Our Leadership

Novak Construction leaders are hands-on executives with decades-long knowledge of every aspect of construction from the ground up.

  • John Novak

    Founder & President

    As President, John is responsible for the strategic business planning and profitable growth of Novak Construction Company. Through John’s vision, tenacity and anticipation of prevailing market needs, Novak Construction has successfully transitioned to become one of Chicago’s premier general contractors and construction managers.

    John attended Southern Illinois University. As a trained carpenter, he founded Novak Construction in 1980. John’s goal was to create a commercial firm that would be based on strong client relationships, superior quality work and a portfolio of various well‐known brands and project types. Today they span the retail, institutional and multi‐family sectors. John’s philanthropic efforts focus on a variety of causes – from education and the disadvantaged, to supporting hospitals and equine causes.

  • Mimi Novak

    Chief Operating Officer

    Mimi has worked for Novak Construction since 2010, and informally her entire life. Mimi provides executive leadership and oversight to Novak Operations both in the field and office. Mimi ensures our teams deliver best-in-class construction services to our clients with a focus on innovative solutions, risk mitigation, safety, QA/QC, and providing the highest level of customer service.

    Mimi received her M.B.A. at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. She earned a B.S. at Santa Clara University. She enjoys going to yoga, horseback riding, and running with her dogs in her free time.

  • Dan Miller

    Chief Information Officer

    As CIO, Dan is responsible for all Novak technology. With 20 years of technical and project management experience, Dan prioritizes security, automation and systems/process improvement.

    Prior to joining Novak, Dan has held CIO positions with Gold Coast Tickets and the real estate development company, Optima, Inc. Starting his career as a Technology Support Supervisor for United Parcel Service, he also served as Corporate MIS Manager at Ty, Inc. and technology consultant to Ty Warner Hotels and Resorts.

    Dan earned a B.S. in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University. He enjoys golfing and riding his classic Harley Davidson.

  • John Determann

    Director, Pre-construction

    John Determann joined the Novak team in 2000. He is responsible for coordinating and overseeing the pre-construction phase of Novak projects in order to meet cost objectives.

    John works closely with each Project Director to prepare detailed estimates for each phase of construction, assembles the estimate, and conceives and analyzes cost models during the design development and bidding periods. He ensures that potential risk factors have been evaluated and value engineering has been applied, in addition to striving to establish an “iron clad” GMP on each individual assignment.

    John organizes and leads the transition meeting between the project operations and the pre-construction teams and conducts site visits for in‐progress projects to verify status of estimates versus work‐in‐place for comparison to the estimate and budget.

    John attended Triton College and matriculated at DePaul University, concentrating on construction and business‐related coursework. He enjoys hunting, boating and spending time in Wisconsin with his family.



  • Jim Hempleman

    Project Director

    A 25-year veteran of Novak, Jim brings his design knowledge to each project. He works with all participants in the construction cycle, including owners, architects, engineers and subcontractors. He manages ongoing client relationships and cultivates new opportunities that compliment Novak’s portfolio.

    Additionally, Jim focuses on enhancing the younger ranks of Novak Construction by actively recruiting new talent from the top construction management and civil engineering programs in the country, such as Purdue University and the University of Illinois, as well as overseeing summer internships for the firm.

    Jim holds M.S. degrees in both Architecture and Civil Engineering, as well as a B.S. in Architectural Studies – all from the University of Illinois in Champaign‐Urbana. He enjoys snow and water skiing, spending time with his family in Wisconsin and running marathons.

  • Anand Nandula

    Project Director

    Anand Nandula is a results‐oriented, hands‐on Construction Manager with over 15 years of experience in managing and successfully completing multimillion-dollar commercial projects. Anand’s areas of expertise include design/drawing review, estimating/bid preparation and evaluation, contract negotiations, short‐listing of subcontractors, budget preparation and implementation, contract management, project scheduling and, as important a skillset overall, client, architect, consultants and engineers project coordination.

    In addition to the large‐scale retail projects that Anand oversees currently, he has managed a variety of projects in the Novak healthcare and senior living sectors as well.

    Anand received a B.S. in Civil Engineering, specializing in Construction Management at the Regional Engineering College in India. He earned his M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Illinois. He enjoys spending time with family and traveling.

