GUCA's 2018-19 Lifetime Industry Achievement Award

Thu July 25, 2019 - Southeast Edition #16

John D. Stephens accepts GUCA’s 2018-19 Lifetime Industry Achievement Award.
John D. Stephens accepts GUCA’s 2018-19 Lifetime Industry Achievement Award.
John D. Stephens accepts GUCA’s 2018-19 Lifetime Industry Achievement Award. John D. Stephens of JDS Holdings, LLC

The Georgia Utility Contractors Association Inc. (GUCA) presented Gwinnett resident John D. Stephens of JDS Holdings, LLC, Lawrenceville, Ga., with the GUCA Lifetime Industry Achievement Award for 2018-2019 at the 2019 GUCA Annual Conference in Destin, Fla. Gov. Brian Kemp gave a commendation for this lifetime achievement.

John D. Stephens, JDS Holdings, LLC, has exhibited the strongest qualities of leadership to the utility construction industry throughout his lifetime.

Stephens is a native of Georgia, born and raised in Gwinnett County and was part of the first graduating class of South Gwinnett High School in 1958. He resides in Snellville, Ga., with his wife Beverly and has five children and ten grandchildren.

Stephens is an active supporter of many charitable causes — Georgia Gwinnett College, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, the Shepherd Center, Gwinnett Medical Center, Boy Scouts of America, Hi-Hope Service Center in Lawrenceville and the Gwinnett Children's Shelter.

He bought his first backhoe and started John D. Stephens Inc. installing septic tanks in Gwinnett County. John D. Stephens Inc. became a full-service heavy civil pipeline and environmental infrastructure construction company doing work in more than 13 different states. The company took on the largest water pipeline projects of its time in the state of Texas, the O.H. Ivie Pipeline.

Stephens also completed his first Atlanta Airport project in 1978. Stephens MDS was formed and began acquiring more than 485 acres of property adjacent to the airport to provide 17 million cu. yds. of fill material for the 5th runway embankment and was noted as the "Most Important Runway in America." As this project neared completion, Stephens recognized that the residential and commercial development trends in the region would produce a demand for a sustainable waste management facility. Stephens teamed with Bill Hodges of Hodges, Harbin, Newberry & Tribble Inc., a Georgia-based civil and environmental engineering consulting firm, and proceeded with the unique design and operation of a Construction & Demolition Landfill and Processing/Recycling Facility, as well as a granite quarry operation south of the airport. The site continues to provide millions of tons of virgin aggregate and fill material, as well as a variety of recycled aggregate products to the airport's many expansion projects, as well as many other commercial and private projects.

Stephens was instrumental in helping form Button Gwinnett Savings and Loan in 1986 and serves on the Gwinnett Community Board for the United Community Bank. He's also the majority owner of Byrd & Flanigan Crematory and Funeral Service in Lawrenceville, Ga.

Stephens' leadership and guidance has been instrumental to numerous organizations, including the Board of Trustees and founder of Georgia Gwinnett College, the Board of Directors of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce, the Georgia Utility Contractors Association and the Georgia Board of Industry, Trade, and Tourism.

Stephens has been recognized with numerous honors and accolades, including the Citizen of the Year Award in 2006, the Gwinnett Clean and Beautiful Environmental Legacy Award in 2007 and the naming of the Gwinnett County Chamber of Commerce Education Center in his honor.

Over the many years of doing business, Stephens has met countless people from past and future employees, business leaders, project engineers to consultants and many he remains friends with to this day. These long-lasting friendships and relationships have been vital in the success of the many businesses operated by John D. Stephens.

One of Stephens' favorite quotes is from Zell Miller, "A Turtle cannot get on top of a fence post by itself." This ties to his most personal motto that people are a company's most important asset, and the only difference between success and failure is people.

This type of work ethic and service model is what makes Stephens the GUCA Lifetime Industry Achievement Award.

Georgia Utility Contractors Association Inc. is a non-profit state trade association located in metro Atlanta representing more than 390 contractors and affiliated firms statewide. GUCA represents the workforce who supplies, installs and rehabilitates the infrastructure of water, sewer, gas, electrical, telecommunications and other underground utility systems for the public and private sector including pipe and plant installation. For more information about GUCA, please visit

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