Four great leaders are retiring | construction citizen
Four of Houston’s top commercial construction industry leaders have chosen to retire in 2021, men who have made enormous contributions to the industry. In addition to excelling in their roles and businesses, they were each servant leaders, in the truest sense of the word. They set a standard of service leadership that inspired many others. Predictably, they did their last critical duty. Each left behind a trained and highly skilled successor. We greet them in the order in which they left.
Chuck Gremillion retired as executive director of Construction Career Collaborative (C3), a nonprofit alliance of building owners, general contractors, specialty contractors, design professionals and associations construction professionals working together to build a safe, skilled and sustainable workforce for the commercial construction industry. This unique organization, created in 2009, is essential to building the workforce of tomorrow. When this promising new company needed a proven full-time leader, Chuck Gremillion was the unanimous choice of C3’s impressive and capable board, and their timing was fortuitous. Everyone knew Chuck from his leadership of A&E-The Graphics Complex, a family business, which he and his four brothers sold to Thomas Reprographics in 2007. While Chuck was president, A&E won prestigious awards from the Baugh Center from Baylor University and the Greater Houston Partnership. The company has also been consistently named one of the best places to work in both Houston and Texas. Additionally, the company was admired and appreciated by all industry leaders and groups for its passionate support of initiatives that uplifted the construction industry and its employees. He and his brothers regularly donated time, talent and money to programs that improved the industry. Chuck served as Regional Chairman of Thomas Reprographics until his retirement in 2012. The industry was the winner when in February 2014 he accepted an invitation from the C3 Board of Directors to lead the development of the start- up. It is now a thriving organization with over 280 participating companies, an exceptional board of directors and a professional staff offering multiple training and support services. Angela Robbins Taylor, Chuck’s successor, is highly qualified to move the organization forward. Chuck and his wife Janna, residents of Katy, have 4 children and 5 grandchildren. Chuck will continue to serve on the board of Catholic Charities and Pallidus Dei, a parish organization. Chuck Gremillion, humble, intelligent and authentic, demonstrates the absolute truth that leaders with values, character and skills lead successfully in all contexts.
Byron Wake also retired from MAREK this year, where he served as Treasurer and led the Marek Family Foundation. Byron, a Baylor graduate and CPA, has devoted his career primarily to the financial side of business. After spending time with Arthur Andersen, he joined HA Lott, the company that built the Astrodome, serving many years as chief financial officer. But Byron also demonstrated significant leadership skills at the highest level, and his fellow shareholders elected him chairman of their holding company. Additionally, he served as National President of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), having helped form the Houston Chapter (CFMA). He was also a director of Houston AGC. At MAREK, he earned the respect of all family members and had a huge impact on both their financial operations and the charities they support. Stan Marek, CEO, offers the following comments: “A lot of words come to mind when you think of Byron. Number one is integrity, total trust! Number two is skill. When he shares something, you know he’s right. The third is compassion. You can sense his interest in others. These qualities made Byron the ideal man to become president of the Santa Maria Hostel, an organization whose main clients are homeless women with children, often also dependent and suffering from AIDS. People rejected by most. But the three brothers Marek, John, Bill and Ralph, left on the streets themselves during the Depression, made helping the homeless their lifelong mission, a mission now continued by their children Stan, Bruce and Paul through the St Vincent DePaul Society and Auberge Sainte-Marie. The Mareks, with the help of friends, built a 100-room apartment complex, Bonita House of Hope, now part of the Santa Maria Hostel, where women go from homelessness to newfound dignity and gainful employment. Byron led this program, serving as CEO during its growth years. This pleasant, competent and very talented man leaves in place a very competent successor, Andrew Hussmann. Byron and his wife Sandy will be traveling and spending time with their grandchildren. They are both very active with Animeals, delivering food to the pets of senior citizens who receive Meals on Wheels. And Byron, an avid competitive tennis player will devote more time to his game.
