A Sustainable Workforce Starts With You

In Memoriam of Larry Brookshire: Leader, Learner, Legend

Larry Brookshire, the respected owner of Fisk Electric for many years, died April 17, 2023, at his home in Houston, Texas after short battle with an extremely aggresive cancer.  He was 76 years old.  He is survived by his wife Sunny, His brother Barry, his sons Kyle and Ross, his daughter Kelly, and their families.

Larry was one of the most admired leaders in the Houston construction industry during the past 40 years.  He was a pacesetter and standard bearer, the person you wanted to emulate both in running your company and living the good life.  He achieved enormous personal and business success, lived life to the fullest, and never lost his humility, his reverence for the working man, or his quick warm wit.

None of this was pure luck.  Larry impeccably prepared himself to lead and to succeed.  His obituary tells the complete story, but highlights include the fact he was raised by a single mom, worked his way through the University of Texas to get an Electrical Engineering Degree, and in the same month graduated from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Apprenticeship School. He had worked as an electrician’s helper since age 13. As he began to climb the ladder with Fischbach & Moore, where he ultimately became president, he got a law degree from South Texas College of Law so he could understand  the increasing complexities of construction contracts and business exposures.

In 1986, he was recruited to run Dynalectric in Washington, DC.  In Larry’s 10-year tenure, the firm became the largest electrical contractor in North America and expanded Larry’s business acumen, his knowledge of evaluations and acquisitions, and his confidence. Consequently, he leapt at the chance to demonstrate his entrepreneurial talents, acquiring Fisk, one of Houston’s oldest companies in 1996.  The company, still an admired brand, was in bad need of revitalization, the perfect environment for Larry’s impressive skill sets, especially his people knowledge.

It was at Fisk that Larry became a legendary leader.  He turned around the company and sold it to Tyco in 2000.  Without his entrepreneurial leadership, profits sagged, and he bought it again in 2006, building it back with high impact projects in the Texas Medical Center, Las Vegas, and New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.  He built a strong internal leadership team and sold it again to global general contractor, Tudor Perrini in 2011.  In subsequent years he has been an investor and a sought-after advisor on mergers, acquisitions and sales. He was always willing to share his insights, laden with wisdom and depth, with graciousness and humility.

One of Larry’s primary values was lifelong learning.  He believed education prepared you to succeed.  His formal academic journey in his early years validates that belief, his behavior once highly successful even more so.  He had a strong belief in peer groups as an opportunity for continuous learning.  He belonged to the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) chapters in Houston and Washington, both of which he regularly attended, and he was an instrumental founding member of a construction leader peer group in Houston.  He religiously attended the YPO Harvard Program where he thrived on the new knowledge and built global relationships that became lifelong friendships.

Larry had a way of expressing profound, sage advice in simple terms. One of his favorites was: “The seeds of failure are planted in the fields of prosperity.”  On one occasion, after he had been away for running companies for a year, he was asked, “Larry, now that you have had time to reflect, are there any things, you would have done differently?”  Without hesitation, he responded with three thought-provoking items, “I would have taken more time away.  Distance provides a truer perspective.  I would have moved quicker on culture killers even if they were high producers, and I would spend much more time in the hiring process as people are the key.”   These thoughts are as profound and provocative as they are straightforward and clear.  That was Larry; wise, substantive, and proven, packaged in authenticity, humility and caring.

Larry was private and understated.  He preferred his actions do the talking.  He never forgot his roots, that gnawing restlessness in his soul that drove him to excel and leave behind the spartan circumstances of his early years.  He quietly helped people in whom he saw that same burning to escape their current impoverished life. Few knew that for many years, he quietly funded many South American Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) Fighters, realizing success in this sport would be their ticket out of multigenerational poverty. He learned Spanish to be able to communicate better with them.

One of his best friends, Stan Marek, a colleague for 50 years, gave a moving eulogy at Larry’s Celebration of Life.  They were the same age; they both went through union apprenticeship programs and worked with their tools, gaining enormous appreciation for working people.  Together they took people to Colorado hunting.  Stan was one of the few people close enough to know Larry would go to serve Thanksgiving meals to the homeless, something Larry would never mention.  Stan credits Larry’s enormous success to the combination of his natural leadership with people, his technical knowledge, and above all the ability to instill pride in his craftworkers because he knew their work.

Stan also knew of Larry’s character, his integrity, his dignity, his generosity, his humility, and his unwavering loyalty. He felt that a man like Larry was best described by western writer Louis La Mour with his highest compliment for a cowboy. “He was the type of man you could ride the river with.

The industry stands in salute to Larry Brookshire, with condolences to his wife and family and gratitude for his presence in our lives.