One of Florida’s leading association executives, a family of highway and bridge contractors from Virginia and a Wisconsin concrete paving pioneer have been selected for induction into the nation’s highest place of honor in the transportation design and construction industry.
As part of its 25th anniversary in 2010, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association Transportation Development Foundation (ARTBA-TDF) created a “Hall of Fame” to honor 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 that included nine construction industry journalists reviewed the nominees and selected the Hall’s inaugural class:
• Bob Burleson, president of the Florida Transportation Builders’ Association (FTBA)
• Stan and Jack Lanford, of Lanford Brothers Company and Adams Construction, respectively, in Roanoke, Va.
• Philip Koehring, founder of the Koehring Machine Company in Milwaukee, Wis.
“The transportation design and construction industry is full of visionaries and game changers like the Lanford brothers, Bob Burleson and Philip Koehring who have demonstrated exceptional leadership over their lifetime and played an important role in helping shape development of America’s transportation network,” said ARTBA-TDF Chairman Leo Vecellio, the chairman and chief executive officer of Vecellio Group Inc., headquartered in West Palm Beach, Fla. “The Hall is our way of giving these individuals the recognition they deserve and sharing their stories with the general public and elected officials so they better understand the importance of strong transportation investment.”
Nominees were considered in two categories.
Transportation Design & Construction Industry Leaders (Individuals or Families)
This category 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.
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos calls Bob Burleson a “catalyst for change.” Burleson has spent 40 years in the transportation construction industry. From 1970 to 1988, he was a top executive with the Wiley N. Jackson Company in Virginia, and played a key role in the company’s growth.
In 1989, he assumed the chief executive post at FTBA when the association was facing serious fiscal challenges. In less than seven years, he returned the association to strong fiscal health and retired the association’s building mortgage — 23 years early. He also managed to boost membership after years of decline.
Consistent with FTBA’s advocacy mission, Burleson has led hard-fought legislative victories on the industry’s behalf. Under his leadership, the association helped secure in 1990 the largest funding increase for transportation in Florida history. He championed legislation that doubled fines for motorists in construction zones in 1996. He helped create the “Stop Highway Robbery” campaign to prevent legislative sweeps of the state’s transportation trust fund in 2004. And in 2010, he helped marshal industry opposition and secured a veto by Gov. Charlie Crist that stopped a raid on state transportation funds.
The Lanford Family
Through their generous contributions of personal time, leadership and financial support, the Lanford family of Roanoke, Va., has taken the notion of “giving back” to the industry to a new level and provided a benchmark for others to follow.
Brothers Stan and Jack Lanford, after starting Lanford Brothers Company and working together for more than 25 years, were very successful, long-time chief executives at their respective firms, Lanford Brothers Company and Adams Construction.
The fact that both were elected by their industry peers nationally to serve as ARTBA chairman (Jack in 1991 and Stan in 1999), and as president of ARTBA’s state chapter affiliate, known today as the Virginia Transportation Construction Alliance, speaks volumes about the men. During their careers, both testified before the U.S. Congress on transportation investment and policy issues.
The Lanford Family’s biggest — and most enduring — legacy on the industry, however, is their creation and endowment of the Highway Worker Memorial Scholarship fund in 1999. This first-of-its-kind program, which has become a national model replicated by other groups, provides post-high school financial assistance to the children of highway workers killed or permanently disabled on the job. Today, it is supported by contributions from industry firms, state transportation departments and labor unions. Because of the Lanford family’s generosity, nearly 100 scholarships have been given to worthy students from around America and made their educational futures brighter.
Transportation Design & Construction Industry Innovators
This category honors the men and women who discovered or created a “game changing” product or process that significantly advanced transportation design, construction and/or safety. It seeks to honor the innovator.
The growth of the Koehring Machine Company in Milwaukee, Wis., is a story of a farm boy who had a vision to foresee the need for hard roads. It is the story of a struggle to perfect a machine suitable for paving purposes, and then a struggle to finance the venture and market the machine. And it is a story that lifted that farm boy to the very top of his field.
Philip Koehring, his brother William and a third partner, founded the company in 1907. It would eventually grow into one of the largest equipment manufacturers in the world, and later become a part of the Terex Corporation.
Koehring’s “boom and bucket” creation transformed concrete paving from myth to reality in the early 1900s. The innovation streamlined the flow of materials so as the machine was being pulled forward, it mixed concrete and then distributed the final mix to the rear. Prior to this invention, the idea that entire roads could be built with concrete was just a pipe dream.
Koehring added two more advancements to improve the mechanization of concrete paving: self-propelling crawler tracks and engine power in place of steam power. With 15 mixing and paving patents, combined with his equipment manufacturing expertise, Koehring forever transformed the world of concrete.
An official ceremony honoring the 2010 class will be held in fall 2011 at an ARTBA Innovation Conference in the Washington, D.C., area.