SAN RAFAEL − Long before he was the owner of a respected design/build firm, John Fraine discovered his passion for construction while participating in a charitable venture. “As a teenager, I volunteered with my church youth group during the summer to help build houses for disadvantaged people,” he remembers. “I discovered I was good at building and had a lot of fun doing it as well.”
Following high school, John immediately set out to carve a professional path for himself. “I joined the Carpenters Union right out of high school, and that’s where I learned to work hard, fast, and in an organized fashion,” he says. Later, citing the call of the “entrepreneurial spirit,” John moved to Marin County, where he would eventually establish his own contracting firm.
Today, as owner of Building Solutions, John says one of his favorite aspects of his job is developing the company’s business model. “After spending 20 years doing things in the old model, where the design and construction phases are handled separately, we started to see the problems it was creating for our clients’ budgets. To counteract this, we hired our own architectural staff, which allowed us to handle all phases of the job and provide a more budget-sensitive design and building process.”
When he’s not working, John engages in a variety of pastimes, from outdoor activities like hiking and scuba diving to artistic hobbies such as music and dance. “In addition to being a mountain biker, hiker and rock climber, I’m a certified scuba diver, and I love swimming in the Monterey Bay and seeing all the amazing creatures that live there,” he says. “I’m also a dance instructor, and I enjoy singing and drumming as well.” In addition to his many avocational pursuits, John makes time to keep up with his son, Brendan, who lives in New York City.
In regard to his career, John espouses the importance of the partnership between contractor and client. “We want to create a true partnership with each of our clients, which we accomplish through our core pillars of budget transparency and client advocacy,” he explains. “Through this partnership, we aim to create beauty, utility and wealth for each of our clients, with well-designed projects that not only look and feel wonderful, but also provide a long-term value for their investment.”
When asked the first thing he’d do if he could retire tomorrow, John says he’d start working on a long-envisioned art project. “It’s called ‘The Story of Knowledge,’ and the purpose is to express how humans created and continue to cultivate knowledge. My goal is to inspire young people to think about how they can contribute to that ongoing process. If I can inspire others to be active contributors to the betterment of our species, I’ll consider my life to be well-lived.”