  • Karen Rugh

    Project Director

    Karen has been in the industry for 14 years has been involved with many facets of the construction industry. She has extensive knowledge in the retail sector, working on nearly 20 Whole Foods Market projects in Illinois, Indiana and Minnesota.

    In early 2018, she was named Novak’s first Female Project Director. She understands a project’s life cycle and has a “take care of business” approach.

    Karen received her B.S. in Civil Engineering, cum laude, from Washington University-School of Engineering and Applied Science in St. Louis, Missouri.  During her free time, she enjoys lakefront picnics, traveling often, museums and Chicago’s amazing restaurants. She is a city dweller married with two young daughters and a Norwich terrier.

    Karen is LEED, AP.



  • Bob Burris

    Project Director

    Bob brings a strong combination of project management, field supervision, and estimating experience to every project. He has a deep knowledge of the retail market and experience with both ground-up and TI projects. He has a can-do attitude with a focus on the finish.

    Bob received his B.S. in Construction Engineering from Southern Illinois University and is OSHA 10‐hour certified. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his three daughters and working on the restoration of his ’69 Chevy Truck.



  • Steve Hough

    Steve Hough

    Project Director

    Steve joined Novak Construction in 2007 as an intern and worked his way to Project Manager by 2012. He continued to build his experience with another general contractor on commercial projects throughout Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin that ranged from $200,000 to $32,000,000. Now a Project Director at Novak, Steve oversees a variety of product types and is heavily involved in owner relations, team management, and subcontractor coordination.

    Steve received his B.S. in Building Construction Management from Purdue University. Outside of work, he enjoys carpentry, gardening, visiting breweries, going to see movies, and spending time with his two kids.

  • Andy Kivari

    Senior Project Manager

    Andy brings a breadth of experience to his Novak projects which have traversed the retail, senior living facilities and affordable housing sectors. Andy takes the lead in team meetings and communications, ensuring costs and scheduling will achieve project targets. Often times, Andy can be seen mentoring Novak’s junior team members.

    Andy earned a B.A. in Business Management from Northwood University. In addition, he holds an A.A. in Applied Science, Civil Engineering Technology from Michigan Technological University. He enjoys trout fishing and watching sprint car races because they are “super fast.”





  • Lowell Zarzuela

    Senior Project Manager

    Lowell’s experience includes work in the public and industrial sectors. He brings a strong business background and client service to each project focusing on reaching goals and early project completion.  Growing up in Chicago, Lowell takes pride in being a part of the construction team for the Maggie Daley Park adjacent to Millennium Park in downtown Chicago.

    Lowell received his M.B.A. and B.A. in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago. He enjoys spending time with his family, attending concerts, watching movies, and cheering MMA and boxing events.

  • Byron DeBord

    Senior Project Manager

    Byron focuses on managing retail client open-store remodels, as well as ground-up new construction. He has been involved in a number of complex projects in both Suburban and downtown Chicago locations. Most of his assignments have involved working with the client and architect during pre-construction to shape cost, scope, and other project criteria.

    Byron received his B.A. from Columbia University in New York. He is LEED AP and USGBC Certified. He enjoys Chicago’s culinary and musical cultural offerings, is an avid golfer and is involved in U.S. Masters Swimming.


  • Robbie Stangle

    Robbie Stangle

    Senior Project Manager

    Robbie is an 18-year industry professional. He previously worked at Power Construction, Skender Construction, and Reed Construction as a Project Executive. Robbie is an expert in project management, business development, and developing the skills of operations team members. Throughout his career, he has worked in many market sectors with most of his time spent in the healthcare market.

    Robbie earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management from Westwood College. He enjoys coaching his son’s baseball and basketball teams, hanging out in the backyard on the weekends, and boating and golfing.

  • Grey Novak

    Project Manager

    Grey Novak brings 11 years’ experience to his commercial construction projects. He has served in multiple roles, and his level of experience has grown as he has had the opportunity to provide services to clients in various markets. Grey ensures that all project goals are met and every detail of a project is covered. His responsibilities include the overall successful planning, execution, monitoring, control and closure of each project.

    Grey enjoys meeting new people and spending time with family and friends. He also enjoys hunting and traveling.

