Editorial: 05.15.2024

Meet Santiago Mendez, the Newest Addition to Castle’s Design-Build Team

Santiago Mendez

A chance encounter at the Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl victory parade in February 2023 proved to be a pivotal moment in the career of Santiago Mendez.

Celebrating alongside thousands of fellow football fans, Mendez crossed paths with Castle Project Manager Tanner Bunch, someone he previously worked with as a Castle summer intern. “I said hi and told him I wanted to return to Castle,” Mendez recalls. “I was kind of joking, but not really joking.”

About a week later, Mendez received a text from Castle Design-Build Director Christie Brinkman to check his potential interest in a civil engineer position with the company’s civil design-build team.   

He jumped at the opportunity.

Since rejoining Castle as a full-time employee about a year ago, Mendez has gained hands-on experience working on a broad range of projects. Most recently, he has assisted with the design of utilities and infrastructure for the proposed Gateway South mixed-use development along the downtown St. Louis riverfront. He’s also assisting with sewer and water connections for the construction trailers at the jobsite of the new SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital.
“What I like most about my job is that I can be involved in all phases of a project, so I can gain more experience overall,” he says.

Currently, Mendez works out of Kansas City, but he plans to relocate to the St. Louis region with his girlfriend, Ashley, in July.

In the meantime, technology helps him stay closely connected with his St. Louis-based colleagues. “I am always on Teams and video calls working closely with them and asking lots of questions,” he says, crediting Castle’s team-based culture for always making him feel welcomed and valued.

Acclimating to America

Born and raised in Guanajuato, Mexico, Mendez grew up on a farm and developed an early aptitude for building.

“I had a little tractor and Legos that I really enjoyed playing with,” he says, recalling an aunt who encouraged him to become an architect after watching him build an attachment for his tractor. “In middle school, I started looking into what architects do, but civil engineering seemed more fun to me.”  

When he was a high school freshman, Mendez and his family moved to Hannibal, Missouri, to be close to his stepdad’s company in Quincy, Illinois. “It was a community with very few Spanish speakers, so it was pretty challenging to say the least,” he says. His high school enrolled him in Spanish classes to help him learn English.“While everyone was learning Spanish, I was learning English.”

As a high school senior, he participated in a job shadowing program with the Missouri Department of Transportation and gained additional hands-on experience as an intern the following summer. 

After graduation, Mendez enrolled in the dual civil engineering program offered by Missouri State University and Missouri University of Science & Technology. He also completed additional internships for a heavy civil and marine construction company in New Orleans as well as Castle.

Prior to joining Castle’s civil design-build team, he spent a year working at an infractructure engineering firm. “It felt more like a 9-to-5 job, and I just wasn’t passionate about it,” he says, explaining why he was eager to return to Castle.

Outside the office, Mendez enjoys working out, playing golf, running and hanging out with friends. “Getting to the gym in the morning is the best way to start my day,” he says. “It sets the tone for the rest of the day.”

He’s also an active participant in the Kansas City chapter of the Design-Build Institute of America (DBIA) and looks forward to continuing his involvement in the DBIA St. Louis chapter.


Sign up to receive Castle Insights