Gary D. Jones

Gary D. Jones is the eighth 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. The Executive Committee of the Board of Advisors selected Gary Jones because he exceeds all the criteria for the award and brings added distinction to CII’s highest recognition.

Gary Jones was born on April 17, 1937, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He was the younger of two sons, and took an early interest in sports. He earned several all-star honors in football, and was his team’s most valuable player for two consecutive years. By the fall of 1955 he was enrolled in one of the country’s most prestigious universities, and was living out a dream: playing football for the Columbia University Lions. In the final game of the season, he scored three touchdowns to lead his team to victory. In a post-season meeting, the team elected Gary as captain of Columbia’s freshman football team.

Meanwhile, his high school sweetheart, Nancy Hilty, waited patiently. Despite the lure of college football, Gary decided to return to his hometown after his freshman year. He had other dreams: he wanted to become an engineer and he wanted to be near Nancy. Having already begun work toward an engineering degree at Columbia, he enrolled at Carnegie Tech to continue his studies. Another dream came true on November 21, 1956, when he and Nancy were married. In May 1959, he graduated from Carnegie Tech with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering.

Upon graduation, Gary was hired by Rust Engineering in Pittsburgh. Although he started in the engineering and design department, he challenged himself by transferring to Rust’s construction department. He was soon moving around the country on a variety of assignments. At the time, Gary was a “very green” field engineer, according to Rust’s Naheola, Alabama, project field superintendent, Ted C. Kennedy. Gary must have felt tentative about the Naheola job. On the first day, he phoned Nancy with instructions not to get too serious with the house hunting she was doing. Things smoothed out, however, and many more moves came along as well, including Columbus, Georgia; Thomasville, Alabama; Escanaba, Michigan; and Erie, Pennsylvania.

In the early 1970s, Rust reassigned Gary to company headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. By the early 1980s he was a company vice president. The 1980s was the era of the corporate takeover, and Gary experienced it firsthand: Rust merged with Kellogg to form Kellogg-Rust, and he was made President of Construction for the new firm.

In October 1983, Kellogg-Rust joined the Construction Industry Institute as a charter member. Kellogg-Rust chose Gary as its delegate to represent the firm on the CII Board of Advisors. He was assigned to a working committee that was responsible for writing the CII Strategic Plan. It was then that the committee became aware of his keen perception and insight. He noted possible areas of future concern, and the committee realized that his primary goal was to keep CII true to its original mission: to improve the cost effectiveness of the entire industry. Within a short time, the Board of Advisors elected Gary to serve as the chairman of the first annual conference of the Institute.

The Board of Advisors elected Gary to serve as its chairman in 1987. At the CII annual conference that year, he laid down a challenge: implement one CII recommendation, he said, and bring a response the following year. The result was a dramatic change in the way CII looked at implementation. His implementation challenge also brought about a change in the conference format: case studies and breakouts were introduced at the annual conference the following year. Gary moderated the panel that reported on efforts to implement CII research results into real-world projects.

Implementation has been at the core of the professional career of Gary Jones. Having worked as a high-level executive for four different CII member companies, he has emphasized implementation at each one and influenced the way those companies execute engineering and construction projects. Continuous improvement and implementation of best practices have been part of his personal approach. His tenacity in holding CII to its original mission and purpose affect current activities within CII. He also has increased member emphasis on implementation as well as research. His personal dedication has been demonstrated to the highest degree in the area of implementation, and he has shown by example what can be achieved with hard work and determination. Gary Jones is a leader, and he stays true to the course regardless of the barriers that may appear as impediments to reaching the goals that he has set for himself and those with whom he works.

CII salutes Gary Jones as a deserving recipient of CII’s highest honor. He is dedicated to the principles upon which CII was founded. In addition to his CII activities, he has been a strong participant in such industry organizations as the National Constructors Association, The Business Roundtable Construction Committee, and the Engineering & Construction Contracting (ECC) Division of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He demonstrates a genuine concern for the cost effectiveness of the industry, and has worked diligently to implement improved practices throughout his career.

Gary makes his home in Birmingham, Alabama. He and Nancy have three grown sons, Douglas, Don, and Ken, and three grandchildren, Cody, Maggie, and Max.