50 Influential Leaders

9/6/17 - the Daily Transcript - 50 Influential Leaders
Yehudi Gaffen, President
Thirty years ago, Gaffen decided to quit his job and form Gafcon, a construction consulting and management firm.
"My late father never worked for anyone in his whole life," said Gaffen. "I said, 'I've got to try it, or I'll never know if I can make it on my own.' "
The family-owned company has since been responsible for the success of hundreds of public, private and education projects in San Diego and throughout California.
Locally, Gafcon recently completed work on the San Diego Community College District's $1.55 billion voter-approved construction bonds, passed more than 10 years ago. The company is currently working on a $4.9 billion bond program for the San Diego Unified School District and a $198 million bond program for the Carlsbad Unified School District.
The firm will also provide program and project management consulting services on the $1.3 billion, 70-acre Seaport San Diego. Gaffen also is a principal of Protea Waterfront Development, which has been chosen by the Port of San Diego to redevelop the Seaport Village site. Plans call for three hotels, 300,000 square feet of retail space, a public market, a health and wellness zone, a maritime education institution and a 500-foot tower called "The Spire."
In three decades of leading Gafcon, Gaffen said he has seen San Diego grow and change, and the development industry with it. The industry is now experiencing what he called "a changing of the guard," with a much more diverse group of people helping to shape the city's future. Other things haven't changed.
"In San Diego, you still really have to pay your dues. You have to be known, trusted and respected to get anywhere."
Trust and respect have likely led to what Gaffen considers his biggest accomplishment: Gafcon's longevity.
"It's a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "We have weathered five recessions. We've grown organically to around 150 people. We're working nationally, all over the country. It's very satisfying that we've been able to build all that from scratch."
- Jennifer Chung Klam

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