G&C Profile: Chris Renelli, VP of Operations 

Like many of his generation, Chris Renelli found himself drawn to two fundamentals of any young man’s life: a car and a job. 

His car was a 1968 Oldsmobile 442, a powerful American classic he bought and rebuilt in high school alongside his dad. Once they got it humming, the new set of wheels helped with life’s other imperative, arriving on time to a summer maintenance job at an elementary school. 

Naturally, those roads led to more roads, guiding Renelli to his current position as VP of Operations at Giffin & Crane, where he’s been since 2005. “I just kind of fell into the construction world, enjoyed it, and stuck with it,” he says.

Raised in Santa Barbara’s Santa Ynez Valley, Renelli’s interest in homebuilding stretches back to high school drafting classes. “I had a great teacher who introduced me to drafting by hand, by computer, and eventually 3-D modeling,” he remembers. “Those three years of drafting classes really shaped my future.”

Around the same time, while he was working at the elementary school, Renelli met a commercial builder based in San Luis Obispo, where he was headed for college. Renelli started with the firm within his first month attending California Polytechnic State University. He worked part time during school, and spent his spring and summer breaks working full time for the builder, all the while gaining valuable training and education in everything from running an office to project management. He also ran small jobs, working onsite when needed.

During a college field trip to Santa Barbara, Renelli and his classmates toured two Giffin & Crane estate projects, one on the beach in Carpinteria, the other in the foothills above Montecito, off East Mountain Drive. The experience put Giffin & Crane on Renelli’s mental list of potential employers after graduation.

Grabbing his diploma in 2003 — a Bachelor of Science in Construction Management from Cal Poly’s College of Architecture & Environmental Design — Renelli jumped in full time with the commercial builder, working mostly “on the office side of construction,” he says, taking on more responsibility as his real-world resumé expanded. “All those college classes taught me a lot, certainly,” he adds. “But there’s nothing like hands-on experience.”

Shifting to Giffin & Crane a few years later, Renelli joined the estimating team to help manage projects from initial client meetings through the start of construction, tabulating preliminary estimates, bidding with the trades, and helping to decide which subcontractors, vendors, and superintendents were right for the job, and ultimately preparing detailed scope-of-work proposals and construction schedules. In 2016, he was promoted from Senior Estimator to VP of Operations.

“I’ve been extremely lucky to be surrounded by great people throughout my life,” Renelli says. “Family, teachers, supervisors, all the great people at Giffin & Crane, and most importantly my wife, Brittany, and our daughter. I feel very fortunate.”

As for the Oldsmobile? “It’s covered in dust. I don’t get it on the road as often as I’d like, but it’s sure a lot of fun when I do, and it’s got a lot of sentimental value.”

(Photo: Eliot Crowley)


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