Charles D. Brown

Charles Daniel Brown is the second recipient of the Carroll H. Dunn Award of Excellence. The award is presented by the Construction Industry Institute to honor an individual for accomplishments in improving the cost effectiveness of the construction industry. In the judgement of the Board of Advisors, Charlie Brown clearly exceeds all requirements of the selection criteria, and brings added distinction to this prestigious award.

Charlie was born in Mineral Springs, Arkansas, on October 31, 1927, the younger of two sons. His father was a highway engineer for the State of Arkansas. He graduated from Mineral Springs High School in 1945, distinguishing himself in both scholarship and football. Shortly after graduation, Charlie joined the U.S. Army and served as a sergeant with the occupation forces in Japan until 1947.

After completing his military service, he enrolled at the University of Arkansas, where he graduated in 1951 with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering. Charlie then joined the Construction Division of the DuPont Company, with his first assignment in Orange, Texas. As was common at the time, Charlie’s early construction career consisted of a series of assignments that took him to various places: Parkersburg, West Virginia; Circleville, Ohio; Memphis, Tennessee; and in 1961 back to Orange.

It was during this second assignment to Orange that he was placed in charge of a large project, which became a major turning point in his career. By applying all of the lessons in cost effectiveness he had learned in previous assignments, he completed the project with a substantial cost underrun. This accomplishment resulted in a double promotion to Assistant Project Manager, and also set the theme for future assignments.

The next assignments brought him to Houston, Texas; Antioch, California; La Place, Louisiana; and then once again back to Parkersburg, West Virginia. It also meant a promotion to Project Manager, and a two-year stint in the home office in charge of design for nylon. In 1970, Charlie was appointed Construction Manager for projects in the southeast, and in 1974, was named Manager of the Business Methods and Investment Division, which is responsible for the financial management of capital projects. In 1977, he returned to his first love construction – when he was appointed Director of the Construction Division.

These were years of great turmoil in the construction industry. Continual labor strife over wages, overtime, jurisdictions, open shop, and other issues fueled a runaway inflation and began to undermine the industry’s cost effectiveness. Charlie experienced all this turmoil first hand. He developed strong feelings about what was wrong, what could be done, and what had to be done if the industry was to recover. He also felt that a strong construction industry was critical to the competitiveness of American products in the newly emerging world market.

While serving as Director of the Construction Division, Charlie represented DuPont on the Construction Committee of The Business Roundtable. He was asked by the committee to serve on a task force that was to examine problems in the construction industry. In this request, The Business Roundtable chose carefully and chose well. Under his leadership, the original task force of 1977 became the 250-person, 125-company Construction Industry Cost Effectiveness (CICE) Project, the most significant common effort in the history of the industry. From the project have come the current national efforts to implement CICE findings, the founding of the Construction Industry Institute, and the start of what appears to be measurable improvement in the cost effectiveness of construction in general. Engineering News-Record recognized these accomplishments by naming him 1983 Man of the Year.

In 1982, Charlie became General Manager of DuPont’s Engineering Department, and subsequently was named Vice President–Engineering. In parallel with the CICE Project, he launched an in-house cost effectiveness program for DuPont, and over the years has seen his Department’s efforts pay off in substantial reductions to construction cost.

Charlie has continued to be a principal outspoken and energetic advocate of cost effectiveness, not only in the construction industry, but in the manufacturing and service industries as well. His advocacy and influence have caused CICE to become a national watchword, and “More Construction for the Money” to be a widely shared slogan. The CICE Project is the subject of conferences and seminars; it has provided materials for college courses and professional societies; owners, contractors, trade associations, government, labor, and academia are involved with its recommendations; and references are even found in labor agreements.

Charlie married the former Marjorie Fischer in 1951. They have three children and two grandchildren, and live in Wilmington, Delaware. Charlie is an avid, competitive golfer when he can find the time in a heavy schedule.