A one-time chief executive officer of an international traffic safety firm and a top national engineer have been selected for induction into the 2012 American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) Foundation’s “Transportation Development Hall of Fame.”
Launched in 2010, the hall honors individuals or families from the public and private sectors who have made extraordinary contributions to U.S. transportation development during their careers.
A committee of judges comprised of construction industry journalists reviewed the nominees and selected:
• Harry Heltzer, former chairman and chief executive officer of 3M Company; and
• James R. Madara, senior vice president of Gannett Fleming.
Both men were inducted in the Transportation Design & Construction Industry Leaders (Individuals or Families) category, which honors men, women and families who have made significant contributions — beyond just having successful businesses or careers — that have notably helped advance the interests and image of the transportation design, construction and safety industry.
Harry Heltzer, 1911-2005
Heltzer’s legacy at 3M spanned five decades. He came to be known as the “father of reflective material.” He joined 3M in 1933 with a metallurgical engineering degree from the University of Minnesota. He quickly gravitated to the firm’s mineral laboratory, where his interest in the field of optics and retro-reflectivity led him to join a fledgling team of 3M researchers working with glass bead optical elements to improve the visual characteristics and durability of traffic devices. The group’s pioneering work — first in pavement marking applications and later in reflective sign sheeting — led to the first fully reflective traffic sign being erected at a Minneapolis intersection in 1939.
He later oversaw production of what became known as “Scotchlite Reflective Sheeting,” and then served as vice president and general manager of the reflective products division. In 1970, he was named chairman and CEO, and was credited with expanding 3M’s global reach and international growth.
Heltzer was appointed by President Lyndon Johnson to the “President’s National Highway Safety Advisory Committee.” He held leadership positions at the Highway Users Federation, International Road Federation, National Safety Council, Automotive Safety Foundation, International Chamber of Commerce, and U.S.-USSR Trade & Economic Council.
He passed away in 2005 at age 94.
Jim Madara, a senior vice president with Gannett Fleming, has been making a mark as an engineer, volunteer association leader and good corporate citizen for nearly 60 years. He served as the firm’s first general manager and established its first human resources and business development divisions. A registered engineer in 12 states, he helped lead the expansion of its operations in Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and international projects in the Far East. He was a principal on major rail transit, interstate highway and toll-road projects.
He has been an ARTBA member for more than 50 years and his leadership positions are unmatched: 1993 chairman, senior vice chairman, treasurer, western region vice chairman, planning and design division president, membership development chairman, Foundation trustee, and chairman of the Past Chairman’s Council. Over many years, Madara has played a key role in helping significantly boost the association’s membership base and service programs.
One of the most visible impacts of Madara’s many contributions also can be found in his community. He has made hundreds of presentations to civic, local and church groups about the importance of infrastructure investment to jobs, the economy, and quality of life. He mentors middle school students in math and sciences in the Allentown, Pa., area, volunteers at the Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Center and is involved in numerous other civic activities.
Heltzer and Madara will be honored during a special ARTBA Foundation Awards dinner June 2013.