A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

Jack Marshall – Duty Soldier and Quiet Doer

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

He was 88 years old and had lived an accomplished life, a rich legacy of significant contributions to his family, his company, his industry, his church and to Houston.  Nonetheless, Jerry Nevluds’s thoughtful announcement of his death left so many with a profound sense of sadness and loss.

Jack Marshall, the 2nd generation leader of Marshall Construction Company, was a Rice University Graduate and a World War II United States Navy Veteran.  He was also a past member of the Houston AGC Board of Directors, and up until 2015, a member of the chapter’s Labor Committee for over 50 years!  Jack epitomized the very best of the Greatest Generation – those men who sacrificed everything for their country, kept giving when they returned, and never asked for anything in return.  He was the consummate duty soldier and quiet doer, always at his post, prepared and effective, but understated, humble, and authentic.

He would not like this article about him.  However, his life and his manner set such an outstanding example, he needs to be saluted and emulated.  He was above all a contractor, a real construction man, with great respect for his industry and for his fellow contractors.  When his son David was asked to serve on the AGC Board, Jack told him to accept, but for the first year “listen and stay quiet, you can learn a lot from those smart people.”  But David did not need to leave the office to learn, he just needed to walk down the hall.  (David’s subsequent industry leadership made Jack extremely proud.)

His company is a premier, but selective, school builder.  Schools plead to have them bid.  (Jack once told HISD’s Pat Renfro, politely but firmly, they would have to change most paragraphs in their contract to get Marshall to bid.)  He always made time for labor negotiations.  He spent years alongside Don Jones and Charlie Nelson stripping non-competitive clauses.  Many sessions were protracted and tense.  His quick wit often broke the silence and moved the process.  He mentored and encouraged the younger negotiators.  His notes are a comprehensive historical record-of every offer, counter, caucus and settlement.  Remarkable.

AGC negotiations have begun again.  When Chairman, Tommy Kubin shares the news, the union representatives get silent and sober, then respond respectfully, “Mr. Marshall was a fine man.”

Yes, he certainly was.