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Otago’s leadership team was formed along with the Silver Fern Companies, which brings together individuals with more than 70 years of combined experience in the Arizona land development industry. We have the experience to identify and mitigate problems before they arise. From project conception through the design phase to final backbone infrastructure and common area completion, we navigate the critical path to successful on-time and on-budget project delivery.
2022-10-27 Steve Ochoa_400_circle

Stephen Ochoa

Principal of Otago Development and Silver Fern Companies

Stephen joined Silver Fern Companies in September 1998. As Otago Development’s leader, he brings hands-on construction and oversight experience to provide cost-effective solutions to our clients. His passion for demolition and construction started during his time in the United States Marine Corps. Stephen enlisted right out of high school and served with 1st Marine Combat Engineer Battalion stationed at Camp Pendleton, San Clemente, California. During his time, he served in “Operation Restore Hope” which allowed him to see a different kind of life in Mogadishu, Somalia. He credits the Marines for providing him the skillset to be an effective and dedicated leader.

Prior to his Principal role for Otago Development and Silver Fern Companies, Stephen served in a variety of positions within the firms, including Vice President, Director of Construction, and Project Manager. Today, Stephen focuses on business operations while overseeing all aspects of current and future developments. His solid, industry-honed experience ensures clients receive the best knowledge and foresight — ensuring projects are designed and constructed seamlessly.


John Nagel

Senior Vice President

As Senior Vice President, John manages daily operations of the construction and land development phase of projects. He brings more than 20+ years of experience to the field, as well as a Bachelor of Environmental Science degree, and is adept at problem-solving and coordinating efforts between engineers, architects, municipalities and contractors to achieve the successful delivery of on-time and on-budget projects for our clients. Prior to joining Otago Development, John worked for Campbell Development and KB Homes.


Jason Meyers, Director of Forward Planning

Jason brings over 20 years of experience as Director of Forward Planning to Otago Development.  He holds a BS degree in Geology with a Hydrogeology Emphasis from Northern Arizona University. Prior to joining Otago Development, Jason worked for Taylor Woodrow Homes, Taylor Morrison Homes, and Associated Asset Management (AAM).  His history involves bringing projects from concept to completion on Master Plan Communities to infill sites.  Jason currently directs and oversees the company’s Entitlements and Land Planning responsibilities.  His extensive construction knowledge and experience is an asset in the aspect of entitlements, which include zoning, land planning, platting, engineering and dry utility coordination.  Jason works diligently to maneuver through the many obstacles when entitling a project.  He collaborates with governing agencies, utility companies, contractors, consultants and our clients to ensure the success of a project.

Robert Butteweg - Project Estimator

Robert provides support to the Entitlement and Land Planning team by bringing his valued experience and knowledge to the project budget/estimating process during the initial phase of projects. Combined with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Construction Management, Robert brings more than 25+ years of experience in civil roadway/utility design and site development.


Austin Brown, Project Manager

Austin joined Otago Development in 2018 and is involved in many project-related aspects of our business, including preparation of comprehensive bid packages, overseeing daily activities as it relates to the field, project reporting, managing schedules, reviewing proposals and budgets and preparing bid comparisons relating to scope. Austin also manages critical path timelines to ensure on time deliverables to the municipalities. Prior to joining our company, Austin gained valuable experience working as a heavy equipment operator.

Ryan Beard - Assistant Project Manager

Ryan joined Silver Fern in August 2021. As Assistant Project Manager, he is responsible for reporting directly to the Project Manager and assists with monthly draws and billing, as well as any other accounting tasks required. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Finance, Ryan has the knowledge and understanding of accounting principles with exceptional organizational skills to assist in managing projects efficiently. As Assistant Project Manager, Ryan reviews construction drawings, property reports, proposals and plan submittals, as well as assisting the Directors of Land Development with the coordination of daily construction activities.

Jason Elich, Project Superintendent

Jason Elich is a seasoned professional in the construction industry with a wealth of experience and a passion for excellence. Hailing from the scenic landscapes of Arizona and spending the last 25 years mastering his craft in the dynamic environment of Colorado, Jason brings a unique perspective to his role as a project superintendent. With a diverse background that includes stints at renowned firms such as Spectrum Builders, FNF Construction, and MnH Flooring, he has honed his skills and expertise in various facets of the field. Beyond his professional endeavors, Jason finds solace and excitement in the thrills of snowboarding, skateboarding, and the discipline of weightlifting. Dedicated, driven, and always seeking new challenges, Jason Elich is a true embodiment of the spirit of innovation and progress in the construction world.

Morgan Busby, Project Coordinator

Graduating from Central Washington University with a Bachelors in Spanish and a minor in Latin American Studies, Morgan brings enthusiasm and a love for learning in her day to day work at Silver Fern Companies and Otago Development. She found her interest for construction and land development while helping a restaurant through their tenant improvements. Morgan provides direct support to the Director of Land Development and Project Managers through contract coordination, permitting and homebuilder closeout packages.


Medina Barut, Accounting Director

As Construction Accounting Director, Medina brings a wealth of experience and expertise to the financial side of construction projects. With a strong focus on precision and efficiency, Medina oversees financial aspects of projects, ensuring seamless draw processes, adherence to budgets, and timely lien waiver releases from inception to completion. Medina and her team are entrusted with the responsibility of developing and maintaining project budgets, assuring that expenditures align with financial plans and goals for maximum client satisfaction while minimizing legal risks and providing smooth project transition.

Elisa Francisco - Project Accountant

With a decade of experience in the landscaping industry, four years dedicated to HR functions, and 6 years as staff accountant, Elisa Francisco is a versatile team member. Possessing in depth knowledge of construction finance and procedures, she strives to exemplify the highest level of integrity in every task. Elisa is driven to contribute to the company’s extraordinary growth.


Zahra Layani, Operations Manager

As Operations Manager, Zahra fosters a culture of continuous improvement. With a passion for optimizing processes and solving complex operational challenges, and bringing her 20+ years of international experience, Zahra oversees strategic planning, budgeting, HR, invoicing, quality control, compliance and policies and procedures. Since joining in late 2012 Zahra has seamlessly worked to ensure a smoothly run and efficient business for both our internal team and multifaceted clients.

Eileen Mulder, Administrative Assistant

Eileen became a valuable member of the Silver Fern Companies and Otago Development team in 2023, assuming the role of Administrative Assistant. Hailing from California with a robust background boasting 3 years of construction insurance experience and 2 years in escrow services, Eileen arrives with a wealth of industry-specific expertise. Her dedication is firmly rooted in upholding the utmost standards of office efficiency and actively participating in the collective success of the team.