Up Close with Chris Anderson

Posted by Rose Ann Woolpert on Mar 18, 2015

Chris A

 It was probably no great surprise to Chris Anderson’s family when he chose a career in construction. Construction is in the DNA of his family, which has deep roots in our region. Chris’s Norwegian great grandfather, Olaf Anderson, worked in the construction industry, and after World War II, his grandfather, Carl Ernie Anderson, started Anderson Ready Mix Concrete in Mountain View and in Sunnyvale. In the 1950s, Carl joined two partners to form CAP Concrete, which Graniterock eventually purchased for its current Redwood City concrete operations.

Chris was born in Mountain View, but when his dad decided to sell his family’s interest in CAP Concrete, he moved the family to Aptos. Chris went to Rio Del Mar Elementary and Aptos High School. He has a love of mathematics and majored in Economics at UC Santa Cruz, but realized early on that he needed a job where he would be able to work outdoors. “So I quit school and went to work for Granite Construction,” recalls Chris. “With my background in math, I caught on to grade checking real quick. 

I moved from Santa Cruz to San Jose and was involved as a grade checker, paving foreman and job supervisor on large highway construction jobs during the 1980s and 90s. But what I enjoyed most was grade checking.”

Chris goes on to explain the job of a grade checker.  “When building a three dimensional project, each point on the job has a specific location and elevation which needs to be accurate. The surveyor gets a set of plans and sets out stakes which give horizontal and vertical lines to specific points on the plans. The grade checker’s job is to go out and review the stakes, understand the plan, and find the correct cut and fill required to sculpt and shape the earth for the job. There is a lot of math involved.”

Chris’s love of math has helped to inspire 8th grade students who attend Graniterock’s annual Algebra Academy. Last summer he spoke to students about his use of math each day on the job. His story opened their eyes to the magic of math and how it can be used to solve practical problems at work, and helped the kids see how math can lead to great careers as engineers and scientists.

Chris joined Graniterock in 2002 to work on the Highway 85/101 interchange project, and has worked on a range of challenging projects over the past 12 years. Chris says his most rewarding job so far has been his two and a half years’ work on the Overburden Placement Area at the A.R. Wilson Quarry. On this job he needed to deal with construction challenges such as wet mud and earth slides, move quarry overburden off the rock reserves in an efficient and cost effective way, and most importantly, build and maintain relationships between the A.R. Wilson Quarry Team and the Construction Division. “I really feel I made a change there, which is very gratifying,” says Chris.

Chris and Kelli, his wife of 24 years, have two daughters, Alexandra, 22 and Jullea, 18, and live in the San Lorenzo Valley.  Kelli is a wholesale distributor of skin care products for spas and salons, with her home office in Scotts Valley. Outside of work, Chris enjoys the family’s five dogs, photography, gardening - especially roses and bonsai - and makes chandeliers from sea glass.

When asked about his goals at Graniterock, Chris says, “I really love my job. I don’t know how many people love their jobs as much as I do. I can look people in the eye and say, ‘This is the best company - you need to come work here.’  I want to mentor people, one at a time, and pass on everything I know about how to build a job properly.”

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