Editorial: 12.14.2020

By All Estimates, Nick Marler has Found His Niche

Nick Marler

Nick Marler is the go-to guy for estimating large, complicated earthwork projects.

A member of Castle’s five-person estimating team, his 30-year construction and engineering career has prepared him to tackle projects that present tough logistical challenges. “Some earthwork jobs are pretty simple, but a lot of the work that we pursue is more complicated,” he says.

Marler begins each workday at the crack of dawn. “I’m in the office between 5:30 and 6 a.m., depending on traffic,” he says. “Construction made me a morning person.”

Born in southern Missouri, Marler and his family moved to Lecanto, Florida, a small town north of Tampa, when he was a little boy.

Marler migrated back to Missouri to enroll in the civil engineering program at the University of Missouri–Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology). “I knew I wanted to do something with math and science, and engineering seemed like a good gig, so I wound up coming back up here to go to school.”

While pursuing his degree, Marler spent summers working at Geotechnology Inc., a St. Louis-based geotechnical engineering firm that became his full-time employer when he graduated in 1990.

After working as a geotechnical engineer for about five years and earning a promotion to field manager, he shifted to the contracting world. “I had a buddy who kept trying to get me to come work with him,” he says. “At the time, I looked at contractors like the enemy. But I finally left engineering and hopped over to construction.”

Marler signed on with an excavation company as an estimator and project manager in December 1994. “Like most small companies, you ate what you killed—you estimated a job, ran it and then got the blame or the praise, depending on how it all worked out.”

A few years into his tenure, decided to launch his own excavating and grading business. “Long story short, I was worn out so I went and started my own company, not knowing that it would be twice as much work,” he jokes.

From 2002 to 2009, Marler and a business partner ran Monarch Excavating. “Things were great, we were making money and then the 2008 recession came, and the bottom fell out,” he recalls. “We decided that instead of going into a bunch of debt, we would close the doors.”

While looking for employment, Marler stayed in close contact with Mike Myers, Castle’s former chief operating officer, who invited him to join Castle in 2011. “When I came to Castle, the projects weren’t much different from the types of jobs I chased—school additions, retail jobs and whatnot,” he says.

That began to change when Castle won the earthwork contract for the Taubman Prestige Outlets in Chesterfield. “At the time, it was a huge job for us and opened the door to other projects,” he recalls. “Now, there's probably not a year that goes by that we don't bid on one or two $20-$30 million jobs.”

Collaborating with teammates is one of Marler’s favorite parts of the job. “They're all smart, they know their stuff and they're easy to get along with,” he says.

Marler and his family live outside of Festus in Jefferson County. His oldest daughter, 26, works in the medical field and his 23-year-old daughter is pursuing a career as a veterinarian. His son, 21, is enrolled in the aerospace and aeronautical engineering program at Missouri University of Science and Technology. “He wants to build rockets for Elon Musk at SpaceX,” Marler says. “I said go for it.”


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