July 29, 2014

By Alison Lee Satake of the Baton Rouge Business Report, published on July 21, 2014. 

Having exceeded its goal of raising $50 million for the project, LSU is preparing to erect a high-tech engineering complex capable of meeting the skyrocketing demand for engineers and construction managers at what is now the fifth fastest growing engineering school in the country.

If history is any indication, the bigger, better complex could very well turn out the next generation of construction titans in the Capital Region.

After all, the very first graduating class from LSU's Construction Technology program (now Construction Management) in 1972 reads like a who's who in industrial and commercial construction contracting today. A handful of these 27 graduates went on to establish some of the area's largest firms (as noted on our list of Top 100 private companies).

Art Favre, founder and president of Performance Contractors; James "Pepper" Rutland, founder and president of MMR Group; and Ed Rispone, co-founder and chairman of ISC: All were among the first wave of students to receive an LSU degree in construction technology. Here's a look at what that inaugural class and one of its notable instructors went on to accomplish.

THE GRADUATES OF 1972*
Ronald David Babin
Gregory Francis Bickham
William Randolph Bigler Jr.
James Judson Crane
David Ralph Dupuy
Robert Albert Eisworth
Arthur Emmette Favre III
Robert Lee Hoy
Edward Jacques Jaubert
Frank Edward Jeanmard
John "Jack" Kimmitt
James Knighton Jr.
Daniel Joseph Lyons Jr.
Winfred Dennis Martin
David Hayes McGuire
Michael Garfield Miller
Hugh Andrew Moore
Steven Charles Munsell
Alfred Pickett III
Richard James Picou
Edward Rispone
Michael Roy Rutherford
James Bertram Rutland
John Howell Stubbs
Claud Dennis Spring
Michael Charles Sprowl
Daniel Joseph Stari
* Class photo includes faculty and others not listed.

THE TEACHER: Roland Toups
Turner Industries CEO Roland Toups was a young engineer himself at the time the inaugural class was making its way through LSU's construction technology program. He taught an evening course in piping and HVAC.

"I had a star-studded class," Toups says. "They were not just bookworms. They were interested in building organizations."

The market was hungry for fresh new talent in the years following the petrochemical industry boom in the 1960s. Many of these executives recall working as electricians and technicians in the field while in college. That job experience paid off in the classroom and beyond.

"They knew what they wanted to do," Toups says. "Their people skills were commensurate with their technical skills." Several went on to become executives at Turner Industries, including Frank Jeanmard, Lester Barback and Robert Eisworth.

LSU's program offered courses in scheduling using the latest key-punch technology, as well as in estimating, operations, business management and civil engineering.

While the technology has evolved, the core principles of the program have not, says Claud Dennis Spring, who returned to LSU to teach courses in the program after working in the commercial construction industry for 13 years. The legacy continues, as Rispone and Rutland both have sons who have been trained through the program.

ED RISPONE
Founder, ISC

1972 Works full-time at Saia Electric in estimating while attending LSU. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in construction technology. Toups recruits him as project manager for a contract with Nichols Construction (now Turner Industries).

1975 Pepper Rutland recruits Rispone to Matthews-McCracken.

1989 Co-founds electrical and instrumentation contracting company ISC with his brother, Jerry Rispone.

2003 Serves as national chairman of the Associated Builders and Contractors.

2009 Gov. Bobby Jindal appoints him chairman of the Louisiana Workforce Investment Council.

2011 Becomes chairman of the Louisiana Federation for Children

2013 ISC generates about $300 million in revenue.

2014 ISC expands to Lake Charles. The company now has about 2,500 employees in Baton Rouge, Beaumont, Houston and Lake Charles.

ART FAVRE
Founder, Performance Contractors

1972 Graduates with bachelor's degree in construction technology.

1972-1979 Works at Lurgi-Knost, Fluor Corp. and Universal Corp.

1979 Founds industrial construction and pipe fabrication company Performance Contractors.

1996 Performance Contractors is awarded the Dow Chemical Mayflower/EPDM project. The project wins an Associated Builders and Contractors National Award of Excellence.

1997 Performance Contractors surpasses $100 million in revenue.

1998 The company opens division offices in Mobile, Alabama, and Freeport, Texas.

2003 The company is awarded the ExxonMobil Low Sulfur Gasoline Project; it also builds a new corporate headquarters building in Baton Rouge.

2007 The firm opens a fabrication facility in Mobile; reaches $500 million in revenues.

2011 Performance Contractors opens a new division office in Houston, Texas.

2013 Performance Contractors takes on the CF Industries Port Neal, Iowa, Project. The company reaches $1.1 billion in sales volume and now has 6,500 employees.

2014 The company completes a pipe fabrication facility in Houston.

JAMES "PEPPER" RUTLAND
Founder, MMR Group

1970-1972 Rutland plays as an outside linebacker for the LSU Tigers. He spends his summers working as an electrician and instrumentation technician for Matthews-McCracken.

1972 Graduates with bachelor's degree in construction technology. Goes to work in estimating and engineering for Matthews-McCracken.

1991 He founds an electrical and instrumentation contracting company called MMR Group.

1994 MMR Group wins its first international contract, for a refinery in Venezuela.

2014 MMR Group now has 21 operating offices in five countries. The company's revenues reached $952 million last year; MMR Group employs about 4,600 U.S. employees. Rutland's youngest son is now studying construction management at LSU.

NOTE: The origins of LSU’s Construction Management program - The construction program at LSU had its origins in the School of Environmental Design. It first appeared in the 1970-71 edition of the LSU General Catalog as a Bachelor of Science in Construction Technology. Soon afterwards, LSU developed a faculty committee to study a recommended degree program developed from a from a broad stakeholder base. This base included guidelines from the Associated Schools of Construction and the American Council for Construction Education, LSU academia, local professional contractors, the Associated General Contractors, and students. The result was the establishment of the Department of Construction in 1976 and was moved from the School of Environmental Design to LSU’s General College. However, in 1995 it changed to Construction Management as it was moved to the College of Engineering by faculty and industry to better facilitate managerial and leadership needs of the construction industry.

 



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