MORAGA -- It's easy to become Moraga Business Person of the Year. All you have to do is dig sewer ditches in northeast Iowa, build a processing plant for an Indonesian nickel mine with 1,000 employees, satisfactorily relocate a Kentucky town to make way for a limestone quarry and design industrial rotary ovens as long as football fields.
Coldwell Banker Residential Broker Jason Evans, elected by the Moraga Chamber of Commerce in February for its 2014 business person award, has done all of the above, and more. Top on the achievement list? Satisfied homeowner clients and 41 years of happy marriage to his wife Carol.
The first person he called upon learning of the honor was his wife, Evans said.
"I'm on the (chamber) board, so they just told me in a meeting. My wife said, 'You deserve it: you work harder than anyone I know.' But she might be a little biased."
Valerie Cook-Watkin, managing broker at Coldwell Banker's Orinda office, was no less adamant.
"Jason demonstrates a commitment to the Moraga community with a determined focus and an open heart. He never questions 'why' or 'how;' he simply moves forward to get the job done," she wrote in an email.
Working for his father's Floyd Evans Construction company in Iowa got Evans used to having dirt under his fingernails. Earning a degree in civil, construction and environmental engineering from Iowa State University gave him a mental tool kit.
Pulling permits for infill property his father subdivided and turned into housing developments taught him to value integrity, honesty and accuracy. Those three principles drive his present-day occupation and community volunteer activities.
"My career and local service choices have followed a pattern," Evans said. "Creating projects people will enjoy after I'm long gone is what motivates me."
After graduating college, Evans set out to build and design "the biggest in the world." He worked for large construction firms, designing plants that hauled nickel pallets out of jungles and blasted mountainsides to release building materials. Working with scientists, engineers and "brilliant minds of all ages," he said, was his favorite payback.
Before joining Coldwell, Evans bought and refurbished distressed homes, many of them in Pittsburg.
In the community, Evans is a finisher. Recalling being given only a few weeks to pull the Town's Fourth of July celebration together in 2013 -- and succeeding -- he said, "I don't take all the credit, but I can get the best out of people."
Evans is Moraga Valley Kiwanis President, Moraga Movers Vice President, a member of the Moraga Design Review Board and Planning Commissions, and extensively involved with a number of the town's educational, environmental and civic activities.
As for Moraga's business climate, it has a dual personality.
"We have unique, positive elements that work well for home businesses and for young, technology-related startups," he said. "But the storefront businesses have high challenges. We don't have drive-by traffic, which is what made Carol and me want to live here."
Evans said networks of support and awareness campaigns are needed to stop "leakage out of Moraga."
Ironically, the "fault" that led Evans to his sole professional regret -- a sometimes overabundance of optimistic energy -- might be the answer to boosting Moraga's economy.
While buying and turning around distressed properties, he said he paid more attention to perfecting projects than to the world around him.
"I was focused on my clients and too optimistic," he said. "I thought the economy would be getting better, but things turned downward."
The experience taught him to always view the market with a wide lens, but it didn't dim his instinctive "get it done" attitude. And it hasn't changed the lessons he's learned -- avoid mistakes with careful planning, have a collection of projects that need tinkering and keep your red-with-a-white-top '66 Corvette humming.