This year's honoree is Don Jensen, CEO and Founder of Jensen Precast.
Don Jensen has been a longtime supporter of JDRF so it is a great honor for him to be recognized at this year’s JDRF Northern Nevada Vision Gala. Don is a local entrepreneur that founded Jensen Precast, a precast concrete company, back in 1968 and this year marks their 50th anniversary.
Don was born and raised in Reno on a small, family-owned chicken ranch, where the interchange of I-580 and E. 2nd Street/Glendale Avenue now sits. While attending Reno High School he worked part-time pouring and selling concrete parking curbs. After graduating high school in 1963, he did odd jobs, tried a couple of semesters at the University of Nevada, and joined the United States Army Reserve in 1966.
When Don’s first son was born in 1967, he started thinking about what he should do when he “grew up”. He went to work for a friend of his dad who owned a business called Washoe Septic Tank Service, which was an excavating contractor, manufacturer and installer of septic tanks. When business slowed down, the owner of Washoe Septic Tank Service offered to sell the precast and pumping portion of his business to Don. So, in 1968, Don bought Washoe Septic Tank Service for $3,000, on credit, which was the beginning of his career.
Over the next 50 years, Don built his business based on his family values of integrity, respect and excellence. He believes that leadership is about making a positive impact and moving the ball forward, while knowing that you never stop learning or adapting. With leadership, grit and determination, by taking some calculated risks and building a team of employees, customers, vendors and business associates, he has grown the company from a one man show into what it is today.
Jensen Precast is one of the largest independently-owned precast concrete companies in the United States. They have approximately eight hundred employees with eleven manufacturing facilities throughout Nevada, California, Arizona, and Hawaii. They manufacture twenty-two distinct precast product lines, fabricated metal products, and polymer concrete products. Their products are used in commercial, and residential construction, specializing in underground utilities, water and wastewater treatment and much more. Some of their major customers and specifiers are civil and general engineers, utility companies like NV Energy, AT&T, NDOT, Caltrans, PG&E, Southern California Edison, LADWP, excavating contractors such as Q&D, Granite, Teichert, and Gerhardt Construction, to name a few.
The success of Jensen Precast has allowed Don to generously give back to the communities in which he lives, works and does business. He is proud to support charities like JDRF that provide vital funding for medical research that can improve the quality of life for millions of people. Don gives back to charity so he never loses sight of his humble beginnings.
As Don gets closer to retirement, the Jensen Family has begun transitioning the business from the first generation to the second generation. Don’s four children actively work in the business, with his eldest son, Eric Jensen, now serving as president of Jensen Precast. They have set up a Board of Directors, a Family Council and Leadership Team, all with the purpose of perpetuating the family business for future generations. This has allowed Don a little more time to play and relax. He enjoys spending time with Kandi and his family, including five grandchildren, traveling, riding his Harley, doing some fishing and hunting, and enjoying Nevada Wolf Pack Athletics.
JDRF is the leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes (T1D) research and because of generous donor and partner support, we have been able to direct over $2 billion toward research. JDRF is an organization built on a grassroots model of people connecting in their local communities, collaborating regionally for efficiency and broader fundraising impact, and uniting on a national stage to pool resources, passion, and energy. JDRF collaborates with academic institutions, policymakers, and corporate and industry partners to develop and deliver a pipeline of innovative therapies to people living with T1D. Our vision is to create a world without T1D. For more information, please visit jdrf.org or follow us on Twitter: @JDRF.
JDRF Northern Nevada Chapter
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Reno, NV 89511