The late Houston A. Brice Sr., founder of Brice Building Co., the late R. Hugh Daniel, co-founder of Daniel Construction, and the late John M. Harbert III, founder of Harbert Construction Co., were inducted into the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame during the Build Alabama Awards Banquet Jan. 13 at The Club.
The Alabama AGC established the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame to honor and recognize outstanding individuals in the construction industry. These individuals are held in esteem by their peers and have demonstrated their professionalism through active support of the industry through their civic and community involvement. In short, only those who have literally changed the landscape of our state and nation will be enshrined in the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame.
This year’s inductees certainly rise to that standard.
Houston A. Brice Sr.
Brice founded Brice Building Co. in 1931. The company continued to grow and after the war it experienced a remarkable surge in annual volume, from $2 million to $10 million. The company opened offices around the Southeast and grew into one of the largest construction firms in the country.
Brice and his company were involved in building some Birmingham landmarks such as the John Hand Building, the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center Exhibition Hall and, more recently, the restoration of Vulcan Park.
Brice also gave to the community in other ways, volunteering with the Birmingham Boys Club, Junior Achievement and the Birmingham Chapter of the American Red Cross. Brice died in 1977.
R. Hugh Daniel
Daniel, a native of Anderson, SC, adopted Birmingham as his home, where he built and led Daniel Construction Co. as it became one of the largest publicly traded construction companies in the world, with offices on four continents. In 1964, he also helped found Central Bank and Trust, now Compass Bank, and served as chairman of the board until his retirement in 1979.
Daniel Construction was founded in South Carolina in 1935 and Daniel opened the Alabama division in 1936. He was elected a vice president of the company in 1935, was elected president and treasurer in 1955 and was named chairman of the board in 1964. He served as chairman until 1974 when he relinquished the position, but continued as chief executive officer, treasurer and a member of the board until the company was purchased by the Fluor Corp. in May 1977.
Daniel also was deeply involved in his community, serving as chairman of the board of trustees of the Daniel Foundation, a member of the executive committee of the board of trustees of the Southern Research Institute and as a trustee of the Birmingham Symphony Association. He was a director of Alabama Gas Corp., Baptist Hospitals Foundation, Birmingham Committee of 100, the Chamber of Commerce, the Birmingham Museum of Art and the United States Pipe and Foundry Co. He died in 1983.
John M. Harbert III
Harbert was a native of Greenville, MS, but it was in Birmingham that he spent most of his life and created a company that brought him fame. He was five hours short of finishing an engineering degree at Auburn University when he was called to duty in World War II. After service with the U.S. Army in the Pacific, he returned to complete his degree. The story is that Harbert used his winnings in dice games on his troop ship to buy his first concrete mixer. He started his construction company in 1949.
The business grew into an international giant, building projects in Europe, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and South America. In the Birmingham area, it built the SouthTrust Tower, Amsouth/Harbert Plaza and the Galleria. The Harbert Corporation’s rich tradition continues today as B.L. Harbert International LLC.
Harbert was deeply involved in his adopted city, supporting educational, medical and arts facilities. He was a trustee for the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Eye Foundation Hospital, Junior Achievement of Alabama, the Young Women’s Christian Association, the Southern Legal Foundation, the Alabama School of Fine Arts and Birmingham Southern College. He was nationally recognized for his work on the Birmingham Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Harbert also was the first Alabamian to be elected to the National Board of the Smithsonian Associates in Washington, DC. Harbert died in 1995.
Brice, Daniel and Harbert join these other hall of fame inductees:
• 2005 — John Caddell, founder and chairman of the board of Caddell Construction Co.
• 2004 — M. Miller Gorrie, founder and CEO of Brasfield & Gorrie
• 2003 — the late Winton “Red” Blount, founder of Blount International
• 2002 — George Edwards, former owner of Richardson Construction
• 2001 — the late D.W. “Bill” Ellard, Ellard Contracting Co. Inc.; Paul B. Krebs, Paul B. Krebs & Associates; Nicholas H. Holmes Jr., Holmes & Holmes Architects.
The Alabama Construction Hall of Fame — through its recognition of the great personalities of the state’s construction industry — also serves to highlight the accomplishments and importance of the industry the inductees worked so hard to improve. The AGC, with its 85-year history in Alabama, is uniquely qualified to sponsor the hall. Members and staff of the Alabama AGC are honored to have the responsibility of founding and maintaining the Alabama Construction Hall of Fame.
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