Graham Moore retired at the end of 2021 as regional president of TD Industries, a large facility maintenance and mechanical engineering company founded in 1946 that operates primarily in Texas and Arizona. Graham, the son of a plumber from Richardson, Texas, graduated from Texas A&M and taught industrial arts at Vines High School in Plano before joining TD in 1979. He immediately adapted to their strong institutionalized culture of “Servant Leader”. All TD leaders are formally trained in this leadership philosophy developed by Robert Greenleaf at AT&T. Graham rose through the ranks steadily with an ever-expanding portfolio of responsibilities. He rose from project manager to director of engineering and manufacturing, to regional manager, to vice president, to senior vice president and finally to regional president during his 42 years at TD. He also served several terms on the TD Board of Directors. His career is rare and notable given the current practice of building a career through multiple job changes. The great culture of TD Industries engenders a commitment based on employee ownership, mandatory annual continuing education and leaders who serve their stakeholders in a way that inspires the people they lead to be leaders. Graham’s legacy is one of continuing contribution, with the added distinction of being a pioneer in promoting women, minorities and immigrants to high levels of responsibility. Houston Area Senior Vice President Nikki Watson (succeeding Graham here), Randee Herrin, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing and Technology, Laura Price Gautreaux, Vice President in Austin, and Ronell Peters and Tasos Banos , senior vice presidents in Houston, are examples. Graham’s strong leadership skills have also served the industry and the community. He was elected to the Boards of Associate General Contractors and Associate Builders and Contractors and served as Chairman of the Board of Spaulding for Children, one of the most respected private foster care and adoption agencies in Houston. He has also served on the boards of several other plumbing regulatory groups. Most recently, he joined the board of directors of Chamberlin Roofing and Waterproofing in Houston. He and his wife Terri have three children and look forward to finishing their retirement home in historic Granbury and spending more time at their Casita Del Rio near Waco. All those who have experienced the exceptional leadership abilities of this shrewd, discreet and affable man stand up and salute his exit.
Another high-performing leader who retired at the end of 2021 was Jerry Nevlud, CEO of the Associated General Contractors Houston Chapter. Jerry joined AGC in 2000 and became CEO in September 2004. Jerry, one of 8 children, grew up in a construction house. His dad, a multi-trades worker (carpenter/ceiling worker) spent his entire career at MAREK. Jerry worked for MAREK for 15 years, eventually leading their Austin office. His brothers Phil (35) and Paul (47) have also worked for MAREK all their careers. His two younger brothers also worked there for shorter periods. In his remarks at a retirement celebration, he paid tribute to his father, craftsmanship and MAREK, saying, “My father raised 8 children working as a craftsman for a caring employer.” Jerry is a graduate of St. Pius High School and the University of Texas. He made significant contributions to the industry while at AGC. It has provided many other opportunities for young professionals to become involved with the Chapter, creating future leaders to preserve and enhance AGC’s industry and community responsibilities. He revamped the committee structure and energized political action, education and communications initiatives, and expanded the use of social media. He led the Chapter’s flagship activities to launch the Construction Career Collaborative (C3). Perhaps his greatest achievement, for which he modestly claims little credit, was organizing the multi-association coalition that successfully persuaded Mayor Turner and Judge Hidalgo to declare the industry “essential”. The surgical spotlight of the story will accentuate the importance of this carefully choreographed moment. It’s the only time since Houston was founded in 1836 that the industry has faced the very real possibility of being banned by the government from setting up work, a scenario with consequences too dire to contemplate. Jerry’s leadership skills, like those of these other men, are constantly recognized and constantly sought after. He was elected to head the Executive Leadership Council comprised of leaders hired from all of the MCO Chapters. He is a member of the Catholic Charities Advisory Board, having served his term as Principal, and in an “alumni do good” development, he remains on the St. Pius High School Board of Trustees. , of which he was the former president. Jerry and his wife Gail have two sons, Stephen and Nathan, and a grandson, Sutton, who stole the show at his retirement celebration. They will spend time in their new home in Hallettsville, where both families have their roots, and in their many Catholic ministries. Jerry leaves the chapter in good hands. His successor is Kyle Holland, an experienced Aggie and project executive who has been active with AGC as a volunteer since college. Predictably, Jerry leaves the chapter in great shape.
What do these exceptional men, very different in many respects, have in common? Certainly they had leadership opportunities and leadership skills. But the real differentiator was that they each had a leadership character. They were unwaveringly clear about their “true north”. They are, to use the marvelous phrase uttered by the current Senate chaplain, retired Rear Admiral Barry Black to honor the Doles, “ethically compliant” throughout their lives. They earned from this industry, Winston Churchill’s farewell tribute to his World War II War Cabinet members, “The light of history will shine on all your helmets.”