print magazine will feature stories focused on the charitable efforts of local companies and associations and we hope you will help us tell your stories.