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John Neidhart Bids Goodbye to the AGC of New York

Wed August 08, 2007 - Northeast Edition
Adam Doling

John Neidhart retired at the end of May after serving as The Associated General Contractors’ (AGC) western regional manager for more than a decade.

Neidhart, born in Bronx in 1941, has had a long and illustrious career in the construction industry.

“It has been a great honor and privilege to be a part of the AGC for the past 12 years and the construction industry in general for more than 40 years,” said Neidhart.

“This is a tremendous industry full of genuine people and I will miss the many friends that I have made over the years.”

In 1944, Neidhart moved to Amityville, Long Island, where he attended St. Martin of Tours Grade School and then Chaminade High School in Mineola — the same high school attended by 2007 AGC Chairman James Pratt.

After graduating from high school, he attended the University of Notre Dame where he majored in civil engineering, graduating in 1962.

Summer employment included jobs with the New York State Department of Public Works in Babylon (the precursor of the New York State Department of Transportation) and doing construction on I-290 in Buffalo with Johnson, Drake & Piper Inc.

He joined the Indiana State Highway Commission in 1962, working on various projects in the LaPorte District of northern Indiana.

In 1965, he served as a resident engineer — the equivalent of the New York State Department of Transportation’s EIC — on construction of I-65 near Gary and Hobart, Ind.

He married Elizabeth Oliva, a Hoosier, in 1963. The two have three children — Mary Beth, John and David — and eight grandchildren.

In March 1966, Neidhart accepted an offer from Louis Hecht and Harold Bixby of Tri-Delta Construction to work as the project engineer on the construction of Route 400 in the town of Elma. At that time, Neidhart and his family moved to West Seneca. Lou Hecht, president and co-founder of Tri-Delta Construction, was his uncle;Harold Bixby served as AGC president in 1978.

He worked for Tri-Delta in a variety of capacities from 1966 through 1995, eventually serving as president of the company.

Some major projects that he worked on included:

• Route 400, Aurora Expressway in Erie County, Sections I, II and III from 1966 to 1971;

• Irondequoit Bay Bridge, superstructure, deck installation in 1966;

• State University at Buffalo, lake construction and site work in 1971;

• Flood relief and clean-up of Hurricane Agnes in 1972;

• Excavation and site work at Buffalo Bills Stadium from 1972 to 1973;

• Rehabilitation of runways and taxiways at Buffalo International Airport from 1975 to 1977;

• Route 219, Southern Expressway in Erie County, Section IV from 1979 to 1981;

• I-990, Lockport Expressway in Erie County, Sections 1 and 2, the SUNY Interchange and the Willow Ridge pedestrian bridge from 1980 to 1983;

• Roadway rehabilitation of I-90, New York State Thruway in Chautauqua County from 1989 to 1990; and

• Reconstruction of Route 414 in Schuyler County from 1994 to 1995.

In August 1995, Neidhart joined the AGC as western regional manager. He has worked on a variety of initiatives during his time at the AGC, including revisions to Section 100, from phase I to the current draft, phase VI; working on the annual AGC/DOT Tech Conference; the Executive Level Partnering between the AGC and Department of Transportation (DOT); the Specifications Committee; and, various technical committees.

“I was always impressed with John’s desire to defend the reputation of the AGC,” said Doug May, president of Oakgrove Construction Inc. in Elma.

“The AGC was often asked by members to solve a dispute with the DOT, and John would often act as the point man for these discussions.

If John felt his contractor’s claim lacked merit, he would not put the AGC reputation at risk over such a dispute, he would take occasional heat from the member, but in the long run we all benefited because when the AGC did raise an issue it was taken seriously.”

“I’ve know John for about 25 years, and the only negative thing I can say about him is that he’s a big Notre Dame fan,” said Steve Forrestel, president of Cold Spring Construction Co. in Akron.

“He’s a great human being and a wonderful person. He’s also a good friend and has been a great asset to Cold Spring. Whenever we had a technical problem or issue, he was there for us. He understands the specifications and the business from a contractor’s point of view because he was a contractor.”

“John engendered mutual respect between the AGC and DOT that will continue to pay dividends in future years,” said James Tynan, deputy chief engineer, construction of the New York State Department of Transportation.

During his retirement, Neidhart — who currently resides in Alden with his wife — plans on spending summers on Seneca Lake, traveling, reading, fishing and learning something new every day. He has fond memories of his time spent in the construction industry.

“My proudest moments of working in the construction industry have been being able to tell my grandchildren that ’I built that bridge’ and seeing my efforts to assist members with issues with the various state agencies pay off,” said Neidhart.

“I have had the distinct pleasure of working closely with John over the past several years through my chairmanship of the AGC/DOT Executive Level Partnering Committee,” said William Mascetta, president of Transit Construction Corp. in Yonkers.

“My role was certainly made easier as a result of John’s dedicated effort and attention to details. He provided the link between and among the various subcommittees and respective AGC/DOT members.

“Moreover, I consider John not only a colleague but also a friend. He will be truly missed but has earned a well-deserved retirement and I wish him and his lovely wife, Betty, the very best of continued good health and happiness.”

“You can search the world over and you won’t find a better friend or a man of more integrity,” said Bixby, a friend and mentor to Neidhart for more than 40 years.

“John truly was a ’good construction man’ as he knew the industry very well and did great service as both a contractor and an association employee.

“He has been a great asset to the AGC, and gained the respect of the AGC members, New York State Department of Transportation, New York State Thruway Authority and various other state agencies and organizations.”

(Adam Doling was editor of “Low Bidder” magazine.)

(This article appears courtesy of “Low Bidder” magazine.)

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