Cornerstone - Spring 2016 - (Page 11)
A PASSION FOR CONSTRUCTION
ON JANUARY 28, 2016, CHARLES
NELSON, Project Executive, Gilbane
Construction Company, became the 48th
individual to receive the AGC Houston
Honorary Life Member Award at the Annual
"The AGC Houston Board of Directors
recognizes unanimously his numerous
contributions to the chapter and to the commercial construction industry," stated AGC
Houston President/CEO Jerry Nevlud in the
ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Galleria Hotel.
"The Honorary Life Member award recognizes an individual who has served AGC and
the chapter in numerous capacities-including a commitment to the AGC cardinal principles of Skill, Integrity and Responsibility.
This past October, the chapter's Construction
Leadership Council was proud to recognize
him as an 'icon of the industry.'"
Visibly moved, Nelson ascended the riser,
followed by AGC Houston Chairman Bill
Scott, III, Linbeck Group LLC, and Patrick J.
Kiley, Kiley Advisors LLC, who helped to present the award. Nelson confided to the audience: "I am truly surprised by this honor and
blessed to have been surrounded by mentors and industry leaders during my career."
The significance of the award, he confessed,
had been on his wish list. "Not so much for
what I've done for the industry and AGC, but
(because of) what the industry and AGC has
meant to my life and my family's life, and my
work associates for over five decades."
Nelson credited divine guidance, a belief
in the fundamental good of people and his
involvement in AGC as having contributed
toward a meaningful and successful career.
One month earlier, Nelson was recognized
as the second recipient of the Legacy Award
from ENR Texas & Louisiana magazine.
For many who have known and worked
by Nelson's side over the years, it was a
fitting achievement to mark a career in a
business that he has been passionate about
for 55 years.
Catherine Bezman, AGC Houston,
headed downtown in January to visit with
Nelson and discuss his career, family and a
life shaped by faith. What follows are parts
of that conversation and excerpts from an
interview conducted in 2007 for the chapter's Oral History Project. For the full interview, visit the AGC Houston website.
Mid '70s: Charlie Nelson on the jobsite of the Westinghouse
Air Conditioning Manufacturing Plant in Norman,
Charlie Nelson poses with El Paso Energy's John
Anderson, Senior Vice President (far right) and Terry
Woolfe, Vice President, Real estate, at left. The El Paso
project abated asbestos, renovated and restacked the
32-story, 1 million square-foot facility even as the tower
was fully occupied and operational and achieved more
than 1.5 million man-hours with no lost time accidents.
Catherine Bezman: The view
from your 11th floor office is
magnificent. I am sure you
never get tired of seeing it!
Charles Nelson: Yes, my office window
overlooks Discovery Green and the George
R. Brown Convention Center. There are so
many buildings that I have seen being built
these last 20 years. The Convention District
and the transformation of the convention
center, additional hotels and green space
are exciting changes, helping the city to
attract large conventions and special events.
CN: I answered a want ad for a job as
field engineer in Jackson, Mississippi. I
showed up and a man came out shouting,
asking me what I wanted. I told him what
I was capable of doing, and he told me
to come to the jobsite trailer for an interview. That man was a superintendent for
H. A. Lott, Inc., the firm that later built the
Astrodome, the Riverwalk and the Tower
of the Americas in San Antonio, and the
Compaq Center [now Lakewood Church].
I was fortunate to be hired that day and
became president of the company in 1986.
CB: What are your plans
in the near future?
CN: I have been with Gilbane since 1995
and will be leaving my full time position as
Project Executive to work as a company
consultant. It will be somewhat strange for
me. I have loved every minute that I have
worked for Gilbane Building Company and
the team in Houston.
CB: What brought you to Texas?
CN: In 1968, Mr. Lott asked me to oversee
the construction of a new law building at
Texas Tech University. It was my first major
project to oversee and I and my family
moved to Lubbock that year. During that
period, a carpenter strike shut down construction jobs throughout the city. Mr. Lott
asked me to sit in the negotiation meetings
which mostly took place at the AGC chapter
(West Texas AGC), and represent the company. From that point, I became involved
in labor negotiations for our company on
projects in Oklahoma and in the Dallas area.
I eventually moved to Houston in the late
'70s and became involved in AGC Houston.
CB: What led you to pursue a
career in the construction industry?
CN: I grew up in Mississippi and attended
Co-Lin Jr. College and Louisiana State
University. My grandfather who was in the
building industry and my dad taught me
about the dignity of work and the importance of work ethics. I loved seeing things
built and being part of that process. The
joy and satisfaction of seeing something
built that I was part of led me to this path.
CB: That foundation helped
to shape the bedrock of your
career. How did you get your first
job in construction in 1961?
CB: What were some of the
principles Mr. Lott instilled in you?
CN: He taught me the value of doing the
job right the first time and building relationships with architects, engineers and
subcontractors. He preached and lived by
relationships, teamwork, loyalty, discipline,
and treating people with dignity. Those values are similar to the ethics at the foundation
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Cornerstone - Spring 2016
From the Chairman of the Board, Bill Scott, III
From the President/CEO, Jerry Nevlud
AGC Houston Bids Farewell to Honorary Life Member Ernie Meyerson
Annual AGC Safety Stand-Down Focuses on Fall Protection May 2-13, 2016
Member Profile: Charlie Nelson, Gilbane Building Company
APEX 12 Awards: Celebrating Houston’s Commercial Construction Industry
Index of Advertisers/Advertiser.com
Cornerstone - Spring 2016