Craig L. Martin

The CII Executive Committee has selected Craig L. Martin as the twenty-ninth recipient of the Carroll H. Dunn Award of Excellence.

This year’s Carroll H. Dunn Award recipient, Craig Martin, often tells aspiring industry professionals to follow what he calls a “growth” path rather than a career path, and even a casual observer can see this advice is based on his experience. Indeed, Craig’s rise to the CEO position of Jacobs is nothing if not the “organic” result of his lifetime of applying his mind and skills where they were most needed and, in the process, gaining an invaluable holistic perspective on the industry.

Born in 1949 in Dodge City, Kansas, and the eldest of three brothers, Craig grew up in a household that valued hard work, integrity, and intellectual curiosity. His father was a painting contractor who took him on jobs and introduced him to the industry, and his mother was an elementary school teacher who instilled in him a sense of wonder at the world. In high school, Craig excelled in debate and aspired to be a lawyer. But, working for his dad, he fell in love with building—quickly finding irresistible the stirring feeling he got from knowing that what he accomplished on a construction project would endure beyond his lifetime. After graduating from high school in 1967, he enrolled at the University of Kansas, where he pursued this interest. Halfway into his first surveying course, he was hooked.

Upon receiving his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 1971, he joined the Martin K. Eby Construction Company in Wichita. Craig would later meet his wife Diane in Topeka, where she was in law school, and they were married in 1977. When she graduated from law school, he obtained a transfer to Denver, and the two spent the first decade of their married life there. As Diane built her practice, Craig worked as a project manager for the Eby Company, while earning an MBA from the University of Denver.

In 1983, Craig moved from the Eby Company to the Denver-based CRSS, where he served as Executive Vice President of Operations for CRSS Constructors. He transferred to Houston in 1989 to become the Senior Vice President of Project Development for the independent power branch of the firm. By 1992, he had moved to the position of Senior Vice President of Operations for Civil Engineering, Architecture, and Construction Management. When, in 1994, the firm was acquired by Jacobs, he was first assigned to help with other acquisitions, and then, in 1995, became Senior Vice President of Sales. After five years, Craig was promoted to the post of Executive Vice President of Sales, only to be moved up the chain again to take on the job of company president. Finally, in 2006, Craig was named CEO of Jacobs and recently retired, after having served nearly a decade in this position.

Looking back over the four decades he devoted to the industry, Craig attributes his success at Jacobs to the range of experience he had gained by the time he arrived there. By following his instincts to pursue interesting and fulfilling work—from project management to project development to operations and even sales—he became the kind of experienced and knowledgeable person Jacobs needed to run its entire enterprise. He had indeed followed his own growth path.

Craig says that Jacobs’ membership in CII is important to the firm. He appreciates CII’s ability to bring together the most sophisticated members of the construction and engineering community to work on industry problems. Describing CII’s global reach as unparalleled and its research focus as unique and precious, Craig notes that few other industry organizations offer such meaningful, practical guidance. He further appreciates CII’s effort to unite and leverage the powerful minds and ingenious efforts of an industry that tends toward fragmentation.

When he ponders the future of the industry, Craig warns that, in addition to the workforce challenges that are already being felt, engineering and construction companies now face a complicated future in which they must decide whether they are local, global, or both. He advises mid-sized companies that cannot outsource their engineering and design to make the decision to remain local, with synchronous operations; since only companies that can manage outsourced asynchronous services can remain competitive globally.

Craig is also confident that sustainability will increasingly become part of standard operations on construction sites, saying that it is being driven by the science behind it and that it matters to the young people now entering the industry. He adds that code authorities are also becoming stricter and that, while the industry may not be moving quickly, it will move toward sustainability over the long run.

Coming from Jacobs, safety is always on Craig’s mind, and he urges the industry to do whatever it takes to change fundamental attitudes about safety. While he acknowledges the great strides the industry has made in safety performance in recent decades—and the even greater strides CII members have made—he retired from Jacobs feeling frustrated that, in the last five years, the industry had made no significant improvement at all. He believes that, now that companies have spent the last 25 years focused on implementing procedures, processes, and equipment, they need to go beyond this “objective” approach to safety. He says that now is the time to address the “subjective” side of safety, and at the center of this approach is the heart: we need to care for each other to have accident-free workplaces. Craig cites his contribution to Jacobs’ success at creating a culture of caring as one of his most gratifying accomplishments.

Now that he has retired, Craig aims for other kinds of accomplishments. He hopes to join some corporate boards to help other companies grow, and he looks forward to spending more time with his wife and supporting her community work in the Pasadena, California area.

Craig Martin has whole-heartedly devoted his life to the construction and engineering industry, gaining experience in many facets of the companies he has worked for and led. He has contributed to the CII community for decades and leaves a legacy of leadership, hard work, and caring. It is with the greatest pleasure that CII honors him with the 2015 Carroll H. Dunn Award of Excellence.