  • Kevin Thieme

    Kevin Thieme

    Project Manager

    Kevin joined Novak with over 12 years of experience in the construction industry as a Project Manager. He has previously worked for Bulley & Andrews, AECOM Hunt, and most recently with LEVEL General Contractor. Kevin possesses an experienced skill set in project estimating, scheduling, project controls, and a client-centric approach to construction.

    Kevin earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Human Science, Construction Management from Colorado State University. He enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, as well as fishing, hunting, horticulture, and working on his house.

  • Mike Lestina

    Project Manager

    Mike brings a strong combination of project management and field supervision experience to every project. He has a deep knowledge of the retail market through his work on projects for Costco and Aldi, as well as experience with both ground-up and TI projects.

  • Mike Krzyszton

    Project Manager

    Mike has been with Novak since 2010 and has been working solely with the Costco team since 2015. He is involved in contractor scopes, contract negotiations and monitoring job budgets. He also handles day-to-day owner, architect and contractor issues and coordinates scheduling.

    Mike received his B.A. in Industrial Technology & Management from Western Illinois University. He enjoys camping, watching sporting events and participating in fantasy football. He also likes to barbecue and cook at home.

  • Ryan Powell

    Ryan Powell

    Project Manager

    Ryan has spent his entire career at Novak Construction and has quickly become an expert in complex construction on multiple product types. He thrives in an environment of fast-tracked construction and is a solutions provider for his clients.

    Ryan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Building Construction Management from Purdue University. He enjoys cooking and traveling with his wife Jessica, and spending time with their dog Millie.

  • Saliha Adeeb Headshot

    Saliha Addeeb

    Project Manager

    Saliha joined Novak in 2015 as a project engineer and has been moving up the ranks ever since. Within five years Saliha was elevated to an assistant project manager role, and in 2022 she was promoted to project manager. Saliha has experience working on a variety of asset types around the country, including industrial, retail, and mixed-use residential. She is an adept team player and enjoys coordinating with all members of the construction and client teams that she is a part of.

    Saliha received a Bachelor of Science degree in Construction Management from Purdue University in 2015. In her free time, she enjoys boxing, hiking, road trips, and traveling internationally.

  • Bill Pounders

    Safety Director

    With over three decades of construction experience, Bill oversees the Novak Safety Program, as well as all fleet vehicles and equipment. Bill’s responsibilities include performing safety audits/inspections of all job sites on a weekly basis, promoting a zero‐incident/accident record for the company, developing a comprehensive safety training program and continuously instructing all field employees.

    Bill is certified in the following: OSHA Construction Outreach Trainer, EPA Storm Water  Inspector, Forklift Operator, Fall Protection Competent Person Trainer and Flagger. Bill holds a Bachelor of Science in Construction from Northern Illinois University, and is also an Instructor of Construction Management at Waubonsee Community College.

  • Crystal Novak, HR Manager

    Crystal Novak

    Vice President, Novak Development

    Crystal has performed many roles during her tenure with Novak Construction including administrative, project management, and human resources. Crystal transitioned to Novak Development in January of 2022. She now assists in guiding and managing the development arm of Novak in alignment with the firm’s overall business strategy and core values.

    Crystal earned an M.A. from Northwestern University and a B.A. from the University of Oregon. Her children are her greatest passion! She also enjoys hiking, making music, and vacationing anywhere near a hot spring.

  • Jake Paschen, EVP of Novak Development

    Jake Paschen

    Executive Vice President of Development

    Jake is the Executive Vice President of Novak Development Company and is responsible for its real estate development and investment activities and its portfolio of retail, industrial and multi-family properties. Jake has wide-ranging experience in all aspects of real estate investment, ownership, development, asset management, and management and is responsible for all aspects of operations and all critical decisions.

    Prior to joining Novak, Jake ran a group of real estate operating companies and a portfolio of office, industrial and multi-family properties owned by a high-net-worth family based in Chicago.

    During his free time, Jake enjoys spending time in the outdoors, fly fishing, boating, water skiing, snow skiing, and spending time with his family.

  • Charles Bowling

    Controller, Real Estate Development

    As Controller for the Real Estate Development side of Novak Construction, Charles is responsible for all accounting duties and tenant accounts. He earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accountancy from Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Indiana, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

    He enjoys gardening,vacationing anywhere in Wisconsin and spending time with his wife and three children.