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Congratulations Charlie – Well Done!

The following article originally appeared in the December newsletter to clients of Kiley Advisors, LLC.  Reprinted with permission.

Dan Gilbane’s tweet carried the good news; so did his Linkedin post.  Soon it was on the company’s website: “ENR honors Gilbane’s Charlie Nelson with Legacy Award.”  All privileged to know this humble, authentic, and consistently effective leader are on our feet in a thunderous, prolonged standing ovation, some with tears in our eyes.  Never has an individual been more worthy.

The award recognizes an industry veteran, with many years of experience and extensive contributions to the industry and the community.  Charlie significantly exceeds those standards.  He is a 54-year veteran, the first 34 with Lott, the last 20 with Gilbane.  He has been both a field engineer and a president, and the list of projects he has successfully shepherded is staggering.  He is one of those true “construction men” –real builders – men like Charlie Kubin (Bellows), Bobby Gillland (Linbeck), and Robert Scardino (Tellepsen) – men who walk on a jobsite and quickly assess the status without tablets or BIM, and see pragmatic solutions to any problems.  They are an increasingly rare breed that deserves our deepest reverence.

He is a leader in his company and in the industry.  He served as Houston AGC President in 1993; rode shotgun to Don Jones (Bellows) as the two, with steely resolve, stripped the labor agreements of restrictive, non-competitive items and taught a course on field cost management to an early group of minority contractors.  He gave his time and talent repeatedly to advance the industry.

However, it is Nelson the man that most magnetizes and inspires – the quiet, courteous, pleasant demeanor; the clear primacy of faith and family; the integrity in his dealings and the self-deprecating humor, especially about his slow Mississippi drawl, (usually carrying wise words, well worth the wait.)  We welcome this tall, lanky ex-all state and semi-pro basketball player, coaching us with questions, “Have you considered?  What if you tried?” – leading never legislating.  Dan Gilbane’s words capture him perfectly, “For all he has achieved, Charlie has remained a servant leader for many in the industry.  He has been the true measure of that description, a person as generous with his time as he is humble about his many accomplishments, and that is an incredibly high bar.”

Our industry stands much taller because this remarkable man is part of it.  Congratulations, Charlie. Well Done!