Catching up with a grad: Builder Seth Maze, SVHS ‘00
Contracting has always been a part of Seth Maze’s life, starting in his early childhood with family and friends.
“I grew up around it. I always loved that hands-on aspect of life, you know, as a kid building Legos, working on cars,” said Maze.
“It’s sort of a family trade. My dad dabbled in it, my uncle was a contractor and another uncle was a contractor,” he said. “I was a hands-on person and always enjoyed the construction pieces, learning about how things go together and learning about the elements of construction.”
He also had family friends within the community working in the business, so by high school, he was already working on a part-time basis as a carpenter and handy man. He mostly did freelance work while working for several contractors, as well.
Maze graduated from Sonoma Valley High School in 2000 and went to Santa Rosa Junior College. He took general education classes while deciding what career he truly wanted to pursue.
“The only real degree I saw applicable to what I saw as a career path was an architecture degree,” he said. “However, I didn’t feel like that felt right because that would have me strapped to a desk in an office all day long and not actually working in the field like I like.”
Then Maze discovered the construction management degree and transferred to Chico State University.
“That sent me on my career path in terms of professional construction,” he said.
After college, Maze joined forces with former work associates and founded his business, GMH Builders, based out of Sonoma.
Maze says a key piece to his inspiration for starting the business was, “just wanting to have autonomy and wanting to be local.”
“I’ve always felt myself as a community person and my work in construction didn’t have me working in my hometown,” he said. “There’s not a lot of large commercial projects in Sonoma and so we find ourselves working mostly outside of Sonoma Valley, working over in the North Bay. To be in Sonoma I needed an office in Sonoma, so I needed to start my own company.”
Maze feels that there are pros and cons to starting a business in the same town he grew up in. While there is a sense of nostalgia and familiarity, he says there is also the occasional desire to see a new place.
“But I feel like I did that. I went away to college. I worked outside of town,” he said.
Maze has four children, all under the age of 7, so he’s grateful to be working so close to home. He’s right down the street from their elementary school and he’s able to drive or pick them up, and even stop by home for family reading time.
“We try to stay together as much as we can during our family time. We like to travel and go on trips,” he said. They oftentimes visit Tahoe for a change of scenery.
Maze says his wife, Jenna, always reminds him that family comes first.
“She keeps all that going and family life a priority, and I appreciate and love her for that,” he said.
And when he is focused on his career, he finds his work very fulfilling, especially when it contributes to the community.
“Really in the end what’s most gratifying about projects has to do with the process and how great or how bad it was during construction. Usually they all work out pretty well. It’s who’s using them in the end, what’s the end result that provides for the community,” he said.
One of his favorite projects that he has worked on is a new wing for the Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital emergency department. It was a complex project working in the hospital around patients, but when visiting the hospital himself after his father had a heart attack last year, he felt how rewarding it was to help the community through his job.
Other notable recent projects include building the new Sonoma Fit Petaluma, the Bear Republic Brewpub in Rohnert Park, the Carneros Inn Marketplace and several Sonoma estates.
Looking forward, Maze plans to continue working on GMH Builders’ growth. The business is only three years old and has already out-performed its initial business plan.
Maze resonates with the business’ motto and is proud of the way his work pays off.
“Our motto is ‘Building for life’ and it’s not necessarily literal, like I’ve been building all my life,” Maze said. “It’s, you know, we’re building for the users, we’re building for the community.”