John A. Caddell, founder and chairman of the board of Caddell Construction Co., has been inducted into the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2000 to honor and recognize outstanding individuals in the construction industry.
Caddell joins M. Miller Gorrie, founder and CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie LLC, the late Winton “Red” Blount, founder of Blount International in Montgomery; George Edwards, former owner of Richardson Construction Co. in Birmingham; the late D.W. “Bill” Ellard, of Ellard Contracting Co. Inc. in Birmingham; Paul B. Krebs, of Paul B. Krebs & Associates Inc., of Birmingham; and Nicholas H. Holmes Jr., of Holmes & Holmes Architects in Mobile, in the Hall of Fame.
Caddell’s career was outlined during his induction:
“John Caddell is the model of hard work. His life demonstrates how personal optimism and ambition can touch the lives of people around the world. John was born and raised in Montgomery, AL, where he also started his construction career … working in his father’s floor sanding business.
“He left Montgomery in 1948 to earn a degree in building construction from Georgia Tech in Atlanta. He worked his way through school by taking jobs with Atlanta-area companies such as Munford Company [an insulation and weather stripping firm] and Southern Zonalite [a producer of vermiculite].
“Then, like today, John placed a special emphasis on his family. He married his childhood sweetheart, Joyce Kirby, in 1951 while at Georgia Tech. They would be inseparable, traveling together and raising a family which included daughter Cathy and sons Michael, Kirby, Jeff and Chris.
“As John was graduating from Georgia Tech he saw a blind ad in an Atlanta newspaper offering a job in Montgomery. The location was right for John and his bride and after asking some hometown friends and family he discovered the company was right as well — Blount Brothers. At that time the company performed heavy and bridge construction, such as Birmingham’s First Avenue viaduct over Sloss Furnaces. John was hired as an estimator but had to postpone his career to serve two years with the military as an installation engineer on an airbase in Texas.
“When he returned to Blount he quickly worked his way up to project manager where he oversaw many projects including ’Complex 37’ at Cape Canaveral, where Apollo astronauts rode Saturn rockets toward the moon. He became vice president of Blount and by 1969 was made president of the building division. Simultaneously, Red Blount was serving as Postmaster General, which meant the company could not bid on government contracts. Nonetheless, John led the company to increase its project load with larger and more complex projects such as the New Orleans Superdome. He also extended the company’s overseas projects that included the $3-billion King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.
“Coordinating construction on foreign soil is intricate work that requires a thorough knowledge of construction and skills in diplomacy. John executed each project masterfully. After 14 years, the company changed its name to reflect its successful business overseas — Blount International. Under John’s leadership as chairman and chief executive officer, the company increased its revenue from $67 million to $600 million.
“But in 1983, after 31 years of success and growth, Red Blount asked John to leave Blount International to make room for a new company president — his son, Winton Blount III. Red Blount later admitted that letting John go was a grave mistake.
“At 51, John had to decide where to take his career. His family helped him make the decision. John opened his own company — Caddell Construction. The family ran the business from John’s home at first, but quickly added employees. Just after two years, Caddell Construction Company moved out of the Caddell home. Projects grew as well and soon Caddell Construction was bidding on projects large enough to involve Blount International. Attracted by John’s ability to identify worthwhile projects and his optimistic management style, Blount executives began migrating to Caddell Construction. And in the early 90s, Caddell purchased Blount’s construction business.
“The projects that followed earned Caddell numerous awards. Engineering News record magazine named Caddell the 88th largest design/build contractor in the country. John has been honored with many awards including the Georgia Tech distinguished Alumni Award.
“John has developed two global construction companies during his career, enhanced the skylines in more than a dozen countries, and earned international respect and acclaim for Alabama’s construction community. For his contributions and his character, he is our inductee into the Construction Hall of Fame.”
To be eligible for induction in the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame, one must have served the Alabama construction industry — as a general contractor, a specialty contractor or supplier, an architect, or an engineer — for at least 25 years.
The Alabama Construction Hall of Fame highlights the accomplishments and importance of the industry that the inductees worked so hard to promote and improve.
Members and staff of the Alabama AGC founded and maintain the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame.
(This story was reprinted from the March/April 2005 edition of the Alabama AGC’s “Action News.”)